Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Joyful Things, from New Hotels to Heavenly Flower Farms

Those who follow me on Instagram -- -- will know I'm flying a little under the radar at the moment. It's a combination of things, but I won't confuse this post with details. Instead, I want to kick the weekend off with some joyous stuff. So here's a high toast to the small delights of life, from hotels to heavenly flower gardens. 

I hope you're all happy and in high spirits, wherever you may be this week. 

The beautiful pix above are from my Instagram feed. Pictured (left) the Wallace Collection, via Paul_J_Little's feed, and (right) Dolce and Gabbana's new shoes, via Kirstie Clements. 
More IG gorgeousness below.


Everyone I know is watching the latest Netflix hit GRACE AND FRANKIE? (TRAILER HERE)  Have you seen it yet? It's brilliantly witty, well-produced, beautifully filmed and with so much property porn you'll be wanting a beach house with a blue kitchen before the last credits have closed.

Imagine Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin living in a coastal cottage that looks like a Verandah magazine spread, spouting Norah Ephron-esque bon mots (Norah would have loved it), wearing cool clothes, and managing even more enviable careers (Lily is a painting teacher; Jane owns a Estee Lauder-style beauty company). Then toss in an unusual plot, which, thankfully, becomes a beautiful and moving story by the end, and you have this gorgeous, glamorous, shimmering new show. It's one of the best series to screen this year.

Now Grace and Frankie is really a show for women and to make us happy there's a string of oh-my men, including a hot ex-prisoner that Jane Fonda has 'almost-sex' with on the kitchen bench, pearl earrings and all. But while Janey gets the hot pecs, it's Lily who has the best lines -- and her face just radiates on camera. I loved her. (I binged-watched the entire first series last week. Although I wished she followed through with that lovely man who owned the vegetable patch.) The beach house is pure property porn. Hooked on Houses blog has a great analysis of the film set here -- LINK 

All the cast have just signed for a second season. Hallelujah, I say. Hall-e-lujah.


My favourite -- FAVOURITE -- thing this year has been the stupendously, tear-wrackingly beautiful film Far from the Madding Crowd, and the hauntingly lovely places it was filmed, historic Mapperton (worth seeing itself) and the wild Dorset coast. Some critics have sneered at Carey Mulligan's performance (I loved it and actually preferred it over The Great Gatsby; she seems more plausible as Bathsheba than Daisy), while others felt that Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays the sexy shepherd Gabriel Oak, was simply a Hardyesque version of Magic Mike. Ignore these sad people. Madding is deeply moving. As an animal lover, I even cried at the part where the sheep go over the cliff. (Sorry, spoiler.) 

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this film though is the costume design, which should be nominated for an Oscar. What's interesting is that instead of using dull browns and greys, as some period films do, the designers went for modern hues of denim blue and salvia mauve. You see, the film's researchers discovered that clothes from the time Hardy set the novel (1874) were actually surprisingly bright -- such as these eye-catchingly blue hues and striking violets --and as a consequence, created a very 'blue' costume palette. I loved the fact that they used an original French gardening smock on Gabriel Oak, which added a lot of authenticity.

There's a lovely featurette that takes an in-depth look at the film's costume here -- LINK

Arguably the best performance comes from Michael Sheen who plays William Boldwood (he played Tony Blair in the Helen Mirren film The Queen). If your heart doesn't break at the part where he shoots Bathsheba's husband (out of love for her), and realises he will no doubt hang for it, you are a hard person, indeed. (Oh, spoiler again!) 

Find a cinema and envelope yourself in one of the most beautiful period dramas this year.


Ben Pentreath, Justine Picardie, Paris Scribe, The Land Gardeners, Pretty in London, the whimsically named Cup of Meat ... IG has some of the most inspirational images on the Internet. Here are a few of my favourite pix from recent weeks.

A Cup of Meat's Instagram feed.
Curious name. Utterly sublime images.

The French Riviera by Sir John Lavery (left), via Howard Slatkin's IG feed, 
and Map of The Open Country of a Woman's Heart published by D.W. Kellogg 1833-1842 (right), via Cup of Meat.

The King's Potager at Versailles (left)(artist unknown), via Susan Alicias, 
and Jean-Jacques Lequeu (right), via Cup of Meat's IG feed.

Rattan sunlounger by Nicholas Haslam (left)
and the Eastern and Oriental Hotel in Georgetown, Penang (right) via Cup of Meat


Did you see the recent New York Times article on the idyllic, elysian, utterly enviable World's End flower farm in upstate New York? LINK HERE Many of us would love to pull up our lives and go live on a flower farm, and this one is a dream-in-a-box kinda place, complete with distressed layers of antique wallpaper and fields of dahlias. You can almost smell the hyacinths.

Owned by Sarah Ryhanen and Eric Famisan of the legendary Saipua flower shop in Brooklyn (their floristry style is akin to a Dutch master’s still life), the farm is a place for them to plant unusual flowers (black dahlias; Hello Darkness irises) for their equally bohemian arrangements.

There's a video of the farm on the NY Times page too. Watch out, you'll swoon. (See link above.)


One of the best yet. Just look at these spreads.


Kate Spade (the woman, not the brand) is returning to fashion after eight years away. Launching an accessories collection that's due out for holiday, she has began showing retailers previews but is yet to announce a name. (The designer is unable to use her own name due to legal restrictions following the sale of her brand.


Personally, I can't understand why the glossy mags haven't yet covered this newbie? Perhaps a feature is on its way? In any case, get there before the crowds do. The Cotton House in Barcelona is set to be the hot new hideaway.

Occupying a former textile headquarters (hence the name), this glorious hotel has been sympathetically restored to take advantage of the elegant proportions and rich decorative details. The building’s neoclassical character is evident at every turn: the public spaces are jaw-droppingly in their loveliness. Don't miss the library-lounge and the bar-restaurant Batuar. If you have the money, book the first-floor Ottoman and Damask Suites overlooking Gran Vía.

I'm off to plan our trip to New York and New Orleans in September.
Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...