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

Advertisements

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 (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….

Merci.

If you’re looking for inspiration in Paris, then Merci, on Boulevard Beaumarchais on the edge of the Marais, is always worth a visit…The brainchild of Marie-France Cohen & her husband (founders of children’s brand Bonpoint) Merci is a concept store, that since opening in 2009, has in a few short years, gained quite a reputation amongst interiors & lifestyle journalists and bloggers. And with good reason!Set in an old factory, set back from the main road (sorry Boulevard!) Merci has 15,000 sq ft of the very best in contemporary furniture, lighting & accessories, mixed with exquisite vintage & antique pieces…There is also a whole floor of exclusive designer clothing and accessories, with many pieces designed exclusively for Merci, by Stella McCartney, Paul Smith and Isabel Marant – to name a few. There is also a library/café where you can slow down and maybe browse or buy the books while you sip your green tea! It’s also worth mentioning that Merci donates all it’s profits to Women’s foundations in Madagascar. But the thing that stands Merci apart, is the innovative visual merchandising and displays that are implemented throughout the store… That and the little vintage Red Fiat 500 Cinquecento that stands in the courtyard ready to greet you as you enter….Merci, indeed.

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…….

Off to Paris.

So, it’s that time of year again, when we’re off and about, here there and everywhere buying new stock for the season ahead. (Sorry, but Christmas starts early for us!!)

The highlight of the buying season for us is always our trip to the trade show in Paris. We usually have 3 days at the show and a day to soak up Paris; the sights, the sounds, the food, the wine, the architecture…..pretty much everything really. For inspiration, you can’t beat it!
Usually, the way we work when we’re there is, we cherry-pick from our usual suppliers and mix it up with (hopefully) one or two new suppliers. And take on board some display/styling ideas from some of the many wonderful stores/boutiques in Paris itself. The stock we’ve ordered starts trickling through from end of September pretty much all the way up to December. Here’s a few pics to set the tone………..