Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Happy New Year!

Hey, do any of you remember Betsy McCall? When I was a small child we lived in Washing DC for a few years and my mother must have picked up the habit of buying McCalls Magazine, a monthly American women's magazine that enjoyed great popularity through much of the 20th century, peaking at a readership of 8.4 million in the early 1960s. It was also responsible for the McCalls Patterns, still available in places like John Lewis.

When we returned to the UK in the mid-fifties, my mother took out a subscription (it must have seemed incredibly glamourous and indulgent in post-war Britain) and every month I would wait with bated breath for Betsy's latest fashions, always situated at the back of the mag and full of stylish outfits that I could only dream of. She may strike us now as just a stereotypical 50s icon, but she really was my first "style-guru" and after tiring of cutting out the published "Betsy" I would design my own paper-dolls, complete with cutting edge wardrobes. Hours and hours were spent with only paper, coloured pencils and a pair of scissors; and memories of blissful times absorbed in creating has inspired me to find inspirational workshop leaders for next year whose skill, creativity and teaching skills are second to none.
For example, take a look at the work of Rachel Hazell on her website: www.hazelldesignsbooks.co.uk/ Every time I visit it I find more and more exquisite works that she has created over the years.

Some of her "works" are so delicious I want to eat them, and I'm hoping that if I hang around at least some of the time she is teaching here in August, some her magic may rub off on me. And if your New Year resolution is to let the artist in you out, remember remember what Tamara de Lempicka said, “There are no miracles; there is only what you make.”

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


Yee hi! Merry Christmas and welcome to Les Soeurs Anglaises blog. Hopefully you have reached this through our new website (www.lessoeuranglaises.com) , designed and uploaded by the wonderful Ben Anstey, and full of all our forthcoming workshops for 2010. We are really excited about adding several writing courses to our calender (including the brilliant and delightful poet, Roger McGough) as well as welcoming back the lovely Julie Arkell, Bianca and Claire Montgomerie amongst others. Do take a peek at it if you aren't up-to-date.

Like most of the UK, Verteillac has been snowed in for most of the past week and it's hard to remember how green and full of blooms the garden was even two months ago. Nevertheless we have been working hard on the renovation of our barn on the hill, and, fingers crossed it will be up and running for our first workshop in May (Claire's "Knitting Your Own Fashion"). There should then be plenty of extra accommodation as well as another large, light studio space. We are very, very excited about the project and hope everyone will love the new space as much as we do.

Just arrived from the UK is my elder son, Joshua. Caught up in the fiasco that was St Pancras over the weekend, he finally managed, after twelve hours of train travel to reach Angouleme, late last night and only three days late. He travelled the last leg of the journey in a double-decker TGV train - I can't wait to try one, they look amazing and such a good idea.

We have been feeding the little birds in the garden and finding ourselves spending ages just watching them come and go, and bicker and chase, and nibble and gorge. Who needs TV? Unfortunately our new member of the family, Miss Daisy, has turned out to be a huntress suprema and we are constantly rescuing little creatures from here claws.

Whilst she and our other cat, Monsieur Perdu, might look cosy and comfortable, this is a rare moment as M.P has concluded that he is not at all happy about this young interloper and sits around in the hall most of the day snarling at whoever passes his way. Of course, daisy thinks this a fine lark and constantly provokes him - in an attractive, kittenish sort of way. Will things improve in 2010, we ask ourselves?