Sunday, 29 January 2012

"Sweet" memories

I remember a time when all of life's little upsets, scrapes and bruises could be soothed by a dip in the sweetie tin. The sweetie tin lived up on a shelf, visible but just out of reach in the pantry. It was garishly bright and quite old fashioned ~ featuring a scene including goose, pig, red and black spotted dalmation, sheep, donkey, hen and duckling variously kitted out in bonnets and aprons. The sweetie tin, once the lid was off, had a curious smell, quite unique. It spoke of years of sugary confections, layer upon layer of fruit flavourings, jelly colourings, sugar frostings and dusty coatings.
Years later I saved the sweetie tin from a Magpie cull, she was moving house and we were busy newspapering all in sight. There it was, just the same as ever, I took the lid off and found myself transported back to a 1970's kitchen, chocolate brown and daisy chained.

Last week I decided to play around with bits and bobs here in my kitchen, it needed cheering up. All the Christmas finery removed it felt a little austere, I began rootling around in the bottom of the dresser and there shining from the very back corner was the sweetie tin."Yes" I thought. I took it out, popped it open and took a breath of childhood.

My Dad was a real life Willy Wonka back then, a mind full of tall tales and a garage stuffed full of Arrow Bars, boxes of Fruit Salad, Chewits and more...You may think that with such riches available we were the most popular kids in the village, but these were strictly out of bounds. And anyway, tearing into the kitchen with a freshly blooded knee, only a calm assessment of the wound by Magpie followed by her prescription from the sweetie tin would do.
When, so poorly I had to be put to bed, my  Dad promised me some special pills to make me feel much better and off he went, returning some time later with a pink striped paper bag containing 3 "pills". "Not to be taken all at once S-J-B!" he said "as these are very strong medicine, I will trust you to take them only when you really need them." "OK Daddy," I said all wide eyed with wonder as he tucked the bed covers under my ears.After he had gone I carefully broke each tablet into as many tiny pieces as I could and stashed the bag in my Winnie the Poo tin ( a real treasure too!). I kept those pieces for months, only taking the smallest morsel when all else failed. I believe the Latin name for this elixir is "Jazzles," back then they were rainbow drops. Chocolate buttons with sprinkles.

At school I was a great advocate of the rainbow necklace. Bought during morning break from the Tuck shop and then quickly snaffled under my shirt collar. Sweets were not allowed in the classroom, they could only  be eaten during breaks. During particularly taxing lessons I would shove my chin under my tie and collar, flick the elastic with my tongue and suck. Poor Magpie, so many soggy grey blouses.
Granny understood everything about dolls and tea-parties and regularly allowed me to rattle and shake her finest tea sets, all flowery chintz patterns with gold filigree. She also understood that scale is everything when entertaining teddies and rabbits and so she always had packets of iced mini gems on tap to be served upon piles of paper doilies. Some of which were painstakingly hand coloured in felt tip ink, most of which ended up on the finest bone china. She would smile and we would sit at the back door step with a bowl of hot fairy water and scrub them.
The sweetie tin is early sixties I think, by a company called Bluebird Confectionery ~ famous for" break your teeth on it toffee" so hard that you had to hammer it in order to break it into pieces! I must ask my Dad if he had any connection...
The sweet smell of things past - so evocative don't you think?

Oh bother, resistance is futile, been humming it quietly in my head for some time now...may as well let rip, do join me..a one two three four...
Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew
Cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two
The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

Who can take a rainbow, wrap it in a sigh
Soak it in the sun and make a groovy lemon pie
The Candy Man can, the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

The Candy Man makes everything he bakes satisfying and delicious
Now you talk about your childhood wishes, you can even eat the dishes

Oh, who can take tonorrow, dip it in a dream
Separate the sorrow and collect up all cream
The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good...


Thursday, 26 January 2012

Reasons to be cheerful

 Image 1 Pinterest, Image 2 the balcony gardener.
 Image 1 Mollie Makes Issue 10, Image 2 taken from PRINT by Cath Kidston, Phototgraphy Pia Tryde
 Collages all made up from my Pinterest Boards

Rainy days and grey days seem to "smuffle" me, wear me down. Seems I am not my chatty self, well, that is to say I am myself, just the quieter version.
In January I like to refresh my colour palette - you know a bit of  a post Mid-Winter detox, I hope you like my current inspirations...a cleaner, prettier balance of colour and simple feminine style a la Christie and McKenna circa the '60's.

Speaking of which I am really looking forward to "We'll take Manhattan" tonight on BBC 4 at 9pm. It tells the story of the now legendary photo shoot  in Manhattan 1962 and the subsequent love affair between Jean Shrimpton and David Bailey.
Jean Shrimpton 1963 (pic: Getty)
Picture via the Mirror
Picture via Tiskin
Image David Bailey for Vogue

Tonight's drama stars Amy Pond, whoops I mean Karen Gillan! and Aneurin Barnard. I have high hopes as BBC 4 has a very good track record...Enid Blyton starring Helena Bonham Carter, Fonteyn with Anne-Marie Duff and the excellent Nigel Slater's "Toast"  were all great. Well done "Aunty", you do look after us well.

Love Sarah

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Windy Day

Still from John and Faith Hubley's "Windy Day"

The wind is howling around our timber framed house today - moaning and groaning, timbers creaking... at my painting class this week we looked at the effect of wind on different subjects. It was fun, I hadn't thought about painting a windy picture as I generally paint/draw still life but I am enthused and so I decided to look around the jolly old tinternet to research the subject. To my utter surprise and delight I stumbled across this magical animation~Windy Day.

I have always loved illustration and the drawings in this are joyful and spontaneous. The film was made in 1968 by John and Faith Hubley who taped a conversation between their daughters Georgia and Emily discussing, well, life in general as well as devising a Medieval play and ruminating on age and death as only the very young do. The animation was then built around their musings so it is wonderfully abstract and yet some of their observations are touchingly honest and poignant.

If you have time do watch the film (9 minutes long) it is a wonderful piece of work - the line drawing and backgrounds are really fresh and I love the colours too...from the first stumbling notes and the opening panning shot I was it is

 I am reminded how amazing, imaginative and perceptive children are. As cassette recorders and tapes are no longer fashionable and indeed, considered "low tech" , the fun that my brother and I had as children recording ourselves singing, performing Goon show scripts, Muppet shows and indeed playing the recorder all seems a very long time ago. But I should like nothing better than to listen to tapes of the latest generation of Littles in our family musing over whatever they choose...
Aren't these stills beautiful? If you are interested in reading more about the Hubleys and "Windy Day" then check Michael Sporn's animation blog here .

In the meantime I am off to find my recorder stash... I heard that groan Husband and Brother!

Have a great week

Monday, 9 January 2012


Well ~ 
I have been tumbled and bundled and blown and strewn all the way back to the Lane from a New Year spent in wind whipped Cornwall. I would like to say that as a result I look fashionably tousled...unfortunately I am more inclined to admit I look rather washed and wan.

Cornwall, on the other hand, looked as ravishing as she ever does in Midwinter - all sparse and bare boned and all the more beautiful for it. I love the muted colour of a January coastal landscape, it seems to suit my mood.

I am sure it will not surprise you to hear that I have been reflecting on what has passed and ruminating on what's to come. (Obligitary, is it not during the first foray into January?) I have perused my postings and wondered if there is a single photograph to stand as an epitaph for 2012 and the truth is no there isn't.

Last year was brilliant in many ways. Starting out as it did with the bitter disappointment of losing out on THIS house, learning to bear it and then Lady luck threw us a double six, so here we are, arriving in June.The downhill part of 2012 a pleasure, discovery, delight, new friends. There I will leave it...2011 I shall ever be thankful for this new Lane.

But what of the tantalising Cornish break? I know that my Faraways will be longing for their Cornish "fix" so here she is...all pinky grey granite and glowing emerald and watery silver...
Finally some colour creeps in 
 The camelia confetti made me smile - so abundant and decadent, unexpected and so early?
 Last night I saw a preview of David Hockney's forthcoming exhibition (Check out Countryfile on i-player). It was extraordinary, the way he sees colour reminds me of the impressionists. I was particularly struck by the ease with which he has embraced new technology - his i-pad sketches are fantastic. He has the ability to make you look again at the ordinary. Returning again and again to the same subject and seeing it differently every time - wonderful. I will definitely be heading to the RA to see "A Bigger Picture" this month.

I am not one for resolutions but I do like to refocus, I like perspective and to be open minded and to really see. I wish you all a very Happy, if belated, New year.

With love for 2012,