Saturday, 26 June 2010

Swedish Style


I have been off working on a shoot for BBC Home & Antiques this week, with the lovely Charis White. This time the story is Scandinavian Reds and Whites. When we arrive the location house is a beautiful blank canvas, with fabulous period details, great shuttered windows, and twin fireplaces in nearly every room. Typically these location houses are all white with decent floorboards and features, just ready and waiting to be transformed.



Couriers arrive bearing gifts (well, boxes and boxes of props) and are left to hoist heavy pieces of furniture up several flights of stairs. I'm amazed at how they manage to negotiate stairs and awkward antique furniture without ffing and blinding, but they do. I'm disappointed that I don't hear them saying "To me" "To you", so I quietly mouth it to myself and chuckle.


Jude, our handyman/set builder for the day gets cracking on the walls creating a slightly aged effect on a fine red border to be used for one room set. Its a simple and effective idea that you could try at home with the help of a spirit level and a bit of dry brush work. I couldn't resist sneaking a picture of Jude's lovely paint splattered brushes.

Once the paint was dry and goodies unwrapped we were ready to set up the first shots and get furniture and props in place. These are just a few piccies of some of the beautiful items sourced by Charis, who always manages to combine new and old, high end and high street. She can be relied upon to come up with interesting pieces and novel little finishing touches like the gingham and mini baskets, which were to be used for a table dressing idea.

Look out for the finished article in October's Issue of BBC Homes and Antiques

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Watery ways

A saturday off is a rare treat in my diary, so I took the opportunity to pop into town to check out Waterfest, a local community event to celebrate our wonderful waterways. My pals Jo and Lucy were involved in organising the day through their work on the Reading Borough Council events team.


When I arrived the day was in full swing, with lots of stalls set up in the Forbury Gardens raising awareness of Environmental Issues, and charity stalls and crafts along the canalside. There was a lovely atmosphere with entertainers walking around on stilts, bunting blowing in the breeze, bands playing and deck chairs set up for the audience to relax and enjoy the ambiance.



Along the waterfront, there were so many lovely little narrowboats lined up with boaters who had come to support the event, take part in a boat parade, and were happy to chat to people about their boats and show people around their homes.

I have always fancied setting up home in a little narrowboat and love all the cheerful traditional styling like the rose and castle decorative details that you see painted on shutters, watering cans, buckets and planters. I would love to spend some time on a barge to see if I could live with so little width! I think it would be really cosy and I love the idea of being so close to nature.



After a little walk along the canalside, checking out the boats and the charity stalls, having a rummage through some jumble I stopped to enjoy a band playing on chocolate island, and headed back to meet friends. The sun even came out for a little while and blue skies poked through the grey clouds as "La Mort Subite" took to the stage. These guys are a great little band with a beguiling mixed heritage and a rousing eastern european sound that really appeals to my gypsy soul!

Unfortunately, we missed their second set to go on a boat trip, which was delayed by the rubber duck race fiasco (the ducks floated upstream rather than down stream defying the laws of physics and we had to wait for them to show up before we could go on our little journey round the local canals). I snaffled some rather scrummy rum and raisin, and butterscotch fudge, as our boat pootled along the waterways around Reading. The windows were wide open which I love, and the boat seemed rather low in the water so we were almost at eye level with Mallards, Canadian Geese and Coots who swam alongside us hoping for some meagre morsels. It was lovely to see all the lush foliage along the canalside, to see little ducklings swimming with their mums, and to spot birds nesting along the way.

It was a really lovely relaxed day spent down by the waterside, a cheap family day out and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. I certainly did and fully intend to check out either a narrowboat holiday or at the very least hiring a boat for a day so that I can get a feel for whether I would enjoy living on a boat. Watch this space.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Stars and Stripes

Its been a really busy week for me, hence the lack of posting. Saturday I got a call asking if I could assist on a shoot for the magazine Homes and Gardens with none other than Katrin Cargill, one of the very best Interior stylist's on the English Interiors publishing circuit and a star amongst stylists. Of course, I jiggled my work load and said yes I would absolutely LOVE to help. What an opportunity.
The shoot was taking place at a location house near Waterloo over 3 days and the theme was Stripes. Katrin had come up with 3 very different room sets, all of which would have 3 shots - an opener, a double page spread and a detail shot. I can't give too much away, as the photos are under wraps until October's Issue comes out, but the mix of wall coverings, fabrics, and furnishings was fabulous.

On the ground floor we set up quite a smart casual dining room scene, with plush haberdashery used in novel ways to create stripes on a fairly neutral backdrop; the sitting room was elegantly styled in subtle stripes and soft tranquil shades and felt really light and airy; and the bedroom was bold in contrast and stripe-tacular. The theme was carried through to the max, and the shot felt young, modern and playful.

I really enjoyed the shoot. They are always hard work - running up and down stairs, fetching, carrying, unpacking, ironing, repacking, bubble wrapping, labelling - and require amazing feats of organisation to get everything ready to shoot. Although they can be stressful at times, there is a great sense of camaraderie as everyone is working together to get the job done.


One of the things I enjoy most is unwrapping all the packages. Its so exciting seeing what goodies the Stylist has called in for the shoot, sometimes it feels like Christmas! Its great learning about new designers and artists too and seeing how the pieces all fit together. You can really learn a lot from working with someone like Katrin Cargill who has years of experience of Interior Design, putting together and styling room sets for editorial and advertising shoots and has written tons of books on soft furnishings.

At the end of the shoot, I am shattered but looking forward to seeing the photos in print and looking forward to the next one.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Wild at heart

I am probably a terrible driver as I can be a bit of a daydreamer. I have a habit of gazing out the window and getting distracted by great buildings and pretty scenery. Driving through the English countryside my mind is particularly prone to wandering, and I can’t help but coo over flora and fauna as I pass.

Occasionally you just have to stop and smell the flowers. Or perhaps snap them. As a florist I love all flowers but there is something so special about wild flowers. They seem so delicate and fragile. I am especially loving poppies at the moment for their flimsy bright petals and dusky black centres. It only takes a gust of wind and they're gone. Life's a bit like that sometimes, but its beautiful all the same.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

I want to ride my bicycle

It was my day off yesterday and as I've been yearning to get out on my bike for ages, but for some reason or other always finding other distractions to fritter away my precious time, I gave myself a jolly good kick up the jacksey and dusted down the bicycle - literally.



With all the essentials safely stashed in a dinky knapsack I set off, not really knowing where I was heading. I was looking forward to being out and about in the fresh air, aimlessly roaming and exploring, just happy to take in the views and see where my little bike led me.





I was in no hurry, and was even overtaken at one point by a jogger! I stopped occasionally to grab some snaps of pretty scenes, even fighting my way bare legged through long grass, nettles and thistles to get a shot of a pretty field - turns out it wasn't worth it, think I need to upgrade the camera.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Wild flower meadow


Something tells me it may be time to cut the grass, but I just can't bring myself to do it as the daisies and buttercups look so lovely. May just loll around watering some plants, and potting up some herbs for my window box. Then perhaps a spot of lunch alfresco in my own little meadow. I have a trillion and one things to do, but a picnic on the lawn and bike ride later sounds so much more appealing. You have to make the most of these sunny days, n'est ce pas?

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