Thoughts on a Thursday

It’s Thursday. Almost the weekend. Hurrah! It always makes me feel joyful when I get to the second half of the working week. So today, in my spirit of abundant joy I thought, why post on one blog when I can post on two? That’s why I am being greedy and guest posting over on the lovely Aarti’s blog, Booklust, today. Do go and check it out – it’s part of Aarti’s fascinating guest post series highlighting favourite forgotten books that bloggers want more people to know about. I’ve highlighted the spectacular Illyrian Spring that SOMEONE needs to listen to me and reprint because it’s actually criminal that it’s completely unavailable! I hope you enjoy the post, and that you will like exploring Aarti’s interesting, intellectual and varied blog if you haven’t done so before.

In other news of my amazingly glamorous life, I am still suffering the effects of quaffing a large amount of delicious canapes followed by several litres of champagne at the Quilts Private View at work last night. Bloomsbury Bell and I did our usual trick of hovering strategically next to the doorway where the waiters come out with the trays of canapes, pouncing like vultures who haven’t had a square meal in ten years as soon as a fresh tray appears. We got an excellent haul, stuffing our faces with delicious mini sausages, hunks of rare steak in bearnaise sauce, tender lamb on crisps (chips for my American friends), fish in breadcrumbs with minted mushy peas, smoked salmon, iced cupcakes…I could go on! Absolutely delicious and an excellent time was had by both of us as we floated around the main entrance of the Museum to 1940s British music played by a 40’s costumed DJ  in our fancy dresses (I wore this in multicolour) and pretended to be professional.  We also saw the exhibition, which opens to the public on Saturday, and I can assure you that it is absolutely phenomenal and testament to the excellent work the curator, Sue, and her lovely asisstant curator Claire, have done over the past six years. If you want to know what it’s like to be an exhibition curator, you can read Sue’s blog here.

I know I keep going on about this exhibition, but I have just been blown away by the gorgeousness of the fabrics and patterns, the intricacy of the handiwork and the powerful personal and political histories sewn into the quilts on display. Normally museum objects are very impersonal, with little known about the makers or owners, but with these beautiful pieces of domestic history, you can trace the contemporary lives of the makers; their hopes, dreams, interests and concerns with each stitch, and as they have often been handed down in families for generations before being donated to the Museum, there is a real emotional quality to them, of having been laboured over, of being loved and cherished, and of being an intimate part of many people’s lives for centuries. They have covered people as they dream, been a soft surface for sitting on at picnics, been a gift to celebrate a marriage, offered a safe place for babies to fall as they take their tentative first steps; they have been wept into and giggled under, seen the beginnings and the ends of lives. They are holders of so many memories, witnesses of so many of the important moments in their owners’ lives, and snapshots into lost periods of time through the shapes, letters, figures and fabrics they contain. They are truly wonderful objects and I do hope that many of you will be able to come and see them for yourselves. Standing in front of them last night I was quite awe struck and moved, and I don’t think many visitors will leave without being powerfully touched by what they’ve seen.

Also, if you are a crafty type, check out the range of quilts related products and fabrics in the V&A shop; I have the fabrics and they are just exquisite! I can’t wait to add them to my quilt.

I am off to South Africa on Saturday but I hope I will have time to review one last book before I go. However, if I don’t, I’ll see you all in two weeks, hopefully with some beautiful photographs to share of my trip!



  1. Love that dress! It fits perfectly the quilts theme. And I will always have a bit of you with me because of the postcard with the image above you sent me. It’s tucked in my Proust (Sodom + Gomorrah) book at the moment, as my bookmark.

    Have a lovely, wonderful trip, Rachel!

    1. Thanks! I know, doesn’t it? I thought it was quite clever of me really! I’d forgotten I’d sent you that postcard; isn’t it a beautiful image? I’m so glad you enjoy it and use it!

      Thank you, I’m sure I will – if I can get over my nerves for the 18 hour flight I’m doing by myself!

  2. Thank you so much for your guest post! I loved it and hope to somehow find a copy of Illyrian Spring SOMEWHERE, somehow!

    I did not know you were going to South Africa- have a great, wonderful time and look forward to seeing your pictures!

    Thank you also for your very kind words about my blog 🙂

    1. Thanks Aarti, I’m glad you liked my post! And I hope you find a copy soon because it is a glorious book and one I will always treasure!

      You are welcome – you deserve them all!

      Thank you – I will have tons of photos to share on my return!

      1. Naomi’s getting me one and my best friend/best woman are going to have a day looking at quilts and then onto wedding dress shopping 🙂

  3. I’ve been keeping an eye out for Ilyrian Spring every since you mentioned it here several months ago… still no luck. Have a wonderful trip!

  4. Hi Rachel, just came over here from Aarti’s blog, where you did a guest post today. Along with being a book lover, I’m also a quilter (a contemporary one, but I love the history of the old ones)! I’ll have to keep an eye out for the book “Illyrian Springs”, if it shows up somewhere I’ll grab it.

    1. Hi Valerie! Ooh a contemporary quilter! I am in awe of you! Do look out for Illyrian Spring, it’s such a lovely book. I’ll be adding your blog to my subscriptions from now on!

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