At last it’s time to go, Portugal escape

This past January, just before lockdown restrictions ended in the UK and after almost 3 years of staying put in London, I finally boarded a plane and travelled.

Travel prep, testing and documentation was a mine field, just about enough to put you off from going anywhere. But with all the paperwork done and negative Covid test results confirmed I was Portugal bound taking with me my all new ‘Rena Go’ bag.

Well, I did design it to be a bag on the go, so only right to test drive it properly.

The airport was deserted, only 15 of us boarded the flight (I had to count), hard to describe just how alien it felt.

The flight was a direct flight to Porto, I was warned it rains a lot in Porto and it did exactly that. But I loved it, what a beautiful town, such friendly people and the bakeries… oh my, take me back.

The old port , bridges ,blue and white tile clad buildings and steep cobbled streets make it a fascinating town to visit and discover.

A 3 hour train journey which ended being a 5 hour journey from Porto to Lisbon was not great, if I am honest.  The steep walk from the station up the hill to Alfama was picturesque.  I’m not sure what I expected, but it certainly surprised me , so very quaint for a capital city, living in London you expect capital cities to be big and crowded.

One advantage of travelling during Covid was just how empty and quiet everything was. I understand Alfama is a bustling tourist district, not so when I visited. I appreciated the sunshine, views, colours and silence.

Lisbon is an absolute gem, beautiful, vibrant, interesting, tasty..  and if I’m talking tasty , a meal at Pharmacia is a whole different experience. Especially if you can sit outside on a sunny day. Don’t miss it!

There are plenty of short excursions to be had from Lisbon ( another reason I will be going back).

I managed to visit Cascais, a short train ride from Lisbon along the coast to this old fishing village. Inside the walls of the old city is the Cidadela Art District with it’s galleries and museums. It was too cold to swim in January but the white sandy beaches were beautiful all the same and the old port with it’s outdoor dining hub was buzzing.

Did the Rena Go pass the test drive?? the intention was to create a ‘down sized’ bag for the times… we live out of our phones after all so travelling with a big bag is unnecessary. We do need compartments for our phone, passport, masks, sanitiser, book…  The Rena has just enough space for all these necessities plus a sewn- in key fob and card holder.  With it’s wide, adjustable and detachable webbed cotton strap, I think we did good.

Ooh La La, The Richmond Bag in Paris

Photography: Brian Minkoff

Bag: The Richmond

Is there a more photogenic capital city than Paris? arguably not in my humble opinion.

We sent our iconic Richmond Bag travelling just before Christmas ( and Omicron), so here’s a bag’s eye view of this beautiful city.:

From the newly renovated La Samaritaine Paris Department store

to the Place Vendome

The Louvre

The Eiffel Tower

Le Marais and it’s delicacies

Art Deco meets the new iphone at the Place St Michel

Even the bears over do it sometimes, but how can you not?

 

Despite Covid ,Paris is as beautiful and as tasty. In fact, maybe Covid restrictions and complications have made short, successful getaways even more special.

Happy New Year to all, may 2022 be healthy, happy, tasty and a whole lot easier.

Norfolk: from Seago to Constable with a sprinkling of Repton

From the Norfolk Broads to the Norfolk Coast and up to Sheringham Forest, escaping London the weekend prior to the 2nd lockdown was the perfect getaway.

Landscape near Hickling by Edward Seago

On what turned out to be a wild , blustery, winter weekend, complete with Covid restrictions, the solitude of Hickling Broad and Marshes felt like stepping into an Edward Seago landscape. The unique thatched boathouses on the canals, reminiscent of a children’s fantasy novel.

The picturesque village of Horning on the River Bure was empty, but the busy canal was still the place to watch the boats float by.

The ancient coastal fishing town of Cromer, famous for it’s fresh crab and fish & chips, picture postcard beautiful and full of charm. strolling along the beach and long wooden pier made me feel like i’d stepped straight into a Constable painting.

Yarmouth Jetty after 1823 John Constable 1776-1837 Bequeathed by George Salting 1910 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02650

The winds were so strong that gate keeper at Sheringham Park advised the forest observation point was closed, not that it would deter me from a long walk, especially as this park was landscaped by Humphry Repton . Repton was known for creating new, free flowing landscapes with no barriers between the gardens and natural surroundings. he also said Sheringham was the favourite of the gardens he created and I have to say it is breathtaking.

Not to be missed, rain, wind or shine! The coastal views are amazing as is the clearing and views leading to Sheringham Hall .

Some other details….

Stayed at: Sprowsten Manor Hotel

Ate fish and chips at No1 Cromer, where else?? 5* all the way

Bag: Zrow Lifestyle Mobile phone holder in Natural

Thank you as always to my resident photographer Dennis Madden

Out catching colours

I’m sure that for many other small business owners like myself , life since the first Covid lockdown in March has been a daily challenge with the unknown. I realise I’ve been so ‘consumed’ with my effort to keep going and to find a strategy to see the business through Lockdown and beyond,that I’ve taken no ‘time out’ to do some of the most fundamental things that have been my core inspiration. Little did I know when I took off the last 2 weekends in October that my luck was in, lockdown is back as of November. I was fortunate to re-charge my batteries on time.

For my first inspirational weekend off , I ventured out of London to the Chiltern Hills for some autumnal inspiration. ‘Catching’ colours as I call it.

I always choose my new season colour palette from nature, match the images to my desired Pantones and start forming my range

Here I am, lost in my thoughts

with my Silver Abstraction Pouch, I mean why not do muddy walks with a shiny silver bag?

Happy new discoveries in an old neighbourhood

Living in the suburbs of London, I have always been aware of where my closest green spaces are. I invariably expect them to be a park, framed with metal railings and hopefully some big trees. Some kind of water feature like a small lake would be a huge bonus. Hampstead Heath was the only wild-ish green space to which I felt I had relatively easy access… until now.

Having had the time to walk around where I live in the recent months, I have discovered Dollis Brook and its walking route known as the Dollis Valley Greenwalk. Unbelievably, the walk is 16km long and stretches all the way from Hampstead Heath to Moat Mount in Mill Hill. Sections of it are like a regular park with trimmed grass and playgrounds, and sections of it are wide, wild and like escaping to the countryside.


Totteridge Fields – a nature reserve with wildflowers and ancient oak trees
A section of the brook in West Finchley.

A “secret” section somewhere between Finchley and Totteridge.

I love to be nosey and see how the allotments change in colour and density across the year.

The days may be getting shorter, and the weather a little greyer, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this little bit of the countryside on my doorstep will change with the seasons. My wellies are ready!

Out exploring?? meet The Essential Borough bag!

If you’re out exploring with camera and/or phone then you need to meet our Essential Borough Bag ,a bag that is so perfect for outdoor exploring, you won’t need anything else!

There are two compartments to keep your belongings separate, whether you’re carrying a compact camera or your everyday essentials, you’ll be surprised how much you can fit in this stylish little cross-body. One side also features our card holder pockets so you don’t even need a full wallet if you want to travel light.

The Abstraction pouch, staycations in Brighton

Video & photography: Brian Minkoff

UK Staycations are not ones for guaranteed good weather… anything but. With that in mind they are still time away, they have their own charm and during Covid times at least you are guaranteed to get out of the house and explore.

Our Abstraction Pouch in Silver certainly made the most of its Brighton Staycation. Relaxed at The Grand hotel, braved the stormy weather and enjoyed a cream tea ( or too) and some fish & chips

Here’s to time out, wherever it may be.

Stay safe, stay well, stay positive!

What we did during lockdown /by Sawako

The view from my desk has changed considerably, as it has for most people over the last few months. Whether you’ve finally got into the swing of working from home, are noticing and appreciating birdsong with new ears, or slowly going back to work at the office, we thought we’d let you know what the NM Team got up to up to whilst in lockdown.

As a close-knit team, it has been strange not to see each other every day. We have however, been enjoying keeping up to date on how we are filling our time at home. Here are just a few of the gems which I thought were worth sharing

Nadia’s Garden

Nadia, as most of you may know, is a keen gardener. Finally, she has a bit of extra time to tend to the previously “overgrown jungle” (her words, not mine). There is now space for some new plants plus there are big plans for the ever growing vegetable patch, just in case the lockdown returns. That’s forward planning for you!




Karla’s blanket

Karla, our jewellery designer, has been keeping busy with a crochet project… which was first started a mere six years ago. Between starting and finishing this project, she did have a baby who is now six and modelling the blanket for us, so understandable why it’s taken so long.

Andrea’s multi tasking

Andrea has definitely been a busy bee, making scrubs bags for her local GP as well as trying out new recipes.. such as raspberry cake . Among all this activity Andrea’s daily walks are of course accompanied by little Lulu, looking as cute as ever.

Sawako’s colouring in

As for myself, a lot of cleaning has been going on but I don’t think anyone wants to see the inside of my sock drawer, as pristine as it is. One thing I have found relaxing and completely absorbing is colouring in. Yes, the kind you used to do as a child, but some creative people thought to make some intricate colouring books for adults. This book had been given to me as a present and was sitting on my shelf for a few years. Now I am at last beginning to fill the pages with colour without feeling guilty for spending time on something that seems a bit frivolous. It is just as fun as when I was a child, and I am just as keen to buy the most expensive colouring pencils now, except this time it is not my mum who has to pay for them.

Our ‘I made it!’ jewellery kit range is growing quickly as we add a new kit every Wednesday! We also have our very own ‘Make jewellery with Nadia Minkoff’ YouTube channel showing complete tutorials for every kit and more. Why not have a go at making jewellery like a pro from the safety and comfort of your own home? It’s relaxing, creative and we’re here to help, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

How I keep my son and myself occupied during lockdown/part 1/ By Karla Huang

Karla is Head jewellery designer at Nadia Minkoff London, currently in lockdown with her 6 year old son Joel. Part 2 of Karla and Joel’s adventures will follow next week

Some parents might find it daunting to find things for their kids to do during lockdown.  Fortunately, I have only one child to deal with or one could say, unfortunately he is the only child at home so he has learnt to entertain himself while the school is closed and no playdates are allowed.

Being a jewellery designer, I love to work with colours and what I do best is hands-on craft. Hence I’ve allocated ‘creative/ art’ and ‘drawing’ sessions into our weekly home learning schedule.

Drawing and painting are one of the key elements where children can express their feelings. In times like these- lockdown has given us so much negative news that can easily scare a child- it is therefore important for them to be able to express those feelings.

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One of the very first resources we looked at together was done by an American illustrator – Mo Willems. He is the current Education Artist in Residence at the Kennedy Center and he releases “Lunch Doodle” videos each weekday to encourage children of all ages to doodle with him.    Just two videos later, we were both inspired by Mo Willems’s introduction of doodling and spent the whole afternoon doodling on a large roll of paper.

After we tried doodling, my child was very into all kinds of ‘Birds’ and their habitat. He was encouraged to write an adventure story of three different birds that migrate to London during winter time.

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At the weekend, we tried to draw out those three birds. Whilst he was using his imagination to make his story into drawing, I also picked an image of a bird from the ‘National Geographic Kid’s’ book to polish up my very rusty drawing skills.

Here is what I drew of a Hoopoe from an image.

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The following weekend we were a bit stuck for new ideas and lack of motivation on what to draw. I then remembered a beautiful colouring book I bought a few years ago by Johanna Basford.

I let my child pick a page so we could both do some colouring together. With so many intricate details and narrow spaces to fill in the colours, I was amazed at how much patience and persistence a nearly 6 years old boy has to accomplish this page.

Here is what we coloured together on one Sunday afternoon and I can say it’s hard to tell which one was done by a child!!

Can you tell??

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If you are looking for creative activities to do at home, once your kids have gone to sleep, we now have complete jewellery making kits available to order online.

Creative-process-2-sml-format

A new ‘I made it’ kit is released weekly, instruction sheets are FREE to download from our website and there is a YouTube tutorial to accompany each kit

Vive Paris

Location: Paris

Bag: The Richmond midi in Blue

Photography:Brian Minkoff photography

grand-palais

What a difference a day makes….

When shooting our blog post in Paris a couple of weeks back, the fire at Notre Dame could not be imagined.  It would be impossible for us to post this blog without reflecting on this.

Notre Dame is said to be Paris’s most visited and beloved monument, surpassing both the Eifel Tower and the Louvre. Having weathered many a storm since construction on it started in 1163, no one would have thought that 850 years later Notre Dame’s main spire and roof would be ravaged by a massive fire.

The world now watches as France and Parisians start the difficult task of establishing the full extent of the damage and work towards rebuilding its finest monument.

We will take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and relaxed Easter- recharge, spend time with family and friends, eat chocolate 😊  We leave you with photos of an overcast but beautiful Paris.

eiffel

louvre

pyramide

place

model

with-croissant

restaurant

with-pooch

 

ESCAPE..THAILAND’S ISLANDS-PART 2, RAILAY

Having gotten over my jet lag and effortlessly adjusted to life in Koh Samui (see Part 1, Koh Samui) I headed on down to the Andaman Coast, destination Railay.

There is 1 airport in Koh Samui, it is privately owned so flights in and out of here are not cheap like other internal Thai flights but they are quite spectacular. The airport resembles a resort with lush landscaped gardens,boutique style shopping and pretty swanky toilets!!  Passengers are ushered to the planes via the runway, in converted golf carts and the views of Koh Samui from the air are breath taking

Flight: Koh Samui to Krabi with Bangkok Air, approx 50 mins flight, £87 with in-flight snack

Krabi airport to Ao Nang by shuttle: 30 mins

Ao Nang to Railay by long boat (there is a hire booth on the beach) approx 15 mins

Railay long boats

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suitcases

Railay is accessibly only by boat and yes, you do have to climb in and out of a ‘long boat’ clutching your suitcase through the sea, but it is so worth it. Laid back, chilled and welcoming I can’t recommend it enough.  In my books it is as close to a slice of paradise as it gets. I would go there again in a heartbeat.

Railay-cove

Stayed at: Railay Bay resort and spa prices start at £150 for a double room

visited: Nang Phra beach, a beach like something out of the Jurassic period, with towering rocks, caves and stalagmites. No dinosaurs , but plenty of monkeys in the surrounding forest. It’s a busy tourist destination and at the weekends the traffic from Ao Nang to this beach is quite overwhelming, so avoid if you’re looking for solitude.

Railay stalagmites

Tham Phra Nang fertility caves, a shrine full of carved wooden phalluses

fertility-cave

fertility cave

walked: through The forest to Tonsai beach, welcome to the chill-out zone!

IMG_20180302_123904059

Tonsai beach

 

Ate : fresh grilled fish at the local style restaurants between the East and West beaches

Chilled: roof top balconies of the local bars

The-Brewer

watched: the sunrise and the sunset

Railay sunset

indulged: in some early morning canoeing off Railay Beach and the nearby rocks. For those of you into rock climbing , this is the ultimate jungle gym

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rocks

Next: Part 3, Kamala, Phuket