29 October 2013


A little while back artist Kate Murdoch suggested that I might be interested in the Guardian's 'This is Your Photo' project in collaboration with the Photographer's Gallery which was at the time collecting pictures of mantlepieces. The idea was to "to capture and encourage us to talk about the photographic moments that distinguish everyday life in contemporary Britain and beyond." As usual everyday life took over and I failed to get my arse in gear for the deadline. But it's a lovely idea and over the years the mantlepieces in my house have featured here often, their contents marking time and the changing seasons. The background has been fairly constant though, in various shades of off white. Now we have reached the point, particularly after the dust this summer, when we need to refresh the paintwork: upheaval all round. Who knew that there was a stash of sticky energy-saving lightbulb packs on top of the dresser, and a red and buff tin marked CAKE stashed away behind the tea pots, jugs and rolls of paper on the cupboard? 

The picture of the mantlepiece today totally belies the chaos at the margins: kitchen floor covered in cardboard - surprisingly cosy as it happens; a basket full of freshly washed glass fisherman's floats next to the ladder with the now-broken step; the table stacked with jars of various sugars, pepper, salt; the hall full of sacks of potatoes and picture frames. Above all of this, the mantlepiece is positively zen with only a paintbrush, a door handle and some finger-plates, in the background all those different shades of one off-white wall.

No wonder it's such a pain deciding exactly what colour paints to choose.

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Thank you so much for your apple recipe suggestions. As soon as the kitchen is back to working order I will definitely be trying some of them out. I'll be picking out the giveaway winner on Friday, so if you're interested in winning a copy of the Modern Peasant don't forget to leave a comment on the last post by close tomorrow. All comers welcome.


rusty duck said...

I can picture it exactly! Good luck..

Kirsten said...

Thank you for the reminder about the contest. My contribution is a traditional Danish cake/dessert to be enjoyed after a meal or with coffee in the afternoon. It is from a time, when you used up what you had, and the main ingredients are old and dry bread, apples, cream and jam. It is rather aptly called

Peasant girl with a veil
500 g apples (1 pound)
1/2 dl water (very little)
sugar for seasoning
150 g grated rye bread/brown bread (.33 pounds)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large tablespoons butter
1 cup jam or gel
1/4 L cream, whipped (1 cup)
chocolate (optional)
Peel and slice the apples and cook them to a mash with the water. Season with sugar. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the grated bread, add the sugar and fry till golden and crisp. Let the ingredients cool and arrange mashed apples, bread, jam and whipped cream in layers in a bowl or in cups. Top layer should be whipped cream. You may garnish with grated chocolate on top, or you could mix it with the bread and sugar when cooled.

annie said...

I love the picture you describe - so funny!

annie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rachel said...

clishal'Off white'. Such a misleading term. I have made so many mistakes with 'off white' in the past, and I've just done it again, at great expense (that will be the last time I ever use 3-coats-minimum F&B emulsion!) - dark cream wasn't what I wanted at all! Good luck with your mission; do let us see the finished product!

rachel said...

Oops that 'clishal' was the captcha that failed; sorry!

Annie Cholewa said...

Ah yes, the chaos that is kitchen decorating. We have the same project to tackle in the new year, but in a modern kitchen sans fireplace and mantle piece, more's the pity.

Happy painting :)

Liz said...

Love that picture and your comment about the chaos in the margins. When I admire photographs of interiors, I often find myself wondering what's out of shot.

VP said...

Hello! You've won some socks :)

Email me your address to Vegplotting at gmail dot come and I'll arrange to get them sent to you!