above: A HOLLAND PARK MEWS
When I first started blogging I was a freelance stylist and journalist and weekends didn’t seem much different from the week. There was no 9 to 5, no slew of breakfast meetings, or brimming inbox with which to deal. I mainly styled huge money-job shoots for clients in places as random as South Africa, or the Norfolk beaches, which gave me the time to mooch about, read and write in New York.
Now my life looks somewhat different and I could work every hour available to me, so I try to put into practice the lesson that I learned whilst working on a magazine in Manhattan: it is impossible to finish all that there is to be done, so you may as well take the time to breathe, eat, sleep instead. So I’ve taken to recognising the space that the weekend brings, and consciously planning to see friends, cook, nap, walk Lettice and just do stuff that doesn’t always need to recognised. That being said, I always have a camera in my hand, because that seems like second nature to me. (It’s not just the ten years of blogging – I always was the girl looking at life through a lens.)
A couple of weekends back R was moving into her new cottage, so we convened a painting party to help her get settled. By painting I mean the other two painted and I provided the playlist (mainly Stevie’s Innervisions because it’s great to sing along and has a beat), the cake and the wine. I’m not allowed to paint, as I always end up with paint up my nose, in my hair, on the dig and everywhere but the walls.
Lettice watched from the safety of her bed in the bathroom – tiny painted paw prints were not on the agenda.
I brought lunch with me – a pea pilaf recipe I’ve been developing. It needs a bit more work, then I’ll put the recipe up on here.
I also made a kickass coffee and walnut cake. (Yes, those are pecans – I ran out of walnuts for the decoration.)
Sadly I then discovered what happens when bad dogs happen to good cakes. I popped the basked down in my hallway for just a minute or two whilst I went back into my house to grab a coat and those marauding sausage dogs got it first. I blame Maisie.
Painting done, we headed to the pub, as is traditional after any form of English labour, for beer, chips and padron peppers. So very 21st century of us.
I had a blissfully early night and woke naturally at 7am, so headed to Columbia Road Flower Market. There are two good times to get there: before 9am or after 2pm. The former if you have a shopping list as the good stuff sells out very quickly and if you hate crowds (because I find it unbearable after about 10am), and the latter as there are astonishing bargains to be had as the market winds down.
My mission was mainly because it was Chloe’s birthday and I wanted to give her armfuls of roses – the money I’d have spent on a hand tied bouquet from a florist got me six dozen roses in the market. I also grabbed these narcissi for me – all of these for a tenner.
Marketing done, Lettice and I drove straight to my sister’s house to pick her up for breakfast. I had been sent some vouchers to try out Giraffe’s new menu, and there is a branch in Belsize Park, very near to us. The staff are all charming, the space welcoming, and the coffee good, but the huevos rancheros was a pale imitation of the real thing, and the fruit unripe.
Breakfast done, we headed to the Vale of Health to park up and take the dog onto Hampstead Heath. Traditionally, we’ve always gone via Parliament Hill but decided we really needed to branch out to explore the north west corner of the heath instead.
We were rewarded by some new sausage action – always nice for Lettice and Maisie to make new friends.
And a stunning new walk through the woods.
The dogs were marinated in mud by the end, so I came in to Holly’s and a very wet and splashy bathing session ensued. The dogs do not like being bathed one little bit. I drove home via M&S to pick up some things from Click & Collect for a shoot: I think it’s fair to say that I am always a little optimistic about fitting things into my car…
Then it was home to strip and prep Chloe’s flowers, and turn them into a bouquet, with the help of a roll of florists’ cellophane. (I buy it from the sundries store at New Covent Garden Flower Market.)
I hadn’t quite realised how big and heavy it would be as I transported it across London on the tube, but it was worth it for Chloe. We had a delicious Indian supper at The mango Tree in Borough and then it was home in a torrential downpour to dry off and be welcomed by an ecstatic Lettice.