About

Name:VintagePretty
Location:United Kingdom

An avid tea-drinker who likes nutmeg in her coffee and warm lavender-scented quilts. She knits, crochets and partakes in random acts of craftiness (and kindness). She likes obscure works of literature, philosophy and the idea that her mind exists separately from her body. She enjoys moving furniture around, literary criticism and baking bread. She writes haiku about nettles, would like to swim with seals and become completely self-sufficient. She writes as if her life depends on it, listens to beautiful music, and loves her darling husband Mr. VP.

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Sunday 23 April 2017

The stave church proof (and other linocuts)

Can you tell that I really enjoy lino printing!? I haven’t been quite as prolific this week but I have managed to do a few small(er) cuts as well as my Norwegian stave church, which I found in a book on pine trees and instantly fell in love with! It has taken me most of a week to do the drawing and sizing of it as well as the cutting (those fish-scale roofs are amazing, but so fiddly!). It’s still not finished, but it’s getting there. It’s my biggest and most ambitious print to date. I LOVE it! I am also rather fond of my lighthouse (modelled loosely on St Mary’s at Whitley Bay). And my acorn. And my carrot. Oh and my first attempt at lettering. Nothing special – my kerning is all out and it’s on a scrap bit of softcut – but I enjoyed it and now I have got the system for doing it worked out, I will be trying some more (nemophilist, by the way, is someone with a love of forests or woodlands, a ‘haunter of woods’).

I caved and treated myself to three Pfeil tools: to a linocutter what Festool tools are to a carpenter. They slice through lino like a hot knife through butter and make the entire process so much easier and less deadly to your fingers. I definitely recommend them if you’re looking to get into lino cutting. I’m still having issues with ink, though the last lot of prints came out better than any before, so it’s likely my technique that’s improving rather than anything to do with the ink! I have also tried the Versafine ink by Tsukineko, which I like a lot, and would probably use for paper/thin card prints. What are you up to craft-wise?

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Buttercups, Blooms and Blossoms













(Almost) all of the blossoms-proper have now disappeared and have been replaced by the blooms of early summer.  The hedgerows are full of Queen Anne’s lace, the beginnings of hogweed, buttercups, stitchwort, elderflower and the very, very last of the May blossom.  Roses, like the pink rugosa and the white rose (Rosa corymbifera?) are just coming into bloom and are flooding the hedgerows with the most wonderful scents.  Ferns and bracken are unfurling themselves while bees dance from flower to flower – what a selection they have!  The air is just alive with… well, life.  I do love June very, very much indeed.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

In the Kitchen

Last week’s food.  I’ve been trying to get out of a bit of a food-fug and have been searching for some cooking inspiration.  The recipe for the cupcakes was Delia’s lemon cake recipe from her cake book, filled with her lemon curd (tip: don’t bother with the bain marie, just whisk it constantly on the heat and it won’t curdle) and topped with Italian meringue – a treat for Mr VP’s office.  The fishcakes are smoked mackerel and horseradish; cheap and delicious they provide virtually mercury-free omega-3s and are extremely cheap (and quick!) to make.  Yum.  They were even good as leftovers for lunch the next day.  One of my lunches: ham, chutney and red Leicester quesedillas with avocado and tomatoes on the side – absolutely delicious.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

The May in May

True to its name, the May is out in abundance both in the countryside and at the bottom of our garden. Each time we open the back door, our noses are met with the powdery, sweet smell of the early May blossom, before it starts to take on that slightly foetid odour that attracts the flies to it.  Whilst different to the apple, plum and sloe blossom of April, this blossom is totally unique and yet no less splendid as it fills roadsides and hedgerows up and down this green and pleasant land of ours.

Even though we had a slightly reluctant walker with us, we had such a nice potter through the countryside.  You might be able to tell that I’m so happy that the light, bright, spring greens are back again.  No more – for a few months at least – will we see the dull, drab greens of autumn and winter.  These bright greens are everywhere, from stinging nettles to ramsons to the Queen Anne’s lace and even on the pines and larches whose new needles are vivid and soft.  We paused to admire the red campion outshining its green and white neighbours, enjoyed the pungent tang of the ramsons on the air (yes, that sea of white is all garlic!) and stopped to gaze at the vast expanse of the Tyne river.  It really was a splendid day to get out of the house and enjoy the gloriousness of spring.

Birthday Cake


To celebrate a recent birthday, I made one of our new-favourite cakes: the America’s Test Kitchen Lemon Layer Cake.  After making it a couple of years ago, it quickly became a family favourite as it is full of lemon curd, dreamily light frosting and moist sponge – what’s not to love (even if it is the oddest cake batter you’ll ever make)?!  In a change from their recipe (because it was simpler), I made a proper Italian meringue topping, using 115ºC sugar syrup and egg whites to make a stable meringue that would work as a topping and – believe it or not – not be too sweet.  The lemon curd wasn’t a hard set as I didn’t let it refrigerate the amount of time recommended as I needed to get it finished (my bad), which is why the cake is sloping and not in perfectly-even layers (the first one was!).  However, despite that little hiccough, it was absolutely delicious and much-appreciated.  It is one of those cakes that definitely has quite a bit of wow factor on the dinner table :)

Friday 22 May 2015

A Trip Away to Melrose

For Mr VP’s birthday, we opted to go on a short holiday.  Things are quite busy here at Chez VP at the moment, so a full week away wasn’t really feasible.  To save us spending most of our short break on the road, we opted to stay reasonably local and visit the Borders; a region of Scotland that we hadn’t explored.  I’m so glad that we did, as we had such a nice – if brief – time there.  Our first (and main) port of call was a little town just north of Jedburgh called Melrose.  I had heard that it was a nice place to visit and had connections with St Cuthbert as he began his monastic life in the town.  Nowadays, it forms part of the famous St Cuthbert’s Way, a walk of just over 62 miles that traces his journey from Melrose to Holy Island, where he ended his days.

It seemed apt, then, that we began our trip with a little look around the mighty red sandstone abbey that is really Melrose’s centrepiece.  Whilst not on quite on the same scale as Fountains Abbey, it is quite a sight to behold, and I must admit I was awed by how well it has been preserved.  Vaulted ceilings remain intact, cornicings and intricate carvings, gargoyles and window tracery are all present and quite beautiful.

I found it easy to imagine how wonderful it would have been to walk through the huge aisles, coming across the monks at their daily prayers and ecclesiastical business.

Some ruined abbeys have quite a dark feeling about them.  Perhaps it is a leftover remnant of the dissolution and destruction of the monasteries and abbeys.  Perhaps it’s just the centuries of not being loved or used for their intended purposes.  However I didn’t get any bad feelings from Melrose.  It is a very pleasant place to walk around.

If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Cross over the road and continue into the other part of what would have been the monastery and you can find the remnants of Medieval engineering – the great drain.  This would have provided water and flushings for the whole site.  Isn’t it impressively constructed?

A little further on and you will come across a Medieval canal, still in (some) use today.  On the day we visited it was full of cherry blossoms (it was quite windy) – even better!

My favourite photo of 2015?  I think so!

Walking on the grass was like walking on the softest Wilton carpet with a delicious pattern.  I wonder what this would look like as a carpet?  Hmmm…

Flippin’ heck – it doesn’t get any better!  Squee!  The best bit about travelling northwards at this time of year is that you can enjoy a second blossom season!  Love.

Melrose is all old, high brick walls covered in lichen and blossom.

It has its share of gardens to walk around, too.  This is the Harmony House garden, which is National Trust.

Obviously, I gravitated towards anything that was blossom-based.  It is so fleeting, after all, that one has to get one’s fill where and when one can!  We had such a nice time together and really enjoyed our time away.  Life has been quite busy of late, so having the chance to reconnect and enjoy one-another’s company is so important…  And where better to do it than somewhere beautiful, eh?

Peeping at the abbey from under a huge Cypress tree in the Harmony garden…

Melrose town is quite a looker, too.  Full of old industrial-age buildings, it is quite pretty and filled with nice shops to look around (particularly the book shop – love it!).  It is also full of good places to eat – we recommend Burt’s Hotel.  That big hill is one of two called the Eildon hills and the gap in the middle is where you walk if you follow St Cuthbert’s Way.

Another place worth a visit is the Priorwood garden which would once have been the abbey’s walled kitchen garden.  To this day it has ancient apple trees and houses Scotland’s only dedicated dried flower garden.  There is an exhibit and shop where you can see the drying room and buy some of the flowers.  It’s very interesting, but not half as interesting as the apple trees!

I don’t think it is possible to have visited at a better time!  Blossom.  Everywhere.  As well as a lot of lichen – no wonder it felt wonderful to breathe the air!

Apples from (almost) long-lost varieties as well as a few more modern standards.  Cider apples.  Donated apple trees.  I can imagine that come autumn it must be gloriously brimming with apples.

This is the Leaderfoot viaduct and provided too good a view not to stop and take a photo.  The river is the Tweed, apparently a very good place to go salmon fishing (though speaking to some fishermen it wasn’t a good time for it!) especially if you can find a knowledgeable Gillie to show you the best spots!  The bridge is now sadly disused.

On the way home, we had to stop at the border and take a photo looking back towards Scotland.  The drive was absolutely beautiful if a little windy (and windy!) and took virtually no time at all, so we have vowed that we must return for a longer break when we get the chance.

Bye Scotland!

Thursday 30 April 2015

April: Short but Sweet





April has been one of my favourite months in a long while.  Maybe because this month the weather has been glorious, the flowers have blossomed and the greenery has taken on a fresh new-life green hue that I’ve missed.  It is the month that I’ve revelled in sunshine on my skin and the return of a whole swathe of wildlife to our shores.  Unfortunately, the month has also gone quicker than I think I can remember any month going ever, even when I was working 40-hour weeks or revising for exams!  I would like to press pause and just savour these last moments of April before May’s arrival, when it undoubtedly takes on a more summery hue.

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