My kids have their winter break this week so we are skiing in Méribel, France. I’m still getting used to the differences (mostly advantages) of skiing in Europe, as opposed to the slopes of New England and out west in America where I spent my winter weekends and vacations growing up. The mountains are bigger here so there is far more terrain to explore and discover; the food is hands down better than even the best of the ski resorts visited in my childhood; and perhaps most importantly, it’s not nearly as cold here – allowing for much more attractive and flattering ski wear. Last week in preparation for our trip, my friend Rose, who grew up skiing in Méribel, asked me if I needed to borrow anything to wear for our trip. Knowing that I hadn’t updated any of my own kit in over 5 years, I thought I would take a look at what she had. Staring at her cool, fitted racing jackets, and high tech, streamlined ski pants, I felt like there wasn’t even a possibility of me wearing anything I currently had in my possession. Skiing in America is so cold that everything I own is padded to the nth degree. It’s also all black – having made a practical decision when I last visited the Patagonia store that if I just bought everything in black that it would never go out of style. Well, guess what? It’s out of style! The look on the slopes now is Jean-Claude Killy, 1970’s version of classic sports style – mostly red, white and navy, classic, streamlined, pared down. Totally up my alley, and very in-line with what I borrowed from Rose. I’m also seeing lots of yellow and green skiwear – even with touches of brown! – also very 70’s. As usual, when a trend comes back around I like to look to the original source for inspiration. So with these pics in mind, I am setting out to update my own look. Hopefully it will still be chic next year. Something tells me this look will be around for a while. And even if its not, it still feels like me. ..
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful time, wherever you were. After Christmas we escaped at the first light of Boxing Day to make the long journey back to Harbour Island, which looks like it’s becoming a tradition for us. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a place that has more personal style than Harbour Island. Of course there is the obvious beauty of the immaculate pink sand beach, the perfectly clear turquoise ocean, the adorable pastel-painted cottages, and countless palm tress silhouetted against a spectacular sunrise and sunset day after day. But beyond that, the island just has an inherent sense of style emanating from everyone and everywhere. The locals have their hand-painted (and often cheeky) shop signs, their outrageous and meticulous costumes at Junkanoo (the local street parade that takes place on Boxing Day), and their over-the-top Christmas decorations. The hotels – especially the Dunmore and the Ocean View Club – keep getting chicer while adding onto their original charm and character. And the people who visit also share a love of this place that has all the style and beauty you could crave yet still embraces imperfection and everyday life.
The other thing I love about Harbour Island is that each member of my family – myself, my husband, tweenage Zach and teenage Coco – are all equally happy there. I live for my jetlag-fueled sunrise walks on the beach, Coco longs to be under the water with a snorkel looking for sharks, dolphins and manatee, Christopher has his routine of going to the local coffee house in the afternoon to sketch, and Zach is happiest when being pulled behind a boat at top speed on any kind of floatation device on offer. Zach has a close friend that is usually there when we are, but Coco has twice now arrived hoping to find a like-minded teenage girl and is now 2 for 2 in spontaneously meeting a wingman (wingwoman?) who is likely to become a lasting friend.
With all that said, Harbour Island is a major schlep to get to, especially from Europe. The absolute minimum travel for us is two planes, a boat and two taxis. We thought we were clever renting a minuscule charter plane to get ahead of the commercial flight that is often delayed, overbooked or cancelled, only to sit taxiing on the runway for three hours in a chlaustrophobic 4-seater. However, arriving at night, as we always do, to a warm welcome (in the form of a hug, a glass of wine, and a home cooked meal) from owners Ben and Charlie and all the regulars that have become our friends at the Ocean View Club and waking the next morning in my idea of paradise is worth every minute spent in transit.
Last week Coco was on vacation from boarding school so I took her to Los Angeles to visit friends and get a dose of culture completely different from the English countryside. Hands down the highlight for me was visiting The Broad, LA’s brand new and very impressive contemporary art museum. While I so enjoyed seeing the art – especially this installation called, “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” by Yayoi Kusama – what gave me the most pleasure was how much 14-year-old Coco enjoyed it too...
Way back in April when I wasn’t blogging, Christopher and I took the kids to Venice for the Easter holidays. Christopher was adamant that we not run ourselves ragged checking off every crowded, tourist-y box while we were there. As it was Coco and Zach’s first trip to the iconic Italian city we did of course play with the pigeons in Piazza San Marco, buy Murano glass in a shop next to the Peggy Guggenheim museum and stuff ourselves silly at Antiche Caramagne, the seafood restaurant everyone told us we must visit. ..
My friend Rose invited us to join her family for a holiday in Zakynthos, Greece this summer. Christopher and I have been eager to get back to Greece. For about 5 years we went to Patmos every summer before we had kids. For me, Patmos is the most beautiful Greek Island. But then we took Coco there when she was just one, and we didn’t find it so baby/kid friendly. We haven’t been back since, and really missed Greece, so we jumped at the chance. ..
Over Easter we visited my parents in South Carolina. As you can imagine, the area is typically southern – with cheese grits served in every restaurant, spanish moss hanging off the oak trees and alligators in all the ponds. It is beautiful. But what really blew me away, and has yet to escape my imagination, was Angel Oak, a 1500 year old tree that is rumored to be the oldest living tree east of the Mississippi. When standing in front of it, it was difficult to even comprehend its reach and scale. They say its shade covers 17,200 square feet! And it’s limbs are far larger in both diameter and length than the trunks of most other trees. I find that this kind of mind-boggling beauty only appears every now and then, and so I had to go back for a second visit, and then share it with you. ..
Well, you may be tired of my Japanese pictures by now, but this is my last installment and hopefully I have saved the best for last.In between our two stays in Kyoto we went off on a bit of a road trip, or a train trip I should say. Our first stop was Naoshima, an old fishing island now devoted to contemporary painting, sculpture and site-specific installation that many fashion and art friends highly recommended. Also, in my experience kids tend to react very enthusiastically to contemporary art, especially when its thoughtful, clever and visually stimulating...
We actually did Kyoto in two trips. We were there for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and then back there for four days over New Year’s, but I’m going to show you all the photos at once for maximum effect. On first glance, Kyoto is not a beautiful city. But once we started to explore and found the smaller neighbourhoods, it was everything we hoped it would be. In fact, it was everything we hoped Japan would be! The first night there I wandered down the street from our ryokan towards the shiatsu parlour, and I saw the most elegant husband and wife in their 70’s, both dressed in kimonos and wooden sandals, walking down the the street together...
Last summer when we confirmed that J Crew was going to shoot it’s catalogue on our farm, we had a friend Regena, who is a life coach, staying with us at the time. Just after we had finished negotiating the location rental fee, Regena turned to Christopher and asked, “How are you going to spend the money?” “Well it will certainly make the school fees less painful for a while,” he replied. She looked across the table at me, smiled, then turned back to Christopher and said, “Well, what if you use the money to go on a once-in-a lifetime family vacation?” I love it when a girlfriend advocates on your behalf, don’t you?..