Monday, 26 January 2015

The Owl House, Nieu-Bethesda

Hi everyone - I hope your January is a little less hectic than mine is with barely a moment to touch ground so I apologise for the lack of posts.

I made fleeting mention to packing up my blue & white crockery in my last post January Blues - that is because we are having our kitchen redone but I will share more of that later ...

However, I am going to share some more of my adventures when I visited South Africa last Summer to enjoy the Karoo. I hope you will find them as interesting as I did.

While growing up in the 70's in South Africa, the story of the Owl House in Nieu Bethesda & its eclectic owner, Helen Martins, The Owl House, was never far from the gossipy, magazine news. Someone who was so different, so original, so eclectic was bound to capture the imagination of the press & the arty brigade.

Imagine my delight, when my brother suggested a trip to The Owl House while I was visiting. I could not understand his rather reticent manner because it was a place I had always wanted to visit.

The spectacular Karoo scenery en route was stunning - it is one of the most beautiful landscapes with vast open spaces & huge mountains ...

Helen Martin put the tiny town of Nieu Betheseda on the map with her Owl House & the town is now known as an arty one, attracting lots of visitors.

The Owl House belonged to Helen's parents & she returned to look after them after an unhappy marriage.  She found a way to work through the unhappy situation by injecting colour everywhere, most of it through ground glass applied to almost every surface in the house.

Huge, coloured murals & friezes stare down at you in every room in the house, infusing colour & vibrancy everywhere.

The greens ...

The reds & the massive sun-like ceiling mural

The old fashioned kitchen & pantry were a riot of colour too.

 Cave like with the reds being so intense

The outside yard is home to her many eclectic concrete structures. She had help to do them & their upkeep is now sponsored by a national cement company.

I think I was rather overwhelmed by the intensity of the colour & the amount of it. I had always wanted to visit the Owl House, having thought of Helen Martin as an eclectic person who marched to her own drum.

However, I found the house almost sad - a reflection of a tortured mind & a lonely, lost soul who had to colour her world to keep demons at bay. The colour on the walls & every surface overwhelmed me & made me feel restless & claustrophobic - there was no calming influence or space at all.

I found the concrete statues in the garden to be too much & too many - it spoke to me of a compulsion to express oneself with frenetic energy that hinted at no rest.

I am glad I visited the Owl House, but both StacySparkle & I left feeling a little sad that the only colour of her sad life was through her crushed glass that covered everything & is credited with her failing eyesight & her suicide that followed.

Artists - perhaps their tortured souls are what make them original ....

What are your impressions of the house? Have you visited anything so different?

Thanks for stopping by & taking time to read the blog & leave a comment.
Dee ~♥~

Sunday, 11 January 2015

January blues

January blues for me is sorting out the kitchen cupboards ahead of upcoming work being done in our kitchen. This is a favourite set of crockery & unpacking it took much longer because I was once again engrossed in looking at the patterns & various piece I have.

Most of this fabulous classic set was gifted to me several years ago.  I just love the vibrancy of the cobalt blue & the classic pattern.

I shared some of the blue patterns in a previous post & it remains a firm favourite.  The patterns are similar or the same in many regards but the changes come in with small details like ribbed at the foot or rim, the pattern repeated inside the cup or jug, patterns on the handles, colour variations, the thickness of the pottery / china etc

The history of the Blue Danish pattern is fascinating & it gives an insight in to how the pattern has been used by several of the major pottery makers since 1776 when the pattern emerged from the East India's to Denmark.

Several factories have made this pattern including

Royal Copenhagen which is perhaps the original pattern which was used



Blue Denmark - Furnivals 

Johnson Brothers Blue Denmark 


Masons Denmark pattern 

Myott Finlandia 

Wedgwood Viking 

Minton Danish


Subtle differences between all the above patterns but all honouring a classic pattern 

The history of the pattern tells us of the pattern use in the British Potteries

‘ Furnivals were the most prominent of several Staffordshire potters to produce versions of the pattern based on the Royal Copenhagen original.  Company records suggest that the pattern was produced from the 1850s and with virtually no modification to the pattern or shape was produced until the closure of the business in 1968.
Furnivals (1913) Ltd was acquired by Barrett’s of Staffordshire Ltd in 1967 however shortages of labour frustrated Barrett’s plans for modernisation and expansion of the business and the factory was closed in 1968.  The Furnivals name and some of its best known patterns, including 'Blue Denmark', were purchased by Enoch Wedgwood (Tunstall) Ltd (formerly Wedgwood & Co. Ltd) who continued to supply the market with the popular pattern - including the 'Furnivals' backstamp!  
Enoch Wedgwood was itself acquired by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd in 1980 and perhaps it is not a surprise that ‘Blue Denmark’ has been produced by at least two Waterford Wedgwood brands – Mason’s Ironstone China Ltd and Franciscan.
Fascinating as I live fairly close to the famous potteries of Stoke on Trent & I have always had a great love for pottery & patterns. I remain fascinated by how widely this pattern is used & how long it has been used for. My ordered mind would love a definitive chronological order of the use of the marks over time ….

As with all things classical, I intend to enjoy my varied collection for years.  You might even find it being used more this year …. Do you have a set of dinner ware that you favour in your home? Please share ….

Thanks for stopping by & taking the time to leave a comment.
Dee ~♥~

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Light up your life with metallics ….

Is anyone else finding the dark January days a little … tedious?

After the lights of Christmas, it always seems dull when the lights & decorations come down & the days have not yet lengthened.

It has been a busy time & I am still playing catch up, looking at the decor now that the festive things have been packed -that restless time when I want a change but not sure what it is. Should I hang bunting or what changes?

It seems that mettalics are still a popular decor choice according to House Beautiful. I am not surprised because they always bring some reflective light in to any room & add a warmth & depth to a room.

Copper is not as seen as much as brass but both are lovely. The only downside is that they need to be polished from time to time. Our study has lots of old family copper & brass items. They are used to store pens & other stationery piece - perfectly reused.

Our study is a perfect place to display personal awards & items.

 Vintage brass lamps bring some interest to a small shelf along with an old family pen holder.

I have some random copper pieces that are being clustered & collected from around the house …

I love these little french tea light holders with their copper rims. They cast lovely light around the conservatory when lit.

My collection of brass deer look good together above the fireplace.

Silver is perhaps the best of the metallics, it is the most traditional & it always adds beauty to a room, a sort of luxury feel that harks to bygone days. Ours was in dire need of a clean as it was black so I had no option but to polish them.  It is one of those jobs that seem to take ages …

Old family - on both sides - serving dishes; they look so much better once polished.

A silver clothes brush looking lovely again but where did I put the rest of the set?

I love this vintage cranberry glass with the silver lid. The combination of red & silver is lovely ….

Are you a fan of metallics? How do you transition your home from the brightness of the festive season to the dullness of January?

Thanks for stopping by, I always enjoy your comments
Dee ~♥~

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Starting 2015 with blueberry pancakes

New Year always feels like it needs a special breakfast so this is how I started 2015 - with blueberry pancakes, fruit & yoghurt!

I always use my Mom's recipe which is really for scotch pancakes / crumpets or with added milk, they make a good thick or thin pancake. It is the easy sort of recipe that can be made in minutes, either by hand with a whisk or in a mixer …

It needs

1 cup of flour (I use self raising if I want them to be fluffier)
1 egg
5/8 cup of milk (I told you it was an old recipe - just add enough milk till it is the consistency you want)

Simple ingredients - I use free range eggs & organic flour out of preference

I always use a small ladle to pour it in to a non stick frying pan

While the pancake is cooking, add blueberries to the top which will still be runny.  Blueberries are perfect for pancakes as they ooze their goodness in a riot of colour.  Turn them over & cook the blueberry side till set …

Toppings can be anything you like or have to hand.
I always have a shaker with cinnamon & sugar (a traditional way we eat pancakes at home), yoghurt, some maple syrup or honey & any fruits you have in your fridge.

I think food always feels more special on a pretty plate, eaten with my great aunts coloured cutlery …

A perfect, quick breakfast that feels indulgent!

What is your favourite start to the morning? What toppings should I try next?

Thanks for stopping by, enjoy the start to 2015

Dee ~♥~

TIME for 2015

I am always aware of the passage of time & my sideboard often reflects this ….

My sideboard changes regularly & the festive look has given way to a brighter TIME theme with little battery lights to brighten it up


The daughters vintage cameras have a good display space alongside my Ralph Lauren 'pocket watch' plates are gifts from my girls; they do make a lovely display. I still need one in that set ….

Love my HOME - the heart shaped Rosenthal candleholder was another gift. The candles - well - they are the IKEA battery ones which are lovely & safe to use, especially near children & decorations.

The white & coloured 'gems' are often used in our table settings - don't you just love their colours?

IKEA battery operated LEDs are such fun & we use them often to brighten up our home.


TIME in all its forms

My reminder of TIME with cameras capturing it through the ages, pocket watch plates reflecting various times & a heart with my home ….

Make TIME for the important things in 2015 - thanks for your company
Dee ~♥~