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?