Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Norway's Famous Garden - Flor and Fjaere in Stavanger

It has now almost been a month since I returned from my trip from Norway and thought today I would share one of two highlights with you before it becomes such a distant memory.

Norway and the fjords were everything you imagine.
I must recommend that if you see the fjords that a cruise really is the best option even with the pitfalls of traveling on a cruise. 
It also heightens the Viking experience.

Today I want to share my visit to one of the more established and acclaimed northern most gardens in the world called
Flor and Fjaere.

The right side of the island are the Flor and Fjaere gardens Via 

I arrived in the port of the 6th largest Norwegian city of Stavanger which is a very wealthy town due to the oil industry.

Doesn't the town look like a lego set from above?

Below is the more mundane view.
The world beach volleyball tournament was being held at the port.

The Flor and Fjaere gardens were technically closed as they were preparing for the Norwegian chess championships but they opened especially for the guests of the cruise ship.
It enhanced the experience by sharing the space with 20 other guests.

This is for gardening nerds and gardening novices alike a treat to visit.
Mr CSW and I were very inspired and taken by the beauty but the story behind the gardens which are still owned by the same family that started it in 1965.
The dock on arrival
40 years ago Asmund Bryn bought several acres on an island 20 minute boat ride from Stavanger where they already operated a garden nursery.
Due to ill health, he thought it would be sage to live in a place with cleaner air and recuperate.
40 years later these gardens have become a destination and has hosted Norway's royal family birthday celebrations among other events.

Below is Siri, the daughter in law of Asmund and now runs the gardens with her husband.  The couple have been pivotal in making this a public garden during the summer months.
She was a stunning woman who reminded me of a more Nordic version of Robin Wright-Penn especially with her hair very much a a la House of Cards.

She hosted the tour and showed us the gardens and shared the back stories.
Interestingly enough, Asmund always wanted to be a garden designer but never had the opportunity to study it in an official capacity as he had other family obligations of running his family garden nursery business.

But forty years later, this garden is renown for its unique style that is very local to the special climate and the Caribbean gulf stream that this area benefits from.

This area was mostly rocks and not arable and the land has been cleared but the rocks that remain are account for much of the success of the gardens. 
( Please click link to see an old picture of how the land looked before.)

Not only does it lend a certain texture and balance to the topography of the land but it also retains heat from the sun so it keeps the garden beds warmer and allows the surround plants to survive at certain survival cusp of temperature.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

525 sq ft is enough as proved by decorator Max Sinsteden

Long time readers are well acquainted with my love of decor and interior design magazines and even if content or viewpoint varies and is inconsistent I still stick with most of my subscriptions.

I was very impressed with House Beautiful's July / August 2015 edition.
Not because of every house featured but the one of the titles on the cover was
"Small Spaces!"

The stand out for me in this issue was the 525 sq ft ( 48.77 sq. m ) studio flat 
in New York City whose tenant is the interior decorator 
Max Sinsteden of the interior design firm Olasky and Sinsteden.

Most apartments are completely foreign in concept or architectural style in magazines.
For me anyway...
But having lived in large cities and having lived in two studios myself - one having been in Manhattan - I really appreciated this feature.

He shows that a small space doesn't mean that you can't have a "grand" scheme.
He manages to have every element of comfortable living.

My favorite part of this flat is his sliding curtain screen and his hanging artwork that fortifies his demarcation between living and sleeping area.
I wish I thought of that when I lived in those two studios.

You can see the curtain in action in the picture below.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Journey of a Bargain Bar Cart Trolley

It seemed I was being awarded for the decision to stay put in town for the month of July.
The weather thus far has been consistently warm and sunny and it got me into the tourist spirit.

Italian Fountains in Hyde Park
Even though I love to go around town something 
I rarely do anymore is go to Portobello market on a Saturday of all days!  
It attracts so many tourists that it is hard to navigate the narrow street.
But I thought I would go to the Spanish supermarket there for some pimientos padrones which are now in season.

I walked by Bill's which is crowded all day long but there was a queue to get in.
It's good but it isn't that good!

It was so pleasant to walk by cherry trees in Notting Hill.

The Spanish supermarket is a few blocks away from Golborne Road which is the area's vintage and bric a brac market.  It used to be a proper market where you could get bargains but as the price for the chairs below demonstrates - it is no longer the case.

£370 for a pair of half chairs!
Plus I need to upholster it after you scribbled on it!
Bargain guvnah.

I love wicker.
Soane Britain does a collection of rattan furniture which I adore and this contraption of covering plastic white chairs did tempt me due to its faint semblance.
It was on sale for less than a hundred pounds but I have no valid place to put it and it was coming away at certain places which means it would unravel in a few years time.

Plus I would have to find a way to cover up the white bits.
This is why comparisons to certain brands can be a false economy.

A few months ago I went to West Elm to inspect in real life a bar cart that looked like it would go in my house.
But the proportions were for American Mcmansions rather than London's edited proportions.  The bar cart was the size of a small dining table for most Londoners!
So when I found out this 1960's bar cart was going for under 50 pounds I had to have a punt.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Necklace to Bracelet and back to Bracelet to Necklace

While I don't accessorize very much - 
I rarely wear my wedding ring - 
I do enjoy jewellery and accessories from time to time and always on others!

But most likely in the case of many, 
there are items that I enjoy having in my jewellery tray and admiring.

Chaine d'ancre silver necklace in the very small size

I also like to try on different pieces with my outfits 
which are terribly boring as
 I don't wear many prints and tend to save those for scarves.

I have this necklace which is a simple and classic design that has been around since the Greeks had used them in their motifs back in the B.C. days.
It displays classic symmetry that the ancient Greeks liked so much -
 it's an oval that is split in half and linked to symbolize eternity.

As a necklace, it is a good staple to have and can be used in daily wear or for a nice lunch date.
But for some reason I would wear it around the house but
 I could never commit to it when I actually left home.
Who can explain these odd quirks?

But like so many of us, I want to either use and cherish my items or they become clutter no matter how valued / valuable the object was.

 I love bracelets. 
While I am very simple in my manner of comportment, 
I love a bracelet stack and throw away any minimalist tendencies when it comes to bracelets.
I was playing with my necklace and double wrapped it and realized that if I got rid of a few links 
( 5 in my case ) then I could wear it as a bracelet.

So I took it to a jeweler and had them drape it around my wrist and confirm with their professional expertise that the amount of links taken out would work as a bracelet. 
This is a commitment as I won't be able to wear it as necklace with the new length but the jeweler will be able to put back the links if I choose to wear it as a necklace again.

My newly configured bracelet

In my previous post, 
I tried on a carnelian Byzantine ring in the quatrefoil/ four leave clover that went with my Alhambra bracelet also in carnelian.

I absolutely adore the quatrefoil motif as mentioned 
in the previous post and 
would collect every stone in both yellow and white gold if I could!

To satisfy my craving for an Alhambra necklace without having to actually buy one, 
I got a chain from another necklace that wasn't too long but 
long enough to turn my bracelet into a necklace.

My bracelet turned into a temporary necklace with a chain extender
As a necklace is generally seen from the front, the chain satisfies displaying the motif.

I also have a shorter chain by a couple of inches and it changes the drop of the necklace to hug the neck.  
You can purchase extenders at most jewelers and I find them so useful in changing the way you wear your items.  
It could also make a necklace become a long chain necklace and 
is a way of maximizing the jewelry you already own.

You could use them to turn necklaces into a double wrap bracelet or triple wrap even but the extender would be more noticeable on the wrist.

I hope you look through your accessories or 
take some pieces to your jeweler and 
see how you can make the most of your collection.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Round up beautiful objects seen at Masterpiece London and Alesund, Norway

Sometimes I am like the blogger version of a wedding DJ and I take requests.
Jill from Everything Just So asked me to go to Masterpiece London and I did try and take a picture of those ballerina brooches but they said pictures had to preapproved with communications so I couldn't...Sorry but I did try!

Let me start at the small city of Alesund in Norway.
I went to a small antique store that had the most astonishing and sophisticated selection of objets d'art that could parallel any major art capitol.

Look at these
guilloche ( there is an accent over the e but I am borrowing Mr CSW's PC) enamel teacups!

This Danish art deco tea set had me doing foreign exchange calculations from Kroner to sterling.
These enamel salt shakers were divine.
In certain circles, it was considered poor manners not to have several salt shakers on the dinner table and it was seen gauche to ask to pass the salt.
He had competitive prices because the same shakers but as a set of two sold for the same price as the set of 6 in London.

Objects like this is what made Tiffany a world class name and it should go back to its roots before it loses its brand credibility for good.

Faberge never hurt nobody.
If only the translucent nature of the cup could be translated properly in the picture.

Only because a dear friend was holding her masters show at Central Saint Martins did I manage to get the energy to go and see it the day after I arrived from my trip.

These ceramic lights took my interest because they were fragile yet moveable from the rubber bands.

These are my friend's water filter project and her ceramic jugs.
She has made some inserts that you can place in your own pouring and drinking vessels.
So clever.
Not that she's anti Brita but she is a true boho and has one of the most sophistsicated palates around and she wants to bring some panache and good design to water filters.
Watch this space.

There was also the usual art student stuff and believe it or not this top made out of fake finger nails was the best thing in the MA Fashion department...

I went to an auction preview to see what cheeky bids I could put in.
I didn't put it on this...
This was Eva Braun's calling card.
Yes. That one!

I didn't even other putting a bid on this set of Herend but in the end I don't have the space but it ended up going for about £300 for the lot.

I didn't get this bergere chair because I put in as always a cheeky bid.
 I had to because of the cost of upholstery in this country.
Although I do like the trim.

Paintings like this don't exist in Asia.

If you have the space you can still get bargains on big brown furniture.
This armoire had great details for half the cost of IKEA.

Went to Masterpiece today which was held in the same grounds as the Chelsea Flower show.
Can you feel the heat?
Boiling today.

It's a lovely event and like being in a museum where everything is available for purchase.
A bit of a downer for an oligarch who loves the chase.

They had these huge flower arrangements dotted around everywhere!

There were some never publicly seen pastels by Monet.

I know they are a bit old fashioned but I love a Fantin-Latour and they look good with all sorts of furniture which is handy!