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Store Manager Alistair

Store Manager Alistair

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A tale of two cities in two days. Not like me at all. But having ventured to London on Tuesday( see previous Blog), I had to journey to the not so big city of Norwich today , ostensibly for both an eye appointment; my every two years eye test, and also for my hair to be highlighted , low lighted , cut and conditioned, and generally given an overhaul after weeks of sun, salt, wind and sea.( I did pop into Waitrose as well-oh what a rare treat-spying and buying goodies the like of which I rarely see in North Norfolk).

BUT, as we were unable to go to the VIP Preview evening last week, of the just-opened FABULOUS, brand spanking new WHITE COMPANY store, I just had to go see.
I have to say it looks stunning, the former Dixons( I think) store, having been wrapped in white -looking so stylish and contemporary, and bang opposite the market place, and next door to the Royal Arcade, so what a great location.
I love The White Company. I love white. I love white houses, white walls, white floors, white crockery, white cushions, white sofas, white bedding and white linen. I only wear white occasionally mind you, and only in the summer months ,and usually abroad. But there you go. I wear black most of the time. But our house is white. Very white. And includes all those lovely white things that I have just listed, with just a tad of colour here and there. The thought of sheets and pillow cases, duvet covers and throws that aren`t white would be enough to make me refuse to go to bed, I detest them so much…
We are good friends with Mark and Sally Winstanley, who have a house near us here on the coast, and Mark is Creative Director of The White Company, so we knew many months ago about the Norwich store, so we have waited with baited breath to see it. Mark and I both studied Textile and Fashion Design at Loughborough College of Art ,and indeed my artist husband Andrew Ruffhead taught Mark at Loughborough as well. So we know him and his family of old-consequently when we meet we do a lot of design and art, and well `white` talk with each other!
As you approach the new store, the entrance is flanked by olive trees, and then you get a waft of things to come, The White Company sell a great range of both room fragrances and eau de toilettes, and I was reliably informed that the sweet smell of success that permeated the store and the pavement (!), was the gorgeous crisp, floral, juniper berry, white geraniumy scent Blanc I couldn`t resist a tiny spritz of it. Love it. Love it all really.
I particularly love the stoneware bowls, the mercury table lamp, the white on white bedding , (especially the Colville bedspread), the Petersham sofa, the downy mattress toppers( we have them on all our beds), and I love their clothes- do check out their luxury loungewear. I adore the Chunky Rib Poncho , the White Drop Shoulder v-neck tee ( I already have two of these), and the Trench-a must-have for this season.
And so what did I buy? well apart from room spray-White Lavender, a new one for me, a matt white pepper grinder and two Dome Tealight Holders, I bought the fabulous Boiled wool Jacket with leather sleeves, and the colour? well black of course!

The White Company is at 22-23 Gentlemans Walk in Norwich.
Don`t forget they also have The Little White Company range there as well.
Telephone: 01603 673777

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Sunshiney September day in London town

Breakfast at Cecconi`s

Breakfast at Cecconi`s

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Conor, Audie and Emma at Anderson and Sheppard

Conor, Audie and Emma at Anderson and Sheppard

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Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton

My purchases!

My purchases!

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Brinley and I

Brinley and I

 

Tom and Brinley

Tom and Brinley

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Tom and Sarah

Tom and Sarah

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Early start -and early train (6.52am) ,as I had a ticket for the Matisse `The Cut-Outs` exhibition at Tate Modern at 12, and wanted to squeeze in a little retail therapy  first. I was a woman on a mission. My lovely husband decided that he would drive me to Kings Lynn station, as the last time I parked there, my car was bumped into-the car park is tight to say the least, resulting in several hundred pounds worth of damage. Ouch.

Knowing what to wear for a trip to London is always a nightmare, and I know of old that the minute Autumn strikes -despite it being rather hot yesterday, that winter clothes will be worn. So I wore black suede boots. Hot feet. Very hot feet, and after five months wearing flip flops or flat gold sandals, my flattest of all feet are now in shock having been lifted to an angle that they only know in the winter months. Plus I did a bit of walking too.

The train pulled into Kings Cross on time and a taxi whizzed me to Bond Street for 9am, to find that nearly all of the shops ( including Louis Vuitton) where my mission was to start, were closed. In fact this particular shop wasn`t opening until 10. Grrr, I was on a strict time limit too. So I hotfooted it, ( literally) to Cecconi`s, and sat at the bar to wait. So latte and almond croissant and answering emails it was. Cecconi`s full of power breakfasting suits tucking into bacon sandwiches and eggs Benedict, with the occasional girl picking at avocado on granary toast with a poached egg atop. Slight disaster while I was there, as a waiter reached up to add another salami to the rack above the bar, and it fell with an almighty crash, to gasps from the diners; as about 12 bottles of every brand gin and vodka you can think of fell to the floor. Amazingly only one bottle smashed…

Before going back to Bond Street I popped into my favourite Anderson and Sheppard in Clifford Street to see the lovely Audie. As I have written this on my Blog before, I love this shop, the styling, the colours, the art ,the whole vibe. It is essentially menswear, but they have the most divine scarves-well wraps really, as they are so huge, and earlier in the year Audie had shown me the sample colours she had chosen for `Fall`. As usual her eye is impeccable, in fact she said ” I am not going to bring the grey one out as I know you will have it”, and I have so much grey anyway-so instead she showed me a fabulous tomato red and a very stylish rich mud/marron one which after much deliberation I went for-having removed various items of clothing/jewellery that clashed violently. As Audie said `you can`t wear Turquoise once September comes`. I have to admit she was correct.I adore my new purchase. So very `Fall`.

Next Louis Vuitton, and I knew just what I wanted so that was easy- another `cross body` `Eva` bag ,I have several-very practical and stylish, but this time in their `Damier` chequerboard design . Love this too. Fab.

Time rolling on, sun hot, feet hot, hair flagging. I zipped over to the Conran shop to have a quick looky. Always inspiring to me. Loved their windows, a bit of a Greek vibe with a blue and white tiled sort of Taverna-chic theme going on. I love looking at their amazing table settings and cool lighting. I love to cook and I love to cook for friends, so I always seem drawn to images of dining and place settings and wine glasses. Dived into Bamford on Draycott Avenue-bang opposite Daphne`s; an old haunt of mine-I frequented it on a  regular basis in the `90s…

I love everything Daylesford and everything Bamford, the style, the white, the taupe, the organic thingy, the spa, the stores, the food and on and on. But ,my goodness they know how to charge. Their colour palette for this season is delicious- duck egg blues, grey(!),white and aubergine, but I spotted a range of scarves that Anderson and Sheppard have-albeit in different colours, but exactly the same-and here they were £200 more -each. At this rate Carole Bamford will be the only person who can afford to shop here!

 

I am not a fan of Tate Modern, too big, too ugly, too busy,  hard floors, too up and too down and far too far away. But I still went. I had bought a ticket for the Matisse exhibition earlier in the year , but I found out the night before that there was to be a taxi strike that day , and that, coupled with hot sun, made me forfeit my day, and ticket, and stay at home in my flip flops. So it was really was last chance saloon as the exhibition finishes this week.

I LOVED it.

I have always been a fan of Matisse, but seeing his `cut-outs` in real life , so to speak, was a treat. I loved that they were done in gouache so the colours have a slight chalkiness about them and the colours , although bright, are slightly `off`. I also loved the almost three-dimensional aspect to them too, you could see slight curls in the paper and the odd nick and layering of paper -almost patched in places. More interesting than flat colour. I particularly loved the scale of the huge works, and I loved the studio photographs- poignant pictures of Monsieur Matisse at work cutting organic shapes into painted paper with scissors, as he sat in bed in his bedroom/studio at the Hotel Regina in Nice in his later years. In fact I like his later work;1950-1952 executed shortly before he died, the best of all. There was also a fantastic video running at the exhibition of him at work as well. I sneakily snapped some pictures seen above. Great stuff. I wanted them all!

Lunch. And so to the Wolseley. Bring on the wine. Love The Wolseley -love the buzz, love the food, you knowwhat you are getting, and love the people watching. My gorgeous son Tom back from holiday in Bahrain, Oman and Tuscany, and work in Lisbon and Porto, was on good form, and we had much catching up to do. I always try not to have the same starter but I always to seem to do so, as it is yum-a sliver of a croute with quails eggs, duxelle of mushrooms and hollandaise. So we both had the same.

Just as our starter was about to arrive, we had a `you can`t go anywhere` moment, as  friend Sarah who has a holiday house in our village tapped me on the shoulder , and then another great friend Brinley came marching over too. Small world indeed. I guess we all like the same places. I went over to chat to Brinley later, who was lunching with the famed private chef Blo Deady , and tucking into Negronis and oysters. Nice.

After all the frivolity and exchanges of mwah mwahs, Tom loved his Veal Holstein-both he and my husband love anything with an anchovy and a fried egg on it, and I loved my scampi-an unusual choice for me, but perfect. Light and flavourful, served with tartare sauce. I am sucker for a lemon wrapped in muslin too!

All in all a most perfect, happy, spoiling day in London with the pictures to prove it……

 

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Seal trip on the Sarah Jane

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Of all the days that we could have chosen during this ( mainly), glorious summer here in North Norfolk, to go on a Seal Trip-we had to choose today. Long planned and booked well in advance; due to tide times, busy diaries and suitable days for friend`s grand daughter to join us, we chose today, safe in the knowledge that the sun would be shining. But,we woke up ,despite the weather forecast to the contrary , to at least fifty shades of grey. And drizzle, and lots of it.( Oh but with promises of sunshine later-a fat lot of good that was at 10am ). A truly rubbish day and a rubbish hair day. As another friend put it so well-‘boat hair`. I wouldn`t have minded the rubbish hair if we were just doing the boat trip, but we were meeting my friend’s daughter and another friends for lunch afterwards at our favourite Wiveton Hall Cafe for lunch so I had to look half decent -in a casual seasidey manner anyway-at least. I decided the only answer was to take my hairdryer and styling brush,( the rain gives me wings-and not ones that are of any use!), and after the seals , head for a swift coffee at the Blakeney Hotel and tart up…

I love a Seal Trip and we love Bean`s Boats. I love the day-glo orange kit they wear, and I love the notion of a `Mr Bean` at the helm. I was even more thrilled to see that the `boat du jour` was the `Sarah Jane`.My namesake , so it had to be my very own boat!

We piled in with soggy families, bemused children, and two gorgeous greyhounds who didn`t look that happy at the prospect of life on the ocean wave.

Gorgeous George the skipper, went through the old routine of safety and Seal information. I say `old` and it is obviously very important ,but I am a bit of an old hand at a Seal Trip; heading to Blakeney Point at the drop of a hat. Perhaps now that I have a boat named after me, ha ha, I should lose my first-time-out Quba Sails jacket, and don an orange one.

As grey as it was , and as drizzly and grim as it was, the trip was great fun as always, and friend`s grand daughter loved to see the seals `waving` just at her… there were more seals basking and beached than I have seen for a long time. They were also dozens of grey seals frolicking and splashing around in the water, and when we went out to the spit of sand alongside the point, the seals there all rushed into the sea at once looking rather like a Christmas Day charity dash by hardy( aka mad) swimmers, on a freezing cold English beach.

Chugging along the creek we spied oyster catchers, the fabulous Juno sailing barge , built by Charlie Ward and available for half  day and full day charters, samphire and mud-lots of it.

So, back to the Blakeney Hotel for coffee. But first the hair, which looked rather good I thought-wet, bedraggled, and the aforementioned `wings` .I also had a great smudge mascara down my cheek, thrown in for good measure. After discovering there were plugs in the ladies loo, (all powder rooms really should have a built-in hairdryer I think ), I asked a waitress who suggested I use a plug in the small sitting room, but as family were ensconced in ther,e all nicely relaxed, I didn`t think that they would appreciate the blast of hot air from my hair dryer disturbing their morning. So while my friend struggled at the mirror, I ( on a mission) found a discreetly tucked away near the Billiard Room, plug, with the added bonus of a shiny brass door plate to use as a mirror, and very happily blow dried my hair back from the brink.

The Blakeney hotel has a jolly nice sitting room , all cool blues, greys and mauve linen, with oversized basket lamp bases and a rather stunning yacht on display. It also has a rather stunning view of the harbour, so warmed up and plied with coffee , it would have been easy to stay awhile.

But lunch beckoned, and to Wiveton Hall Cafe we went. As busy and colourful as always, and a bottle of Pinot Grigio on the table, soon pushed all thoughts of wet feet and wet hair away. A delicious lunch as always, fresh crab sandwiches, a humungous Wiveton Salad-with herb infused coleslaw, pearl barley, feta, beetroot, and potato salad being just a few of the components that make up this feast on a plate.

I had the baked Camembert with Courgette pickle( yum), red onion marmalade, rocket salad and toasted focaccia. It`s ages since I have made this at home as husband isn`t a huge cheese fan-and I had forgotten how lovely it is.( The camembert is rubbed with garlic, and spiked with rosemary, and baked whole in its box until it is unctious, even more creamy and very dippable.)

A jolly, very North Norfolky kind of a day, and as we snaked our way along the coast road heading home, the clouds broke and the sun shone through.

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Beautiful Blakeney

Blakeney by Andrew Ruffhead  www.fish-and-ships.com

Blakeney by Andrew Ruffhead
http://www.fish-and-ships.com

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Anchor Blakeney

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Andrew Ruffhead design for the Anchor Gift Shop, Blakeney

Andrew Ruffhead design for the Anchor Gift Shop, Blakeney

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The Moorings

The Moorings

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And so to Blakeney. We love the drive along the coast road, despite the numerous hiccups when one meets large oncoming 4x 4s, and it becomes a battle of wills as to who will give way first , oh and who thanks who , if at all. Such is Summer driving in North Norfolk. Grrrr.

We were off to see our friends Fren and Ed Ewing who live in Blakeney ,and run several businesses there; Groovy Campers, Blakeney Boltholes  and also the Anchor Gift Shop.

Artist husband Andrew has been busy working on various designs for the shop, which are being used for prints, tea towels and mugs-the latter having just arrived. They are great fun, and come in four suitably seasidey colours, three shades of blue, and one, not fifty shades of grey!

Blakeney was looking just fab with its muddy creeks, marshes, boats tinkling in the harbour, (the tide was racing in), and a burgeoning, burning, hot pink sunset to boot.

Supper was to be at The Moorings , a few yards from the Quay. Fun, busy, buzzy atmosphere, where we felt very much part of the `we`re on holiday ` crowd.

The Moorings offers unpretentious modern British cuisine in a relaxed setting.

They serve fresh, honest food – fantastic local fish, shellfish, game in season, delicious meat and vegetarian dishes, dreamy puddings, and a well chosen wine list-which includes an excellent Gavi which we love.

We had a great evening, and I have to say the most delicious food, simply presented (always the best way).Yummy scallops-with the coral still on-hooray… Letzer`s smoked fish platter -perfect and served with rye bread and sweet dill mustard dressing ( haven`t seen a smoked sprat for a while!), and our other choices of fish soup with rouille, cheese and croutons, and grilled king prawns with avocado, tomato and chilli salsa, hit the spot.

I love sea trout-much better than salmon I think-so I tucked into  that with Morston samphire and potted shrimp butter, Fren had baked fig, goats cheese and red onion tart, with honey and caraway dressing-pronouncing it delicious, and the men chose the rack of English lamb with rosemary and thyme crust, wilted spinach and caramalised garlic jus. perfectly pink and sublime-I pinched a bit. We were all too full for one of Angela`s puds so had more wine instead!  All fab. Lovely to venture to eat at that end of the coast too, and I highly recommend The Moorings.

I am back tootalling along the coast tomorrow as I am off on a Seal Trip, so watch this space for tales from Blakeney Point!

http://www.blakeney-moorings.co.uk  01263 740 054

The Anchor Gift Shop, 35, High Street, Blakeney. 01263 741555

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Va Va Vintage

 

My fabulous floral tray!

My fabulous floral tray!

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 523797_435555316475709_444506095_nI have just bought a fab uber-floral pink, red and white vintage tray-which I will be taking out to our house in Spain on our next trip.

Yay Retro! is a fun online vintage store, selling the very best in vintage 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s & 70’s china, glass, home and tableware. They also have fun `70s bedding with fab, floral designs which remind me of when I was a little girl-I had a very  loud , very pink, flowery patterned `Vymura` wallpaper in my bedroom.

Yay retro! are also clever at display too, always using a backdrop of vintage fabrics and papers which show off their wares extremely well. They acquire genuine retro pieces that can be used every day in your kitchen, sitting room and dining room at home, or in your vintage camper or caravan. Love the coloured glass `sundae` dishes too…..

http://www.yayretro.co.uk

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Play on

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If music be… and all that jazz , if you pardon the pun. It`s not that I don`t value silence, but I don`t ever crave it. My favourite sounds of all times are my husband and son laughing. And I mean really laughing, and they do. We all do in our house. It`s a joy.

I also love ( and crave), the sound of the sea, which is never far away from me. But, I have music playing all day, every day, always have done so, and always will . Different music for different times and different places, but I love it. It becomes a memory. Consequently my `desert island discs` list of ten would run into tens of……

I also love finding new music to love, and search online, make note of something I have read about, and what friends recommend. I am now of course playing it all via my IPad ,so I am downloading it all via ITunes, which means that I can buy an album ,or simply one track.

Over the last few weeks I have discovered the CDs featured above. I love the singer/songwriter genre,thought-provoking lyrics and gritty vocals; the likes of Damien Rice et al. So if you do too, I am sure you will love them as well.

So here we have music by Jon Allen, Matt White, Paul Carrack and Lewis Watson,  I have also thrown in a couple of single tracks, `Song of me and you` by Adam Cohen (son of Leonard Cohen), and `Fare thee well` by the fabulous Oscar Isaac, which features in the great film ( recently watched) `Inside Llewyn Davis.`

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APPsolutely fabulous

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Fish and Ships Coastal Art

Fish and Ships Coastal Art

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Since I wrote my first post about my then brand new IPad  just before Christmas, I have come a long way. I no longer have long tortured conversations with clever techie boys at Apple,( who sound about twelve years old), and know everything there is to know about an IPad Air and more.I am now an expert ha ha! Well, learning. I  have now over 140 albums uploaded onto it, and many, many more individual tracks  ,( the joy of buying from ITunes), and I have created playlists for every occasion; cue `Summer on the decking` ,`dinner party 1`, and so on. So I am very pleased with myself. My latest discovery, having become hooked on Instagram, is an App called `Framatic`, which enables you to group photographs together in a grid and various other permutations. Very useful for adding to Facebook, Twitter and said Instagram., particularly for a visual business such as ours. So above are a few examples of what I have been up to during this amazing North Norfolk Summer so far, with pictures of Wells-next-the-Sea beach ,and its fabulous hot pink sunsets , yummy summery food I have cooked for friends ,and happy times at our table( outside yippee), our shell-filled coastally house, and some jolly images from my artist husbands gallery Fish and Ships Coastal Art.

More fun to have a quick hit of the visual than too much blogging rambling.

Oh and I have just found another  App to get excited about that tracks flights, so I have been spying on my son. During the last  fortnight  he has flown to Edinburgh and back twice, Bahrain and Oman and back, and he has just landed in Pisa. Comforting to know though.

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