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

Bag fit for a blogger

My sister in law Sharon, is a lady of many talents. Apart from being a photographer and global traveller, she is also an amazing cook, consummate foodie and writes her own food blog.

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It goes without saying that as my sister-in-law she has a decent collection of Nadia Minkoff handbags, mostly large bags that can accommodate her camera and lenses and are suitable for travelling.

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So when we launched our Borough Camera bag she was intrigued to know if it would work for her ‘ bloggers’ camera and we decided to let her test-drive it and tell us what she thinks.

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So here we go, Sharon and her Borough Camera bag, on location in Cadiz Spain. And for those wondering the camera is a Fuji X-T20 with a 18-55 lens.

We’re happy to confirm Sharon has advised that bag, camera and photographer are very well matched!!

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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

 

Make it a London Christmas / Part 2

I have found concluding 2018 difficult, it’s been a tough year in general ,most certainly for the High Street and for anyone who works in fashion. I wish I could say I am ending it on a high and feeling optimistic for 2019, hard as I try I am not. But I most certainly don’t want to end it on a low and I am certainly hopeful that 2019 will surprise me for the better.

I will let London, my source of inspiration,do the talking for me. Captured by photographer Dennis Madden over the festive period and right up to date 31/12/18, New Years Eve.

From Trafalgar square, to China Town

Trafalgar square

china town

The all new Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross, and the iconic Royal Albert Hall

Coal drops yard

Royal Albert Hall

From towering Christmas trees in Euston, to ho ho ho in Soho, and some much needed Angels in Regent Street

Euston

hohoho

Regent st

Spectacular skies over Waterlow Park in Highgate

Highgate woods

And last, but most certainly not least, my very own Waterloo sunset

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Wishing you all health, happiness and good fortune in 2019

x Nadia

TRAVEL: FILM, FISH AND FRITES, St Malo & Dinard

 

Images and details: Brian Minkoff Photography 

Travel Bag: The Camden tote in Mustard

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Travelled with: There and back overnight on Brittany Ferries   from Portsmouth to St Malo .  There’s an excellent buffet ,so a pretty good start

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Commuted: There’s a small ferry boat that goes from St Malo to Dinard and back every hour

Stayed at: Castelbrac  St Malo, 5 star luxury in a unique setting

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Ate at: Brasserie du Sillon, right on the St Malo beach, where my starter (slightly not kosher) Plateau de fruits de mer  (oysters, langoustines, king prawns, whelks and winkles) and the Mrs’s  mackerel fillets marinated in Muscadet were fantastic as were the whole grilled  snapper (my favourite fish) and C’s Chateaubriand in a creamy mustard sauce with thin, thin chips. Followed by a pistachio pavlova with strawberry sorbet and crème brulée with Madagascan vanilla

 Le Sept Mers in St Malo overlooking the beach where we indulged in foie gras, crab with grilled avocado and fennel, pork belly with sage, smoked cauliflower and mash, cod baked with sea greens, a chocolate ganache with absinthe and a fruit soup with ginger and yogurt sorbet.

 

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Stayed at: Le Nouveau Monde, St Malo and highly recommend,

Ate at:  our favourite restaurant, La Gonelle, overlooking the bay where they bring the fish fresh from the tank. We indulged in fresh sardines and then shared a whole turbot baked in beef juices with rosemary potatoes and a bottle of local cider.

St-malo

 

 

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Visited:  The Dinard Film Festival,  This  film fest offers access to paying punters and is very friendly.

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Bag verdict: The Mrs loved the bag-very soft leather and a lovely colour and lots of room. The attached purse was neat too.

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A bientot!

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ESCAPE… Amsterdam inspiration

I try and make sure that every work trip I do is also a source of inspiration. I see something that catches my eye and imagination everywhere.  What interests me I capture , save, then reference. My recent trip to Amsterdam was particularly inspirational , it’s a city I love full of colours and tucked away corners. So here we go, I am sharing my ‘inspirational highlights’ with you, will be interesting to see what of these filters down to my next collection

Amsterdam is:

Cheese & cheese newspaper

Edam

cheese-newspaper

Van Gogh:

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VGogh-museum

Flowers & Urban gardening:

red stars (3)

Florist

Canal side living:

main canal

Allyway

Bakeries:

bakery

 

some of the best Indie shops I’ve seen ( Matter.of.material)

matter-of-material

Lovely Paris, The Boss!!

Boss-Paris

Bold colours in doorways, that match my Brewer Travel bag to perfection

red stars (1)

 

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

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fertility cave

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

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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

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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

Escape… Thailand’s Islands, Koh Samui

My travel bags: The Brewer Holdall, The Angel bag 

Angel Koh Samui

Travelled with: Thai Airways from Heathrow /£750.00 return ( Mid Feb) , 12hrs to Bangkok/13 hrs return to Heathrow. Perfect service and customer care from start to finish.

Connecting flight Bangkok to Surat Thani with Thai smile £35 single ( mid Feb ), 55 mins. Great service, you even get served drinks and a snack

Bus from Surat Thani to Don Sak port, then boat to Koh Samui approx 2 hrs, spectacular scenery and air conditioned decked cabin. I chose to sit on the deck and watch the views.

temple

Mandara

Stayed at: Bandara resort and spa from £85 per night including breakfast. The breakfast is on the beach restaurant and quite spectacular, not to mention the views

Bo phut

Bophut fishing village is a 5 minute walking and is totally charming with a large selection of chill out cafes on the beach as well as restaurants and a weekly market selling just about everything from fried grasshoppers to suits.

Chaweng

sunset

Optional day trips:  Chaweng, Big Buddha

fruit

 

Eat: fruit- lots of it, Fresh fish- sold by weight, grilled in front of you, Phad Thai- it’s so, so good

coconut

Drink- Coconut Cappuccino, as many fresh coconuts as you can

Relax- enjoy the sunsets

Angel sunset

 

NEXT: Escape Thailand’s Islands, Krabi and Railay