Seven Days of Positive – Day 90

In Christmas, London, public transport on December 18, 2014 at 12:02 am


I went to London again and I don’t think I have ever known it more joyously festive.

I was in a different part of the city today – Sloane Square in Chelsea – and there were more of those beautiful big blobs in the trees.

Peter Jones has the most adorable window theme of a penguin family, in keeping with the John Lewis Monty and Molly commercial.



There were three men outside the tube station playing Christmas songs on big brass instruments.

I was there to meet up with one of my most adored and cherished friends, Julie Gibbs, the legendary publisher of Penguin’s beautiful Lantern imprint.

We met at the gorgeous Sloane Club, where there was the most perfect Christmas tree.


Julie has the most exquisite taste. Follow her on Instagram for a treat.

When I arrived back at Charing Cross, after a few other errands, there was a gospel choir singing carols.

Commuters had gathered to watch and cheer, which was the most lovely echo of the things which had were the highlights of the very start of my day, the morning trawl through Facebook.

Joy on public transport seems to be the theme.

I filmed the brass group and the gospel carol singers but I can’t make them embed in this post, so if you’d like to see them they are both on my Instagram feed (link here and also at the bottom of the page).

Oh it did just embed! How did I do that…?

Gospel #carols for cheering commuters at Charing Cross #Christmas #London #joy

A video posted by Maggie Alderson (@maggiealderson) on

Seven Days of Positive – Day 89

In Baking, Cakes, Christmas, homewares on December 16, 2014 at 11:47 pm


Oh the utter ghastliness of the news. I can’t even bring myself to type the words out.

When you think of the awful unavoidable natural disasters that engulf people and plagues like ebola, that’s all bad enough, but when it comes to deliberately created utter misery like this, I don’t know where to put it in my head.

So it seems very important that I show you these.

This actually happened on Saturday, but then I saw the meteors and that was at the top of mind and I forgot to share this.

It kicked off when my reindeer arrived in the post. Six small plastic reindeer I had ordered online to go with the vintage Christmas cake decorations I’d found (see Day 81).

I got down the tin I use for birthday candles, to put them away, and was amazed to find that I already had some old Christmas cake decorations that I’d completely forgotten about. I have absolutely no idea where they came from, which is slightly worrying.

I think they must have been in a bundle of old Christmas decorations I found in a charity shop somewhere, er, sometime. Either that or the elves took pity on me and popped them in there one night while I was sleeping.

I’m beside myself, because now I can create entirely the kind of surreal cake top scene I remember from my childhood. I’ve got six reindeer and six Santas, if you add the new find to this merry band. And a love a bit of plastic holly.


Some of the decorations are French, because the slipper and King are the decorations that go on a 12th night cake. And that’s Saint Nicholas on the donkey.


In no time I found myself lost in playing with them, making little scenes on the work top, just as I did as a child. Then an idea struck me. One of the reindeer – front row, centre – had a different nose from the others, not quite enough paint.

I ran upstairs to find my reddest nail varnish and Peggy did the honours.


Now we have our very own Rudolph.


Or, as we say in this house: ‘Hey, Rudolph!’

Listen to The Temptations’ version of the Christmas song and when you get to about 1:12 you’ll understand why.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 88

In Art, Friends, Sydney on December 15, 2014 at 11:55 pm


When I woke up and saw the news this morning I didn’t think I’d be able to find anything positive to say at the end of the day.

I’d gone to bed having seen a few mentions on Twitter of reports of an event in Martin Place and I woke up to the full siege.

How horrendous it was – and still is, with two innocent people now known to have died, both of them in heroic acts.

A truly dreadful day for Australia, but how inspiring I found the #illridewithyou movement which immediately sprang up.

It’s spirit of warmth, sticking together and inclusivity, sums up everything which made me fall in love with Australia, friendliest of countries, from the very first time I went there, in 1993.

For those not following events in Sydney today, the hash tag event happened when one commuter saw a woman take off her head scarf at a station – clearly scared of being attacked in a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment – and felt moved to offer help.

Rachel Jacobs posted on Facebook how she’d run after her the woman and said, ‘Put it back on, I’ll walk with you.’

Tweeter @sirtessa saw the post and had the idea for the hashtag, to be used by people offering to ride to work with anyone who ‘wears religious attire’ on their bus or train route. It has already grown to be a global phenomenon.

So that was one good thing out of a very dark day, although I do take some comfort that the creep responsible was a lone wolf, not the first wave of an organised campaign of terror. Please God – and that’s whatever God you feel comfortable with.

Among all that, I had some wonderful news from Sydney today. My adored and treasured friend, artist Pat Harry, has won the prestigious Pen & Pencils award.

This is a very special gong, because it’s bestowed by the country’s leading artists on the one they feel is the most worthy each year – and Pat is so so worthy.

I am in awe of her work. Huge, complex canvases, with lots of bold strokes and bright colour or stark black and white, combined with more subtle, muted areas. It’s a style which I would call abstract figurative.

There are figures in them but it’s all very ambiguous, giving them a great sense of mystery, yet there’s also always something narrative there to me.

The works at the top and below are from her installation Cocktail Party, where the large canvases where propped all round the gallery. I think it’s brilliant. It also seems oddly right to top a post that starts with such a dark subject about the effect of one individual on a group of random strangers.


I’ve had a while to think about how I would define her style, because I’m lucky enough to have a great big fabulous Pat Harry hanging in my sitting room. She gave it to us as wedding present and it’s very treasured.

I gaze at it every day and always find something new.

I love these pictures of Pat at the awards dinner at the S H Ervin Gallery, the moments of amazement and joy caught so perfectly.

P Harry 1

P Harry 2

P Harry 3

You can also see how beautiful she is. I can’t wait to see her and her son Michael Carr, when I come to Sydney next year. And if I’m really lucky, Pat might cook me dinner… she’s one of the best cooks I know too.

Congratulations Pat and – hint hint xxx

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