Monday, 30 November 2009

Andrew Octobrary

Today is St Andrew's Day and the end of November. This is momentous because I live in Scotland and because I am at odds with November - even the charitable cheerfulness and rampant facial hair of Movember cannot change this.
The night before St Andrew's Day is believed in Eastern Europe to be endowed with magic that will tell a young woman about her future husband or bind him to her. In Poland, girls used to write the names of potential husbands on pieces of paper and sleep with them inside their pillowcase. When they woke up, the first name they picked out was supposed to be their future husband. Other superstitious customs are to sleep with 41 grains of wheat under your pillow (if you dream of someone coming to steal them, you will get married next year) and to throw a clog over your shoulder - if it lands pointing to the door, you'll get married that same year.

Time ticking past is a very funny thing. Sometimes, I feel acutely aware of the seconds and minutes and hours passing me by and sometimes, I wake up and realised a week has been and gone without my knowing.
I'm willing to welcome winter in but markable change always makes me pine a little for what came before, regardless of how I felt about it at the time. So goodbye autumn and in memoriam, here is the sound of my fall this year, songs to hear as time gallops away with me like wild horses.

dress - vintage fair; necklace - DIY

I'm going to the History Masquerade Ball tonight; it gives me a rare opportunity to take the the Mrs Cook dress out for a well-deserved spin, hooray!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Coupla Easy Things

My sister's beautiful fireplace with the original tiles and brickwork; a birthday card for Kyle; window art; The Meadows in the mist; me and my homegirls at a wedding.

Saturday, 28 November 2009


Combat the cold and wet with copious cups of tea, warm knits, chocolate-peanut-butter milkshakes, barbeque cheeseburgers with the best onion rings in the land, and a vintage Estee Lauder umbrella.

Photographs by Emily, I love when she comes to visit.

found at Bleubird Vintage

Friday, 27 November 2009


Watching the shied core
Striking the basket, skidding across the floor
Shows less and less of luck, and more and more

Of failure spreading back up the arm
Earlier and earlier, the unraised hand calm,
The apple unbitten in the palm.

- As Bad as a Mile from The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin

I firmly believe that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and that apple picking adventures could cure almost anything.

Slow Club - Apples and Pairs
(There's something very charming about little homespun animations.)

Thursday, 26 November 2009

November Blues

It seems a sad substitute to be riddled with sneezes and having to make happy soup and hot chocolate in order to stave off misery, instead of gorging on the feast of last year with good friends who are now far away. But moping is not in the spirit of thanksgiving! So here are three things I'm grateful for...
1) lovely people like Rosie who come bearing mini chocolate cupcakes and a tangerine for vitamin C and stay until midnight to talk about anything at all
2) putting up the Christmas tree with two of the best girls in the world
3) The Avett Brothers, who understand that November is hard

The Avett Brothers - November Blue

Happy Soup
- carrots
- suedes
- butternut squash
- onions
- celery
- fresh ginger
- fresh garlic
- herbs de provence
- butter
- vegetable stock
- gravy powder
Use as much or as little of everything as makes you happy.
Eat hot from a big bowl.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Roslyn, A Northern Wind

I watched New Moon at the weekend, and was bowled over by the soundtrack more than Jacob Black's physique. And I like wolfy-looking boys a lot, so that's saying something. Lykke Li and Grizzly Bear and a duet between Bon Iver and St. Vincent? Oh my.
This manifesto makes me happy, hear hear and huzzah!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

To U From I

I am writing you letters (two to be exact) - they are I and U; two separate vowels with a gaping hole that belongs between them, a void that is achingly obvious, even in absence. The void has a name and it sounds like a sigh in the night of a lover in a lonely bed, or the last breath from a body that pushes the soul out skyward. It goes round and round and round, like a carousel or a ring around the moon.

There is a void between us, but of physical things, and time and distance. It is a void that can be bridged with love and effort and crossed by a journey. There is nothing impossible. So to remind you that the gaping hole between us is not impossible nor forever, I will write you a letter of letters spelling words and sentences. It will say "I owe you" and the only void will be at the end, where I should write "everything".

Monday, 23 November 2009


I would like to get into bed and stay there, safe with the bedsocks my mama knitted me and my borrowed copy of Ken Follett's World Without End, eating scotch pancakes. But a girl has to do what a girl has to do, and today that means going to all my lectures, starting an essay and having lunch with someone lovely.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Of Mice and Wild Men

We have a mouse. It is small and brown and quick. It appeared as if by magic at midnight on Hallowe'en and has reappeared every now and again since then. Last night I had an awful dream that I accidentally dropped it and its family down the stairs. None of our food has been tampered with and other than occasional scurries across the hall and scratching in the wall, there is no sign to say the mouse is there. I would feel awful to leave traps for such a well behaved house guest.

I have mentioned this before, but I'd like to repeat myself, because now is the perfect time of year to introduce or reaquaint yourself with Into The Wild. I love it more than words could tell you. This painting is an old one by an old friend. He is the type of person who is quiet and contained, but has a spark about him that is what I think of when Jack Kerouac talks about people who "burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars".

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Monday, 16 November 2009


Hafan means "summer home" in Welsh, and is the name of my grandparents' house. My great uncle lives in San Francisco and sends me his memoirs of early life in rural Wales. It is through him and my gran, his sister, that I learn more about my family, like my watch-making mechanic great grandfather. They are keepers of history, as we all are in our own way, and I am grateful for having such loving mines of information.

I'm going home this week, for a wedding. The house that I call home in England has really become my summer home. I still live and love it there, but I have a home here as well. There is an address in this city with just my name on it.

Sunday, 15 November 2009


I had a lovely weekend. This is because of a flat full of visitors, plenty of good food, charity shops and the carboot sale, purchasing lots of lovely crockery, David Attenborough, books about Incas and pharaohs, cheap-as-chips Mazzy Star and Antifolk and Life Aquatic soundtrack CDs, and a Tegan and Sara gig tonight to top everything off. The only thing that could have made it better would have been being able to hang out with my fleeting best boy before he flew off atop his skis, and seeing a beautiful girl on her birthday before her black eye'd incident...

Rains fell cold through June.
Grass is up to my thigh.
Say if it dries up, it'll burn just like the moon.
Say it opens up the seeds of the pine.

I only want to dream about you,
The dollar that could spend but I should save.
Just to see my fingers in your hair,
The golden wheat around us and beneath us where we lay.

You're a slow ride down a country mile.
You're the smell of apple pie to the blind.
You're the last light on a July western sky.
You're the center of the watermelon. You're a sweet, sweet smile.

Cottonwoods shakin' in the breeze,
Surrounded by a starry sky.
Easy to forgive the things we need.
Easy to stumble around mostly blind.

I could tell you not to come in from the storm.
I could tell you not to be so kind.
I could tell you not to close the door.
I could say I never wanted you for mine.

Rains fell cold through June.
Grass is up to my thigh.
Say if it dries up, it'll burn just like the moon.
Say it opens up the seeds of the pine.
(Martha Scanlan)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Tick Tock

Busy o'clock! There aren't enough hours this weekend!

But I wonder if I have enough time to watch Return To Oz...

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Breakbeats, Not Feet

I am getting my money's worth out of these Russell & Bromley boots this autumn, after an unpleasant bloody start with unbroken leather...
The dress is borrowed and has the prettiest beading detail around the collar; the cardigan and leggings are Topshop; the belt is thrifted; the cider is Westons' organic pear, and this was for the launch night of the READ charity naked calendar.
Hello, boxing club - goodbye, boys who can't breakdance.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Remember, remember...

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


All the butterflies are dead for the time being, but they will be back with the spring.
Isn't that an encouraging thought?
Beautiful things can fall apart but more beautiful things will come in their place.
It's okay to be sad sometimes; I think everyone should know that.

Monday, 9 November 2009

First Frost

Crunching over glittering grass, a Starbucks dark cherry mocha, a lesson on rememberance and forgetting, organic cider soothing chapped lips, an assignment on storytelling, vanilla-lemon fairy cakes for a charity bake sale and three little doves sitting outside my window.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Whiplashing Love

I finished Norweigan Wood by Murakami, at last. It was hopeful and sorrowful and beautiful and left me feeling full. How lovely it would be to have a boy like Toru tell you he loved you "enough to melt all the tigers in the world to butter". As lovely as a siren song.

Siren Song - Bat for Lashes

On a quiet wet Friday afternoon a while ago, I was watching Northanger Abbey and the romantic escapades of heroine Catherine, wondering how every Austen girl ends up in the true hero's arms, when I unearthed an article by Jenny Dickinson in the October edition of Elle, called If You Like Pina Coladas.
Did you know that humans are not in the 3% of mammals considered naturally monogamous? Marriage is, as so many men and women across the ages have argued, against our nature, even more so with the nature of 21st century life. But I agree when she suggests "that's the very reason modern love is braver, more romantic even than that of the Jane Austen era".
I come from a family with a majority of successful matches and marriages, but who's to say that this kind of intuitive sensibility is genetic? Unfortunately, happy endings are not part and parcel of your inhertitance. But with such an overwhelming experience of real romance, willing compromise and happy family, I hope I will always be the kind of girl who has faith in finding someone and holds out for something special, for "snatched kisses and licking each other's ice creams on Cornish beaches" - it sounds so simple, but I can't imagine life without that kind of love.

This Modern Love - Bloc Party

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Men's Hearts in the Great Alone

I am writing a short review for my university's bi-annual history magazine, Retrospect, about The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography exhibition at the Queen's Gallery, which is bested by a long shot by this article. This semester's theme is "Trial and Retribution"; the feats of these fearless men and the stunning photography of Ponting and Hurley showcased in the exhibition beautifully illustrate the trials we put ourselves through and our retribution against the cruellest facets of nature.

Ernest Shackleton, the famed Antarctic explore described by a friend as "a Viking with a mother's heart", loved the history of adventure, and poetry, and the sea, just like I do. He is particularly fascinating to me as he is possibly my great grandfather's cousin - we've yet to know this for sure, but his story has been recounted to me so many times that it feels part of our history and in my eyes, he is as good as family.

This was his favourite poem, passed to me by my grandpa who knows it word for word;

We are the fools who cannot rest
In the dull earth we left behind
But burned with passion for the south
And drank strange frenzy from its wind
The land where wise men live at ease
Fades from our unregretful eyes
As blind across uncharted seas
We stagger to our enterprise

- John Lucas, an Irish writer

Friday, 6 November 2009

Taking Liberties

I want to go back to New York.