the gunton arms – norfolk

:: by Lizzie
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We really don’t do enough exploring of the English countryside. As city dwellers, and lovers, Danny and I tend to fly to our favourite European cities for special treats, long weekends or anniversary holidays, long before even thinking about the beauties closer to home. We decided it was time to remedy this and experience the best of British one weekend in August 2015. With the company and help of our friends Ben and Knomes (who essentially planned the whole trip – thanks guys!) we made our way to Norfolk one Friday morning for a long weekend at The Gunton Arms.

 

The Gunton Arms describes itself on its website as a traditional pub with 8 rooms near Cromer in North Norfolk. Then come the exciting bits… It’s set in the grounds of an enormous historic park, full of deer, beautiful cottages and grand houses. It’s worth noting here that we made the faux pas of arriving from the station having walked through the extensive private grounds of the park. It didn’t go down well at all with the women who kindly received us and showed us to our rooms, but it was a very lovely walk (and probably worth getting in a bit of trouble for).

 

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One of the things we were most looking forward to and which, it’s fair to say, we enjoyed to the extreme, was the food. Their chef, Stuart Tattersall, cooks using seasonal local ingredients and the meat, often cooked on the open fire in the Elk room, is out of this world. I am a meat lover. I always have been. I enjoy fruit and vegetables very much. Grains, cereals and pulses are all great. But beautifully cooked beef, there’s nothing like it. I would go so far as to say that, when sampling the rib of beef for two to share with Ben on our first night, I was utterly elated and quite frankly, visibly giddy. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Side note – we greedily asked for peppercorn sauce as well as the bearnaise it traditionally comes with. I suggest you do the same.

 

From the breakfasts of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, drop scones, bacon and honey (all included in the room price) and the dinners of Ivor’s crab pasta, sausage and mash with onion gravy and the special moment when we had two whole roast chickens and all the trimmings arrive at our table, everything that passed our lips was delicious.

 

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Ivor Braka, art dealer, owner of The Gunton Arms and I assume, inspiration for the above mentioned crab pasta, has filled the place with contemporary art by the likes of Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Julian Opie and Gilbert and George. It was interesting to see how this has been received by the locals and many visitors who wrote in the guest book about their dismay about the landscape being ruined by ‘sculpture!’ Their choice of inverted comas, not mine. We enjoyed the sculpture – maybe a little too much (as you can see from Ben’s king of the castle moment below) and the art on the walls too. Not all of it was to my taste (certainly not as beautiful or inspiring as the art collection of one Stuart Evans – apologies, I boast) but it was interesting and different and certainly added to the place’s appeal.

 

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We were lucky enough to be in Gunton for the weekend of Cromer Carnival. A short car journey into Cromer (Gunton Arms manager Lee was kind enough to give us a lift as taxis can be hard to come by) led to many delights. Too many to mention here so do keep your English seaside loving eyes open for next week’s blog post – Today in Cromer.

 

30 hours in amsterdam

:: by Lizzie
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I recently spent 30 hours in Amsterdam and wanted to share with you what I got up to.

Below are my suggestions for must dos when on a whirlwind trip to Holland’s capital…

 

T H E  H O X T O N  H O T E L :

My top recommendation of where to stay in Amsterdam right now would have to be the newly opened Hoxton Hotel. It was my base in the city for the short time I was there and I loved every minute I spent inside. As I mentioned in my monthly faves, it’s part of a group of London design hotels, but don’t let that put you off. It felt very Amsterdamy – if that’s a word!? It had a bit of London and New York thrown in of course but I definitely felt like I was in Amsterdam. The location is perfect. It’s on a residential street, not too far away from the hubbub of Damrac, that boasts a canal running down the middle of it. You can just tell that the area is full of locals and that’s exactly what I’m looking for when visiting a city. A full review of the hotel is coming soon so I won’t bore you with too much detail now, but I should mention that I loved by room so much that I could have quite easily spent my 30 hrs in bed (which happened to be one of the comfiest I’ve ever slept in) just enjoying the decor, super soft sheets and canal view.

 

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D R O O G :

My first stop when arriving in Amsterdam is always hotel droog. If you only visit one of my suggested locations in Amsterdam, make it hotel droog. It’s sort of like Amsterdam’s answer to Dover Street Market. There’s great design, fashion, art and food which is all styled and curated under one roof in an inspiring and often surprising way. I’d recommend the brunch in their restaurant Room Service which includes the soup, salad and sandwich of the day along-side mini breakfast pastries, fresh juice and a pot of one of their many loose leaf teas. The shop on the ground floor carries many Dutch design classics as well as up-and-coming designers. Think HAY, Scholten & Baijings, Rob Brandt. Make sure you take a peek at the ‘Courtyard’, an exhibition space just up a few stairs from the restaurant. It’s well worth a look and will add even more wow to your breakfast, lunch or tea.

 

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L U N C H :

The go-to place for food in my opinion is De Kas. Totally seasonal cooking, totally delicious results. Mum and I enjoyed a super fresh, light and very satisfying meal when we visited. You can hear more about what we ate for lunch here. I’m sure dinner is fabulous too but my tip would be to go for lunch so you can fully appreciate the greenhouse setting in daylight hours. Stop by the Frankendael Foundation, just next door within the grounds of Park Frankendael, for a browse of the current contemporary art hang.

 

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S H O P P I N G :

Atelier Sukha – A very pinterest-worthy and Instagramable shop full of clothing and homeware in every shade of white.

Tenue De Nimes – Also on Haarlemmerstraat and also beautifully curated, this clothing store specialises in denim (as the name suggests). But that’s not all they do. I tend to splash out on a fabulously fragrance candle each time I visit. They seem to know their high-end candles just as well as their designer jeans.

Gathershop – In a slightly different end of town (Van Woustraat), you will find Gathershop, a store full of handmade objects by undiscovered labels and designers. Here thoughtful craftsmanship is key and simplicity is celebrated. It’s my best new find for jewellery and leather goods.

Hutspot – Walk just a little further down the street and you’ll come across Hubstop, one of my favourite places in Amsterdam. Each time I visit something new is happening in this womenswear, menswear and homeware store. There’s now a barber, a photo booth, a cafe and an art gallery all within the same space. Once you’ve browsed the rails, pop upstairs for a green juice and a sit down to while away some time Instagramming your favourite finds and weighing up which items will be coming home with you.

 

 

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C O F F E E :

Lot Sixty One should be your first stop in Amsterdam if you’re a big coffee lover. It’s a roastery and coffee shop in one. They’re design lovers too and have recently shacked up in Amsterdam’s Urban Outfitters to bring great coffee to the young and stylish masses.

 

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S T U D I O  L E N N E K E  W I S P E L W E Y :

The main reason for my trip was to visit Dutch ceramicist Lenneke Wispelwey. You’ll have heard all about her work and our upcoming exhibition upstairs at SMUG by now from reading my July Favourites and from checking out www.islingtondesigndistrict.com so make sure you stop by SMUG to see the show 19th – 27th September. If you’re in Amsterdam for only a short time and can’t make it out to her shop in Ahern (about an hours train ride from Amsterdam) then make sure you pop into the Stedelijk Art Museum shop where you’ll find pieces by the best up-and-coming Dutch designers, including Lenneke’s ceramics and also textiles by the equally talented Mae Engelgeer.

 

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Do you have any top tips of design-led things to do, places to eat, sites to see when in Amsterdam? If so please do leave them below for everyone to check out and I’ll add them to my to-do list for next time I visit. Planning a trip to Amsterdam? You can also ask me for more info on any of the above suggestion in the comments section below.

 

july favourites

:: by Lizzie
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Okay, first thing’s first – I’m sorry for the tardiness of this favourites post. It’s been a bit of a crazy month and so I’m very very late with this one, but… This is where where I pull together my favourites in fashion, food, beauty and everything in between for the month of July.

 

F A S H I O N :

adidas Originals Stan Smith ‘Copper Kettle’ – Just like many other people right now, I’ve got a bit of a thing for copper and brass. Most of the bits and bobs I’ve been picking up in metallic finishes have been for the flat (more on that coming soon) but these bad boys are firmly fashion – although come to mention it I do keep my trainer collection on display at home (more on that coming too). They’re perfect for those slightly chillier London summer days and even cope well with occasional drizzle, but they pack a proper punch of the sun kissed look so keep you feeling bronzed and weather optimistic. I’m looking forward to rocking them into autumn.

 

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Topshop Sleeveless Duster  – Oh how I love layering. It’s my go to happy place when putting together an outfit – and navy is my absolute favourite layering colour – so you can imagine my delight when stumbling across this sleeveless number at Toppers. I’ve been throwing it over old favourites like my oversized breton t or long navy sleeveless YMC dress which were both featured in my 2013 blog post what betty wore no.2. Pair with old classics and staples to pull them effortlessly into 2015.

Bimba Y Lola Banana Print Bikini – I love fruit! I love eating it, I love illustrations of it, I love little plastic miniatures of it (oh yes I have a small plastic banana and lemon at home – it’s fine, they’re vintage) and I love wearing it. This banana bikini makes me smile and is comfy too. I’d have liked to get my hands on the cossie version even more but alas I was too slow off the mark after Knomes spotted it for me. Exposed tummy aside, I love this swim suit.

 

F O O D :

De Kas – On a recent trip to Amsterdam I had the pleasure of eating at De Kas, a restaurant in a green house setting in Park Frankendael. They grow all of their own fruit, veg and herbs and only use locally reared meat, fish and poultry. The menu is a seasonal tasting one based on what’s fresh that day.

We had…

Tomato soup with roasted tomatoes, shredded lettuce and nasturtiums

Mackerel with beetroot and bacon

Courgette, watermelon, feta and pesto

Cucumber sorbet with honeycomb

 

I drank filtered tap water but mum can wholeheartedly recommend the house champagne! I would strongly suggest prioritising a visit if you’re ever in Amsterdam. De Kas is a special place.

 

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B E A U T Y :

Mac Ripe Peach Toledo Blush Ombre – This bad boy is rather popular with the beauty pack so I couldn’t find it in stock for a while but stumbled upon it at Luton airport. Winner! It’s the perfect peachy lift to the apples of your cheeks and looks good with any lip colour.

Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturiser – I’ve been having a bit of a Laura Mercier moment. Historically I’ve been more of a concealer stick and pressed powder person but I’ve found that my skin is getting less oily and a little more dry as I get older so I’ve needed to change things up a bit. My focus used to be on trying to reduce the oiliness of my t-zone, but now I’m looking to bring the glow. This oil free tinted moisturiser which I apply with a buffing brush, goes on looking like healthy, dewy, glowing skin. It’s got enough coverage to even things out but is light and natural on the skin and not at all cakey. Hello glow.

Laura Mercier Metallic Cream Eye Colour in Platinum – I don’t wear eye shadow. I like eye liner and mascara but eye shadow looks weird on me. It seems to make my eyes look smaller even. This little tube of goodness on the other hand is perfection. I apply it to the corners of my eyes with my fingers to open them right up and bring a bit of brightness.

 

O T H E R :

The Hoxton Hotel Amsterdam – The people behind Shoreditch’s and Holborn’s Hoxton Hotels have opened shop in Amsterdam and the place is gorgeous! You can see how their taste and style have developed and the Amsterdam branch is by far my favourite. I was lucky enough to be one of the first guests to stay there, just two weeks after them opening their doors. They’ll be launching Hoxton hotels in New York and Paris in 2016 so I’m looking forward to seeing what they do over the pond and in gay Paris. Full review of The Hoxton Hotel Amsterdam coming soon.

 

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Studio Lenneke Wispelwey – The main reason for my end of July trip to Amsterdam was to visit friend of SMUG and ceramicist Lenneke Wispelwey in her studio. SMUG has worked with Lenneke for a year or two now and is currently the only place you can buy her beautiful pieces in the UK. We are putting together a special exhibition of her ceramics – Lenneke Wispelwey upstairs at SMUG, which will launch in September for London Design Festival (watch this space for more on that one). It was really good to finally meet Lenneke in person and to understand better how she works. Her shop and studio in Ahern, an hour or so out of Amsterdam, are wonderful spaces full of inspiration and intrigue.

 

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islington design district – joining the dots

:: by Lizzie

In just less than a months time, the centre of my universe, London town, will have flung its doors open wide for the London Design Festival 2015. From Saturday 19th – Sunday 27th September you can expect the capital to be filled to the brim with fantastic design, great food and more design-led special events, product launches and exhibitions than you can shake an anglepoise lamp at!

 

Last year I set up the brand new Islington Design District as part of the London Design Festival and this year we’re back bigger and better making sure Islington has its rightful place on the design world map.

 

I met up with Mark Kebble of The Angel Resident for a catch up on all things LDF and IDD 2015 and he rather pleasingly titled the piece ‘Joining The Dots’. Read the full article below for the low down on who the IDD partners are this year, what will be launching/exhibiting/happening in Islington during the Festival and find out more about the exciting additions of bars and restaurants supporting design in Islington to help us, and you if you’re up for it, celebrate. You join the dots.

 

 

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fitness files – july

:: by Lizzie
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Oh what a lovely month July was. We spent the first two weeks in the south of France catching up with family, eating yummy food and spending a lot of time in the pool, which was uncharacteristically warm.

 

But what was July like health and fitness-wise? Well, I’ve already mentioned that we enjoyed lots of good food but I’m happy (and maybe a little surprised) to say we were generally pretty good at portion control and, because of all of the beautiful fresh produce available at the market, we ate really quite healthily (big chunks of marzipan aside). I’ve been trying to get more into cooking fish and, as I mentioned in my Today in Lodeve post, my aunty Julie and uncle Peter inspired this cod recipe which I loved and will be cooking again tonight.

 

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B A K E D  C O D  W I T H  O N I O N  A N D  C H E R R Y  T O M A T O E S :

Dice and fry a large white onion in some olive oil without letting it caramelise too much. Try to stop at the slightly transparent but fully cooked stage. Slice a load of cherry tomatoes in half – about a punnet sized amount. Fill the bottom of an oven proof dish (I like Le Creuset best) with the tomatoes and onion and pop in the oven at about 200 for 15 mins. Once the 15 mins are up bring the dish back out of the oven and pour over a little white wine and lay a few springs of rosemary in there too. Then place your cod fillets on top and drizzle with olive oil. At this stage I like to grind on loads of black pepper and chuck in some sea salt to season. Back in the oven it goes for another 15 mins and after that, bang, you’re done! Serve with new potatoes or griddled asparagus.

 

But let’s back track a bit so I can tell you about how I’ve changed up my morning routine (or more accurately, started trying to have a morning routine). A couple of months ago I got into skincare and started looking after my skin properly which led to having a morning/evening skincare routine (post on that coming soon) and I’ve really enjoyed the addition of a little more structure because of it in the mornings. Reflecting upon how beneficial this tiny change had been, I made a conscious decision at the beginning of July to try to start my days much more intentionally. One of the things I’ve started doing is drinking hot water and lemon when I wake up and before I eat anything. The health benefits are huge and it’s such an easy step to add in to your day.

 

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W H Y  Y O U  S H O U L D  B E  D R I N K I N G  H O T  W A T E R  A N D  L E M O N :

– lemons are a rich source of vitamin C

– they contain pectin fiber which serves as a powerful antibacterial

– hot water and lemon early in the morning helps flush out toxins and aids digestion

– it also balances pH levels in the body

– it’s a great source of citric acid, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium

– it helps with reducing pain and inflammation in joints and knees as it dissolves uric acid

– the potassium content in lemon helps nourish brain and nerve cells

– it strengthens the liver by providing energy to the liver enzymes when they are too dilute

– it’s great for your skin as it helps prevent the formation of wrinkles and acne

– it helps maintain healthy eyes

– it also helps replenish body salts

 

I’ve also been trying to do a little gentle exercise, every morning I can manage it, before breakfast. I find that making a conscious decision to start the day well in this way really helps me make better decisions regarding food and exercise all day long. I’d really recommend it. My morning warm ups of choice have been swimming (it was far too hot to run in France) and yoga. I got into swimming so much in France that upon my return to London I really missed it. We had a family wedding in Sussex in July and stayed at the Spread Eagle Hotel (which was everything a Sussex B&B should be so if you’re ever in the area you should totally stay there) and which turned out to have a pool, steam, sauna and jacuzzi. Result! I had no idea it would and we were only there for one night, but such was my excitement at the idea of getting to have an early morning swim before the wedding, that I managed to purchase myself a nifty black Speedo cossie at the spa and swim I did! It’s actually quite nice to have a super practical swimming costume. Here’s the one I have.

 

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I’m not quite sure how yoga crept up on me but I’m really liking it. I’d done a bit of Pilates here and there but not really yoga and wondered if I’d find it too challenging. It’s possible I would actually find it a bit much if I was going to ‘real’ classes and feeling like the least flexible person there but I’m not, I’m ‘cheating’ and doing it at home with the utterly wonderful Adriene. I’ve totally fallen in love with Yoga with Adriene and am working through her 30 Days of Yoga videos. It’s totally doable, totally rewarding and totally free! It’s so nice to wake up in the morning and ‘go to the mat’. Adriene makes yoga very accessible and I’m feeling a real sense of achievement every day I practice. Yay me! Maybe at some point I’ll be able to peal my spine one vertebrae at time rather than it just plonking the whole thing down in one go, but for now I’m pretty proud of my planks and who doesn’t love shavasana?

 

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