Sunday, 23 April 2017


Say  "Sits"  out loud and rather quickly . What do you think you've just said ?

Well , in most countries you might be assumed to have sneezed  . But here in the C17th if you were frightfully fashionable and rather well off ,  you would have been talking about chintz ... glazed chintz in particular or , these days , you might be going to the  Fries Museum to see their latest exhibition . There's a wonderful  three hundred year-old silk kimono , magnificently preserved and vibrant , that's worth the trip alone .

When the Dutch East India Company managed to elbow their way into the market , picking up this beautifully hand painted or blockprinted  cotton in India to exchange in Indonesia or Japan for spices and china , it became increasingly popular and pieces began to find their way back to Holland ,  to Hindeloopen in particular . There it inspired painted furniture , bed covers and the local women's costume and in fact you can still , in the old fishing ports , see women wearing dresses trimmed with chintz bonnets , decorative sleeves and aprons  .

As eventually the handcarved blocks were brought back by returning East India Company employees and copied  ; the dyeing techniques and the original processes simplified , and substances like buffalo urine , metal salts and saffron replaced with easier to get hold of materials , local factories made cheaper copies . Nearly everyone has some Hindeloopen patterned cotton  around if they've inherited a grandmother's bed linen ... I've got pieces myself , bought in thrift shops and vintage stores .

But two hundred years ago , every scrap of this treasure was hoarded ; stored in airtight chests, sometimes for generations , and eked out to make bodices , baby clothes , collars and cuffs , mittens ...
And , of course , when totally past their best , the more modern pieces found their way to patchwork quilts . Needless to say , I would love to own this quilt

But what I really , really wanted was this very rich little girl's version of Barbie . A C19th doll and her  chest of clothes . TWO straw hats !!

Oh yes , and the hem of this dress . For one of the more tomboyish Bennet sisters , perhaps.


Monday, 10 April 2017

What's The Opposite Of Kondo ?

I have to go to  Briekantiek , then I could completely de-Kondo my life . They sell furniture , jewellery, pitchforks , old tiles , garden furniture ,

holy statues , paintings , straw hats , wood burning stoves of every vintage , rugs , door knobs , giant candle sticks ... That's right . It has absolutely nothing I need , let alone could use .  
Though if I bought the " industrially unique" ( their words , not mine ) crane built in the early 1900's   , and just about visible here behind the red truck , I could free

 myself from the tiresome neccessity of climbing up and down the stairs from street level .
Apartment block one-up-manship ... being lifted onto one's balcony by one's very own personal antique crane . Perhaps I could have it monogrammed ? Attach a crest from the huge heaps of decorative ironwork in Briekantiek's barns. A crest and monogram ? A bit much , perhaps ?
Well ,my new neighbour has prayer flags and a Buddah ... I'm going to have to  pimp up my balcony somehow , till the seeds from those tiny wild sweetpeas that I kept from last year's crop  come out . Once they do , it'll be a bit like Sleeping Beauty's castle . They twine their way round everything at a mile a minute .
 And I've got a little starter kit for growing radishes from the supermarket's Little Gardeners promotion this year , only radishes are one of the very few vegetables I don't like ( fennel being the other one ) . A major investment is called for , obviously . 99 cents for a packet of seeds from Lidl won't make me self-sufficient but will be fun . Courgettes perhaps ...they grow themselves apparently . And if I chose yellow ones , it'd add a touch of Bling .
It's all right , I'll calm down soon ... it's just that Friend and I went to the Collectors Fair in Utrecht at the weekend and all those endless stalls of stuff   does this to me every time . By the end of the day coming home with three soup tureens , a 1930's nightie , a moth eaten toy monkey , five egg spoons and a donkey-shaped velvet teacosy begins to seem reasonable , though obviously we're all avoiding the anatomically correct plaster cast of a diseased lung .

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

It's A Willie Nelson Day

It's a mournful and sad sort of day . If I'd been listening to any other kind of music , I'd just have said I was gloomy , but today's definitely mournful and kind of blue . I'm missing the grandchildren .

Smaller Grandson's class is having a Cake Competition this afternoon and I'm not there to see all their entries or to buy a slice at home-time ( funds raised go towards a much needed make-over of the infants playground  ... welcome to T. May's England ... ) 
S. G.'s chocolate cat cake , which he designed and baked with his father's help looks very stylish , the ganache is shiny and they both managed not to eat all  the Smarties so Puss has a spotty bow tie as well as a CheshireCat smile .

Elder Grandson took to school like a duck to water but we all wondered how his little brother , a much shier child , would cope . Young , imperturbable teacher has let him ease himself in , discover how to read , work out how to do sums using his fingers and toy cars and to work out what he's really good at ... drawing and running very fast , apparently . But better than all this is the group of friends he's made .

His mother , having watched them all hare around the playground , asked him,
 "Who's in your gang ? " whereupon he looked slightly disapproving . "We're not a gang . We're a team ."
 Having said all this , this same child announced over breakfast the other day that he wanted to stay at home to paint instead of going to school . Being told he couldn't , he looked mildly thoughtful but followed along . Getting into his class , he walked up to the teacher and said quite simply,
 "Good morning . I've got nits . " Sadly , same imperturbable young teacher didn't recoil and send him home immediately as he'd hoped  , she checked with his mother , laughed and gave him some pegs to organise instead .

So ,  potholed playground or not the little local primary school's doing as good a job with him as they have with his big brother .