May 18

2016

I went into London last week to visit my friend Silka Rittson-Thomas at her incredible flower studio in Mayfair. Silka is formally a private art advisor and curator, but she also happens to be my very chic neighbour in the Cotswolds – every time I see her she inspires me with her obvious embrace of personal style. I first had a look at her incredible vision for flowers when she opened a little pop-up flower shop – literally inside an old tuktuk (an automated rickshaw commonly used in India) – at the local Charlbury train station. I thought it was a brilliant idea, especially around Valentine’s Day or even just on weekends. Silka’s flower-filled tuktuk made it that much easier for women to pick up something to make the house prettier or for men to bring home something lovely for their wives. I was already impressed by Silka’s bountiful creativity, her motivation to take on a whole new endeavour in addition to the success of her art world career, and the charm with which she carried it off.

Then the next thing I knew Silka had a shop on Duke Street in London! I’d seen glimpses of what she was creating there – not only fresh flower arrangements but also incredible paper flowers ones as well. I had even sent some friends bouquets from her – I didn’t dare suggest what she send, knowing her ideas would be better than mine, so I just gave her a budget and let her do her thing. One friend who received them, Justine Picardie, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, commented that they were the prettiest flowers that had ever entered her office!

So finally last week I made it to see Silka’s shop in person, and it is so much more than just the incredible flowers. She had a show on called TulipFever, including an unbelievably beautiful array of dutch tulips arranged by German artist Nicole Wermers, displayed in antique Royal Dutch delftware tuplières, all shown alongside vintage indigo fabrics and hand-printed neckerchiefs from Howe, a textile shop on Bourne Street (instagram: howe36bournestreet). The space itself was equally compelling…..basically it’s a small corridor and a staircase – that’s it! – but with colourful old tiles on the walls and new cabinets made to match the floral pattern of the old tiles. Every detail is considered and charming, and even the workshop studio around the corner is a place in which you just instantly feel you want to hang out. It was my first visit but certainly won’t be my last.

The TukTuk Flower Studio, 73 Duke Street, London, W1K 5NP

Tel. 0207 493 5813, Email: flowers@thetuktuk.net, Instagram: @thetuktukflowerstudio, Web: thetuktuk.net


Oct 13

2015

Life in England: Game of Thrones

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“The monogram is that of William III who updated the building.”

I came home from New York last week and picked up the latest World of Interiors. I so look forward to my subscription every month and always love what they shoot, but every now and then something in that magazine just stops me dead in my tracks. This time it was the Hampton Court Palace Royal Tennis Courts right here in England where princes and kings have been whacking around hand stitched felt balls since 1625.  These photos really captured me. In an aesthetic way, they say everything I love about England. ..


Sep 15

2015

Life in England: My Writing Habits

People have asked me from time to time how I get my writing done. If you’re a writer yourself, you inevitably understand how hard that can be to do sometimes. In truth, it’s coming up to three years since I moved to England, and I am still refining my work habits. The hardest thing for me has been that I don’t write all the time. Because my books are always a mixture of written word and photographs, it tends to be that I write for a few weeks and then I research the illustrations for a while and then go back to writing. Then I finish the writing for the book and I am editing, making corrections, placing photographs in the text, etc. It’s not like writing a novel where I would be mostly writing consistently throughout the process. Interspersed with book writing are articles I occasionally write for magazines and my blog posts (not that I have done much of that in the last year!). So, I usually have some form of writing in my life but it’s kind of all over the place. ..


Sep 10

2015

Life on the Farm: RIP Jack Bauer

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Jack Bauer and his field mate Inspector Clouseau (Jack and Clue for short) actually belonged to my brother-in-law, but because we all live on the same farm, the donkeys would spend part of their year in the field next to our house. A few months ago, my husband Christopher was walking past that field when Clue ran up to him in utter panic. He was hee-ing and haw-ing as loud as he could and he looked scared. Christopher jumped the stone wall into the field where Clue was crying and followed him towards where it looked like Jack was lying down. Christopher instinctively knew in that moment that Jack was gone. Why would he be resting or sleeping while Clue was in such a state? As he approached him his fear was confirmed. Jack had died. Clue continued to run around, completely freaking out. Poor Clue. That afternoon we rang a neighbour who has donkeys and she agreed to adopt Clue right away so he could begin bonding with hers. ..


Jul 18

2013

Life in England: Stately Rides, part 2

So at the end of our first full day of riding, we arrived ready for a rest and a cup of tea at the home of Christopher and Marian Houghton near Broadway. To me, this quintessentially British couple and their home epitomised the best of English country life. Christopher has been the secretary and then chairman of the North Cotswold hunt for 25 years, and his family’s affection for the sport is evidenced as soon as you walk in their door with an impressive and worn collection of hunting coats, boots, hats and whips in the front hall...


Jul 17

2013

Life in England: Stately Rides, part 1

About a year ago, my husband mentioned a company that a childhood friend had started. It’s called Stately Rides, and it gathers a small group of people together and gives you on a horse riding tour of some of the most beautiful countryside in Gloucestershire while staying in a beautiful private home each night. I knew immediately that I would have to go on this trip and I knew when and with whom. Each summer our family friend Regena comes to stay with us with the simple goal of riding horses incessantly with my daughter Coco and me...


Apr 26

2013

The abundance of great houses, both big and small, formal and rustic, untouched or newly restored continues to capture my attention here in England. We make whole day trips to go see a house or a garden, have a picnic, let the kids run around and hope that they absorb at least one thing they learned from the adventure. My 11 year old has just begun to take an interest. When we drive around now, she comments on houses she thinks are special or beautiful or that she thinks I might want to take a photo of. I think it’s important to teach kids about inspiration – the idea that we can be excited by things we don’t have to buy, the idea of developing a visual vocabulary, and the idea of sharing opinions – sometimes agreeing, sometimes not. It’s fun! ..


Apr 11

2013

On the Road: Spring Break at The Pig Hotel

I’m laughing to myself while putting “Spring” in the title of this post because there is nothing Spring-like about England in the last few weeks. Yes, the weather has finally gotten me down. I made it through the winter just fine with the right outdoor clothes and a constant roaring fire in the living room. But now I am just over it. The kids have a three and a half week end-of-term break, and we thought we’d stay here so that our daughter Coco could catch up with her riding having been away in France for 12 weeks...


Mar 28

2013

Life in England: Exploring Rousham

The other day I was driving back from Bicester Village (I bought a Céline silk blouse and Marni guipure lace top) with my friend Miranda who is a renowned landscape designer. When she saw the sign to Rousham, she insisted we take a detour. Before the house even came into view we had already seen a stone cow shed in the shape of a mini-castle and a charming gate house with three uniquely decorative chimneys. Then we saw the house in the distance. It was first built around 1635 and has stayed in one family the entire time. Even on a gloomy, frigid early spring day, the house was magnificent. ..


Mar 07

2013

It has become a tradition in our family, and seemingly in families all over the English countryside, to take a good long walk outside on the weekend. Saturdays are busy for us, with football (soccer to my fellow Americans) practice, riding events, getting homework out of the way, and doing errands. But Sundays always consist of a leisurely and often quite social lunch, and then an ambitious walk in the fresh air, no matter the weather. ..