After browsing decorating books at lunchtime (Emily Chalmers and writer Ali Hanan's Modern Vintage Style and design blogger Holly Becker and writer Joanna Copestick's Decorate; both books feature Debi Treloar's great photography), I was inspired to show some of my own collectibles found at brocantes, flea markets and antique fairs in France, England and Spain.
Pictured is vintage Provencal pottery for sale at a brocante at Chatou, France.
Pieces of Provencal glazed stoneware pottery that I've collected, on top of a vintage French mercantile cabinet at the top of the stairs in our entryway.The smaller Provencal jugs - originally used in every French kitchen to store duck fat - are quite pricey, as they become more difficult to find. The rust-coloured pottery at left is from Bourgogne. The cabinet containing DVDs and CDs faces a door with glass panels leading onto a balcony. The door beyond the cabinet leads to a small bathroom.
Pieces of early 20th-century French luggage, made of woven wicker and trimmed with leather are stacked on top of an old linen cupboard on the second-floor landing. Three vintage wooden hatstands - and a 1940s felt hat - are wedged between the luggage and an architectural beam. I started my quest for luggage after receiving the ladies' overnight bag (top) as a gift from my friend Gabrielle.
This modern 30-drawer chest was handmade by talented craftsman Luke Ellis of Kent & London in Whistable, England. It stores my cameras and photography gear (must get some suitable labels, so I remember what's where). The antique baskets on top are Chinese and the modern lamp is signed by a French artist.
Side view of the chest and lamp tucked under an eave. The small chest at left is vintage French. The wall is more than 200-years-old and slants at an odd angle, making decorating a challenge. The oil painting is by Santa Fe artist Carole Whitmore.
I've been thinking about how little time we are given to make a positive impact on this world. And time is flying; it's only after a health scare - or turning 50 - that you realise just how fast.
I've been searching through thousands of unpublished photos - some of them quite good - and wondering why I haven't used them; why I haven't sent them to a magazine editor... fear of rejection; of not being perfect? I don't want to be someone who dies with her song unsung; with promise unfulfilled. It's odd that I cultivate imperfection (vintage and antiques, rubbed by the hands of time) in my home, but obsess about it in my work.
I've been despairing over hapless antics of politicians around the world, as suffering intensifies. Then experienced the weird disconnect of being focused on conflict in foreign lands, as decorating and photography books arrive in the mail. And while I'm thinking about senseless wars and the foibles of humanity, I'm posting a cheery photo of my Fiesta collection! But isn't this how we go on... compartmentalising things; refusing to dwell too long on sorrows that are difficult to bear; trying to prioritise demands on our time and snatching fleeting moments of joy whenever possible?
A sad message from a faraway friend - with whom I've been too busy to keep in touch - that her marriage is in trouble. A burly stranger climbing a ladder and suddenly appearing in the open doors of our balcony, seeking access to the house next door. As I'm typing this, a window washer on a ladder (we're on the second and third floors) has appeared next to me, without warning. The last time that happened, I was in my friend Heidi's 8th-floor studio across the street from the New York Public Library. I was seven months' pregnant and it gave me a fright, as a window-washer's silhouette appeared. Heidi opened the window and scolded him for scaring a pregnant woman.
Just now outside my Dutch window, five men and a child in Scottish kilts and a woman in a long dress are walking down the street playing bagpipes! Totally unexpected. And isn't that the way we live, never knowing what might happen next?
So this week's lessons and reminders for me? Stop procrastinating and create more opportunities to tell the stories of those who are struggling. Carpe diem!
I am mad about Fiesta! I started buying the American dinnerware in 1996, while living in San Francisco. Its bright colours cheered me up, after a distressing breakup with a boyfriend. This is just a portion of my collection, stored on a vintage zinc boulangerie cart (next to an American retro refrigerator). My husband constantly tells me I have too much Fiestaware and should get rid of it, but I refuse. It makes me happy and is my only American collectible, after most of my Nelson McCoy pottery vanished in the move from Paris. I have enough plates to invite the entire neighbourhood for dinner!
This photograph was shot with late afternoon sunshine from the French doors to the balcony hitting the scene. The image below was taken in natural light, so the colours are more subtle. The 1930s pitcher was made by Hall Pottery.
Just back from a few days in England, where we took an afternoon stroll along the Thames...
...had lunch at The Minnow in Weybridge with this lively cherub...
...and spent a warm sunny day with family.
Another day David went bird-watching, while I shopped in Guildford (shoes at LK Bennett and replenished my supply of Origins' Dr. Andrew Weil moisturisers, etc.). Luckily, we had a fairly uneventful drive through four countries each way: the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Eurotunnel to England.
The last time David visited his family was November, while I was in India and Nepal. Baby Joseph has grown considerably since then, walking, climbing stairs and asserting his independence.
In November, David took this picture of Joseph with his lovely auntie Marie-Claire, who lives in Oxford.
...and another of David's photos from November. I like how the coloured stripes in Joseph's shirt match his toy.
Last weekend, a happy little boy with his father. As you can see, stripes are ever-popular!
Banging his cup like a drum at a local park, as his mother watches.
Laughing with his grandfather, who taught him a few mischievous tricks.
My original desk is stored with a friend in France. I bought this French Art Deco table in Holland for a fraction of its value. While not meant for a desk, that's its function at the moment. The usual office supplies are stored in a vintage chest.
Last August I visited a jeweler in Delft, whose elegant studio had Fortuny lamps and an Art Deco table just like this one. I was thrilled to find this table for such a great price.
The lamp is made from a wooden element of an antique Chinese bed.
Won't you post pictures of your work space/home office on your blog?
"All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today." - Indian proverb
Do you know the name of this curious flower? It reminds me of a sea creature.
Aftermath of a dinner party...
The book France in Ruins: Buildings in Decay by Simon O'Corra has just been published. My photographs of the crumbling Chateau de Rothschild on the Western edge of Paris are among the black-and-white images in the book. Sadly, in France numerous historic buildings and neglected estates have fallen into disrepair and ruin.
Have you seen this stunning British craftsmanship? I am mad about Alex Ramsay's nitrate negative bowls and candlesticks.
Last week I found five decorative wooden cornices that originally topped houses in Bali. Now to convince my husband to drill holes in the wall to hold the weight, so the cornices can serve as pedestals for revolving collections of objets d'art.
Meanwhile, I'm still working on the guest bedroom, (finally gave up finding enough space and sent 25 boxes of fragile things to storage) but will post interior photos of our maisonette soon. Stay tuned!
It is up to us to speak out and do whatever we can to effect change and counter manipulation, stupidity and evil. "Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged." - the Dalai Lama.
Pictured: 1940s French coffee table; Dutch roses in Moroccan tea glasses found in London; Louis XVI chair and 1940s French crystal candlesticks; teal pottery bowl by Riley Salyards, Amsterdam and wool rug, handmade by Bedouin women on Bani Hamida Mountain, Jordan.
An April Fool's joke in Holland: A baby in a basket, hanging from a stork's nest in a field (polder). This of course references the Western European belief that storks arriving in the spring -after wintering in Africa - are messengers of spring and fertility.
As white storks often nest on rooftops, fanciful stories about the birds dropping babies down the chimney were told. These myths were perpetuated first in the Victorian era and later in 20th-century cartoons. Parents in Europe and the United States often informed their children that a stork delivered their new brother or sister.