Friday, 18 April 2014

Ashdown Park

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Texan and I have become travel bloggers with the amount of time we've spent out of London of late. More and more I find myself longing for weekends away from the hustle and bustle of city life, the tourists and sirens and smog - perhaps it's because I spend most of my time now amongst Canary Wharf's grey, concrete skyscrapers. As a child I didn't really see much of England - neither of my parents could drive - and it's only now that I've been able to appreciate how beautiful it can be. Sussex is becoming a new favourite with its mix of countryside, coastline and little villages, each of which seem to have an obligatory antiques shop (perfect pickings for me, since I'm currently stocking up my shop which will be coming to Take Courage soon!).

Surrounded by Ashdown Forest (which is, supposedly, the inspiration behind Winnie the Pooh!) and with its trees in full bloom, Ashdown Park served as the perfect retreat last weekend. To a Londoner, the sound of silence is an unfamiliar frequency, but to read the paper in the sunshine, with a cup of coffee and no distractions really is one of life's small pleasures. We took a dip in the pool, and I even had a back massage at the spa (which left me feeling like jelly), and we spent hours wandering the grounds, talking to the fish, watching the bumble bees and peering into rooms that were out-of-bounds on account of the two weddings being held there. Thank you to Ashdown Park for a lovely weekend of simple pleasures - we very much intend to come back again soon!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Charleston Farmhouse

At the start of the year I wrote down my goals for 2014 - one of them was to book the Zipcar at least once a month and escape the city. Well, as you probably can tell from my posts of late, the Texan and I are doing a pretty good job at keeping to that resolution! Today we headed to Charleston Farmhouse, which I'd seen featured on the telly just a couple of weeks ago and squealed with delight when I realised it actually isn't too far from London.

Conscientious objectors to the First World War could avoid imprisonment by working on the land, and so Charleston became a home and meeting place for the writers, painters and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group. The occupants and visitors to Charleston worked intensely during this period and produced hoards of incredible, highly contemporary work - ceramics, paintings, embroidery, furniture, literature - some of which is on display in the house. Unfortunately (and sadly typically of these places) we were not allowed to take photos inside the house, although we snuck a couple from outside, through the windows! You'll have to take my word for it, it's definitely worth the visit.

What I'm wearing  |  Breton top: Labour and Wait  |  Skirt: Made by me! I used Tilly's Miette pattern and it was so easy, I'm going to make a few more!  |  Basket: Vintage, Colombia Road  |  Sandals: Swedish Hasbeens  |  Feather necklace: Rust

Thursday, 10 April 2014

DIY Kindle / iPad Case

I am so honoured to have been asked by the lovely Micaela from Drifter and the Gypsy to join her DIY gang! I will be sharing a new DIY every month over on her beautiful blog - you can check out my first right here, and I've got to say, it's a good 'un!

You will need  |  An old and very dull hardback book  |  Wrapping paper  |  Cardboard  |  Elastic  |  PVA or bookbinders glue  |  Sticky tape  |  Scissors  |  Stanley knife

Step 1: Carefully cut out the pages from your hardback book - okay, so you might actually go to hell for doing this but you can at least mitigate the risk by using a very old and very dull book!

Step 2: Cut a piece of paper about half an inch larger than the hardback book's cover when laid flat. Glue the paper to the outside of the cover, folding the excess edges over the inside of the cover and smoothing out the paper to avoid any air bubbles or wrinkles. Secure the inside edges with sticky tape.

Step 3: Cut another piece of paper which is very slightly smaller in height than the inside of your book cover. In respect of the width, the paper only needs to be about two thirds of the width of the cover - you'll see why in a moment! Glue the paper to the inside of the cover, making sure to cover the left side and centre in full.

Step 4: Cut a piece of cardboard just a little smaller than the right side of the book cover - this will become the base for your Kindle / iPad / other electronic whatnot and is the reason why you didn't need to cover the entire inside of your case!

Step 5: Cover the cardboard in paper (you could use a contrasting paper if you fancy) and secure the edges with lots of sticky tape - no need to worry if the backside of the cardboard piece is messy, you won't be able to see it once it's finished.

Step 6: Now the tricky part. Take some elastic and wrap it around your kindle / iPad and the cardboard piece to measure how much you will need for each corner.  Be careful to ensure that the elastic pieces aren't too long - they need to be slightly on the small side, so as to allow the elasticity to hold your kindle / iPad in place. Wrap the elastic around each corner of the cardboard and secure with plenty of sticky tape.

Step 7: Once the four elastic corners are in place, measure a long piece of elastic which will wrap around the entire cover to keep it closed while knocking around in your bag. Stick to the backside of the cardboard piece, about an inch or so from the right-hand side (if facing the right way).

Step 8: Using lots and lots of glue, stick the cardboard piece to the right side of the cover. Plop a big pile of books on top and leave to dry (overnight preferably).

And voila! A pretty custom-made case for your kindle or iPad which costs next to nothing and looks fabulous!