You know, that virtual clothes shopping the other day really hit the spot. I am going to extend it to homely things. So, here is Miss Underscore's wishlist for a cosy, Autumnal home.
Oh, I can hear the sighs. I know they're a little cliched, but I love soft, flickering candlelight. The thing about scented candles is you have to buy good ones, no supermarket nasties. Of course Diptyque are heavenly (the Violette one is sweetly sumptuous), but who can afford £40 on one candle?
My favourite brand at the moment is Wax Lyrical. I love candles that smell of freshly-laundered, line-dried linen. Wax Lyrical's Spring Clean is a lovely one that captures the breezy freshness of washing day. Rainy Days and Bathtime are also clean and fresh. For Autumn though, I am lusting after Warm Embrace, which smells of amber and vanilla.
Wax Lyrical candles are about £14 each.
There is a time and place for crisp and cool white cotton or linen bedding. That time and place is not a grim Northern winter. Do you remember 1970s, candy-stripe flannelette? Do you recall how cheery, cosy and snug it was? Well, I am craving a new set. It is hard to track down, but I am pleased to report that trusty old QVC does some wonderful 100% COTTON flannelette bedding.
Slipping into flannelette reminds me of winter nights when my mum was alive: Matey bubble-bath, bedtime story, cosy sheets warmed with a hot water bottle and Horlicks. I confess, flannelette is hardly the most alluring or seductive bedding, but if you're ever under-the-weather it can't be beaten.
I would suggest to Mr Gordon Brown that a prescription for candy-stripe, flannelette sheets would be a far better antidote to swine flu than any medicine.
If flannelette reminds me of my mum, then chocolate covered stem ginger reminds me of my dad.
My dad was probably the hardest person in the universe to buy presents for. He thought every spare penny should be saved, and therefore presents were totally wasteful and unnecessary. Everything he bought for himself was from a charity shop or jumble sale. Every year, on his birthday I would buy my dad a green, lambswool jumper from M&S. I would snip off the price-tag, crumple and rumple it and allow the dogs to snooze on it. When suitably aged and distressed I would give it to my dad. I wouldn't gift-wrap it, wrapping paper being decadently wanton. I'd tell my dad that the jumper came from Oxfam and cost 50p. I went through this charade every birthday and Christmas for years. It was the only way my thrifty father would accept a gift.
However, he would always accept chocolate gingers, they were his achilles heel. They seem very fitting at autumn, I think. The warming, spicy, ginger covered in bitter, dark chocolate. Hotel Chocolat's versions are my favourites, they are really plump and juicy.
A dark, sinister crime novel
For me, the perfect read for nights when the curtains are drawn at five would be a creepy, psychological British crime novel. My author of choice would be Ruth Rendell.
Ruth Rendell's books always disturb me, but she writes with great subtlety and simplicity. Her characters and settings are very ordinary and humdrum. Her crimes are rooted in loneliness, boredom, co-incidence, jealousy, resentment and misunderstanding. She never resorts to the blood soaked Patricia Cornwell school of crime-writing, serial killers so monstrous and sadistic they become allegorical. The most creepy and distressing thing about Ruth Rendell's stories is that she portrays modern life so convincingly that we recognise it instantly. Then, just when we are comfortable with what we see, she shows us the darkness and sadness that lies just beneath the surface.
Country House Wallpaper
I am craving a new look in my bedroom. I really fancy a decadent wallpaper that has birds on it. Something quite deco. I imagine it is the kind of thing that would bedeck the walls of a country house in the 20s and 30s. The kind of house that would be the location of an Agatha Christie murder mystery.
I am particularly enamored with this Laura Ashley paper called Summer Palace. I think this, in the bedroom, with some candles and soft lamplight and an iron bed piled with vintage quilts would be so elegant and romantic.
Cosy Pooch beds!
Dogs need cosseting through the colder months too, especially my anorexic sighthounds. How snug and cosy are these Cath Kidston beds. A large one for Hetty, a medium one for the whippetysnippet! Lovely retro prints, very sweet.
I am lucky enough to have beautiful Edwardian cast iron fireplaces in the sitting and dining room. Last year I hardly ever used them, they are hard work! I really need a scullery maid to tend them for me. Then there is the issue of carting bags of coal and logs home from the garage. But, as you can see from the photo at the top of this post (click on it to bigify), I often just cheat with a lot of cheap candles!