Having just written the last post about Fornasetti's muse, I opened January's edition of House & Garden and found these images of Sue Timney's house in Kent. Sue is a co-founder of Timney Fowler, which created stunning black and white textiles and fabrics, and moved on to other interiors accessories.
Sue operates on her own now. When I manufactured under licence to The National Trust for Scotland one of my design ideas was to create a ceramic collection based on the images of the Scottish C18th miniaturist, caricaturist and engraver John Kay, from a small collection I purchased in Edinburgh.
I could think of no better a company to produce these designs than Timney Fowler, so I went to visit Sue at her atelier in London. For some time her designs have become a favourite decoration for ceramics too, (top image).
For various reasons we did not pursue the project, but Sue was generous in her time and interest. It should come as no surprise that she too enjoys the work of Fornasetti, as seen in many items in her flat.
I am using amuse-bouche in its literal translation of mouth amuser. Lina Cavalieri (1874-1944) was a renowned opera singer in Europe and the United States at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
Cavalieri was also a great beauty and considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Her lips and mouth no doubt contributed to this attribution. In a further play on words, Cavalieri became a muse for the designs of Piero Fornasetti:
and my alternative to a Christmas tree, in a black glazed pot in the kitchen.
A close up of this orchid, with its exquisitely delicate flowers.
A smaller "tree", in a yellow-glazed pot, in the drawing room.
Again the flowers are an unusually delicate species.
We decided rather than cut flowers this year, we'd buy potted orchids to decorate the two rooms that will be used most over the Christmas period - the kitchen, when we're either cooking, making drinks or drinking drinks, and the sitting room, where we shall entertain our guests on Christmas Eve, whilst we sip cocktails and nibble on fois gras that a couple have brought from the south of France, from whence they travelled earlier this week without encountering the chaos being experienced by their countrymen in the north, and indeed those in northern Europe generally.
I am immensely grateful that I am not caught up in that, and consider my own little inconvenience of a fire drill on the 25th insignificant, with its alarm, which I'm now considering a Thai version of Christmas bells, or as one of our neighbours said: Fire drill on Christmas Day...what are they afraid of...that Santa has set the chimney on fire? Or the power cut by the Metropolitan Electricity Authority of Bangkok on Boxing Day, from 08.30 till 15.30.
My morning swim is not quite as shocking as this man's experience in the unheated outdoor lido on Parliament Hill in north London.
None-the-less, with the humidity down to 50%, and the angle of the sun causing it to shine on the pool for less hours during the day, it is my own Neva-esq experience for the initial couple of lengths. The pool and its surround, along with other major common areas of the condo will begin a period of renovation in the coming year. I hope. The plan has only been two years in the making. I took the second picture (and others) in August in anticipation of the renovation project starting, and thinking I would need to ensure I had "before" pictures in the bag ahead of the work commencing. Ever the optimist, as you can see.
Top Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images, from The Guardian
I now know at least twopeople originally from Cuba, so it intrigued me why what is normally referred to as Rum & Coke, was given this much more glamourous name. I thought it might be an especially inappropriate name given that many have escaped since the revolution, and many who live there consider their lives to be far from free. But Wikipedia to the rescue informs thusly.
Where others might be sipping on Eggnog, Atholl Brose, or mulled wine, here in the heat of South East Asia, a Cuba Libre makes a nice change from the usual tipple in this household. And more importantly, it's too sweet to be moreish.
Lindaraxa's Garden has recently written about An English Christmas Menu, so I thought it might be nice to link this internationally. I think I'll now move onto that Veuve Clicquot you're serving with the smoked salmon.
Christmas, that is. It seems odd to me, in a country that is more than 95% Buddhist, Christmas even gets a look in. But it does, in the worst and tackiest ways, predominantly displayed through glittery, shiny, tacky, (yes I know I've just used that descriptor) decorations. I don't suppose many people really know what it's about. So Christmas in Thailand is the marketeers' wettest dream. The masses have bought into something that has no meaning whatsoever. But it's not only in Thailand, it was a cancer that started in the West, and has spread very effectively to all corners of the world where it has no business being. Well, except Christmas is a business of course, silly.
I was lamenting this lack of spirituality and meaning to my beloved, and he remarked that for most people, of whatever religious persuasion, the marketing message had infiltrated the most diverse of cultures, so that now it represented the festive season in its entirety. People enjoy the mad buzz of partying, present buying, giving and receiving. And perhaps they do. Personally I find it an abomination. Not because it has no relevance to the birth of Jesus Christ, (that's entirely up to those who consider themselves Christian), but the meaningless materialism that has taken its place.
My particular bêtenoir, apart from the aforementioned ticky-tacky, is the creation of gift hampers by the supermarket where I shop. Apart from the dubious quality of content, (inter alia a bottle that looks like champagne, filled with "red grape" juice - ya wot?), these are strewn throughout the supermarket floors, lining the aisles and making navigating a trolley more tiresome than you could think possible. (Navigating a trolley in most supermarkets in this city ought to be an Olympic event, given the obstacle course that shoppers face.) There seems a particular art here for shop display, which must deliberately be in the way of participants trying to get through a store. This is most effective at entrances and exits and near to escalators. My upmarket and Westernised Thai friend describes it as the Temple Fair mentality; however ordered something is, there seems an amazing ability to instantly create disorder, with noise and chaos seemingly encouraging the unsure to part with oodles of cash on items of little or no value. What do I know? Perhaps it works.
Having just penned this little rant-ette, I found a CD in the bowels of the collection entitled Christmas Meditation, with Pachelbel's Canon in D, Handel's Messiah, etc etc. I've poured some jolly cocktails; the weather has turned unusually cool. We've opened the balcony doors; it feels positively wintry. All is well in this little world. And not a ticky-tacky in sight.
Anyway, on that note, be sure to enjoy Christmas y'all.
Jean François de Troy, The Oyster Lunch, 1735, Musée Condé, Chantilly Apparently the first painting in which champagne is depicted, (in the wine cooler in the foreground).
As an old tart once said: I only drink champagne when I'm happy, and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty.
One of my fellow committee members here at the condo asked if she could bring her architect and interior designer to see our apartment, (for the third time), as there were features that she wanted to copy. Previous visits had been with an earlier designer with whom she was no longer working, and with her husband, to show him the built-in bookshelves for his, well books. It was surprising that seemed to be a novel idea, but indicative of the way this story goes. One of the previous times she was so late for the appointment that this time I texted her a couple of hours before the visit to remind her that I was expecting her at noon, and received confirmation that she would be here at the agreed time. And indeed she was, armed with a (guilty) box of chocolates from Maxim's.
The architect and designer are the same company that are doing the general renovation of the condominium, which I wrote about here, and which is still awaiting award of the contract to the company to carry out the work. A salutary reminder if one were ever needed that time means absolutely nothing in Thailand.
Anyway, I imparted my wisdom and design ideas and the assistant was busily taking photos of built-ins etc, but also of everything, including furniture, art etc, as though he was casing the joint. I was of course aware of it, and felt slightly put out by the liberties being taken, but then I suppose one should be flattered, and the property has after all been featured in Elle Decor previously. Would this blanket photography make you uncomfortable, or am I overreacting?
I have not had the dubious pleasure of seeing the apartment that is to be transformed, but having watched The First Wives Club again the other night, I was reminded of Goldie Hawn's terrific line as her character Elise to Bette Midler's Brenda when she visits Brenda's apartment: "Oh, I've never been to your apartment. It's so real...".
I expect my committee friend's flat, judging by the comments to the designer are also real.
A long lost friend came to visit Bangkok recently and took us to the new neighbourhood star restaurant "nahm", which means water in Thai. The chef is David Thompson of the Michelin-starred "nahm" in London. Convenience wise the restaurant could not be better located; The Metropolitan uses our soi (lane), so we are literally next door. Cocktails here, and dinner there makes for a traffic-less and stress free experience.
One downside however was the expense - nearly USD500 for three. This cost is probably not exceptional in London, but in Bangkok it is unusual, especially for Thai food, so it is unlikely to become a regular watering hole, unless someone else is picking up the tab. Thankfully, this was one such occasion. Otherwise it is literally spending money like water, although I suspect the name choice has little to do with that.
...and on. Some images from Scotland, sent by my brother. Exciting for a while, until the novelty wears off, and not so much fun when you're snowed in for three or four days, with no access to the village.
These little opalescent creatures - geckos - or chingchok in Thai, or chikchak to us as children growing up in Malaya, are most welcome in my flat; whatever the language, the name for them is onomatopoeic. They tend to appear at night and can sometimes give you a start, if you enter a room and turn on the light. They are not always in view, but I do consider them an environmentally friendly form of pest control. They eat ants and other unwanted flying objects. With our windows and doors closed most of the year because of the airconditioning, and to prevent mosquitoes, the main diet is ants. Even these have a tough time, with a regular monthly pest control service, (of the less than environmentally friendly variety). But they are persistent, and once you have eliminated one trail, another one pops up. Currently we seems to have diverted the flow, but it will only be temporary.
Their constant presence means we never leave food or unwashed utensils lying around. But that disincentive and the fact that we're more than 30 stories up does not seem to deter them.
The geckos seem to enjoy a drink of water and I can sometimes find one in the kitchen sink in the morning, where it has gone to refresh itself from the residue of water. Unfortunately they seem to have difficulty climbing out of the metal sink, and I have to find a sheaf of paper to scoop them up and let them scuttle off to where ever they usually hide. I don't know whether it's more stressful for me or for them.
This diamond encrusted gecko with its emerald eyes is for sale at auction, and seems an unusual subject matter for a brooch, and is clearly of no use for pest control.