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Making a cameo appearance 👩🏻🦳🐚🍩
Everything beautiful and brilliant that's tickled our fancy this week
Two peas in a pod
Over 35,000 hectares of peas are grown in the UK every year, which equates to over 160,000 tonnes of peas. That sounds like a staggering amount, but – not counting the ones that fall off our forks and roll onto the floor – each of us eats an average of 9000 peas a year. It was Clarence Birdseye who first froze peas in the 1920s, but we’ve been cultivating them for around 10,000 years. And although we eat them when they’re green and young, there was a time when they were hard enough to wake princesses from their slumber.
The common phrase “two peas in a pod” can probably be dated back to the 16th Century, in a romance novel by John Lyly published in 1578. Euphues and His England includes the line “Wherin I am not unlike unto the unskilfull Painter, who having drawen the Twinnes of Hippocrates, (who wer as lyke as one pease is to an other).” Thanks to this phrase becoming increasingly common over some hundreds of years, we can now enjoy Minnie-Mae Stott’s ceramic pea pods, complete with two little gold peas jostling side by side.
You know we adore an eye-catching earring, and this pair from Etta Gray is right up our street. They’re not as ginormous as we’d usually go for – at just 3cm long, we might even avoid an international hair-tangling incident – but they more than make up for it with their bright pink crystals and gold and pearls. Team with bold lipstick and you’ll feel at least 63% more peppy in an instant.
A shivery bite
While we work away on this newsletter every week, Laura often delights Sian by adding a random Scottish word without realising it isn’t used everywhere else (and it’s paying off: last time she was chez Meades-Williams, she was pleased to be rather pointedly offered some “diluting juice”).
Behind the scenes, the Scots lessons continue, and over the years Sian’s been introduced to the joys of “sitooterie” (a sheltered place to sit out in the garden), “bidey-in” (a live-in lover), “bosie” (a cuddle), and “shoogle” (to shake), among many others.
One that we surprisingly haven’t yet discussed is the wonderful “shivery bite” – a snack eaten after a swim. Also known as a chitterin’ bit, chittery bite, shitherin’ bite or chittering piece – as well as lots of variations in between – it’s a post-swim essential, particularly if you enjoy a dook in the chilly Scottish sea. And it can be whatever you like, as long as it gives a much-needed energy boost. Popular shivery bites include a bag of crisps, a biscuit, a jeely piece, or Little Laura’s favourite after lessons at her local baths: a poke of chips with tons of vinegar.
We wonder if the three friends in this linocut by Marnie Baker had a wee shivery bite afterwards? Outdoor swimming is a recurring theme in her gorgeous work, and Marnie’s prints encapsulate all the thrills and tranquility the waves can bring. This one is particularly lovely, and it’s £20 from Conclave Brighton. It’s almost enough to encourage us to go for a dip, but we’ll probably just sit on the sofa and gaze at it instead.
We are approaching “frantically oil your face like it’s an old saddle” season, and so we’re here to recommend this Biossance squalane oil, which will soften and soothe your skin when the weather turns cold. It’s £25 a bottle, but it seems to last forever, and though some reviews complain about the pump, we like getting a measured dose – it stops us getting too “chip pan” in our application technique. This is plant-derived squalane (as opposed to stuff that comes from sharks, which obviously we want no part of), and it manages to be light, fast-absorbing and really nourishing at the same time, so it’s a good choice if you still get the odd spot but want to treat your skin (and hair, apparently, but we’ve not tried that yet) to a big ol’ hit of glowy goodness.
Turn the other cheek
The most delicate cameos are carved from shells or semi-precious gemstones. Mother of pearl, agate and onyx were all popular choices. The craft process is particularly unusual – the layers of the scene’s background are cut away to raise the subject to the foreground. The deeper layers of the stone are naturally darker and they make for a striking contrast with the bust or scene that’s being depicted. It’s a process that has been popular in jewellery since Ancient Egypt and Rome.
Cameos became hugely collectable throughout the Elizabethan and Victorian eras, their value was immediately obvious which made them something of a status symbol. In Italy, petrified lava from Pompeii’s ruins were used for cameo bases sold to tourists after the ruins were discovered in 1748. There’s even an excellent cameo museum in the nearby city of Naples. Modern materials and techniques made them much more affordable and accessible to the masses in the early 20th Century – glass paste became a more common alternative.
If you’re wondering how we jumped from a cameo brooch to a cameo in a film, the literal meaning of the word has evolved into something rather lovely – much like the outline in a beloved piece of cameo jewellery, the brief appearance is little more than a silhouette of a character.
Read all about it:
Apparently birds changed their tune during the pandemic. And we don’t know if they’ll change it back again.
The Made-Up Words Project is lovely.
We know you’ve all been wondering: when did eggs get so fancy?
Discover Turkey’s underground city.
There are so many brilliant cookbooks out this week. Whizzing straight to the top of our to-be-read (and to-be-cooked-from) pile is Butter, by the ever-excellent Olivia Potts. Joining it are Spice by Mark Diacono, The Joy of Snacks by Laura Goodman, and Rukmini Iyer’s India Express.