Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Northumberland... part two

Sunday was spent, rather appropriately, on Holy Island.  Following an enormous cooked breakfast featuring, amongst other things,  the local 'Bamburgh Banger', we set off to cross the causeway to the island.

Bright blue skies and freezing cold winds welcomed us.  The island itself was surprisingly quiet and, wrapped up against the wind, we walked along the beach in the direction of the castle...

Any excuse for a walk along the beach!
another castle in the distance..
Definitely NOT paddling weather!

It may [or may not] come as a surprise, but Gertrude Jekyll designed a really lovely walled garden in a field below the castle. Even though it seems rather out of place in such a windswept, open landscape, it represents a 'haven' in the wilderness...

Gorgeous pebble paving gateway
...where once the garden smiled
Every garden needs a little Lutyens!
Always an imposing sight!
Tidal patterns in the causeway sand...
Big skies and a lot of sand!
How middle class is this?!
Rock pooling - a lovely end to a lovely day!

Just the way a really great weekend should be... good food, good friends, good weather and good beaches!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A Weekend in Northumberland...

We have a group of friends that we have known for years and years and years [you get the idea!] and every so often we try to get together for a long weekend.  So, on a cold Friday in February, 7 adults [I use the term loosely] and 2 dogs set off, from various parts of the UK, in the direction of Northumberland, for three days of merriment, reminiscing and general all round raucous behavior! 

Our 5 Star accommodation at Beal turned out to be a little closer to the A1 and not quite as close to the sea as the company's website had implied but, this slight disappointment aside, the interior was, as they say in property circles, 'well appointed', comfortable and most importantly, given the time of year, warm!

The weather was very 'braw' but the skies remained bright for most of the weekend.  Given the early Spring setting [whose daft idea was that?!] we were pretty lucky really.

We spent Saturday at a very blustery Bamburgh.  Parking up close to the castle, we set off down the beach at the kind of brisk pace required to avoid hypothermia!

Teasel on her usual 'high speed' setting!
One of the very few times we saw Teasel stand still all weekend!

It is certainly the time of year for 'long shadows'
D in contemplative mood?
Majestic and magnificent - and that's just the castle!
OH suggested this was a bit 'Reservoir Dogs'?! 

There's nothing quite like a pristine sand dune!
My OH and Tilly [his ever faithful shadow]!
Wouldn't fancy 'assailing' this from any angle!
Wind and sand hardy dune grasses!
Moving faster now... did somebody mention 'pub lunch'?!


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Vintage Florals...

It is no surprise, given our love of all things vintage and textile, that we have chosen, as one of our first featured British designer makers, Anne Crowther of Daisy Florence Design.  Anne creates, amongst other things, the most beautiful, floral pin brooches using recycled fabrics... and what better way to display them than on Amelie, our treasured [and very old] French mannequin.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Supporting British Designers

When I re-designed the layout of the shop, I planned an area for showcasing the work of British designer-makers who do not, normally, have access to the high street or a wider customer audience.  A constantly changing showcase filled with an eclectic mix of work, including textiles, jewellery, printed artwork and mixed media - in fact anything that we had discovered and loved and were sure our customers would enjoy discovering too!

Don't get me wrong, I am no philanthropist!  It was vital, particularly in this current economic climate, that the pieces selected for showcasing were unusual and unique, professionally finished, would work well with our store's other one-off, vintage pieces for the home and, most importantly of all, would appeal to our customers!

One of the first designer-makers to be featured is Nicky Tudor, a lovely mixed media artist working primarily with paper.  This 'recycled' element fitted perfectly with our own design collection, Angel Linens, which recycles vintage linen into luxury home accessories.  The textural nature of Nicky's designs also appeals to me as a textile designer.  Nicky takes beautiful objects, mostly vintage, and uses them to create paper sculptures with an amazing level of surface detail.

Vintage frames, jelly moulds, engraved silver hairbrushes and other heirloom items are used to create truly unique pieces of wall art.  A selection Nicky's work is now available to view in store.  We are sure you will love her work as much as we do!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Ta Dah!

We closed for a week at the end of our Vintage Winter Sale, to redesign the shop, or as my OH puts it "move things around AGAIN!", unpack and display some of our lovely new stock and generally give the whole place a 'spring makeover' - wish I could have one of those!

What should have been a relaxed, easy task, with time for attending a trade fair or two, catching up with suppliers, meeting new ones, etc, turned into a very stressful race against time and the weather!  My design workshop began to leak alarmingly, thanks to the snow blizzard we experienced at the weekend, covering everything inside in horrible, dirty water.  So it was 'all hands to the pump' to sort out the workshop and the shop redesign had to be done in two days rather than 5 or 6.  Best laid plans and all that... at least we are done now, the workshop is dry again, if not a little 'stained', and the shop looks beautiful [even if we do say so ourselves].

We have lots of lovely new postcards and decorative tape from Dots and Spots, as well as more of our best-selling, gorgeous, 'printed in GB using recycled paper', retro gift wrap.

This painted display shelf was obviously calling out for some of Becky's gorgeous decorative tape.  Definitely made for each other!

Our Sophie Conran ceramics collection looks lovely in this vintage French bookcase.  I love the wonderful 'spring green' colour of the presentation boxes - turns them into such wonderful gifts!

We are always so busy making our vintage linen home accessories for other shops and for magazine features that I realised we have never had our full range available in the shop.  Daft isn't it?  So that is one of our objectives for this spring - to have at least one of every design we do [which is now over 40] in the shop together as a collection.  In the meantime, here's just some of the ones we do have.  Oh, and do you like the wonderful vintage PIE sign?  Would look really great in somebody's kitchen - particularly if you are an avid pie maker or eater [or both]!