a barn at Camber Sands

Quite a few of my (London) readers have asked me recently for bolt hole recommendations for much needed weekend breaks away from the city smoke.

Camber Sands barn holiday

only 5 minutes walk to the glorious Camber Sands

However much of a city girl I am, I do love the chance to run across a field and to paddle in the sea.  Lady Y found a converted barn in Camber Sands (close to Rye) and so I jumped at the chance to spend a week in close proximity to my Oldies and my Smalls.

timthumbThe (three-bedroom/two-bathroom)Barn is one of the 7 Camber Holiday Cottages run by Georgina and Richard Holt.  The large open plan sitting room/kitchen/dining table with cathedral beamed ceiling suited us perfectly as we all hung out together.  The shabby chic decor gives it a very chilled out vibe and I can imagine it would be super cosy in the Winter, with its log burner.

Camber Sands barn holiday

my bedroom was suspended in the eaves of the barn

Camber Sands Barn holidayOutside, the private garden saw a record number of football games, shell and stone painting, a regular washing load being hung out in the tropical weather and Lord Y doing a little work on a garden chair.

Camber Sands barn holiday

Here is a taster of what we got up to locally:

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle

the extraordinarily beautiful village of Winchelsea

the extraordinarily beautiful village of Winchelsea

exploring the Tudor streets of Rye

exploring the Tudor streets of Rye

enjoying the Kent berries sold on the roadside

enjoying the Kent berries sold on the roadside

with only ONE day of showers!

with only ONE day of showers!

And on one day we visited Dungeness, an extraordinary place… worthy of its own post

If you are interested in renting The Barn or any of the other properties on the Camber Holiday Cottages website, do give the Holts a call on: 01797 225 202

 

 

 

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Britain’s only desert, Dungeness

While holidaying at Camber Sands, we took a trip to an unusual village along the coast.

Dungeness Classified as Britain’s only desert, Dungeness is one of the largest expanses of shingle in Europe and home to two nuclear power stations.

Dungeness

Dungeness power stationsIf all this isn’t enough for one small village, there are two lighthouses and the area is also deemed to be a wildlife sanctuary.

IMG_6861The village is clearly occupied by fishermen, whose boats lie on the beach, artists and those trying to escape the pressured outside world.  But perhaps the most famous residential home in Dungeness is Prospect Cottage, formerly owned by the late artist and film director Derek Jarman. The cottage is painted black, with a poem, part of John Donne’s “The Sunne Rising”, written on one side in black lettering.  Jarman lived here for the last six years of his life before he died aged 52 of AIDS related illnesses.  Lady Y had read about the garden (the main attraction as his partner still lives in the private home) and how it reflects the bleak, windswept landscape of this peninsula.

Derek Jarman's house and garden

Derek Jarman’s house and garden

Another house of Dungeness is represented on the cover of Pink Floyd's album "A collection of great dance songs".

Another house of Dungeness is represented on the cover of Pink Floyd’s album “A collection of great dance songs”.

After climbing the lighthouse, we took a 1920s steam train to New Romney and back (after lunch).

Dungeness1920s steam railway Dungeness 1920s steam train Dungeness

As we left this intriguing place, we bought with some pretty delicious fresh fish from the infamous Snack Shack for our dinner.

 

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moving house

Moving house is always an emotional and exhausting experience.

But, as it turns out, the house we moved last week was a piece of cake.

IMG_6522Even Mini admits she has grown out of her dolls house.  A constant favourite over the last 7 years, she now sees the benefit in freeing up some space in her bedroom and passing the house onto some new loving fingers with imaginative minds.

P1150889

I was advised that her godmother’s sprogs should have first refusal… but I was concerned about transport.  Crystal Palace isn’t exactly just down-the-road and I wasn’t sure it would be easy to house a house on a train.

P1150888

That’s when I remembered Addison Lee’s delivery service.  A quick email to a powerful car/van man and we were well-on-the-road to shifting this dolls house.

a lick of paint for the (dolls) house

a lick of paint for the (dolls) house

Before it left, a little interior design/spring-cleaning was necessary.  We’d hardly like the new owners to think that we weren’t house-proud.

a little note for the new owner was written on the back

a little note for the new owner was written on the back

And once it was looking better than it had EVER looked on our premises, the dolls house was picked up and delivered to its new postcode.

addison lee delivery service

A HUGE thank you to Addison Lee to making our house move so very easy.

This delivery would have cost £35

 

 

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Film review: Finding Vivian Maier

I’ve been patiently waiting for the documentary Finding Vivian Maier to open in the UK.

Finding Vivian MaierIn fact, since my brother first alerted me to the curious nanny living in 1950s Chicago, I’ve been properly obsessing over her work, life and unexpected talent.

Last night was the first opportunity to see the historian John Maloof’s film as it opened at The ICA on The Mall.

ICA, The Mall

I had arranged to meet the portrait photographer Abigail Zoe Martin underground en route to the screening so that we could catch up on life before the pictures took over.  (Much against her will, I forced her to pose for a couple of shots!)Abigail Zoe Martin, photographerAbigail Martin, photographer

Abigail’s work is always interesting.  She shoots for those big glossie mags (as well as the even bigger all-important corporates) who need impressive portrait photography to go with an interview of someone famous.  Or simply those who are on their way to becoming famous.

I first met Abigail when she was commissioned to take a shot of me for a charity project.  I was spilling my BRCA beans and – seeing as it was before Angelina Jolie spilt hers – the magazine needed living proof of life after a double mastectomy.

this is the shot Abigail took of me in 2012

this is the shot Abigail took of me in 2012

Anyway, we hit it off, worked out we lived in the same area and now regularly bump into each other in the local swimming pool’s fast lane.

She’s quirky and funny and interesting – and I reckon that’s one of the reasons her work is so good.

Anyway, back to Vivian.  Or Ms Maier – as she was called by the children in her care.  Posing as a nanny, this New Yorker (of French Austrian stock) was drawn to people she encountered on the streets of the city.  Her work is outstanding (hence my obsession) and increasingly admired as her story and images spread outside of the US.

bookshop at the ICA

bookshop at the ICA

_68350903_maier_pica3_640x360Throughout the film, Maloof (who discovered her work by accident seven years ago) is asking all those questions I also want answers to.  How did Maier achieve these perfect shots, why did she never want to show off her work and why did piles and piles of negatives remain undeveloped in storage boxes?

Abigail and I uncomfortably sensed that there was also a darkness to Vivian.  The film eventually reveals this mad (as well as cruel) side, her isolation, paranoia and the curious life she led as a self-confessed ‘a spy’.

Vivian-Maier_59_372-07_72dpi-637x640So was this just a nanny who strolled the streets with her Rolleiflex camera capturing daily life or was she an artist producing some of the most intriguing and poignant images which can easily be compared to those by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Diane Arbus?

Vivian-Maier_55_230-12_72dpi-632x640And how much did her mental turmoil contribute to her impressive work?  Did she resent her well-heeled employers or yearn to be cared for by them in a world where she seemingly had neither real friends nor family?

Her life (Maier died alone in 2009) remains much of a mystery and, of course, this makes her art that much more fascinating.  I’ll be buying Finding Vivian Maier on DVD so that I can watch it again. As I mentioned, I’m pretty much obsessed.

Finding Vivian Maier is on at The ICA until 31 July 

(to contact Abigail – either email her from her site or follow her on Instagram)

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