Tag Archives: travel

UK Travel | Highlights of Penzance, Cornwall

When I was in Penzance last Spring, I managed to pack rather a lot into 3 days, taking in the delights of the town, as well as nearby Tremenheere Sculpture Park and St Michael’s Mount. This time, I returned to some familiar favourites (the Exchange Gallery, No. 56The Front Room, Endpaper and Barton Books all high on my list), but also explored some new places. A real pleasure in visiting Penzance is that there is so much to do and see. Here are some highlights from my recent trip:

1/ The National Dahlia Collection

We seized the opportunity of a sunny morning to head to the National Dahlia Collection at Varfell Farm, just outside of Penzance. The dahlia season was just ending, but we were still in time to see some gorgeous blooms.

It felt very peaceful to wander amongst the rows of colourful flowers, with only the hum of a lawnmower disturbing the peace. Butterflies fluttered in the breeze, and, a little hazy in the distance, St Michael’s Mount could be glimpsed.

2/ Tasting Menu at The Shore

You may remember that on my last press trip to Penzance, I was invited to review The Shore restaurant. I enjoyed it so much then that, when my Dad said he wanted to take us all out for a meal to celebrate my birthday, I instantly suggested The Shore.

Since our last visit, a tasting menu (either 5 or 7 courses), as well as the regular à la carte, has been introduced. My Dad treated us to the 7 course meal, with accompanying wine flight. It was incredible! All the wines and dishes were superb, and it would be impossible to pick a favourite, though some highlights for me were the cured monkfish with seaweed salad and wasabi sorbet, hake with roasted beetroot, puy lentils and red cabbage  and the raspberry sorbet. It was a fantastically memorable birthday meal.

3/ Morrab Library

This independent library, housed in a Victorian mansion, is only a few minutes walk from Myrtle House, just across the pretty Morrab Gardens, and is the perfect place for any bibliophile to while away a rainy afternoon. Morrab Library boasts an impressive collection of books, and the reading rooms are beautiful, with desks placed at windows offering  breath-taking views across the gardens and out to sea.

4/ An Afternoon in Mousehole.

I’d been disappointed not to make it to Mousehole (pronounced Mowsol), a charming fishing village about a 15 minute drive from Penzance, on my last visit, so this time I was determined to go. We stopped for lunch at Rock Pool, which served crab sandwiches, cream teas and cocktails and was a lot fun! The cafe offers terrific views of the sea, and although it was too cold to sit out on the terrace, we nabbed a table near the window.

After our sandwiches, I strolled on into the town, pausing to snap plenty of photos of the winding streets and pretty harbour. I thought Mousehole was delightful, with a fairytale quality to its colourful cottages and bobbing boats.

5/ Jubilee Pool.

The Jubilee Pool had been closed on my last trip, so I was very pleased to get to visit it this time, although I’m afraid I wasn’t brave enough to have a dip! I loved the Art Deco design, and the serenity of the quiet pool, jutting out into the sea.

***

Next time I’m in Penzance, I’m planning a visit to Polgoon Vineyard (we tried some of their Cornish wine and cider, which were very good!) and the Minack Theatre, which I didn’t manage to get to this time. At least I have an excuse for another trip!

T&T 49 | Nell Stevens Discusses Bleaker House

Listen to hear the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

In today’s Tea & Tattle episode, I’m joined by the writer Nell Stevens to discuss Nell’s debut book, Bleaker House. Nell lives in London and has a PhD in Victorian literature from King’s College London, and an MFA in Fiction from Boston University.

In her book, Nell describes her journey to the Falkland Islands, in search of the distraction-free, solitary existence she believed would help her to write a novel. Both funny and poignant, Bleaker House is one of the best books I’ve read about the writing process and what it means to be a writer.

It was a real joy to get to chat to Nell on the podcast and find out more about her day-to-day routine on Bleaker Island, as well as what her experience taught her about herself and her writing. Nell also explained how she came to structure the book in an unusual way, assembling it into a kind of collage to include her account of life on Bleaker Island, as well as extracts from her fiction writing and anecdotes about her past.

Nell Stevens, photographed by Mat Smith

I also questioned Nell about the title of her novel and the significance that Dickens’s Bleak House held for her writing process. Nell also makes an exciting announcement at the end of the episode about her next book, so be sure to listen out for that!

Listen to learn more about Nell’s experience of Bleaker Island and of writing a book. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Tea & Tattle newsletter to get exclusive updates and recommendations of favourite books and products from Sophie and me every week.

UK Travel | A Family Reunion at Myrtle House Penzance

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

I spent the beginning of the month in beautiful Cornwall, exploring Penzance, Mawgan Porth, Carbis Bay and St Ives. I had the most wonderful time and love Cornwall even more than ever. You may remember I spent three days in Penzance last Spring, and so I was delighted to be able to take a longer autumnal trip and see a little more.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more about where I stayed and the cultural and foodie highlights from the trip, as well as my shopping haul! It was my birthday whilst I was in Penzance, so I made that an excuse to visit my favourite shops again.

For this trip, I stayed in a varied number of places, from self-catering homes to luxurious beachside hotels, and I’m very pleased to have such a wide range, which would suit many different types of holidays, to show you. First up, is Myrtle House Penzance: the perfect choice for a gathering of friends or family, or for those seeking plenty of space (see the end of the post for an exclusive discount offered to Miranda’s Notebook readers when booking a stay).

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

I’d been invited to Myrtle House to stay and review for the blog, and as this beautiful Georgian house in the heart of Penzance is self-catering and sleeps up to 8,  I decided it would be fun to invite some of my family along to join in the fun. Mum travelled down with me from London, and my Dad (along with my Grandma, who was paying a visit from Canada), flew over from Geneva, Switzerland.

On arriving at the house for a long weekend stay, we we were greeted by a hamper stuffed with Cornish treats, a tall vase filled with locally grown dahlias and Cornish cream, butter, milk and cheese stashed in the fridge. All the essentials, in fact!

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers! A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

We were all so impressed by the huge, well-stocked kitchen. I, of course, was delighted by the fantastic collection of teapots and pretty mugs and teacups. I always think the kitchen is the heart of a home, and we found we naturally collected a good deal around the large table, making plans for the day ahead over breakfast, or reliving adventures with a glass of wine in the evenings.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers! A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers! A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

Also on the ground floor, along the corridor next to the kitchen, is a proper dining room, with a rather magnificent dining table and sideboard. We didn’t eat in this room, as we had suppers out and enjoyed breakfast in the kitchen, but I appreciated the table as another good workspace, and I enjoyed writing some cards and editing photos whilst looking out onto the front garden.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

Stashed inside the sideboard, I discovered a marvellous collection of dainty china teacups and teapots, as well as linen napkins and tablecloths – perfect for an impromptu tea party!

We enjoyed the large sitting room as a cosy and inviting space to curl up with a book or sit and chat. The room features an attractive, useable fireplace – perfect for blustery autumnal evenings. I was drawn to the long window seat and coffee table heaped with good books and glossy magazines.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

My dad especially loved the broad desk, and he ended up taking over this floor, the first floor, which, as well as the sitting room, has the French bedroom (I was charmed that all the bedrooms have their own name!).

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers! A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

All the bedrooms at Myrtle House are beautiful and every thought is given to comfort, with en suite shower rooms for each bedroom and chairs in the windows to sit and admire the view of Morrab Gardens, which are directly opposite the house. I thought the French room lived up to its name, with its dainty prettiness and slightly old-fashioned ornaments (those Staffordshire dogs!).

Two more bedrooms are on the second floor of the house, which I shared with my Grandma. She took a fancy to the Blue Room, which is painted in lovely tones of blue that reminded me of the sea only a short walk from the house.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

A particularly charming touch was the fully stocked tea and coffee supplies in the bedrooms.

I fell for the Master Room, which, as well as boasting very generous proportions, has a large bathroom with an extremely inviting bathtub, in addition to a walk-in shower. Anticipating the chance at a particularly good soak, I’d brought a bottle of Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley Bath Oil with me from London. Bliss!

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

Finally, at the top of the house on the the third floor is the loft, which can be set up with either a double or twin beds, or simply left as another living area. This space is, I think, especially great for children, as the ceilings are quite low and slanted, and there’s a little landing / play area  just outside the bedroom that would be enchanting for youngsters.

There’s a little shower room tucked away in a corner too that wouldn’t fit a tall person, but is great for kids! However, we chose to have this area made up with a double bed for my Mum to use, and it’s a good option for another double bedroom (although you’d have to share a shower with one of the downstairs rooms!).

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

I always find that self-catering homes generally have a lot more character and individual charm compared with hotels. We all enjoyed the excellent choice of books scattered throughout the house: a shelf of classic cookbooks in the kitchen; stuffed bookshelves on each little staircase landing; piles of beautiful coffee table books in the sitting room and stacks of magazines arranged in bedrooms.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

The owners of Myrtle House also clearly have a bit of a penchant for cows, as there’s a bovine theme to the ornamentation scattered throughout the house, from cow-creamers to the life-size cow ornament (Myrtle herself) welcoming you in the front garden!

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

If you have kids, a great project for them would be finding and drawing all the cows in the house – it would keep them quiet for quite a while!

I so enjoyed our family gathering at Myrtle House Penzance, and I can’t recommend it enough. The Property Manager, Claire, was such a delight too and so helpful about recommending some off-the-beaten-track destinations to explore in the area. I’ll share more about where we visited in my next post.

Myrtle House is a self-catering holiday home that sleeps up to 8 people. To claim 10% off website prices for stays up to end of May 2018, simply mention ‘Miranda’s Notebook’ when booking.

Note: my stay at Myrtle House Penzance was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

T&T 45 | A Chat With Carolyn Stritch (@theslowtraveler)

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle Podcast, I’m in conversation with the freelance photographer, Carolyn Stritch. Carolyn lives in Newcastle, UK, and is the creator of The Slow Traveler blog and Instagram account. Her beautiful photographs never fail to leave me spell-bound, and I always appreciate the photography and Instagram advice she gives through articles on her blog.

Carolyn has one of the most beautiful, imaginative galleries on Instagram, so it’s hardly surprising that she’s attracted a huge following. I was so delighted when Carolyn agreed to interview on Tea & Tattle, and it was wonderful to find out more about how her career as a freelance photographer began and her creative process.

Knowing Carolyn to be an avid reader as well, I also asked her for some great book recommendations to curl up with as we head into autumn, and her suggestions had me rushing out to my nearest bookshop immediately!

Listen to learn about ways to improve your photography and navigate instagram. 

Note: images courtesy Carolyn Stritch.

Creative Crush | Georgianna Lane Discusses Paris in Bloom

Georgianna Lane is one of the photographers I admire the most. I always eagerly anticipate her dreamy images of Paris and beautiful florals on my Instagram feed, and I find Georgianna’s use of light and visual story-telling extremely inspiring.

Georgianna’s work has been widely published in magazines, books, stationery and home decor products, and she’s the author of Paris in BloomAlthough originally from America, Georgianna has spent a great deal of time in Paris, and her photography shows how much creative inspiration she draws from the City of Light.

Miranda’s Notebook readers obviously know me rather well, as I received Paris in Bloom as a gift from the lovely Marion, a regular reader of the blog. It was the most perfect present, and I lingered over each exquisite page of the book as I read it (thanks again, Marion!)Not only does Paris in Bloom feature the most breath-taking photography of Paris and the show-stopping blooms Georgianna finds in the city, it’s also full of useful tips on flower styling and Parisian destinations.

Georgianna Lane

I was delighted when Georgianna agreed to answer some questions for an interview on Miranda’s Notebook. I asked her all about her favourite floral destinations in Paris, tips for photographing flowers, how she runs her own business and so much more. As I’m sure you’ll agree, Georgianna gives lots of fantastic advice in her answers, and now has me yearning for a trip to Paris next spring! I think it’s time to start planning….

***

MN: What first sparked your love for Paris and floral photography?

GL: My passion for both has been part of me for a long time. I’ve been traveling to Paris since I was a teenager and taking photographs well before that so it was a natural progression, given the beauty and romance of both subjects.

MN: How did your career as a photographer begin? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?

GL: Art and creativity were always present in our household when I was growing up. My mother was a musician, singer and painter and both my parents were avid photographers. We were encouraged to read, create and dream. I began writing and taking photographs at a very young age and have continued to do so always.

When I left corporate marketing as an Art Director at a literary agency over ten years ago, I decided to focus on my photography business which now includes my books, specialist stock image library, online shops, licensing and assignment work for major gardening and lifestyle magazines.

Floral photography is endlessly fascinating and always popular. However, it’s a crowded field so I dedicated myself to excelling technically and artistically.

I feel very thankful that I make a living in a creative field and am grateful that my upbringing celebrated beauty and art, as well as the practical aspects of life.

MN: What inspired you to photograph and write Paris in Bloom?

GL: I’ve been visiting Paris since I was a teenager and spending more and more time there over the last six years. My first visit at age fourteen with my Mom introduced me to the city’s parks and gardens and museums, especially those with the Impressionist painters. I loved that the city itself seemed very feminine and that flowers are such a strong influence on the design and architecture. I started working on the concepts for Paris in Bloom about four or five years ago and developed it from there.

MN: Where are your three favourite places to go in Paris to experience its best florals?

GL: I love the Jardin du Palais Royal, which has bright pink blooming magnolias in March and abundant roses throughout the summer, all set against elegant, formal architecture. Flower shops on the walking streets of Rue Cler and Rue Montorgueil always have colorful displays. And nothing surpasses the beautiful cherry blossoms at Notre Dame and around the Eiffel Tower in April.

MN: In Paris in Bloom, you mention how much you admire the Impressionist painters, and your gorgeous photos remind me of their dreamy, floral aesthetic. Is there a particular artist that inspires your work?

GL: I’ve always been very inspired by the Impressionists and the Pre-Raphaelite painters, as well as the great artists and designers of the Arts and Crafts movement, such as William Morris and Sir Edward Burne Jones. Naturally, Monet has been very influential. The romance and beauty of these artists evokes a sense of otherworldly beauty, places that exist on the edge of the imagination that just might be real.

I love romantic and beautiful works in any field and inspiration can be found in poetry, music and nature, too. The peacefulness and serenity of the natural world influences the creation of many of my images. I approach my photographs as if they were paintings, leaving out elements that are modern or distracting to create a scene that allows the viewer to visualize themselves in that location. I strive to create timeless, light-filled, dreamy images with a bit of a magical atmosphere and hope to transport the viewer to a tranquil and beautiful realm.

MN: Do you have a favourite flower to photograph?

GL: Roses are always a favorite, as well as peonies, dahlias, hellebores and narcissus. I also love hydrangea and grow many varieties myself. In spring I have tulips, daffodils, Lily of the Valley, lilacs, bleeding heart and many more beautiful blooms to photograph. In summer, it’s roses, hydrangea, clematis, lilies and poppies.

MN: Would you share some of your tips for photographing blooms?

GL: Absolutely! You can instantly improve much outdoor flower photography by avoiding shooting in harsh sunshine. The high contrast light creates dark shadows on the subject and burns out highlights so you lose the detail in a flower. A slightly overcast day is perfect, with soft, even light, that will illuminate the beauty of the flower and allow all its features to be seen.

If you can’t avoid the sun, you can block it with an umbrella or diffuser to soften the light. And you can always choose to shoot in early morning or early evening when the sun is low. Backlighting can be lovely and give flowers a glowing radiance but again, you have to ensure you don’t lose detail by overexposure. And I always recommend using a macro lens so that you can get very close to the flower and explore its structure and form.

Becoming good friends with your tripod will open up a world of possibilities for flower photography. Even if a photograph has a shallow depth of field for a dreamy quality, having one area of sharp focus, usually on the center of the flower, will give the viewer a focal point and entrance point to the image. To ensure tack sharpness, a tripod is vital.

MN: I know you split your time between Seattle, London and Paris. What are the qualities you appreciate most about these cities in terms of capturing them through photography?

GL: I’ve lived in all three cities and know them well. In London and Paris, I adore wandering and exploring the layers of architecture and history that present themselves. It’s a joy with always something new to discover and learn. As the US base for my business, in Seattle I tend to concentrate my work on our own large wooded property and garden and the flowers I’ve planted there over the years, many of which feature in my images.

I also collaborate with a number of the local flower farms on book and magazine projects so its a seasonal concentration during spring and summer, although I also spend some months during that time in Paris and in London as well. I travel extensively back and forth over the pond from February through June.

MN: As well as a renowned floral photographer, you’re a very successful business woman, running two online shops and founding a horticultural stock photography website. Which quality of your personality would you say has helped you most to succeed in business? Do you ever find it difficult to juggle the creative side of what you do alongside the business?

GL: Thanks so much! I’m very determined and once I set a goal for myself, I don’t quit easily. I think my persistence is a key trait. I truly believe that giving up on a dream is the only reason for failure. But you have to do the work. Dreaming doesn’t get it done. One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Edison: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” I’ve never been good at downtime and usually have many projects going at once.

It is challenging juggling both the creative and business side of my company. More and more my time is spent on marketing, social media, websites, etc. Fortunately, my husband is also full time on our business. In addition to being a marvelous photographer himself with his own successful career, he handles all the finances and travel logistics, which is a lifesaver. You cannot effectively do it alone and expect to expand.

MN: Finally, what’s next? Are there any upcoming projects that you’re able to share at the moment?

GL: I can definitely tell you that more books are coming, beginning in Spring 2018! I’m expanding product lines to include more stationery items, wall art and wearable art. And hope to launch workshops and online training next year. Thank you so much, Miranda!

***

Find Georgianna on Instagram as @georgiannalane and @aparisianmoment, Twitter, Etsy and Facebook. You can also see more of Georgianna’s products and photographs on her website. Paris in Bloom is available to purchase here. You can watch the trailer for the book, which is a visual treat and wonderfully soothing to the soul:

Don’t you think Georgianna’s photography is stunning? Thanks so much again to her for a wonderful interview and for her photographs that add a little more beauty to my days.

Note: all images in this post courtesy Georgianna Lane.

T&T 43 | A Chat With Liz Schaffer, Editor of Lodestars Anthology

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

Today on Tea & Tattle Podcast, I’m chatting with Liz Schaffer, the editor and founder of my favourite travel magazine, Lodestars Anthology. I first discovered these travel journals when I was browsing Daunt Books, and I instantly fell for the awe-inspiring photography and well-written articles. There are now 8 issues to date, with the most recent, New Zealand, published last month.

In this week’s episode, I took the opportunity to question Liz about the future of independent magazine publishing, how she first came to launch Lodestars Anthology and what lessons she’s learnt from running her own business. We also chatted about the art of travel and how to travel more creatively.

This is a brilliant episode for anyone who enjoys travel and inspiring reading material, and it is guaranteed to make you want to plan your next holiday!

Listen to learn more about publishing an independent travel magazine.

P.S. I’ve created a guide to travel journaling for Tea & Tattle listeners for further travel inspiration. If you’ve already signed up to our newsletter, then check your inbox, as the guide was emailed to you. Otherwise, you can sign up to get it here.

T&T 41 | Joyful French Eating with Elizabeth Bard

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

Today on Tea & Tattle, I’m chatting with the bestselling author, Elizabeth Bard, about Elizabeth’s new cookbook, Dinner Chez Moi: 50 French Secrets to Joyful Eating and Entertaining.

Elizabeth lives in Provence with her family, and she has also written two culinary memoirs, Lunch in Paris and Picnic in Provence, about her move from America to France and how she fell in love with the country, the food and a Frenchman! I love Elizabeth’s humorous and insightful descriptions of adapting to the French way of life, as well as the delicious recipes that accompany her words.

Dinner Chez Moi is less of a memoir and more a handy guide to the French style of eating and living, with plenty of Elizabeth’s favourite recipes to enjoy. I had a fabulous time asking Elizabeth all about what she stocks in her Provençal kitchen; how to shop wisely for delicious, but affordable meals and some of the French secrets to keeping a trim waistline (I think I’ve got the tea-drinking part down at least!).

It was so fun to catch-up with Elizabeth on the podcast, as I’d met her last summer when I was in Provence, and arranged an interview with her at Scaramouche, the artisan glacier Elizabeth runs with her husband.

With Elizabeth Bard outside Scaramouche

This episode is perfect for summer and will inspire anyone, I’m sure, to dash to their local farmers’ market and start buying up juicy tomatoes and other fresh produce!

Listen to learn more about eating, cooking and living the French way. 

T&T 38 | Lauren Elkin and the Flâneuse

An interview with Lauren Elkin

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes

Today on Tea & Tattle, I’m speaking with the brilliant Lauren Elkin about her wonderful book, Flâneuse. In part a memoir of Lauren’s experiences living and walking in Paris, New York City, London, Venice and Tokyo, Flâneuse is also a fascinating examination of the cultural history of creative women, such as Virginia Woolf, George Sand and Jean Rhys, who have found inspiration and freedom from roaming city streets.

An interview with Lauren Elkin

In our conversation, Lauren explains how her own creative self-discovery whilst exploring Paris as a student first led her to identify the flâneuse, a female equivalent to the flâneur: a male author or artist who wanders the streets of his city with an observant eye. The flâneur or flâneuse takes the part of a spectator; at one with the city, but also set a little apart from it, looking on from the outside.

The flâneur – with its masculine form – has always been used to describe a man, but in her book Lauren brilliantly argues the case for the feminine flâneuse, showing how historically women writers and authors have also engaged with city streets, drawing on their urban environment for creative inspiration.

An interview with Lauren ElkinLauren Elkin. Image © Marianne Katser

I so enjoyed hearing Lauren’s thoughts on the challenges that women still face today when walking in a city, the women she finds especially inspirational and why Paris is so special to her.

Listen to learn more about Lauren Elkin’s book, Flâneuse, and the creative inspiration that taking to a city’s streets can bring. 

UK Travel | Polo in the Cotswolds

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

A huge highlight of my recent trip to Cirencester in the Cotswolds was getting to watch my very first polo games at Cirencester Park Polo Club. After dropping our bags off at the Kings Head Hotel, Mum and I called a taxi to take us the short drive to the Polo Club.

The Kings Head were kindly hosting us in their gorgeous marquee, and as soon as we arrived, I knew the afternoon would be special.

Champagne Reception

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

The marquee was set up on a lawn right next to the polo playing field, with deck chairs and benches placed outside so we could watch the games in comfort later. Before the afternoon games started, though, we were spoilt with a champagne reception, where we got to mingle with some other guests, followed by a spectacular lunch.

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

I got very excited when I spotted Jilly Cooper in the marquee, although I was too shy to say hello! To commemorate the occasion, I did order a copy of Polo later though!

Lunch

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

Our lunch was fantastic, with a buffet choice of either hot or cold food. Mum and I both went for the roast lamb with mint sauce and all the trimmings, followed by strawberry Eton mess and a shared cheese plate.

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo ClubUK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo ClubUK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

Everything was delicious, and it was the perfect menu for a Sunday lunch in the English countryside.

Men’s Polo

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

After lunch, we got the chance to speak to a player and meet his beautiful pony (I soon learnt horses are called ponies in polo) – Intrigue – before the start of the men’s game.

Being a polo newbie, I took the opportunity to find out a little more about the game, learning that a full game of polo is six chukkas, with each chukka being 7 minutes long. Ponies are swapped in between chukkas so they don’t get too tired. During half-time, spectators are called on to take part in treading-in, where the churned up turf is stamped down and made flat and smooth again.

Armed with these facts, I settled down to enjoy the men’s game.

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

It didn’t take me long to realise that I love polo! Normally used to being bored stiff by anything vaguely sporty, I was amazed by how fast-paced and exciting polo is. Chukkas go by at lightening speed, and it’s thrilling to watch the ponies stampeding across the field and performing hairpin turns with incredible grace and fluidity.

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

At half-time, I dutifully trotted out on to the field with a merry crowd of spectators and their dogs and stomped on the grass, cheered along by the commentators.

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

There was such a convivial atmosphere to the afternoon, with people enjoying picnics from the backs of their cars, or lounging in sun-chairs and chatting in front of the marquee.

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

It felt like no time at all before the game was over, and prizes were handed out to the winning team, as well as for particular categories, like (my favourite) the best playing pony.

Afternoon Tea

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

Before the women’s match started, afternoon tea was served. This, I thought, was definitely the way to see polo! Exciting games, with fantastic food, champagne and piping hot tea flowing in between. Mum and I both agreed we’d definitely found our spectator sport.

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

I was still full from lunch, so could only manage half a slice of Battenburg cake and a macaron, but they were lovely to nibble, and Mum said the scones were exceedingly good too – freshly baked and still warm.

A Chat with Tamara Fox

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

Before the Ladies’ Polo game started, I got the chance to speak to one of the players from the British Team, Tamara Fox. Tamara is a two goal player who plays out of Cirencester Park Polo Club. She often plays alongside her sister, Nina Clarkin.

{For those of you who don’t know much about polo – like me! – from my understanding, it’s like golf in that it uses a handicap system to rate each player, although is unlike golf in that the higher handicap you have, the better you are. Players are rated from -2 handicaps (or goals) to 10 handicaps.}

I questioned Tamara a little about her polo career and how women’s polo has changed.

***

MN: What’s your background in polo? It seems like quite a family affair for you!

TF: Yes! My mother played, my sister plays and my brother. I started when I was 11 and got addicted to it. I got into the Pony Club and stayed in it until I was 20-21. I think my pinnacle really came when I got to play at Ellerston in ’99, and I was the first lady to play at Ellerston, and we won. That was amazing. From there, I think it’s all gone down hill [laughs]. I went to two goals after that, and stayed on two goals – still two goals now  – in the mixed [men and women] polo.

“I feel that, in my lifetime, polo has really developed.” – Tamara Fox

MN: Would you tell me a bit about Ladies’ Polo and your handicap system?

TF: We have a new handicap system, so we have a separate handicap to the men’s polo. When we play in the mixed polo, we play on our mixed handicap, and for me that’s 2 goals, but when we play in the ladies’ polo, we play on our ladies’ handicap, and for me that’s 7 goals. It’s a different handicap because it’s a different style of polo, and it makes it more even, because some ladies are much better at mixed polo, and some are better at ladies’ polo. I feel that, in my lifetime, polo has really developed, not just women’s polo, but polo as a whole, and it’s a fun thing to be a part of.

MN: What would you like to see happen for women’s polo in the future?

TF: I would like to see more women playing in the mixed polo, because that’s the best fun, or perhaps not more fun, but it’s different, and I’d like to see more girls doing it.

***

That sounds like a brilliant ambition to me too, and I hope to see more mixed matches in the future!

Ladies’ Polo

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

The ladies’ game was just as action-packed as the men’s, and even more exciting, as I was cheering for Tamara’s team, which won! Congratulations again to Tamara and the other players.

UK Travel, Cotswolds | Cirencester Park Polo Club

Although the Polo Club after-party sounded an awful lot of fun, Mum and I had supper booked back at the hotel, so we made our farewells and called a taxi.

I have now definitely caught the polo bug, and I’d love to try my hand at a lesson, which I think would be awfully fun (happily, you don’t need any prior riding experience to take a lesson). Seeing the games seems to have awoken my 7 year-old pony-book-obsessed self, and I can’t wait to enjoy more polo in the future.

If you’ve never seen a game, then I so recommend going to one – it makes for a brilliantly entertaining day out, and if you’re in the Cotswolds area, or fancy a weekend away from London, then I can guarantee the Cirencester Park Polo Club is the place to go!

***

Check out events, or book a polo lesson,  at the Cirencester Park Polo Club here. You can also book for the marquee hospitality package (which I strongly recommend!) here.

See also: my stay at the Kings Head, Cirencester.

Note: We were guests of the Kings Head Hotel for our afternoon of fun and polo. 

T&T | Exploring Great Britain With Alice Stevenson

Tea and Tattle Podcast | Exploring Great Britain With Alice Stevenson

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle, I’m in conversation with the London-based illustrator and author, Alice Stevenson. Alice has been a friend of mine ever since I first interviewed her a few years ago, but I’ve been an admirer of her work for much longer than that. Alice is an admirably prolific artist, producing numerous illustrations for book designs, special commissions, prints and cards. Alice is also the author of two books: Ways to Walk in London and the newly published Ways to See Great Britain.

In Ways to See Great Britain, Alice writes about her adventures travelling the UK, covering an impressive variety of places from the Orkney Islands to Plymouth. Her musings on the strange, the beautiful and the prosaic that she discovers are delightfully enhanced by Alice’s signature abstract sketches. With an impressive eye for detail, Alice shows you how to bring more intention to your wanderings; always seeking out the hidden treasures that are the rewards of the curious and observant explorer.

Tea and Tattle Podcast | Exploring Great Britain With Alice Stevenson

In our conversation, I asked Alice for her tips and recommendations for exploring the UK, as well as ways to look at your surroundings with a more creative eye. Alice also shared some of the highlights and disappointments from her trips, other books about the UK that inspire her and how her perspective on what it means to be British changed as she got to know her home country better.

Listen to hear great tips on exploring the UK and how to bring more creativity to your travels.