Gosh, I’ve been really out of the blogging game lately. I had a bit of drama right after my last post, when I was trying to do some routine tidying up of my webspace and ended up corrupting the database and temporarily losing all of my posts from the last two years (your timely reminder to BACK UP REGULARLY).
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Avert your eyes now if a bit of tropical sun is too painful to comprehend at this point of winter! Last week we scooted back out to Barbados for a little escape from January blues. (In case you’re wondering, the villa is in my mum’s side of the family so we’re lucky enough to get free use of it every so often.) I posted a lot about Barbados two years ago when we last went, so I’ll keep it short this time! Mainly because we actually did do less as well – having visited before it was good to not feel pressured into dashing around seeing all there was to offer on the island. We hit a couple of favourite places from last time and a few new things, but also had a lot of down-time just relaxing at the beach or pool.
1. These surreal, 80s-inspired ‘motivational’ posters are brilliant, and you can buy them for your office walls here.
2. This Nessie ladle, having a whale of a time cruising round in your soup, is amazing. By Ototo.
3. Love The Smiths, love Peanuts, so this mashup gives me happy feels.
4. I don’t really follow fashion except to look for sewing ideas, but Valentino are killing it lately both in mens and womenswear. Gimme all the constellation-print stuff please.
5. This collection of Alexander Girard-designed fabrics is a riot of cheery colour.
6. I’ve been researching art as we want to upgrade some of our walls from a mishmash of street art and odd ephemera to something a bit more grown-up. This Whistler is just a bit out of budget but ever so beautiful. I’m using Artsy and saving ideas over here.
For me, one thing that’s up there amongst the suckiest things about winter is the lack of tomatoes that actually taste of anything. The only way I’ve found to coax some flavour out of them is to smother them in salt and olive oil and roast them long and slow in the oven. Then they’ll reluctantly relinquish some sweet concentrated flavour, along with delicious umami-rich cooking juices to boot.
Time for my yearly wrap-up of photos, as I do every year (previous years here). This year has basically been brilliant for one main reason: TRAVEL. I’ve been extremely fortunate to visit Israel, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico and Paris – four new countries and four continents in a year is not bad going at all. Otherwise, 2014 has been an improvement on 2013 generally. Yoni has had the all-clear from the vet, there have been far fewer family/life dramas and work has been steady and fulfilling for the most part. 2015 is promising to kick off well too, with some fun work lined up, trips to Berlin and Barbados in the calendar, and my 30th birthday – and that’s just in January! Anyway, here’s the year that was…
OK, it’s not Friday, but just squeezing in a little post of prettiness before checking out for Christmas. Have a good one, everyone!
1. Artemis’s words on winter, nature, and being a good person without religion really resonated with me.
2. It’s a bit late for Christmas gifts, but keep this in the bag for another time. Yawn sent me a set of their luxury pyjamas and they’re absolutely lush for these cold nights. Plus they come in cat print! Get ’em here.
3. Merchant and Mills x Uniqlo is making my heart flutter! Only in Asia but I hear it might be coming to the UK early next year…
4. Zoe has been spreading a little London love with her #positivitypigeons project – how lovely?
5. Loving this triangley round rug, a maybe for my new sewing room…
We took a quick little hop over to Paris at the weekend, my main 30th birthday present to Josh. Unfortunately it coincided with us both being cripplingly ill with bad colds, so we kind of took it easy and spent most of the time near to our Airbnb in the Marais district. Luckily with St Pancras only half an hour from our door and our apartment the same distance the other side, the Eurostar trip itself was super easy so the travelling wasn’t too much of a backbreaker.
That was no bad thing really as the Marais is a totally charming area, stuffed with beautiful boutiques, cool restaurants and cosy cafes. I haven’t really scratched the surface of Paris before, but I’d definitely stay in this area again. It’s a little out of the way of the tourist sites like Monmartre and the Eiffel Tower/big museums, but we weren’t really interested in those so it worked out great for the quieter pace of our weekend.
The city of Oaxaca is nestled in a valley in the middle of Oaxaca state, an area not far off the size of England. In fairly close radius around the city are lots more towns and villages as well as some spectacular scenery and ruins, so we were able to take lots of day trips to see more of the state.
One day we took a cooking class in the weaving town of Teotitlan with Maria Reynes of El Sabor Zapoteca.
Tlacolula is a city about a 20 minute drive from Oaxaca, famous for both its 16th century church and its huge Sunday market, to which thousands of people from the neighbouring towns and countryside flock. We took a cab out there the day after arriving in Oaxaca on Saturday night to check it out.
The market really is absolutely ginormous – up to 1,000 individual traders – and quite disorienting, although it’s hard to get completely lost as it’s all on gridded streets. The main things on sale are vegetables and fruit, toys, clothing, kitchenalia, and street food. There’s a pleasing lack of souvenirs or tourist things because at heart it’s a market for locals, who come from all the nearby towns and villages to shop and socialise. So for us it was really a chance to soak in the culture and atmosphere (and to eat) rather than to shop.
After a week of scampering around the vastness of Mexico City, it was great to have a week in the much smaller and more relaxed city of Oaxaca to decompress a bit. Nearly 300 miles south of DF, Oaxaca is the calm, low-slung, cultural and historical yin to the capital’s busy, built-up, somewhat personality-less yang.
We caught the ADO GL bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca, costing about $650/£30 each. We pre-booked the bus a few days before our departure day by visiting the ADO bus terminal near the San Lazaro metro stop in DF, though the bus was barely a quarter full in the end so we probably could have bought on the day. The bus was comfortable and spacious, but the 7 hour journey did feel very long and tiring. I think a flight, like we did on the last day to catch our connecting flight home, might be a better option.
You do get rewarded with some striking views about three-quarters of the way through the journey, as you rise into the mountains that frame the Oaxacan valley.