Friday, 19 December 2014

Radio silence

This blog post isn't to do with interior design, or anything like that. I'm writing this because I got an email yesterday from a lovely lady who I've never met before, asking what had been going on and why I hadn't been blogging lately. I have been meaning to update the blog for so many weeks now but I just never get to it. To start with I went on holiday in November for two weeks which was absolutely amazing and if you follow west egg on instagram you'll have seen that we were very lucky to get lots of winter sun in the British Virgin Islands. It was great to get away and recharge our batteries. I deliberately didn't blog while I was away, and although I'm sure you've come to expect the erratic blogging schedule here, I'm sorry if you've missed the west egg blog. I have missed it too.

The day after we returned from holiday, and after I'd been to collect the dog, I found our dear friend and neighbour, Keith, unconscious on his kitchen floor. He'd had a massive stroke and a heart attack. The last few weeks have been a blur of hospital visits, late-night long-winded discussions about the most minute improvements and of course lots of time on google trying to understand strokes and what the likely outcome might be. It's been really tough.

Last night when I saw Keith it was the first time that I saw the old Keith, the one we know and love. The tiny glimmer of hope, that was so faint to start with, is growing stronger day by day. So much so that the idea of him coming home doesn't seem crazy at all.

I couldn't possibly list the ways that Keith has impacted our lives here in Blunham, he has come to the rescue so many times. We love spending time with him, he has the funniest sense of humour and the most wonderful laugh and when he laughed last night in hospital it was the most amazing thing.

So that's where I've been. The whole thing knocked me sideways if I'm honest, and everything else has fallen by the wayside. But we're getting back on track now and looking forward to spending christmas and new year with family and friends. I feel a renewed sense of making the most of each moment and as 2015 lurks around the corner, I couldn't be more excited.

I'll be back soon with a lovely post about one of my favourite spots in Tortola.

Have a good weekend everyone.


Friday, 10 October 2014

September Trip to Barcelona

If you follow West Egg on Instagram you'll have spotted I was in Barcelona for a few days in September with my very lovely blogger friends Geraldine from Little Big Bell and Gudy from Eclectic Trends. It was a really super time and great to spend time away with old friends and meet lots of lovely new ones.

I stayed at the Praktik Bakery Barcelona Hotel which was a real oasis because I was completely unprepared for the fact that Barcelona would be absolutely baking hot. The hotel had wonderful air conditioning and the room was perfectly formed with my favourite type of wood cladding, crisp white sheets and cool metal lamps. There was free wifi throughout the hotel which was brilliant. It reminded me of something my cousin told me about an amended version of Abraham Maslow's hierachy of human needs ... did you see that? Take a look here if not. I wonder what would happen if I went away for a week somewhere with no laptop, ipad, iphone - I don't know, maybe I should do an experiment? The closest I came was a few years ago I went with some friends to a cottage in Devon for New Year and there was no signal at all. I survived! Anyway, rapidly veering off topic...

Yep, really really like those lamps..

The view from my room on the second floor. You can't really tell how roasting hot it is, but I promise you it was and the sky was bright bright blue.

Our first stop was Jaime Beriestain, a lovely restaurant, concept store and florist just a few moments from the Praktik Bakery Hotel. We had lovely chilled rose wine and the vegan salad which was super delicious. The staff were super welcoming, there was lovely refreshing air-conditioning and a very calm and relaxed ambiance. The perfect afternoon escape.

We walked up to the Sagrada Familia and passed this owl which really reminded me of the man with the glasses in the Great Gatsby. It's actually an old 70s advertisement that is now maintained by the owners of the building. At the time we were both a bit hot and tired from walking but when we saw the big owl it was brilliant because I doubt we would have noticed it from the back of a taxi. There is a bit in the September Issue when Grace Coddington is talking about inspiration and she is recalling a conversation with a photographer. He told her to always stay awake on journeys, and look out of the windows because inspiration is everywhere, all of the time and you don't want to miss a second of anything. Talk about fear of missing out. I always remember that snippet when I see funny things like this owl.

There were huge crowds of people outside the Sagrada Familia so it was a bit tricky to take any photographs. It was also shut for the day for a special event - how typical. We did however console ourselves with some delicious fruit smoothie lolly pops - actually now I think of them, I quite fancy one. I may have to have a go at making some - they were quite delicious. Take a look at Geraldine's instagram feed to spot them.

This is me and Gudy having some lunch in a lovely little tapas place on one of the days I was there. It was so good to see my dear friend and lovely to catch up. I look shattered.

This is the bakery at the hotel. I love it when you can see behind the scenes and see chefs working. I have always wanted to do a chefs table at a restaurant since I read Annie's review of the Gilbert Scott on her brilliant Insidology blog. I have always been a little put off before because I would have thought it wasn't particularly relaxing but after I read her review I just think it sounds really fun. 

And then around the corner from the bakery at the front is a lovely seating area where we had our breakfast each day.

I would definitely go back to this hotel on my next trip to Barcelona. I think it would be nice to go for a weekend in some of the colder months, perhaps January or February and do some shopping - everything is so much cheaper than London, especially clothes. Some of my favourite shops like Mango are really amazing value and I found a lovely store called ese O ese which I hadn't come across before. I wanted to buy absolutely everything. 100% my cup of tea. They had a strict no photography policy so I couldn't take any pictures but their website is pretty good so take a look.

On our last day we found ourselves back at Jaime Beriestain, I just had to grab a couple of photos of these beautiful flowers outside their concept store on our way in. It really is a must-visit spot if you're in Barcelona.

And of course the restaurant is beautifully designed and styled. We had a lovely supper here before travelling home. The airport is so handy to get to - only about 20 minutes and a bargain EUR 30 to get there in a taxi.

A brilliant few days away and it all seems many moons ago now in chilly old England.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Style + Substance Workshop at Komedal Road Studio, Bainbridge Island

As promised I've finally got my act together and uploaded the images from the Style + Substance Workshop I taught at Komedal Road Studio back in September. It was the most lovely day spent with a wonderful group who I know are going to go on and do amazing things.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Eva Kolenko

It's no yolk we take eggs very seriously here at West Egg :) Since it's British Egg Week this week I was reminded of a lovely recipe I found by Eva Kolenko. I actually can't remember how I first came across Eva online, but since I did, I routinely pop over to her blog to take a look at her latest work.

This recipe for Pancetta & Kale Baked Eggs looks insanely good for a weekend brunch with lots of fresh coffee. We get our eggs from a lady in the village although there has been a bit of a drought recently on the egg front so we've been getting them from either the village shop or supermarket. I was very pleased to see that all eggs sold by Sainsbury's are laid by hens that are cage free and also they have an egg tracker so you can see where your eggs came from.

For the recipe please visit Eva's website / blog here. Her food photography is nothing short of spectacular - take a look here - but be warned, you will be starving hungry after only 30 seconds.

Image Credit: Eva Kolenko

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Defining Your Signature Style through Photography and Moodboarding || A new workshop by Emily Quinton & Gudy Herder

Morning! I'm up bright and early because some of our very close friends are getting married today and I am really excited. I am wide awake and it's still a little early. Rather than play endless games of 2048 on my iphone until I get numb thumbs, I thought I would get up and blog about a workshop that is coming up in November.

Friday, 3 October 2014

An afternoon at The Bloedel Reserve

Fancy a quick saunter around the beautiful Japanese gardens at The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island? Come with me ...

I just found these photographs while I was organising all the 1000s of photos I took while I was away in September. They are so lovely - I wish I could pop back for a lovely little walk right now. It has to be one of the most relaxing gardens I have ever walked around in the world.

If you haven't heard of the Bloedel Reserve, it is a public garden on Bainbridge Island, set in 150 acres of beautiful gardens and natural woodlands. The Japanese garden was my favourite part. It was deeply tranquil and I felt quite zombified when we left (in a good way).

And then my camera ran out of battery. Which was actually a blessing as then we just walked round not trying to take perfect photos but just enjoying the beautiful gardens. It was a lovely few hours of gentle relaxation.

Visit the Bloedel Reserve website for opening times and more information.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Paint Like A Pro Workshop || Bainbridge Island, W.A

Wowwwwwwwwww where did September go? I have so much to share on this blog about my recent travels in the US, Spain and also some new things happening at West Egg in little old Blunham. First I want to share some of the lovely photos from the Paint Like A Pro workshop I taught at the newly opened Komedal Road studio on Bainbridge Island.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Hello from Seattle!

Hello from Seattle! I arrived yesterday evening after a long day of travelling and stayed the first night in West Seattle at my cousin's home. They have a wonderful view across Puget Sound and I managed to snap a few lovely photographs before going to bed.

Luckily I was able to sleep right through to 5:30am which with my track record of waking up at 4am I was pretty pleased with that effort. This morning I left early to catch the water taxi over to Seattle to then get the ferry to Bainbridge Island. What an absolutely amazing way to get to work! I guess when it's grey and rainy it's not quite so lovely, but this morning it was bright and misty and a slight September to chill in the air to put some colour on your cheeks.

Loved all the little mussels clinging on to the pier supports. The people who get that water taxi every morning must just sit there and think gosh I am so lucky, the views are just so stunning.

And then once we arrived in Seattle, I made my way to get the ferry over to Bainbridge Island. What looked liked 1000s of commuters descended from the ferry and there were about 10 of us heading the opposite direction.

And this last photo is from the ferry. What a lovely welcome to get such lovely weather. I'm heading over this afternoon to Komedal Road studio to organise a few minutes bits and pieces for the workshop this weekend. I'm going to try (!) to blog a little bit while I'm here so I don't feel so overwhelmed with 100s of photos when I get back. That's the plan anyway, whether it happens or not is another thing entirely...

Best wishes from sunny Bainbridge Island,


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Workshops I'm teaching at Komedal Road Studio this September

Tomorrow I'm heading off to Seattle for 10 days to teach two workshops at the Komedal Road Studio on Bainbridge Island. If you haven't already, do take a look at their lovely website here to see the amazing space they opened up at the beginning of August.

I met Liz Le Dorze who runs Komedal Road rhrough blogging back in 2011 when I was just starting out with West Egg. She is super inspiring and I am so excited to be invited to teach workshops in her wonderful studio space.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Renovation Project || Bedroom Before + After

I came across a stack of images last week from when we were renovating the cottage and since I haven't done a before and after in ages I thought it was about time.

When we bought the cottage, this is what our bedroom looked like...

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Oak Console Table with a Limed Oak Effect

We have a lovely antique oak console table in our store currently (take a peek here). Lots of people have asked me recently how to create a limed oak effect on a piece of furniture so I thought it might make a useful blog post although we also cover it in detail on the Paint Like A Pro weekend course.

I think it's really interesting that the technique we use today is designed to create an effect that harks back to a bygone era of the highest levels of quality and craftsmanship. In the 16th century, ceruse - a derivative of white lead - was used originally in cosmetics and highly favoured by the rich and famous including Queen Elizabeth I.

Snow white skin was absolutely de rigeur for the nobility classes and was thought to reflect the delicate femininity and wealth of those who attained the lofty heights of clear, pale and unblemished skin. The reality was that pox and skin problems were all too commonplace during the 16th century so women in particular resorted to a variety of slightly mad concoctions to pale the skin. One of the less brilliant ideals was to mix ceruse - a highly toxic lead substance derivative - with vingear and then apply it to the neck and face. As one can probably imagine, smearing your skin with such toxic substances is only going to go badly wrong and the end result was that users were left grey and shrivelled. Oh dear. The detrimental effect of using ceruse in this way became apparent and those in search of the clearest, palest skin soon moved on to other wacky remedies such a paste of alum and tin ash, sulphur, and also foundations made of boiled egg white which were apparently also very popular.

Although ceruse fell out of favour as the make up of choice, it became hugely popular with furniture makers who used the ceruse to fill the porous open grains of oak planks. Today we use a mixture of chalk white waxes and specialist liming wax to create this effect.

 This particular type of oak is known as tiger oak which has a really distinctive grain produced by quarter sawing, a specialist milling process reserved for fine furniture and architectural details. The stripes that are produced are highly regarded although the costs of milling in this way are much higher than normal due to the additional labour and time required.

In these closer up shots you can see how the waxes have settled in the grains giving it a really smooth and attractive finish.

Antique Oak Console Table available from West Egg.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Intelligent Matt Emulsion by The Little Greene Paint Company || The smartest paint in town

I think most people who know the paint company The Little Greene Paint Company realise they provide some of the best quality paints (and wallpapers) on the market. Their colours and recipes are totally unique to them, and what gives them the edge over ordinary paints is that they use 40% more pigment which gives a real depth to their colours.

Okay I admit, I started this blog post with the intention of sharing my favourite type of their paint but quickly, don't you love the dipped brushes above? I loved this paint brush display which they used at Decorex 2013. It looked absolutely amazing in real life. The hours that went into it, oh my goodness. It is made up of 8,000 paint brushes in 128 colours. You can watch the video of how they did it here. It is quite extraordinary.

So, anyway Little Greene have been on my radar for ages now, but especially recently as our new design springboard services has been really popular with couple who have young children. I think perhaps it's incorporating different functions into a space that is the most challenging. We have noticed a lot of requests for design springboards that are for open plan living spaces that need to incorporate entertaining space for friends and family, family friendly space for chilling out watching TV and relaxing, and floor space for play areas for little ones. While pinterest is an amazing resource and brilliant for ideas, it can be hard to translate those ideas into the spaces that you actually have to work with.

Anyway, when it comes to paint work we have been specifying in the majority of cases that people use the intelligent matt emulsion by Little Greene. It is by far and away the most brilliant paint on the market, a beautiful matt finish, it's also environmentally friendly and most importantly, it is completely washable! Certified completely safe for children's rooms and furniture in line with the Toy Paint Regulations' BS EN 71-3:1995, we just can't get enough.

I also just discovered that Little Greene have the most wonderful Flickr page, take a look here for some really inspiring images. I've posted some of my favourite colour combinations below.

Their Grey collection has proved to be exceptionally popular. Take a look here for the full range.

I'm not normally one for yellow, but Trumpet (195) really floats my boat especially in the image above. I really like it against the black, white and grey here, it works really well.

All images credits: The Little Greene Paint Company