Paris in the Snow

paris title

January always lulls us into a false sense of security. We always think that it will be a month of catching up and getting back on track, after the madness of the Christmas season! For us, most of January is taken up with buying trips, as this is the time of year when most of the trade shows are on. So, as well as shows in London, there are trips to Paris, New York……and Birmingham. Guess which one we look forward to least! Anyway, at the end of January we had the first of our bi-annual trips to Paris…from the plane

To be honest we were lucky to get there, as there had been heavy snow fall in Paris – and heavy snow was forecast for when we flew. Luckily we flew from Heathrow just before the snow hit London, and we landed in Paris just after the snow had fallen (heavily).

The view from our hotel (Concorde La Fayette)…from the hotelWell, due to the weather, our usual day for trawling round flea markets was derailed slightly, so we headed to the Musee d’Orsay for a day of culture and sophistication!chairs

Serendipity has always been a favourite word of ours, and this day was, well, serendipitous.                                                                                                                  Jardin Des Tuileries, towards the Ferris Wheel….ferris wheel

The walk from the ‘Tuileries’ metro station – from the Rue de Rivoli, across the Jardin Des Tuileries, over the river to the Musee d’Orsay, was breathtaking to say the least. Due to the heavy snow fall that had covered Paris that night, the whole area including all of the buildings of the Louvre was just so beautiful.

Looking towards The Louvre……winter scene2winter scene 1

Looking towards the Musee d’Orsay, across the Seine….winter scene4

They say that Paris is the City of light – well the light that day was truly something. It gave the whole city a magical and ethereal feel. A dream for photographers, amateur or professional!snowmenjoggerstatues

One of the two famous clocks on the facade of the Musee d’Orsay…..paris orleans

And this is the view from the inside. After waiting ages for the area in front of the clock to clear of people, when i finally got a picture of it without anybody in front of it, i realised you get a much better sense of proportion when there are people in view…..clockj

Looking from the inside of the museum back over the river to the north side…..d orcy

Thanks Paris, for the snow and some wonderful photo opportunities.merci

Cotswolds, Pt.1

As a reward to ourselves for all the work we put into launching our new website, we took a few days off last week, and headed off for a few days, in and around the Cotswolds.  We stayed two nights at the wonderful Cowley Manor, a contemporary country house, boutique hotel & spa in….well, Cowley!Just outside Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, Cowley Manor has been a Hotel & Spa since 2002 and has been recognised as pioneering a new wave of country house hotels.On arrival, the first thing that struck us about Cowley Manor (apart from the obvious beauty of the building itself) is the view from inside the hotel, looking out onto the lakes and lawns. Breath-taking…The interior is cool & contemporary with an abundance of modern artwork and sculpture throughout the beautiful old building and its grounds.Old & New has always been at the core of everything we do, so we weren’t disappointed.The staff are friendly and the service is what you would expect of a hotel of this calibre – top notch! They even had a selection of multicoloured Hunter Wellies to borrow….. For us though, the jewel in Cowley’s crown, is the 55 acres of grounds. Its famous gardens include, parklands, woods & meadows, as well as a series of lakes and Victorian cascades…Rain or shine (and we had both) the grounds are truly beautiful. As we explored the gardens and land surrounding Cowley Manor, it was great fun discovering the many pieces of sculpture by post-graduate students from the Royal College of Art….…made all the more striking, seeing modern art & sculpture set in the traditional setting of an English landscaped garden.By the way, local history states that Lewis Carroll regularly visited Cowley village. During his stays, it is said, he drew inspiration for his best known book ‘Alice in Wonderland’, from Cowley Manor and it’s grounds. Croquet anyone?

Four days in Florence (Pt.1)

At the beginning of May we managed to get away for a long weekend. So we headed to the beautiful Tuscan city of Florence, (Firenze).

Over the years, so many people have told us that we would love it.
Well they weren’t wrong.
We were also told it never rains in Florence. That is untrue. When we arrived on the Saturday it was chucking it down. Really, really chucking it down.
It didn’t bode well for the trip, but luckily the next few days were… well, perfect really. Warm and sunny, but not too hot.
Anyway, to sum up Florence in a few words:  Architecture, culture, wine, style, great coffee, friendly waiters (on the whole), old narrow streets, museums, old shop/restaurant signage, historic pharmacies, wonderful handmade paper/stationery shops, and oh yeah, great front doors!
That last one’s a bit unusual i know but go with it.
Anyway,we’ll let the photos do (most) of the talking…
The fabulous Riva lofts, where we stayed. Lovely staff and free bikes to borrow!
Quite a treat………
Wonderful old Kodak branded gift shop…..
Abandoned cinema……….
We were really struck by the cool old signage everywhere in Florence…..
The shutters and aged patina of the walls……
Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella, absolutely stunning skin care & toiletries packaging…
We became a little obsessed with apartment block entrances and antique brass doorknobs. I know. A bit odd…..
Stand alone photo booth…..
View from up at the Giardino Della Rose – is simply stunning. Bit of a walk though!…….
 Old entrance door buzzers are everywhere……
Most wonderful artists supply store ‘Zecchi’. Has been there for years and has supplied some of the old masters over the years…….

Brick Lane, London

Every now and again on a Sunday, for inspiration, we go up to the Brick Lane area of East London. Our usual route starts off at Columbia Rd flower market, for coffee and horticultural bargains, then down to Cheshire Street (via many quirky independent little shops) and onto the wonderful melting pot that is Brick Lane. Then, after taking in the beautiful old London architecture on the way, it’s a little further and we arrive at Old Spitalfields market. Here you’ll find pretty much any kind of cuisine, from anywhere in the world at one of the many food stalls. Really reasonable prices too. In the old market itself there are literally hundreds of stalls/shops selling anything from jewellery to clothes to vintage industrial furniture. Many of the stall holders are designer/makers on the first rungs of the ladder, so you don’t have to look too hard to find some original pieces. Anyway, during the day we’re always looking for the not so obvious photo opportunities. Here’s a few we took…..

James Brown

We don’t tend to sell much art.  Not because we don’t want to, we’ve tried in the past, but nothing has really worked in the context of our shops. There has been work we have liked but it’s been more suited to a gallery type environment. Then we discovered James Brown….We’ve been selling James Brown’s wonderful  screen-prints for a while now. We love his use of bold graphic designs, coupled with vintage styling. Right up our street!

Here’s a bit about him (taken from his website)………..

“James Brown is an illustrator and printmaker, living and working in London. Trained as a textile and surface print designer, James worked in the clothing industry for 10 years producing print designs for numerous fashion brands from Levis to Louis Vuitton. James has been commissioned to produce work by publishing houses, magazines and newspapers and advertising and design agencies. Recent clients include GQ,  Random House, The Guardian and The Poetry Society. Alongside his commercial practice (www.generalpattern.net)  James produces limited edition screen prints and linocuts. James’ prints reflects his interest in the printed and typographic ephemera of  pop culture. The traditional processes that go into the production of James’ prints are very important.”

We stock a selection of James’ work. They range in price from £40 – £130, (framed in classic black frames) some are Limited Editions.

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