Friday, 26 December 2014

this time of year

It's been some time since I've posted a proper blog, I rather feel. December, of course, is always a busy month, and this one in particular has felt more than a little hectic. But what have I been doing? Working hard to tie up bits and pieces before the end of the year, mostly. Ben's decoration office is busier (and more fun) than ever, and I've happily been sending out piles of cushions and prints in time for Christmas. And in my free time? Well, back at the beginning of the month - it was a very cold Saturday I remember - D. was in Miami for the design fair and all I wanted to do was pack a rucksack, throw on a scarf, and catch the next train to Oxford. So I did. Every now and again I'll feel a great need to visit somewhere - the sea perhaps, some hills, or a city. I like the occasional lone adventure. I arrived quite late in the afternoon (Saturday always calls for a long, leisurely breakfast) and headed straight to the Ashmolean, to check out the William Blake exhibition.

Afterwards, I paid a visit to the grounds of Balliol College. For a while I sat completely by myself in the paneled chapel, lost in thought, a world away from the hustle and bustle outside.

Before long, the light had more or less vanished. I spent the rest of the afternoon meandering the busy, lamplit streets, hot chocolate in hand, dodging shoppers and cyclists, darting down empty alleyways and into antique shops and bookshops and any other warm and inviting buildings that I came across. Looking up, the city's dark spires loomed majestically against the indigo sky.

Outside the Bodleian Library, this minimal yet impressive Christmas tree was a sight to behold.

And then something funny happened. Just as I was boarding a train back to London, I noticed a striking poster in the station for an exhibition of William Morris and Andy Warhol's work at Modern Art Oxford, which had opened that very same day. Of course I abandoned my plans immediately and almost sprinted over to the gallery, giving myself just half an hour to catch the show before the doors were closed. The unconventional exhibition, curated by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and entitled Love is Enough, aims to draw connections between these two giants of the 19th and 20th centuries. The show has received a few negative reviews, but I must admit, I loved it. Seeing Warhol's giant, dazzling pop pieces against Morris's beautiful, intricately designed wallpapers was sublime. That juxtaposition of vivid, brash colour and something subtler, darker and much more English, for me it was perfection.

The following weekend, we gave our annual Christmas party. I don't have much to say about this unfortunately (for my memories are vague), except that we had a huge amount of fun. As always, it began with an immaculate Sitting Room and Carols from King's on repeat and ended in a whirlwind of sloe gin, cigarettes and dancing to 1980s Christmas hits. I took the above picture just before our guests arrived. I always love the preparation that goes into giving a Christmas party - choosing a tree, sorting snacks, lighting candles.

A week later, D. and I travelled up to Edinburgh. We spent a few very cold, pre-Christmas days not doing very much at all, which was blissful. A few lunches (the above picture was taken at one of our favourite haunts, L'escargot bleu) followed by a few afternoon naps. We spent time with D.'s family, eating and drinking and generally being very merry, and then on Christmas Eve, I flew home to spend Christmas with my family in Hampshire. Today is Boxing Day and we've got several extra family members expected for a big lunch of leftovers and champagne. It'll be a jolly feast. I'll find my way back to London at the weekend and then on Tuesday D. and I are off to Mexico to celebrate New Year. The sea! A beach! Mayan ruins! Tacos! I could hardly be more excited...

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