The Winter is over. Hello Summer in South Africa.

  It’s a funny thing in life.  For me anyway.  When I am in London, I hear nothing but negativity about South Africa.  And I buy into it, for some if it exists, and some are reasons that we re-located to London all those years ago.  No future, everything going pear shaped, crime, high living costs … a little like all the other countries in the world – I mean have you ever sat and thought ‘Where is the perfect place to live?’ and every one you think of has its problems. Politics and headlines have that effect.

But I do find myself a little schizo when it comes to South Africa.  Love London, tell my children to stay and make their lives there … and then I come back, like now, for a holiday and whoosh … my heart just bangs like a thunderstorm with the joy of being here. Other than the familiar, it has to begin with the African landscape that just gets the blood flowing after a long and grey winter.

Truth is it is the end of summer here.  I wear sundresses and sandals and the sun is high and I have this overwhelming urge to be outside and healthy. To drive on open roads, walk on the beach – touch wheat and swim.  Stare at the mountains.  Buy wine from the vineyards and not in an Orange supermarket. It’s nature and landscape enveloping me – and as they say, when life gets tough, nature is what you want.  Here I find her in abundance.

Rather than wake to the view of the garages behind my flat, I wake to Guinea fowl chatting in the garden.  The light is different here.  Can’t explain it, but it is and I see myself in a different way.

The people of South Africa are happy people.  Despite all, and some living in abject poverty, they are always chatting, and smiling and it is infectious. Right down to the street sellers working for a plate of food, they always seem to be positive. Need that after the longest winter yet endured.

So I rose early and went for a walk.  Drove into Cape Town to meet a friend and we drove back to Franschoek to spend a beautiful lunch under the trees – he said ‘you look different’, ‘you look happy’ and I just smiled, again … and again … for I am.

My winter is over. As much as I love London, and I do with her charm and quirks and traditions, I am now rather for a few weeks, for nature, beach and berg, outside living and grateful to be here.  South Africa, you have your problems, but your offerings are greater and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be here for a while. Down to the painted toes and all for now they are on display!

In this Silver street of our lives, we could live anywhere and make the most of it.  Materialism fades but being in a beautiful place, where you are at peace and optimism thrives … that is good enough for me.  Hello Summer, in every way.

Never, never apologise for loving someone.

Do you know that the heart is the strongest organ in your body?  It breaks so many times and yet it still goes on, ready for the next opportunity to love someone.  Over and over again.  It is not the heartbreaks we should tally, but the ability, the amazing ability we have to love.  In so many ways, for so many people, and for that, and your heart, you should never apologise for loving.  You just should.

I remember the heartbreaks.  Times when you felt foolish and rejected and stupid for giving your heart to another.  When the euphoria of being loved turns into a ghost. Rather than smitten are shattered. As one gets older the loving becomes deeper, and the heartbreak fathomless. 

But, and I say but … don’t. Do not allow yourself to be diminished by the rejection of another.  You loved someone, be it familial, sexual, friendship, there are so many different kinds of love and if you gave your heart to someone, you did good. You loved.

Tonight this is on my mind.  Having returned from a dinner with close friends, childhood still matters friends, we spoke of past and present loves:  the love for our parents, first crushes, children, some that lasted and others that scarred.  Those lesions are part of the journey. Be they right, or wrong, given in the light or given in hope, each one is the making of you. Which is why one should never take those moments you gave your heart, when you loved someone and apologise for doing it, even if it never stayed the distance. They are the making of you and you did good. You loved.

The world is cloaked in easy blaming, in broken dreams and fractured hearts.  Call me naive but I cannot buy into the whole, you did this and I did this thing if it was done with love. Got the plot all messed up … shared in the hurting and goodbyes? You are human, with all those delectable nuances of stuffing up royally when you should not have.  Where were all those Calvinistic codes you thought you had down pat when love came through the wall of your chapter? What does Sunday School help when someone tells you they love you and it may not be part of your plan?  You just love I guess.  You just love. 

So the conversation went: don’t see them anymore … they hurt me … they broke my heart … I never want to see them again and so on.  And I thought … hang on … hating someone you loved says something about you … okay they hurt you, you hurt them, but you loved them right … so you did good … you should remember that you did. Or maybe still do … and you must never apologise for that. It was agreed.

As we age, in our Silver Streets, it’s time to count the chapters and those you loved.  And admit that you were fortunate to have felt love in the first place. 

So, to my first boyfriend who tossed me, to the Varsity loves, the crazy years, the marriage years, the children years, the friendship years … each one as you look back, were actually pretty interesting … and the reason for this is …  you loved each and everyone. Never, never apologise for that. Some people never get to have that … and you have had that in abundance. 

And do we need love … for sure so honey, you just keep on doing it. Your heart can take it.

 

Image. Seacampion

 

The missioning day. Oy vey.

 

Hoorah!  I found the missing pants.  Oy vey, today was a missioning day.

The missioning day is when one sets aside time to do the business.  The prepping, supposed to be relaxing, grooming day.  I have of late been lacking in this department as one knows, practical labour and hum drum life makes of all slippers in the grooming department.

Not that I don’t try to keep up with the body beautiful.  I do.  At home, in dim light, which leaves much to be desired. Attempts at the contortionist act to do the dirty is ominous at best – can hardly find the eyebrows, not to mention the nether regions, and I balk at the touch up hair for the roots at Boots story, so today was the day.  I am going on holiday for goodness sake, to bikinis and sandals and sundresses, to whip the hair in a gentle breeze and look fabulous.  I needed help.

To the missioning day. Bank breaking stuff but needs must.

And it should be great, right?

Normally the way it works is thus.  For a bikini wax I enter the salon, am shown to a room and left alone to disrobe.  Elevator music, water rippling over stones. On the bed is placed a dainty little bit of fabric with elastic to act as a modicum of dignity i.e. the disposal panty.  One shimmies and prepares for the stranger to enter and a bit of banter may help to ease the unease of the situation at hand.  You are in the hands of whatever, and close those eyes to open the legs and await the warm wax – with gritted teeth and then it is all over.

Today: Miss Romania leads me to the room, closes the door and waits. Waits for me to strip and sans disposable pantie offering, mount the bed. She chats, I chat and no hot wax but some stuff followed by a machine gun battering of strips that makes my eyes water and my skin rip in the endeavour. What the …?  Rip, rip, rip.  I sigh, think of England and pray for this to end but no. Not the usual, bend this leg and so forth, I am frog positioned and the ripping continues unabated.  Is this the hot wax? No, oh sorry … and it gets worse from there. She is in a hurry, another client.  Should she ask someone else to complete the job? What! Mid wax by stripping bits and you want me to expose myself to someone else?  Have I not been through enough, you with little English and we trying to figure out if you understand your Hollywoods from your Brazilians and my dignity shred along in the process? Ok, enough, she is gone, I am left with a half baked job and my walk to the cashier resembles someone who has spent six days on a horse, in the Wild West, with no saddle. Admittedly unhappy with the not so hairless exercise and one week on the job job, so mercy in that I am not charged for the oy vey experience.

To the hair.  Let’s just say Miss Czech Republic (eight months in training) has me foiled for no less than four hours. Imagine being all magazined out and the last one in the salon, long after the lights have been turned off. Missed my check in airline moment, missed life as it happened in that time. No wonder the tears were flowing freely at the cost of hair and tender post wax treatment. 

It’s ok. I am done and dusted for the flight tomorrow.  Unlike many, flying still holds the dread of the flying day but the determination not to look like an ASBO in a hoody with yesterday’s wine on my breath. I shall be groomed, half groomed and ready. Did not get to the mani/pedi alas but think enough torture for one day.  Tomorrow I shall survey (in the sunlight) the results and be positive.  I did the missioning day.

Or should I say, I survived this missioning day. And I am happy because I did this for me.  And that is what counts, looking good, for me.

Images Group, pintrest

The quest for the missing smarty white pants.

Oh where oh where did they go?

It is that time again … the Silver Streeter is on the move. Late night packing for a three week trip and in my head I have it all planned out. Casual for daytime, cardigans for the evening chill and just the right outfits for the fancy events.  Check.

The thing is … oh yes, the thing is that sometimes there are these special items of clothing that take a backstreet in the practical cupboard for just such occasions.  And now for the life of me, I cannot find my fancy schmanzy white pants.  The special occasion white number … mmm … last wore it six months ago … mmmm did I take them to the dry cleaners?  Are they still there? Lordy, hope not!

Do you have just those items of clothing for the not ‘getting on the tube’ and everyday wear that you know are just waiting for the next outing?  Those gorgeous heels?  That special coat? The every dependable clutch that holds absolutely the bare minimum but looks good anyway? I do, some are years old but still just the thing for that special occasion.

I have the LBD – a few actually that wait for summer evenings.  My mother’s black coat. Michael Kors heels that would kill me on public transport and never date. A Jenni Button suit that I can barely fit into but hold onto for that … of course I will fit into it again one day. And the white pants.  Not your everyday kind but the very expensive kind.  In my mind I can see the ensemble, right down the perfect top, the dressy shoes and you know what I mean.  And do you think I can find them tonight when I have to pack? MIA they are and because it has been awhile, this madam cannot think where they would be!

Drama! Having moved more than a cuckoo bird of late, my clothes are suitcase familiar. Pack, unpack, pack and unpack again – and darling white trousers have fallen along the way. It does not help that I am limited in time, have a plane to catch and not a bloody clue! Damn!

This is what happens to the ‘Dry Cleaning only’ brigade. They go for extra care and in this case may be getting familiar with all the other uncollected items in the little store.  What is a woman to do?

I would love to say I left them post some romantic tryst but then who would leave without their pants in that situation? No.  Sadly no. I would have remembered or at least everyone else would have.

So where are you now my lovely? This is going to haunt me.  This is going to make me try and remember all the other lovely items I used to have for just that special occasion … and for the life of me I cannot remember where they are now.

Allors!  Time to get serious about those pants!

Anyone else been in this situation?

Image: Southern living.

 

Dear Social Media… have you been a naughty girl?

 

  Baby you can drive my car … but hope you ain’t taking me over a cliff anytime soon.

If you only knew how long it took this Silver Streeters to get to know you. I mean let’s face it, some things were not in my schoolbooks back in the day – twitter this and twitter that, loading Instagram (which I have noticed many are less than instant what with blossoms in December if you get my drift) and Facebook was this anemone’s way of checking up on her long lost what you want to call it people, it took time right?  Let’s not even go to the Snapchat number, I mean who wants to spend time loading a picture and have it snap and vanish … ah maybe some of you do, but I was quite happy with the chosen three to the point of addiction and say what … now the dark side powers that be have been selling my data to the enemy? Little old moi?

I am innocent M’Lord.  Checking it all out is what makes the tube ride shorter.  Focussing on the snapping of flowers, sunsets, bridges and tufts of snow helps me focus on pretty things when the world is bug ugly. Innocent stuff indeed. Thought I was being challenged and victorious when words were limited to limericks and so many characters and yes, believed all these warriors were my army in business and marketing. So what if I told you where I went to school and proved to the world that may children were the best in it – harmless stuff. My voice.

For now it seems my trivial pursuits are part of a darker scheme. Could it be that I have voted for Trump without knowing, that my ‘I am here at Heathrow’ has sent a subliminal message to the trackers who have twisted my course for their own benefit?  Shudder M’Lord, shudder and shake at the thought that I many have swayed the Brexit vote – could it be? Mais non!

Say it isn’t so.  I am just little old me wanting to have a voice that tells my story, not yours. Thought you were the sisterhood but maybe you are the sinister hood after all.  Get it about Ads and such, but voting and endorsing other people’s screwball antics is not what I followed you for.  So you big guns with the golden pockets (lined by the likes of little old me) get your act together and clean up your conspiracies. I don’t want to delete (oh dear what shall I do if I don’t have you) so let me play and go about my business of pretty things without feeling like Salieri with the possible poison.

Phew!  There I have said it. If you want me to be your friend in the future, you are going to have to stop being a naughty girl – my BFF’s do not use me, turn on me or help me sway an election.

We have a lot to give, but it will be on our terms okay?  This way we all get to win.

Your dubious friend on Facebook.

Images Telegraph, Hastac

Classic French Interiors Passion. Parisian style.

LE DECOR EST GRAND

Whenever I go to Paris, I pray my little room is high up.  Overlooking the rooftops, the petite balconies and at times, a view into the grand apartments separated by a narrow street. I have loved the Haussman buildings from my first walk through these streets.  French decor is grand and beautiful.  Sort of a Paris and Versailles dream for me. Stately elegance. There is a Romance about it. 

We sense History in French Decor

   History, tradition, the styles of long ago.  Often with a modern twist as only the French can do, but overall, it’s the sense of history that characterises the French Classic Style.  Rooms are spacious and ceilings high with walls often panelled in painted wood.  Shades of grey, putty and chantilly serve as some of the base interior shades whilst furniture is more often than not, stressed or gilded.  

Toile de Jouy

The distinctive Pattern of Toile, or Toile de Jouy, is characteristic of the Classic French Style.  The designs are usually those of pastoral landscapes or chennoise (chinese style). Images are repetitive and detailed.  Toile can be in the form of wallpaper, upholstered fabric for furniture and drapes, or for linen.  One can go bold or simply add hints of Toile to your interior, but I love the distinctive style, that again echoes history but creates warmth and yes, every picture tells a story. One could even design your own.

 

A tiny but essential view upon the city

Parisian balconies are positively sensuous places to relax, no matter how small.  Bygone days of wrought iron and intricate design, be it a ‘place pour deux’ or a Juliette, I believe the balconies are the trimmings on the outside of those classical interiors.  In an ideal apartment opening those tall windows to the sounds of Paris early morning would be heaven, and of course the late repose at dusk with a bottle of wine and a romantic lover would be just as nice don’t you think?

Luxury in the detail

 Textures, colours, finishes – all speak of elegance and luxury.  Think gilded mirrors and crystal chandeliers.  Velvet and marble.  Satin and Granite.  Nothing in the classical French style is a chance encounter but a carefully selected piece that will enhance the overall design.  Perhaps it’s an ultra modern piece or a chaise, the overall feeling of opulence is the one that will linger, in a romantic way as is, the French way.

If you want to replicate the Classic French Style in your own home, make a mood board of images that will inspire you.  Think chic avec luxury.  Order patterns and wall furnishings.  Selected pieces of bespoke furniture.  Luxurious linen and plumb duvets. Nothing short of grand. I find many of these ideas in the foyers of the famous Parisian hotels (times I simply sit and take it all in) and of course, no Classical French style would be complete without … flowers!  

Lots and lots of Gorgeous flowers.

Images:  One King’s lane, One Fine Stay, Etsy and Pintrest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainy days and Mondays are perfect.

  ‘Rainy days and Mondays …’  Paul Williams did not like them.  I loved both yesterday.  Don’t love drab, soot cloudy sky in perpetuity, or bone cold, but yesterday, the rain and the beginning of a new week was perfect. No death eaters in sight.

No thinking of them yesterday.  I choose instead to work in the Orangerie, a diamond view of the Kitchen Garden at Ham House. Echoes of 1672 on a rainy day – there is birdsong, and the dripping of drops from the eaves.  Old books, warm kitchen cafe and tea.  Lots of tea.

Standing in what could have been a scene from Bridget Jones, only I waiting for the bus with the huddled in Richmond, narrowly missing the wave of water every time a bus stops here, I knew it would be a long walk.  The House is far for the footed and public bus travellers.  It meant a walk in the rain, with bag, another bag and countryside challenges.  I had three options:  the river walk, which may have swollen and cut off the path, the meadow and turnstiles, possible deep drifts of water and horses to tread lightly past – and the longer, but safer option in the wet.  Longer being the operative word. It’s a Winnie-the-Pooh kind of thing and this was English country living mouse time.

In the quiet of the Orangerie, I sat still.  Worked in stillness. Beginning of the week plans and execution of business, immersion of garden and planting for future crops. The tulips are budding, the ducks conversing on the river and I am telling you this because it all felt … so peaceful. So very English countryside life. Unhurried and uncomplicated which is anything but what some of our lives are in Silver Street.

I work seven days a week.  Commute most of these.  Taken to pencil writing in the diary for all the changes that happen – it’s just the way it is at the moment, so when it rained, was Monday and a good one and I wanted to share it with you.  Times you just have to find the quiet corner and be still.

Would have been a good time to pen a poem, but that was asking a little too much.  Time ran out.

Puddle luscious, drenched and not a care in the world, for a Monday.  Was a good one. A new page didn’t care if the hair went wild kind of day.  Find the same, just for a little while.

 

 

You have a voice and it is not a popularity contest.

Considered the worst line ever written – do not begin with ‘it was a dark and stormy night? ‘ If it was, if it is, you begin with … it was a dark and stormy night.

The point is, you write.  I write for so many reasons and I suppose therapy in doing so is one of them.  Writing is my diary, my inspiration, my observations and my solace.  It is my voice, for singing is not a gift I was bestowed with no matter how loud I try, so writing is not only a means to pen the emotions, but a silent ripple that may reach another that has a voice and is a little afraid of using it.

In this day and age, we can do this.

 Imagine Jane Austen right now. Or George Elliot or anyone who spent all that angst and frustration at wondering if their stories would ever be shared? We can do this.  But and I say this as I know many think that social media is part of the story. So let’s talk writing and social media.  When I began to write, and discovered the whole social media thing, I realised that it was a vessel, a way of getting my words out there.  It was, for me, never a platform for popularity.  Many think this, and panic about how many likes they will get, if they are going to be vilified and rejected by someone way out there in the unknown, so twittering and instagramming is great, and useful, but never let it be the standard by which you judge your voice.

In this business I know that companies look at the likes.  Making money from your blog often depends on the amount of followers before someone is willing to sponsor or pay you.  If this is what you want, then go for it – get those soldiers of social media working for you.  I am not for the obvious plugging of anything right now – perhaps some day but right now, saying what it’s like to be at the Silver Street stage of our lives, with all those awful goodbyes, sagging boobs and what it is like to run for the bus with shopping bags is what it is all about. Hate that, breathless beast  I am at doing it, huff and puff, wheeze and wonder. What it is like when it’s all about Insurance and keeping it together when everyone else thinks you have lost it – I don’t write to be popular, I write because it’s all new to me, frigging hard and someone else out there is going to say … hey, that’s me too! I hate the gym, and crocs and pretending everything is peachy when it’s not.

It’s ok to write about the hard stuff at our age. And the good things that come along.  About our memories and children and relationships and going gaga over ballet and a glass of wine with good friends. Being devastated when our parents die, jobs turn out to be ugh, our children leave and sometimes we just don’t know what the future holds.

Do I write to be popular? Guess not.  Do I write because I want to? For sure. And you should too without hesitation or thought because your voice will touch another heart.  It will make you stronger, more focused and at the end of the writing, you will sit back, pull in the muffin stomach, take another sip, thank the music and go … I can do this. Popularity is one thing. Liking yourself is another and it is through the words from your soul that triggers the best part of you.  It is in the learning. Learning is growth. Learning is never about the likes but about you.

It was a dark and stormy night … and I wrote about it. And I woke the next day to find the sun coming through my window which meant … I have another day to make a difference.

Images Google, pexels, pintrest

 

Giverny – where I find Monet

‘Always looking for mist and transparencies, Monet would dedicate himself less to flowers than to reflections in water, a kind of inverted world transfigured by the liquid element.’

In 1883 Monet and his family began their lives at Giverny.  So began his obsession to create a landscape of form and flowers to paint.  Ten years later he bought a neighbouring plot, over the railway line to create the pond now forever captured in his painting of lilies and light. Inspired by Japanese art, Monet landscaped nature, his garden at Giverny, his legacy.

I have been to Giverny a number of times.  Early morning train from Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris to the garden my mother spoke of so often in her life, yet never saw herself.  I guess I go for her in a way, to whisper whilst walking – you would love it Mom, just as you told me Mom, wish you were here with me Mom.

It is all about the light.  French vintage home, pebbled walks, spilling of colour. Pink on walls, fuchsia on trellis, hot colour walks, cool water stillness – even the wooden boat moored as if someone may just recline with a good book on a hot summer’s day.  Blues and Greens and purples and lilac and vermilion and yellow and sky.

I grew up with the Impressionists.  Name them all, their works, their histories, but only when in Europe did I see the works before me. The National Gallery, The Orangery, D’Orsay – I find them and stand there, just stand there and know there is passion in life. When life is small, they are immense and I think about their struggles, heartache and joyous fervour when life is at the end of their paintbrushes. Bow down to genius I do.  Monet is different. Monet seemed happy though at times lost for the muse, the vision, but able to find God in flowers and domestic in his family life.  He found his garden and in doing do, he found his art. Though well travelled and documented, it is here that contentment lives.

Sadly, the time I took my children there, the world came too.

 It was August and August in France is not for the weak. As much as I tried to capture the ambiance of the water lilies, others were pushing for a spot along the walk. The lines are awful, the mystery shattered.  I hope they will return when it is calmer and the ghost of Monet walks with them one day. They love the Impressionists, love Art, love gardens and I know they will return to find the magic that lies there.  It touched a little, next time, to drown in the beauty of it all.

For me, once, I was alone and took my time to find the angles, the paintbrush poised before the eyes to find perspective, the lilies bopping gently on water. It was years before that took me back, to the man who rose with the early morning to capture the mist. A short walk away is the Hotel Baudy, more French, more characteristic I could not find.  For lunch, a table beneath the trees on the edge of the meadow.  Looking at the Baudy, I could imagine someone shaking sheets outside the windows, soldiers walking towards anger and away from those they loved.  I revelled in the quaintness of simple cheese and wine at noon, laundry on the line, cows in the pasture and I immersed myself in history, in art and in rural France, on my own, notebook on the table and it is a feeling I remember and love.  

If you love Art, The Impressionists and Monet, make Giverny a place to be. Not visit, but be. Once you have, the Water Lilies at the Orangery in the Tulleries will make so much more sense.  Add more depth to your understanding of the artist and his subject. A day trip out of Paris. Reason enough to understand. A reason to realise that life is beautiful indeed.

Images Paris Vision, Victoria mag and Pintrest. Quote from Giverney

Bone cold. Courage little sparrow.

‘The harshest of winters makes of all of us dreamers for something better …’

A bleak day.  I cannot get warm.  All thoughts of snow and silliness are dissipate with the howling gale outside.  It creeps through windows and underneath doors.  Under and up, inside my bones.  These are cold bones today, cold is all.  

Silence is deafening. Night close, the wine needs no ice.  I am no longer amused by the whiteness outside and dream of its ending now.  Strange that I was hoping winter would result in snow, in something other than the perpetual greyness that has seeped into my veins.  How do others endure this now I think?  I see them plodding to work outside my apartment, heads down, muffled thoughts beneath the black coats. I think happiness has been buried.

Seems the worst time ever to put my apartment on the market.  Would even the daffodils in the delft vase give for imagination of spring?  Lights on all day, heating frail against the elements, but I have.  I have to.  The winter has reduced me to the bones, to the poetry of restriction to place, the depletion of spirit in that place.  To action.

As I long for the changing of season, I long for the changing of me.

We should never begin in a place of haunting winter.  As I pray for the sparrows out there.  The homeless in corners, the dulling easiness of routine, I wishing away of cold days, it is not enough for this Silver Street woman. She basked in the Summer too long to give it up now that all has changed, and this bone cold winter, with the cold wind inside her heart, she is beginning to realise that the warmth of life will only begin in her own steps.  And so, the winter of this discontented soul will plan for the summer of something else.  I have no idea where I am going, where I will end up, but it only begins when the artist picks up the brush, when the first word is written, when I am sure all I love are safe enough for me to move on. Godot is not for me, waiting is no longer for me.

Have courage little sparrow. The winter may whip.  The cold may freeze your soul, but it will thaw and we need to be ready when it does.

Image Daily telegraph