Notebook

Eating Your Pets - a Koilinary Adventure

Hands up if you ever had a gold fish. I did. It was as bulbous as a puffer fish, the colour of an orange highlighter, mesmerisingly silky tailed and lived for exactly four days before it perfected the fish equivalent of a really slow backstroke... aka the corpse. Seeing it floating on the surface of my tiny fish tank I was distraught. I had dreamt of teaching it tricks, telling her (and I knew it was a her), my latest school gossip (Katharina Ochs had come into school with the new Sea World pencil case; Herr Dettweiler had painted red nail varnish on my cat painting without asking), but alas 'Sanella' (named after a German margarine brand) did not survive in my lonely, but perfectly manicured underwater paradise. We held a short funeral procession across the corridor and ceremonially sent her down the porcelain telephone. 40 minutes later I was back at the pet shop jabbing my finger at Sanella II, a black beauty with heavily lidded eyes and a tail like French chiffon. My fish obsession didn't last terribly long (and neither did Sanella II), but the thrill of hearing the ding of the pet shop door bell and the smell of pond algae and rabbit droppings hitting my nostrils remains to be one of the most exciting memories of my childhood. Now just imagine you aren't dropping 5 Deutsche Mark on a pet fish, but $2.2million. That is what a select few people will pay for one prized koi carp.

Where did Koi Carp come from?

Koi Carp originated in China, where they were initially bred to feed the Chinese army as they invaded Japan (somehow I imagine they taste like soap) and later for their beauty as pets. Systematic breeding of the Koi Carp with the most beautiful back patterns began roughly in the 1820's. Glass bowls and aquariums didn’t exist yet, hence the view from above was the most important. Their popularity peaked when the Japanese emperor Hirohito was gifted with Koi Carp for his imperial moat and boom, subsequently they were the most fashionable thing you could own. Breeders popped up all over Asia and the trend, like all cool Asian fads, eventually reached Europe. A wave of beautiful Chinoiserie prints, screens, porcelain and you guessed it, fish, spilled into the drawing rooms and ponds of the upper classes of the early 20th century. But even centuries earlier Koi carp had been revered in Chinese and Japanese culture for their beauty, endurance and tranquility. However, I did come across a rather baffling image of a baby wrestling a friendly looking, but enormous koi carp. These 19th century folklore prints show the infant Kintarō, a sort of Japanese baby Hercules with superhuman strength. He was even said to have the ability to speak with animals having grown up among them in the mountains. The myth was based on an actual person Sakata Kintoki, a warrior monk, who probably lived between 894-1185AD, but with time his story was exaggerated to the myth of Kintarō. What exactly the koi said or did to warrant this little brat leaping into the water and shanking him is not quite clear, but what struck me was the size of the carp. Like me, you probably think his scale is exaggerated, but we are wrong.

On the left: Saito Oniwakamaru Fighting a Giant Koi Carp" by Yoshitoshi 1839 - 1892 On the right: Oniwakamaru and the Giant Koi Carp Fight Underwater by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1835

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Love Bugs and Wallace’s Balls.

A couple of years back while living in London I would take the number 11 bus past an old shop called 'Artiques' every morning. Noisily sliding my squished face along the top deck window I would try to catch a glimpse of the wall covered in framed insect taxidermy. After months of smudging my makeup I finally went in and emerged an hour later laden with an iridescently blue butterfly, two shiny green jewel bugs, a pistachio walking leaf insect and a rather pompous pink lobster (it wasn't cooked). It made me feel like a million love bugs. I was going to crush Christmas that year and could not believe they were in their original state; no colour or gloss had been added whatsoever with the exception of the leaf insect, which loses its natural camouflage after death and was tinted by hand. The brilliant colour of the jewel beetles tickled me and I wanted to find out more about their uses and discovery.

 

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Secret Country Garden Greeting Cards

Secret Country Garden Greeting Cards

An Interview with textiles designer Susie Hetherington about her exclusive Flower Postcards range for Pemberly Fox What is your inspiration for your textile designs?

I am inspired by details and patterns found in nature, mainly, which is ideal for designing flower postcards. I have been this way all my life; my mum said walking anywhere with me as a toddler took ages as I wanted to inspect every stone on the road, and take home every shell on the beach. I live on National Trust Common land and the village has beautiful wild flowers, free-roaming live stock, stunning views and ancient woodland. I don’t have to go very far for inspiration and I think that this is reflected in the greeting cards I designed for Pemberly Fox.

Who inspires you artistically?

Most people involved with the Arts and Craft movement, but specifically William Morris and Charles Voysey. Then later, great printmakers such as Eric Ravilious. Current artists/printmakers would include Mark Hearld, Marthe Armitage, and my friend’s Cameron Short and Lou Tonkin.

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Locations For A Small Luxury Wedding

Locations For A Small Luxury Wedding

Congratulations, you're engaged! Now that the champagne's been popped and you've shown your ring to the world, it's time to plan the details of you big day - and we're not just talking save the date cards, wedding stationery, and all of the other paraphenalia. We're talking wedding venues. If you're hunting for the perfect place to get hitched, never fret.

We've put together the UK's best wedding venues for a small luxury wedding, carefully selected for the superior quality of their properties and exceptional levels of service. From stately homes and castles, to the more relaxed setting of a country club or barn, your search for the dream venue from where to say "I do" starts here. With each of the luxury wedding venues hand-picked by our experienced team here at Pemberly Fox, you can be sure you'll find only the best.

Knebworth House, Hertfordshire

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Wedding Stationery Sets Photography

Wedding Stationery Sets Photography

We shot our fabulous new wedding stationery sets with a little help from our cheeky canine companions; Dougal the pug and his pal Iggy the border terrier puppy!

The team decamped to Clapham Common in London to the light-filled home of our PR, Dorcas. Props were sourced from friends and family. Bundles of floral bouquets were bought to ensure we had the best pieces to suit each wedding set.

Konstantin, our resident photographer and digital guru, armed himself with his trusty Nikon. He set up our wedding stationery sets under the new lighting rig and the shoot was on.

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