84 - Botanical Style


In my last post I mentioned all sorts of exciting things that have been happening, May saw me fulfil a very specific one of my work goals, to have my work featured in a book.

You probably already know that I have a deep love for plants and all things botanical, one look at my product line and Instagram feed will tell you that. When I was approached by Selina Lake about the use of some of my cards and prints in her latest book "Botanical Style" I was overjoyed, and eager to see how the whole thing would look finished up. It's always fascinating to see how people take my work and style it up in their own way, I love seeing how stockists style things up with their existing ranges and how clients integrate goods into their homes.

After months of waiting, it arrived. I sat with a cup of tea and anxiously opened the package that I knew contained the book. What if she hadn't used my cards or prints at all? What if they made a Mike Wazowski appearance and were covered by something? I intended to leaf through quickly to see if and where my work appeared but found myself getting caught by this page, and that page, and ooh-ing and ah-ing and then reaching for the post-it notes to mark the pages I wanted to use an idea from. Which turned out to be many.

Vintage, boho, industrial, natural and tropical botanicals all take their share of the limelight with their own sections. All equally inspiring with enchantingly styled and beautifully photographed scenes full of plenty ideas that will translate easily to your space. I've appropriated a few ideas for the shop already and will be sneaking some in to our home too.

See if you can spot my botanical cards amongst all of the beauty...

There is plenty more inspiration where that came from - Botanical Style by Selina Lake, published by Ryland Peters & Small, photography by Rachel Whiting © Ryland Peters & Small is out now.

I was kindly given a copy of the book to review. No monies changed hands for this post and all views are my own.

83 - Two Months Off

As I fire up Blogger to write my first post in a while I'm horrified to see that it has in fact been two months since I last posted.

I'm being quite serious when I ask that age old question of "where did the time go?".

I notice written posts that have never seen the light of a screen and find myself a little panicky about things not posted and having missed talking about some really exciting things (Blue Dot festival for a start...). The thing is, rather than talking about exciting things, I've been doing them. Lots of them.

In the past two months we've had many outdoor (and glass house) adventures, our boy turned seven (S.E.V.E.N!), we've swam in the sea, hiked hills, walked in the woods, eaten the first of our crops for the year (rhubarb crumble - yum!), seen dinosaurs at the zoo (!) had fun in the last snowfall before winter (May - you certainly were an odd weather month...) and a whole host of other adventures. I've worked on some utterly fabulous projects, one of which I've just mailed today, as well as collaborated with other like minded bods on writing and making - which has been awesome. Oh and I'm writing this post from my new shop...

I'll endeavour to catch up on things missed and preview some utterly brilliant stuff coming up... Blue Dot, Tramlines, The Good Life Experience to name but a few. As always you can keep up with goings on over on Instagram and lately I've been giving Twitter a bit of a go too...

First catch up post coming soon...

82 - An open letter to A.L.F



Dearest A.L.F,

This year you would be eight (you are eight? I still struggle knowing what to do with that). I don't think about you every day any longer, but you are always in my heart and in everything I do.

I hope that I am doing you proud with Alfie's Studio - today I saw photos of work being featured in a book, I cried a little. When we used to visit you in the early days I would bring new plants and tell you about them, do you remember? The book is about flowers (sort of). I'm sorry we haven't visited for some time, I stopped needing to so much because I realised you were in my heart rather than at that place and it just made me too sad. It doesn't mean we don't care, it means we care too much.

The sight of daffodils doesn't seem to make me as sad as it used to (I took a picture the other day of some at your grandma's house and thought of you). I have yet to see the first lamb of the season so can't comment on them yet. I still don't like April Fools very much, April 1st is not and probably never will be my friend.

Your brother and sister know of you. I don't think they quite understand or can really comprehend, but they will, one day. They will know that you were courageous and funny, taught me how to love fiercely, how to protect them. You taught me resilience and strength, to never give up hope and to enjoy every little thing and moment, for it really is true that you don't know how many more you will have (the saddest and hardest lesson I've learnt so far).

I still can't quite stand it when they call me "mummy" instead of "mama" (they think it's funny to see me cross at them about it). I am and always will be your mummy and no one else's.

I'm not sure on religion but I often wonder if there is a heaven and you are there. If there is, what is it like? Do you have school? Are the schools taught by walruses in waistcoats and lions in bow ties? Have you met your great nana and great granddad? Great doesn't quite cover them, they were AWESOME and I miss them very much too. Is he Top Ten Angler in the Angling Times up there? Is she still cross about the varnishing of the dining table while she was in hospital? That would never have happened in her heaven...

Another year further from you, my sweet thing. Perhaps another year closer to finally getting to play on the beach with you or chase you through the woods?

I will love you, always.

Mummy x

81 - Social Media and Connectivity


Lately as I fall down the rabbit hole of Twitter and becoming active on Instagram after a bit of a winter lul I have pondered "social media" and what it all actually means to me.

I honestly get the feeling that it has turned quite anti-social and fosters disconnectedness in a lot of cases. I have a friend who in fact quit Facebook for the very reason that he found himself not staying in touch with friends, he'd seen their snippets of news online, why did he need to pick up a phone or write a letter? Consequently I actually hear from him a lot more these days...

It seems that we are increasingly being forced down corridors chosen for us, allowed to peep into the rooms deemed as interesting to us, a funfair curated based on past joys. But here's the thing, I'm human, and what I like, changes frequently. There is no robot or algorithm built that can truly know what I would think important because my mood changes, recent personal events impact, ambience and surroundings - the weather even. On dreary days I need plants and foreign places in my IG feed and so I search for new people to bring me those, other times I want to connect with some new like-minded creatives. How can all of this possibly be factored into an algorithm and more to the point, why would I want it to?

Part of the joys of sharing platforms (like Instagram) are not only in new discovery but the re-kindling of forgotten relationships too. Someone who might not have posted for a while, or posts something so out of the ordinary that it would no doubt never be picked up by an algorithm. I feel that the threatened change on Instagram takes away the unexpected beauty of it all and will dull the very best aspect of it - human interaction and randomness.

A quick google search on "Instagram" to check for news on the impending changes somehow brought up a link to a piece by Hossein Derakhshan on The Guardian website which seemed to sum all of it up wonderfully -

"Maybe this is all a natural evolution of a technology. But I can’t close my eyes to what’s happening: a loss of intellectual power and diversity. In the past, the web was powerful and serious enough to land me in jail. Today it feels like little more than entertainment. So much that even Iran doesn’t take some – Instagram, for instance – serious enough to block.

I miss when people took time to be exposed to opinions other than their own, and bothered to read more than a paragraph or 140 characters. I miss the days when I could write something on my own blog, publish on my own domain, without taking an equal time to promote it on numerous social networks; when nobody cared about likes and reshares, and best time to post."

I shall nervously await the verdict on the Instagram changes. In the meantime, grab yourself a cup of tea and read the whole post. If you are an Instagram user and hate the proposed changes go sign the petition against them and let your feelings be known...

I'd be interested in your thoughts, leave a comment on the recent proposed Instagram changes, social media, the death of the web, miscellaneous musings...

@alfiesstudio / @carenbarry / @haarkon_ / @theroundwindow / @letterloves / @jenlittlebirdie
I have a deep love of the tropical feeling that you get in a "typical" glass house: botany from strange and distant shores, so many new and strange plants to look at, all those textures and hues that are so very different to those of typical British flora. Conversely - albeit generally on a smaller scale - they are also the very epitome of the Great British garden: tomato growing, over wintering plants that need bringing in and protecting from frost, prize marrows for village shows and all that.

A while back I started (what has become) a hash tag project over on Instagram #ihavethisthingwithglasshouses. It began as a way of recording the plant related places we had been (and serve to brighten up the cold or dreary days) and has evolved to become a guide to the very best in botanical glass houses near and far.

Join in for more glass house goodness on Instagram - I'll try to feature a round-up every now and then and guest-post reviews as part of my new "outdoors-in" series - know somewhere amazing you'd like to see featured? Tag me in to a picture on Instagram (@alfiesstudio) or get in touch here...

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