Navigators, Cocktails and the Swansong of Summer

The Navigator's table

I know, I know… with a title like that, any post is bound to be a disappointment.

Never mind, how are you, how is your week?  We managed a last-minute get-away to the sun for a few days before school begins, and threw a large and informal impromptu dinner party with friends to celebrate summer before it takes a final bow.  We managed to cram 14 people around our kitchen table, adding a couple of side tables at either end to accomodate everyone.  I covered them with these amazing shipping charts (below) that I found in a junk shop on the Isle of Wight last month… aren’t they beautiful?

Vintage navigation mapsVintage navigation charts

They were printed in the 1950s and obviously used for some years; each has small, faded annotations and comments scribbled on them warning of currents, submarine testing areas and shipping channels.  I bought as many as I could carry for £1 each; cheaply enough that I felt able to spread them liberally over our tables without worrying about wine-rings or the flamboyant distribution of food that is inevitable when you’re in the middle of a great anecdote and have a loaded fork.  And a near-empty glass.

I decided on a nautical theme and gathered everything I had that might fit the bill to go down the centre of the table… like driftwood and old map books;

maps to decorate a dinner table

Jam-jars, speckled with silver paint and housing t-light candles, whilst battery-operated fairy lights added pin-points of brightness along the length of the room…

A navigator's dinner table

Summer table setting

I wanted an informal feel, so for placemats I simply printed an image of a vintage ship’s compass onto sheets of watercolour paper and used them to mark each setting;

Map dinner table

DIY Map placemats

For the cutlery, I used some sheets from the map book featured earlier and folded each one in 3 with slightly overlapping edges, before gluing 3 of the edges and cutting a half-circle at the top with a circle-punch; the perfect pocket, and a 5-minute make…

Map book pages make a great cutlery pocket

Use maps to make cutlery pockets

It was a deliciously warm night, so we gathered on the patio before dinner and drank porn-star martinis which I’d made in exuberant quantities with a Nutribullet smoothie-maker; I’m sure the manufacturers would be horrified to find that I had substituted the recommended kale and wheatgrass for vanilla vodka and passion-fruit, but it worked a treat and they tasted far too good…

But now it’s back-to-school week; the labelling of a myriad of baffling pieces of sporting equipment, haircuts (the first in many months), and a frantic scrabble to locate the lists of homework we were supposed to cover in the endless yet somehow crazy-busy days of summer. Epic fail.

And as if by magic, autumn has ridden into view, with two days of torrential rain followed by mists, an early-morning chilliness and the ripening of the apples all along our lane.  We’re treating ourselves tonight by lighting the wood-burning stove for the first time since winter; unecessary perhaps, but the woodsmoke smells so good…

Enjoy the rest of the week!

handbag logo

 

 

 

 

Toy Passports! (Or, how to take the entire family on holiday…)

Pet Passports!

Last month we set off for Provence laden with just about everything you would possibly need for a short break in the French countryside, and many things you wouldn’t.  We are masters at packing random exotica and hopeless at remembering necessities; this time we were determined not to leave anything behind.

We left before dawn one chilly July morning and had got as far as …
Continue Reading

Strawberry baskets, and a picnic of Lavender..

Lavender in Bike Basket

How are you, and how has your week been?  I have the day off work today and am brewing up to hosting our annual family reunion; the kitchen is an explosion of pots, pans, sticky spoons and odd streaks decorate every surface (passata? chocolate?? let’s hope so..).  The windows are steamed up which is helpful, hiding as it does the fact that …
Continue Reading

The Cartographer’s Guide to Dress-Making

Paper Dress made from maps

I live in a small village which is blessed with not one but three – three – second-hand bookshops.  Amongst the shelves of nearly-new thrillers and bodice-rippers, travel guides and cookbooks there is a large, open-fronted cupboard marked ‘Ephemera: Misc’.  It’s here I gravitate towards and where I’ve found a myriad of wild and wonderful books, maps, charts and music scores …
Continue Reading

Painted Pots!

DIY Painted Pots from katescreativespace

Earlier in June the sun broke through the grey British skies and we had three magnificent weeks of an early taste of summer. We spent most of our free hours outside; building dens, bringing the garden back to life, practising football skills and planting up pots for some summer-long colour.  I have a HUGE supply of pots but most are modern, …
Continue Reading

Allez,Les Mouseketeers! (Or: how to make a giant papier-mâché hot air balloon..)

Mouseketeers

Welcome back!  It’s been a wonderful, chaotic few weeks here with the end of term (and graduation from Reception class, so soon!), endless sunshine and record-breaking temperatures, ice-cream, tennis, splash pools and a new job for me… possibly the busiest June ever.  Amidst all the fun and general mayhem, we found time for a few craft projects, like …
Continue Reading

TED Women 2015: Momentum!

A rather different kind of post this time, as I return from an extraordinary week at the global TED Women meeting in Monterey, California… an amazing experience that I’m still digesting and processing several days on.  The theme was ‘Momentum’ and it drew hundreds of women from 200 countries together to listen to talks and ideas from those who are kickstarting transformational change in the world, whether big or small.

Have you ever …
Continue Reading

Friends for dinner: time for kitchen experimentation!

How is your Monday going, are you surviving?  We managed a lovely weekend with friends and sunshine (the best combination), so the afterglow has seen me through a manic day at work.  We threw a small dinner party on Friday night.  The kind where everyone arrives, slightly giddy with a mix of exhaustion, anticipation, and the rush of adrenalin that comes after shutting your laptop, settling the babysitter in, examining yourself from every angle …
Continue Reading

Silvered Pebbles; a DIY Garden Game for Summer

DIY Painted Rocks

We’re in the throes of an unexpectedly lovely May holiday weekend, and have been living outdoors, sorting out sheds and pottering in the garden.  I uncovered a stash of old tiles, leftover from bathroom and kitchen projects both here and at our last house.  They looked too pretty to throw away, so I’ve repurposed them …
Continue Reading

A Horticultural Miscellany

Spring tulips

Life is full of injustices, big and small.  My mother was the recipient of one of these this week when the tulips we had each carefully brought back from Amsterdam last year burst into bloom in my garden and remained resolutely absent in hers, despite her attentive efforts and track record of green-fingered magic.

So this post must begin with an apology to Mum as …
Continue Reading