Saturday 29 October 2011

It is that time of the year...

... when the ghosts and the ghoulies may come knocking on your door...

But if they approach the Swenglish house, they should be warned... 

...that here, they may just run into the scariest, spookiest character of all...

Do not let yourself be fooled by her placid appearance...

... you do not really know where she sleeps at night...

Do you...?


Happy Halloween everyone!

Welcome to all of you new viewers who have found your way here via Pinterest (where one of my photos has been repinned frequently in the past few days, - to date an astonishing 1013 times!). The internet is an extraordinary thing...
(The last two photos taken in the morning mist in the graveyard of Malmesbury Abbey,)

Saturday 22 October 2011

A sunny day in October...

... I decided to add these enormous Turkish acorns to the side table in the kitchen...
(Like my children, I seem to end up with all sorts of treasures in my coat 
pockets - these brown-hatted friends picked in Ankara a few weeks back.) to my treasured little cabinet (given this lovely 
vintage look by my talented friend Sarah)...

... and since I was in a decorating mood, I quickly snatched one of the green pumpkins 
from the row of pumpkins lined up in the conservatory to "redden" 
(hoping the man in the house will not notice the blunt veggie kidnapping)...

On the bottom shelf, nothing new: a bucket of old conkers, two rusty shoe lasts and... "planted" onions with some fresh moss...

The sun was flooding the room today...

... encouraging day dreams of summery scents and sun-soaked happiness...

... forgetting, in a moment's blissful ignorance, that there are only 63 days to Christmas!!!

Hoping your weekend is sun-soaked and fabulous, wherever you are!
All the best,

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Tales from Turkey - Part III

Dear readers,
A warm thank you to you all for visiting my little corner of the blog universe, 
a special welcome to new readers and a big hello to 
old blog friends as well as anonymous readers. 

As I continue to chase my own tail trying to catch up with life, here are a few more photos from my trip to Turkey a few weeks ago. Can you smell the sweet, almost nauseating cloud of water pipe smoke holding your nostrils captive? As fascinated as I was by this exotic environment, it was not long before I felt a need to escape into the streets of Istanbul for some... well, if not fresh, then at least a little less water pipe-infested air.

Even though I am rather pleased Atatürk (the founder of the Turkish republic) ordered a change to the latin alphabet in 1929 (makes it a lot easier to find your way around as a tourist), I find the old Turkish form of the Arabic script incredibly beautiful!

Now, after having attempted to calm down the hustle and bustle of the Istanbul explosion of impressions with a few black and white photos, I simply have to end this journey on a more colourful note, much truer to how I see Istanbul:

A wall in the Harem at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Are you into colourful mosaics? If so, this is MUST SEE territory! The extraordinary Harem at Topkapi Palace is a jaw-dropping, retina-tickling, mind-boggling visual experience, and made me want to return to the Swenglish home (which felt drearily pale in comparison) with my pockets full of bluey-green mosaics en masse, and transform a room or four...

Hm. Billy the bookshelf from IKEA, or the built-in beauties above? Tough call... 

As a tourist in this magnificent city, you may want to visit the Blue Mosque on the inside. You may, however, be slightly overwhelmed by the crowds having shared the same idea. If so, do try to make your way to the stunning Rüstem Pasha Mosque next to the spice bazaar, where you are much more likely to experience the calm, the beauty in architectural detail and simply catch your breath in a blue-tiled haven only a few steps away from the bustling bazaar, but a million miles away from it at the same time.

Rüstempaşa Camii, (Rüstem Pasha Mosque), Istanbul

Rüstempaşa Camii, (Rüstem Pasha Mosque), Istanbul

My last postcard to you from Turkey will be a photo I have showed here before. I was hoping to take new ones of the waterfront in Ortaköy, but as I found the mosque undergoing renovation and completely covered in plastic at the moment, it did not offer the most lens-tempting motif... so, recycled from a few years back, some misty magic: 

Ortaköy (Istanbul)


Last but not least:


Do you remember this photo I took in Castle Combe a little while ago?

What an amazing honour! Johanna, with the blog Johanna kan vissla
was inspired by it and decided to paint it (below)! Isn't this gorgous?!

Until soon,
all the best,

Monday 10 October 2011

Harvest delights...

Yes, you may have guessed it, it was this little metal up-side-down cup that was introduced to the oriental corners of the Swenglish Home on my return from Turkey last week.

I can assure you that it was with some pizazz that the man in the house, a k a self-proclaimed gardener, strolled down the garden path the other day with a wheelbarrow full of "ugly" pumpkins. "The uglier the better", says mentioned gardener, but I think they are rather gorgeous and certainly do not want to encourage them to turn orange - these speckled green babies are perfect like this!

Decorative cabbage - definitely an autumn favourite...

Mixing old and new, rough and smooth...

Is it just me, or isn't there something particularly cheeky about this little yellow fellow? 
In a sort of  "I'm the king of the castle, you're the...etc" -way?

Not a fan of mixing too many colours? Never put yellow with purple and pink? Yes, I am on your side, but sometimes when autumn wraps its darker, gloomier arms around me, I tend to allow myself the odd no-rule colour fiesta...

What I used my little tassled souvenir for? A piece of Turkish delight, of course!

Afiyet olsun! (Turkish for "bon appétit".)

Sunday 9 October 2011

Tales from Turkey - Part II

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul has allegedly got 58 covered streets and over 4000 shops! Overwhelming is a pale understatement. Getting-lost-factor? Very high. However, this being my fourth visit, and having been blessed with a built-in radar, I know my way around some parts and know that when the crowds, the chaos and the sales-hungry shop keepers start getting to me, I can escape to a small outdoor square in the western area of this enormous myriad of bustling trade. It seems like few tourists make it out there, and the small shops and workshops flanking the little square are a calm haven.

There, in a tiny shop, I saw these little tassled darlings, and it was explained to me that they are for "lokum", i e Turkish delights, sugar and other sweet things.

Gorgeous metal kaftans in different sizes and patterns.

I simply had to take a photo of The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof here, just so that I could write that...

...and this little darling needed no literary reference...


The hotel we stayed in had a very warm and welcoming lobby, 
more like someone's modern - or modern traditional - Turkish living room than a formal lobby:

I like the kaftan-shaped lamp base...

... and the colours here are to me both calming and energizing...

Now, I confess, one thing in the pictures in this blog post happened to come with me home. I wonder if you can guess what...? A hint: as much as I would have liked to, no feline smuggling took place in the Swenglish suitcase. In my next blog entry, I will show you what it was and how I have put it to use at home... After that, one more Turkish-scented blog entry before I return to my interior and garden themes a little more religiously for a while!

All the best and thank you for your kind comments.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Tales from Turkey - Part I

Yes, I know, flying carpets do perhaps not often appear in fairy tales from this magical country, but I can honestly say that I would not have been surprised had one flown by, right in front of my eyes, as I was sitting there on the hotel roof terrace in Istanbul, with this as my breakfast view to one side...

... and this to the other!
Slurping one's freshly squeezed orange juice in Europe 
whilst watching the sunlit morning haze over Asia, 
is a rather splendid way to start the day!

Between Sultanahmet Camii, i e The Blue Mosque (in the first photo above), and 
the stunning Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) is a small park with fountains 
offering sweaty passers-by a moment's rest or 
- if the wind is blowing the right way - 
a cooling spray of water.

Built in the 6th century as a church, Haghia Sophia was 900 years later ordered by the Ottoman Turks - who conquered Istanbul (then Constantinople)  in the mid-15th century - to be converted into a mosque, which it remained until the 1930's, when it was transformed into the museum it is today.

It is the most spectacular building, and the sheer size of it is enough to make this Swenglish tourist weak at the knees. See how small the people are down there on the floor? (If you click on the image, you can see more details.)

Its Byzantine architecture, its 900-year-old mosaics, its dramatic colours, its massive marble pillars, its Ottoman decorations, its extraordinary dome with light flooding in from forty windows around the base of the dome - all adding up to a jaw-dropping and rather mystical experience of a building whose walls, if they could talk, would be able to share many stories of exotic, dramatic moments of the days of yore... 

Even the street lights are stunning!

Istanbul is a place experienced with all the senses. A day in this spectacular city often ends with your senses groaning with equal amount of delight and impressions overload. The cacophony of sounds, the lingering joys on your tongue from the obscene number of baklava pieces you have sampled, the explosions of colours and exquisite architectural detail, the overwhelming range of smells - the evocative smell of spices, the vaguely nauseating sweet smell from all the waterpipes, the puffs of sewage stench, the whiffs of some lovely cooking from one of the many restaurants, the choking exhaust fumes, the collective scent concoction of 13 million people in this vibrant, crowded fairy tale city...

The Grand Bazaar

So yes, many of you proved to be splendid detectives - Turkey was indeed the destination for my work trip this time, with a couple of days in Istanbul on my way to Ankara, where the "real" work took place.

I  know this is supposedly an interior decoration blog, so forgive me if I - again- am a little unfaithful to that creed for a few days, to share with you some scents and flavours of a country I always enjoy visiting and which has indeed served as a source of inspiration for some of my interior inclinations...

Dining on the waterfront in Ortaköy,  a short boat trip up the Bosphorous.

See you soon and iyi günler!