Walk the dinosaur 🦕🖼🌶
Everything sweet and sour that's tickled our fancy this week.
Set the scene
There’s such beautiful movement in Lotta Teale’s still life paintings. It appears as though someone has just walked out of the frame to pour a glass of wine or put a jumper on. Sliced fruit, half-drunk French presses, eggs in their cups waiting for their tops to be lopped off, her compositions feel like they are a part of a much larger scene.
Like all of the smartest people, Lotta is clearly very into breakfast – eggs feature heavily, so does marmalade and butter. She adept at taking the everyday things that we love and drawing focus on them, making them special. While we might not be able to splash out on one of Lotta’s original works, some prints are available at John Lewis (although they’re really deserving of nicer frames). This gin and lemons print will look great in a kitchen, and the fallen petals on this flower arrangement remind us of the scene on our desks when we refuse to let go of a particularly pretty bunch.
The Paper Palace
How long does a book stay on your TBR pile before you get around to reading it? (This is, assuming you only have one TBR pile, Sian currently has three and it’s proving to be a problem). Sometimes we dive into a new book within a week or two, but we’ve been known to leave a few languishing on the pile for years (sorry, Olive Kitteridge, it’s not you, it’s us). So perhaps it’s not a surprise that it’s taken us rather a long time to read The Paper Palace. We were missing an absolute treat.
There’s a lot that’s familiar in Miranda Cowley Heller’s debut. A married middle class white woman (Elle) torn between her husband and lover (Peter, Jonas) on a summer holiday doesn’t feel like it’s breaking much ground, however beautifully written it might be. Then somewhere around Ella getting felt up on the beach before dinner it takes a shocking and dramatic turn. It’s the flashbacks and layers that make The Paper Palace such a brilliant book. They build up to create a story that’s actually terribly sad – full of things left unspoken, hearts not mended, relationships left in tatters. There are so many almost-rans, so many ways that this story could have played out. Each one of them feels real. The connection between Elle and Jonas is undeniable, so is her love for her husband and family. You never want to take sides, there’s no good or bad, just a chain of events that has real consequences across decades. Each option that Elle is faced with feels entirely believable, right to the last page. If this one’s been on your radar for a while, but you “just haven’t got around to it yet”, cancel your evening plans and get comfy on the sofa.
It’s only natural
Joanie’s latest collaborators wouldn’t have had an inkling during their lifetimes that one day they would branch out into fashion, but thanks to the wonderful Natural History Museum collection, that’s exactly what’s happened. The work of some very clever scientists and artists now adorns dresses, tees, blouses and more.
Zoologist, entomologist, botanist and lots of other -ists Hermann Burmeister’s illustrations can be found on this creepy-crawly dress; geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours inspired the palette of a frock full of primates; tribute is paid to palaeontologist and fossil hunter Mary Anning with a shirt covered in ammonites; and though we’re not yet sure where exactly we’ll wear this boilersuit emblazoned with the artwork of eminent drawer of dinosaurs Neave Parker, we suspect the answer might be “everywhere”.
Never judge a jar of fermented vegetables by its label, they say, but that’s exactly what we’ve done. Happily, however, as well as making the prettiest pickles, sauerkrauts and kimchis around, Belle & Herbs Fermentary also makes the tastiest – and we’re now committed to working our way through absolutely everything they create.
You’ll find delicious gherkins and red onions and preserved lemons, as well as a whole host of intriguing flavours dreamed up by co-owners Sam and Pan. They make everything by hand in micro-batches on a community farm in Wallsend, just a few miles from Newcastle city centre. We’ve got our sights set on sour mustard greens, half sour black jalapeños, the beautiful pink mouli, kimchi sauce, and Pan’s Shan tjin – she is from Myanmar, and this is her family recipe. We can’t wait to get stuck in.
Two can play that game
Our collection of board games has grown substantially over the last couple of years, around the time we completed Netflix and finished rearranging the spice cupboard for the seventh time (yet always found four jars of ground cumin). Here are our favourite two-player games.
Card games often make the best games for two: Sushi Go remains a bit of a cult classic with good reason – it’s fast to learn and adorably illustrated. Jaipur is also a lot of fun and a big part of the reason for that is because there’s a herd of camels getting involved. The box for Cat Lady is rather unappealing, but it’s a really clever collecting game that involves gathering too many cats and have to stop them all from going hungry (a stark glimpse into our future, there).
Our favourite – Archaeology – is an absolute hit with anyone who plays it. It’s easy to pick up, and there’s just the right amount of luck involved, so even a seasoned player can quickly be at a disadvantage.
If you have a little more time in your evening, try Splendor, which is all about queens and kings and fancy jewels (for speedier royal shenanigans, try Love Letters). Sian’s in the Greek islands this week, so in between packing she prepared with a game of Akrotiri (pictured above) – use your secret maps to sail your boats around the islands and discover lost temples.
No matter what we’re playing, one thing’s for sure: our cards inevitably end up beneath the paws of a friendly feline who wants to join in, but has very little respect for the rules.
Read all about it:
Take note, British Museum: the Horniman is returning the stolen Benin Bronzes to Nigeria.
We cannot wait to get serious about sandwiches.
Keep your nose in that book – the benefits of reading for half an hour every day are made evident in excellent podcast Just One Thing.
This week, Sian’s been sampling wines in Santorini, and Laura’s been embracing soup season. Like what we do? Buy us a cuppa.