Saturday, 19 March 2016

Winter in Amsterdam

Winter suits Amsterdam.  Even in mid-March there are still splinters of ice in the North wind and the cold blue-grey light is the perfect backdrop for the monochrome colour palette of the city, with its network of canals bordered by merchants houses, still as beautiful and harmonious today as when they were built.

We spent my recent birthday there, staying on the Herengracht, one of the prettiest canals in Amsterdam, browsing around the markets and churches, enjoying the ambiance in the cafes, shops and restaurants, and admiring the art in the museums and galleries, chatting with the very friendly locals and hopping on and off trams whilst trying to avoid the bikes which seem to come flying from all directions!  

Amsterdam has many faces and most of these photos were taken in the Nine Streets area near our hotel.  This area is lovely by day...







... and by night.  In the evenings, we would walk around the Nine Streets after dinner, admiring the stark winter-bare trees against the night sky and the lit-up windows of the beautiful old houses. 







 I was particularly fascinated by the shop windows, lit up at night and full of colour and life













A great city for a short break and one I look forward to revisiting one day.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Wedding Dresses and the Liberty Connection

Reading Lucille's post about the recent Liberty in Fashion Exhibition in London set me thinking about weddings and wedding dresses. Although I never wanted a big white wedding, the dress was important to me and I had firm ideas about what I was looking for.

I still have the dress I bought for my first wedding, a small, intimate ceremony at a London Registry Office nearly 35 years ago, and which I found in Stitches & Daughters in Blackheath Village where I was living at the time.  

It was around the time of Prince Charles' wedding to Diana Spencer, and Stitches & Daughters had commissioned a one-off commemorative wedding dress made from Liberty silk which caught my eye.  I can vividly remember seeing it displayed in their shop window and falling in love with it. Beautifully made and designed by an architect, it fitted perfectly and I bought it on the spot!  I loved wearing it on this special day.  

We held the reception in the garden of the Victorian coach house we were renovating at the time and most of the photos were taken in the dappled shade of the old Mulberry tree, heavy with its dark, staining fruit, imprinted still on the hem.  Looking at it now, I am instantly transported back to that day.  It carries the memories in the folds of its fabric. I see a young woman full of hopes and dreams on the cusp of marriage and motherhood, knowing nothing of what would unfold and almost a stranger to me now.  Some of the guests at my first wedding are still in my life in some way, some have vanished into the ether, and my new husband, my children's father and the man I believed would always share the journey, shockingly no longer plays any part in my life.


My second wedding dress was harder to find and took many months of searching in the shops and online for something suitable for a rather more mature woman with three adult sons, but also special enough for the church wedding we planned to have in our Suffolk village.  

I knew exactly what I wanted this time but it remained elusive, a simple ivory shift dress shouldn't be so hard to find!  As soon as I saw it though I knew this was the one and immediately put in my order.  The dress was duly delivered to my local Waitrose store and prosaically I loaded it into my shopping trolley along with my weekly shop, the fruit and vegetables, the milk and bread and washing-up liquid. I rather like that. 

Luckily it was perfect and my new husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our day celebrating with our seven grown-up children, their partners and our little granddaughter.  A very different occasion and much further down the path of our lives, older and hopefully wiser, but still with no idea of what life holds in store for us in the coming years, what joys and sorrows we will experience.  Weddings are about dreams, marriages are about reality.

What sort of wedding dress did you choose, do you still have it and what does it mean to you now?