A Little Give Away

I’ve been sent a nice thing, a copy of a book by George Clarke called “More Amazing Spaces”. It goes with his Channel 4 TV show about usual homes and projects and the idea is that I give it away to someone reading this who fancies it.

I’m looking at it now, and it’s got all sorts in here including a converted bus and a Gypsy caravan.

Although my favourite is this tree house.

george-clarkes-sky-den-channel-4_cs_gallery_preview 61CDHT4BPhL._SX377_BO1,204,203,200_

So if you fancy a copy I will send it to the first person who leaves me a message requesting it.

Publicity, fakes and a Christmas freebie

This week the blog has featured in a list of ‘blogs to read’ in Elle Decoration, Mexico. I was pretty surprised given that…well…it’s Elle Decoration Mexico….but pleased to be asked.


ELLEDECO-11-BLOGSNow to flowers.

I got these. Nice huh?


Here’s a closer look.


What you hopefully haven’t noticed straight away is that they are……….fake.

I’ve never been a fan or seen much point in fake flowers until I visited my friends house and couldn’t believe how she always had such a nice display of hydrangea, a bit like these. She revealed that they weren’t real and told me she’d bought them from a specialist shop in NYC and so when she was back there again recently she kindly popped along and bought me a set.

It hasn’t stopped me buying fresh flowers as well, but these are so cool. You could even have them on something normally too warm, like above a radiator in the winter.

Then lastly I’ve been contacted by the nice people at Country Living Magazine about plans for their Christmas Fair.


It’s weird to be writing this as I sit with the sun streaming through the kitchen window but they’ve given me two free tickets which I will give to the first person who drops me a email claiming them. You can find out all the details here  www.countrylivingfair.com and they also have an early bird two for one offer if you book before 7th September. Either enter the code: CLEB15X into the discount code box when buying online or call: 0844 848 0150 and quote: CLEB15X. I’ve been before and I enjoyed it, so do go along if you fancy it and you are in the UK. 

UPDATE: thanks to everyone who contacted me about the tickets, these have now gone.

Hampton Court Flower Show

Last weekend I went to Hampton Court Flower Show with my parents. It’s not too far from here but feels like you are well and truly out of the city. It was glorious summer day with everyone in straw hats and rocking the linen trousers. And plenty of chances to eat ice cream or sip Pimms. Basically a classic English day out.

In theory it’s all about the show gardens. Here are a few…


This one has Winnie the Pooh on the bridge and was designed to celebrate his 90th anniversary.




However, it also has a large number of exhibition areas. There’s an extraordinary marquee filled with every rose on planet earth (at least it seems so).



And another hall with a variety of growers, many of whom specialise in one plant type. It was in there that I spotted this gorgeous orchid from a French company which my parents kindly bought me.


And there was pretty of other impressive displays as well. These guys were HUGE.





And then are the things that inspired me a bit. I came away thinking I could use pots more, especially to isolate plants that suffer from slugs like hostas.


And to try using decorative supports.


Or converting unexpected items.


I really liked these supports for beans, probably because I am struggling to grow my own this year. My dad felt pretty confident that these wouldn’t be too hard to make at home (but he quite good at that kind of thing).


The main thing I noticed was the planting style. I’ve always thought the trick to an attractive garden was the group types of plants together in drifts and that’s kind of what I have been shooting for – although that may not be that obvious to the casual observer.

However, I noticed that plants were being placed in a more random mixed in style, certainly with limited planting but not with one type altogether in a group and the another.




And I thought it was kind of lovely, and something I could give a go.

Projects : Painted Trunk

Ages and ages ago my Dad and I made this trunk.


The idea was that I was going to paint it inspired by something I’d seen in a  magazine, but I never got around to it.

Then late last year Farrow and Ball emailed me and asked if I fancied undertaking a project painting a piece of furniture and writing about how I did it. I love Farrow and Ball (almost the whole house is painted in it) and so of course I said yes please!

I found this image on Pinterest of a painted trunk, sent it to them and they sent me back their best guess on the colours needed.


And then nothing happened. Farrow and Ball sent me a couple of polite emails asking me how I was finding the paint, but I just didn’t knuckle down. And then suddenly I did.

I opened up the paints having completely forgotten the design I’d opted for….was surprised….dug out the image I was inspired by and got going.


I chalked a design a bit like the one from the photo on the side as a guide. I say a bit as the original image isn’t great quality so you can’t really make all of it out, plus I’m too slapdash to be totally faithful.


And then I got going. Probably a mistake but I started with the front.



Then the sides.


Inside lid.


And finally the top and back.


And that’s it really. It’s not that neat, or symmetrical and I kind of approached it as a doodle, just adding bits as I went. However, I think the overall effect is good!

Local Arts and Crafts

Today is the first day of the Camberwell Arts Festival. And for those who don’t know Camberwell (my wonderful home in London) I will attempt to paint the scene…. it is a quirky multi-cultural corner of the city, close to the Oval for the cricket fans among you. Where you can, as I did this morning, get your nails done by a Thai man whilst sat between a Russian lady and a Ghanian mother and daughter getting their nails done for a family wedding – all of us Londoners. It is also home to the famous Camberwell College of Arts hence its strong creative flavour and history.

Anyway the Art Festival’s imminent arrival had passed my by until I decided to visit the Farmers Market on Camberwell Green on a whim. There is often a good plant stall selling some more unusual herbs that I thought I would seek out.

However, it was not as I expected. A pop-up choir were entertaining the shoppers and there were stalls with all sorts of art and craft products from the local area.


And I did well.

I purchased a new bag which I am going to use to carry my gym kit and laptop about in, no more grubby freebie canvas bags for me. That came from Gitas Portal who I think are based in Deptford…or maybe New Cross. I did ask but now I am not so sure.

Side one


And the admittedly quite similar reverse…


And I also came across this stall selling handmade pottery.



Initially I was really drawn to this little tea light holder, but I have some many candle related items I restrained myself.



I’d include a website link but they don’t have one. The potter was there manning the stall herself and she did give me these details.


I finally decided on two that were coming home with me. One is a gift.



It’s a coil pot rather than a thrown one. I think the glaze is really beautiful and works brilliantly with the colours of the plant.


And one for me made using the same method.







And in it’s final resting place in the house.


As part of the festival they have also produced these really attractive mugs based on the local area. Lovely and available to buy here.



Recently I’ve had a couple of nice things sent to me to try out.

I’m still surprised by how frequently I get approached by companies and/or individuals and generally I say no (some are amazingly random) but in these cases I was kind of interested….

The first is a metal wine holder. I have no real space to store wine, beer etc the bottles are just all lined up in a corner of the kitchen. I probably should invest in a proper rack, like this that could fit into my alcoves.


Although I’m not sure my “wine collection” totally merits in. In quantity maybe but quality might be stretching it.

However, Black Country Metal Works sent me this little number to try and it’s  made a big difference. It’s tidied things up plus I think it fits in well with the look of the kitchen / dining area. So a thumbs up from me.


You can buy all sorts on their site, including I noticed – cauldrons!

Some light on the matter

Scented candles are one of those perfect gifts, mainly given by women to women. They’re great because (whilst admittedly a bit unimaginative) everyone likes them, they’re simple and the kind of thing you don’t really treat yourself too =  a great gift.

They are also the kind of thing you imagine yourself using in the more perfect version of your life. The one where you make your own bread, have a fridge full of intriguing ingredients you actually know how to use and waft around looking elegant in statement necklaces. For me that also involves me having long relaxing baths in a room flickering with gentle candle light and ideally scented by some marvellous candle. In reality I know I get bored within about five minutes, but I still like the idea.

So when I was contacted recently by  The Scented Candle Shop asking if I’d like to review some of their products I was all for it.

Now some of their lines are not really for me, the colours are too bold and the packaging too fussy but I did really like the look of their St Eval and Heaven Scent ranges.

Here are the St Eval ones I received.






Quite good for me as I have some unused lanterns that these are perfect for. I really liked the one from the Victorian Herb Range, it’s a nice concept and also smelt lovely.

From the same line I also received some candle tins which had really pleasant fragrances.




All good so far but my favourite by a long way was the candle jar from the Aromatherapy range by Heaven Scent. It smelt amazing and I think it looks really cool. If I were to buy one it would be this one.



And here I am trying them all out at once in a kind of scented candle megamix. Lovely.







Everything must go

I went to the Graham and Green warehouse sale yesterday with a friend, it’s on a glamorous industrial estate in Brentford. I’ve been before and written about it – although I had forgotten and my friend had to remind me.

I had also forgotten just how much furniture they have available at these events. We went quite late so many of the items had sold (and we were on more of a reconnaissance mission than actually making major purchases) and were either waiting to be collected or loaded for delivery – a service I only realised they offered as we left. That’s probably a good thing as I might have gone mad and bought a massive shelving unit, or sofa, just because they were a bargain. Having a tiny smart car is a good constraint sometimes.

Anyway here are some rather blurry images to give you an idea of what’s on offer.

Desks and mirrors.






Garden furniture


Shelves and some of the mother of pearl inlay items they are known for.


Some of the smaller home accessories


And here are the things I wanted to buy and agonised over.




  • Could they go in my kitchen? No it’s full (even if you rearrange it)
  • What about the sitting room? But weird for a sitting room? Anyway that room needs a bit of a rethink so best to hold off
  • Landing, hall walls? Possibly….

I managed to be restrained and will probably keep these in mind and return to their next sale when I have the house and my mind slightly more in order. I think they have a couple a year and if you’re on the mailing list they send out a reminder.

I did buy a couple of things though. This mirror for the downstairs loo, I’ve had my eye on it for a while and I found one at the sale lonely, looking for a home (this image is from the GG and website –  I’d like the wire rack too).


And some more pom poms (image also from the GG website), I already have some but they were reduced to £3 so good for spares.

pom pom

All in all well worth a visit, particularly if you have your eye on one of the larger items of furniture.

Mora Clocks – everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

A few months ago I bought myself a (I think) beautiful Mora Clock. I touched a bit on the different types and what you might look for in an earlier post but to be honest I’m no expert, I just love the look of them.

Quite a few people have asked me about the clock, where I got it from etc so when Jo from Swedish Interior Design who I bought my clock from offered to write a short piece about them I said yes please. Here’s what he’s put together.

Swedish Mora Clock – The heartbeat of Sweden

Swedish Mora Clocks have become a classic & iconic design piece in houses all over the world. They have a unique appeal and elegance for any room in the house. Swedish Interior Design has 50 mora clocks for sale and here we are going share some ideas on what you should look for when you want to buy a Mora Clock.

They are so popular because of their unique form – the fertility goddess belly shape and decorative features.  Many people’s first time with a Mora comes from the movie ‘Somethings Gotta Give’ where there is a mora clock prominently displayed in the living room scene with Jack Nicholson. Original 1800s Mora clocks are very rare now so here’s a few pointers to help you find the right one. 

Each Mora clock is a unique handmade object dreamed up by the imagination of its maker so every clock has a different the hood, clock face decoration, belly shape, plinth etc .

pic 1

They are most worked in pine but very occasionally built in oak and they measure height wise from 180-250cm and feature a great wealth of decorative carvings and original paint finishes. 

1800s Swedish Mora clocks generally come in a number of types –

Fryksdall: These clocks have a pinched waist, wider belly, curly scroll decoration on the waist and neck and extravagant hood carvings. They come in a variety of whites & greys and would be owned by wealthier individuals.

pic 2

Bridal: The most unusual of mora clocks, often from Jamtland, these pieces have the finest levels of decorative carving. They exhibit the finest level of craftsmanship in the Mora clock world.

pic 3

City: a catch all phrase to describe Mora clocks that have fine levels of decoration or beautiful painted finishes that set them apart from the simpler country clocks.

pic 4

Country: the country clocks are usually plainer in appearance with less decoration. Often given as wedding presents, they would be a prized possession in poorer families. Normally they have simpler hood crowns and less use of glass. They may have no face glass at all or pendulum viewing port for example. Painted in earthier folk art colours in the Swedish Kurbits folk art tradition, they show with yellows, oranges, deep russets, browns and ochres.

pic 5

Buying a mora is a heart felt not logical exercise – listen to the clock that emotionally calls to you rather than creating a checklist of must have features. The clock will be with you for life- so go with your heart, name her, talk to her and feel her protective presence guarding over you.

pic 6

There seem to be 3 schools of thought in terms of paint finishes.

Some people strip the clocks back to the bare wood and repaint but that doesn’t make sense to me. Every clock has lived a history and by over restoring, you strip away its special ‘aura, it becomes just a clock body made of old wood devoid of personality making it not much different from a repro one in reality.

Also many clocks have ‘scraped back’ paint. But this is just a paint effect really. Originally the paint would have been a rich chalk paint in perfect condition, and the scraped paint ‘effect’ is just that – an interior design effect similar to ‘shabby chic’ that you see on lots of restored Swedish furniture. It looks nice but its not real!

At Swedish Interior Design, we prefer to keep the paint whenever we can as it is and only repaint where the original coat is in poor condition or it has been repainted at some later time. When we do it is sensitively done to allow the mora clock to live and breathe so to speak.

Finally you need to think about whether you want to use the original clock mechanism or fit a battery powered electric one. This may seem a strange question but mora clocks have very ‘country’ parts, unlike the precision clock mechanisms of English clocks of the period. 

So they can be difficult to set up and can be affected by a change in temperature causing the wood in the clock body to shift slightly or being jolted as you walk past. This affects the swing planes and can cause the clock to stop. Also the mechanisms are open to the air and its very easy to get dust caught in the cogs. 

So that’s why most of our clients go for the battery option. It doesn’t need winding and it looks exactly the same as the original from the outside. Its easy to do and there’s no damage to the clock as the original mechanism is only kept in place by small screw and you can put the original mechanism back in place whenever you like (although it will need cleaning and setting up professionally if you do).

I hope our short journey into the land of Mora Clocks will help you find the perfect clock for you.