I have moved…

taking note

Thank you for subscribing to humphrey & grace, I have moved my blog along to another host and as such will not be posting here any more. You can now find me at

www.humphreyandgrace.co.uk

I’d love it if you pop over and say hi!

Julia xx

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collected saturday | favourites from june

Collected Saturday favourite | june

Hello July! How quickly you’ve come around again. We will talk some more next time but for now I’m dwelling on June. The month that felt like early spring then turned into summer in all its glory, ending at over 30 degrees in my garden. Hooray!

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who joined in with the first full month of collected saturday moments. I have really enjoyed scrolling through and seeing what you are up to, the variety of weekend pursuits and beautiful photographs is inspiring. For the month of June I collaborated with Jeska and Dean from The Future Kept who have put together a beautiful selection of gifts for one lucky person. And without any further waffle that person is Nicky @paperpix2 who shared this image of espresso and apricot frangipane tart.

Nickys image was chosen by Jeska and Dean who said “We love this picture – the wabi sabi style of it and the simple joy it portrays, baking something to share and enjoying that morning ritual of making a coffee.” I agree entirely! Nicky if you could send me your details via the contact page please. I also loved the below images with their stories and captions…

collected saturday june favourites

clockwise from top left… @bymeeni @radiantsummersun @hellolaurajane @freethster

collected saauturday favourites from june

@zoewng @minigrandiartist @haywardworld @pugsandroses_

I hope you will join in with #collectedsaturday again in July, you can find full details here and I will be collecting your moments again along the way. This month Axel and Ash have given me this pair of journals as a gift for my favourite image, it’s another gorgeous gift at that!

Axel and Ash journals

Whatever your plans are I hope you have a happy weekend.

Julia x

a chat with an artisan | Jono Smart

cups by Jono Smart

I don’t know about you but I am fascinated by the cleverness of artisans and creative folk. That raw materials can be transformed into things of beauty and functionality is something I have always been drawn to. A creative pull. I have had the idea in the back of my mind since I started this blog to chat with creative folk and find out what makes them tick. You may or may not know I sew, anything and everything from furnishings to frocks. I find changing a roll of cloth into a functional thing is oh so satisfying. (I’ll share my story another time, for now I’m sharing Jono’s.)

I first came across Jono on Instagram a few months ago. He is (in my opinion) very clever and always experimenting with clay. He makes beautiful tableware in a variety of clay mixes and finishes, his style is very distinctive. Let me introduce you…  

Lets start at the beginning, tell us a little about yourself…

My name is Jono Smart, I guess at some point it wasn’t. I was born Jonathan, but have no memory of that name and forget to answer whenever I hear it.

I’m 32. I’ve worked as a bricklayer, an advertising executive, a garden designer and now, for the past twelve months, as a potter. All of those experiences feed into the work I do now.

I’ve spent most of my adult life living in London, but am now living in rural Devon. London shaped me, Devon has given me the space to think and make.

What lead you to become a potter?

I was working for one of the top garden design studios in the world, Luciano Giubbilei Design. I was travelling, managing large projects and budgets, constantly on email or the phone, dealing with lovely but demanding clients, and, if you can imagine it, making gardens became quite stressful.

They also took a very long time, sometimes three years from design through to installation. And then I’d get to see them for an afternoon and never again.

So, I felt I needed something more immediate, controllable and hands on. I’d worked with artisans and makers during my time, so I had a vague idea of what the different crafts were like. I also had a very small but well loved collection of pottery. So I thought this would be a sensible starting point.

I joined Turning Earth, a communal pottery studio in East London, and never looked back. We were supposed to be able to attend 18 hours a week. I did anything I could, cleaning, gardening, kiln loading to earn extra hours and was soon doing upwards of 60-70 hours a week. I was absolutely hooked and I still am.

What keeps you creative and inspires you?

Luciano taught me about creativity and design. It can’t just be something you turn on in the morning when you arrive in the studio. It has to be your whole life. Always being curious, searching out ideas, colours, textures, anything that might help with the next project. I learned to surround myself with creative and interesting people, to ask for help and advice, and discovered how generous the makers community can be.

Although I find enjoyment in many aspects of world: sculpture, music, mountains, lakes, it is normally something far more direct that feeds into my work. I may see a form in wood I really like, or a texture in stone. Two or three unconnected dots that I can mentally join up to create a new piece of work. Or even another potter’s work that makes me think “I like it, but wish it was more like this”.

 
Tell us a little about your workspace and creative process…

I’m currently in my first studio and about to move into my second.

A potter’s workspace tends to mimic the flow of the process. Clay comes in at one end and leaves as cups, bowls and plates at the other and the studio is laid out to follow that process. So firstly, clay storage, then a wedging table where I knead the clay to make it more malleable to work with, then my wheel where I throw each piece, followed by drying shelves, a glazing table and finally the kiln.

I’ll have much more space in my new studio, an old converted barn just outside of London, so will be able to set up the studio to follow this process more efficiently.

My process is all about testing. I spend many hours mixing up new clays with oxides and grog to try and find three or four very specific finishes I have in mind. I must have made upwards of 300 test tiles in the past six months. I work in this way because my ideas start with colour and texture and I allow forms to follow from there.

And finally where can we find your work?

You can currently find my work on my website and stocked with a few lovely suppliers who have exclusive, collaborative pieces. Later on this year, there will be some new stockists launching parts of my work both in the UK and abroad. A truly exciting and unexpected time for me.

Thank you Jono for sharing your story with me. One thing I am learning is just how supportive a creative community is, as Jono mentioned above. Seeking out those who also have the urge to make and create, whatever their craft, is surprisingly helpful. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to cotton on to it!

You can find Jono’s website here and Instagram here, I thoroughly recommend you pop over and say hello.

Julia x

Top image taken by me, all others are from Jono’s Instagram gallery, full credits are on each photo there 

styling the seasons | june

beach collection

I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to join in and style the seasons this month. You see there aren’t many photogenic corners in my house at the moment. Each week is seeing progress but with boxes everywhere and furniture in the corners I usually use, I’ve lost some of my enthusiasm for taking pretty photographs. My creative side has hit a block…

But then I thought actually, lets go with a styled flat lay (one of my favourite things) and see what happens. So I set myself a little ‘studio’ up by the open doors, enjoying the sunshine while sitting in the shade, and actually I’m happy with the result! Creative success! For me at least. The light is a bit blue. I can live with that.

shell identification

I decided I would start beside the sea. As it warms up our family beach hunts become so much more pleasurable and we linger in the evening light collecting treasures. It’s not always just about the pretty shells, we like to learn as we go and these observer books are so useful for that (not just as a photo prop)!

sweet peas

Then as I was arranging the beach finds I could smell these sweet peas which are scrambling up a willow support just outside the door, so it only seemed right to share them here too, to bring the garden in as June is my favourite month for garden flowers. I thought I would line the sweet peas up in their flowering cycle, plants are incredibly clever, from a seed to this in a few months. Baffling.

sweet pea flowers

So what does June mean to me…? So much more than I could capture here. Lets just say  growth and life and the great outdoors pretty much sum it up. Oh and tennis and Pimms… I enjoyed finding a quiet hour to photograph and type with doors wide open and the warm breeze filled with the scent of sweet peas. Moments like these are pretty much all it takes to make me happy.

sweet peas

Styling the seasons is a monthly styling challenge run by Katy from Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte from Lotts and lots and can be found across social media under #stylingtheseasons.

I hope your month of June is a happy one.

Julia x

elderflower cordial | a recipe

elderflower cordial

Have you noticed the elderflower blossom? Its everywhere, in full bloom and looking beautiful. One of the flowers of the moment, I have been (not so) patiently waiting for the tree and the end of my garden to flower abundantly enough for me to make some elderflower cordial.

Recipes are easy to come by and contain only a few ingredients and a couple of easy steps so after a little research I have adapted a mix of recipes (merged is perhaps a better word) and used the following…

  • 20 – 25 heads of elderflower blossom – try and pick flowers that are fully open but not yet brown as they are more easily removed from their stalks and will taste better
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 3/4 pints of boiling water
  • sugar, 12 oz per pint, explanation to follow
  • 1 further lemon, this is to replace the citric acid many recipes ask for

elderflowers

Give the blossom a good shake and a quick rinse to free the insects and clean it, then set about removing the flowers from the stalks placing them in a bowl as you go. This can be a little time consuming, if the flowers are fully open they should come free quite easily. If the flower heads you have picked still have some buds then it will be slightly more fiddly.

slicing lemons

Add the two sliced lemons to the bowl then pour over the boiling water and cover with a clean cloth or tea towel. Once it has cooled pop it into the fridge. Leave this elderflower tea to steep overnight, or even longer if you would like to develop a more intense flavour.

Next strain the tea, using a finely woven cloth pour the liquid into another vessel. Now is the time to measure its volume and decide the amount of sugar to add in proportion to the amount of liquid. For example if you have roughly 1 1/2 pints of liquid, add 1 lb 2 oz sugar (yes I know I’m working in imperial rather than metric measurements, convert if you wish!) also add the juice of the extra lemon (half a lemon to each pint) at this point then heat the liquid gently until all the sugar is dissolved.

At this point you can sterilise the cordial itself, sterilising will extend the use by date to up to a year, if you are planning to use it within the next few months then this is perhaps a little over the top. I have also read that the cordial can be frozen, I wonder if this is a happy compromise for me, popping it in ice cube trays to use as and when. That said the bottle into which you pour the cordial should be sterilised and I tend to do this in the oven by placing a clean but still damp bottle and lid on a baking tray into an oven set at 140° c until it is completely dried out.

Once the sugar is fully dissolved pour the cordial into the sterilised bottle. Seal the bottle and once cooled pop it in the fridge to use as and when you fancy. I like to mix mine with sparkling water.

elderflower cordial

Other ideas with elderflowers and cordial… Ok I can’t resist and like to explore the possibilities.

  • The blossom can be dried and stored then used to make elderflower tea at a later date. You can simply pop some of the dried blossom in a cup or teapot and add a slice or two of lemon, honey is another optional extra to sweeten the tea.
  • Place a tiny sprig into an ice cube tray and fill with water, freeze, put it in your drink. Instant pretty. I have been freezing slices of lemon in ice cubes for a long time now but to be honest the possibilities are endless. Try freezing any fruits or edible flowers to liven up your glass.
  • Use the cordial as a drizzle for your fruit salad or strawberries. Traditionally elder flower is paired with gooseberry, undeniably a great match too.

elder flower cordial

I started typing this post a few days ago, it’s taken me a while as I have limited access to my kitchen this week… Not that the delay in itself matters at all except that in the meantime my lovely friend Emma has written a similar recipe for elderflower syrup on her blog A Quiet Style and, well, it’s beautiful. I thoroughly recommend you pop over for a look!

Have a happy weekend, whatever you are up to.

Julia x

elderflowers

The Future Kept | father’s day ideas and a gorgeous gift

June is a busy occasion month for me. It starts with my brother in laws birthday, then my sons birthday. We have both our anniversary and Father’s day on the same weekend, followed soon after by my husbands birthday at the beginning of July. It’s all about the boys this month. And to that end it becomes a present finding mission!

One of my favourite places to buy is The Future Kept, owned and run by Jeska and Dean just along the coast from me, their website is a feast for the eyes and the perfect place to find unique gifts. You may not have such a cluster of occasions at this time of year but Father’s Day is coming up next Sunday and I hope you’ll agree that this is a perfect place to buy a little something for these amazing men.

Before we move on to gift ideas I asked Jeska to share a little of the story behind The Future Kept, here is what she wrote…

“We opened our shop after years of dreaming to encourage people to buy better quality products that are better for the environment and the lives of people that design and make them. From designers and makers in the UK, to Europe, USA and the world over. Seeking out beautiful and useful items for life and the home that are made with love, thoughtfulness and detail. Items with timeless qualities created by people with a passion for what they do, and a care for the future of the world we live in.

After having both worked in all aspects of retail from customer facing to distribution, and web based sales to finance, we have seen it all, mindless consumerism and pushy sales tactics didn’t sit easy with either of us – but gently encouraging people to buy something that benefits everyone involved in making it and by considering the environment and the impact your purchase has on the community seemed a good place to start.

We also like to advocate switching off auto pilot and doing things with mindfulness, in the mornings making your tea and coffee slowly and enjoying the ritual. Taking the time to be outside as often as you can to enrich your day or working week.”

I love the ethos of The Future Kept as much as much as the quality products the shop sells. I hope you’ll pop over for a browse, I’ll give you an easy link here, and perhaps even consider some of Jeskas recommendations below for Father’s Day.

Clockwise from top left are British made pocket knives, waxed canvas bike tool rollsAmbre Rosemary, thyme and mint herbal bath oil and Fat and the Moon sore muscle salve.

Wanderer leather card holder, Pump St Bakery chocolate Rye crumb, milk and sea salt, Ambre Geysers Valley charcoal detox soap and Vilder Växter juniper and oak moss solid cologne.

As for us, my children will be gifting a Sail leather keyring and a copy of Cereal magazine alongside their hand drawn cards and hugs on Father’s Day. Maybe even breakfast in bed if he is lucky!

I’m also really excited to share that The Future Kept are collaborating with me for Collected Saturday this month. They have generously put together and amazing selection of gifts (pictured below) and will be choosing a favourite image for the month of June to receive this gift from the gallery on Instagram. I hope you’ll join in, you can post a photo each Saturday of a moment from your day using #collectedsaturday in your caption. Whether an adventure, a quiet coffee, a craft or a creation we would love to see how you spend your Saturday’s.

Julia xx

collected Saturday Jun | The Future Kept

The gift includes three fairtrade Dalit candles, matches, a Uashmama washable paper bag, Vilda Vaxter bergamot and bay liquid soap, a vintage jar, Pump Street Bakery chocolate and some collected feathers. To be eligible to receive this gift you must be following both The Future Kept and me (juliabesidethesea) on Instagram. Open worldwide.

all images by The Future Kept except top, taken by me

renovation tales | four years in

dining room before

I am writing this (seemingly random) post for a reason, as a little explanation I suppose. You may have noticed my photographs are almost always cropped. They contain small vignettes, not the wider picture. Particularly those that I take in my home. The reason for this is two-fold, firstly I like cropped images as they leave elements up to the imagination and would likely do the same even if it weren’t for secondly, we are renovating. Let me continue…

We have lived in our house for almost four years now. We love it. And sometimes we don’t love it quite so much but we do always appreciate just how lucky we are to be here with a roof over our heads and enough space for us all to be. It was the first house we viewed (we have lived in 5 since we married and viewed so many more along the way) and just known, almost as we walked through the front door, that it was ‘our’ home. It was built in the early 1930’s and although we know little of its older history we do know it had subsidence in the 1990’s and was underpinned, it still bears the scars if you know where to look. At this time it was also extended to create a great kitchen space and enlarged dining room.

Without wanting to bore you too much we have been renovating pretty much since moving in. This is an intentional long term plan as we feel that for us to really know what works we have to live in a home for a while. So we began with the invisible improvements like stopping the roof spreading, treating the roof space against woodworm and insulating, replacing windows, the boring bits. It’s a beautiful beast this house. From tall chimneys unreachable by ladders to biscuit thin roof tiles and original leaking iron gutters down, too much to list and expect you to read, lets just say there have been a fair share of ‘surprises’ here yet we still love it. It is well proportioned and spacious with a large garden. Am I selling it to you…?

So this leads me to the point, we ARE fixing it! Hooray! It is time consuming and there are endless trades people and sourcing of fixtures and fittings but it’s worth it! Honestly. It will be worth it. So if you are waiting for an email from me it’s possible I haven’t sent it because the electricity (ie wifi) is off (again) and we have no mobile reception here to speak of. The builders tend to love that fact. Or it might just be that I’m turfed out by the noise/mess/frustrations of the current building site. Or maybe sourcing items for the house. All on top of the everyday roles and routines, but don’t misunderstand, I’m not complaining. I’m maybe just a little overwhelmed at the moment.

Phase 340 (maybe a small exaggeration) our current project, is the utility room and dining room. Which also involves the removal of a wall linked to the kitchen. Let me show you some ‘befores’, don’t be fooled by the nice white interior, the plaster is not attached to the walls and there are leaking roofs to be fixed in this space. Since I took these photographs on Friday the ceilings have been taken down and some of the plaster chipped away ready to re-do. All I would say is thank goodness for dry weather and al fresco dining. Ask me again in a month or two and I might even tell you I love the result but for now, pass the gin…

dining room before

dining room before

One of my favourite original features is this bell box, I can’t imagine living with staff and love the notion that once someone here did. And yes that’s a new radiator leaning against the wall, hopefully to be hanging on a different wall soon.

The image below was taken last Friday. Believe it or not this is a vast improvement on the utility room a week earlier! It’s not pretty or photogenic though so for now I’ll keep sharing a little bit of the white walls and surfaces on my Instagram account…

utility room in progress

One day our forever home will be ‘done.’ Until then project managing takes up a fair amount of my time and you know what? Secretly I enjoy it…

Julia xx

collected Saturday | favourites from May

Hello there Saturday! I hope your week so far has been a good one but can I just say hooray for the weekend!! This week we went back to school, or rather my children did, in my case it is just school drop offs/collections and with three children at three different schools it is a time consuming thing for us. So we embrace the weekend with open arms and mooch as much as possible without deadline or plan.

As always I am encouraging you to share your Saturday with me on Instagram using the #collectedsaturday so I can see what you’re up to. There are such a variety of pastimes included in the gallery already and that you share them with me really makes me smile. I’ve chosen two favourites from the last two weeks, both are perfect things to do at the weekend. The above image is by @einu, such a beautiful tone to this photograph and baking is also a weekend ‘thing’ in my house.

This second image is by @traceyc1968 and I love it as a reminder of Autumn and apple picking. Instagram has made me so much more aware of the changing seasons, of the little details. Seeing photographs daily from the southern hemisphere is a wonderful thing, somehow it makes the world seem so much smaller don’t you think?

Thank you to everyone who shared their Saturday’s with me in these first few weeks. I originally intended this to be a monthly post so it may well be just that but I do hope you will keep sharing during the month of June and have a happy weekend whatever you are doing.

Julia xx

inspiring quotes | how they uplift

believe you can Words. They can uplift can’t they? Just a short phrase can lead me to re-evaluate my thoughts and shift my perspective. Having recently stepped sideways from a comfortable space where I have shaped my photographic style into a whole new world of words has been a slightly overwhelming experience. If I’m honest I feel a bit like a fish out of water. Those niggling doubts that accompany anything unfamiliar can shout loudly if we let them, or we can try our very hardest to ignore them and choose instead to fill our thoughts with positivity.

I’ve always been a fan of quotes. If you visit my home you will find them in frames, written in notebooks, scribbled on scraps of paper. Important words to be read and re-read, reminders to try and be a better version of myself and words I hope will become part of my children’s lives too. One of my favourite hangs in my kitchen as a print that simply says ‘have faith’. Interpret this as you will, I happen to believe it’s one of the most important lessons to be learned as nothing comes from comfort zones yet to step out of those zones takes faith…

And so to that end I’ve been collecting words here, come and have a look, tell me what to add! Words to encourage, inspire, consider and engage with. I’d love to hear your favourite quotes, tell me the words that resonate with you, if you fancy sharing them you can comment at the top of this post…

Julia xx via : believe you can | Theodore Roosevelt illustrated by Ffion Mckeown It’s not what you look at | taken and edited by me

collected Saturday | last weeks moments


I love Saturday. Each week it is different in our house, maybe that is why I love it. Sunday has its routines here so Saturday is often the day of spontaneity, the one where we are more likely to drop everything to go out and seize the day. Last week we did just that, power tools strewn across the patio, a lemon drizzle cake just out of the oven left cooling on the hob, ‘it’s a beautiful day! Let’s go for a walk’ and off we go…

On Saturday I asked you to share your day with me and share you did. I was intending to post here once a month but with so many moments tagged I can’t resist sharing some now! The photograph above is by Rachael and I just love it. The little one running behind is such a familiar sight (he was caught before he reached the sea…)

And because it was impossible to choose just one moment I’m sharing this from Jette too. How beautiful this image is, the tone is calm and the composition just perfect.


Thank you to all who joined in last week. I hope you will join in with #collectedsaturday on Instagram again today (you can find the details here) and whatever your plans are have a great day!

Julia xx