Thursday, 2 November 2017

SCOTLAND

Room Service Breakfast
Featuring Scottish Salmon
 I think Edinburgh might be my most favourite city in the world.  It is just as beautiful as Paris but more compact, the stones of the streets and buildings are shrouded in history, and from most parts of the city the views of green hills or the sea (the Firth of Forth) are visible.
We spent four nights at The Balmoral in early October and it was one of the nicest holidays we've ever had.  We didn't have the Rascals with us so we were quite free to do as we pleased, with the exception of an environmental law conference my hubs was attending.
Room service breakfasts at The Balmoral are always beautiful and they are a must if you are a crabby morning person like me (especially with jet lag).
Our view from The Balmoral

 On our first full day we headed over to the Palace of Holyrood House, a first for us, we didn't have time on our previous visit.  It's shockingly beautiful!  The rooms are surprisingly available for viewing with an excellent audio tour, even though the Queen does use the Palace.  I think my favourite bit was the apartment used by Mary, Queen of Scots.
Royal lantern at the Palace.

Entrance

Theming with the royal-looking unicorns.
 I wasn't allowed to take photos in the palace but here's the link so you can check out the Palace and read all about the history.

Exiting the palace one enters Holyrood Abbey and it is overwhelming.  The walls seem to speak, as well they should because the history of the ruin is pretty amazing.  You can read about it here.





 Once we were through gaping at the Abbey we strolled through the Palace gardens.
My favourite bit of the garden.

Abbey exterior from the gardens.
 We then had a plan to walk up to Arthur's Seat, well let's just say that Peter Pie had a plan that I had said "maybe" to.  It's always like this when we travel: Pie has a list of five or six things to see/visit for the day and I usually say "pick two... and include a nice place for lunch".

We started on the walk and it was a fine day, a bit nippy in the wind but some lovely sunshine and fresh breezes from the Firth of Forth.
Beginning the climb.
 Unfortunately the walk was a bit more challenging than we had anticipated.  The first clue should have been the fact that the other hikers all had mountaineer boots on with Patagonia shell-type jackets and were carrying Alpine walking sticks.  I was wearing a dress, Hermes scarf and high-heeled leather boots.  Pie was wearing a tweed suit and black leather dress shoes.
Halfway up the path, just before the steep, rocky cragginess. 
 To be honest any discomfort we were about to experience could have been avoided if we had turned back when the path became rocky and slightly treacherous.  But Pie always has to go to the limit and just had to get to the top.  As we approached the summit we found the path very slippery... and then it started raining.
Pie decided to scramble to the very, very top and left me at the the edge of the summit in the howling wind and rain.
Then I looked down the side of the cliff, felt the vertigo swirl around my head, and decided to get the hell out of there.
View of a structure from somewhere on the path.
 As I scrambled down the path in the wind and rain I thought that Pie would be right after me, but NO.  In fact once he reached the summit he became confused by the (difficult) terrain and went back down the summit the wrong way.  After realizing this he had to backtrack and by this time half an hour had gone by.  When he finally found the place where he'd left me I was long gone of course! 

Anyway, all's well that ends well.  I did spend an irritating forty five minutes or so waiting at the bottom of the path.  After some time a few hikers stopped to chat, inquiring if I was waiting for "a man in a suit"?  Apparently there was a frantic man at the summit in an attractive tweed suit, desperately trying to borrow a cellphone from some Scotsmen so he could at least phone me (Pie's iPhone had died... of course).
No one would give him a lend, one gentlemen even said "I don't think so Laddy, I've heard that scam before!"

So of course by the time Pie found me I wasn't irritated anymore, I just felt a bit bad for him.  And more importantly we were still in time for the highlight of our day:
Champagne Tea at The Signet Library!!!
 There is no irritation that cannot be cured with a coupe of champagne, especially when meeting up with our Scottish friends.  We had a few laughs about our hike to Arthur's Seat too.

How about the lawyer's mailboxes at The Signet Library:
So charming.
 We spent the evening at one of our favourite restaurants in Edinburgh: Angels with Bagpipes.
Polenta with mushrooms at Angels with Bagpipes.
 The next morning we headed over to the National Museum of Scotland.  The museum is vast, there's so much to see, but a highlight for us was the exhibit on Bonnie Prince Charlie.

One of my favourite items in the entire museum?  The Beaton Panels, which were commissioned by Cardinal David Beaton in 1530.
Detail of one of the eight Beaton Panels.
I also loved this carving of St. Andrew, holding his saltire cross:
 If you do go to the Museum, make a reservation at The Tower!
You won't regret it.
The Tower Restaurant 

Champagne

Oysters 

Delicious plant-based lunch.
 Another lovely restaurant/bar that we frequented more than once was The Cafe Royal.  It is conveniently located just across the street from The Balmoral and we loved the food, and the pub atmosphere.

Pub Wisdom

The bar in the side room at the Cafe Royal
 The next morning saw Pie off to his conference so I made good use of the spa at The Balmoral.  Then I was picked up by our friends for an afternoon outing to Prestonfield House.
Wore this ruana to Prestonfield House over a camel hair outfit.
Bought the ruana on the Royal Mile of course, great place to buy wool.

 If you are ever in Edinburgh you must go to Prestonfield House, even just for drinks as we did.  It is stunning!
Corner of the Biffy

Another bit of the Biffy

Paintings and urns everywhere.

Chinoiserie cabinet gone mad.


Windowseat, there are windowseats everywhere.



One of several dining rooms.


Peacocks roaming the gardens.



 This was our last night in Edinburgh and we headed a bit further afield to an Italian restaurant for dinner.  I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant but I did take this picture of that famous statue of Sir Walter Scott on the way back to The Balmoral.  Edinburgh at night is lit up so beautifully!
If you haven't been to Edinburgh you have to go.  It's such a beautiful and inspiring city.
xoxDani

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Colour Story: Scotland in October

We're leaving today for Edinburgh and of course I've been thinking about what to pack up these last weeks.
We'll be doing lots of walking, visiting museums and pubs while taking in the extreme beauty of the city of castles.  We'll be celebrating our anniversary of the day we met while in Edinburgh and hubs has a conference to attend as well. It's lots to do in just five days.
As usual when packing up I started with a coat, and the grey and blue plaid trench coat from Brooks Brothers, above, is my favourite comfortable coat. It's a softer trench with a wider sleeve and thinner belt, it's quite easy to wear.  Of course I'll bring some scarves, at least the two I've shown but I'll likely throw a couple of more into my carry-on before we head out.
I'm bringing a small cabin-size carry on which means I'll be wearing/bringing one pair of boots, tall dark brown leather boots with a low chunky heel, perfect for walking.  I'm also bringing my dark brown handbag.
I'm bringing really simple outfits: two grey wool dresses with some Brora cardigans to throw over, my Brora shawl in a dark aubergine and these dark freshwater pearls, a long strand which wraps around three times.
A light grey wool dress with full skirt.
I like this dress so much I also have it in dark grey.
I have one pair of pants, some dark grey fitted ponte pants from JCrew, they're really comfortable too so I'll wear them on the flight with a fitted pale blue cashmere v-neck.  I've also packed some tailored shirts to wear with the pants and boots if we have a bit of a warmer day, though I have a feeling I'll just rotate my dresses.
For a special afternoon out with friends I'm planning to wear this really comfortable camel hair outfit from Brooks Brothers. The shirt is slouchy and boxy with an elbow-length sleeve, the skirt is a fitted pencil style.  I really love some of the clothes that Zac Posen has been designing for Brooks Brothers these last couple of years and this outfit and the trench coat above are my favourites.

So there you have it, a colour story with a very muted palette: greys, pale blue, camel and dark brown, offset by printed scarves and dark pearls.  To me it seems to suit the stones and sky of Edinburgh.
Have a lovely week,
xoxDani

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Linen and Leopard

 I recently redecorated our daughter Gabby's room in my usual slapdash manner.  I am terrible at sewing but yet I continue on, and this go-around I sewed up a pillow cover, a ruffly bedskirt and a duvet cover, all out of heavy linen.
Gabby very famously wore a leopard print coat when she was small, so I really wanted to add in one bit of leopard print, here in the form of a pillow on the reading chair.
The linen I chose for the bedding is quite neutral, a dark print of camel on a cream background.  I like the way it looks with the colour of the walls (Benjamin Moore HC-29) and it also offsets the other bits of patterns slightly.
The duvet cover was very easy to sew up but that ruffly bedskirt was a bugger.
 I wanted the bedskirt to be quite full looking and after much gnashing of teeth I'm pleased with the result.  The linen has an antique look to it which suits our Gabby, she's off studying Classics at University of Toronto so it seems like her style.
 I found a paisley linen fabric in some soft muted tones of blue and coral for a larger pillow cover.  I really wanted to use these small accent pillows (there's one in coral on the reading chair as well), made up of old persian rugs, I just love them because they are so worn and faded.  The idea with the new muted paisley pillow cover was to tie together the colours.

 While this room is the smallest of the bedrooms in our house in many ways it is the most beautiful.  It has a stunning view of the trees on the boulevard (this room is on our third floor) and of the historical houses across the street.
The curtains are a gold silk hung on a simple iron rod.
 The desk is a dark walnut and now that Gabby is only home for visits my hubs has taken it over for his writing.
Desk details.

A bit of chinoiserie.

A picture of Gabby in North Carolina, 2004.
 The room has sloping ceilings which can be a challenge for furniture arranging but they also make the room feel cozy.  There is a perfect spot for the dresser and a small built-in wardrobe opposite the bed and to the right of the desk.
 I nearly threw the dresser out to the curb as it was looking a little rough.  Fortunately I found a furniture tonic for dark wood that restored the colour and lustre to the worn out bits.
A wee rabbit we brought back from Chicago for Gabby.
 Gabby spent most of her childhood and adolescence reading books so I've stacked several volumes on the dresser, accessorized by a picture of her as a baby.
Look at that smile.
 Gabby was also obsessed with playing with animal toys when she was young and I've saved all of the lovely handmade woolen ones.  These are on display in her wardrobe which sat rather empty otherwise, along with more of her childhood books.


 I like touches of black here and there throughout this room, it really sets off the creamy plaster walls.  This globe is another touch of black (besides the chinoiserie desk accessories).
 Of course Gabby's room wouldn't be complete without her Brora dressing gown hanging from a hook on the door:
There it is, my latest bit of slapdash decorating.
xoxDani