Archive | November 2015

One-pot roast chicken

I bought a small chicken the other day and roasted it along with some spuds, carrots, onions and garlic, and with a whole lemon and a bunch of fresh thyme shoved inside its cavity: gurt lush, as they say around these parts.

Yum.

Slightly blurry photo, but YUM!

I used the recipe on Jamie Oliver’s website, and it certainly is very simple. There were enough juices from the chicken (and the good glug of white wine I added in the latter stages of the cooking) for a simple jus – didn’t bother to make it into a gravy or anything, just spooned it over the meat and veg as it was. Scrumptious.

A medley of Niels Erik From rings

I’ve just obtained two more rings by N E From in one of my favourite styles of his: a central cabochon in a low collet, surrounded by a higher rim and with a lower, black oxidised area between.

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N E From rings. All for sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (Update: the amethyst ring is now sold).

Unusually, the two I’ve just got hold of have a smaller head size than I’m familiar with: they are ‘mini’ versions of the design I currently have in rose quartz, amethyst and rhodochrosite. One of these smaller ones is unusual for two other reasons as well as its wee size: it is in moonstone, a stone not often used by N E From, and the oxidisation is missing.

(Update: all but the small round amber ring and the round rose quartz are now sold; I also have two oval rose quartz rings in this design).

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N E From rings. Left to right: moonstone ‘mini’, rose quartz, amethyst, Baltic amber ‘mini’, rhodochrosite and Baltic amber oval. (Update: the amethyst ring is now sold).

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The song thrush sings again

One of the joys of the yearly round is hearing the song thrush (Turdus philomelos) resume its gorgeous song in late autumn.

Song thrush (Turdus philomelos).

Song thrush (Turdus philomelos). Photo by Pavrabec.

Thrushes sing gloriously throughout the summer until about July. And then they stop. I have never noticed the exact date when they stop singing. It’s always easier to notice when something starts – the first swallows appear, or the first brimstones, or the first crickets chirr – but it’s always harder to pin down when something ceases. Usually, it’s a case of thinking, ‘Hmm, I don’t remember hearing the thrush for a few days.’ And then you realise it’s stopped singing. I don’t know enough about the life cycle of the thrush to know why this cessation of song should be, but I imagine it’s something to do with singing for a mate and establishing and maintaining territory. Once the breeding season is over I guess this becomes unnecessary. And so the song stops.

But hurrah! Yesterday, Remembrance Day, as I was walking up to the post office in the afternoon, I heard the song for the first time. Like an old friend I’d missed, it was lovely to be reacquainted, and it lifted my heart, as it always does.

A Jessie M King necklace

Last Sunday the Antiques Roadshow came from RAF Coningsby. It was filmed earlier this summer. One of the items featured was a beautiful Arts and Crafts fringe necklace in its original Liberty case, owned by a very lucky young lady. It features moonstones and baroque pearls, with decorative leaves picked out in blue-green enamel.

Arts and Crafts fringe necklace, c. 1905, in its original Liberty case. I am sure this is designed by Jessie M King.

Arts and Crafts fringe necklace, c. 1905, in its original Liberty case. I am sure this is designed by Jessie M King.

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The expert, John Benjamin, dated it from about 1905, that the blue-green were little blobs of glass set on gold (ie vitreous enamel), and called the pearls blister pearls. He said blister pearls are ‘mis-shapen white pearls, natural pearls’. My understanding (probably incorrect) is that blister pearls are those half-formed things caught under the nacreous skin of the oyster shell, whereas pearls proper, both regularly-shaped and irregularly-shaped, are free within the shell. I am more used to seeing pearls like these — irregularly-shaped proper ‘free’ pearls — described as baroque pearls. He did not attribute a designer and valued it at £3,000.

I think this necklace positively screams out Jessie M King. It’s her style, her colour palette — everything about it suggests it is her design. Jessie’s pieces were usually made with semiprecious stones, and enamel, and she used the enamelled leaf motif extensively.

Jessie M King. Opal, peridot, baroque pearl and enamel necklace, c. 1900. Sold by Van den Bosch..

Jessie M King. Opal, peridot, baroque pearl and enamel necklace, c. 1900. Sold by Van den Bosch.

Detail.

Jessie M King. Opal, peridot, baroque pearl and enamel necklace, c. 1900. Sold by Van den Bosch. Detail.

Jessie M King brooch design for Liberty & Co. Gold, moonstone and enamel. Liberty model number 1800. Sold by Tadema Gallery.

Jessie M King brooch design for Liberty & Co. Gold, moonstone and enamel. Liberty model number 1800. Sold by Tadema Gallery.

Jessie M King design for Liberty & Co. Gold, sapphire, moonstone and green enamel necklace. Sold by Van Den Bosch.

Jessie M King design for Liberty & Co. Gold, sapphire, moonstone and green enamel necklace. Sold by Van Den Bosch.

Jessie M King. Moonstone and enamel necklace.

Jessie M King design for Liberty & Co. Moonstone and enamel necklace. Sold by Van den Bosch.

Jessie M. King for Liberty & Co. Ring, gold, silver, enamel and chrysoprase. Sold by Tadema Gallery.

Jessie M. King for Liberty & Co. Ring, gold, silver, enamel and chrysoprase. Sold by Tadema Gallery.

Jessie M King for Liberty & Co. A silver and gold necklace set with moonstones within borders of blue/green enamelled leaves surrounded by gold wire wirework and gold florets. The silver chain with a gold clasp. British. Circa 1900. Size: Height of drop pendant only 4.4 cm. Width 2 cm. Width across three moonstones 11 cm. Total length around necklace 41 cm. Sold by Van den Bosch.

Jessie M King for Liberty & Co. A silver and gold necklace set with moonstones within borders of blue/green enamelled leaves surrounded by gold wire wirework and gold florets. The silver chain with a gold clasp. British. Circa 1900. Size: Height of drop pendant only 4.4 cm. Width 2 cm. Width across three moonstones 11 cm. Total length around necklace 41 cm. Sold by Van den Bosch.

Sold by Van den Bosch.

Jessie M King for Liberty & Co. Turquoise and enamel necklace. Sold by Van den Bosch.

Sold by Tadema Gallery.

Jessie M King for Liberty & Co. Moonstone and enamel brooch. Sold by Tadema Gallery.

The programme is available on the BBC iPlayer, and the segment runs from 21:00 – 24:07.

I wrote a blog post about Jessie’s jewellery designs a while ago. It has more detail of the life of this fascinating and multi-talented Scottish artist.

Wells

It’s been pretty wet and miserable here for the last few days. This is a photo I took of a rainy day in the beautiful cathedral city of Wells a few years ago. It had been a lovely sunny day, and we’d been for a long walk around the sights – the Cathedral, Vicar’s Close, Bishop’s Palace and the many beautiful secular buildings – and then the heavens opened. We went back to the car and I took this photo from inside through the windscreen as the rain pelted down. I quite like its impressionistic quality.

A rainy day in Wells.

A rainy day in Wells.

Earlier on had been like this:

 

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Vicar’s Close, Wells. Constructed between 1348 and 1430.

Wells Cathedral.

Wells Cathedral. Built between 1176 and 1490.

Wells Cathedral.

Wells Cathedral.

Wells Cathedral.

Wells Cathedral.

Wells Cathedral.

Wells Cathedral.

and then the rain blew in. I like the fact that we get such changeable weather here – there’s often drama in the skies (apart from when it’s a flat, dull, grey day – not much drama then).

If you’re a film fan, Wells is the setting for Hot Fuzz: the co-writer and director, Edgar Wright, grew up in Wells. The Cathedral was digitally removed from the film though, I think because it was too imposing and took away from the smaller parish church, the Church of St Cuthbert, that featured in the film. Some of the filming took place in the Bishop’s Palace grounds, though.