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paralympics opening ceremony




There are moments in one’s life that stay with us forever. The paralympics opening ceremony, for me, is one of those moments.

The excitement began as we walked towards our gate and seats. I had a lump in my throat that didn’t leave me until safely back in my own surroundings. I don’t think one can possibly imagine the magnitude of a stadium filled with 80.000 people, all in anticipation of what could possibly follow the outstanding olympics opening ceremony.

Well, let me tell you that this country could probably come up with a dozen spectacular opening ceremonies, each one different but equally full of creativity, exceptional design, choreography, sensitivity, musical choices and talent. It was once again a tour de force, a gutsy and spirited show, the kind of storytelling that makes me so proud to live in this country and call it my home!

For those of you who watched it on a screen somewhere let me extract some of the text we were given, explaining last night’s ceremony, entitled ‘enlightenment’:

“Through our central character, miranda, our point of consciousness is created and we follow her journey of discovery. She is guided by the world’s most celebrated scientist, professor stephen hawking, who reminds her to be curious and to look at the world as it really is if she is to understand it. Through miranda’s eyes we experience one of the world’s most remarkable discoveries, gravity, as well as the hadron collider at CERN and its importance in transforming our perception of our place in the universe. We also look out into deepest space and pay homage to the universal declaration of human rights.
On tonight’s journey we hope that you will join with us in celebrating the empowering possibilities of ideas, science and creativity, through which we can realise our full potential: who we are and who we aspire to be.”
bradley hemmings & jenny sealey, artistic directors, london 2012 paralympic games opening ceremony.

It was a visual feast and i want to thank my friend max for putting up with me taking 100′s of photos and sometimes asking him to stop tapping his feet to the rythm of the music so that my camera wouldn’t shake:) I wanted to document this incredible moment in my life and also be able to share some of it here with you.

I loved the little led screen of pixels – which apparently were called “para pixels” in front of every seat, which constantly changed colour. If you love colour, you would have loved last nights ceremony!

The empty chairs in anticipation of the paralympic athletes.

And here they come….. don’t worry i’m not going to show you every country:)

And now for the highlight…… yes, it’s #teamgb! The crowd went crazy.

Let the party begin…

All 80.000 spectators bit simultaneously into an apple we were given when we arrived, resulting in one enormous apple crunch!

For those of you who don’t recognise the next image. It’s the statue of  ‘alison lapper pregnant‘ and the fourth plinth in trafalgar square, here in london. Alison was born with no arms and shortened legs.

The lighting of the cauldron. Who will light it and how does the paralympic flame arrive in the stadium? Well, one of the highlights of the evening. Joe townsend was zip wired from the height of the orbit into the stadium. I think everyone stopped breathing for a few seconds. I did!

Margaret maughan, britain’s first ever paralympic gold medallist, now 84, lit the cauldron and concluded the ceremony.

And now the fireworks.

This was the first time the queen has officiated at the openings of both the olympic games and the paralympic games. The whole experience was magical and i’m humbled to have been part of it. It remains for me to wish all the paralympic athletes the best of luck, especially team gb, which i believe has already brought home gold and silver. We are honoured to have you compete in our world city.

Of course, there’s already much noise about channel 4 covering the games and the interruptions of ads. I’m not going to let this spoil my fun. Here’s to the next 10 days of brilliance, defiance, real heroes and ‘enlightenment’.

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teanamu chaya teahouse




When looking for a spot for our last london bloggers meetup, i came across a most enchanting and unique place. Teanamu chaya teahouse is every bit what i imagined it to be and so much more. Run by the lovely pei wang, a tea master and buddhist, the tea house is a true sanctuary in the middle of notting hill.

The ceremony, for me, starts with trying to book a place. No phone number is displayed but an email address where you state your desired day and times. Once booking is confirmed you get a very detailed explanation of how to find the place. All this contributed to the excitement and anticipation.

Upon arrival, you immediately know you’re in for a treat!

Coming from the hussle and bustle of london life, you are greeted with a zen-like atmosphere, peaceful and serene surroundings which, with immediate effect, put me into a meditative state of mind. Every bit of my body went into relaxation mode and stayed there until i left a few hours later. That, surely, must be the way forward in preventative medicine. I predict an afternoon at pei’s pad will do wonders for the adrenaline junkies! There are only a few tables, so booking is essential as it’s only open on saturdays and sundays.

Once we were seated at our table the tea ceremony started. Pei’s extensive knowledge is fascinating. Happy to be advised by him he proceeded to ask each of us some questions about our well-being, likes, dislikes and possible intolerances. Armed with the information he will recommend one of his many teas, together with the bespoke tisane infusions which can be mixed and matched. We were all just too happy to leave it all up to the master himself!!

The other surprising element is that pei offers the most delicious home-made vegetarian, preservative-free snacks which are mouth watering and a feast for the eyes.

Have i wet your appetite yet? After everyone left, pei kindly allowed me to take some more photographs.

This next shot is pei’s personal table where he likes to sit, have tea and read. He brought it with him when moving to london and you can feel the ancient history locked inside of it.

Below is a luo han, a plant best known for its fruit. Pei thinks it looks like a meditating monk. It’s 9 years old, made into a bonsai and is fruiting for the 1st time. I tried to capture this in the second photo. Can you spot it?

Here are some more shots of this amazing place.

I LOVED it and cannot wait to return often. We all had an amazing time and in times of stress I will just imagine myself sitting at pei’s table and spending a couple of hours reading and enjoying his tea and snacks.

I want to thank the lovely paige, wedding photographer extraordinaire, for spending some time that day giving me invaluable tips and tricks for taking better photographs. The more advanced photographers amongst you will know which ones here were supervised:))

I hope everyone had a nice weekend and for those in the uk, you’ve enjoyed the last bank holiday of the year.

Tomorrow i’m off to sunbury antiques market and on wednesday i’m attending the paralympics opening ceremony. Yay! I’ll be back on thursday. See ya x

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raesfeld




Today i’d like to introduce you to raesfeld, a small little paradise in germany and 30km east of the dutch border. It offers a restful contrast to the hustle and bustle of every day life. It has an incredible westphalian parkland and is the perfect spot for a sunday afternoon of fresh country air. There is the watercastle, wasserschloss raesfeld, (why not watch the cute video?), farmhouses, a lovely village with its shops and very quaint cafës and restaurants.

The weather was glorious and so it was the perfect day to take a stroll.

This is what you’re greeted with when you park your car.

He was standing alone, tall and proud. I was careful not to scare him but i recon, he loved having his picture taken. What do you think?

The ducks were happily swimming along.

Just turning the corner, you found yourself in this. The light was perfect and brought out all the greens. Now, this is what i call a parkland.

Every time you turned, you would see something else and the light would fall differently. Here was a little stream that led to……

this, that led to ………….

this! I think i could have stayed there for hours and hours just taking in the calmness, the colours and beauty of this place.

I couldn’t get over the way the sun fell and shone on all the beautiful trees. In fact i took so many photographs trying to capture it.

Wild or what? Resembles the tree of life!

Some blackberries amongst flowers.

Now, is this a broken pipe that hasn’t been fixed? Did they think: actually this looks like a good water feature? You decide!

After wandering around for a couple of hours and taking in the beauty and serenity of the place it was definitely time for some kaffee und kuchen. Of course, the choice was big, but as i’m always seduced by beauty and colour, the place below won hands down. Have you ever seen such vibrantly orange umbrellas? I could have nicked them all:)

It was a most precious afternoon. It always surprises me how relaxed i am when i go and see my friends in germany and how there doesn’t seem to be a care in the world! Now, how to integrate this into our day-to-day life? That’s the challenge.

I spent a wonderful few days and came back refreshed and with batteries recharged. Some of you animal lovers enjoyed me snapping pictures of the dog we looked after, so i will leave you today with another one taken here at raesfeld. I thought for a moment they were going to snog!!

Have a wonderful weekend. It’s sunny in london and we’re all so greatful for it. In the spirit of this post, as someone who appreciates the simple things in life, i really enjoyed igor’s recap of his time at home in serbia. Simple and wonderful! 

 

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landschaftspark – duisburg nord




Before setting off to germany last week my friends urged me to bring my camera. Reluctant at first, as i intended to travel light and have a chilled out few days, i trusted there’s probably a good reason for it. Boy am i pleased i listened!

The weather was glorious so, on saturday, we set off to the first of two rather special places. The second one i will blog about here on thursday. Be sure to come back!

Duisburg is a city in the ruhr region, one of germany’s most densely populated areas due to heavy industrial growth. The region has two million inhabitants who live in 17 cities. It has an important industrial past with many mines, iron and steel works now largely disused. One of these sites is the landschaftspark, now a public park designed in 1991 by latz + partner.

The old thyssen factory site stopped production for good in the mid 80′s, was closed off and unknown to most of the residents in the surrounding area. The local councils couldn’t decide what to do with the site until they realised that due to the lack of activity, nature had intervened and there was ecological renewal. This prompted the recovery and creation of an important green space for public and recreational use and the preservation of an industrial monument.

The landschaftspark is considered a park with clear landscape values and an industrial heritage which has been converted into a new generation park. I don’t believe there are any previous examples so let’s hope that other similar cases will follow.

These were just at the entrance to the park. Colour joy or what?

The actual steel works were very impressive and some of them one could climb up to the top. Err, i didn’t:) As you know i’m always interested in close ups and details.

I love how the steel has been coloured through usage forming such interesting marks, patterns and colour combinations.

Honestly, who can see the pattern for a missoni knitwear jumper? I can!

I was fascinated by the effects on some of the walls as we were walking around. They looked like abstract paintings or arial views of a landscape.

The complex is huge and has many open spaces that can be hired out. Below, a turkish band were filming a video for their latest single.

There’s a great slide for kids, and big kids too!

You can go rock climbing.

What is so incredible is the combination of steel structures versus the luscious greenery. It did blow my mind.

Some more interesting colours and textures.

The park is like a maze and i can imagine returning time after time and always discovering something new. Here are some shots showing lines that form interesting patterns.

There’s also a massive outdoor cinema and a diving school. It’s enjoyed by young and old. I really loved seeing so many people visit.  Apparently at night the lighting is incredible, take a look.

I leave you with some ‘visitors’, who equally had fun and will see you back here on thursday. Happy monday folks!

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vive la différence – babette’s feast




I am very excited to announce a new monthly series; vive la differénce!

Some of you might remember a post i did with holly where we designed a modern abode for tweety pie, our ficticious client:). It was just a bit of fun but an idea was born. I’d been thinking for ages how to incorporate guest blogging onto my site, so all that was needed was to work out the details.

Let me introduce the concept: each month i will invite one blogger. They will create and showcase one image. There are 20 themes and 20 objects my guest can choose from. They choose 1 theme and up to 3 objects. I will then also create an image based on their choice. Everyone has free reign on how to create the image. It can be simple photography, a line drawing, a collage, a hand painted image, a styled table top, the choice is yours! The fun part is that you guys will see 2 versions inspired by the same subject matter. There is no right or wrong. There’s just ‘different’.

For this first one i’m really happy to introduce sue from a nomadic abode. In fact, let sue introduce herself:

Hi, i’m sue & i author a nomadic abode… as the name suggests, i’m a bit of a free spirit with a wandering heart & a heck of a lot of experience setting up home from scratch… i’m so happy to at long last be carving out my own little niche in this crazy big world of design… & wherever this journey takes me, i promise to bring both spirit & soul in abundance…

After showing sue the list of themes and objects she chose: babette’s feast together with flowers, fabric and jewellery.

Here are the results.

babette’s feast: decadence & beauty intertwined…
old world lace & simple linens combine to create a sumptuous backdrop to a feast of fruits & flora interspersed amongst jewel-adorned table tops… trinket boxes overspill with edible offerings whilst an intoxicating blend of hydrangea, peonies, roses, gelda & berries conspire to delight…

Vive la Différence  - Babette's Feast - Sue
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babette’s feast: a modern version…
flowers made of fabric, austerity tamed decadence….playful, inexpensive jewellery…a caraffe with water and mint…colourful teaware replaces silverware….bread and prawns….intertwining curly parsley with ribbons..

Vive la Différence  - Babette's Feast - Tina Bernstein

I hope you like this new series and i’d like to invite you guys to let me know if you’re up to the challenge:) here’s what sue wrote to me when submitting her fabulous image: “wow, that was a marathon! who knew there could be so much involved… i’ve had a blast though, and here are the fruits of my labour…”

Fruits of labour, indeed!! Thank you so much sue for giving your time and inspiring my readers and for challenging me:)

Now, of course, i would like all of you to jump at this. I would particularly like one of my male readers to accept this challenge. Well, let’s see. Please let me know in the comments if you fancy a go at this! I look forward to seeing you back on monday. I have 2 really special posts about my trip to germany. Thank you for all the lovely wishes and fantastic comments last week. x

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it’s my birthday




Hello lovely people. Today i’m checking in from germany.  I’ll be brief because it’s my birthday. Yay!!

Now, i have a rule. Never work on your birthday and today is no exception. I’m celebrating with friends and loved ones.

This year is different to all other years because i also have my blogging family and friends. You have no idea how much you contribute to my enjoyment of life. I look forward to writing every blog post. You challenge me to be a better photographer, writer and story teller and i love you for it. In return, i hope to inspire you with some of my content. Every time i get a comment it lights up my day.

So, I’d like to thank every single person who takes the trouble of reading, tweeting, commenting or simply takes an interest in what i have to say. My world would no longer be the same without you. I feel really blessed and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I hope you all have a great week and i will see you back on thursday! xx

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diversity is good!




It’s thursday and the olympics are slowly drawing to an end. Team gb did us proud. Take a look at an illustrated celebration of team gb at the olympics.

This is my last post while the olympics are on. I’ve had an incredible time in my city and couldn’t be prouder. I really hope that all visitors and the world at large saw what i see on a daily basis. A city full of hope and glory, a city full of diversity, and multi-cultural flair. A city that embraces all!

What makes london so special to me? As a designer i’m constantly drawn to visual stimulation. Part of it comes from designer shops and museums, but a large part comes from more raw imagery. Sometimes something too aesthetic or too perfect can actually leave me cold and uninspired.

What i particularly love about living in london is the diversity of people, areas and cultures that mingle together. You’ll find that everything goes, there is room for self expression and inspiration is everywhere if you only care to look and see.

Out and about i was drawn to the many independent shops that try and make a mark for themselves with their own flair. Not designer shops, no lovely interiors here. What you’ll see is a multitude of self-expression and pride in who they are. To me, they are a really important part of the city, people who cater to neighbours and communities in the many diverse areas. Diversity is good!

 

Believe it or not, the next picture is a top of a shop facade. The whole length of the shop has stuck on circuit boards. Incredible!

I hope you enjoyed some of these. The last picture lends itself to a painting, don’t you think? I would probably simplify it more by using the light blue throughout as the background colour. What would you do? It could also be a floor plan, couldn’t it? Personally i would love it as a chiffon fabric to make a blouse, skirt or even a sarong. Maybe paul smith would print it on a bag! You?

Here’s to more gold medals and an exciting closing ceremony. I’ll be watching from abroad. Next up it’s the paralympics. Happy weekend everyone. Enjoy wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Let’s hope for some more sunshine. See ya. x

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Where’s everyone?




The papers are full of doom and gloom. One headline reads: ghost town: london businesses bemoan olympic slump!

Westfield stratford city shopping center has been blamed as the bad woolf while the west end, london’s main shopping and entertainment area is eerily quiet. The other culprit is boris. He told everyone not to come so people stayed away. Hmmm, what to do? Who to blame?

Well, here’s what i think. I think you cannot please everyone. I think you cannot be greedy and inflate the prices of hotel accommodation and not get caught out. I also think that business in the last decade has changed dramatically and it’s down to the individual businesses to be innovative, to find new ways of creating revenue and attracting customers.

I also think that the olympics have created the best atmosphere in london, that team gb is totally rocking it with a total of 37 medals as i write this. One last point, yes, maybe things are a little quiet for some businesses over the olympics but according to the ‘wealth report attitudes survey 2011′ conducted by citi, london will feature as no.2 in the top global cities of 2020. Part of this is due to the olympics being held here.

So, out of sheer curiosity, i hopped on my scooter for a couple of hours over the weekend and went in search of how london is celebrating and, well, to look for everyone!

Some more people:)

 

Yes, there are some in there too.

And then i saw some crowds.

I looked and looked but couldn’t find anyone in here!!!!

Ah, now i was on the right track.

You’ll always find people where there’s food. And in potters field they erected a mini village with delicious food outlets. They were hand-picked and the site will be open throughout the olympics, take a break and re-open for the paralympics. I highly recommend it for viewing and eating some wonderful food!

While we’re on the subject of food, this is one industry that is innovating. Food sellers are taking their fate into their own hands and creating new ways of attracting customers. We have the wonderful street food movement that is expanding rapidly. Eat street at kings cross is only a few minutes away from me and this weekend saw the birth of the much bigger venture called feast over by guy’s hospital. I popped in and met up with friends. What fantastic food sellers. This surely is the way forward in eating. Do look out for their next event. You won’t be disappointed.

To conclude, london is vibrant but maybe not as expected and only in certain pockets of the city. Personally, i’m enjoying less traffic, less congestion and a peaceful atmosphere. The olympics is over half way through and very thrilling. London 2012 is everything it was designed to be. Whatever next?

I leave you with some people that just want to say: thank you for joining us in all our celebrations this year. We love having you!

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london’s modern architecture




In honour of the olympics, i’ve decided to stay with the theme of london for a bit.

Is there any end to exciting events happening in london in 2012? We’ve had the diamond jubilee. We’ve celebrated an incredible opening ceremony and are in throws of the olympics. In september we can rejoice in the fantastic 10th year anniversary of the london design festival, this year to be bigger and better thanks to the lovely max fraser. You may have heard by now that the blogtourldn list of bloggers was chosen. Congratulations to all of you. We look forward to hosting you in this great city.

Continuing with everything that’s bonkers, eclectic, different, diverse and wonderful about london, today is about new architecture and a bit of fun!

I’ve been pondering a lot about london, why i love it so much, and why it’s so special to me. In an email from the lovely nicola of the unique teaandgee, where we discussed the opening ceremony amongst other things, she summarised it perfectly:

“I had watched the flame leave hampton court palace early that morning and there was a mini-pageant following behind to see it off. It struck me just how truly eccentric we all are. I think that’s why we absorb other races and creeds into our society because if you feel a bit of an odd-ball in your homeland it doesn’t really notice here. And then the eccentricity continued through the evening.”

That’s exactly how i feel about living in london. Being a sort of an odd-ball, i personally call it ‘eccentric’, is a compliment to me and i’ve always felt completely accepted for who i am. How wonderful is that? It’s a true blessing and has given me tremendous freedom to explore and feed my insatiable curiosity! Thank you london!

I digress, back to architecture. So, some of you know that i spend quite a bit of my time viewing properties. I’m always out and about, doing my thing, looking at buildings, new developments and generally checking out the scene. When i look at buildings for home finding purposes i observe different aspects. For today’s post i was looking at patterns, materials, lights, shadows and composition. I hope some of these images inspire you and if you squint, you’ll see some shapes and patterns that could be applied to any interior, drawing or painting. I did have a go myself a little bit further down!

I like the various different styles and am all for some sort of outside space in new-build developments. It makes a huge difference to mind and soul!

As a bit of fun, I decided to take it a step further and churn out some really simple posters. It’s purely to make me look at shapes and patterns and different colour ways. It’s interesting how the texture changes on some of these images. Anyway, they were done in a short space of time so for all the perfectionists out there, i know the shortcomings:) I’m a perfectionist myself but am trying hard to ‘just do’ and allow myself to make mistakes. It’s quite liberating! Anyone here relates to this?

What do you think of the architecture or patterns? Any favourites? How do you like the quick transformations into posters? Any thoughts or comments? 

If not from london, how does this compare to the architecture of where you live? Have a great weekend and I see you here on monday! Good luck to all individual teams but of course, for me, it’s ‘go team gb’.

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