Beside the Seaside

Typography & Signage in Hastings and Rye

At the end of last year, we took a little trip to the seaside, for a final little break before the Christmas season started in earnest……The thing that became apparent on our return, was the large amount of photos we’d taken of old handwritten/handmade signs and signage: Shop signs, house names, road names, fishing boat numbers and fish and chip shop signs…..seaside

RYE, East Sussex. 

We actually spent a weekend in the seaside towns of Hastings and the fishing port of Rye a few miles along the southern English coast. We’ve been to Rye a few times over the years, and it never fails to charm us, with its picturesque old town and cobbled lanes of cottages and houses…mermaid street 2

There’s an abundance of antique shops and emporiums, small boutiques – and a good choice of restaurants and coffee shops (and traditional tea shops- it is a very English town after all) There’s also a fantastic old Vinyl record store; Grammar School Records – situated in an old Grammar school (funnily enough) It’s always worth a visit, if you like a long player!

We found there are a lot of quirky houses in Rye if you keep your eyes open…2 front doorsPatriotic too…..fish and shipsprinters

Lovely little boutique – Violetta – closed unfortunately!violetta

A very neat and tidy looking homewares and ironmongers….Crockery

Philosophical messages atop the buildings! You just have to look up……DSCN1895

HASTINGS, East Sussex

Hastings is a contrasting town of two halves. Having never been before, we were surprised at the difference between the Old town and the ‘New’ town. The lovely Old town to the west of the town, has a wonderful mix of independent shops, pubs and restaurants, including many vintage/antique and lifestyle shops. We particularly liked the fantastic Myerscough & Mairs antiques and vintage shop, on the old high street. Lovely guy and great pieces. The ‘New’ town to the east, appears to consist of a mix of once beautiful old Victorian buildings, that have seemingly been long neglected (the magnificent old Palace Court Hotel on the seafront in particular) and a sprawling, shabby looking, commercial shopping centre. And dodgy looking guest houses…B&B

….we liked the front door of this B&B – but didn’t fancy staying there! And the ‘Antiques sign was clearly more interesting than the shop – it had closed down.antiques

Always handy to have a shop that serves soup, while choosing your wedding cakes – don’t you think?……DSCN1607

light steps

Alastair Hendy’s Homestore on the High Street is enough on it’s own, to warrant a visit to Hastings. We had a delicious, freshly caught sea food lunch here too….home store

The Haunted Waterloo Passage – off the old high street…waerloo

Who wouldn’t want to live at No.1 Pleasant row?pleasant rowHand painted signwriting….right Like the idea of a rock shop…rock shop

There are many more photo opportunities to be had down on the seafront. Hastings is still home to Europe’s largest beach based fishing fleet and you will find many old and abandoned fishing boats, amongst the working boats and fishmongers, selling their freshly caught produce….fresh fish Look out for the seagulls though…..fishing boat

By the way, we stayed at the George Hotel in Rye, on the high street. Fantastic, stylishly designed hotel, with great rooms and a cosy bar (with roaring log fire) and a great restaurant! Worth a stay….DSCN1863

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Quintessance, Paris.

While on our last buying trip to Paris in September, we stumbled upon the most intriguing and inspiring of places….. With no name on the outside, no business cards, no obvious signs of staff working there, we left somewhat mystified about where and what exactly we had just visited. All we knew was that it was quite breathtaking. And very, very inspiring….Only after returning home and looking up the address did we discover that it is called QUINTESSENCE…..Essentially it is a 650 square meters concept store created by Ludovic Messager, Interior designer and Antiques dealer. From what we can gather, this gallery style environment is used mainly as a showcase for the eclectic display, visual merchanding and interiors style of it’s creator.Some of the worlds most innovative and respected retailers and designers have come to this ‘house of curiosities’ to commission interiors projects. ABC New York, Anthropologie, Ralph Lauren, John Varvatos to name a few.You have to be careful in Paris when taking pictures in shops or boutiques. A lot of the owners/proprietors don’t like it at all. But they were kind enough to let us take pictures, in fact we got the nod from the man himself, Monsieur Messager. This is just a selection….

Bowerbird by Sibella Court

We’ve been fans of Sibella Court for a few years now, and have stocked, sold and read, all of her books since ‘ETCETERA’  was published a few years ago. They are always inspiring. Bowerbird is her latest and is quite wonderful…A Bowerbird is a bird native to Australia & New Guinea. The beautiful male birds, build the most extraordinary nests to attract their mates. They then spend hours collecting & placing a variety of brightly coloured objects they have found at the entrance to the nest. These objects, may include hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, berries, and even discarded plastic items, coins, nails, rifle shells, or pieces of glass. Collectors and decorators of the bird world! And the inspiration for this book….Here’s some sample pages…..

Put it on your wish list and be inspired. Happy Reading!

Cotswolds (in a day) Pt.2

On the way back from our trip to Cowley Manor, a few weeks ago, we had a quick whistle-stop tour through the Cotswolds. We had never really been to this part of England before, so we thought seeing as we were down there anyway, it would be rude not to explore, at least a little!First stop on the way to Oxford, (where we were staying for that night) was Stow on the Wold, a pretty market town that centres around the market square at the top of the hill. As i’m sure most of the thousands of tourists that visit Stow every year would agree, there are plenty of photo opportunities…

After a couple of hours in Stow, we headed off to Burford, another popular destination in the Cotswolds. Again, a beautiful town with the typical Cotswold stone built buildings and quaint English charm….

Although the whole town is lovely, particularly worth a stroll down is ‘Sheep Street’ off the main high street. This is where we took the majority of the photos. A street with as many beautiful cottages and houses would be hard to find…

In 2009, Burford was ranked sixth in Forbes Magazine‘s list of “Europe’s Most Idyllic Places To Live”. Not hard to see why….

Paris – New York (Pt2)

It’s gotta be said, normally when we visit Nyc, one of the down sides is, it’s usually freezing. I mean really freezing. However for this trip, the weather couldn’t have been better.  Blue skies, bright sunshine and really mild temperatures. Like spring time in England. Perfect really. Little did we know however, what was waiting for us when we got back….. Anyway, we kind of thought after Paris it would be hard to beat, but no, it was as good. Better in many ways. The reasons being in no particular order:  (1) The hotel was fantastic; Soho Trump, a new hotel that borders Soho, West Village & Tribeca. It made getting around to the parts of the city that we love, easy. (2) The weather, the light was amazing for taking photos. (3) The flea market finds we bought and filled our suitcases with. (4) The food/new restaurants. If you’re ever anywhere near The Ace Hotel, stop by The Breslin and have lamb burgers. Awesome. Very cool place indeed.(5) Lastly, the trade show was fantastic too. We weren’t expecting to buy much, but we found such great stuff this time we couldn’t help ourselves! We’ll let you know more about that over the next few months. Meanwhile here’s some snaps we took…….

The hotel…

The view from the hotel….

Flea markets…

Walking back from the Javitz centre…..

View from inside ‘Restoration Hardware’….. Possibly my favourite store in NY.

‘ABC’ Always worth a visit when in NY….

Nolita….

Meatpacking district (Chelsea)…

Midtown….

9/11 Memorial. Breathtaking…….

Radio City Music Hall. Can’t walk past without taking at least a dozen photos…..

Cab ride back to JFK….

We’ll be posting more photos from these trips on our tumblr pages over the next few weeks.

Thank You

These last couple of months have turned out to be possibly our busiest & best Christmas shopping season ever! Hard to believe, in these hard economic times!

We have had such a great reaction and so many lovely comments over the last few weeks about what we’ve done with the shops. We are so grateful to you all!
It seems only fitting, that the last words this year should go to our small team of folks who have been quite wonderful these last few months. So to Deb M, Rebecca, Susan and Mr Alex Foley (the other Al!) Thanks for keeping us going…..We salute you.
See you in the New Year.
Al & Deb x
*By the way, we’ll be closed over the Christmas break until 10am, Wednesday 4th January 2012

Shop re-openings, (update)

Just to let you know, things are taking a little longer than we anticipated, with the great attic ‘shop swaps’……

We will now be reopening the gift/accessories shop on Friday 28th October and the furniture shop will reopen on Saturday 29th.

Apologies to anyone making a special visit. Bear with us, it’ll be worth the wait!!

See you soon.

 

 

(Not so) Muliti-Coloured Swap Shop

Just to give you a heads up on what’s going on at the moment. We are making some exciting changes to our shops in Hampton Hill.

We’ve decided to ‘swap shops’. This Sunday (22nd Oct) – Tuesday, the furniture shop (38 High Street) will be moved to the gifts & accessories shop (34-36 High Street) and the gifts & accessories shop will then reside in the furniture shop premises.

 Here’s why……

  Due to increasing trade in the gifts & accessories side of our business, there is a strong need for more space. There will be more room to create better displays/visuals and we can merchandise the stock in such a way that products will have their own space. It will hopefully be a far more relaxed environment as well, so we can provide a better shopping experience with more room to offer the customer, services such as gift wrapping etc.

 Although the open space of the current furniture shop is fantastic, we have always felt that the original site (34-36) worked better. The layout of the original shop is far better suited to furniture.  It is made up of individual, smaller rooms, which will enable us to create more inspiring rooms and interiors collections. Hopefully it will be easier for customers to imagine the furniture in their own homes. We’ll be able to group together home office, living and kitchen/dining in a far more coherent way, giving each area more clarity.

 So that’s the plan. As I said we’ll be closed this Sunday (as usual), but we’ll also be closed this Monday, Tuesday and maybe Wednesday. Re-opening on Thursday 27th October. Check back to this blog on Tuesday, for updates. We’ll let you know the definite re-opening day.

 By the way, we’ll also be opening on Sunday, from November 6th, until Christmas, 12 – 4pm