Week 22, 2015 in Photos: A Library Haul, A Picnic and Toe-Dipping in the Pool

Can you believe that we are already into week 22 of this year? My art journal is getting really thick now. I’ve been really good this month and have been making daily entries. This week, for a change I thought I would post my week in photos. Of course it includes and starts with the obligatory library haul.

Week 22 Library Haul: Brave Irene (cute illustrations), Grantchester (cute vicar), Bobbsey Twins (cute children's story with old-age charm).

Week 22 Library Haul: Brave Irene (cute illustrations), Grantchester (cute vicar), Bobbsey Twins (cute children’s story with old-age charm).

Second Picnic of the Summer in our favorite spot in the Park.

My picnic ‘must-haves’- a good book, my art supplies and art journal in the tigmod folio case along with some music.

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My first attempt at painting outside.

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Painting outside with a limited palette is harder than I thought.

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Oh and I nearly forgot to mention the most important aspect of the picnic!- the food. Eats included a brie, ham and green apple sandwich with mustard! Yum.

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The park has a small farm. This is a miniature horse. How sweet is he/she?

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Some expectant sheep and aloof roosters.

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The days are long and the sky puts on a spectacular show each evening.

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The rhododendrons are blooming…

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…or have bloomed.

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We dipped our toes in the community pool because its too cold to swim yet.

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I’ve been trying to finish the third novella in this book called-‘When the Green Woods Laugh’.

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This is the beautiful poem in the frontispiece of the book.

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…and I made a little poem of my own that I posted on Instagram @bagfullofbooks)

“She opened the door and tossed away the key,

Then she headed for the flowers, like a dainty honey-bee.”

Have a wonderful week friends!

The Darling Buds of May of HE Bates

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Title: The Darling Buds of May

Author: HE Bates

Published: 1958

Location of the Story: Rural Essex, England.

Main Characters: Pop Larkin (farmer, junk dealer), Ma Larkin, their children- Mariette, Montgomery, Primrose, Zinnia, Petunia and Victoria; Cedric Charlton or ‘Charlie’ – an officer from the Inspector of Taxes.

Short synopsis of the Story: Cedric Charlton, an official from the tax payer’s office comes to the Larkin residence to question Pop Larkin on the matter of his unpaid taxes. He doesn’t get very far because the Larkins ply him with good food, drink and heartfelt hospitality and quite soon he forgets the real purpose of his visit. This is aided by the fact that he falls under the spell of the Larkin’s eldest daughter- beautiful Mariette. This is the story of a dreamy summer in the life of the Larkin’s and a glimpse into their beguiling and unconventional way of life

I was first introduced to the book The Darling Buds of May by HE Bates by an English teacher at the tender age of twelve. It seems an unusual book to assign as school curriculum to young impressionable minds. On hindsight, I consider the choice a stroke of genius. I have never read anybody like HE Bates. He has a marvelous ability to capture the art of living a full and plentiful life. He has a genius for capturing a rural scene with a few swift brushstrokes and describing the epicurean delights of food and love quite like him. Here are a few excerpts from the book.

Outside, somewhere in the yard, a dog barked and the drove of turkeys seemed to respond in bubbling chorus. Far beyond them, in broken, throaty tones, a cuckoo called, almost in its June voice, and when it was silent the entire afternoon simmered in a single marvelous moment of quietness, breathlessly.

There is a description of a typical Sunday lunch enjoyed in the garden that one should not read on an empty stomach…

Half an hour later two of the three geese were laying side by side, browned to perfection, deliciously varnished with running gravy, in a big oval blue meat dish on the table under the walnut tree. Other blue dishes stood about the table containing green peas and new potatoes veined with dark sprigs of mint, baked onions, asparagus, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and broad beans in parsley sauce. There were also big blue boats of applesauce and gravy… It was time for ice cream. Mariette rose to fetch it from the kitchen, together with a jug of real Jersey…

Bates has a wonderful raucous  sense of humor. When the Brigadier, a luncheon guest of the Larkin’s is offered a cup of tea after this hearty repast he heartily declines and thinks to himself…

The thought of tea after two plates of goose, asparagus sage and onions, ice cream, and everything else provoked in the brigadier’s stomach a restless thunderstorm. He suppressed a belch of his own, Pop was not so successful and a positive bark leapt out, causing Primrose to say. ” I love sage and onions, You keep having a taste of it all afternoon. And sometimes all night too.”

The book is low on plot. Nothing really seems to happen and if it does, it seems to occur in a somnambulant food-coma induced slow-motion. But the anecdotes are so humorous, the descriptions are so lovely that I at least, don’t mind. I want to be taken to the land of the Larkins and share their summer delights, eat their food and savor their enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life. Everything here, in the words of Pop Larkin, is just ‘Perfick’.

Adapted from a poster designed by Treena Robinson

Adapted from a poster designed by Treena Robinson

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Week Nineteen 2015- A Library Haul and Other Musings

FullSizeRender-2Week Nineteen was packed full of events and books. We celebrated multiple birthdays in our small family and there was lots of cake and good food. I made a pasta drenched in lemons, olive oil, thyme, parsley, garlic and with Italian sausage and red peppers. It was based on a recipe from Laura Vitale who is a great favorite in our household. Our chocolate birthday cake had pastel colored  tiny sugary confetti on it that Little M called ‘little M and M’s’.

On Mother’s Day we visited Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) located in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, which is an outdoor historical museum showcasing some authentic period houses that have been moved from their original locations to OSV. Actors dress up in period costume and tell stories of their past. We badgered them with numerous questions, especially in the  village store selling merchandise of all kinds. Being particularly interested in the stationery and art supplies of the day I was fascinated to find an old watercolor set which would have been popular- perhaps with young ladies painting botanical illustration. Here it is. Isn’t it beautiful?

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Back to the Library Haul. Little M enjoyed Fraggle Rock recently. I decided to pick up the Complete Season 1 of Fraggle Rock along with a book. The book is more like a comic strip and a little too advanced for Little M. Nevertheless she is having a good time looking at the pictures.

Recently I enjoyed re-reading the Darling Buds of May by HE Bates. I decided to pick up the dramatization of the various books. It features stellar performances from the inimitable David Jason as Pop Larkin, Pam Ferris as Ma Larkin and a very young Catherine Zeta-Jones as Mariette.

I had requested a vintage crime novel  from the library by John Dickson Carr called the Mad Hatter Mystery. It came in this ancient omnibus edition. Looking forward to my first book by this acclaimed master of the locked room mystery.

Lastly, Emma: A Modern Retelling was lying on the new book shelves at the library. I have too many books to finish at the moment but I could not resist picking this up. McCall Smith is one of my favorite modern day writers. I wonder what he will do with Austen’s masterpiece?

I leave you with some pictures of Old Sturbridge Village and an entry in my art journal.  See you next week!IMG_0807IMG_0733IMG_0738FullSizeRender-3

Library Haul Week Eighteen- 2015

IMG_0352Week Eighteen of 2015 bade farewell to April and ushered in the month of May. Finally we have apple and cherry blossom gracing trees that had been naked for too long. Daffodils are blooming along with tulips and every morning we awaken to sweet birdsong. The days are long and the sunsets glorious. May is my birthday month. This year I received a set of glorious Faber Castell polychromos colored pencils. I can’t wait to experiment with them.

With the new set of colored pencils in mind it seemed a good idea to request Ann Swan’s book on creating Botanical portraits with colored pencils. The book has several tutorials for creating very realistic botanical illustrations and the tools and colors needed to replicate them. I am finding it an interesting read.

Next on the reading list is Mary J. Macleod’s book ‘Call the Nurse’. The book tells of an English family’s migration to a Scottish Hebridean island. The exact identity of the island is not disclosed but it could be one of the following islands forming the Outer Hebrides. I could be wrong.

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Mary J. Macleod’s family fulfilled their dream of living on this Hebridean island and moved there in the early 1970’s. Macleod earned her living as the island’s nurse. The book tells of encounters with the island’s many inhabitants, their unique way of living, the isolation and beauty of the island and the challenges of living in such remoteness. It is nice to read a book that describes a place that I would love to visit. I am still in two minds about the writing style but of course the story is a unique one and worth reading.

For Little M, this week’s library haul brought to her the pleasures of Jim Henson’s inimitable Fraggle Rock. I watched this series as a child and I just adore it. The puppets are marvelous but the best feature of the shows is the music.

Lastly we are playing catch up with Downton Abbey Season 5. This drama continues to entertain us. Dame Maggie Smith- the dowager is the crowning glory of the show but the various plots and sub plots also hold great interest. From a historical perspective this show is a joy to watch too witnessing the collapse of the English aristocracy and the blurring of class barriers.

I will leave you this week with a recap of some of my journalling efforts from the Month of April. Have you read or watched something interesting recently. Do share!

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