Spring Fancies


I think the Easter holiday might be my favourite. It’s short enough for every day to be savoured, but long enough to also feel like a proper rest. I might have a pile of work to do and the impending doom of exams lurking around the corner (sending my babies into that exam hall is just as stressful for me as it is for them!) but it’s finally Spring, my house and garden are full of beautiful daffodils, there are so many exciting cultural things going on in London at the moment and I am full of plans and prospects for the months ahead. Always, at this time of year, I feel like a corner has been turned, the winter and its gloom has been cast off, and I am left re-energised and renewed. So, what have I been up to during these halcyon days of Easter holidays?

1. I’ve been to Scandinavia! And it was wonderful. I will tell you more about it in subsequent posts, but if you want enormous blue skies, beautiful scenery, historic architecture, amazing pastries and the freshest, purest air you’ll ever breathe, then go to Scandinavia. Everything is also ridiculously clean, and wonderfully efficient. It was heaven.

2. I’m about a decade behind the rest of the world, as always, and am finally reading Wolf Hall! I’m loving every minute; I’m absolutely absorbed, and completely in awe of how brilliant Hilary Mantel is. I must say that I did cheat and watch the beautifully shot, acted and scripted TV series first (which is now on DVD if you missed it), every episode of which is pure pleasure from start to finish, and this is helping considerably with my ability to keep track of who everyone is and why they are important. I haven’t felt so entranced by a story in a very long time; the characters are haunting me even in my sleep.

3. I just finished reading a very interesting biography of an art dealer, Lord Duveen, who I had never heard of before Daunt Books sent me a copy of the beautifully produced reprint they have recently published. I love reading about larger-than-life characters who blaze their way through life by being utterly shameless, charming everybody and breaking all the rules, and Duveen seems to have been exactly that sort of person and then some. This biography is rather sanitised and turns a blind eye to the clearly illegal and also immoral practices Duveen was warrant to indulge himself in, but as an insight into the life of a fascinating individual and of the machinations that go on behind the scenes of the arts world, this really is worth a read. I raced through it on my plane journeys to and from Scandinavia, and it’s made me interested to read more about how art is valued, promoted and sold; Breakfast at Sotheby’s sounds like the perfect follow-up read.


4. I’ve been to see the Ladybird by Design exhibition at the stunning De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill. Bexhill is a south coast seaside town, near to Eastbourne, that has sadly seen better days, though it has a fantastic fish and chip shop in Minnie Bertha’s, a nice array of vintage shops scattered throughout the back streets, some very interesting, if crumbling, Indian inspired Victorian architecture and a largely empty and expansive beach that is bordered with pretty beach huts. The jewel in the town however has to be the De La Warr Pavilion, which is an outstanding example of Art Deco and a real surprise to find in a place that appears to be so distinctly unfashionable. It is now used for exhibitions and also houses a very nice cafe and shop. The Ladybird exhibition, which is free, though not on for much longer, is absolutely wonderful and such a fun trip down memory lane for those of us who grew up learning to read with Ladybird books. There are numerous original illustrations on display as well as some fascinating information about the development of the brand and its enormous influence on the way in which children came to be taught to read in post-war Britain. If you can make it down for the day, do go – it’s well worth it.

5. I’ve been listening to some folk inspired music to get me in the spirit of Spring. I read about this band while in Norway, whose rising popularity has obviously passed me by, as I am the least fashionable person ever! They’re fantastic and their latest album Stay Gold is perfect easy listening for a sunny afternoon.

6. I’ve got a new job! Next academic year, I’ll be working in a brand new international school right in the middle of London, which means that I’ll be packing my bags and moving back to the Big Smoke this summer – I can’t wait! I’ll miss my students enormously and will be a sobbing mess when I have to say goodbye at the end of term, but I’m so ready to move on to a new challenge and to have the bright lights of London at my fingertips again.

I hope you’re enjoying the advent of Spring as much as me!



  1. Best wishes on your new job. I will be interested to hear about your transition back to London.

  2. I tried Wolf Hall but just couldn’t keep track of the characters. There seemed to be a shortage of names – every second person was Charles! So the book has languished on my shelf for years. The TV series is about to be shown on Australian TV and I have set it up to record. I will do what I normally never do – watch a show before I read. Glad to hear it helped you keep track of the characters.

    Congrats on the new appointment.

    1. Once you have got past a certain point it does all click into place, don’t worry – and watching the TV show also helps massively. I hope you will be able to give it another try! Thank you!

  3. Congratulations on the new job, Rachel!! Look forward to hearing more about your travels in Scandinavia too.

  4. Thank you so much for your updates, commentaries and insights into cultural this and that. Always enjoyable, insightful. The photos really help as I plan my trips to the UK and beyond. ~Helen


  5. You might be interested in the comments on Wolf Hall on Ninevoices.wordpress.com on the 21st and 22nd March.

    Oh to be able to write like that…


  6. Congrats on the new job! I am starting in a new job myself in August. Cant`t wait. I am glad you enjoyed Scandinavia:) I`m visiting London next week. Looking forward to VAM`s Savage beauty, National Theater, American Buffalo at the Wyndhams etc. Have a nice week. From Oslo

    1. Congratulations to you too! It’s always exciting to have a new opportunity, isn’t it! Wow, you have some fantastic plans – I hope you’ll have a wonderful time. I adored Oslo – you have a beautiful city to call home!

  7. Congratulations on your new job, Rachel. I’ll be as interested in hearing about it as I will about your Scandinavian holiday. I’m enjoying spring here right now, especially after our very long and cold winter. It is so uplifting to see the daffodils and the tulips will be showing off very soon.

  8. I lived in Gothenburg off and on over four years and saw many other parts of Scandinavia then and since and I too was completely besotted by it. There is something there that touches my deepest instincts. Maybe it’s in my Yorkshire, Viking, genes! Will be interested to hear more of your thoughts.

    And I do envy you living in the middle of London soon!

    1. Lucky you! I’d love to see more of the countryside and smaller towns in Scandinavia – what I saw from the train was so beautiful. It’s going to be exciting being back in the city again, I must say!

    1. Thanks very much, Tamsin! Yes I hope so too – it’s so nervewracking! I have a lot of sleepless nights this time of year! It really is a beautiful building – photos don’t do it justice!

  9. Busy, busy having fun! Such wonderful tidbits and massive congratulations on your new position, Rachel! And if you fancy art deco…Eltham Palace is hosting an art deco fair in May. Imagine THAT on a sunny day…glorious.
    Roman left for Florida this morning so I can begin planning my trip in earnest…not to mention peace and quiet. Be in touch soon to see how your schedule will line up.

    1. Thanks Darlene! Ooh, I didn’t know that…I’ll have to go! I can’t wait to see you again and to hear all about your plans – I look forward to your email! 🙂

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