Tuesday, 30 November 2010


it was a weekend sorely needed. spent with good friends.  

admiring all things italian. bikes everywhere. streets readied for christmas.

and ham.

tales to come. 

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


it's one of those times in life when there seems to be a never-ending list of things to do. partly, it's the ramp-up to christmas, partly it's because we'll twice travel to the continent in november, and leave mid-next-month for a trip to the antipodes. partly, it's because in the middle of all of this, moving sounded like a splendid idea. and really, it still does. while i might not have tons of stuff, i do have stuff. and more than i really realised. not wanting to get rid of it all, storage for a time, has become a necessity. and here is where good friends, become great friends, and this friend, becomes a grateful friend!

le boy and i packed the car with my extra stuff and trotted it up to leicester (pronounced les-ter). and exhibiting enormous patience, le boy sat in no less than three traffic jams to complete this task! he's a good egg.

pause for a moment: the most hilarious thing? that as you are exiting london on the M1 the motorway sign reads, "the north" as if it is only one place. not a series of cities and communities, all of which have their own characteristics and charm.

after the boys unloaded my cartons into the garage (i told you they were good eggs!) we spent an enjoyable evening eating a curry and watching a movie. morning brought an egg-cellent cooked breakfast (way to go dj!) and a brisk walk in the country.

country air is so much more invigorating than city air.

there are so many interesting things to find if you take a moment just to look.


Sunday, 21 November 2010


i have very few things of my paternal grandmother. but i have one thing. something she probably used almost daily. something i use almost daily.

i am the granddaughter who knits. perhaps to everyone's surprise.

and as i sit and i knit, i contemplate and i pray, and i feel connected to those who have taken time and marked it with stitches.

have measured it in centimetres and inches.

have said i love you, with their hands, stitching love.

the silver seashell measure, once my namesake's, now measures my love in centimetres and inches.

photos: the beginnings of a.b.barton's christmas jumper

Friday, 19 November 2010

paris? mais oui!

saturday morning started early. really early. deep dark early (which really isn't all that difficult in london at this time of year...) the plan was to meet le boy at king's cross station, with the ruse that we had to take a ridiculously early train to cambridge. le boy was waiting at the station with coffee and tickets - to paris! the expression on marvellous's face was priceless. a quick tour through security and customs and we were on our way speeding through the chunnel. travelling to paris by train is simply the best, and in my opinion, only, way to go. much more relaxed and sedate than flying, i don't really understand why anyone would fly to paris...at least not from londres.

dropping our bags at the hotel and emerging onto the street, we were steps from the champs elysée.  the weather wasn't perfect, but we were in paris, so who really needs good weather? plus, we had one goal for the trip - not to rush

we wandered to a corner cafe, ordering crouqe monsieur and wine - how else to spend a saturday afternoon? we laughed and talked and then decided it was time to see the landmark. my personal goal for the trip was to get in some good photos.

mission accomplished.

wandering along the left bank we took cover from the drizzle in a cafe. and feasted our eyes on the back streets of paris. complete with marvellous trying to buy a cheap beret in a tourist-y shop which i pronounced, a little too loudly, was not a real store. le boy was much bemused. i just think he's a little bewitched.

tuckered out from walking we traipsed back to the hotel and spent a few hours napping. le boy was exceedingly happy that the all blacks game was permitted background noise. a transatlantic call from the barton boy sealed dinner's fate and we found ourselves in a cozy french restaurant on ile-saint-louis where you helped yourself to cured meats, soup, bread, pate and salad, and where there is no dessert without eating the cheese first - clearly it was my kind of place. might i add that it had excellent service as well. 

marvellous had a deep and completely understandable desire to see paris at night, it is after all, the city of lights. and so we wandered. and wandered. and it was spectacular. and really what is paris without a little gelato on ile-de-la-cite? 

morning came soon. can we just pause for a moment and appreciate french breakfasts? i love everything about them. i love their name: petit dejeuner. i love the crusty bread. and the preserves. and the incredible coffee. and the croissants. little pillows of perfection.

and so we wandered some more: 

for we had the pièce de résistance: laduree. 

tea and coffee and omlettes and the best 'french fries' i've ever had, stacked like a log cabin. and macroons for the journey home. 

and it was time to say au revoir, a bientot. 

thanks for coming marvellous. we had an incredible time with you. next time, please bring the barton boy.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

how marvellous!

marvellous arrived on thursday, well after the darkness had fallen. the thing about my parents is that they actually still get as excited to see us now, after 26 years and everything we've ever done, as they were when we were small. maybe more so. my parents are excellent examples of determined joyfulness when it comes to their children. and we are so much the richer for it. the hugging and cuddling and kisses and love started at once, it was so good just to be in each other's presence. i always feel slightly less responsible when marvellous is around, slightly less in charge. maybe that will change when i have my own enfants?

the best thing about marvellous visiting is that she is totally (well almost totally) independent in london. the tube, the streets, the city - after decades of visiting - are finally starting to feel a little familiar. armed with a pocket map (which she consults on an almost minute-ly basis) and a uk mobile, the city is her oyster - she has one of those also (oyster cards are the name for the london transport pass). a thursday of shopping and drinks with le boy in a posh marylebone lounge ended with us eating a simple supper at home. my favourite app did not disappoint and i reignited my love affair with poached eggs. who am i kidding, i've never really turned my back on them. a salad with eggs and bacon, described as the salad for meat-eaters. count. me. in.

an early night was called for because we had an early morning to train to "cambridge" to catch. if by cambridge you mean...paris!

poached egg and bacon salad (adapted from how to cook everything app)

2 poached eggs
mixed greens
8 strips of bacon or 200g of diced pancetta
1 medium shallot, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
100 ml vinegar (red wine, balsamic)

1. heat oil in a frying pan, add pork product of choice, after a 5 min add shallot. meanwhile boil water to poach eggs. and fill a large salad bowl with hot water.
2. dry salad bowl and fill with leaves. add vinegar to frying pan, allow to reduce slightly. pour over greens. plate - topping with a poached egg.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


a few months ago i was making for baby (not mine!) well baby has arrived. and making finished up just shortly after he made his way into the world.

brown paper packages were sent airmail to a little someone an ocean apart. the first of the next generation. it hardly seems possible that we're there now. that we're at the getting-married-having-babies-being-adults stage. i always remember the antics with my cousins, the fun and the laughter and the roads we've walked together. i'm oh so blessed to have grown up with them near and to be still close (at least in spirit) today. 
and while we didn't grow up around our second cousins, i surely hope that this newest generation will. i simply cannot imagine life and family and celebrations without them all around. even if i do tend to miss a good number of those comings-together at the moment. 
 this was insanely easy to knit up. i mean almost boring. but i used the time to teach myself continental knitting. so that's good. and in the end the baby merino super wash, super soft, stripy, gender neutral (the babe was to be a surprise!) worked just perfectly. and it reaffirmed my love for drops wool. much less expensive than other wools, just as nice to work with. the pattern is from purl - super easy baby blanket. and it was.
hoping it keeps a wee-one warm in the now blustery true-north.

links: baby blanket pattern : drops yarn

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