Venice, Italy – So Much More Than Glass and Gondolas!

invoking thoughts of women in masks and powdered wigs roaming through the city after attending yet another outrageous masked ball in the 15th century.

Venice, Italy – So Much More Than Glass and Gondolas!

I’d heard Venice was smelly, damp, expensive, sinking and outdated. Well they got that wrong!

Venice canal
Stupidly big boats are not friends of Venice

OK, maybe it’s sinking, actually it’s tilting and sinking. Yes it’s pricey. However it certainly wasn’t smelly and it was so packed with gorgeous art, stunning architecture, history and irrepressible wow factors that I would have forgiven the city the smell anyway.

Venice - pillar



Venice is awesome, you arrive at the airport and get the boat, yes boat, from the airport to your hotel.

On the island there are no cars, which is no wonder as the pathways wind adventurously between the high and ancient architecture.

  Continue reading “Venice, Italy – So Much More Than Glass and Gondolas!”

Truly Unique and Unbelievable – Damien Hirst – Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

Wow. I know it’s in the eye of the beholder but maybe they went to a different show to the rest of us.

Truly Unique and Unbelievable – Damien Hirst – Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

I’d first of all like to give FULL credit to all the artists and sculptors and workers who alongside Damien Hirst produced such a unique awe inspiring exhibition. (Actually two, in separate locations in Venice.)

Damien Hirst - Gold painted sculpture

You produced work that truly brought the ‘Wow’ factor, to almost every visitor through the doors.

Whilst being lucky enough to visit Venice, I also had chance to see this exhibition spread over two venues in the city.

Damien Hirst - coral

A fantastic contrast to all the historic art and culture which packs the city between canals and waterways.

 



I can’t even contemplate how you achieved it, how you managed to get such huge and outrageous pieces into the country let alone into the galleries.

Amazing!

Continue reading “Truly Unique and Unbelievable – Damien Hirst – Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”

How to Recycle Your Wedding Dress (Or Other Piece of Clothing That Holds Memories Within Its Threads)

I paid loads of cash for a frock and then paid to destroy it?

How to Recycle Your Wedding Dress (Or Other Piece of Clothing That Holds Memories Within Its Threads)

You now how it goes.

Gorgeous wedding day, fortune spent on your wedding dress, then after the big day it sits in the suit carrier in the wardrobe.

So, guess what, as part of my streamlining and feeble attempts at leading a more minimal life style I decided to cut it up!

Yes really, you heard me right, CUT IT UP!


Well, to be honest I paid someone else to cut it up.

OK, take a breath. I paid loads of cash for a frock and then paid to destroy it?

Yup!

Continue reading “How to Recycle Your Wedding Dress (Or Other Piece of Clothing That Holds Memories Within Its Threads)”

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

I use Ikea alongside salvage yards and junk shops to bring the rooms to life and make them my own.

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip - My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

I love interior design. I adore art. I love beautiful things and want to be surrounded by them. Sadly my budget doesn’t always match my aspirations.

Over the years I’ve lived in rented one room apartments, mortgaged victorian terraces and larger ex-council properties. Whilst renovating my various homes over the years, I’ve made no end of mistakes, some more costly than others. I’ve learned by them.

Let me help with a few tips to keep you safe and sane.

They may just save you from making those time consuming or expensive mistakes.

The best friend of the interior designer on a budget is Ikea. Can you believe it’s nearly 30 years since they opened their first UK store? I’m a self confessed addict. It started with a mutual love of wood and candles and has developed over the years as we’ve both aged and matured.

I use Ikea alongside salvage yards and junk shops to bring the rooms to life and make them my own.



Here’s how I do it…

Continue reading “How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!”

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture – My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

Things that were minutes ago just squares and shapes laid snugly in a well fitting cardboard box are now a three dimensional gorgeous addition to your home.

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture –  My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture - My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide - ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

Do you hanker after well designed furniture but can’t afford it?

How about flat pack? Scared of it looking cheap and wobbly, with poorly fitting doors etc? Be scared no more, Ikea could well be the answer to your problems. Never shopped in Ikea before? Have a look at my shopping advice here.

If you followed my previous advice, you got home safely with all your bargains and flatpacks and are ready to make your house into a home.

Many people, sadly often the lovely men in our lives (I’m not sexist but guys, you know this is true) do not like following instructions. If this is you, then walk away. I can’t help you.

Walk away, with your big hammer, your tool belt and be prepared to break things.  Get your ‘might come in handy stuff’ box, aka toolbox, for all the left over pieces you didn’t think were necessary. You may want to keep the drill handy too, you know you love a power tool. For those who are less gung ho and want to do the job as suggested by Ikea, this post is for you.

Right then, who’s still here?

You did swot up and buy, or borrow, all the required tools didn’t you? No? Oh dear, you may have a problem, or not. DO NOT PANIC! I can help. You will just be reading instructions, or rather following text free diagrams with little pictures of people helping you along the way. No language difficulties here.

Check your watch, it’s not a race, this is a task that could take time. If you don’t have time, leave it. A panicky last minute build could be disastrous. Happy? OK, we’re going in.

My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – My 5 Practical Tips

1. Prepare your Construction Zone

Are you ready to go? Great. Get changed, be comfy, wear trainers not slippers or barefeet (bare toes and sheets of glass or wood don’t make for a healthy mix.) Grab a glass of water, it can get heated.

It’s a good idea to cover the floor area or table (only use a table for small projects. Picture frames usually have glass in them, you need to keep it flat. Furniture is heavy, you need to keep it as low as possible.)

Bedsheets / blankets to protect your flooring or carpet are ideal.

You don’t want to produce one gorgeous piece at the cost of scratches and marks on another.

You need as big a space as you can wrangle, spreading out will help you keep track. It’s also safer, you don’t want to be stepping over or on the flatpack pieces during construction.

At this stage it’s worth putting your drink where it won’t get knocked over but you can reach it. You may need extra energy so bring the Ikea Dime pieces, you DID buy some didn’t you?

Continue reading “How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture – My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )”

Insomnia? 5 Productive Things To Do If You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night

If you’re someone who gets fed up of listening to the most annoying noise you ever can hear when you are wide awake, someone else snoring, then here’s a few ideas of how to change the routine.

Insomnia? 5 Productive Things To Do If You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night

This isn’t medical advice, I’m no expert, well I guess I could be. I often wake up in the middle of the night. I’m an active dreamer so sometimes just fall back in and finish off whatever dream I was in at the time.

Other times, I don’t.

I used to look at the ceiling, look at the pillow, look at the dark, look at the light creeping in around the curtains.

Now I don’t.

I do something.

So if you are someone who is also bored of gazing at the shadow of a light fitting. Someone who can’t get back to sleep after going for a 2am toilet break. If you’re someone who gets fed up of listening to the most annoying noise you ever can hear when you are wide awake, someone else snoring, then here’s a few ideas of how to change the routine.

1. Get up, go to the kitchen and make a drink

NO! Not alcohol. Have a glass of water, your body may be telling you to drink especially if you did have a few glasses of booze or eat salty food the day before. Make a warm drink, something soothing or relaxing, milky or camomile.

Whilst you are waiting for the kettle to boil, or whilst sipping the glass of cool water. Prepare your breakfast. See you doubted me for a minute, thought how is a cup of tea productive. Stick with me here people!

Get your cutlery and crockery out of the cupboards or dishwasher. Put porridge oats in soak in a cup in the fridge. Put the coffee beans in the grinder. Do something that will save you time in the morning when you are always in a rush.

2. Do the thing that is on your mind

Quite often your mind will harp on about something you need to do. Finish your kid’s homework, iron your shirt.

If you are going on a trip, it may remind you to pack something. Well do it now, or if that isn’t practical, write a note to remind you, put it where you can’t miss it and forget it, pin it to your case.

Ten minutes ironing that shirt or doing a page of spellings or sums can really save hours of sleeplessness telling your self not to forget to find it. (I know you shouldn’t do your child’s homework, but get real, it happens.)

Continue reading “Insomnia? 5 Productive Things To Do If You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night”

Anyone with a brain should watch this TV programme!

Perhaps what I found so profound about his work, was how art sustains him.

Anyone with a brain should watch this TV programme! Stroke is not the end.

I never understand people who don’t have a television. I’m a writer, I love books, I love the written word and the tactile nature of paper pages turning. However I also value good television and some is excellent. This is.

This programme brought me to tears.

Andrew Marr is a TV presenter, writer, poet, political analyst and as we find out a frustrated artist who admits he probably lacked the bravery to attend art college as he would have loved to do.

My mother and her sister both died of strokes so for me this was of personal interest. If genetics have anything to do with it, this could be the way I go to the next plain or whatever lies ahead.

I’ve often watched Andrew Marr at his work, often presenting a variety of programmes on TV. I truly hadn’t appreciated just how badly the stroke had affected his movement and quality of life. Just holding a glass is an achievement for him.

He dives right in to all the treatments, the causes and terribly sad impacts of a stroke. He shows obvious frustration at how the treatments are to be sought out and paid for privately. However he is honest, enquiring and clear that he wants to learn, not inspire pity for his situation. He admits he worked too hard, and probably still does.

My mother’s treatment after her stroke was to be stuck in a cot-bed, to pay for it she had to sell her home. She was stuck in limbo, often not knowing who was around her, until a second stroke carried her from us. My aunt was thankfully saved this humiliation.

We all have to die of something as my dad wisely said on his death bed. However the stroke, or as Andrew says, the first stroke doesn’t always kill you, the second might. It’s how we learn to deal with the first one and its impacts that is so fascinating.

Now don’t get me wrong, this programme wasn’t depressing, not even sad.

Continue reading “Anyone with a brain should watch this TV programme!”

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland – A Night at The Museum with Awesome Art Classics

The exhibits are displayed in smaller rooms, well spaced so browsing and taking your time is easy and enjoyable.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland – A Night at The Museum with Awesome Art Classics

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland - A Night at The Museum with Awesome Art Classics

Product:

Art Gallery, shop and cafe

Location:

Argyle Street, Glasgow, Scotland

Van Gogh

Overview:

This gallery is housed in a beautiful, classical architectural jewel of a building in Glasgow city. We parked up in the cheap on-site car park and walked through the small gardens to the entrance. Entrance is free, with a voluntary donation of £5 minimum, it’s well worth the donation!

The gallery is spread over three floors, with cafe and shop to visit before you leave. The shop has some really well designed souvenirs, reasonably priced and not just the usual junk.

The exhibits are displayed in smaller rooms, well spaced so browsing and taking your time is easy and enjoyable. The downstairs rooms are a bit more chaotic as they are aimed at education of the young. Lots of laughter and running between the tactile displays shows they’ve got it spot on.

Continue reading “Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland – A Night at The Museum with Awesome Art Classics”

Le Penseur, Auguste Rodin – The Vatican Museum, Rome

Some of the most important art in the world is there and folk just barge you out of the way and literally run through the galleries

Le Penseur, Auguste Rodin

Le Penseur, Auguste Rodin – The Vatican Museum, Rome

Some say size matters, boy did they get that one wrong. Always choose quality over quantity!

I am so lucky, I have seen some of the most beautiful, historic, thought provoking stunning art. I’ve visited Paris to see Mona Lisa, despite what you may have perceived from the media images, she’s tiny! None the less she’s worth the trip. Wow! Amazing.

Whilst on a recent trip to Rome I was walking around the breathtaking Vatican Museum. A huge number of people almost run through that place. It’s bizarre. Some of the most important art in the world is there and folk just barge you out of the way and literally run through the galleries to get to the Sistine Chapel.

Shame.

Now the Sistine Chapel is just indescribable, although I will try in a future blog post, but please people…

slow down…

take a breath…

take in the beauty around you…

As I meandered through the long halls and enjoyed the galleries held securely in between, I was surprised to see an artwork I’d not even realised was there. It wasn’t mentioned in my brochures and my research had missed it, my bad.

Stood on a humble pillar, within a small off shot gallery sat this gorgeous man. He wasn’t drawing attention to himself, he sat quietly, some visitors almost knocked him from his pedestal in their haste to pass him by.

Who was this tactile, bronze, muscular naked figure quietly demanding my attention? Silently calling out to me to reach out a hand and almost tentatively touch his shoulder, I resisted the temptation, as you do with a forbidden love.

Continue reading “Le Penseur, Auguste Rodin – The Vatican Museum, Rome”

My Desert Island Discs – Thank you BBC Radio 4 for the inspiration

Ask everyone, they remember their first love. It’s embedded in their emotional map.

Radio 4 Desert Island Discs

My Desert Island Discs

BBC Radio 4 transmit Desert Island Discs and have done so since 1942.(Copyright probably BBC, I did look but couldn’t find the official reference for it)

The programme has the same theme tune as the original, it’s now become a radio institution, recognisable across the globe.

The radio programme has one presenter, currently Kirsty Young, who interviews a celebrity, academic or public figure about their life. The conversation is held against a back drop of their favourite pieces of music and the reasons behind their choices. If they were stuck on a desert island, which eight pieces of music, discs, would they like to have with them.

A extra dimension is also which books would they need with them on the island. The guest is ‘given’ the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible. Remember this did start on the BBC back in the forties. The Bible can now be exchanged for any other book of religion or philosophy.

At the end of the programme the guest must decide on ‘saving’ just one book. They are also allowed one luxury item.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have every intention of becoming a best selling author and will therefore get on the radio show for real at some point soon. However in the meanwhile I thought I’d share my current Desert Island Discs  shown below in no particular order.

Continue reading “My Desert Island Discs – Thank you BBC Radio 4 for the inspiration”