A couple of shots of my beautiful friend Emma Cummins relaxing at home on a Sunday morning.

I love her ruby red nail varnish, the ’50s cyan teacup, and the bunting which was made by every guest to her Swedish wedding to Andy last summer.

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European Toad Championships

The hotly-contested European Toad Championships 2011 took place in Lewes a few days ago.

The world’s [aka Lewes’s] finest Toad-In-The-Hole athletes participated in the prestigious event, competing for the coveted toad trophy.  For those of you unaware of this fine sport, it has been played in Sussex pubs for a good couple of hundred years.  For a definitive history and rulebook check out past champion Ben Ward’s fascinating website.

Congratulations to Tim Walker who retook the title this year.  Surely it’s only a matter of time before Toad achieves Olympic status.

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Hot toddy

Tis the season for snuffles and colds.

I made this little emergency kit for a hard-working chum who’d succumbed to a nasty bout of flu as soon as the holidays started. The ingredients: hot water, honey, lemon and finest single malt whiskey (I prefer a nice peaty Islay).

Alternatively ditch the first three ingredients.

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Flat Planet

A weekend in the Old Smoke, and another great coffee bar discovery.

Flat Planet specialises in flatbreads, but I stuck to my old favourites of latte and brownie.  A truly great coffee (using an Elektra machine), and a delicious morsel.  The interior is a nice relaxed mix, with some classic Danish furniture among the quirk and the shab. But we sat outside on the metal cafe tables watching Soho gearing up for a Saturday night.

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Never felt so good

I took these a few days ago through the window of a forthcoming exhibition of feltwork by the ever-talented Barbara Keal and her equally amazing husband, carpenter Richard Keal.

I popped in to the shop today (hosted by Susanne Wolf, Lewes) and had to buy something.  I wish I had the space (and spare cash) for one of the incredible sculptural headpieces with green wood stands.  They stand or hang from the wall like a strangely organic baronial suit of armour.

Made by Barbara from local sheep and alpaca wool, the hats and headpieces seem to mystically invoke the animals they uncannily represent: stags, hares, badgers, foxes.  Waiting for us to inhabit them, they reminded me of the myth of Herne the Hunter.

And in case you’re interested, I am on the order books for one of these achingly cute hare finger puppets.

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Wiveton Farm Cafe

A wet October weekend with the folks in north Norfolk.  But no matter, after being taken to a little gem of a place for Sunday lunch.

Wiveton Hall near Blakeney has had a thriving, colourful cafe for a few years now.  It stands out from the tumbling ramshackle old farm buildings of the hall, with a view all the way to the sea.  It has quite a local following despite its rural location: fully booked even on a rainy day.  Local chef Alison Yetman heads a kitchen creating hearty local fare with produce from the farm. Best accompanied by her husband’s fine Yetman’s Beer.

I can recommend a little stroll in the grounds to walk off your lunch to admire the view, forage for walnuts, or admire the heftiest and most contented pigs this side of Animal Farm.

You can see the cafe’s website here.

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French farmhouse

Very lucky recently to visit a beautifully converted farmhouse in France.

The owners are very creative, and have filled the place with wonderful objects and clever displays, to complement the golden light and low green vineyards of the Languedoc.

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Glynde Forge blacksmiths

Lewes Artwave is back in full swing.  A wonderful Bank Holiday Monday of visiting nearby artists’ exhibitions, many in their beautiful homes.  We are so lucky to have so many talented people working here.

Of course it’s also an excuse to have a nose around places not ordinarily on my radar.  Hence the trip to Glynde Forge, into which I’ve never had the courage to pop my head before.  This is a traditional blacksmiths in Glynde, East Sussex.  If it wasn’t for the current calendar and other hints of twenty-first century life I would have believed I’d stepped back in time.  If I ever have a house worthy of a weather vane I’m commissioning one from here.

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