Book Signing in Farnham

I am back at Patricia Knowles flower shop in Farnham with Emma and Hazel, and what nicer place to be on a cold wintery evening with mulled wine flowing. As the shop wouldn't be able to hold all their guests the boys across the road at Headcase barbers open up their salon for them to use. And very smart it is too with huge mirrors and old fashioned barbers' chairs. The vicar, who has popped in from the rectory next door (the flower shop is on Church Street) reliably informs me that the walls are painted Venetian Red, he recognises it as the same colour as his vestry.
One of the things I love about these evenings (apart from the wine and conversation) is I get to see different flower combinations, ones I would have never thought of. I would never have combined oranges with red roses and orchids as Emma and Hazel have done in this wreath - yet I think it looks wonderful.
As the evening draws to a close we pack all the flowers from the display on the street back into the shop. It has been a great evening, many new faces and one or two old ones, people I hadn't thought to see - which is always a pleasure.

A Great Welcome from the RHS

I arrive at the RHS gardens at Wisley ready to conduct a Christmas flower demonstration for their Plant Centre customers. The staff help me in with all my flowers and manager Nigel fetches me a cup of tea (which it turns out I am too busy to drink). Before I start the demonstration I have a quick wander around to look at all their decorations, gifts and books - quickly falling in love with their reindeer doormats!
As the evening goes on I am kept very busy arranging, talking and answering questions. One lady, who is leafing through my books spots my florist friend Jennifer, and turns to me in amazement. She had known Jennifer forty years ago but they had lost touch, and she had been wondering how to find her again. It is obviously a week for coincidences, as the previous evening I had been running a flower workshop in Cheltenham as a birthday treat for a lady, and one of her friends, Liz, spotted a house she knew in The Flower Shop book. It turns out we have a mutual friend, and further on in the book I was able to show her photographs of her.
Everyone keeps saying it, but it's true - it's a small world.
As a variation on the advent wreath, I place a vase in the centre of my hydrangea and rose hip wreath and add four candles to it.

One of my favourites; a Christmas pudding basin of flowers. Although one lady did ask me, what do I now use for my own Christmas pudding?
(The answer is easy; M&S!)

One final browse around the shop and it is time to go home, although I do spend quite a lot of time lingering over a Father Christmas snow globe. I decide I really am too old for it and don't need it so leave it on the shelf, but I can't help feeling this may have been a mistake!

Workshop with a Christmas Twist - and Cake!

The thing about visiting Chiaki and her friends, is that they do like their cake! Mariko, especially has been busy baking; there are coffee muffins, stollen, petite madeira cup-cakes and a beautifully decorated chocolate yule log. Well, this is a Christmas workshop after all!
We fill baskets with orange roses and purple anemones, And then add some pine cones and wax flower for good measure. We tuck in some glass tea light holders etched in black for a finishing touch - making sure there is no overhanging foliage to set alight.
Time for cake!
Chiaki particularly wanted her friends to make a wreath, but some of the ladies had been to other wreath making courses so I want this one to be a bit different for them.
What every kitchen needs, a wreath with added herbs, cinnamon, gingerbread and even egg cups! The good thing about egg cups is it means the roses I add will last as they are in water. You could also try this with small espresso cups.

Nurse Davies and The Railway Children

Today my friend Michelle is graduating (and as I know she is too modest to say this) she is graduating with a very good degree and at the top of her year. Michelle decided to retrain as a nurse in her 40s - not easy when you are fitting this around children and home life - but today it has all been worth it.
To celebrate her graduation Michelle is hosting a supper in a room at our local rugby club, and myself and friend Jane volunteer to set the table for her. Now this is a room that has been decorated by men, and rugby playing men at that! It is painted in strong tones of yellow and green and has bright fluorescent lighting. At first we are at a bit of a loss as to what to do, and then I remember the film The Railway Children - the scene where the table is set for Bobbie's birthday. If we just use greenery and candlelight we are sure we can transform the room. So Jane and I gather ivy, lanterns and every tea-light we can get our hands on and set to work.
We even discover a few dragonfly lights along the way!

Then the final touch; a balloon, Champagne and Michelle's favourite flowers - gerberas.
Congratulations Michelle, we are so proud of you.


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