the grove cottages uk

The good people at The Grove Cottages UK began following me on Twitter recently, so I decided to have a click over to their web site for a look-see. And then I nearly fainted. What appeared before my eyes were a couple dozen of the most charming historic holiday properties in Suffolk and Essex. Aged wood beams, wood burning stoves, deep squishy sofas, four-posters, picket fences -- places made for writing a novel, drinking copious amounts of tea and wearing giant cashmere cardies and thick slipper socks. My favourite is Bromans Barn on Mersea Island.

I'm crazy for a barn conversion. This one has all the primitive charm of a barn but the intimate scale of a cottage - best of both worlds.

Utterly lovely kitchen. I think I'd be inspired to make sticky toffee pudding here. Perfect breakfast table for two. Sticky toffee pud and tea for breakfast! Oh, and the place has it's own organic veggie and herb gardens, so lots of healthy stuff at hand too, if you run out of pudding.

Just what's needed for a quiet evening, and not a spec more. Toile draperies, j'adore.

True romance. No fuss.

The Mersea Island coast. Reminds me of Prince Edward Island - no wonder I love it. They even have oysters.

I am currently imagining what I'd pack, what music I'd listen to, which poetry books I'd bring...

ps. while my Lulu would never be able to make the trip over, I appreciate any hospitality operation with a pet-friendly policy -- kindred spirits.

links: The Grove Cottages. Bromans Barn.


PEI - our beach

I'm just back from the epic 2-week decorating adventures at our little PEI place. I'm totally exhausted and exhilarated. Here is just a taste of why we wanted a little slice of the Island. Here, below is the beach, our beach, just a 5-min drive from our place. North Shore, midsummer's sunny day. The only person in sight is my husband Kevin. Bliss

designers i admire: catherine memmi

It must be said that I am not, nor will I ever be, a minimalist. I love shopping too much. I love objects with history and meaning and shape. I like to tell stories with accessories. But sometimes a little palate-cleansing is in order. At those times I can really fall for an utterly uncluttered room. Here's one. Isn't it quite a remarkable hotel room? It's the Hôtel Grèges in Fukuoka, Japan, designed by French designer Catherine Memmi. I first learned of her through Met Home several years ago. Here aesthetic is Jean-Michel Frank-meets-Donald Judd. Incredibly restrained but somehow still inviting. Her look would go perfectly in my fantasy barn-by-the-beach -- just add giant stone fireplace, a cashmere throw and linen slippers. Perfection. 


perfect summer shoe

You can have your gladiators, your strappy heels, your Havianas and your summer boots. But these, these I will keep. All hail the espadrille! Beloved of the Basques, available in a bevy of beautiful colours, patterns and heel heights, the espadrille is forever chic. The fabric upper gives and breathes like no other shoe. The closed in versions allows you to discreetly hide the fact that you find it murderously difficult to keep up a rigorous routine of summer pedis (guilty!). And then there's the jute sole. Well, if you know me at all, you know anything rope floats my boat. Just bought these ones from Urban Outfitters and am totally loving:

And one last reason to love: espadrilles, done right, can look super sexy on men. (get it wrong and they're pure Euro trash though!)

sources:, urban outfitters