Loving London with Libby

I am in London with my daughter Libby, as today she has an appointment at the London College of Fashion. More than anything Libby wants to be a fashion journalist and this is really the only college she wants to go to. As they have 800 applicants for 35 places, it is going to be a tough day. Still, Libby couldn't have done more; she wrote her book Love Pink, she organised a fashion show at school, she gained work experience on Cosmo and she writes a pink blog! www.lovepinklibbypage.blogspot.com
(And I am pleased to see she has recently added some pink Paris flower shops to it!)
First there is a written test lasting an hour and then an agonising 2 hour wait to see if she will be called for interview, or whether we will be getting the next train home. To kill the time we wander around the nearby Westfield shopping centre. Now, I have something to distract me - as Libby restlessly flits in and out of clothes shops - I loiter around this rather glamorous flower stall.
I love the colours in this bouquet of roses, ranunculus and the striking 'Robin Hood' germini.
But, even these gorgeous flowers can't take my mind off Libby's anxiety and we make our way back to to the college. She disappears into a lecture room, appearing half an hour later to say she has been asked for interview at 3pm. As hers is one of the last names called she is relieved but distinctly frazzled.
It is a very different Libby that emerges from her interview later that day. Her smile would light up a dozen rooms. She's in!
We walk back to our hotel to collect our bags, Libby talking all the way. As we wait for a taxi to take us to the station I can't resist taking a few photos of the hotel flowers (I am sure the staff think I am mad). I love the way they have twisted the bear grass in a big hoop around these tulips.
But enough of pink tulips! Libby and I realise we have not eaten all day as we have both been so nervous. So we raid M&S for a picnic for the train - complete with some pink Champagne to toast Libby's success. Well done Libby!

Garden Inn

The sun is shining, the sky is a pale, watery blue and it really feels like spring may be here. I am out for the day with Jennifer (we are on our way to Cafe des Fleurs in Rye), and what could be nicer than to discover another beautiful flower shop when we stop for coffee in the Hampshire town of Stockbridge.
Garden Inn was started five years ago by Jane Campsie when she decided to put into practice all she had learnt working as a stylist for life-style magazines, and she opened the doors of her own flower and gift business.
Jennifer and I have a wonderful time wandering around the shop looking at all her wares. Jane has a great website so you can also have a look on that if there is something you fancy.
It is clear that Easter is nearly here!
I am always on the look out for new vases and come away with a white vase covered in butterflies - I have forgotten to photograph this of course - so I will make sure I do for another blog. But I also love this circular glass vase which is perfect for tulips.
Jane explains that at this time of year there are lots of seasonal gifts around, but come the summer months and she will have more and more ideas for keen (and stylish) gardeners.

After a last look around Jane directs us up the street to The Greyhound pub for coffee - which is served by the fire accompanied by the chef's home made biscuits.
What more could you wish for!

Happy Mothers' Day!

When my friend Jane says that she and her sisters want me to run a workshop as a surprise gift for her mum, I think it is a lovely idea. When she says there will also be lots of cake and wine involved I am hooked!
The men are sent away for the day and after a welcoming glass of Champagne we settle down to some work.
Except it doesn't feel much like work!
By the end of the session everyone has created a table arrangement of cerise roses, with white ranunculus and shamrock blooms and learnt how to create a hand-tied bouquet.
One of the hand-tied bouquets is tall and elegant in creams, whites and greens, whilst the second one was a short spring posy, suitable for a small china jug.
And a good day is had by all.
I wonder if I will get flowers from my girls on Sunday? ... just a hint if you are reading this!

Yes, you can go to The Paint Ball!

First we had the exhibition. This was at First-View Gallery at Stourhead. So many people took an imaginative approach, including my daughter Libby who embroidered the poem ...had I the heaven's embroidered cloth...on to her canvas.
We also displayed and sold Rwandan art which is made by a women's cooperative.
And then there was a mad week preparing for The Paint Ball!
The paintings are hung, the tables are set and now we are nervously waiting for the first guests.
Each table has a different artist as its theme - obviously with the right flowers to match! And many of the individual tables of revelers chose their own picture theme to follow too.

As Oscar Wilde said' "One should either be a work of art or wear a work of art."

Martyn Jose makes a great Van Gogh - all except he is deaf in one ear and he has managed to bandage his good ear! But at least he has found himself a sunflower.
During the exhibition at Stourhead and at this Paint Ball we sell over 75 paintings and will raise more than £7500 for Msaada and their work in Rwanda. Now that is well worth celebrating.

They say every picture tells a story, and that is certainly what I find when I collect in the 109 paintings that form this exhibition. The vast majority of the painters are amateurs, many have never painted before, but all find something that they love enough to paint - even if this turns out to be a jar of Marmite! To have a look at some of the paintings visit www.first-view.co.uk
Now you don't see that in a picture everyday!
Pierce Brosnan?
All the young helpers join in the spirit of the evening; working for free, hiring costumes with their hard earned Saturday job wages - and then at the end of the evening giving all their tips to Msaada.
And people complain about 'young people these days'!
Decorating this wonderful barn (www.ryehillbarn.com) with my florist friend Jennifer was such fun; there were English spring flowers for the Constable table, roses for the Redoute table and lilies for the O'Keeffe table.
For the Van Gogh table a bowl full of sunflowers.
And for the Picasso table? Lego flowers of course!


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