Friday, October 29, 2010

Scotch Gothic

Today I went on a class field trip to the hinterlands of Edinburgh. We went to Rosslyn Chapel, Melrose Abbey and onto Abbotsford. In the context of my course, Abbotsford is a prime example of the nineteenth century Gothic Revival style. Sir Walter Scott, the patron behind Abbotsford took elements from both Rosslyn and Abbotsford to create his distinctly 'Scotch Gothic' domain.

You're not allowed to take photographs inside Rosslyn Chapel. It's a tremendously popular spot, on this wet and grey day in late October, the compact chapel was packed with visitors. A lot of its appeal may be owed to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and the legends of the Knights Templar/Mary Magdelene, and more bizarrely, Elvis, apparently some people (read: crazy conspiracy fiends) believe he's buried in the sealed crypt! One of the striking features of Rosslyn were the stained glass windows, but stained glass wasn't a feature here until the nineteenth century and some windows are even more contemporary, like this one (my favourite), of an airman -

Photo credit.
"In 1950 [Anthony Hugh Francis Harry St Clair- Erskine, 6th Earl of Rosslyn] added a first stained glass memorial window in the baptistery. The design of William Wilson, it is dedicated to his brother Pilot Officer The Hon. Peter St Clair-Erskine who died on active service in 1939, and to his stepfather, Wing Commander Sir John Milbanke, who died in 1947 from injuries also received during World War II."

Then on we went to Melrose Abbey, where blessedly the rain had ceased.

Melrose Abbey from the back, including graveyard where Sir Walter Scott is buried.

(Hannah's photo)

A view of Melrose village from the top of the Abbey, it was a precarious climb I can tell you and it brought this painting to mind -

The Meeting on the Turret Stairs (1864), Frederic William Burton

Although nothing quite so romantic occurred on this particular crowded, dense turret stairs!

Afterward my friend Hannah and I wandered around on the look-out for Scott's grave and took some more light-hearted photos -

A Gothic heroine awaiting her byronic hero?

Does anyone remember the Scottish Widows adverts?

I like how minimal some eighteenth century gravestones are and admirable for how much information they managed to neatly cram onto one stone, getting value for money!

(Photo credit: Hannah)
Candid photo of me fiddling with my point and shoot camera!

The final and most anticipated stop on our journey was Abbotsford, two or three miles from Melrose Abbey.

The novelist, poet and antiquarian Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe, Rob Roy) began his grand Gothic dream in 1811 when he bought a small farmhouse and its surrounding lands, for the site of what was to become his home, Abbotsford. As well as needing a home for himself and his family, Scott needed a place substantial enough to house and display his ever-expanding collection of antiquities and curiosities, everything from furniture made from the rafters of Rob Roy's home to a lock of Lord Nelson's hair! His furniture was either custom made for him in the Gothic style but after the death of his cabinet maker, a couple of his friends went about London seeking antiques to keep to the authentic feel of the house.

Heraldry was central to Scott's vision for his home and by choosing Gothic for his design, he was firmly establishing himself and his ancestry in a medieval Scottish past. As well as his collections of antiquities (both ancient and contemporary) it houses thousands of books, which Scott employed as reference texts in the writing of his novels and poems, the income from which paid for his fantastical home! Scott is an interesting character as he oftentimes went to extremes to acquire unique objects for his collection. It is said that after the battle of Waterloo Scott traveled to the site and went about by himself picking up whatever armory or military loot he could find, to display in his home.

Then, as now, Scott's home had a constant flow of tourists. It also had its critics, Ruskin and Virginia Woolf for example.

(Photo credit: Hannah)
Heraldic window, Armory room, painted by his friend Daniel Terry's wife.

(Photo credit: Hannah)
Needle point of Scott (in his armory?), in the library.

(Photo credit: Hannah)
The library, with Jamaican cedar bookcases, daubed 'oak' ceiling, and trompe l'oeil 'drapery' above bookcases.
See bust of Scott in his fifties at the end, apparently some tourists have commented on his resemblance to Russell Crowe!

(Photo credit: Hannah)
Only some of the regalia in the entrance hall.

Scott's personality is stamped in every corner of this house. One must consider what an incredible individual he must have been, considering that much of his collection of curiosities were gifts from friends and admirers.

Sadly though, the last Lady Scott died five years ago now, so the family parts of the house lie unoccupied at the moment. I was told that perhaps the National Trust are considering taking it over. Watch this space.

All in all, an exhausting but fulfilling day. It ended on a high note when we found some rather risqué postcards in the gift shop...! And I bought a packet of the Border dark chocolate and ginger biscuits I am now enamored with.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Buy my pretty things!

Sorry to be promoting my eBay sales here, but I have some items some of you guys might be interested in. Particularly Issue 9 of Lula, from this time last year!

All my items can be found here!

Thanks dolls x

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lentil Bolognese

I had a particularly stressful day today, it hit me like a bus how much work I have to do, right in the stomach. I went for chocolate cake and ice cream with my flatmate and it was a relief to eat something comforting in a setting that wasn't the library or my room!

Sometimes I enjoy cooking to take my mind off things, I find it a productive form of procrastination. Recently I came by this recipe and it will be my go-to bolognese recipe for the future. There's a lot of prepping of vegetables, but it's worth it. It's perfect for serving to friends, but I like to make a large quantity for myself and refrigerate it to have for my lunch the next day in my recently acquired Thermos flask.

Lentil Bolognese
Serves 4, preparation 20m, cook, 45m
Vegetarian and vegan.

75g Puy Lentils (follow cooking instructions on packet)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, cut into small pieces
2 courgettes, cut into small pieces
2 sticks celery, cut into small pieces
4/5 closed cup mushrooms, sliced
1 (400g) can chopped tomatoes
1/4 pint/150ml vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
200g pasta
salt and pepper, to season

1. Cook lentils for 20m, drain and set to one side.
2. Heat oil in saucepan, add onion, garlic, carrots and celery and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned.

3. Then add mushrooms and courgettes, cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, stock, marjoram, purée and salt and pepper.

4. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in lentils, cook for another 2 minutes, turn off heat and cover.

5. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain, return to pan and toss with bolognese. Serve in bowls with some cheese on top. My latest culinary discovery is mature davidstow cheddar! Obviously leave the cheese out if vegan.

[Ok so my food photography will never resemble those on the pages of a Nigella cookbook but you get the picture (har)]

PS. I used the cheapest brand of canned tomatoes in store as well, so it's great for those of us on a budget.
Also, puy lentils can be expensive (this recipe doesn't call for much so a 500g box lasts a while) but I'm sure you could use ordinary lentils too.

If you've got any simple and delicious no-fail vegetarian recipes please let me know!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Something for the weekend I

Something for your Saturday.

Instead of getting my lazy ass to the library I've been procrastinating by cleaning and watching back to back episodes of My So-Called Life.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In Spirit

I wore purple today, for Spirit Day. Did you wear purple? Show me!

Trousers, Topshop. Boots, Office. Top, H&M. Jacket, Avoca. Scarf, Urban Outfitters.

The Trevor Project.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Heart Asks Pleasure First

At the weekend I didn't do anything in terms of college work, I feel horridly guilty!

BUT I did go to some Steve Reich and Philip Glass Minimal concerts and most importantly I went to see Michael Nyman on Saturday evening and he played this -

And I wore:

Dress, mousevox vintage
Belt, Topshop.
Hairband, Urban.
Tights, Fiore

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gals in Glasses

This summer I decided to get myself a new pair of spectacles, with the intention of wearing glasses more often, normally I am an avid contact lens wearer. I have been wearing glasses since I was seven and I’ve heard all the jibes and teasing, so I’m not particularly fond of having an extra accessory on my face (especially considering my disgraceful prescription, speccy four eyes), but if I am, it has to be a stylish one surely.

One of the advantages, for me anyway, of wearing glasses is that I can crawl from underneath the duvet cover in the morning, pull on my glasses, brush my hair and not have to bother with make-up. Maybe I'm the worse for it, but the large frames blessedly cover most of my dark circles from too many late nights! What do you love about your glasses?

Unfairly, glasses often make the male of the species look more attractive (I’m sure you can count them on one hand), so one evening on a whim I conducted a small search through the internet to pick out some of the iconic female glasses wearers and here they are for your perusal. Suggestions of more lovely ladies in frames are encouraged!

Chloë Sevigny

Anna Karina

Grace Kelly

Zooey Deschanel

Tom Ford, 2009

And in case you’re wondering… myself in Nicole Miller ‘High Society’ tortoiseshell frames.

Let me tell you, getting the right pair of specs doesn’t come cheap, these frames (incl. lenses) cost the best part of a designer handbag!

Do any of you ladies wear specs? Been subjected to the teasing? Tell me, go on.

Also, some bloggers who wear their glasses well... Lucy of Snippets of Shiny Thoughts, Ana of Ripped Knees and Miss Pandora of course. And for the boys, Davey of The Roger-Moore Algorithm.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Sound of Silence

It's been a while folks. But I'm making my way back, slowly.

This song is one of my favourites. I particularly like Art's introduction at the start. I empathize completely.

I've made some changes around here, it's less claustrophobic, thoughts?