Going back to my roots

A little bit about me – I was born into quite straitened circumstances: my parents were a middle class, educated couple, who, somewhere along the line, had taken a vow of poverty: they met at a communist party meeting in Hampstead – cute I know. This weekend was a nostalgia trip for me because I went on an Abigail Ahern masterclass, in Islington, where I lived for the first three years of my life, in a prefab estate on Brecknock Road.

I stayed in a smart hotel in Bayswater, The Shaftesbury, where my parents later lived, in a beautiful council flat, until they very sadly died when I was 21. After a long train journey, listening to a guy behind me talking Hungarian for the last half of the journey (my Dad was Hungarian) I was predictable a heap by the time I arrived, I phoned my cousin, who has heroically carried on the London baton for us and with whom I normally stay, and who completely understood – thank you Gaby, you are so kind, and I calmed down!

Abigail’s workshop was nothing short of amazing, you are greeted by this beautiful overgrown fig tree in the front garden (yes, she plays with scale a lot.)

The small group walked round enraptured, as we were treated to a house tour.
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Gaelic for soap

Delighted to be invited to a gorgeous event at the Ship Inn in Elie. The owners have selected a specially created range of products for their newly refurbished accomodation by the luxurious Scottish skincare company, Siabann, literally, Gaelic for Soap.

The products are entirely natural; because they are oil based there is no need for harsh chemicals or preservatives. The products are kind to your skin, beneficial to both dry and oily complexions: nourishing and pleasant to use. The gentle fragrances are fresh and uplifting.
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Nikki McWilliams

Famous as the creator of the Custard Cream cushion and more recently, cover star of the current Homestyle magazine, designer, Nikki McWilliams home is the epitome of youthful Scottish style: fun, bright and welcoming.

Full of striking vignettes, Nikki’s witty, kitsch collections are a joy.


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Emma Clanfield

This stunning home in snowy Aberdeenshire, belongs to globe-trotting interior designer, Emma Clanfield.

Emma was brought up in Scotland and has always had a base there, near her family, while she and her husband worked abroad.

Decorated with rich colours and exotic textiles; it is furnished with salvaged finds from hidden corners of the Middle East where Emma lived and worked for many years.
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Ballintaggart Cook School

Perthshire’s latest foodie destination. Ballintaggart Farm is a new venture set up by the couple behind the fabulous Edinburgh supper club, Charlie and Evelyn’s table, Chris and Rachel Rowley. Aiming to provide gourmet catering and aspirational, user-friendly cookery courses and workshops.

I felt very spoilt to receive an invitation to attend a course here last weekend, entitled Seasonal Suppers and Salads. I always need inspiration at meal times and realise my menus are in much need of renewal.

We started with a delicious late breakfast at 10am, I have to say, it was an easy drive from Gullane, I left at 8am and was there well in time, anyone travelling from Edinburgh or Glasgow is going to have an even easier journey. However, if you are coming from further afield, luxurious B&B accommodation, very reasonably priced, is available on site, to ensure your day is completely free of stress.
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Isle of Lewis

Stunning feature in this months Coast magazine.

It was one of the most intense weeks of our life, starting with my nephew’s wedding in Oxford on the Saturday. My brother invited us to eat as a family on the Friday night so we left Gullane at about 9am, expecting to easily manage a shower and dinner at 7pm; not expecting to drive all the way to Oxford at 30mph. We didn’t get there and actually find the restaurant until 10pm… Oh well, at least we did not all have hangovers for the wedding I suppose, which was something. The wedding was stunning, in Magdalene College – the works: chapel; champagne; meal; ceilidh. Our daughter a bridesmaid, our son did a reading.
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A Winter Kitchen

Preparations are underway in our house for Christmas, the fire is lit every night, every afternoon if possible!

Doug has had the pleasure of photographing a beautiful kitchen belonging to a Swedish family in Glasgow. Scandinavians are experts at bringing cheer to this potentially gloomy time of year of course – they have to be really!

Traditional baking includes iced biscuit houses, jam buns and cinnamon swirls, all easily achievable, fun, xmas treats.
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JOYCE

In the heart of Hong Kong, JOYCE Central has been the epicenter of Hong Kong fashion since the early 70s. It’s current president, Andrew Keith is an ex patriot Scot. Wishing to spend more time here with extended family along with his partner, Glasgow trained architect, Roddy Murray, the couple have restored an imposing townhouse in Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town.

Roddy Murray & Andrew Keith

They wanted something more characterful than their 1960s Hong Kong apartment, and the Georgian architecture drew them to the spacious, imposing house.

Sitting room

The result is dazzling in it’s originality. Read more…

Sealoch House

Autumn is upon us and I am really enjoying the still warm weekends and rich colours. Anyone exploring the Highlands during the rest of the summer would do well to stop off in Ullapool and enjoy the hospitality of Terry and Shirley Rose, owners of Westlea House, a stylish Boutique B&B in the heart of the town.

Living room

Doug and I had the privilege of staying in their home, depicted here, when we shot it for Coast magazine.

Lochside home

A stunning, contemporary, modular building, situated on the edge of Loch Broom. Sealoch House is also available for holiday lets.
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Curtain Call

Every season there is an excuse to get excited about curtaining. Spring/summer is obviously a time to pull out the sheers… Whereas for Autumn/Winter, you can add in extra weight and even colour.

Sheer curtains

There is nothing more elegant than a generous, floor to ceiling, window treatment.

Bedroom curtains

Try combining different textures for a really interesting solution. A varied selection is available at CurtainWorld, have a good look for inspiration…
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Live Lagom (iii)

Well the project is complete. What a success. Thank you Ikea, our whole life is simpler: our kitchen is now streamlined, tidy and beautiful.

kitchen

I am saving money and water by having a working dishwasher. My fridge is more organised and, as I am menu planning, there is a lot less waste and I have to share, dear readers – I have lost half a stone!! I know – who cares about the planet – I am slightly slimmer – I will be able to jet off to a poolside this summer and lie beside a pool without feeling too embarrassed – oops, I mean jump on a train and lie on a riverbank somewhere and not feel embarrassed. Marvellous.
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Heather Nevay

Feeling very proud of a stunning feature in the latest Real Homes magazine, about artist Heather Nevay. Her home, a converted barn set in the woods above Tignabruaich, graces this months front cover. The raw materials remind me of a Tuscan farm building that you might see on an episode of Grand Designs.

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A work of art in itself really. Her and her partner, John, did so much of the work themselves.

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Stag Cottage

If you are looking for somewhere remote and peaceful to cosy up under blankets in front of a warm fire, breaking off occasionally for the odd walk – look no further – you have found it.

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For the incredibly modest price of £170,000 you can have your own Highland bolt hole.
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