. ..Janice Issitt Life and Style.. Tribe All One ...

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style, tribal shop,

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Hill View Farm Creativity Festival

This weekend our dear friend, Natasha, took her 'Taking A Moment In Time Retreats' to a new level and built herself a mini festival site on the fields of her new farm.  Hill View Farm in Buckinghamshire is an exciting new venture which will be growing into a yarn related retreat experience, complete with sheep, highland cattle, home grown vegetables and flowers.

We all arrived on Friday afternoon to be greeted with a beautiful camp site of bell tents, marquees and a fire pit, all ready to start straight away on our first workshop of the weekend. I was lucky enough to be hosting a workshop making dreamcatchers and this was just one of the crafts that were on offer over the three days. 

Our knitting and crochet instructors even included Donna Smith all the way from Shetland, and lovely Donna was just one of the talented ladies who had travelled from far and wide to share their skills. 

I was particularly excited to finally have a go at macrame knotting with the expert guidance of Sam from 'Pretty Little Knots" who led us through quite a sizeable project that we all managed to finish with sheer determination.  I have to admit that Sam did have to finish mine for me as my back was playing up, and this really proved to me how much time and effort goes into making each piece.

Another of the workshops that I attended was with good friend Katie Robbins of 'Ceramic Magpie' who showed us how to cheat at making porcelain style decorations with an clay that can be baked in the oven.  Other crafters were also busy with different styles of knitting and crochet and after our small groups we all came back together for delicious meals cooked by Natasha and her team from the farm's home grown vegetables.  

Regular teacher at these retreats is the lovely Kristina from Written In Cloth who held a class in indigo dyeing, leaving many of the group with blue hands as a testament to their efforts, there was a beautiful display of their work drying on the fences showing the versatility of the shibori craft. 

The weather was kind of mad, but maybe we just noticed it more as we were outside with such expansive views, but the odd shower didn't dull our enthusiasm or spirits while we all concentrated on making wall decorations with Olga Prinku and Mobiles with Sarah Notes.  

It was such a treat to spend time with the other like minded crafters and instagrammers and meet up with some previous retreat buddies like Renee from East London Knit who designs beautiful and unique knitwear. 

Keep a look out for next years dates as this is going to be a regular event up at the farm and sure to get booked up quickly. The variety of workshops brought together a lovely group of what I hope will be a regular gang of makers. 

Apologies from me if this summer I am slightly sporadic with blog posts as I'm in the process of a big life changing venture.  In the meanwhile, a little vote for me in the Amara Awards would be very much appreciated, my voting page is 

Many thanks in advance, see you soon with more news. Janice 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Rainy July - Be Home Free

Seriously, what a wash out it was here in the UK this July. It resembled Autumn and left us all thinking 'did we just skip Summer"?
So like everyone else you just say 'well it's good for the garden' and perhaps have a secret dream to move somewhere sunny.

This year I've tried to grow Dahlias for the first time. I'm not very good at gardening, well actually, it's more that I'm just lazy especially if the weather isn't consistently good, I tend to forget to water and weed and find more cozy pursuits indoors.

So I thought I would give the good old dahlia a try and ordered a bunch of root tubers from a company that Tamsyn Morgans recommended. 
I may have been a bit late planting them as it does seem that other instagram friends have been getting flowers a few weeks before me, but low and behold this last week they have started to show their big blousy heads.

I can see now why people plant the dahlia, yes it's a bit of a granny plant I know, as are the geraniums that adorn my window boxes, but a flower is better than no flower and my roses have seriously disappointed me, despite giving them food. 

So thanks to good old instagram, a handful of great photographers and stylists like Tamsyn and Emma Harris have managed to show these beauties in a new and classy way.  Generally I just tend to look out for anything that I think will survive a bit of neglect, although after planting the tubers I did remember to water daily at the beginning before the rain came.

I think I probably planted them a bit too close together, it's hard to imagine that the tuber will become such a huge plant, but they seem ok and my plan is to dig up the tuber and keep them in a shed over winter, which is the correct procedure. 

And so to a few of the photos from Be Home Free on instagram which caught my moody eye ...

@aslowgathering @petiteharvest @beforeandagain_

@belovelivecoaching @oldfashionedsus @erikaappelstrom

@petiteharvest @stateoflibertyco @poppinsandcompany @simpleandseason

My choice of favourites from the Be Home Free tag this month are a reflection of my mood after this miserable July, there's a hint of summer but only if you add a bit of hygge to it.

I love pops of pale pink in the dark, moody sunset landscapes and making an effort to go outside whatever the weather. 

This weekend I'm really praying for sunshine as it the camping retreat with Hill View Moments, where a group of us will be hunkering down over our crafty projects around the campfire. 

Keep a look out for photos from the weekend over on instagram stories. 

Thanks for tagging your photos, love and peace from Janice.


Saturday, 22 July 2017

Latest Swedish Trend - William Morris

I certainly didn't see this coming! The latest trend in Sweden is for the British Arts and Crafts guru William Morris, who famously said the following ; 

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.
I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few."

So In this current climate of slow living and seeking happiness in the small things, his visionary ideas still hold true. 

Art teacher and Yoga lady Anna who I met recently got me up to speed on what's happening now in Sweden.

So who would've thought that the land of minimalist monochrome design led functionality would so wholeheartedly embrace this English embellishment.  Well, to be truthful, I have seen it coming for quite some time, you may remember a few years back how I found that the Swedish were now decorating much more with colour and frippery, and how I believed that the British idea of 'Swedish Style' wasn't keeping up with what they are actually doing. 

My friend of many years, Rachel Van Asch brought her unique style of posh goth, skulls and roses, decadent, luxurious and interesting colour combinations to Sweden over ten years ago and the interest and love for her work was a clear indication that the nicest nation on earth were so open to any new ideas outside of their own view.

There's nothing like staying with families to really get a feel for a country and over the years I have begun to find out what true Swedish lifestyle is all about.  Firstly, nearly everyone has a second house in the countryside which they escape to for a long summer holiday. Don't expect to get your car fixed or your house repaired during the summer, as they've all disappeared off to wooden cabins near lakes.  The Swedish summer house is all about getting back to your roots, it's rustic, wild and away from the mod-cons. 

This seasons photo shoot for the Van Asch Autumn Winter catalogue took us to visit the beautiful yoga teacher Anna at her family plot about an hour outside Stockholm.  Typical of how the family ethos works over here, well, you have a bit of land with your summer house, and then your sons and daughters build their little cabins on it so that you can all be together for the long hot summer days. 

Anna's little three cabin area doesn't even have an inside loo! She takes her washing-up in a bowl to the veranda overlooking the lake, while all around on the gently sloping hillside there are blueberries ripe for the picking.  Perhaps you can even catch your own supper by fishing in the lake?

The Swedish don't leave their style behind though when they go on holiday, oh no, and so Anna has featured William Morris wallpaper in her little cabins, mixing it with traditional Swedish antiques. She so loves his designs that she even wears them! 

On a visit to Uppsala (a bit of a Viking pilgrimage for me as I'm mad for the tv series!) we found some very cool and stylish interior shops. Urban Collection being one of them and despite it's name, yes here was proof positive that Morris & Co designs are most definitely the theme of the moment here. Mixing it with cool contemporary, I really need to see more of how the Swedes are using it and I'm excited that perhaps I may give this a go myself. 

My first ever real passion was for the Pre-Raphaelites, I knew their names and their lovers names from the age of 12, I visited their paintings in the Tate Britain (back when they were so unfashionable they were hidden in the basement).  I visited William Morris's house so long ago I can hardly remember it and I sat and copied his patterns into my sketch book.  

So, I really need to get back into his designs again, and as I may be moving house for a new re-decoration project, then this could be the perfect time to mix up some Arts n Crafts styles with the Bohemian ethnic. Could be very interesting I think. It's time to start raiding the charity shops then for old William Morris fabrics before the trend hits the UK again.  

 And so before I sign off, here's a sneaky peak at our creation for the Van Asch shoot, our warrior queen ...

Van Asch will be showing their new Yoga and Clothing at Formex for Autumn Winter buying. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

French Style Home

 If, like me, you adore French style elements in your home, and maybe like to mix it up with quality old items, a bit of chippy paint and some vintage lace, then here's a rough guide to adding a bit of OO LA LA.

Next weekend, from the 14th, it's the Arthur Swallow Fair at Loseley  Park and one of the best places to find lovely old French antiques and salvage. Here's a few things to look out for on your travels ..

Linen, and those big square pillow cases that we don't get in the UK, you can stuff them with a real French pillow or do as I do and put two normal pillows inside. Perfect for sitting up in bed and lounging in your boudoir.  My bedhead is old shutters just as I found them in a salvage yard. 

Another of my favourite things that I can only find from France are these long cotton crochet curtains. Made for those tall thin windows they have in classic French apartments. I use them all over the place, I've even replaced my bedroom door with them as the door just took up too much of the room. These old ones are far superior to new synthetic net curtains, often in a pale ecru and with beautiful patterns.

Here's a photo I took in Paris, showing again that shutters, shutters and more shutters, you can never have enough. Use them just as wall decoration, a headboard, a screen or a notice board, the possibilities are endless.

Old book illustrations, and lovely typography in French can make beautiful pictures or collages. 

Leather club chairs are found in abundance in France, some dealers specialise in nothing else as they are becoming so popular in the UK and the USA. I found it quite easy to repair myself, you can buy leather repair kits, a putty which fills holes and replicates leather when it dries. Stain it to match your chair and that old tatty armchair becomes totally useable again, with bags of character.

Religious statues and chandeliers, perfect finishing touches. 

We can't talk about French Style without mentioning Art Nouveau, so feminine and evocative. Look out for those curvy lines and floral motifs.

Who doesn't love a bit of kitchenalia. Keep an eye out for enamel ware in lovely colours, old coffee grinders and wire baskets and utensils. They look so nice you can keep them on display rather than hiding them in the units. Try open shelves in the kitchen rather than fitted cupboards, or an open fronted old cabinet. Useful and beautiful.

My recommendations for finding French style as seen in these photos;
The Loseley Park fair organised by Arthur Swallow is called the 'Decorative Home and Salvage Show" and has a particular French flavour. 

My old friends the Brocante Boys have tons of enamel ware and religious statues. They can be found all over the London area at markets and events and also the Milton Keynes Vintage Fair.

And if you fancy actually going to France and being guided by an expert then check out the September retreat organised by Bohemians France - Lush Getaways, which is a culinary experience, with wine and antique hunting. 

Keep a look out on my instagram feed from the 14th July to see more of me at the Loseley Park fair, and maybe see you there! Au revoir for now. 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Slow Living

It's become a bit of a buzz word, but what is slow living? There's one good way to find out and that's to go straight to the top, and join up with the guru of Slow Living - Melanie Barnes of Geoffrey and Grace  And what's more, it's free!

As a fellow anxiety sufferer, Melanie has been taking a good look at ways to calm down all areas of your life in simple and practical ways. It may not be possible to do every single thing that is recommended, but you can definitely find a lot of sense in it and it's a good check list of reigning in the clutter.

On the Slow Living Retreat, Melanie gives us some examples of reconnecting with reality and with yourself. Simple ideas of how to put your phone down and not have it glued to us (guilty), not be so worried by the seemingly perfect lifestyle of others on instagram (guilty), and not to let your home get cluttered with piles of untidy homeless objects (guilty). 

During the week of my e-course with Mel, I was suffering the worst anxiety I have had in years, so much so that I couldn't really tackle the tasks immediately, but now looking back and going through it more, I can see so much of what Mel says is helpful.

I've been doing more gardening, getting close to the outdoors is a brilliant way to slow down, and tending to plants with trimming and watering is very fulfilling. I've got help from some cleaning ladies to make my life a little less stressful, and with them keeping a check on me (yes I do tidy up before they come), I have finally had a clear out of my studio which had become some sort of mad woman's nightmare.

The very hot spell of weather forced things to slow down as it was too difficult to do very much in the melting sun, but I started to create some tidy and relaxing areas in the garden, digging out the gazebo from the shed and creating some nice table displays in the shade. 

Unfortunately I had a photo shoot in the sweltering heat, although the work was lovely and super creative it was exhausting. Despite wearing sunblock I did get a bit burnt, and although I was wearing a hat and sunglasses my skin took a bashing. 

don't forget to put water out for birds, this house sparrow has nested in the box on my house and has helped me wind down
watching her going in and out of the box all day to feed her babies.

As if they had read my mind, those wonderful people at Curious Egg asked if I would like to try out a few new products they are stocking now by A.S. Apothecary.  

A.S. Apothecary products are a real treat. The A.S. is Amanda Saurin who produces small batches of natural products made from essential oils carefully distilled from plants, flowers, roots, bark and herbs.

The Summer Skin Balm is everything I need at the moment in one small pot. It helps to soothe the skin from sun burn, but also has natural antiseptic  for bites and rashes, with all the ingredients to also calm the mind. 

The Lavender Aromatic Water is another good all rounder, it cools the skin, works as a refreshing aftersun, can be used to rinse your hair and reduces itchiness from bites, (yes, some critter got me). Best of all it aids sleep, which for me is a great combination when I'm travelling as I often can't sleep in unfamiliar beds. 

The Balm and Water will be a good way to help with my relaxation and my slow living efforts. While doing my breathing I can inhale the aromas of lavender, rose geranium, cantharis and hypericum. 

Coincidentally Mel has a interview with the owner and maker at A.S Apothecary so while you are over on Geoffrey and Grace please do have a look at that too. 

A.S. Apothecary balm and water from Curious Egg highly recommended.
Glasses from www.glasssesshop.com 
The Slow Living Retreat free e-book from Geoffrey and Grace

I would love to hear from you about how you slow things down and relax, take good care of yourselves xx Janice


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Villa Anouk Essaouira, the ultimate Beldichic

It was a serendipitous meeting with a cool interior designer in my favourite cafe that led me to discover the most amazing retreat on the outskirts of Essaouira.  It was probably the mention of Instagram, and some spooky vibes, that prompted John to tell me of a place I simply had to check out. A quick message and a short taxi ride later, the gates were opening to paradise on earth, Villa Anouk.

the hammam bath

The Moroccan word Beldi means traditional, and in homes this translates to natural local materials like the pale and soothing, creamy coloured sand stone with ceilings of wood and thatch, some left open and some with decorated panelling, lovingly hand painted. Taking the Beldi and adding the Chic, this widely spaced villa, set right alongside a forest, is like walking into a mood board on Pinterest, you have to pinch yourself.

However, there is something different here, something extra. Villa Anouk is a fusion, a carefully curated and meticulously thought out blend. Like a brilliantly cooked meal, the flavours and enhancements which hint through, are hand chosen by it's owner Anouk, a lady with incredible style and flare.

So it wouldn't surprise you to learn that Anouk has come from a background of style and a heritage of passion, having worked in America for many of the top glossy publications and from a French family. Like many of us before, and for those yet to discover, our host fell head over heels with this fishing port full of cats.

Something happens to you when you go there, the place creeps into your soul, wipes away all the cobwebs and by day three you will begin to absorb the pace. I have never been one to visit the same place twice, it's always seemed that there are so many other cities to conquer. Since my first visit 18 years ago I have held Essaouira in my heart, it's been calling my name, and now I just can't get enough of it. So much so that I want to turn it into a thing I do regularly and therefore share my discoveries and knowledge. So here is where Tribe All One is formed.

Since my twenties I've often had conversations with girlfriends about what we would do if ... we won a million pounds, if ... we had a super power. The super power thing, well that still changes, but the millions pound thing, that never has. My answer was always, "I would still have to work, but do something that I really really enjoyed, taking all the best bits, like travel and shopping." 

It's taken me a few years to get the travel bug back, and last year it crept up on me more than ever, with the added enjoyment of ensuring shopping trips are featured largely. Finally the penny dropped, what I really want to do is source gorgeous things, I trust my eye now with the extra confidence that thirty years can bring. So while the lottery win didn't happen, I'm not going to talk myself out of that dream.

Anouk has confirmed to me a style that I have in my head but haven't been able to do for geographical reasons. There is no 'theme-ing' of rooms or cheap copies, just a feeling of liberation.

The retro pops are a clever twist.  Good bohemian interiors rely on a few pieces from the sixties and seventies, like these metal formed chairs. Placing them with a giant woven rush lampshade and berber rugs, an old door as a coffee table and a ceiling painted in traditional Beldi style (but with a different palette of colours). The key pieces are having a conversation with each other, and the soft furnishings paired back so as not to 'over-egg' the pudding, (sorry but that English phrase is the best description).

Anouk and her Villa are inspirational and I'm gutted we only had a few hours together, so I had better rectify that pronto. Even as I'm writing this, I'm looking at the photo above and wondering how to get that plaster wall in my house! There are so many wow factors in the furnishings here, and Anouk loves to see the look on people's faces, especially when she explains their stories.  

Here at the Villa Anouk is a perfect example of following your dreams, and if you aren't completely sure what yours are yet, then go here, learn how to relax and just do nothing but think, (and look up at that ceiling maybe). 

I'm pretty sure that Anouk has a super power, I just need to tap into it and drain a bit off.  I can only dream of the determination it must have taken to build, design and manage the construction and decoration of this network of connecting rooms and patios.

 The interior style is simple rustic tactile spaces, decorated with ornate furniture and blankets yet also hints of retro and re-cycled.
Solid stone steps take you from level to level, interspersed with giant cacti and fountains. Anouk has salvaged lots of items from the flea market, where old French furniture turns up covered in dust and dirt. It takes a honed and skilled eye to dig out the treasures and find a new twist on how to make them better. 

Instead of re-covering these old inlaid chairs, Anouk painstakingly removed every tack to reveal the lovely hessian upholstery. The inlaid mother-of-pearl was covered in a thick layer of lacquer which had to be carefully removed and exposed. 

Wedding blankets are a key feature in many rooms, either as cushions or at the end of a bed. I will be talking more about these very soon, their rich history and romantic stories. At Villa Anouk the soft furnishings aren't overdone, it would be easy to fill the place with traditional reds and muddy colours found in many Moroccan homes.

The simple white muslin curtains help to divide the spaces and add some softness to brick, such a basic yet effective way to bring romance and seclusion. With too few textiles the rooms could be echoing and cavernous. The balance of materials explains the zen of why it works. 

Solar power provides most of the energy I believe, but power cuts regionally, can play havoc with the facilities. The technicalities of keeping this place ticking are complex, yet like the swan sailing gracefully along, underneath it's feet are paddling. 

Anouk did explain about dealing with the engineering side, but I think I was lost in the colour of a wall, or detail on the coffee table, to remember.  In the west we forget about how water is a precious commodity, so I was slightly ashamed at myself for not noticing how careful the Moroccans have to be, and why that hadn't occurred to me before. 

Safe assured, Anouk will bend over backwards to keep your cocoon gently wrapped around you, going to every effort to insure smooth and silent passage. Her knowledge, having now built up over 4 years, is not to be sniffed at, my point being that this lady is more than an interior designer. She is a visionary, a mum, an engineer, a linguist, and many many more things besides.

Without putting myself under too much pressure, I will be hatching a cunning plan to slot into place the start of something for all the tribe to enjoy, and I have a funny feeling that this place could just be the start of it.

Morocco is such an amazing country but where you visit and for how long will reflect on the kind of experience you have. Essaouira is small, enclosed in ancient walls and alongside the sea. Here it feels less stressful than the buzz of the larger cities but with all the beauty of them still intact. 

If you need to pace your experience  at a slower rhythm then a stay straddling some time in the medina and some time away will enhance the ability to unwind. More basic accommodation can tend to be Moroccan authentic but bear in mind this means the possibilities of cockroaches in unlit hallways, showers which only work off ancient gas canisters intermittently, bedding and towels which are like something your granny threw away years ago, and the sounds of families echoing through stairwells. For me the student living aspect can only last a few days before I want a really nice proper bath with white fluffy towels and a bed of freshly laundered cotton sheets and pillowcases. 

If you have a problem with stairs the Riad's in town are tall and thin buildings with lots of them. Now that odd apartments are being rented out through Air 'bnb' you can find yourself on the top floor of a building not complying to western health and safety. While this is charming in lots of ways it may really bother older people as the steep staired hallways can be unlit, with no hand rails intact, worn away steps and entrance doors which operate by pulling a bit of wire at a funny angle and took three of us to fathom, including two large men. My older female friends would have struggled just getting in the first door at street level, and a definite no no for anyone with small children.  The close proximity of families and very old women living either side, above and below, makes one aware not to make noise above whispering level, so while we wouldn't dream of having parties, the relaxing side of things felt slightly awkward. Many of the apartments have metal front doors so the banging of these is loud within a building.

If you know your limits then it's worth spending a bit more on a Villa that understands you are on holiday. The level at which you want to relax will determine how much time you spend in the main town, and if you have concerns over mobility then be very careful where you choose. 

We made friends with a local chap who has lived a lot in the UK, his apartment is in the Medina and is completely amazing. This would rent out at around the same price as an Air bnb and showed that the town places can vary enormously. Don't judge a book by it's cover, as you probably wouldn't even have noticed his door on a narrow alley yet it opened up to a beautiful French style hall and was spacious and elegant in it's details. Renting in town can be a gamble and it may take a few different tries before you find the place that suits your needs best.

Choosing a Villa in the countryside will give you quite a different experience and if the host speaks your language there is no time wasted on communicating your personal needs. You are much more likely to get straight about the task of relaxation here with no nasty surprises.

please do go and have a look over at ;  http://www.villaanouk.com

Over the next few months I hope to unveil the whys and wherefores of Tribe All One and so if you have an idea of something you would like me to look for then please message me through instagram, here, facebook or email to janissitt@btinternet.com

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