Tag Archives: shopping

Fleurie, Charlottesville

Spending one night in Charlottesville, Virginia didn’t leave us much time to explore – so we headed straight downtown to check out the bustling pedestrian mall and see the sights before dinner.

Charlottesville downtown pedestrian mall

Charlottesville downtown founding fathers

Charlottesville chalk

Charlottesville City Hall had installed a huge chalk wall for the public to celebrate the First Amendment of the US Constitution. We took a moment to exercise our freedom of speech – or freedom to doodle!

Charlottesville chalk writing

Then we hit the shops! I was so happy to come across Caspari’s American outpost (the other is in Paris). I used to shop their products at Partridge’s in London – and this was my first visit to their bricks and mortar store.

Where interior design inspiration abounds!

Charlottesville Caspari store

Charlottesville Caspari dining

Charlottesville Caspari showroom

My little head was on a swivel – so many ways to beautify a home!

Charlottesville Caspari dining table setting

Charlottesville Caspari shelving

I had to stop and coo over these preppy dog accessories – and ponder the question ,“Exactly when will we ever get a puppy?”

Charlottesville Caspari dog accessories collars

As the shops shuttered up for the evening, we traipsed down to dinner at a little French bistro called Fleurie.

Charlottesville Fleurie entrance

Fleurie Charlottesville patio terrace outdoor al fresco dining

The perfect quiet little spot to dine al fresco in downtown Charlottesville!

Charlottesville Fleurie cheers drinks

Fleurie Sip Drink Cocktail Final

Chilled Tomato Soup with salmon rillette

Chilled Tomato Soup with salmon rillette

Lobster Bisque with tarragon

Lobster Bisque with tarragon

Gnocchi, Bleu d'Auvergne Fondue, sweet pecans, cherry tomatoes

Gnocchi, Bleu d’Auvergne Fondue, sweet pecans, cherry tomatoes

Herb Crusted Halibut, summer squashes, white wine sauce

Herb Crusted Halibut, summer squashes, white wine sauce

Wolf Creek Grass-fed Beef Sirloin, Gnocchi Parisienne, Leeks, Bordelaise

Wolf Creek Grass-fed Beef Sirloin, Gnocchi Parisienne, leeks, Bordelaise

I’ve been mostly steering clear of sugar and gluten this summer, but when I’m out at a nice restaurant all rules fly out the window.

Not one to be put off by an imminent sugar crash, it was time for dessert…

Vanilla Bean Créme Brulée

Vanilla Bean Créme Brulée

Peach Pithier, Raspherries, Vanilla Ice Cream

Peach Pithier, raspberries, vanilla ice cream

Petit Fours: Chocolate hazelnut truffles, Lemon meringue tarts, Cherry financiers

Petit Fours: Chocolate hazelnut truffles, Lemon meringue tarts, Cherry financiers

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Summer nights like these are the sweetest!

St Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine was a fortunate stop whilst we were in Florida visiting some dear family friends. I had no idea that it’s America’s oldest colony, settled by Spaniards in 1565.

It was also the first of only three walled cities ever constructed in North America; the other two are Charleston, South Carolina (English) and Quebec City, Canada (French).

They just don’t build ’em like they used to!

The old city sits on the gulf of the St Augustine Inlet, the waters dotted with boats and the Bridge of Lions connecting the colonial quarter with Anastasia Island.

Bridge of Lions, St Augustine

Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine

St Auguestine Waterfront View Boats

St Auguestine Waterfront View Water

A stroll through the old city gates takes you to the oldest wooden schoolhouse surviving in the United States.  It was built in the early 1700s, when St. Augustine was still under the rule of Imperial Spain.

Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse in the US, St Augustine

Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse in the US, St Augustine

St Auguestine Old Schoolhouse Flowerbox

St Auguestine Courtyard

The streets are lined with colourful shops and boutiques that reflect the influences and traditions of the early settlers from Minorca.

I have been on the hunt for some nice pieces of coral for the beach house and found plenty to choose from here!

St Auguestine Coral Shopping

St Auguestine Coral Closeup

St Auguestine Coral

St Auguestine Park Gazebo

St Auguestine Castillo Front

We toured Castillo De San Marco National Monument, part of the U.S. National Park Services. It’s a great example of the “bastion system” of fortification where angled walls jut out in a star-shaped design.

St Auguestine Castillo Courtyard

St Auguestine Castillo Rooftop Turret view

St Auguestine Castillo Turret

St Auguestine Castillo Rooftop Turret landscape

St Auguestine Castillo Roof View

The roof of the fort is lined with old cannons, some of which have beautiful European casting techniques.

St Auguestine Castillo Cannon Blue

St Auguestine Castillo Cannon

St Auguestine Castillo Rooftop view

St Auguestine Castillo Little Turret View

To beat the heat, we stopped at Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops and bought a few fruity lollies to cool us down. The Cucumber Lemon Mint was amaaaazing – and I have a feeling I’ll be recreating a homemade version before summer’s over!

St Auguestine Hyppo Pop Flavours

St Auguestine Hyppo Pop

Our next destination on the whistlestop tour was the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. I’m sad to say I couldn’t get a decent photo of the lighthouse because the sun was sitting directly on top of it. But the Keepers’ House and grounds were so quaint and peaceful it was worth the visit.

St Auguestine Lighthouse

St Auguestine Lighthouse Gate

St Auguestine Lighthouse View

St Auguestine Lighthouse Trees

St Auguestine Lighthouse Path

Lots more to explore in this area for sure! Until next time…

Roman Baths and Stonehenge

My parents are in town! Which is great because not only did I miss them, but now we get to explore around England together!

We set off for a day seeing Bath and Stonehenge, stopping along our route in the charming market town of Tetbury. Every Saturday, the 17th-century market hall comes alive, and I loved browsing the racks of vintage furs and rummaging through trays of antique jewellery.

Tebury Town Flag

Tetbury Flea Market England

Tetbury Market Fur

Above the market hall is a vendor selling a hearty selection of sheepskin and leather goods. We picked up two pairs of shearling gloves for £15! A terrific bargain for locally made products.

Tetbury Sheep Market Steps

Tetbury Sheep Market Skin Pelts

Tetbury Market Shearling Gloves

Tetbury Genuine Sheepskin Shearling Gloves

We piled back into the car and rambled through some beautiful countryside to the World Heritage city of Bath. Bath has special significance to me and my family because it is the sister city to my mother’s hometown of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia – also a historic resort town known for its natural springs.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

Bath Cathedral

Our time in Bath was severely limited, so we made our primary stop the ancient Roman Baths. The ruins here date back to 60 AD when the city was a spa town called Aquae Sulis.

Bath Roman Baths Entrance

Bath Roman Baths View Down on Water

Bath Roman Baths Railing

Bath Roman View Cathedral

Bath Balcony Rail Roman Baths

Bath Roman Bust

The first Romans to come here were soldiers. Their architects and craftsmen built the Baths and Temple. Below is what remains of the temple front.

Bath Roman Baths Freize Temple Front Stone

Bath Roman Baths Sun Head God Freize Temple

People from local tribes, officials and priests, and traders from across the Empire began to settle here. Pilgrims travelled here. And monuments were built here.

This stone head probably decorated the tomb of a wealthy lady. Her hair-do was fashionable in Rome in the later 1st century AD.

This stone head probably decorated the tomb of a wealthy lady. Her hair-do was fashionable in Rome in the later 1st century AD.

Bath Roman Baths Source Waterfall

Bath Roman Baths Looking Up Inside Springs

Bath Roman Baths Surface of the Water Springs

Bath Roman View

Roman Baths Springs Private Area

Bath Roman Baths Sitting Springs

There was a fountain at the exit where we were able to taste the purified spring waters. It has a stinky sulphuric taste, but contains hundreds of times more minerals than your standard mineral water. I savoured a few sips, letting my body absorb the curative powers of the water. However, I won’t be giving up my Perrier anytime soon!

Our final stop for the day was the obligatory Stonehenge tour. It is, by far, one of the most moving sites on earth. I swear I can feel the energy in the air.

Stonehenge Visitor Centre

When I came two years ago, you could park your car right across the street from the stones, then cross through an underground tunnel to walk right up to the site. Now there’s a new visitor centre, and a shuttle bus ride one mile down the road.

But same as before, the experience once we reached the site was equally breathtaking.

Stonehenge Green Grass

As much as the little wheels in my brain churned away at the thought of it, these stones and how they got here, and the reason why, is frightfully unexplainable.

Stonehenge Up Clsoer

Stonehenge Up Close

Stonehenge Portrait Gloves

Stonehenge Portrait

Stonehenge Portrait Audio Guide

Stonehenge Sunset

We walked the circuit around Stonehenge, utterly mesmerizing from every angle, the landscape changing like a kaleidoscope around it. A true wonder of the world!

Petersham Nurseries Candlelit Carols

Petersham Nurseries is one of the gems of suburban London. It’s not your typical garden center – it’s possibly the chicest, bohemian greenhouse wonderland I’ve ever encountered.

The vast grounds near Richmond were saved from developers by an Italian businessman and his Aussie wife, and they’ve since redesigned the gardens, opened a Michelin star restaurant, a rustic teahouse, and a vast garden shop full of salvaged homewares, antique furniture and vintage garden décor.

And it happens to be the premier place in town to rekindle that old-fashioned Christmas spirit!

Petersham Nurseries Teahouse

The event was a candlelit evening of Christmas carols and shopping!

Petersham Nurseries Shop

As we entered the packed dirt-floored nursery, we were handed a ticket for a free cup of mulled wine. Crumbly mince pies were also on hand to nibble as a group of singers from Barnes Choir filled the café with the beautiful harmony of Christmas carols.

Petersham Nurseries Mulled Wine Ticket

Petersham Nurseries Carols Mulled Wine Mince Pie

Petersham Nurseries Carols Sip

Petersham Nurseries Carols Santa

Petersham Nurseries Carollers

Petersham Nurseries Carols Tree

Petersham Nurseries Carols

The space was heaving with fir trees and berries, shiny red baubles, and twinkling fairy lights – it was a magical Christmas dreamland!

Petersham Nurseries Shop Plants

Still humming “Jingle Bells”, we wandered around perusing the shop! My eyes didn’t know which way to look first – left or right, up or down. Every inch of the place was covered in vintage prints, gilded mirrors, antique chandeliers, homemade wreaths, scented candles and soaps, and heaps of Christmas ornaments.

Petersham Nurseries Shop Walls

Petersham Nurseries Shopping

Petersham Nurseries Shop Putti

Petersham Nurseries Shop Baubles

Petersham Nurseries Shop Crocuses

Petersham Nurseries Shop Mirror Reflection

Petersham Nurseries Shop Hobnail Pitcher

Petersham Nurseries Shop Baubles Tree

This shop is one of my top recommendations for finding unique Christmas gifts!

And I couldn’t pick a place with more charming Christmas cheer.

Le Chalet at Selfridges

Christmas is two weeks away!

And is this not the most enthusiastic face you’ve ever seen on a man about to head into the holiday hullabaloo that is Christmas shopping on Oxford Street?

Eddie Tube

Our destination: Selfridges.

Essentially, the British version of Macy’s – and a magnet for retail tourism.

Their window displays have become a destination in their own right. Framed in twinkling pine boughs, this year’s theme is fairy tales. Leave it to a department store (founded by an American) to take the enchantment and imagination of childhood fantasies and sell them back to us as merchandising.

Selfridges Bagpiper

Selfridges Window Display Gold Fairytale

Though the fairy tale theme is hardly original, consumers are especially susceptible to their familiar notions of romance and happiness during the holiday period. If, for some people, that happiness just happens to be Chinese handbags stamped with the name of a certain Project Runway star, who am I to judge?*

Selfridges Window Display Winter 2014

Selfridges Window Display Villian

Selfridges Hat in Hand Outside Pine Boughs

Selfridges Window Paddington Tax

Paddington Bear is back on the scene again.

Selfridges Window Paddington

I even bumped into him as we staggered through crowds on the 4th floor Christmas Shop.

Selfridges Paddington

After checking our lists twice and whizzing through the queues for the register, we made tracks to the roof terrace for lunch at the Alpine-themed Le Chalet.

Selfridges Le Chalet Entrance

Selfridges Le Chalet Table

Seated by the window with a view over Mayfair’s pink skies, we could wrestle our bags under the table and order a much-needed drink.

Selfridges Le Chalet Window Seat

Selfridges Le Chalet View

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And I’m not talking about a glass of chardonnay…

At Le Chalet, it’s all about the “Choctails”! Served from the hot chocolate bar, these cocoa toddies are deliriously sweet and incredibly boozy! Sip with extreme caution!

Selfridges Le Chalet Choctails

Hazelnut "Choctail"

Hazelnut “Choctail”

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I ordered the Hazelnut, and it was blinkin’ delicious!

While the sugar rush hit our bloodstream, we ordered a few nibbles to fortify us through the rest of the shopping day ahead.

Gooey raclette with sliceds of dry cured beef, pickles and potatoes

Gooey raclette with sliceds of dry cured beef, pickles and potatoes

Selfridges Le Chalet Raclette

Cornish crab with pickled celeriac & mustard

Cornish crab with pickled celeriac & mustard

Peppered tuna with wasabi avocado

Peppered tuna with wasabi avocado

The interlude was just what we needed before round two of Christmas madness resumed.

Selfridges Yoda

A very jolly day out shopping, we had!

*His bags are selling like hotcakes to the English gals (seriously)! So out of awe and admiration to the guy, here’s a tribute to everyone’s favourite reality fashion show personality.

Flower Crafting at Kate Spade

Last night Kate Spade New York invited me for an evening of sips, snacks and flower crafting with Wild at Heart to celebrate the Chelsea Flower Show.

Upon arriving at their Sloane Square boutique, I was absolutely wowed by their bespoke tropical floral window display.

This takes the term wallflowers to the extreme!

Kate Spade flowers

Inside, there were handsome gents waiting at the door offering tropical beachy drinks!

Kate Spade coconuts

Beverage in hand, I made my way over to where the action was – the floral crafting table!

The ladies from local florist Wild at Heart were on hand giving demos on botanical crafts.

Kate Spade floral

Kate Spade floral demo girls

Under their watchful instruction, I tried my hand at creating a blooming hair piece.

It was very intricate work – I now have a higher appreciation for all the craftsmanship going into my custom floral pieces for the wedding!

Kate Spade floral demo

Kate Spade floral demo comb

Kate Spade floral demo dress

Kate Spade floral demo drink

It looks like I may have taken a little inspiration from the bags on display in eye-popping tropical colors!

Kate Spade bags

After finishing my flowery creation, I was able to browse around sipping a delicious, slushy caipirinha.

Kate Spade Floral Sofa

Kate Spade Things We Love

Kate Spade sofa

And before heading off to dinner, just one more peek at that window display!

Kate Spade outside

Kate Spade outside floral

The buzz around Sloane Square for the Chelsea Flower Show is infectious at the moment. I loved seeing all the shops with their own floral creations on display adding to the excitement.

We spotted a maze in the square and couldn’t contain our childish impulse to have a run through it.

Maze

Maze Girl

Truly an a-maze-ing experience!

Now time to be good adults, and go to dinner with other grown-ups.

Buckingham

Buckingham St James

And so we headed off across St James Park as dusk drew close. We will have to wait another day to come out and play again.

La Pause, Marrakech

Sometimes to experience the essence of a place, you have to venture out of its heart and beyond its periphery. Marrakech is a seething urban cauldron, dust-tinged and hectic, petrol vapor refracting in waves off of its every surface.

But drive 40 km out of the city, and sputtering mopeds give way to donkey carts, and then to nomadic shepherds herding lambs by the roadside, and then to nothing but undulating red dunes. Eventually, there is breeze, there is quiet, there is calm.

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I really couldn’t fathom a better way to end my trip to Morocco than a day at La Pause eco-resort blissing out over lunch in an authentic Bedouin tent surrounded by the remote tranquility of the desert.

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Run by an eccentric French expat (of which I saw several roaming about fitting that description), La Pause aims to provide an authentic and timeless desert experience, with no electricity, and minimal modern conveniences.

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The chef at La Pause offers a set menu cooked with local seasonal ingredients, and your 5-course meal is served under a private nomadic tent. All produce is transported daily from Marrakech and not stored on location, ensuring the freshest, most delicious ingredients go into every bite.

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Lunch started with a rocket salad, freshly picked from the garden and seasoned using the extra virgin olive oil pressed from La Pause’s olive groves.

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Traditional Moroccan soup

Traditional Moroccan soup

Lamb tagine with prunes and almonds

Lamb tagine with prunes and almonds

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This intriguing Moroccan dessert tasted like frosted cornflakes

This intriguing Moroccan dessert tasted like frosted cornflakes

Moroccan tea

Moroccan tea

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All visitors have free access to the grounds – go on, wander through the olive groves, take a dip in the swimming pool, or just stretch out to warm yourself on a sun lounger.

We sipped rose wine and gallivanted around the Agafay desert terrain.

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And what a special surprise when I spied the La Pause boutique! Leave it to the French to identify stylish wares of superb quality – without the dread of having to haggle animatedly for ages to get a fair price! Berber cushion covers, hand painted glass tableware, and woven baskets. Viola!

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Leaving with a bagful of goodies!

Leaving with a bagful of goodies!

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This magical desert experience was by far the highlight of my Moroccan trip. I have to say I probably won’t ever go back to Marrakech in the future; but if I do, I’ll definitely be La Paus-ing here again!