Living in colour

When my mother used to tell me stories about her own childhood, the mental images that accompanied those stories were always in black and white. I had seen photographs from when she was small and instead of surmising that colour film had yet to be invented or become mainstream, I just unthinkingly assumed that everything was actually black, white and shades of grey in those days. I remember the occasion when she told me a story about a brightly-coloured item of clothing that she'd been wearing and it suddenly clicked that they must have actually had colour! And although the obvious fact of this revelation has remained with me, a little of my misconception must have lingered in part, for when at the weekend my mother-in-law showed me some embroidered table cloths made by her own grandmother, I was struck by a disbelief that something made over 100 years ago could be quite so vividly coloured.

This butterfly is a very small part of the tablecloth. It is absolutely beautiful and so perfectly made. As I was photographing it, Zebra-girl came outside and looked at the work and as she touched the butterfly's wings I told her how old they were and that it was her great, great, grandmother who had made it. Wow, she said. Quite! She was amazed...but I should add that she clearly thought it perfectly normal that they had coloured things a century ago...thank goodness.

We went on a long walk over the weekend and came across this tree house high up in a tree. It was very professionally made and too good not to investigate further, though unfortunately my ballet shoes have suffered for my adventures.

I came across two exciting things on the Internet at the end of last week: the first of which has been added as a high-priority item to my Amazon wishlist, for in October (what more Autumn goodness could a girl wish for?) the much talked about Marie Claire Idees will be publishing a book of 45 bag patterns: Simply Irresistible Bags: 45 Designs for Going Out, Looking Chic, and Shopping Green. Could there be a more exciting publication? From the preview pictures, of which there are quite a few, it looks like it will be quite wonderful. The second piece of excitement was slightly more of an anti-climax once I realised the event was further away than I wished to travel, but I thought I'd mention it just in case anyone else is in the vicinity who might wish to go: I read on the wonderful Five Valleys Fabric website that they will be hosting a visit from Amy Butler herself, where she will be presenting and talking about her new Midwest Modern collection. In some ways it is a complete relief that this event is out of range, for it is never a nice vision to have of oneself fawning hopelessly over someone, which is what would inevitably be the case if I were to meet Ms Butler. Instead I shall hope that someone else goes and subjects themself to that and is good enough to blog about it afterwards. Oh to be cool as a cucumber around those I admire. Which reminds me of one of my favourite sibling anecdotes: at a book launch for a very serious and incredibly famous and well-respected author, my sister, Laura, presented him with a copy of his book that she hoped he might sign. What would you like me to write in it, he asked. She thought for a moment and then replied: I wonder if you wouldn't mind writing 'For Laura, with thanks for the inspiration'.


  1. I think you're not the only one with this lack of color phenomenon. When you see something in black & white - a movie or a photograph it's so difficult to imagine that it was in color too. On a recent travel to Williamsburg one year, we entered one of the homes and I found I had to stop and ask if the colors of the walls were authentic for that time period. They were: all bright peacock blue and kelly green.

  2. I too used to think everything was in black and white,because of old family photos and old film footage.Isn't it mad!I love the tablecloth,absolutely beautiful!.Thanks for telling us about the new book,looks very interesting!
    Rachel x

  3. I've just had a look at the Marie Claire Idee book of bags. Its lovely and now on my wish list too. Thanks for sharing.


  4. I think is would be so much more a romantic world in black and white- though not bearable for long! I did read in a blog how someone met Amy Butler and gushed about her wonderful blog- only to be told Heather Bailey is the one with the blog! And thank you for your lovely comment on my blog it made me feel absolutely fantastic! You are very kind!

  5. What extraordinary work there is in that lace. The crochet needle must have been minute. How lucky you are to have a treasure like that to pass to your children.

  6. what an amazing shade of blue, and the intracasy of the lace work - absolutly stunning!
    I wonder if the stuff we all make will be owned and treasured by our great great grandchildren?


  7. Hello Florence. You did make me laugh with your bit about Amy Butler - I sooo know what you mean!

    The tablecloth is very beautiful and has that delicacy that belies the notion of colour somehow. Desperately want the Marie Claire book too xx

  8. Yes I think this colour blindness is ripe. My husband still finds it difficult to think of all the old stories & times in colour and not black & white.
    When I watch old films I always try to imagine what colour outfits they are wearing or what the backgrounds looked like.
    Love Alison x

  9. What amazing intricate work! I wonder how old that tree is and what stories it could tell if it could speak.It is beautiful.

  10. Hi

    Just wanted to let you know that I have tagged you on my blog, please have a look

    April xx

  11. I love your sister's reply!

    My children ask me about what it was like in the 'olden days', which is a bizarre experience.

    Your tablecloth is stunning. You're very lucky to have it!


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Florence x