27 Mar 2020

The “At-Home” Diaries: Eye Spy

The "At-Home" Diaries on vickiarcher.com

The day starts early here.
By 8 am I have read the news, seen the emails, walked for an hour and done a yoga session; yes, I’m starting early. And cooked the breakfast – porridge made with jumbo oats, blueberries and a naughty dash of maple syrup.

This is not my normal routine and while I don’t start my day late this is a switch up. I’m not sure why? Maybe to do with poor sleeping and a leftover swag of jet lag; it’s working out fine. I feel motivated and positive in the mornings and while it lasts I’m hanging on with both hands. Our deserted walks through the streets of Notting Hill and Holland Park have never been more beautiful. The early morning sun is casting a rosy glow on our beautiful streets and houses.

My eye is back.

Eye spy so much more and it is as if a veil has been lifted from my taking-too-much-for-granted eyes. Details lost in a flurry of unimportant hurry proclaim themselves daily; architectural details, divinely pastel houses, quirky boutiques and secluded gardens I never gave any real attention to. Every walk is a journey of discovery and to wander Portobello Road without the flaneurs is the joy in despondent times. The arcades are not what they once were but in silence, they have a charm of their own. Our one courageous fruit and veg seller battles on alone most days, serving long-standing and very loyal customers. It’s eerie and charming at the same time.

Last night at 8 pm was most extraordinary.

The neighbourhood erupted in cheers and clapping to salute our health workers, carers and all those bravely putting their own lives in jeopardy. People opened their windows and front doors to give the biggest round of applause – it was very moving – and happened not only in London but also all over Britain. A month ago a clap or a million would have been lost in the commotion of urban life.

Eye spy bits and pieces in our home I walk past day and night, they have meaning but I rarely stop and touch them or think about their origins. Not now; now I am taking full notice. The porcelain jug from Paris filled with pink lilies, a blush shade glass bottle found with a collection of others in a market in Provence and my best shells and much-loved vintage hatpins. They are trifles and frivolous objects but each has a tale to tell.

At home in London is not a grave hardship for me other than I miss my children and baby grandson ridiculously. My habit is to work from home so not much has changed there. As long as I maintain the exercise, my mental and emotional state will stay strong. We are fortunate to have access to one of those “Notting Hill” gardens made famous in the movie and if lockdown becomes more rigid I can still move about.

France is forever on my mind as our little jewels, Le Petit Bijou and La Maison du Village are closed until this wretched virus is under control. This will test me as they are as much home to me as London. I can’t wait to get back, see our lovely Christiane and feel enveloped in her Provencal hospitality. She has been part of our family from the beginning of my French life and any who stays with us will know exactly how I feel. She is waiting this time out safely but eye spy a woman impatient to welcome our guests.

Eye Spy something else.

About me that is.

There are certain, non-essential, “homey” bits crucial to my wellbeing. Skincare is one and the delish products that go with that. Guilty, but I absolutely love and need fresh flowers in our home – even if it means bringing the pot plants in or cutting a stem of foliage here and there; I’m getting more creative as the days pass and wandering to the corner flower stall is no longer an option.

Guilty, but I absolutely love and need fresh flowers in our home – even if it means bringing the pot plants in or cutting a stem of foliage here and there; I’m getting more creative as the days pass and wandering to the corner flower stall is no longer an option.

And candles.

I have just about run out of scented candles. How could I? We have a Diptyque boutique in Saint Remy de Provence at La Maison du Village full of sweet-smelling bougies – *note to self: don’t leave without a stock next time. Candles burning, whether scented or not, make me feel cosy, content and strangely as if all is well with the world even when it’s not. Deceiving myself like this is an innocent pastime and one I highly recommend. Online delivery maybe my knight in shining armour.

My other guilty pleasure?

Chocolate – in particular bowls of Hershey’s kisses scattered about. 22 calories a kiss can’t be all bad. xv

VA In Your Inbox

subscribe for updates from vickiarcher.com

In This Post:




Being able to walk outside is a real treat. I live by a lake and am enjoying it more than ever. Take care from Virginia, USA


Isn’t it funny how the norm has become the “exotic”.. you too, Eileen look after you xx

Patricia Nauman

Dear Vicki,
I love your blog, and enjoyed this post immensely. 💗🌺💗🌺💗. Inspiring, calming, lovely.
Please take special care and stay well. 💗 Patricia, Minneapolis


Thank you Patricia,
We are being very vigilant and staying calm but being cautious. Some days the anxiety waves over me but I keep busy, write or take pics and think positively. I ration the news because it upsets me so much… I don’t distance myself but I don’t overload either. xx


We are all learning something NEW about the world, our communities, our work spaces and most of all, about ourselves. I felt alone all week, wondering how I am going to present myself the first day online which is this Monday. I did however, open up an email from our school director and there it was: a structured, well-laid out plan to forge ahead, with the understanding that everyone of us, student, parent and teacher, is learning something entirely new. We’ll make it.


Of course you will.. and I guess on the bright side, learning something new is the greatest and most wonderful of challenges… Good luck xx

Melinda Kuziel

I’m a fan and follower of many of your recommendations. Today was the best! Just enjoyed oatmeal and maple syrup and blueberries (frozen). Thanks for the great idea! Stay healthy.


Flowers, candles, and chocolate! A girl after my own heart. Very difficult times, but I am focusing on not “future tripping.” Easier said than done, but I’m sure trying. One thing for sure, my house and windows are really clean and my cooking skills are back in check too!😉 Stay safe and thank you for writing your blog. I do look forward to it!


I’m cooking like never before.. so far.. so good… I said at lunchtime I may not feel like this in 3 weeks!


A lovely calming post Vicki and relatable to us all at this time. I’m also loving flowers in the house and whilst I look at empty shelves in supermarkets the daffodils are still there to be bought. A white jug filled with these is simplicity itself and something that lifts me when I see it. Take care.

Nancy Thompson

Your post made me smile and I understand as I canny see my daughters or 5 month old baby granddaughter!
Take care of yourself x Nancy


It’s tough but thankfully we have facetime and constant photos… so all is not too grim .. I hope he doesn’t walk without me!

Leslie in Oregon

Vicki, although I am a longtime subscriber to your blog, I have been so busy doing all that my husband’s cancer requires that I did not know that you have a grandson. Congratulations!! (Now I get to go back to the posts I have saved but not yet read and delight in what you have written about him.) My husband and I also recently became grandparents, to identical twin granddaughters! Although they live too far away for frequent contact in real life, we have the joy brought by the photographs, videos and stories of them that our daughter somehow finds time and energy to take/write and post every day.

During the time I was a Pan Am crew member, I had 3-day round trips to/from London many weekends and spent a lot of time walking in your neighborhood. I particularly remember what it was like in Spring and so am very much enjoying your observations about and musings from there. Although the pandemic is beyond horrendous, the quiet (and much-less-smoggy skies) must be amazing. Thank you, Leslie! 😊


Thank you Leslie,
Do you know what I notice the most? It’s the lack of aircraft!
Whenever I walk around London there is never a time I don’t look up to see or hear aircraft… it’s very still and super quiet and although the reasons for the hiatus are beyond belief and horrifying, I am trying to make the most of the positives. We have just spent an hour wandering around Holland Park this morning and noticing details we haven’t seen before…
Congrats to you too… twin baby girls.. wonderful. Trips will come again and they will be even better xx

Virginia aldrich

Joy… calming… my lovely locket from your last collection (emporium)…. it has my grandchildren’s names inside…. it’s so peaceful( makes me smile) as I reach up and touch it throughout the day…
Blessings to you and yours.. and to all of us in this community!


That’s so lovely to hear and be reminded of… I feel like it is forever since I spoke of The Emporium… but it will return with bells on as they say :)
Enjoy those gorgeous grandchildren, Virginia xx

Linda B

Another treasure of a post, Vicki! Here are my comments back to you:

I have always been an early riser (even as a teenager!) and your routine sounds a lot like mine–except now, suddenly we don’t always get out for our walk or run or bike ride until after 9:00 a.m. And in the cool months, I make nearly the same breakfast you describe, but vary the fruit to what is on hand.

I did go walk early today with a friend I always see early on Friday mornings for a long walk (with proper social distancing!) We’ve been doing this for years but today was our last one for many months, sadly. Next week she starts chemotherapy for breast cancer and will be on total isolation because of that. I am praying for her full recovery, and sad that now our time together will be relegated to the virtual world, as it is with our children and sweet baby granddaughter.

Nearly ten-month old Lucy got rather sick last night–spiked a high fever, but has no other symptoms. My daughter’s family has been living in near total isolation for 2 weeks now, so it is doubtful she has the coronavirus (and babies rarely get sick from it, so they say.) Still a bit nerve-wracking! By the way, she will start walking soon, for sure without me. Both of my children walked at 10 months; and this little girl has been very active since before she was born. That’s part of why I had. trip planned (now cancelled) too visit them the week after next. . .

Flowers! Candles! These are the simple but real balms for this time. . . I have beautiful spring desert wildflowers in my front yard (garden to you)–but they wilt when cut, so I can’t bring them in. But I walk outside often in the day to be among them.

Chocolate is also a regular help. Yesterday I ordered a twelve bar package of my favorite very dark chocolate from Theo (in Seattle) and it should last me quite a while! One or two squares a day is the perfect medicinal dose. ;-)


I do hope Lucy is well and yes, children are amazingly resilient and I am sure she is… and wish your dear friend my very best – what a tough battle in uncertain times but she will have much support and that will get her through… take care Linda xx


Candles, essential oils, baths, dog walks, baking, tea: it’s amazing how it’s the little rituals that are sustaining me. Love you blog, as always. Take care.


Me too, Jen… the small “habits” are really keeping me sane and uplifted as much as possible. And the writing… I find it a great connection with you all.. even if it is about our day to day. Take care, too xx


flowers, chocolate and candles sounds like Valentine day but a kiss for 22 kcal is favourable.
After all your walk for 1 hr which I miss because we are only alowed 100 m distance from our home, though I make Yoga and run many times steps up and down from the lower to the upper terrace (24 steps once). anyway the days passes so quickly and I am already 2 weeks locked up, luckly without having symptoms. Our goverment plan
2 weeks more! Fingers crossed


Yes… two weeks for me too as we self-quarantined after travelling… so far so good. Valentines’s Day… no.. just making feel-good moments where I can. xx

Samille Muirhead

Beautiful words as always Vicki. Thank you for painting such a vivid visual .. I can close my eyes and see you walking Portobello Road. Our big shops are starting to close here in Australia (Myer last night) and every day brings unexpected new realities. For the now anyway. This too shall pass I keep saying. We are a little behind most of the world and the unknown is intimidating. I am trying to compose a ‘To Do’ list so I do not flitter the time away (if we go into lockdown) but I also want to just try to be calm and present with my children so I don’t want to over stretch the goal list. Stay safe. Thank goodness for FaceTime with our families.
Love, Samille x


Thank you Samille… I am following Australia and it seems restrictions are gaining momentum there.. we are in lockdown here but less strict than other European countries – it will change as the virus threatens more people.. Your To-Do will find its rightful step, I feel sure and it is amazing how quickly our routines adapt to new circumstances. xx

Libby Jones

Good morning Vicki,

I love your post & read it each time you have written something. It’s my “life saver”, especially when I’m in hospital or resting at home. Flowers, candles & definitely chocolates are so essential. Hope when your next Emporium is put up I will not miss out as I have previously. They are so exquisite & unique. What joy you must have searching for those treasures. Thank you Vicki for all your wonderful tips & I adore reading about your times in France. Understand how you feel about not seeing your grandchild. Keep well & safe. Libby from Australia.


Thank you Libby… and I can’t wait to be out and about searching again for treasures. It is my passion project and one I think will become even more of a focus after our lives resume.. You too stay very safe … xx


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

powered by chloédigital