Don’t go too trad!

My friend and colleague, the interiors writer, Aileen Little, lives in a double upper Victorian villa in Edinburgh’s south side. Although now a grandmother to nearly two, she does not feel hidebound at all to making the decor Victorian, even when it comes to Christmas.

Eschewing the need for a real tree, Aileen has gone for a simple white, wooden solution, just enough to show a few choice decorations and hook up some pretty lights.

The dining room is equally minimalist, again with white painted floorboards, a signature look now for Aileen. Hanging above the dining table are a simple, but beautiful row of pendant lights.

A painted wooden cabinet gives a nod to traditional Swedish, Gustavian furniture…Hmmm, I wonder whether Aileen and her husband, Martin, are as hooked on Scandinavian Crime dramas as Doug and I are?

Place settings for guests are festive and fun.

It certainly is a beautiful apartment, with many wonderful period features…

the front door leaves you in no doubt of the grandeur of their home.

But the moment you step inside, Aileen and Martin have cleverly and, at Christmas, very subtly, made it their own.

Christmas Panic

If anyone else out there has not given a second thought to Christmas shopping either (oops!) they could do a lot worse than go to Context Interiors. An Edinburgh based home and giftware company, suddenly taking Hong Kong by storm. Doug photographed their beautiful apartment in Greenhill a couple of years ago.

They had a little shop in Morningside then. While we have been contentedly carrying on our lives in Gullane, photographing the odd house and wondering what to do with our garden building, they have set up a second shop in Edinburgh’s Old Town and moved to and set up a third shop in Hong Kong!! Hang on…what about sleeping? Going for walks??

Their range is really beautiful – a little bit of Edinburgh that can be shipped around the world at the click of a mouse. They have collaborated on some products with iconic Edinburgh illustartor Iain McIntosh whose work you will recognise from the novels of Alexander MacCall Smith.

Iain also, very kindly, created the beautiful logo for the Gullane based charity, the Teapot Trust that provides Art Therapy for children in hospital.

Don’t forget that Christmas is not just about presents. Of course we all enjoy buying lovely things for family and friends, but amongst extended family or colleagues, why not think about agreeing to donate to favourite charities instead?

Goodbye Garage

Bye bye….rather horrible old garage in the middle of our back garden that we have been wondering what to do with for 8 years – yes, 8 years – we are very indecisive. We have, in the meantime, built another garage at the front of our house and our dilemma has been – Do we knock it down? Do we line and insulate it and use it as it is?? Well, in for a penny, in for a pound: we have committed to knocking it down and replacing it with a beautiful timber garden building, using the existing foundation and concrete slab as a base…we have building warrant in place and have even booked a builder, actually, he started on Monday.

This is what he’s done!

Ooh…errr…drastic…all worried now!! Two days into the job Doug and I’s chronic indecisiveness reared it’s ugly head again. I am having sleepless nights wondering if we are doing the right thing…Should we be doing an extension rather? Or placing it elsewhere in the garden? I actually said to our lovely builder: ‘Robert, would it be a real pain to you if we just left it for a while, while we thought about it a bit longer?’ He smiled very nicely, and said ‘Yes Alison, it would be a bit of a pain…’ Oh dear…a little bit of professional counselling from my friend Fran and even Doug himself, and, I think I am able to carry on…


Anxious to counteract the hideous-ness inflicted on me by my family every December – yes – Doug’s is the one in the middle – the ‘Hello Kitty’ one – he bought it drastically reduced, after xmas last year and kept it specially…at least my children have managed to co-ordinate, I nipped down to what is always an Oasis of tastefulness, the annual Christmas sale at my neighbour, Anna Gordon’s home.

We are very spoilt us Gullane ladies, to have our very own resident jeweller to supply our every whim: Anna Gordon. Seriously, Anna is job-sharing head of the Silversmithing & Jewellery Department at Glasgow School of Art. and a leading contemporary jeweller.

Her jewellery is beautifully displayed in glass cases but she is happy to undertake bespoke orders as commissions. Contact her through the link above.

She shares the sale with friend, and our neighbouring village, Dirleton, resident, Ceramicist, Charlotte Cadzow. Also very accomplished, Charlotte teaches art at Loretto School and sells her work in galleries throughout Scotland.

I bought some Ceramic stars and a couple of mugs, raced home to display them…

…that’s better…or is it??

Grabbed some Beatitude goodies for my sister-in-law too! Happy Birthday Carol Ann – have a super day and enjoy those oils!