Saturday, 8 May 2010

A week of enchantment

This week has been stuffed with a myriad of experiences. Last weekend I took up arms and decided to paint the bathroom - which I had no idea would take me two days! Such a small room but so much work. Anyway, my friend who is currently writing a children's book wanted to go to Kensington Palace as it has turned itself into the Enchanted Palace - perfect for inspiration. The exhibition sounded right up my street (as what girl does not like fairytales?) so I downed tools and met her in the Orangery Cafe for tea and cake before entering the magical palace.

The exhibition focuses on a quest to find seven princesses, all of whom were former residents of the palace. You are given a map to guide you through the rooms and a pencil to write down the names. The rooms all take on an individual theme relating to the life of a royal princess. Not all are happy, for instance one room focused on the danger of childbirth to both mother and child. My favourite room was the room of 'Dancing Princesses' which was lit with blue light and had life size trees dotted around so it was like entering a moonlit enchanted wood. In a glass case was a beautiful dress with red ballet shoes and a tiara which was worn by Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister.

The room obviously referenced Hans Christian Anderson's The Red Shoes which is a favourite fairytale of mine. In addition I adore the 1948 film starring Moira Shearer. My sister bought it for me for my birthday this year and watching it is a regular Sunday afternoon ritual. So the room of 'Dancing Princesses' was like walking into my dream bedroom - I am not sure I will be able to convince Mr Bell that we should turn our bedroom into a homage to The Red Shoes; but it's worth trying?

On Tuesday it was our monthly V&A Women's Institute meeting which is always enjoyable but was made especially so by the guest speaker who is the blogger and author Jane Brocket. Jane gave a wonderful talk about how she has managed to turn her creativity and domestic skilfulness into a full time occupation. She brought in some of her quilts to show us and I am now totally inspired. For the past few months I have been doing patchwork by hand. I am not a natural at sewing so, inspired by Jane, I am going to throw caution to the wind and buy a sewing machine so that I can have fun instead of fiddling about with papers and tacking and all that malarky.

I also acquired some new books this week which is a pretty normal occurrence, however this transaction did involve me having to lay my pride to one side as I have purchased a book with the worst cover ever. It is truly horrendous and, frankly, it's embarassing that I own such a book when I am such a snob about my volumes. Still, it was only 50p in a charity shop and I will be secreting it away in a dark corner of a very dark room as soon as I have read it.

The offending article is After the War by Frederic Raphael who wrote The Glittering Prizes, a book which I really enjoyed so hopefully After the War will be just as good despite sporting the cheesiest of covers.

I also bought some other 50p books: The Way Through The Woods by Colin Dexter, an Inspector Morse novel so pure indulgence as I love Morse, The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark as I really enjoyed both The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Far Cry From Kensington and another copy of the children's book Redwall by Brian Jacques. I now have three copies but it was only 50p and I couldn't bear to leave it alone on the shelf with no guarantee of a good, appreciative home. I will do a full post on Redwall as I have loved the Redwall books since I was about ten years old and they are partially responsible for my obsession with bells - along with, The Bell by Iris Murdoch, the actual sound of church bells and various other bell-related experiences.

As for Persephone Books Reading Week, I have really enjoyed reading everyone's Persephone Books related posts. I am part of the way through House-bound which is, true to Persephone form, a great read. Fingers crossed Claire and Verity will host another reading week later this year as I don't think I can wait until 2011 for another excuse to buy more Persephones!

The enchantment continues today as I am about to go for afternoon tea at Beas of Bloomsbury with Rachel (Book Snob) and we are meeting Claire, Verity and a whole (insert collective noun) of book bloggers in, my favourite part of London, Bloomsbury. Actually, what is the collective noun for book bloggers?


  1. I can't BELIEVE you posted about those hideous books!!! In fact I still can't believe you bought them in the first place!
    That exhibition sounds fabulous - free entry with V&A pass by any chance?!

  2. Thanks for a Saturday morning giggle, Naomi, that cover is quite cringe-worthy isn't it?! My lovely co-workers like to place discarded Harlequin Romance pbk's in my Princeton file at work to embarrass me.

    Your trip to Kensington Palace sounds like so much fun and what a great idea for a theme!

    I'm so envious of your day out with some lovely blogger friends and hope several of you write all about it for those of us less fortunate.

  3. I'm green with envy over the whole posting!!!! the books, the palace experience (lets know how it goes with the transformation of your bedroom) the day out and the books. I love your selection of books.

  4. You did have a busy week. I love the Orangery Cafe, especially on a Sunday Morning. Call me thick, but I never put together your love of bells before. I have a CD that has nothing on it but different bell peals from different churches in England.

  5. Haha, that book is brilliant - I think it might actually be so bad it's good. Maybe.

    Your week sounds completely lovely - I bought a sewing machine a couple of years ago and have actually just this weekend been experimenting with log cabins, which are really easy and fun. And so much quicker with a sewing machine!!! I do always worry that mine is about to stab me or chew up my fabric, but once you get used to it, it's really brilliant. You should definitely buy one! I shall look forward to seeing your creations.

    I want to go and see enchanted palaces now - I think I'll have to see who I can talk into accompanying me soon.

    And I have never seen the Red Shoes - it looks wonderful and I always mean to see it so shall be getting my hands on a copy very soon.

    Enjoy Bea's - one of my favourite places, I just posted about it in my Persephone week post, actually!

  6. What a great week you've had! The Enchanted Palace exhibition sounds absolutely intriguing and I like the sound of the Orangery Cafe.

    Good book choices, I love Morse. And lucky you meeting up with all those lovely book bloggers and in Bloosmsbury too! A day trip to London is most definitely required.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


  7. What a lovely week you've had!

    I *must* go to that exhibition! The night-time one, I think ... and The Orangery at some point too.

    I read The Girls of Slender Means recently and really enjoyed it; I loved Memento Mori and have been on a bit of a Spark kick of late.

    A gaggle of bloggers?!

    It was lovely to see you again and we should arrange something for the summer.

  8. A shelf of book bloggers? ;) A volume of book bloggers? Ooh ... I kind of like that one.

  9. As usual a lovely post Naomi. What about a manifest of book bloggers or a commonplace of book bloggers?

  10. Sounds like a great week - and it was lovely to meet you again, albeit briefly yesterday.

  11. What a fantastic week! I've written down Kensington Palace and the Orangery now too for my upcoming week in London. The Jane Brocket lecture sounds a delight. Happy machine sewing!

  12. An enchanting post. Another person here who will be writing down about Kensingtom Palace exhibition. And oh the joys of Beas. My first and only time there was on my Hen night and what fun we had - having it all to ourselves.

  13. I like "gaggle" ;o) "A gaggle of book bloggers"! Whad'ya say?

    I just laughed when I saw the cover of that book! While reading the paragraph above I was wondering how bad it could be. It's bad! But very funny to think of you cringing and hiding it in a dark corner; especially as now I know how haughty you are ;o)

  14. Have to say, I like the sound of "volume" of book bloggers.

    The cover is really cringeworthy, and I hope the book more than makes up for it.

  15. Wow, Jane Brocket and the V&A! I'm deeply envious.

  16. How wonderful to be part of such a book-blogger gathering! And Jane Brocket, Inspector Morse, the V & A? Like Vintage Reading, I'm quite jealous!