Miss Buncle’s Book, by D.E. Stevenson
I either take a long time to decide what I should read or listen to next, or I do it on a whim, with no clear idea why. The later is the scenario which made me download Miss Buncle’s Book sometime at the beginning of the year, but it was a serendipitous choice. Moreover, discovering that there are two more books in the series felt like a real treat and I devoured all of them in a blink.
This book seems to me to sit in a particular category of apparently light and joyful reads, aesthetically pleasing and nostalgic, making me romanticise and miss a past in provincial England that I didn’t experience. It is quite similar to the Diary of a Provincial Lady, but in the feelings, it evokes it also makes me think of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day or Flowers for Mrs Harris (also known as Mrs Harris goes to Paris). These are all books I have enjoyed tremendously.
After I finished the Miss Buncle series, I realised I actually had the first volume in my library, purchased from Persephone Books on my first and last visit to their store on Conduit Street before they moved to Bath. This was the perfect opportunity to gift my best friend with a book I had just enjoyed, and I didn’t hesitate to take it.
A wholesome experience overall!
Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist (2018)
The sad passing of Vivienne Westwood in December 2022 had, as I believe often happens, the silver lining of bringing her, her work and her storied journey into the limelight with full force. Thus, at the beginning of this year, BBC made available for free on iPlayer the 2018 documentary Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist.
I didn’t need any encouragement to watch it, as this type of production is one of my favourites, educational, culturally enriching and infused with creativity and beauty. I, as often happens, knew near to nothing about Vivienne Westwood, so I have definitely filled in some basic gaps.
But there is much more that this documentary does, for it features Westwood raw and uncensored, eccentric bordering on strange, anti-social to the point of seeming rude. This is her late in life, for when she was young, she seemed to me in the interview snippets featured, as shy, helplessly aware of never being quite understood, while never fully grasping a situation either. I realise, this is a very superficially formed view and I should read more about her and watch more of her interviews.
Yet, I am pleased to have laid some foundation stones with Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist.
Painting Class – Fresh Roses in Watercolor
I know the month of February might seem long gone (and good riddance), but as it is my birthday month, it was a special one and I am still savoring some of the treats and experiences it brought along this year. Among these, taking a one-off class in watercolor painting alongside my best friend. Honestly, this was one of the best ideas I’ve had all year.
None of us are very artistically inclined, even though my best friend had dabbled more recently with painting, while I hadn’t touched a brush, outside playing with my son, since highschool. Despite or maybe because of this, we both really loved the experience and we had so much fun together, while we were also left with a beautiful painting at the end of the day.
I believe this will become a sort of tradition for us to celebrate things together and I am looking forward to future experiments. I fully recommend this type of experience as a birthday treat, it feels very rewarding and wholesome.
Vintage Compact Dioramas
Let me just start by saying that with all my obsession for everything miniature, I didn’t know exactly what a diorama means and here is the definition: a scenic representation in which sculptured figures and lifelike details are displayed usually in miniature so as to blend indistinguishably with a realistic painted background. Of course! These are so common in museums, I just didn’t realize they were called dioramas.
What made me look the term up was the discovery of the pretty miniature creations of Shannon Danielle Taylor in vintage compact cases or pill boxes. I find this idea brilliant not only because of the creative execution, but also because it gives a new life to beautiful vintage and often very sturdy objects, turning these into veritable treasures.
Now I am thinking I would love to create one for my son, a small piece of the universe in his pocket, the nighttime sky reflected on a lake or the sun shinning above the sea and a beach. I’ll keep my eye out for the right case for sure. I cannot stop myself from loving these seemingly ‘useless’ objects that I keep coming across…
PS. Turns out there are actual toys for kids called Polly Pockets, miniature worlds for them to carry around and play with. I love the idea, though no the plastic options that invaded my screen. All the more reason for me to try to create one.
Alternative Flower Bouquets
I am sure you know by now that I am partial to most, if not all floral interpretations, and I have featured here already some of the alternative flower bunches which are included in this round up from The Strategist, like the Lego sets, the stained-glass stems, and the fragile realistic paper flowers of Emmeli Kimhi. Let us not forget the Louis Vuitton leather bouquets!
Still, I always love discovering new favourites and there are a few on this list that tickle my fancy, like the felt flowers. Only a few weeks ago I bought a beautiful fuchsia pink one at a local artisan market thinking over the next few months I will collect a bouquet. I love how vibrant their colours are, while they still look soft and delicate.
The author of the article shared above argues that these bouquet sculptures don’t aspire to imitate the real think, thus avoiding the chintzness of fake flowers in general, and becoming objets d’art in themselves. I fully agree!
I’d be really curious to know which is your favourite floral sculpture from the list?
Burberry Prorsum 2014 Bloomsbury Bag
I have to share here for posterity my newest obsession, which repeatedly kept me awake long into the night over the last couple of weeks, while I have been scouring the internet to find one to buy. I am talking about the bag above from the Burberry Prorsum 2014 Bloombury Collection.
It started innocently enough. One day I decided I would like a new bag that is not a black one, as the search for the perfect one is fruitlessly still ongoing, but a different, ideally equally versatile colour, maybe with a twist. Then I thought of flowers, hand painted, how precious would that be? In my mind, Etsy would be brimming with options (it’s not!) But first I went on Pinterest for inspiration and two scrolls down I find the perfect nude bag with simple, oversized hand painted flowers, in colours I like and wear often. A perfect fit!
I don’t even want to tell you how my heart skipped a bit when I realised this collection is inspired by the Bloomsbury set of London writers and artists, which I’ve always had a keen interest in, lead figure among them being Virginia Woolf, one of my favourite authors. The whole collection is highly covetable with the maxi prints, beautiful colours and a mix of styles in each single outfit. Prime inspiration in my books!
To cut a long story short, I still can’t find the bag, but I am telling the Universe I want it, and I have set up alerts on most resale sites… hopefully soon enough one will come my way. Isn’t it simply exquisite?
Vivienne Westwood Quote
I had the mind to feature this quote by the late Vivienne Westwood before I remembered watching the documentary. While writing this up I had a moment of wonder asking myself Where do I know all this from? As an influx of information seemed to be hitting me.
In any case, I find it sums up brilliantly my feelings and the particular things that drive my contentment and exterior pleasure in life – reading, learning about art, beautiful flowers and plants. I don’t know if I could have listed these as precisely if I had been asked, particularly as the latter two are fairly new passions in my life compared to the first, talking about years, not decades of companionship. There is lucky many things in the world making the genius of the human race shine, and I love to discover new ones every day.
This is the purpose of this letter, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, indulge in all previous Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds and subscribe to the weekly letter.