Florence’s Dining Table (Welcome to Wonderland Extract)

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Her parents own a Georgian townhouse that is never inhabited. So much of Flo’s belongings still live there. It’s her home away from home. Tread carefully on those Minton tiles as you enter…

You’re greeted by a Marie Antoinette blue that has lost it’s lustre and has resorted to a muted existence. Curiously you see shortbread crumbs lie on the staircase, they are left so that the house mice can be fed. Specks of crumbs are still in sight after all these months. Sometimes tiny paw prints are seen from the grey house guests. Long ago, Sophia saw one of them and decided to call it Roquefort.

If only you’d seen this house during childhood Christmases the staircase wore ivy like a winter shawl, Bing Crosby in the background, the scent of cranberries, mandarins, evergreen leaves and cinnamon too. Grandma would hand-make the door’s wreath with little Flo every November. Oh, and the Christmas tree was glorious, the baubles from Florence’s Great-Grandmother. The glitter remained on three precious baubles ordained with scenes from the nativity the others in deep red, evergreen and navy with lashings of silver and gold and delicate beads decorated onto them. Such a shame that her parents moved out to the country this home is seldom brought to life anymore.

Most evident in the drawing room are the late Georgian interiors. The walls eggshell blue, profiled with the white panels you’d expect. Some old VHS cases hidden behind the sofas. There’s a vinyl player in there too Florence’s only contribution to the house as everything is pretty much inherited.

Her father’s old study has draws filled with old moleskine journals, a magnifying glass and old stationery. There sits letters from his university days as he wrote to his mother, they even have his grandfather’s letters from the war. Also sat demurely a feather quill, an empty ink pot. Nobody has ever dared opened the Moleskines, after all Mr Clover is so endearingly rotund nobody could possibly betray his trust.

A large antique globe stand alone.

The next door down is the library with much to Olivia’s delight a ladder, the girls spent many after-school hours reenacting Belle’s swish with a rockler along the cases though the girls would have to push each other as it’s not as elegant as Disney made it out to be.

Silver and napkins perch on the dining table awaiting their night of resurrection. The plates are hidden in the cupboards as they are most fragile. No flowers or fruit sit at the centre, not since Christmas. The chandelier pleads for one dalliance, one more night of romance even if it is just to be used.

On the fourth floor we see that one room upstairs is like a pretty thrift store, embellished hangers holding moments of 60’s and 70’s glory, Woodstock inspired dresses from the era. Indian slippers, Gucci loafers, buffalo sandals sit neatly in unison with the lines of the wooden floorboards. Serena’s Floppy hat sits on the standing lamp, a milkmaid’s jug sits with dead flowers. An old candle once held memories of idyllic spring mornings has now lost both light and scent.  The dressing table and looking glass is strewn with neglect. The room is an homage to her maternal grandparents bohemian glory days.

The wardrobe lined with sheets from The FT and Telegraph. Alas this is not a Guardian home. Cashmere sweaters shoddily folded, an overflow of natural fibres. Some of Florence’s jumpers from childhood are shoved in too. Do you remember when Laura Ashley used to do childrenswear?

clothes wardrobe

As we make our way down one flight of stairs and another we find cabinets of curiosities, religious icons on the walls, no carpets. Flo’s mother collected crucifixes, elaborate ones from the Clover’s honeymoon in Mexico. Bloomsbury waywardness juxtaposed with piercing la boheme sparseness. Empty are the floors, the fridge and the cupboard. Bare floors only a Persian rug to warm bare feet, walls lined with eclectic Frida Kahlo imitation art, Mexicana tones, Ceylon tea stained walls. The warmest and most welcoming room of the home though the paternal grandparents never wandered in- they never approved.

In the basement we find the kitchen. The walls above the kitchen counter tops lined with mismatched tiles some artisanal others mere fillers, slapped on as the Clover’s tried to make it their own. Tiles collected from trips to Spain and Mexico. Naturally there’s an Aga with copper pans hanging. There’s a kitchen island that has open shelves on one side for all those cookbooks as well as for all those ceramic dishes as Mrs Clover loves to cook English classics.

The pantry is surprisingly full given that the Clover’s are never there. You can see the preserved lemons, (half eaten) pickles, a row of almond milk, rows upon rows of jars: tahini, pepper corns even rose petals. Next you see bags of quinoa, lentils and basmati rice. There’s even a gourmet selection of salt. It’s like a little hideaway Deli.

Inside also sits clutter and art supplies expectantly waiting to be used back to life. A deck of tea candles await their next turn to shine. They haven’t been used since a Summer garden party back when Flo & Simon were together. You see all types of jams some handmade from idle summer afternoons, others leftover from Fortnum & Mason hampers. Old Crabtree & Evelyn biscuit tins (sadly empty). A glass full of paintbrushes, masking tape, pencils. Sitting there folded up a tattered, paint stained apron for kitchen and art room.

The Laundry room remains untouched as if the servants were still here, it’s like peering into a museum.

In what used to be a House keeper’s room a tiny desk sits there and stored in the walled shelves her fathers old accounts.

Nowadays the girls are likely to get together for Sunday lunch and the occasional meet up. They get together to decorate the house over Christmas but rarely are festivities celebrated there for some reason. Diane has been pestering Flo to use her parents house more often. It will be made into a home soon, if only Flo had someone to settle down with.

 


 

Flo falls into a more Bloomsbury set of Bohemia, a High Bohemia shall we say. Though as you read the novel there will be heterogeneous depictions of Bohemia so you will find a Bohemian that resonates with your soul. Stay with me and stay aboard the train to Wonderland…

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Character Profile: Florence Clover

Florence hair flower_fl

Name: Florence Clover
Age: 23
Born: Cheltenham
Beloved Books: How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson; all of Felicity’s Cloake’s books (pretty much just cookbooks); Nancy Mitford; Kate Mosse; Noel Streatfeild and Cookery bibles from Larousse Gastronomique to Phaidon cookbooks
Music: The Corrs, Taylor Swift, Savage Garden, Westlife, Erik Satie and Chopin (predominately classical music though – that list is endless)
Film: Gone with the Wind
Food: Beef Wellington; Ploughman’s sandwich; Ladurée Macarons and Sticky Toffee pudding
Drink: Loose leaf Earl Grey, Wild Orange Blossom herbal tea
Motto: “Never is a promise and you can’t afford to lie”; “Love is eternal”; “Elegance is refusal”
Favourite Artists: Mary Cassat, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Andrei Belichenko
Dreams: As a little girl she wished to be a Ballerina but now she seems ripe to be a  Stepford Wife
Perfume: Changes each season usually a fragrance combining when at Jo Malone

Songs to remind you of Florence

Carla Bruni – Quelqu’un m’a dit
Aaliyah – Journey to the past
Elvis – The Wonder of You
Taylor Swift – Love Story

 

The Heritage of Cirebon

What an Amazing World!

Twin White Tigers Welcome Visitors to Cirebon's Keraton Kasepuhan (Palace of the House of Elders) Twin White Tigers Welcome Visitors to Cirebon’s Keraton Kasepuhan (Palace of the House of Elders)

Throngs of vendors fill the narrow alleys outside the royal courtyard. Colorful shirts for souvenir and appetizing scent of bakso – meatball soup – keep bargain hunters and tourists stay in this maze-like seasonal market for hours, among other things. It takes a while for us to find the entrance to the Keraton – the Royal Palace – as we have to navigate through the tarpaulin-covered narrow walkways while spotting a modest Ferris wheel at an open space. It is merely one week before the celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, often carried out in festivities across the country.

It is not an easy thing to locate the entrance gate. But fortunately the typical hot and humid air of coastal cities in tropical regions is absent this time, sparing all of us from…

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Architectural Gems of Old Cirebon

What an Amazing World!

The City Hall of Cirebon

Six giant golden shrimps shine brightly under the sun, perched above the half-moon portico of the fine white building. The Indonesian flag flies proudly over a well-manicured garden filled with all sorts of tropical plants. On top of the structure, an emblem also depicting a shrimp seems to further affirm the city’s reputation. Bart, Badai, James and I are standing in front of the City Hall of Cirebon, marveling at this vestige of the Dutch colonial period in the port city. Constructed in the 1920s as the Raadhuis – city council – the Art Deco building also served as a meeting place for Europeans who lived in Cirebon until the Japanese took over and turned it into the city’s seat of administration.

The modern city of Cirebon traces its history back to the 15th century when it was still a small fishing village on the…

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Exclusive! Extracts from my forthcoming debut novel “Welcome to Wonderland” published on this blog!

fic ext W2W CVW typewriter red roses

Did you know that I have a forthcoming novel coming out?

There’s still a long way to go with it. It is called “Welcome to Wonderland” and will be Book 1 of a trilogy of novels revolving around a Bohemian Love Story. I usually post the latest news about my fiction on my official site CatherineVaughan.com and the publication date of this novel will be first announced on THIS Mailing List from my official site: http://eepurl.com/cxzD1D Kindly share this 💌Mailing List💌 link to any friends and family you think will LOVE the sound of this book series.

Like all my other writing this book series is something I have put my heart and soul into. There are moments I’ve cried as I’ve typed the paragraphs.  It’s a very personal story, certainly not autobiographical but an intimate imprint of all the things I wished and longed for in life that could only manifest in printed words…

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You will meet Olivia Mariam. (She looks just like me.) Her best friend Serena Johnson, complete opposite in looks and temperament. Then there’s Tom and Jack Bodenham. I definitely have the song “something like Olivia” to blame for our main character’s name choice. Serena’s name is a slight homage to Whit Stillman’s debut film and of course Gossip Girl.

Serena sit hat

Naturally the story is set in England, Serena is off at University (studying English Lit) and Olivia works for a publishing press. Having previously turned down a job post at Cheltenham because that was where her life was b.c. (before crisis as in the 2008 financial collapse.) Her father Bill Mariam was a hedge fund manager who lost everything in ’08 and the family haven’t been back since. Olivia lost everything and has dedicated herself to reclaiming back her former life at any cost. Her plan? Creating an app.

Then she meets Jack. 

Jack is athletic and a writer. He’s dreamy but there are ups and downs in store…

Christmas comes along and she’s finally in a place of true happiness… January arrives with a new year and a new job offer elsewhere.

In the meantime Serena has ditched her risque reputation and meets Tom.  The girl’s lives change. New friendships and entanglements ensue.

people cafe

As Olivia aggressively pursues her career she encounters everything she has ever dreamed of with irresistible suitors distracting her along the way. She faces a crossroad yet again and is all too aware of the fragility of life and is uncertain how to proceed in affairs of the heart.

Evelyn wants Nathaniel. Nathaniel and Jacob are enemies yet know Bill Mariam all too well. As luck would have it Jacob and Olivia’s paths cross and attraction arises. Enter temptation and disillusionment…

As she prepares to return home she has thorns in her heart one for Jack, another for Jacob and others thorns pierce her heart from other sources.

Lastly she has doubts whether it’s best to walk alone after all, but can’t but help wonder who her true soulmate is…

NYC skyline tower viewer

Book 1 is all about choices and the uncertainty of our paths in life and love. I can’t wait to announce the publication date to you all on 💌  My Mailing List 💌 !

Poem: I Will Remember You

couple in love lying down bw

I Will Remember You

I will remember you
because I Love You.
I love you more than Life.
If i never knew you
I would not be here.
And for that I will love you
unconditionally,
I wish I didn’t sometimes
but it was predestined

I’ll never forget you
I couldn’t let myself
I can’t move on only to forget
The Love of My Life
The One made for me
Because I was born to make you happy…

 


Other poems by Catherine can be found in her poetry book “The Quarter Life Crisis Poet”
Buy USA   Paperback   Kindle
Buy
UK     Paperback   Kindle

www.CatherineVaughan.com
Twitter: @CattVaughan
Facebook: /CatherineVaughanWriter

 

Poem: Everything I never told you

girl mouth

Everything I never told you

I love you.
You’re The One.
If I had my way I would be with
You right now.
We were meant to be together.
I think about you everyday.
I dream about you then
I wake up and cry
Wandering why you left me…
I will remember you because
I love you.

15.1.16

Other poems by Catherine can be found in her poetry book “The Quarter Life Crisis Poet”
Buy USA   Paperback   Kindle
Buy
UK     Paperback   Kindle

www.CatherineVaughan.com
Twitter: @CattVaughan
Facebook: /CatherineVaughanWriter

Taylor Swift vs Britney Spears vs John Mayer (Look what you made me do)

Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what you just made me do
Look what you just made me
Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what you just made me do
Look what you just made me do

 taylor swift look what you made me do GIF

My verdict (borrowed from her former lover): “I got to the end of an old story.” – John Mayer

Standard, slightly mature sound (immature theme), macabre, album-track status than hit single.

The Independent:

On her Girl Squad ‘era’: “seemed like a pack of flinty-eyed social climbers jostling for Instagram exposure. It was nothing remotely resembling friendship.”  That seems savage and induces a dose of sympathy because it could actually be true.

“Flouncing on and off social media is the modus operandi of the Swift-a-like.”

“Taylor Swift’s has made it clear she’s pig sick of everyone talking about her, by ensuring everyone in pop land can talk of nothing else. You have to admire this. She is not the Queen of Pop, but she’s a brilliantly accomplished jester.”

“I can’t even” over the fact that CNN’s has a take on it.

People seem to love the music video. All I can say is that you throw that much shade- (even if it’s deserved?) then what else are you going to do? What is next? I guess I’m somewhat curious to see what’ll happen but even I feel a little jaded as Swift’s voice on this single. This song didn’t even get me riled up to remind me of people that have screwed me over the past… Then again I may have matured but all the while there is a slight lackluster factor to the song.

I much prefer the original Lyric Video. It’s poetic, artistic and more compelling because it’s enigmatic.

I think Enigma ought to be Taylor’s Next Career Move!