Sunday, 26 January 2014


A couple of recent A.P.C. purchases from the very good MR PORTER January sale. I don't often buy t-shirts but I have a real soft spot for this one. And I feel as if one can never have enough crew neck camel sweaters in their wardrobe.

Plus how good is the new A.P.C. spring/summer campaign? Love a goat.

sunday reading

Sunday. The perfect day to spend an afternoon leafing through a couple of new cookbooks I received for Christmas: Food from Plenty by the Sunday Telegraph's award-winning food writer Diana Henry and The Kinfolk Table, published by the people behind one of my favourite magazines: Kinfolk. Both books are full of great photography and have been beautifully designed. (The recipes are pretty good too...)

Anna and Tom Herbert (of Hobbs House Bakery) in The Kinfolk Table.

I love the back cover of this book too - cabbages galore.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

cushions by luke edward hall

I've been working away over the past few months on creating a small range of cushions. They're all to be made from soft, good quality linen, with contrast piping and embroidered with my own hand drawn motifs. Here's the first proper sample: the Ionic Column. Not quite perfect yet but almost there. More to come very soon...

Sunday, 19 January 2014

wish list: burberry autumn/winter 2014

My favourite autumn/winter 2014 menswear collection, of all those shown recently in London? Burberry's exceptionally romantic one, of course. Inspired by British decorative arts, Christopher Bailey presented hand-painted florals and abstract designs on showerproof silk and textured leather. Woven blankets in soft wool, shearling, cashmere, suede, carpet bags and printed scarves; I pine for it all...

Naturally, I'm a big fan of all the beautiful, rich colour: inky blues, bottle greens and deep browns with dashes of amber yellow, dark tangerine and red.

Top of the winter wish list: the St Ives in Textured Rug: a holdall made from wool rug and leather. Each bag is a one-off design and entirely unique.

I'm a big fan of the house's spring/summer 2014 campaign too. Perfect pink!

Friday, 17 January 2014

venice in winter

The day after the first day of the year, we caught an early flight to Marco Polo airport and travelled by vaporetto from the Italian mainland to the islands of Venice. We'd booked the trip only a couple of days before - it seemed like a very good way to start the year: with lots of pasta and art. We saw St Mark's Square, of course, on the Thursday afternoon - the Basilica with its gold ground mosaics and beautiful Italo-Byzantine architecture, the Clock Tower, the Campanile and the Doge's Palace in all its Venetian Gothic glory.

Afterwards we drank hot chocolate at Caffè Florian. Florian boasts quite an impressive interior - mirrored, marbled, stuccoed and frescoed to within an inch of its life. Rousseau, Goethe and Byron hung out here...

On Friday we ambled around the Accademia and the gardens of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. We took a tour around the incredible and ornate Teatro La Fenice and then ambled some more. We did a lot of ambling, but I think ambling is precisely what one needs to do in Venice. We ambled into churches, over bridges, down windy streets and alongside jade green canals, with absolutely no sense of direction.

Of course, when we weren't ambling, we were eating and drinking. And we ate and drank incredibly well. I mean, when in Rome (almost), right? Bellinis at Harry's Bar (a charming place, with waiters running all over the place in crisp white jackets), campari at the Gritti, but mostly just cheap and delicious seafood (Venetian spider crab was interesting) and fresh pasta in tiny, very good restaurants with brown paper placemats and groups of loud, jolly locals. We made a particular point of visiting a few traditional bàcari where we tried chichetti - small Venetian snacks and side dishes, similar to Spanish tapas, which were all delicious. Ca' d'Oro, close to the Rialto Bridge, was our favourite bàcaro; a huge influence on Russell Norman's London Polpo eateries, they served some of the best meatballs I've ever tasted...

On Saturday and Sunday we did more of the same: churches, ambling, art, canals, long lunches, naps, good dinners. The weather wasn't brilliant, in fact it was pretty wet, but we trudged on regardless and actually, in a way the rain brought the city to life and made it look even more beautiful... On Sunday evening, with heavy hearts, we took a water taxi from the Grand Canal back to the airport. It was a great way to say farewell to the city, looking up from the water, speeding past palazzo after gorgeous palazzo... Until next time, Venice.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

east india youth

I'm forever on the hunt for good new music, but I hadn't heard anything of particular interest for quite some time until late last week, when I came across William Doyle, better known as East India Youth. Make sure to watch the video for his bittersweet new single Dripping Down below. I know we're only twelve days into 2014, but this piece of utterly perfect, shimmering electro-pop could well turn out to be my song of the year. East India Youth's avant-garde debut album, Total Strife Forever, is due for release tomorrow. It's had excellent reviews already. Apparently it transcends a multitude of genres; I for one cannot wait to hear it in its entirety.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

the highlands in winter

I travelled home to Hampshire just before Christmas to visit my family. The weather was grim - awfully wet and horribly windy, yet we had a great time swapping presents, cooking pies and watching old Christmas films. One evening was spent at one of our beautiful local churches, where we sang carols and ate mince pies. Oh, I really do love a good little church at Christmas time. The organ, stained glass, old stone... Don't you just adore the bright purple theme?

Then, on Christmas Eve, after several cancelled flights, three or four power cuts and quite a fair amount of frustration, I flew to Edinburgh with a violent storm snapping at my heels. Here I met up with D. and his family. More of the same followed - huge amounts of food and wine and laughter. On a chilly Boxing Day we paid a trip to the city's wonderful Botanic Gardens.

On the 27th we drove even further northward, to the Highlands, where we stayed with more of D.'s family. I'd been before, once, but on this occasion we knew we'd have much more time to explore... Those magical days between Christmas and New Year are always a joy to spend doing whatever one pleases, aren't they? Our journey took us through snowy mountain passes; we'd look out of the car and all we'd see was still and white: a Narnian paradise, minus the White Witch.

Even further up north, the snow had melted. Mornings were frosty and bright. Here water runs black at the impressive Falls of Shin.

Gorgeous, vivid Scottish woodland.

We were up in the Highlands for four days. We would eat eggs and bacon cooked in a heavy old frying pan for breakfast every morning and then head out in the car, driving past farms and deep gorges and lochs with surfaces like perfect silver mirrors, over snow-capped mountains, through dark wooded valleys. The landscape was some of the most unimaginably beautiful I have ever seen. One day we set out early, with thick grey mist all around us, and drove from the east to the west coast - the land was very narrow at this point - to a small harbour where boats leaves often for the Outer Hebrides. I don't know if it was mist or low cloud or whatever but it felt like we were truly up in the Heavens.

The dark nights were spent telling long stories and cooking with big pots, mostly. Partridges killed locally perhaps, or more winter pies. We even ate our supper in the great hall of a castle one night... Oh yes, the Highlands are a special place, and I didn't particularly want to leave. After driving in heavy rain back to Edinburgh, we caught a quiet train back to London on New Year's Eve. And then to shake things up a bit, we went to Venice. I really ought to leave that tale for a new blog post...