Look at these two beauties that Roland has bought me for an early Christmas present. Aren't I lucky? They look down serenely on us as we go about our day to day stuff. I know some people may think they are a bit creepy but I love their faces.
We have been on a short road trip to Belgium and then nipped over the border to Holland to bring back these. I love road trips with the two men in my life. Roland because he is such an excellent and unflappable driver who is happy to divert to any interesting place and Alexei for being an such easy travelling companion. . . however, sitting still for the teacher in the classroom is a different matter entirely. Just in case you thought he was also an angel and I was being unbearably smug.
Some great things about Belgium.
1. First things first: Beer. Chocolate. Chips (double fried apparently) and mayo. Waffles . . . but hold the cream - I don't want to have a heart attack just yet. Even a simple aperitif is an occasion in Belgium. Alexei's Appletise was served in a lovely fluted glass which made him feel very grown up. I loved seeing little old ladies come in for a glass of beer and then toddle off home. I could imagine being quite happy as an old lady in Belgium.
2. Nice people, lovely scenery, quiet roads which were made even better by having Sat Nav for the first time. It's wonderful. Everyone must keep trim by riding their bikes everywhere.
3. The cleanest toilets in the world, even in the oldest buildings. I like a nice loo. Although I was a little perturbed by the urinals being in full view as I scurried past to the ladies. Guess us British are a bit uptight like that.
4. My friend and neighbour, Kyra is from Belgium and she is lovely. (I had to mention Kyra as she is Belgium's best export, excluding the beer and chocolate of course.)
5. And finally a humbling experience when I kept having to blink back the tears. A visit to the battlefields of the First World War and seeing the horror of the trenches and all those headstones stretching away into the distance. We are so, so lucky in comparison. I hope the angels are looking after all those lost.
On a much more trivial note, the Christmas Lantern cards are now in the shop. And a pack will be winging it's way to Elizabeth and Donna for the idea of filling my treasure chest with all those trinkets and memories. In actual fact, we need to add a couple more rooms for the "treasures".
Tomorrow is going to be a fun day. Molly and Daisy are coming to spend the day with me as Catherine and Ben are moving to their new house, just a couple of minutes walk away from us. Alexei is off to a High School Musical Dance workshop so I will be able to have a unashamedly girlie day with two of the cutest little girls I know!
I thought it was about time I shared some of my inspirations with you. Here they are all spread out in a messy pile on the table. They are, in no particular order: Arthur Rackham (I worship him and his muted colours and wonderfully grotesque penmanship.), Margaret Tarrant and Cicely Mary Barker, both amazing fairy and nature illustrators. Bizarrely, I kind of admire their sort of spinster/religious/frugal lifestyle. You know the kind of thing” I’ll just paint some bluebells I found on my brisk walk and sketch the neighbourhood’s charming children.”
I’m not like that at all, in case that wasn’t clear.
I also like Mabel Lucie Attwell who is a bit more kitsch and Molly Brett who does lots of cute animals wearing jolly waistcoats and hats. I love pictures of animals wearing clothes. (I do resist the temptation to dress up the cats.)
Another thing I have always been fascinated with is the story of the Cottingley Fairies. I love the photographs the girls took.
And lastly, my own tribute to the Cottingley Fairies which has been sitting in our front room for a few years now: Alexei asleep in a poppy field, which alone was a nice picture, but some fairies that look suspiciously like some of Arthur Rackham’s have appeared mysteriously.
Alexei has always been a little nonplussed by this picture and snorts with derision at it now. But a little girl who lives down my road can’t decide whether they are real or not.
Here's my latest project -a vintage chest I got at the vintage fair with Catherine. I've been looking out for a box to pimp for some time so here it is.
My printer (not a person but a machine) really grumbled about printing the wallpaper and made all kinds of freaky noises. I wallpapered the inside with the last scraps of the stairwell wallpaper. It really is my favourite wallpaper of all time and I think it is the thing I would miss the most when we move (if we ever do). I really LOVE wallpapering. It's so satisfying. Obviously it's only satisfing if the wallpaper is your own lovely choice. I would rather boil my own head than paper with blown vinyl or other such hideousness.
I sprayed the metal bits in the garden.
No I didn't spray my toenails the same colour. Actually my feet are due to go into hibernation any day now which I dread as I'm not much of a sock lover.
Anyway, I have another question for you all. What should go in the box?
Just leave me an idea and the best one will receive a set of the latest Pixieland Christmas cards.
Oh, and I decided to go with the first design as there was something I wasn't quite happy with the drawing on the second. Nothing I can really explain but just a feeling that it is not quite right and the best thing for me to do when this feeling strikes is to abandon it for a while. It may make another appearance in a different guise one day. Meanwhile, the file named Unfinished just gets fuller day by day.
Many thanks for all your comments, I love reading every one of them.
P.S. Do you remember I said I was going to send the wallpaper into Cath Kidston to see if they were interested in it? Well -they weren't. Although they were very nice about it. Actually they don't use other designers which surprised me a bit. But, heigh - ho - never mind . . . although I do take rejection very personally indeed. . silly old me. I'd LOVE to get it into print. I think the world needs toadstool wallpaper don't you?