Tropical getaway.

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Our annual trip to south-east asia is usually the highlight of our holiday calendar. Without it, winter would feel far too long and depressing, and my skin would go into Vitamin D cold turkey, no matter how many supplements I took. It’s a treat for the senses, being in the tropics, and it’s a real chance for us to spend some quality time resting and catching up on sleep. This time, I even managed to read some books (instead of my usual habit of swimming and sunbathing all my time away!). Love it.

We decided to venture off to a northern island off the Malaysian hinterland, to Penang, which is well-known for its heritage architecture and tasty Asian food. And that’s exactly what we got! Our favourite bit was our little stay in Clove Hall, in Georgetown, a UNESCO heritage site. The owners of the boutique guesthouse, Jo and Jim, were super friendly and helpful. The house was a cosy yet luxurious (it is possible!) Edwardian colonial building which was perfect for hiding out in.

If we could have done so, we would have stayed forever. Sadly, because the suite we were in (a sweet – pun intended! – two-storey wing of the house, complete with outdoor rainforest shower!!) was booked up for the weekend, we had to vacate the premises on Saturday morning. I have never stayed in such a large suite before and cannot wait to go back. The three days were so dreamy…

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For our last night, we relocated to the beachy part of Penang (Batu Ferringhi), which was also fab; to be honest, though, nothing really could compare to Clove Hall. The interiors were a perfect combination of colonial antiques and traditional Peranakan/Straits Chinese everyday objects – a real treat for an antique-love like me!

See their website, http://clovehall.com/, for more information and for bookings (there are a limited number of rooms, so do book early if you are planning to). Hopefully we will return before too long!

 

Images: Courage & Dash (our stay was not in any way sponsored)

Thankful to be wild and free

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Often, when the husband and I sit down to a meal and remember our favourite people, we feel frustrated that our friends are now so spread out across the world. Even within London, they seem to live across the length and breadth of our (massive) city. It’s fun to have the excuse to travel and see people, but it’s also quite sad not to be able to spend as much time together now as we did when younger. 

We recently headed for the north of Edinburgh, to a place called Fife where our friends Stuart and Imo live. The husband was best man for Stuart, and Stuart composed my wedding entrance music, so they are terribly dear and special to us! It was a gorgeous weekend of eating haggis, meeting Percy (their new dachshund puppy), endless walks through fields and woods, and sitting by the wood-burning stove sipping whisky, laughing about everything and nothing.

Quality time with such wonderful people is priceless – we have so much to be thankful for. It’s a shame Fife and London are on quite the opposite ends of the country! Do you have close friends who live far away from you? How do you manage to keep in touch? Hopefully it won’t be too long before we are back in bonny Scotland! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating – what are you thankful for this week?

 

Images: Courage & Dash

Rambles through the Dordogne

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Before this summer week-long break in the Dordogne, I had never been to France outside Paris. I love Paris; absolutely adore it. Plenty of fond memories of general larking in hazy sunshine and getting sticky faces and hands from melting ice cream meant that I was always drawn back to the city. This time, however, I was invited along to a family holiday in Calviac, so off I went.

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First things first, I was desperate to go to plenty of vide-greniers + brocantes. I had spent some time researching events in the area during my stay there, but alas and alack, most of the fairs/markets were held on Sunday, and I was only there late Sunday to Saturday! In addition, I didn’t have a car, so travelling anywhere without begging for a lift from the parents-in-law was out of the question. Whilst the holiday was very relaxing and utterly blissful, I did not get my fill of flea-marketing, so um, sorry, husband, but I guess I’ll be heading back out to Paris before too long?

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In any case, I would highly recommend a visit to the Dordogne region for the pretty French villages and delicious food. DELICIOUS. On my last day in the valley, we went to the weekly Saturday market in Sarlat and every trestle table lining the cobblestone paths of the town was groaning under the weight of all kinds of cheese, olives, sausage, oils… and I managed to buy 3 small bottles of truffle oil and vinaigrette for EUR10! I’ll be back soon with a little guide to some of my favourite villages (and a couple of fun vintage shops!).

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Images: Courage & Dash

Midsummer Day in Finland with Jonna Saarinen

We fell in love with Jonna’s designs the moment we came across them. Think Marimekko goodness, only brand new and upcoming. Exciting. Then we realised one of our Curious Shops, L O I S, stocked her products, and we knew we were onto a winner. 20140621-172404-62644744.jpg
Jonna is a Finnish textile designer and Central Saint Martins College & Royal College of Art graduate. Her work combines influences from Nordic nature and memories of times past, brought together in a variety of items developed by hand drawing, mark making and screen printing. Since her graduation from the Royal College in the summer 2011, Jonna has launched her self titled homeware label, which is the reason we found her!
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Since it’s Midsummer (Juhannus) today, we thought it would be perfect to bring you some quick table styling ideas from Jonna using her gorgeous tableware. Definitely set up your table outside if you can! 20140621-103751-38271054.jpg The Juhannus night is known for being very light across Finland – up in Lapland the sun does not go down at all. People decorate their homes with lots of wild flowers and young tree branches, especially birch tree, which can be used in the sauna. 20140621-103715-38235203.jpg20140621-103714-38234783.jpg Traditionally in Finland, the festival is a celebration of light; it is also a national holiday, and is the only day in the Finnish calendar when all the Finnish flags are up through the night until 9pm following day. 20140621-103750-38270819.jpg20140621-103714-38234609.jpg20140621-103715-38235665.jpg Juhannus involves plenty of rituals, drinking (this was meant to bring you good luck with you crops for the following year!!), eating, going to the sauna and dancing. 20140621-103714-38234990.jpg “We also burn big bon fires on beaches across the country, they symbolise success, bring you luck and scare evil spirits.,” Jonna says. 20140621-103715-38235419.jpg “Some of the most common rituals are about finding yourself your future partner,” she explains. “A very common one is to pick 7 wild flowers and put them under your pillow on Juhannus night, and your future lover will appear in your dream!” 20140621-103750-38270625.jpg “Most of the magic spells you have to do naked, like running naked across the meadow in the middle of Juhannus night in order to see you future lover,” Jonna adds. “Very Finnish!!” she exclaims. We think it all sounds splendid. Jonna Saarinen http://www.jonnasaarinen.co.uk   Images by Jonna Saarinen