India in colour

Namaste! I have landed again in this extraordinary country of vibrancy and colour, rich with ancient architecture, gentle people and mouth-watering food. Five months later I am recharged, full of energy and ready to embrace new India with eyes wide open and my senses alive.

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Arriving in Delhi during festival time is like being catapulted into a heaving stadium at the world cup with no exit..it is totally insane. London feels like a sleepy town in comparison. I seem to have spent most of my first week sitting in rickshaws, watching while the traffic piles up and chokes the roads and waiting..sometimes hours for the circus of people, animals and vehicles to subside. As I later realised, the Delhi metro is the only way to move around and makes our London underground seem completely vintage. Modern, fully air conditioned, spotlessly clean and incredibly cheap – it is the one redeeming feature that makes city life just that little bit easier.

Anyway here’s a glimpse of my encounters around the city and all its many faces…

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So after exploring every corner of Delhi, rummaging through mountains of fabrics, meeting suppliers and drinking endless cups of sweet tea, I nipped off to Jaipur in search of some Rajasthani treasure and came across these master craftsmen working at the back of their house. They are one of the few remaining families in the old city still producing Lahariya tie dye in the traditional way. What a joy to witness them at work – every stage of the process is done by hand from mixing the dyes to tying the cloth and drying it in the sun.

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Alpine Chic

Sorry peeps… I don’t know where the time has gone…nearly a month since my last entry..oops! I’ve had my head down and been working on a wonderful commission that I finally got to visit in mid-September – a beautiful wooden chalet in Verbier, Switzerland nestled in the mountains on the edge of town. What an amazing time of the year to go. I’ve always preferred the mountains in the summer…so many different colours with the abundant wild flowers and the spectacular contrast of snow-capped peaks against lush green valleys.

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The chalet is stunning – built in the style of a traditional ski chalet but with all the luxuries of a boutique hotel. There are four double bedrooms, four bathrooms, a wonderful open plan living room and balconies all around with sweeping views of the Alps. And all you can hear at night are the cow bells..heaven!

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So I’ve been commissioned to design and make all the cushions for the chalet and I really have to include some of my lovely vintage Kantha collection. The colours are so perfect and I love the concept of introducing classical Indian motifs to a Swiss chalet for some Himalayan chic. This is what I’m thinking for the burgundy leather chairs in the sitting room..

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Shame I haven’t got images of the cushions in the chalet..I’ll just have to arrange another little visit to do the photoshoot!

If you’re interested in renting Chalet Dunmore in Verbier, it’s available all year round..just check out these links for more info http://www.homeaway.co.uk/p252140vbi or http://www.vrbo.com/252140.

So it’s been a busy September with the London Design Festival aswell, which was fantastic. Tent is always one of my favourites and Focus 13 at Chelsea harbour – loving the new collections and colours..lots of coral and indigo and bold pattern. It seems that the East is featuring alot this autumn…can’t wait to get back to India and start designing the new collection. Watch this space for my next entry from Delhi..

 

apples, tomatoes and cows

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It had to be done! How could I refuse an invite back to Wasing (where we did the Ouseko photoshoot in May) with my lovely friends and new godchild (very proud – I now have 5!). The sun was shining and we ate outside under the vines and then went for a wander and picked apples and tomatoes and played with the cows. What a perfect first Sunday of September!

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walking in wales

Where have the days gone? Ten days of dancing and running around London and I’m ready to see green hills again. I don’t know what’s happened to me these days..I seem to have turned into a real old country bumpkin. I always love London when I first arrive and then after a few days I’m ready to leave again..must be the lovely Goan pace of life that I’ve got so used to and the sense of space that you never get in the city.

Anyway I went off to Wales with my scrummy man, for an idyllic few days walking, swimming and basking in the beautiful light and spectacular views. This is where I grew up – where we spent every weekend since I can remember and I still love it every time I go back. There’s something about the Welsh valleys that makes you feel so close to nature and the wilderness and the sea..who knows maybe one day I’ll end up living there.

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On the way back we did a lovely little detour to Clun to see the castle

On the way back we did a lovely little detour to Clun to see the castle

and Stokesay to see the 13th century manor house

and Stokesay to see the 13th century manor house

In case you’re wondering, I have been working in between all these lovely little adventures..I’m not just permanently on holiday! I’ve been spending the weekdays at home in my studio in Worcestershire and then if I’m organised I can scurry off somewhere on Friday to make the most of the weekend. Because I mostly work alone I’m always dying to see people and go away somewhere and make the most of every last minute I still have here.

The thing about living abroad is that you always come home with new eyes and each time you return you see things differently and then you start to observe your own culture and country as though you’re looking at it from the outside, as a newcomer, and everything feels kind of new and exciting and beautiful. It’s one of the things I love most about travelling…it’s like falling in love all over again when your senses are alive. Of course if both are happening at the same time..well, then you’re in a place called heaven! So I’ve been observing our little island with my new eyes and wanting to discover as much as I can in the limited time I’m here. And then it’ll be back to India and the start of a new chapter and a whole load more discoveries.

 

 

dancing in london

I can’t believe how quickly the summer’s flying by. It’s already the end of August and I’ve only got one month left until I leave for India again. It’s been the most amazing 4 months – Britain has been showing her finest colours and I’ve loved spending time with so many wonderful friends adventuring and exploring our little island.

I suddenly realised, however, that I’d hardly spent any time in London and have barely set foot in my old hood or done anything cultural. I’ve also been dreaming of dancing again and was totally inspired by a film I watched recently in which Emily Blunt (a big favourite) plays a contemporary ballet dancer finding love in New York. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was really her doing the dance scenes but apparently she trained for 3 months to do that part and made it look so beautiful so I decided it was time for action and I should look for a class in London. Perfect timing, being August and the holidays, as there’s plenty of summer intensives and I found a course at my favourite dance studios in Clerkenwell (the Place) to learn Cunningham – basically a form of contemporary ballet. Luckily I’ve got some experience in classical ballet and over the years have tried everything from Argentine tango to salsa, samba, African, etc but this was a whole new language for me and a wonderful experience and challenge – especially as most of the class were dancers or at least looked like it. By the end of the week I was loving it and began to feel like a dancer again, but my poor body was broken!

Here’s a little glimpse of the studios..there were even dancers from the Calcutta Tanusree Shankar Dance Company in the class on a scholarship in London..amazing…next stop Calcutta! P1060989P1060941P1060961P1060935P1060981P1060963P1060983

In between dancing, I had a lovely time exploring London on my bike and rediscovering all my old cycle paths and cafés along the canal. I do love London in the summer..what a totally different place it becomes and what a wonderful little adventure in the city.

Little Venice

Little Venice

along the tow path in Islington

along the tow path in Angel

the Towpath Cafe..my favourite hangout in Shoreditch

the Towpath Cafe..my favourite hangout in Shoreditch

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on the towpath heading to Victoria Park

on the towpath heading to Victoria Park

love this..'words on the water' in Mile End

love this..’words on the water’ in Mile End

around Victoria Park

around Victoria Park

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pop-up cafe in London Fields

pop-up cafe in London Fields

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oh look..it's my car in red!

oh look..it’s my car in red!

trompe d'oeil on Southbank

trompe d’oeil on Southbank

views of the City from Southbank

views of the City from Southbank

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gotta love the London bus

gotta love the London bus

sunset across the roof tops

sunset across the roof tops

 

 

wanderings in worcestershire

As I’d been stitching away and had a super productive week I decided it was time to take a few days off and go on a little adventure around Worcestershire. It’s hay-making time and the countryside is alive with the sounds of tractors and general activity so I ambled off on my bike and across the bridleways in search of some peace and beautiful views. I’m still amazed by all the different greens of the English countryside…it’s like walking over velvet with the sun shining on it and the smells are so evocative..that feeling of having landed and coming home.

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victorian piers and crazy swimmers

I thought I was spending a weekend in London until I remembered it was Cowes week and as the sun was shining the Isle of Wight was beckoning. So off we sped to Lymington, jumped on the ferry and made it just in time to hitch a ride on the boats and join the party in the wharf.

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The next day, somewhat cloudy headed, we ended up on the other side of the island at Sandown Bay by the wonderful Victorian pier. Amazing…it just happened to be the day of the annual Sandown to Shanklin sea swim. Clearly a huge event in the Cowes week calendar when the SERIOUS swimmers get together and race 2 miles from pier to pier..against the current! Lost in a spectacular crowd of red & yellow swimming caps and enthusiastic holiday makers I felt like we’d stepped onto the set of a mid-century movie. What a brilliantly British scene..brightly coloured beach huts, stripy deckchairs, swimming caps and the ever present windbreak. Love it! 

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country living

It’s turning out to be the best summer ever and I’m consuming the English countryside – these are the days when I feel totally in the present and don’t want to be anywhere else.  I remember the times when I was sweltering in the African heat and longing to return to our green and pleasant land. No wonder the Indian Maharajas chose to holiday over here – when the weather’s fine, it’s beautiful. I love the views from our village…acres of rolling green hills, golden cornfields and meadows of flowering blue linseed. Here’s a glimpse of village life..watch out for ‘Lover’s Orchard’, my favourite little place.

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mara sculpture

Another wonderful week of sunshine and we’ve been travelling around the country with the amazing team from Mara Sculpture who’ve been exhibiting at Hampton Court flower show and Ragley Hall. It’s been fascinating learning about this unique stone sculpture from Zimbabwe and a privilege to work with them on the stand. I love the mix of textures and stone from the deep green shades of opal to the polished black of springstone and crystal white dolomite. All the sculptures are carved and polished by hand in Zimbabwe and then shipped over…a massive feat in itself. Huge respect to owner, Bernard Mavunga, for supporting these amazing artists and increasing the exposure of this unique and beautiful art form. For more information go to www.marasculpture.com or join them at the Tatton Park Flower Show this weekend.

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a day at the beach

Finally summer has arrived and how amazing to be able to jump in the car and head to the beach to our little place in Wales nestled in the hills overlooking the Dovey estuary. A magical few days of glorious sunshine, sea, sand and boats in a place where I grew up and still adore. Nothing beats the British seaside on a beautiful day and I always feel so inspired after a day at the beach..all those stripes and nautical colours.

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