A Dutch Adventure

 

 

The Woodfashioner and I armed with the exciting news that we have a baby on the way, decided we’d set off on a mini break to Holland whilst still being blissfully unaware of the joys we have in store when travelling with a little one in tow.

Living in Harwich has many perks one major one being that we are less than 10 minutes drive from the ferry to The Hook Of Holland which is where our mini adventure started.

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We set off on a Sunday night, and with a lovely cabin complete with sea views we had blissful night sleep, arriving in Holland early the next morning to begin our holiday. Not before admiring the awesome cargo ships on the way out of Harwich though, I always love watching them arriving into Harwich so it was such a treat to be up close to them, wondering what each container is filled with and what journey of their own they have endured.

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We decided after many recommendations to stay in Utrecht for our little visit and I am so pleased we did. Utrecht is an enchanting city with canal lined, cobbled streets, beautiful architecture and a buzzing atmosphere whilst at the same time being laid back and relaxed. We stayed in a lovely Air bnb and were welcomed by a little present for the baby  from our thoughtful host. Utrecht is the home of Miffy a small female rabbit in  picture books drawn and written by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. The original Dutch name, Nijntje, is a shortening of the diminutive konijntje, “little rabbit”, we were lucky enough to receive a little Miffy mug for the baby, their first present.

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Miffy spotted whilst exploring the city

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Here they stand together,

On a pedestal of grit

Dick Bruna and Miffy

A father and his kit

We spent the next few days exploring Utrecht, it’s a wonderful city to just amble around, venturing down the pretty side streets and taking in the ambience. Each corner turned throws up another picturesque canal view or stylish home. I was really taken with all the beautiful houses and the stylish Dutch interiors, I couldn’t help but nosily peer in through the windows making mental notes of their clever interior design ideas, all for inspiration for our work in progress at home.

Some typical Utrecht canal views, so pretty!

IMG_8289Beautiful Utrecht homes, love the windows and the mustard frontage

I loved this use of dried flowers in the windows, so simple yet effective.

As I am sure you are well aware the Dutch go everywhere on their bikes and Utrecht was no exception there were beautiful Dutch bikes everywhere, such a lovely way to get around.

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Bikes galore! All cyclists were very relaxed and patient though with us dithering tourists.

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Loved these beautiful old Dutch shutters

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A beautiful cobbled Utrecht street

Utrecht is also the home of the Rietveld Schroder house. Designed in 1924 by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964), the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht is a UNESCO World Heritage site, considered the architectural masterpiece of modern art movement De Stijl. 2017 marks the hundred anniversary of De Stijl and dotted throughout Utrecht are giant Schroder chairs marking the celebrations. De Stijl, Dutch for ‘The Style’ also known as neoplasticism was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 in Leiden. Proponents of De Stijl advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; they simplified visual compositions to vertical and horizontal, using only black, white and primary colours. This was clearly evident in the famous Schroder chair…..

Just resting the pegs after a long day exploring

The Dutch also love their beer, so it was a must to visit one of the atmospheric bars in Utrecht and sample some of the delights, obviously not for me with baby on the way, but The Woodfashioner made sure to sample my share too. Just look at the extensive list on offer, what a choice!

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The whole time you had the sense you were being watched over…..

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Utrecht is perfectly located geographically with easy access to the rest of Holland, only half an hour on the train to Amsterdam we thought it would be rude not to go for the day. It was my first visit to Amsterdam and to me it felt like Utrecht’s older and bigger sister, equally beautiful but on a much larger scale and much busier with slightly less patient cyclists. It was pouring with rain on arrival into Amsterdam so we made a bee line for the Van Gough museum. Sadly though the queue was too daunting for us, two hours waiting in the pouring rain did not appeal so instead we ventured into a Banksy and Dali exhibition we had spotted on route. It was really interesting and dry and to our delight by the time we ventured outside again the sun was back out.  We spent a  lazy afternoon ambling along the beautiful canal lined streets, stopping for regular food, drink and of course ice cream treats along the way.

 Garden inspiration

Of course no trip is complete without a bit of vintage shopping, so I was thrilled when we stumbled across this beautifully ramshackled, eclectic vintage shop, stacked floor to ceiling with vintage wares. There were items buried from years back, who knows what treasures were left undiscovered in there….

Then we were greeted by this trusty vintage steed outside…..

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Armed with a cone of chips each we ventured back on the train to lovely Utrecht with weary legs.

On our way back to the apartment from the station in Utrecht I spotted this lovely old windmill nestled amongst suburban life…

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For me no holiday is complete without a bit of open water swimming, after a bit of research I was delighted to learn that just a 20 minute drive from Utrecht was the lovely area of Loosdrecht, a small village on beautiful lakes. We ventured up there for the day. It was stunning,  beautifully calm, and perfect for the essential holiday open water swim….

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 Some curious ducks even made friends with us..

 That completes our Dutch adventure, apart from the picturesque arrival back into Harwich, I was even lucky enough to be welcomed back in with my name sake…

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Old Harwich and if you look close enough you might even see our welcome party on the pier.

Can’t wait for our next adventure!

Mid Century Wares And A Mid Century Affair.

Yesterday morning was spent on a sunny stock hunt in the build up to our North London furniture flea this coming weekend in the beautiful Hornsey town hall. We will be there Sunday morning from 10.30 am until 4.30pm. Run by Judy’s Affordable Vintage, it should definitely go down on the list of things to do this weekend. The markets are always awash with stylish Mid Century affordable wares and this one has the bonus of being in the splendid Hornsey Town Hall which is worth a visit in itself especially as it’s not very often you get to venture into this space, it is normally closed to the public and will be undergoing refurbishment work in the very near future so will soon be out of bounds for the foreseeable future so is well worth a visit while you still can. Here is a sneak peak at the inside and its beautiful original features, the perfect backdrop for all our Mid Century wares….

hornsey-town-hall[1] Here is a sneak peak at some of the things that will be coming along with me at the weekend, along with much more.

This stylish Danish drinks trolley will be putting in an appearance, such a lovely versatile piece of furniture, easy to move around and doesn’t take up much space, I love the clean lines and Mid Century feel. The lovely green glass jar will also be coming along, these always look lovely filled with bunches of flowers or are great to create your own terrarium,  perfect if you don’t have access to any outdoor space, always very therapeutic to surround yourself with a bit of greenery.

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We always love a good Anglepoise lamp so will be taking along this stylish white one on Sunday, such classic pieces, they never date and are so versatile in any setting….

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When in Hornsey it would be rude not to take along a piece of Hornsea Pottery (of course spelt differently and originating in Yorkshire not in Hornsey in North London, but sounds the same), we have just the thing with this stylish seventies salt and pepper set….

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Also pictured above a Danish Mid Century toast rack, this would definitely spruce up any breakfast table.

Hope you can make it down to see us and look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible on Sunday.

Just to sign off with a few ideas of how a drinks trolley can be used in more ways

other than just its intended purpose…

drinks trolley with record player

trolley with cactus

Have a great week and hope to see you Sunday.

Put A Spring In Your Step With A Spring Frittata Recipe

Asparagus is in ample supply at the moment which is splendid as it’s so delicious! Inspired by this joyous arrival of asparagus and the need to use up some eggs we were kindly given I have come up with the … Continue reading

A Long Lost Time Influences Our Designs Today.

I have always been hugely interested and inspired by studio pottery, the likes of Lucie Rie and Hans Coper. This interest has developed with a love of Scandinavian ceramics and textile design particularly those influential in the Mid-century  Modern period. As a vintage dealer I am always … Continue reading

An Edible Bloom

I have just clambered out of the pile of courgettes our garden has produced, it’s amazing there are more and more everyday, it’s all very exciting! I especially love the vibrant orangy, yellow flowers, they are quite striking! and of course edible, which is wonderful news, living on a shoe string budget at the moment makes any food we can grow ourselves very pleasing and so very helpful.

After reading up on some delicious sounding recipes for some inspiration on how to make a scrummy dinner out of these fabulous blooms, I came up with the following, adapting some of the recipes slightly to fit what we had in the fridge:

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Makes a great starter or lovely as an accompaniment to fish, serves 2:

Ingredients:

6 to 8 courgette flowers (depends how hungry you are, in our house we tend to always eat lots!)

4 0z soft Goats cheese

Good handful of a mixture of fresh herbs (depending on what you have, but the following are great, basil, mint, oregano, thyme or parsley)

1 egg

100g plain flour

Salt and pepper

5 tbsp Olive oil (you may need more, this is for frying, if the frying pan becomes dry just add more oil)

Method:

  1. Pick your selection of flowers, then just open them up gently and remove the stamen and any rogue bug that might be hiding in there.
  2. Chop up your selection of herbs nice and finely and then in a bowl mash up the cheese and mix in the herbs, so you have a paste.
  3. Then gently open up the flowers and fill each one with the cheese mixture then just twist the top of them closed.
  4. In a separate bowl crack in the egg and whisk up, then stir in the flour and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Dip each flower into the egg and flour mixture and then heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.
  6. Once the oil is piping hot, just throw in your flowers and keep turning them over coating them in the olive oil and until each side is a golden brown and lovely and crispy. Then dig in whilst still nice and warm.

I hope you get a chance to try this out and hope you enjoy it, bon appetit!

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Blooms, Stripes And A Harvest – The World Of The London Escape Artist

Summer is here, although that is a dubious concept with all the April type showers we are having, it can be very confusing when you go out in shorts in the morning to bright sunshine and two hours later you are desperately trying to find shelter from a torrential down pour, I can’t say I am enjoying the unpredictability, but I can say our new garden is enjoying every minute, and has come on a storm.

When we left London to move to Harwich I was determined to get stuck into the garden and try to grow some of our own food to help with our cost of living abit. So one of the first things I started to do when we moved in, in March was to start sussing out what seeds I could set about planting. We are abit limited on space so I decided to go for a select few fruit and vegetables for this year to see how we get on. Broad beans, carrots, courgettes, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries and a nice selection of herbs made the list.

A few were hardy enough to plant straight into the ground – so the broad beans and carrots went straight into the soil in the garden in late March, whilst the courgettes and tomatoes were planted up in the sheds to keep warm until some warmer weather ensued. I waited with baited breath, checking every day in the hope of a sign of a youthful shoot, it took a few weeks when finally there were signs of life as excitingly the seeds started sprouting and our vegetable garden dream was beginning to become a reality.

A Broad bean sprouting…..

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Once the tomatoes and courgettes were of a fairly substantial size and able to hopefully withstand any bouts of cold or slug and snail attacks (seaweed by the way is a great way to keep away slugs and snails, just put it around the base of the plant as in the above picture) I put these outside in their designated spots. They are coming on a storm and we have had our first few harvests of lettuce, courgettes and broad beans, a joyous moment indeed and it’s great thinking up recipes to make the most of all this fresh veg.

Courgette flowers in full bloom…..

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Lettuce and broad beans in all their glory…

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Our first harvest of broad beans and courgettes, love the colours….

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A Spanish inspired tomato salad with fresh oregano and thyme from the garden…..

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Oodles of oregano and our thyme in full bloom….for all time…

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And a fresh salad with our delicious fresh lettuce from the garden…..

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Strawberries making an appearance just in time for Wimbledon….

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I also decided we needed to introduce some splashes of colour into the garden with some blooms and some stripes. Some of my favourite flowers are poppies and sweet peas so I planted handfuls of seeds and waited excitedly for them to start to bloom; and was over the moon when they all started to come out….

Poppies in bloom…..

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Sweet peas in bloom….

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A bouquet of blooms…..

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Inspired by the beach huts on our nearby beach I thought it only fair to give our little sheds a bit of a revamp, armed with a paint brush they were adorned with green and white stripes. Much to The Woodfashioner’s amusement I think I actually covered myself in more of the paint.

Shed transformation…..

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Here they are with their stripes…

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I am still waiting on our garlic and carrots to ripen ready for harvest, exciting times still ahead. I have many more ideas for next year and am so looking forward to coming up with some new recipes to try out our fresh vegetables and fruit which I will be sure to share with you. But for now, with all this rain there is some weeding to do, so bye for now and see you all again soon….. have a great weekend!