Seasons Greetings

‘It’s Christmas!’ I mean ‘it’s July’, but it is now that editors start panicking about their all important December issues….which means that we are on first name terms with our local Christmas tree farmer – Willie Robertson at Beanston.

There is nowhere better in East Lothian to buy your tree and every year we buy three or four in the middle of summer! It is not ideal because the foliage is soft: the needles stiffen up in the cold of winter and soften in the warmth of summer.

We arrive at people’s houses, in the middle of July, with a floppy Christmas tree (artificial just will not do), lots of crackers and decorations and proceed to set the dining table for Christmas dinner, light the fire and ask them to wrap up in hats, gloves and wellies for portraits.

The poor children then have to open fake presents and ooh and ahh over them….I think they find it quite traumatic actually!

We are particularly keen on people who have lovely old cottages, with thick stone walls and huge fireplaces. This feature was actually shot in the owners holiday home, a sixteenth century tower house, which Eric and Naomi Strickland have heroically restored, on the outskirts of Kenmore, in Perthshire.

It sits high above Loch Tay, in it’s own forest…a magical setting…It is available for rent and could not be a more perfect, romantic getaway.

Find out more about the The White Tower at www.thewhitetower.co.uk

Further accomodation is available in the area at a new development in Kenmore called Taymouth Marina www.taymouthmarina.com for more information. Eric is a partner in the Architectural firm responsible for the development www.msa-architects.com
 

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Lovely Pigeon

An easy post for me – just spent the day in Elie – planning to do the Chain Walk…errr…Doug and Matthew did it, I am ashamed to say Eva and I did not…

Anyway, the whole day was an absolute blast and reminded me of how lovely the East Neuk of Fife is…we went on to Pittenweem for hot chocolate at the Cocoa Tree…gosh…so delicious…

Earlier this year we did a shoot in Cellardyke…definitely the coolest of this string of pretty fishing villages, home to Kenny Anderson aka King Creosote and his independent record label Fence Collective, and, natural nesting place for wonderful artist, designer and maker, Kirsty Thomas and her family, who Douglas photographed for the current issue of Coast magazine.

Kirsty has named her business, which makes designer jewellery, stationery and now furniture, Lovely Pigeon.

Find our more about Lovely Pigeon and Cellardyke in general in the August edition of Coast magazine.

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School Holidays

Summer holidays are not easy when you run a business with your husband and you have 2 children.

We have worked through them over the years with a mixture of employing a nanny two days a week, when Matthew and Eva were toddlers; taking a month off in the summer a couple of Julys (how did we afford to do that??) and then, very successfully, for several years, employing a teenage neighbour, Hannah, to look after them on weekday mornings….

However, now Matthew is 14, employing a teenage girl to look after him, however much he might quite like that, seems a lot less feasible. Our coping routine currently, is to let them stay up late and then, let them have a long lie, enabling me to get on with work in the morning, before, supposedly, doing something ‘fun’ in the afternoon…

Quite challenging for 6 whole weeks…

Having Gullane beach in our back yard does help, but just in case anyone reading this has been living on a desert island and unable to access the BBC, it has been pissing with rain for the last 2 months…

We should really go on a lovely family holiday to break things up, but we are shelving that this year, in order to focus on building a garden building, scheduled for completion in September. We are planning to use this as our new home office (Her Indoors new HQ!) More about this in future posts…

Building a garden office is easier said than done. Quite apart from finding the money, we need a building warrant, (mildly challenging); we had to establish that we did not need planning permission (this was quite low in the stressful experiences stakes to be honest) and once it is built we need to insure it – crumbs, quite a few major insurers were not keen on helping with this…and this really did get me going…Luckily I found Jenny Osborne…an angel disguised as an insurance sales lady. Jenny came up with a very reasonable quote covering the building and it’s contents, acknowledging the fact that it was both used for business purposes and was part of our family home. Anyone planing a similar set up should definitely get in touch with Jenny at Henshalls

Read more about the ins and outs of insuring a garden office at http://henshalls.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/shed-working/

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Fi Douglas

So lovely to see the Glasgow home of textile designer, Fi Douglas, shot by Doug, in the latest issue of 25 Beautiful Homes….House To Home

Love her new print, based on ‘Willow Pattern’ china….

I just cannot get enough of Fi’s work….love it, love it, love it!

Find out more about Fi and her work at her website Bluebell Gray

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Skylark Cafe

Relatives – what would you do without them? How quiet would family get-togethers be without rellies?

Particularly our relatives…

Doug’s cousin Gill Bowman is a well known folk singer and songwriter. She has worked as a performer and recording artist for longer than she would probably want me to tell you! Her two sons Riley and Murray Briggs are lead singer and drummer of the successful indie band Aberfeldy.

Gill has recently carved herself a new niche, a wonderful venture, Song Circle, traditional music and story telling, for children. From Pot Luck beginnings in her own living room and various friends and relatives homes, this has inevitably grown into something much more substantial and Song Circle now has premises!

Her daughter, Sandie Briggs, has a background in bar and restaurant management and they have naturally joined forces to create the lovely Skylark Cafe in Hamilton Place, Stockbridge.

A bright, welcoming cafe shopfront leads into a really cosy space at the back where Gill holds her brilliant music sessions for under 5s every morning…I am telling you, the under 5s of Edinburgh are having one hell of a time!

Feel free to drop by for a joyous music session, if you have an under 5, any morning. If you do not…go later for a peaceful coffee or sandwich in this, honestly, normally, tranquil and stylish venue.

No-one makes coffee like Sandie!

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