I love visiting London, particularly if I’m able to travel there by train. On each occasion, my excitement mounts as we draw nearer to Paddington as there is always something new to discover in the big smoke, whether it is a ‘must have’ item of clothing (Oxford Circus is my first stop, for Top Shop and Uniqlo!), or a fascinating exhibition or show. Travelling by tube is the quickest way of getting from A to B if time is short but the best way of seeing London and really experiencing it is, like anywhere, by foot.

If you happen to wander down any side street from the main thoroughfares of the city, you’d be surprised not only by the relative calm and quiet, but also by the interesting architecture that you’d find. I had some time while I was in London last winter and decided to walk back to my hotel rather than catch the tube. It was a fair distance but very much worth it.

The rows of red brick houses in a residential area just behind the main shopping areas of Knightsbridge were a sight to behold – what a lovely place to live! Row after row of multiple storied terraces snake around the back streets, perfect examples of Victorian architecture.

They remind me of typical Amsterdam canal houses!

Just look at this doorway too:

Not far on my walk, the shape and look of the buildings changed. The ornate design of these streets gave way to the more subtle charm of beautifully presented Georgian period homes, of which this was a lovely example:

It’s hard to believe that such homes lie only a stones throw away from the hustle and bustle of the city!

On my travels I was also excited to happen across the Bibendum restaurant, of Terence Conran fame. See the wonderful stained glass windows featuring ‘Bibendum’ himself, otherwise known as the ‘Michelin Man’. I love that he is holding a cigar, just like Mr Conran is wont to do:

I would have liked to have had the opportunity to have stopped for a bite to eat or at least to have viewed the interior, but I was in a bit of a rush by that point, what with all my walking and pausing to behold the interesting sights. Oh well, there is always next time…


Also see my ‘Interiors advice’ page!

There is a lot of road in California and I was lucky enough to travel on what is probably only a tiny portion of it.  But still, the occasional endlessness of it was so inspiring, like anything seemed possible.

After climbing out of Death Valley we were plunged into another valley and the straightest, longest road I have ever seen, with mirage-like layers of salt flat and brown rock, climbing towards a mountainous summit. We passed probably one car in that whole stretch of road.

On another road, driving towards Tecopa from Las Vegas, we didn’t see another car at all, let alone a house or settlement of any kind – for over 150 miles. To be so far from civilization was liberating but, I admit, also scary. Those days of long lonely roads stay with me – The Eagles on repeat in the CD player, the relentless sun and heat, the dust, the strange, crater-like landscapes, gradually becoming lush and tree-filled, the desperate need to pee, but most of all, the wonderful feeling of wanton adventure mingled with an electric fear of what was so unknown to me.


Other roads we travelled were rather more ‘populated’, but it was the more unusual sights that made me dive for my camera. This water tower looked like an alien ‘Tripod’ about to clamber over and stamp on us.

Water tower

We passed many wind farms but this one was the most photogenic. I was mesmerised by the repetition of pattern that went on for miles and miles.

Wind farm

Seeing this wonderful big St Bernard dog in the back of a flat-bed truck really made me smile. It was one of the many times when I thought to myself ‘I love America!’

St Bernard

Joshua Tree National Park had a profound effect on me. It was again like we were the only humans for miles around. We hardly saw another living soul at all, apart from the funny little creatures that may or may not have been kangaroo rats that popped up everywhere during our hike.  I was, however, nursing a perhaps irrational terror of bumping into a rather less cute and cuddly animal, or, should I say, arachnid. Others might think that tarantulas (I can barely type and look at the word) are cute and cuddly, but not me. I actually asked a gentleman at the Death Valley NP visitors centre about the likelihood of coming across a t-word. He said that they are in their burrows under ground during the summer but that in the winter it is common to see them crossing the road. He didn’t notice my shudder and went on to ask if I had a ‘special interest’ in them…

Joshua Tree NP

The open road became so second nature to us that even when civilization really was limited to a handful of trailers at the side of a dusty road, we weren’t really that shocked.


From the blazing heat and dust we moved into altogether different territory as we crossed the Sierra Nevada. The dry desert valley roads  gave way to alpine mountain passes, complete with a large helping of snow which in places was still over 6 feet thick, even in late May.

Sonora pass

These roads, in turn, gave way to farming country – straight, Roman-style roads lined with trees and green fields that stretched to infinity. The barns, unusually shaped to me, really caught my eye.


So, on we went from farmland to Napa Valley, from Napa to San Francisco and from there to Los Angeles, via the Pacific Coast Highway. The cold grey weather could not dampen our spirits as we crept along route 1, the waves crashing against the shore to our right.

Pacific Coast Highway

Our road trip came to an end when we arrived back in LA, although the freeway driving obviously added to the whole experience. However, it is those human-free desert roads that I think of and remember when I want to get that feeling of freedom back. You would need only to have seen the delighted expression on my face as we zoomed along those roads, the wind in our hair, to know why…

wing mirror

Now, you might have been wondering what a blogger on interiors and architecture is doing sharing such experiences as these! Well, it is because my design ideas are informed by so many elements, and not least the natural world. I have indulged in my fond memories in the hope that it will inspire you in some way too.

Also see my ‘Interiors advice’ page!

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I like to do when I arrive in a hotel is to take a photo of the room, sad, I know, and as the bed is usually the focal point of the room, I inevitably end up with lots of photos of beds. My family enjoys seeing this reportage of  ‘places I have slept’ but I’m not sure that it would be of much interest to anyone else. Anyone, that is, except someone who is interested in interiors. I focus a lot on architecture in this blog for the main reason that I am just as passionate about architecture as I am about interiors, but also because it is so much easier to photograph architecture – every day if I wanted to! So, here’s a bit of interior action for you. It’s the cream of the crop of beds where I spent the night literally California dreaming.

Hotel Angeleno BedroomThis was at the Hotel Angeleno, Los Angeles (apologies for my posing!). The bed was huge, like sleeping on a cloud with the white fluffy mattress and duvet, and the headboard was smooth suede. The walls were covered in buttermilk wallpaper and there was a lot of leather.

Hennesey HouseHennessey House’s ‘Paisley Room’, Napa. We had the smallest room in the place but it was very comfortable for one night. A very well run and well-presented Queen Anne style guest house and the decor was extremely in-keeping with the style of the house.

Water's EdgeAh, the Water’s Edge, Tiburon – a dream of a bed, which was a problem as I didn’t want to get out of it. I had to though, to jump on the ferry to San Francisco! This room was large and very luxurious with a huge bath as well as this huge bed! I loved the patterned blanket at the end of the bed and, again, the wealth of leather.

Huntington BeachThis was the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, the last hotel of our trip. The decor was light and bright with warm wood and colour accents, as well as unusual touches such as these stone shell lamp stands. The plain white fluffy duvet was present here too, as was the deliciously comfortable mattress.

All of these places inspired me to create a more comfortable atmosphere in my own bedroom, which is all white – walls and duvet – with pale grey low shelves on either side of the bed beneath which live our extensive magazine collections (mine fashion, architecture and interiors, his motor racing and fast cars!) and above which are different sized framed pictures. Above the bed hangs a string of fairy lights in individual white paper lanterns and a giant ball paper lantern hangs low from the ceiling. I’ll pop a photo of it on here one day.

I do admit that I find it difficult to emerge from my bed each day, and even more so now that it is in the dark! If only humans could hibernate…ah well, I can dream, can’t I?

Wonderful sunset

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Last night I saw the most amazing sunset. There were layers upon layers of different weights of cloud, from wispy to thick and heavy, and in between each layer shone every shade of orange and blue – peach, violet, blood red – all of varying intensity. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, so much light and colour!

I saw it when I was out running across the fields towards Wells.  It sounds strange, but there was so much sky, it felt like the sunset was surrounding me! It really inspired me and lifted my spirits just when I was starting to flag…

Also see my ‘Interiors advice’ page!

It’s long overdue, seeing as my California road trip was back in May, but it is time for me to lovingly reminisce about the fortnight I spent in the sunshine state, particularly as the autumn is creeping in here in the UK.

Our first stop in Los Angeles was, as anticipated, the architectural highlight of the trip, John Lautner’s Chemosphere being the main attraction, of course! I snapped houses at the side of main roads all the way around the state and will include them in my blogs, but wanted to start with the homes that line the canals in Venice, CA.

Venice beachfront is a crazy place, with all manner of weird and wonderful people. Just a block or so inland, however, are what is left of the canals. The calm and peacefulness, where householders tend to their gardens and ducks make their merry way through the water,  is a complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of the beach.

Venice 1

All of the homes were extremely attractive. The pristine white clap-board bungalow above was my own personal favourite – it has so much character – but every one of them was a picture, particularly for a modernist afficianado like me!

Venice 2

There were also some strange but wonderful homes. This one reminds me of an aardvark!

Venice 3

Other houses were more traditional but still just as beautiful. I was surprised that there were no other tourists wandering around the canals, enjoying the peaceful ambience and the interesting architecture. They are a little hidden away though, which might explain it – a real gem amongst the rough! I would have liked to have had longer to explore Venice but our whistlestop tour meant that we had to move on to the next wonderful place…

Pink House 1

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I was on my annual visit to Dartmouth Royal Regatta last week. It’s always an enjoyable way to spend a few days and this year was no exception. As usual, it was a good opportunity to go wild with my camera and, in particular, focus on the way that the people of Dartmouth decorate their homes for Regatta as well as the way their homes are decorated all the year around. One of my previous posts talked about the ice-cream colours beloved of seaside residents and I loved these pink houses, seen whilst enjoying the Regatta festivities.

Pink House 2

I also loved the festoonery of bunting and flags that adorned many of the homes! Well done, people of Dartmouth – you gave us a lot more than the sailing, rowing and air displays to admire!

Bunting 1Bunting 2

Summer flora (part 3)

DSC04243This time I’m not talking about wild flowers, but gold old dahlias. I got this little bunch for £2.50 from a flower stall in Bath last Thursday and they are still very much going strong! They are so pretty, the pleasure they are giving me is priceless!

If I had my own garden, I would grow dahlias and sweetpeas and peonies (my other favourite flowers), as well as honeysuckle and big colourful roses. Hmm, I can dream…