Monday 31 October 2011

Pastries, Halloween and autumn things

October's been a lean month on this blog, it seems! A case of pas grand-chose à dire combined with trop de choses à faire  :)

To make amends before the month slips away altogether in a few hours, I have cake and autumnal London scenes to offer ...

I met up with Carol, talented artist and witty blogger from Paris Breakfasts, when she breezed into London from New York via Paris this month. Carol does the art work for patisserie Maison Blanc (founded by chef Raymond Blanc), and I went along with her to their gorgeous, chandelier-ed Fulham Road café where she needed to shoot a few of their latest pastry concoctions in order to render them as exquisite watercolours. ('Erm, so we have to scoff a lot of French pastries for the sake of art?' A sacrifice well worth making, I thought).

If you peer hard enough you can just see Carol and I reflected in Maison Blanc's window (pre-pastry-fest), which features her work on the poster ...

Thanks to her, I also got to see the inside of the Chelsea Arts Club, an artists' members-only club. I dearly wish I had some photos to show of the inside of this lovely old house, all genteel faded grandeur with every inch of wall-space covered with work by virtually every well-known English artist since Whistler and his chums, who founded it in 1891 ... sadly, photos were strictly verboten. I can only offer this furtive, slightly grainy snap of its back facade and pretty garden in the heart of Chelsea ...

It's been one of the mildest Octobers in recorded history here in southern England, so we haven't yet felt the chill snap of proper autumn, and the trees seem to have only just realised belatedly that it's time to change colour.

These were scenes in Richmond, south-west London, last week ...

Royal Star and Garter Home, with cows grazing on Richmond Hill in the foreground
Riverside scenes ...

Autumn colours reflected in the river - the planes overhead a reminder of possibly the only downside of living in Richmond - it's directly under the flight path for Heathrow!

The Thames had gently flooded its banks here - lovely for ducks and children.

Winter berries and ... on safari in Richmond Park! ...

What was I doing here? Visiting one of my favourite places in this area - Petersham Nurseries ...

... in a perfect setting below Richmond Hill and on the site of Petersham House, where you can wander around the garden shop in a greenhouse ...

... and either have tea and home-made cakes in the casual café in a shed, or a pricier but very special lunch in the greenhouse restaurant, below, where the wonderfully-named Skye Gyngell whips up seasonal produce. (The floors may be bare earth and the food deceptively simple looking, but it has a Michelin star).

And finally, there's just time to say, from my seasonal table this weekend ...


  1. Happy Halloween back to you, Karen. I am lucky to also have had the opportunity to meet Carol. She is so very talented, and I love her enthusiasm.

    Backtracking, I also enjoyed reading Esther Freud's Lucky Break, layering it on my reading of her previous novels.

    Perhaps Carol told you that there is a tribute exhibit of Lucian Freud's paintings at The Metropolitan Museum. Most of the works on display are on loan from private collections.

    Best wishes. xo

  2. What a gorgeous post! Sounds like a grand time! Hope you have a wonderful Tuesday!!

  3. what a great shot you got of Maison Blanc's dessert! You're hired Karen for the next go whenever that is..
    Love your pictures of Richmond and Petersham, a favorite place of mine - so fresh and airy your pictures.
    Dreamy post.
    I never pay attention to the 'verbotten' signs at CAC ever :)
    merci Karen

  4. What a lovely post!
    Golden octobre in Southern England!

    ♥ Franka

  5. I often dream of wandering the little streets of Ham and Petersham, now that I live in California. Petersham Nurseries was the first place I saw zinc-topped tables~

  6. Lucky you!
    You make me quite misty for London (where my daughter lives).
    Such excellent photos.
    I'm adding you to my NY side bar if that's OK?

  7. Two favorite bloggers in three-quarter time ---
    a delight to tag along,
    especially since Hallowe'en just brought us --- here in the Northeast US-- a foot of snow and a power outage of 47 hours and a devastation of trees --- and a postponement of Hallowe'en revels until this coming Saturday!
    O to be in England's green and pleasant land.


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