Hello Hellas!


When I’m asked what I miss most about the UK, I often say ‘Greece’. Having Greece on our doorstep when we lived in London made it so much easier to cope with the rain and the greyness. Here in the US a lot of people look at me as if I’m crazy.  When Americans visit ‘Yurrup’ they seem mostly to visit the big three – the UK (and Ireland), France and Italy. Greece is hardly on their radar.

Which is a shame as it’s a beguiling, magical place of blue skies, crystal clear seas, old stones and bouncing sunlight and beneath the touristy veneer, the mopeds and the (few) nightclubs, there are glimpses of a landscape and a way of life that hasn’t changed much since Homer was a boy. Every port is full of fishing boats, you’ll be given eggs straight from the chicken for breakfast, tomatoes fresh off the vine for lunch and if you’re not quick a super cute stray cat will swipe your freshly killed and grilled octopus at dinner. No need to revive local, seasonal eating here.  In Greece it never went away.




The relaxed vibe suits me to a T.  Apart from a few super cool bars on a few super cool islands no one cares if you’re wearing this year’s sunglasses or carrying this year’s It bag.  Being a slob, with tousled sun-dried hair and salt-encrusted skin is accepted, nay even encouraged, and days are spent drifting aimlessly from beach, to sea, to taverna, to bed, with the occasional walk or boat trip thrown in.

The Greek ferry system is gigantic and complex, with the hundreds of inhabited islands served by a myriad of small ferry operators.  The Husband and I have been island-hopping several times before, not planning too far ahead and putting ourselves at the mercy of the ferry schedules and love how the spontaneity seems to enhance the romance and sense of adventure. 

So we were super keen to share this way of travelling with the Minx, who knows much more about the inner workings of luxury boutique hotels than should be healthy for a girl of six, and who is becoming much more portable as she grows older.  So we booked flights from the UK to Rhodes, the biggest island in the Dodecanese.


Map picture

Rhodes Collage


We don’t normally hit the big and more touristy Greek islands, but we loved Rhodes, even though there are bits like Faliraki that need to be avoided.  It has glorious beaches, astonishing views, delectable food and, as the erstwhile headquarters of the Knights of St John, a pretty kickass medieval walled city and some excellent castles.

We stayed here three days and wished it could be more (but then I always feel that when I’m leaving a Greek island).  After a mix up in hotel bookings (of which more anon) we’d ended up at a big resort-y hotel with an enormous swimming pool which the Minx was very unhappy to leave. But we had adventuring to do.


Sky Blue Ceilings


It’s funny the way the mind works.

Finally, only four years after I wrote this blog post discussing possible paint colours we’ve got a painter in to do the Minx’s room.  The comments from you all on that post were REALLY helpful and led me to think of sky blue as a colour for the walls.

Recently though I changed my mind and have asked the painter to paint the ceiling and top part of the wall sky blue with the rest of the walls in a creamy vanilla white. The painter will be finishing that off today and I can’t wait to see how it looks. Lots of before and after shots next week.




Today I wanted to share with you a beautiful restoration of an 1890s Greek house that I first came across last October and which seemed perfect to brighten up a dull February day.  I looked at the pictures I’d saved, and lo and behold the house is full of sky blue ceilings!  I swear I wasn’t thinking of this when I talked to the painter – I was thinking more of the blue ceilings you see in some porches – but I suspect my brain had just filed it away for future reference. Even more excited to see what the room will turn out like now.

In the meantime enjoy all the summery pretty on the Greek island of Nisyros courtesy of architect and designer George Koukourakis.








_residence-in-Nisyros-by--George-Koukourakis-photo-Vangelis-Paterakis-yatzer-3 _residence-in-Nisyros-by--George-Koukourakis-photo-Vangelis-Paterakis-yatzer-7

 {Photos by Vangelis Paterakis, via Yatzer.com}


Things I Am Loving – Elena Kalis Underwater Photography


These glorious photos by Elena Kalis are making me want to stick a tutu on the Minx and dunk her in Puget Sound.




































The ‘Alice in Waterland’ portfolio is worth looking at in full.












{All photos by Elena Kalis via Design Mom}


Things I Am Loving – the Knitting Clock






{via Design for Mankind}


2010’s Time to Design Award was presented to Norwegian designer Siren Elise Wilhelmsen for her project Developing Time—Time Developing, a clock that knits 48 stitches every day, giving you a new 2 meter long tubular scarf every year. 

For her next trick Wilhelmsen wants to find ways to personalize the production of the knit, perhaps programming the machine to respond to movement, sound, and light.

It seems that this is a very distant and much more sophisticated relation of the Minx’s ‘knitting Nancy’ which has been keeping her entertained all summer.  She loves it when it starts ‘pooping’ yarn.



I will be back blogging properly next Monday, hopefully with a blog refresh too, but loved the above too much not to share.


The Naked Chef

I never quite worked out why Jamie Oliver was called the Naked Chef in the early days. I do, however, have all of his Naked Chef cookbooks and they are some of the most oft-referred-to cookbooks on my shelves.

Yesterday was the Husband’s birthday, so I decided to bust out Jamie’s ‘Party Cake’ from the Return of the Naked Chef.

Fortunately I was ably assisted by my very own almost-naked chef – much the best way to be when it’s a hot day and chocolate icing is on the menu – who helped with the baking and was in charge of design and decoration.

At this stage it looked almost healthy


At this stage it looked almost classy


OK, so scratch the classy bit


Oh well, everything looks better by candlelight

Always Judge a Book by its Cover

Aren’t these nice?  I’m very late to the party with these, but I’ve just seen (via Brocante Home) that last month Virago brought out a Special Edition of eight of its Modern Classics to celebrate its 30th anniversary, each with beautiful covers courtesy of celebrated textile designers.

Virago was set up by Carmen Callil to rescue out of print works by female authors and when I was growing up it had the reputation of being a very daring and feminist enterprise.  Which is why I read a lot of Virago books, particularly in my teens. Today their pine green spines are a hugely beloved part of the English literary landscape.

I actually quite fancy buying a couple of these (I love the Biba Valley of the Dolls and Orla Kiely Barbara Pym particularly) but can only find some of them (and not the ones I want) on sale here.

excellent women a game of hide and seek

Cover design by Orla Kiely
Cover design by Celia Birtwell

9781844085224  9781844085279

Cover design by Cath Kidston
Cover design by Lucienne Day


Cover design by Barbara Hulanicki
Cover design by Marion Dorn

9781844085231 9781844085286 

Cover design by Jacqueline Groag
Cover design by Lois Mailou Jones

I’m knitting socks!

I think there comes a time in every knitter’s life when they consider whether to knit socks. 

I think socks come more naturally to Americans than the British because Americans are far more used to knitting ‘in the round’ on circular needles.  In the UK I think I’m right in saying that more people knit, as I do, on long straight needles (which are very difficult to find here). So the idea of knitting on four tiny double pointed needles scared the heebie jeebies out of me.


But one of the things which is so inspiring about Yarnstorm’s book/blog are the fabulous socks she turns out and when I came across this crazy yarn, I decided that the time had come for me to learn.

Thank god for YouTube.  The basic sock pattern they sent with the wool was completely incomprehensible to me as I’d never even watched anyone knit socks before and couldn’t even fathom out how to set up the needles.  YouTube truly is a fabulous resource for knitters and I found this series of tutorials particularly clear and useful.

I’m loving watching the yarn resolve itself into skinny stripes.  The colours graduate through all the warm colours of the spectrum and I love the way they play off each other to create different, unexpected, combinations and textures. I thought the socks might end up too garish for words but they’re actually almost subtle. And the Minx is very, very jealous indeed.


I’ve actually nearly finished the first sock and am totally addicted.  There’s enough mindless knitting around the circle that I can knit in front of dreadful reality TV and enough complicated stuff to ensure that I don’t lose my mind with boredom.  And they’re small enough to pander to my project ADD.


Garden Projects

Can I turn this


into this?


Heavy Petal is a great gardening blog based in Vancouver BC and thus full of tips for the Pacific Northwest gardener.  She found instructions for making this gourd birdhouse on craft blog Two Straight Lines and I’m going to have try it.

Surely even someone as craft-challenged as myself can manage this, particularly when you can buy the gourd ready drilled and cleaned from here?  I have ordered my gourd and will keep you posted.

It appears that I should also be buying tomato seeds about now. I want to try growing heirloom tomatoes this year and am thinking about trying them in Topsy Turvy planters hanging round the house.