Sharing What I’ve been Watching, Listening to, Reading & Eating during this last week

As we approach week seven of lockdown in the UK, I’ve found I’ve had a few difficult days and I know from talking to friends and people that I chat to on Instagram, many have felt it too.

I don’t think it’s because my resilience is running low, I think we’ve all been immensely resilient and resourceful. I know that this period of isolation and lockdown is for the greater good, but I think that the realisation that this new way of life isn’t going to be over any time soon, is dawning on us all now.

I know everyone has their different ways of getting through and everybody’s perception of this period will be different. For some it’s an enforced imprisonment, away from families, friends and work but for others it feels like a gift we’ve been given to slow down. A time to do the things that we never seem to get around to, to appreciate the little things that we don’t always see as we rush from place to place, from appointment to meeting.

I’ve enjoyed sharing and swapping recommendations for good films, recipes and podcasts with friends and so as I consider you all my friends, I thought I’d write a blog post with some of the things that have got me through this last week.

It might become a regular weekly or monthly post, or it might be a one off? You know by now how random and sporadic this blog of mine has become?

If you like the post though then hit subscribe so that when I post again , you’ll be notified by email and if I gather enough new subscribers, that might just give me the boost I need to keep writing.

So here is what I’ve been keeping myself busy with this week.


Flower market Botanical Style At Home by Mason & painter business owner Michelle Mason. This books mixes Michelle’s inspiration from the location of her shop, Columbia Road London and it’s famous flower market, with her amazing vintage and salvaged items she sells, as she demonstrates how these lovely pieces can be reused to display seasonal blooms and foliage. Michelle owns one of my favourite shops and Mason and Painter which was one of the inspirations for me to launch my own vintage store The Old Potato Store and I loved pouring through the pages of her beautiful book and became inspired all over again.

This seasons issue of 91Magazine landed through my letter box this month and it was such a joy to read as always, with articles and photography from some of my favourite creatives on instagram. There was also a lovely home tour of @clarenicolson stylist home. Interesting fact (well interesting for me) I used to sell vintage textiles to Clare back in the day when she was a textile designer and I sold vintage clothes & fabrics, around 2001 and now we are both interiors stylists! If you want to order a copy of this seasons edition you can do here.

Listening to

Corey Hemingway from The Modern House springtime playlist on Spotify. If you love jazz, 70’s funk and chilled easy listening summer tracks while you’re sitting in the garden pretending you’re by a pool somewhere exotic, you’ll love this laid back playlist.

Tate Walk Podcasts where some of my favourite writers take walks through parts of Britain discovering, with art experts, the lives of the famous artists who lived and worked there. Dolly Alderton walks through Turners London and Emma Gannon disembarks the train in St Ives to discuss the works of Alfred Wallis and Terry Frost. Shoreditch and the lives of the YBA’s was a particular favourite.

St Ives c.1928 Alfred Wallis 1855-1942 Presented by Ben Nicholson 1966

The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed. This podcast with Simon Armitage interviewing friends and guests from the shed in the bottom of his garden in the Peak District, is such a lovely soothing listen. The perfect quiet morning, with a pot of tea conversations that I love. A particular highlight is him and mate Guy Garvey talking and laughing over many a shared experience. An absolute gem!

The Calico club is a series of online talks hosted by House and Garden in which they interview industry professionals. The talks are ticketed events through Eventbrite and tonight Wednesday 6/5/20 I have a ticket to listen to Rita Konig Interior designer talk about how to decorate a room with what you already have. This is obviously very on topic and I can’t wait for her nuggets of wisdom. To buy a ticket to listen to the talk live tonight at 6.00pm click here.

One of Rita Konig’s projects

We’ve all been really enjoying the live streaming, here at Barlow Towers, that some of the worlds top dj’s have been doing to raise money for the NHS and we’re all huge fans particularly of hacienda legend DJ Paulette, who still dj’s around Manchester if you’re lucky enough to catch her at Cultureplex and Albert Schloss. This Friday she’s live streaming with her old colleagues from The Hac to bring us Hacienda Classics. Something definitely to look forward to this weekend!


Normal People adapted for TV from Sally Rooney’s best selling book. No words needed really, just magical, addictive, compulsive viewing and if you’ve not yet watched it, why not????


Museums in Quarantine with Alistair Sooke is the closest thing we’ll get to a major exhibition probably this year. Although I’m not a huge fan of Andy Warhol’s work, I enjoyed the walk through Tate Modern with Alistair and I thought allowing the cameras in to some of the leading galleries for screenings of exhibitions we were all looking forward to this year is such a great idea.


Gluten free Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ok I’m not professing to be a baker, in fact my lemon drizzle cake, baked for my son George’s birthday last week, was so unphotogenic, that I couldn’t possibly let you see it, so this is not my photo, but I’ll share the recipe with you as according to the kids, it tasted bangin!

Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipe

Side note, I added 3 large lemons zested and I think it benefitted from it??

Biscoff Cheesecake

Bake of the week has to go to my daughter Amber. This tastes off the scale! It’s ridiculously sweet but just delicious and so easy to make. Put it this way my daughter, who is 18, can’t even put oven chips in without setting the smoke alarm off usually and she created this! This is the photo of the one she made. It looks as impressive as it tastes so if you want a show stopper desert for a lockdown birthday or special celebration, I would highly recommend this!

Biscoff Chesecake Recipe

I’d love to hear what have been your highlights this week so send me a comment on my instagram @Karen_barlow or dm me if you have something to share which you think I’d like.


Some of my favourite ways and places to find and buy original and vintage art

Hello there, it’s been a while hasn’t it since we last chatted and what a lot has gone on since then. I do hope you’ve all stayed well and not gone too insane since lockdown although it’s been difficult in so many different ways for us all.

A few weeks ago my blog was hacked and contaminated with a malware virus which was not what you want to happen when you have lots of time on your hands to blog and no technological expertise of your own to clean the virus from it. Anyhow I managed to get a suburb local business, The Smart bear, to sort things out and within an hour it was up and running again and I’m quite embarrassed and shocked to say, it was only then that I realised I haven’t written anything on here since January, despite all my good intentions to get back to blogging on a more regular basis.

So yesterday I found myself rehanging some artwork in the lounge, like you do when you’ve had six weeks off work and ideas to entertain yourself are wearing thin. I remembered then, that I’m often asked, as a stylist and dealer of vintage and antiques and predominantly artwork, where I source mine? So I thought a blog about that very subject might be of interest to some of you?

I love art, It’s a passion of mine and I’ve collected it ever since I bought my own home for the first time over 30 years ago. I seek it out wherever I am and I’m always on the hunt for a new piece to add to our collection or to sell through my online store @Theoldpotatostore

A portrait from the Old Potato Store used on a shoot for @91magazine

To me filling blank walls with art is what truly makes your home individual. It says so much about you and truly makes your home feel like yours. Every piece we own tells a story or evokes a memory of where we were when we bought it. It’s very subjective and personal and therefore, it’s so important to only buy what you love. If it makes your heart race or it’s a memento from a special holiday or exhibition you saw that you loved, your favourite words to a song or phrase from a well loved book, then that’s every reason to buy it, dependant on budget of course. For me buying art is visceral and immediate. When buying for my online store @theoldpotatostore, I can buy four pieces of art within less than 5 minutes. If I have to decide if I like it enough, I just don’t buy it. For me it’s as simple as that.

                                                             Artwork sourced for the Old Potato Store

We have a favourite print that we bought from the Jean Cocteau museum in Menton in the south of France on our honeymoon, titled Les Amoureux and it’s hung in our bedroom since we bought it, in one home or another. It always reminds me of a time and a place, of the people we were then, of the years that have since passed, and it always makes me smile.

Collections should grow over time and be added to organically. We have a mixture of contemporary work picked up on holidays, many from the fishing village of St Ives, famed for it’s artists and plethora of galleries and the location of many happy family holidays, prints from exhibitions visited, amateur original artwork painted by friends and vintage art, some painted so long ago that only the sitter would know who the artist was.I also love collecting vintage black and white photography by unknown artists. For me, there’s something so thought provoking about a moment captured in time with the click of a camera? All are meaningful to us though and that’s the point of art. It might not be somebody else’s jam but it’s yours.

                                                        Some of my vintage black & white photography


Although I’ve never bought a piece of art because it matches a colour palette of a room at home, going back again to the heart skipping method, artwork does work very effectively to bring a room together in much the same way as a rug or cushions and with this in mind don’t only limit artwork to paintings, prints or photography. A beautiful textile framed, religious icons or vintage advertising signage or metal typography all adds to the interesting mix. I often sell pieces of antique architectural plaster mouldings through my store which also look amazing hung on walls as this beautiful shot demonstrates.

                                                   Architectural plaster displayed by @Tradchap

               Coordinating your artwork to your interior demonstrated beautifully here at cabana magazine

Think beyond the walls of a room when displaying your pieces. A selection of layered examples on a shelf or mantlepiece, larger framed pieces propped against a wall or art hung high over and around a door frame, all look great. Mix up the style of frames for added impact and interest. A contemporary print, in an antique frame, really elevates the piece from looking too High Street.

                                                                                Image @etalageuk

If you are hanging a gallery wall, then limit it to one wall in the room to avoid the space becoming claustrophobic. Even the most dedicated maximalists homes are carefully edited displays when done well.

                                                                                 Image @gaazioglusule

So now for the bit you all want to know. The secret spots that only stylists and antiques dealers know where to buy the best art? Well I’m sorry to spoil that myth but there aren’t any as such.I’m constantly also trying to find those places, that may or may not exist. My best advice is listed below. Some of my favourite dealers with the eye for the type of artwork that I love, some of the best online one stop websites who promote both antique sellers and contemporary artists and some great art fairs where you can find new, emerging artists, but there is no secret source that I know of. I wish there was but then, doesn’t that make the hunt all the more exciting?

So for antique art I would recommend

For Contemporary pieces and prints I would look at

Well I hope this has been of some use or interest and hopefully it won’t be too long before I post again. Now I have this much time on my hands I really have no excuse. Stay safe, stay well and stay home XX