Category Archives: collaborations

Wednesday…with St James’s London ( Part 1 )

March 23, 2016

Filed Under : collaborations - London - trips

Photo 09-03-2016, 14 13 59I’ve always loved exploring London, even when I lived there before I moved to Brighton, and I’ve always really liked wandering around more central areas; partly out of convenience because that’s where I’ve often had to be for work, but also partly because I love it’s history and searching for details I’ve never noticed before.

Whenever I’ve read a book set in London, like Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop or Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, I’ve adored walking around the streets cited in the pages which have been there for years but have morphed into something more modern, and I enjoy searching for it’s atmospheric clues to the past…

I am also a creature of habit, so once I find somewhere I like, I keep going back regularly; investigating it in more detail each time,  wandering around, taking things in, discovering new streets I didn’t know where there, and then finding somewhere a bit special to have lunch or tea.

So when I was asked by St James’s to immerse myself in a project called #mystjames discovering and documenting their area, right in the centre of London, it was an irresistible and really exciting opportunity…also, brilliantly, it was an area which I wasn’t familiar with, so this is my introduction post and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing lots of my discoveries and recommendations on here, Instagram, Steller and Snapchat ( I’m @five5ftinf on there )
Photo 22-03-2016, 11 03 34I’ve obviously been familiar with the Royal Academy before, and over recent years Fortnum and Mason has become a bit of a new love…there’s something about that light duck egg colour they use, their packaging, their tea, their restaurants, and just being in the building feels a very special and a proper treat…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 07 22( their window displays are always worth stopping for too… )Photo 22-03-2016, 11 10 25Photo 22-03-2016, 11 12 12and everything inside is gorgeous…IMG_0292 IMG_0299 IMG_0306…not to mention their chocolates, which I basically can’t leave the shop without…and as it’s coming up to Easter, it’s more dangerous than ever in there at the moment, as so many of their chocolate eggs are incredibly pretty!!

The quality is always fantastic too, and what’s brilliant is that you could leave with a very expensive, very special treat or… you can just treat yourself to a bit of amazing chocolate and some biscuits for about a fiver and eat them on the way home! Photo 15-03-2016, 16 32 20So, Fortnums seemed a very natural place for me to start my exploration of the area…although I also knew that the logo for St James’s is the Pelican, which were brought over as a gift from the Russian Ambassador in 1664, and which still live near Duck Island in St James’ Park today, so I thought it only right to go and have a look!
Photo 22-03-2016, 12 51 11Photo 22-03-2016, 12 33 30Photo 22-03-2016, 12 38 17…visiting the park is obviously a big touristy thing to do, as it’s such a pleasant place to be and right next to Buckingham Palace, but it’s really the more tucked away and traditional buildings and businesses of St James’s, which I wanted to focus on with this project, as well as some of the newer elements of the area…Photo 18-03-2016, 13 52 59So I started basically where the 38 bus from Victoria drops me off on Piccadilly, outside Fortnum’s, the RA and St James’s Church…which has the most magnificent magnolia in bloom at the moment…Photo 09-03-2016, 14 12 49and directly behind it, in Jermyn St, is a really sweet florist…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 25 56…and almost directly opposite that is the perfumers Floris which was established in 1730…( and which has an amazing display of paper flowers made by fellow Brightonian, the very talented Sue Beech from @apetalunfolds )Photo 22-03-2016, 11 21 11Jermyn Street is, I think, probably my favourite street in the area…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 17 49It has so many really old and very traditional businesses that it feels like you’re shopping in way which feels slower and more specific; more exact and not as rushed…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 20 12with old businesses ranging from traditional shirt makers, hat makers, shoe makers, cheese mongers and perfumers, Jermyn Street is a living, breathing piece of beautiful history…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 23 47Photo 22-03-2016, 11 26 49 Photo 22-03-2016, 11 30 44Having briefly studied History of Design at Manchester, I’m always  looking out for interesting architecture and design, and the area which, was the vision of Henry Jermyn in the 1600’s, has really wonderful buildings designed by, amongst others, by John Nash, Christopher Wren, Edwin Lutyens, Thomas Cubitt and Samuel Wyatt, and with so many blue plaques of historical occupants on them that you could spend a whole day just taking in the area on your own architectural tour without even spending anything.
Photo 22-03-2016, 11 35 14

Photo 18-03-2016, 13 48 40 (1)

Photo 18-03-2016, 13 33 10St James’s Street and leading on to Pall Mall also has some amazing old traditional shops and a couple of really wonderful little 17th Century alleys…Photo 18-03-2016, 13 16 26Photo 18-03-2016, 13 19 06Photo 18-03-2016, 13 11 06 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 58 46 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 59 01 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 47 08 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 47 27 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 51 22 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 56 30and this is Lock and Co Hatters, which is the most incredible place and deserves a whole post of it’s own as I was lucky enough to be shown around the shop last week, and work on some images with their hats which are beautiful works of art, and which I’ll post in a few days , although here’s an initial taster…Photo 18-03-2016, 14 53 41 Photo 18-03-2016, 15 59 17 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 14 52 (1) Photo 18-03-2016, 15 46 31( trying on hats always makes me very happy!! )Photo 09-03-2016, 14 36 04 As well as exploring the area on foot…( in all weathers! ) I also wanted to use the area to inspire some compositions on my own table at home…Photo 18-03-2016, 10 30 06Photo 09-03-2016, 15 45 16 (1)and after an afternoon tea at Villandry whilst sheltering from a massive rain storm, I was able to take a few of the sweetest bits home…Photo 09-03-2016, 15 15 56…and make the whole experience last even longer on the table!Photo 10-03-2016, 13 08 02I’m also really looking forward to discovering the Haymarket a bit more, and the art galleries, particulary The White Cube  in Mason’s Yard…Photo 22-03-2016, 14 07 37 (1) and the ICA on The Mall…Photo 22-03-2016, 13 14 50…as well as some more of the traditional shops like Floris, Trickers Shoes, Paxton and Whitfield’s and D R Harris and The London Library amongst others, and I’ll also be exploring a few of the restaurants and cafes too…

There’s nothing like discovering a new area for lots of inspiration, and also one of the massive plusses for me where St James’s is concerned is that I can wander around ( obviously taking lots of photos ) without literally bumping in to people and jostling for space on the pavement…I hadn’t realised that there was a quiet, beautiful and completely fascinating place just behind the manic-ness of Piccadilly Circus.Photo 22-03-2016, 12 12 30And although you can walk away with very expensive purchases, you can also walk away with really beautiful, quality bits and pieces which don’t cost the earth…( and work out how to save up for the best hat in the world! )Photo 15-03-2016, 16 37 55 (1)Photo 15-03-2016, 16 07 39So, over the next 3 months I’ll be posting more about my travels and trips into St James’s as well as putting together some collections and arrangements on the table!
Photo 22-03-2016, 11 49 06

You can see the Steller Story version here and if you do find yourself in the area taking pictures, it would be great if you wanted to use the #mystjames hashtag too, on Instagram, Twitter and Steller, and we can share our independent discoveries!

Sunday…with the Calais Jungle and The Worldwide Tribe

February 28, 2016

Filed Under : collaborations - short poem films - trips - Winter

Photo 27-02-2016, 17 00 50It’s 01:22 am and I’m sitting in my car in a petrol station in Crawley…I’ve filled my car with petrol but there’s a long queue outside in the freezing cold to pay the lone attendant through the hole in the glass window. I’m in my car because the queue of slightly drunk men is really intimidating, and I decide it’s better to stay well out of the way until they’ve loaded up and left…

Two hours before I was at another petrol station in Thornton Heath waiting for Alice to come back with a bottle of water when a man randomly shouted at me through the window and tried to open my car door before I quickly started the car and drove away….

Four hours before, an Afghan man in the Calais Jungle had randomly offered Davorka and me a stack of hot, fresh naan bread he was carrying when he saw us eagerly looking at it…

And an hour before that, I’d been round a small fire with a lovely group of Sudanese men who insisted we sit down on chairs and share a cup of sugary clove tea with them…

I can definitely say I felt more intimidated at a couple of petrol stations in South East England than by anything in The Calais Jungle…


At the start of this week a group of us who knew each other via Instagram met at my house to knit some warm things for the refugees in Calais and which I could take across and distribute when I got to the Jungle.

Photo 22-02-2016, 11 54 16 Photo 22-02-2016, 12 45 30 Photo 22-02-2016, 15 16 01 Photo 22-02-2016, 16 48 25

I didn’t know  what to expect at all from my visit, but wanted to be able to at least take something useful, and something which people in the UK, who cared about the refugee situation, could do at home and still feel connected…

I was going to Calais with Davorka ( from @tilly2milly on Instagram ) and Jaz and Jess from @theworldwidetribe. The World Wide tribe does amazing work on the ground at refugee camps and are working incredibly hard to raise awareness of the real situation the refugees are facing at the moment..

Davorka and I wrapped all the knitted hats on the Friday evening and got ready for an early drive to Kent to meet up and travel with Jaz and Jess and another lovely woman, Alice, who also came to the camp with us.

Photo 26-02-2016, 22 18 42

I plagued Jaz with questions for the whole journey and probably only stopped when we pulled up and parked near The Jungle itself.

My initial surprise was that the camp was so much larger than I had anticipated…I had not anticipated that what The Jungle actually feels like/has a sense of is a small town…

I went to The Jungle not expecting to find something so civilised; something with such order, tolerance and definite community. Yes, it’s muddy and a patchwork of shelters and tents, but it has personality and a sense of humanity, just like any village, and it has all been built up creatively by hand, hope and kindness.

I also went wanting answers to some of those basic questions which people ask and which I didn’t feel fully equipped to answer…

“Why don’t they just accept assylum in France…they’ve been offered it?”

So, very simply, they haven’t in fact been offered asylum in France, they’ve been offered the opportunity to ‘apply’ for asylum. This means that if they stay in France and they apply for asylum and don’t get it, they will be deported back to their own country, for instance as Sudan is not at war, and is instead suffering from ethnic cleansing and genocide, they are less likely to successfully gain asylum, and if they are deported they will almost definitely be arrested on their return and face torture and death for leaving the country.

The people from countries at war may have a better chance of claiming asylum, but as the French authorities point out, it is not something they can guarantee…

“ but don’t they just want to come to the UK for the benefits…I’ve heard them interviewed and that’s what they say”

Well, it depends how  you interpret ‘benefits’…

If you are under the impression that these traumatised people; teachers, lawyers, students, musicians, people who are educated, who have jobs and who have not been living a third world existence out of tents and shelters in their own country, have travelled thousands of miles, lost friends of the back of trucks which didn’t stop to pick them up whilst speeding through the Sahara Desert, been robbed and raped by people traffickers and escaped machete attacks and torture in their hometowns are simply wanting to be in the UK for our state benefits, you have been grossly misinformed.

The benefits these people want from our country are the benefits we should be proud of; they are the benefits of the fairest system available to these people, a system which will not necessarily send them back to certain lifelong misery. They are not after our jobs, handouts and they are not here to frighten us or to try and take over…they simply want to be safe, and the UK offers more safety and fairness, if you make it here, than lots of the other European countries…the UK really does feel like a promised land, and not because suddenly they’re going to be loaded with free income from state benefits.

It’s hard to think of yourself in that position, put yourself in that terrifying place, especially I have to say, when you’re having a laugh with a 21 year old teaching student from Sudan who can’t understand why you wouldn’t like maths or physics, and who excitedly tells me that sounds even have colour!! ( to be honest I thought the chances of having a conversation about synaesthesia in The Jungle were going to be non existent!! )…and then you walk away, back to a car which is going to easily get you safely home, and you remember that he also said he thought his sister may be in Ireland, but he didn’t know if she knew he was alive or not…he didn’t have a phone number or know where she lived and he last saw her 7 years ago…

…and also that other question How come they’ve got mobile phones?”

All I can really say to that is, if you could have a mobile phone, or a smartphone in that situation you would, wouldn’t you?… If you were living in a shelter in a camp ( which you feel ashamed to be living in because you’re used to living in a comfortable family home ), and you could find a volunteer who’s managed to get some electricity running from a generator, a volunteer who’s installed wifi and a volunteer who’s managed to find you a donated phone, wouldn’t you take it and charge it up, call your family, your friends, and maybe even ‘someone who knows someone’ who can help you get into the UK…I know I would.

“Why don’t they accept the container housing offered?”

Having experienced the community in the Jungle and seen the containers which are being offered, I can personally say that they don’t look inviting at all; they look more like the child catcher’s come to town and they’re waiting to ’contain’ you. They look like they’re cages without freedom with certainly no sense of community like the camp has, and they are simply the next step to applying for asylum, they are not a solution, and there is no real safety or comfort involved. Having said that a lot of the women and children have taken this option, to keep their babies and small children clean and safe, but it’s not an easy option and is just as frightening as waiting in camp…

As the sun was disappearing we all ate at ‘Kabul Cafe’, a cafe run by some of the entrepreneurial Afghans in the camp, and had amazing Afghan food: spiced eggs, lentils, rice and warm naan.

As we left the camp, the sun had already gone down and I thought of one of the Syrian men who said he’d been asleep all day so that he was awake enough to be able to try and get across that evening…( some of these men try up to four times a week ). I thought of the Afghan man who was flying a kite which he’d made with his son, and who told us he’d been spared being robbed by traffickers recently while most of the others in the group he was with hadn’t been spared that indignity. I thought of the two teenagers we met who’d only been in camp for a few days and then of the men who’d been there for 7 months…

Our Sudanese friends walked us to our car, we hugged them, wished them Good Luck and they told us to be safe, and I got in the car and started on the journey home with a different sort of conscience…

Photo 27-02-2016, 14 39 05Photo 27-02-2016, 14 38 53Photo 27-02-2016, 14 36 17Photo 27-02-2016, 14 36 58Photo 27-02-2016, 17 10 06Photo 27-02-2016, 14 43 48Photo 27-02-2016, 14 49 56

Photo 27-02-2016, 14 50 11Photo 27-02-2016, 14 51 51Photo 27-02-2016, 14 53 22Photo 27-02-2016, 14 53 52Photo 27-02-2016, 14 54 06Photo 27-02-2016, 14 55 11Photo 27-02-2016, 14 55 38Photo 27-02-2016, 14 56 14Photo 27-02-2016, 14 56 18Photo 27-02-2016, 14 58 12Photo 27-02-2016, 14 59 03Photo 27-02-2016, 15 01 52Photo 27-02-2016, 15 15 11Photo 27-02-2016, 15 16 19

Photo 27-02-2016, 14 51 30 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 03 36 Photo 27-02-2016, 14 52 09 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 06 00 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 13 40 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 17 18 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 18 31 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 19 23 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 21 26 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 22 08 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 27 06 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 23 28 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 23 57 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 23 42 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 26 28 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 33 28 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 32 36 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 56 32 Photo 27-02-2016, 15 59 52 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 15 14 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 15 29 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 16 34 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 19 27 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 22 37 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 25 59 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 26 17 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 28 21 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 29 44 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 31 14 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 31 46 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 30 29 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 31 24 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 32 43 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 33 25 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 34 15 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 35 10 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 36 21 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 38 05 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 39 11 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 42 51 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 42 46 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 49 05 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 50 20 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 52 59 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 56 57 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 57 16 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 58 22 Photo 27-02-2016, 17 00 12 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 59 23 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 57 39 Photo 27-02-2016, 17 01 04 Photo 27-02-2016, 17 07 40 Photo 27-02-2016, 17 06 53 Photo 27-02-2016, 17 02 19 Photo 27-02-2016, 17 09 25 Photo 27-02-2016, 17 09 32 Photo 27-02-2016, 17 08 02 Photo 27-02-2016, 17 59 21 Photo 27-02-2016, 18 00 48 Photo 27-02-2016, 18 08 53 This was when I delivered some of our knitting efforts helped by our KnitAid patterns…this particular hat was knitted by Janice Issitt, but lots of the others came from Holly Bell, Emma Herian, Natasha, Shelagh, Caroline, and KarenPhoto 27-02-2016, 18 09 25 Photo 27-02-2016, 18 20 01 Photo 27-02-2016, 16 33 36 (1)Photo 27-02-2016, 17 24 12Photo 27-02-2016, 17 11 42

How Jaz manages to stay bright, cheerful, hopeful and strong whilst visiting the camp so regularly is a mystery…she really is amazing, and that’s obviously why they love her in camp, and she absolutely personifies The Worldwide Tribe.

If you want to know more about the camp, what you can do to help, or just want to be updated with news please follow The Worldwide Tribe on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and help raise awareness to this humanitarian crisis…

Photo 27-02-2016, 14 37 28





Tuesday…with Cable and Cotton

November 17, 2015

Filed Under : collaborations - Open House - The Shed - Winter

Photo 17-11-2015, 12 02 23A few weeks ago I was invited to collaborate with a fantastic independent lighting shop in Brighton called Cable and Cotton who produce the most colourful and creative strings of handmade cotton lights…you choose the string length and then you can choose as many or as few colours as you want ( it explains it all here )…I was asked to create an alternative Christmas window for their shop in the Lanes in Brighton, and as the shop is basically packed with amazing colours,  you can probably imagine I was in colour heaven…

imageimageimageimagePhoto 05-11-2015, 10 15 29 (1)…at the back of the shop is a wall of coloured lights which is so beautiful and started to inspire what I was going to put together for the window…
Photo 05-11-2015, 10 23 37Photo 26-10-2015, 10 59 03Photo 02-11-2015, 06 51 26I decided that I wanted to echo the mass of colour in the shop and make the window cosy and magical at the same time…I’ve also been preparing my new Christmas shed installation, so I cleared some space and had a practice with some of my colourful objects…Photo 01-11-2015, 12 42 20

…so when I started on the window, I sort of knew where I was going with it, but also wanted to be able to improvise within the idea…Photo 09-11-2015, 11 49 52 Photo 09-11-2015, 12 27 56 ( and make quite a bit of mess in the shop! )Photo 09-11-2015, 13 11 15 Photo 09-11-2015, 13 36 43 Photo 09-11-2015, 14 09 05 Photo 09-11-2015, 14 09 45 Photo 09-11-2015, 16 54 16 Photo 10-11-2015, 13 45 51 Photo 10-11-2015, 13 47 31 I love organising colour and working detailed object arrangements in amongst natural colours, so working coloured lights into it was a wonderful opportunity…Photo 10-11-2015, 13 49 58 Photo 10-11-2015, 13 53 19 Photo 10-11-2015, 13 55 06 Photo 10-11-2015, 13 57 54 Photo 10-11-2015, 14 01 14 Photo 10-11-2015, 14 02 07 Photo 10-11-2015, 14 03 22 Photo 11-11-2015, 15 22 35 As part of my shed installation for my Christmas Open House this year, I’m also using some strings of lights which really lend themselves to creating a festive and magical atmosphere without resorting to the often over done Christmas glitter and snow…Photo 17-11-2015, 11 30 21 My inspiration this year is a combination of Narnia ( and Edmund’s love of Turkish Delight ), mixed with the white of winter…

I’m a massive colour lover, so working with white is quite different and I’ve realised how important it’s role is in my life…it completely calms me down!Photo 17-11-2015, 11 31 04 Photo 17-11-2015, 11 39 33 …the shed isn’t finished yet, but it will be when we have our first Open House day this weekend…and suffice to say there will be an abundance of pretty, glowing lights from Cable and Cotton as I basically can’t get enough of them!!Photo 17-11-2015, 11 42 48 Photo 17-11-2015, 12 07 37If you’d like to see my window display in Brighton and visit the shop, Cable and Cotton are located at 24 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, BN1 1HB ( more info about the shop here ). You can also choose and order their strings of lights in their on line shop and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

You can see the Steller Story version here

Saturday…with scented reflections

October 31, 2015

Filed Under : Art - Autumn - collaborations - My Home - synaesthesia - workshops

Photo 27-10-2015 10 29 34

When I’m not filling my table with lopped off flower heads, I paint… and painting has always been the impetus and background to my photographic compositions on The Table before Instagram and blogging were ever in my life…

And this week I’ve been up to my eyes with painting, as on Thursday I ran 2 synaesthesia based workshops for The Perfume Soceity with Illuminum, London at the Illuminum gallery in Mayfair.

I had been sent 5 of the Illuminum fragrances a few weeks ago which I had painted sketches of, and I had also composed a photographic composition inspired by scent for the cover of the Perfume Society’s magazine ‘The Scented Letter’…
Photo 27-10-2015 09 46 17 Photo 06-10-2015 17 43 33 Being a synaesthete means that I see the shapes, colours and textures which accompany the senses and through paint I am able to create an impression of what goes on inside my head…

My favourite scent out of the 5 I was given was ‘Taif Rose’ which I decided I would translate into a large canvas painting…
Photo 27-10-2015 09 49 50 Photo 27-10-2015 09 49 58 Photo 27-10-2015 10 35 49 Photo 27-10-2015 10 00 58 ( I started off in the shed but as the hours went on I decamped to the back room, so I could just slink off to bed in the early hours, and then carry on in the morning… )Photo 31-10-2015 09 47 36The other fragrances I was sent were…

‘Black Rose’Photo 06-10-2015 17 43 40‘White Musk’Photo 06-10-2015 17 43 24‘Black Oud’Photo 09-10-2015 13 05 56‘Tribal Black Tea’Photo 09-10-2015 17 46 54I went to visit the gallery space last week where the workshops were held and where an amazing installation occupies the gallery…It’s called ‘Colour as a Narrative’ and was put together by Antonino CardilloPhoto 23-10-2015 15 23 32Photo 23-10-2015 15 22 39Photo 23-10-2015 15 23 01Photo 23-10-2015 15 24 03As the participants were not only going to be smelling perfumes but also drawing and painting the scent, I spent a bit of time during the week choosing some materials…Photo 26-10-2015 12 23 57Photo 26-10-2015 12 23 47Photo 26-10-2015 12 23 25( and also using my new and very favorite ‘Colour Dictionary’ of pencils from Niwaki )Photo 29-10-2015 10 10 42Photo 29-10-2015 17 48 05I set up at the gallery on Thursday and also brought along shade cards, flowers and ceramics by Holly Bell, so that colour and texture was around and inspiring but without being intrusive…Photo 29-10-2015 10 10 22 (1)I had pre prepared textured small canvases for everyone, and basically encouraged the inner abstract I believe everyone has, but something which people just need the time and space to explore…it was very satisfying to see everyone completely absorbed in their own creative worlds completely working with their senses…Photo 29-10-2015 17 47 39

I wasn’t very handy with my phone during the event as all hands were needed for painting and explaining, but luckily the absolutely amazing photographer Aliona Adrianova was there taking the wonderful images below… ( and you must take a look at her incredible portraits here )
4 5 6 111142157 138 12 17

9 10( You can see more of my synaesthetic paintings here and please contact me if you would like to discuss a commission or purchase. There is also a Steller Story version you can look at here )

Tuesday…with Brocco on the Park, Sheffield

October 27, 2015

Filed Under : Autumn - collaborations - trips - workshops


When I saw a long and busy weekend ahead of me in Sheffield, I knew it would be a real treat at the end of the Friday, after a long drive from Brighton and preparing for the ‘Vase to Table’ workshop, to stay in an hotel…but to stay in such a beautiful small hotel as Brocco on the Park was more than a treat…it is a complete oasis, and not only that, the food and the service in their restaurant is amazing.

I discovered Brocco on the Park back in July ( care of searching on Instagram and finding their account here ) after a nightmare 8 and a half hour drive from Brighton, and so I knew it would be the best place to stay in Sheffield during the workshop weekend…

One of the things I love about it is the interior design which the owner Tiina Carr ( who’s half Finnish ), has taken so much care over getting right; even the small details have been considered, right down to the beautiful graphics painted onto the wallpaper There are only 8 rooms and each one has been named after a different bird…( even your keys have a bird fob! )

There is also some really good art dotted around the hotel…we were really taken by Jonathan Wilkinsons work which you can see here

imageimageI also love that in each room they leave you a book…nothing too intimidating, just things you can dip into with a sense of relaxation…Photo 26-06-2015 19 31 16

…and you don’t just get tea and coffee in your room, you get homemade cake too!

Basically Brocco makes you feel so comfortable in your bedroom, you have to tear yourself away to visit the restaurant downstairs…

Photo 27-06-2015 08 25 19 Photo 26-06-2015 19 35 14 image imagePhoto 27-06-2015 09 13 45 Photo 27-06-2015 09 12 48Photo 27-06-2015 09 12 18

…and to be honest the restaurant was one of my favourite parts of the whole stay.

I love eating out, I always have ever since I was a child…it’s what I used to ask for for my birthday present!

…I suppose as I’ve got older I’ve become a real stickler for good service as well as food; it’s the combination of the two which makes a meal so pleasurable… or not. I’ve had meals which have tasted amazing but the table service has been so snooty that I’d never go back…

But at Brocco, even if the food had been just mediocre, I have definitely gone back anyway as the standard of service was so outstanding, but the food was completely amazing as well. The hotel says that if something can be homemade, handpicked or personalised that’s what they’ll choose ( you can see some of their menus here ).

I ordered the mackerel, then the steak for my main course, and was surprised but completely won over, when our waiter, Joe, presented me with a wooden box full of beautiful, bone handled steak knives which I was asked to choose from…I loved the theatricality of this personal touch; the meal wasn’t just about eating, it was about engaging with it too…
Photo 27-06-2015 08 58 25Photo 26-06-2015 20 32 19

I’m not a big pudding fan, but rather unfashionably I do love an Irish coffee; my Dad always used to have a ‘floater’ when we went out as kids and I thought it looked really sophisticated, so I decided to ask if Joe could make one,  under strong protest from my other half not to ask, saying that no-one does ‘floaters’ these days…

…and he was right; Joe thought I wanted a Bailey’s in my coffee, ( which I went for in the end ), but he seemed really interested in this hot, whisky coffee I’d conjured up from the 1980’s ( a time before his time! )

The next evening it turned out that another brilliant waiter, Stuart, not only knew how to make them but was an absolute expert…he was going to show Joe how to do it properly…and Stuart’s Irish coffee was one of the best I’ve had in years!! Now that’s what I call ‘personalised’ service…I could have stayed in the restaurant for hours drinking Irish coffees before I went to bed…

Photo 26-06-2015 21 37 52imageimageimageLuckily, breakfast was just as good as dinner…image

and I could quite happily have stayed for a week having my own version of a retreat…rather than sitting in the car all day driving home and eating far too much popcorn!

The hotel is now gearing up for Christmas and New Year ; I certainly noticed a change in temperature from Autumn to Winter when I was up there, so they’ve got lots of seasonal stuff happening, ( including a table decoration workshop by their resident florist Alison Doxy with a 2 course meal included! ).

They’re also doing Festive Afternoon Teas, which is my idea of Heaven, and of course I completely agree when they say ‘ there’s no better gift than sharing tea and cake’…I just wish I lived closer, but to be honest that’s not going to keep me away from this wonderful little hotel…I’m planning a birthday getaway already!


You can find out lots more little details about the hotel and their upcoming events via their website, Twitter and Facebook page, and you can also see the Steller Story version of my trip here

Tuesday…with Vase To Table catch up

October 20, 2015

Filed Under : Art - Autumn - collaborations - workshops

Photo 19-10-2015 08 58 16 I spent an amazing few days away in Sheffield this weekend, running the Vase to Table Autumn workshop with Anna Potter from Swallows and Damsons in the amazing venue 156 Arundel St, run by photographer India Hobson… ( and staying at the wonderful hotel Brocco on the Park which I’ll write a separate post about later this week… )

The photos below are from the set up to the finalé….

We set up the space the afternoon before; organising vintage backdrops and colour ordered props…Photo 16-10-2015 18 28 51 Photo 16-10-2015 17 40 22 Photo 16-10-2015 15 31 10 Photo 16-10-2015 17 39 29 …and then Anna and I laid and ‘dressed’  the table for the workshop lunch and tea…Photo 16-10-2015 17 39 04 Photo 16-10-2015 17 39 04 (1) Photo 16-10-2015 17 38 43 Photo 16-10-2015 17 38 21 Photo 16-10-2015 17 45 10 Anna worked with everyone in the morning,creating beautiful autumnal arrangements in fantastic cement pots…Photo 17-10-2015 10 39 58 Photo 17-10-2015 10 40 13 Photo 17-10-2015 11 03 09 Photo 17-10-2015 11 28 59 Photo 17-10-2015 11 47 56 Photo 17-10-2015 11 47 21 We encouraged as much mess as possible…it’s always far more creative and freeing…Photo 17-10-2015 11 49 37 Photo 17-10-2015 11 50 05 Photo 17-10-2015 11 51 47 Photo 17-10-2015 11 59 53 Photo 17-10-2015 12 00 14 Photo 17-10-2015 12 00 37 Photo 17-10-2015 12 06 14 Photo 17-10-2015 12 02 22 Photo 17-10-2015 12 15 45 Photo 17-10-2015 12 13 16 Photo 17-10-2015 12 39 14 everyone was able to move their arrangements around the room trying out different backdrops and textured walls…Photo 17-10-2015 12 46 06 (1) Photo 17-10-2015 12 19 12 Photo 17-10-2015 12 14 34 and then we had lunch!Photo 17-10-2015 13 02 06 Photo 17-10-2015 13 30 51 Photo 17-10-2015 13 31 30 After lunch I wanted to make use of all sorts of cast off bits and pieces from the morning…Photo 17-10-2015 14 06 58 and my starting point is always colour ordering…Photo 17-10-2015 14 10 03 before adding the natural textures,,,Photo 17-10-2015 14 34 21 Photo 17-10-2015 14 51 33 Then everyone else spent the afternoon on their arrangements on the floor as the textures down there were amazing…Photo 17-10-2015 15 01 03 Photo 17-10-2015 15 38 55 Photo 17-10-2015 15 15 45 Photo 17-10-2015 15 18 36 Photo 17-10-2015 15 42 37 Photo 17-10-2015 16 15 07 Photo 19-10-2015 08 20 35 After tea, we all embarked on a communal colour ombré which was manic, exciting and very colourfulPhoto 17-10-2015 16 29 29 Photo 17-10-2015 16 32 02 Photo 17-10-2015 16 31 19 Photo 17-10-2015 16 30 13 Photo 17-10-2015 16 29 19 imageimage …and then India and I took that a little further with the colour coding of sticks and twigs which were about to get thrown awayPhoto 17-10-2015 16 54 05…and these were the pieces of marvellousness which got to go home with everyone!Photo 17-10-2015 16 35 46It was a fantastic day, made really wonderful by the students ( you can see images from @fridakim_london , @thisisjules, @yiyouniya , @hannahiwilson , @pollenfloraljoy and @leafycouture  @swallowsanddamsons @indiahobson and @156arundelst ) the macaroons ( by Showmejoni ), the space…and of course the flowers

You can see the Steller Story version here 

Thursday…with the givaway * winner *

September 24, 2015

Filed Under : Autumn - collaborations

Photo 24-09-2015 10 46 50

The beautiful wakasaya garden scissors were won today by lucky Carolina Ferrer and it was announced on Niwaki’s Instagram feed here this morning.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered via the blog, Facebook, Steller and Instagram…and if you didn’t win, there is a little bonus on at the moment which means you will get a 10% discount for any orders placed via over the next 3 weeks if you use the code: 5FTINFNIWAKI

There are some really gorgeous and practical things…some of which you can have a browse through here on my Niwaki Pinterest board …( definitely stuff to go on christmas lists! )

I’ve so enjoyed working with the owner of Niwaki, Jake Hobson, on this collaboration, and no doubt some of these beautiful tools will be cropping up in many my images as well as being loved and used daily!

Photo 16-09-2015 15 18 45