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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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.

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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

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TRAVEL JAPAN.. KYOTO IN AUTUMN

Photography and travel: Sawako Muraoka

(Featured image: Kiyomisu-Dera Temple in autumn)

Flights: JAL from Heathrow, around £600 return London-Tokyo/Haneda airport  (Arriving at Haneda Airport is very useful as it’s only a 15 min train ride into Tokyo, it takes a lot longer from Narita. There is also a little shopping village inside the airport – useful for last minute gift buying and your final noodle fix)

Bag: The Rena bag in Moss Green

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Stayed at:

  • Self catering apartment which was fully equipped with a little kitchen and washing machine. Would especially recommend if you’re staying for a few nights as it’s a lot cheaper than most hotels and you have your own kitchen. Most hotel rooms are also very small so apartments can be more comfortable.
  • Highland Shimabara Guest House Approx. £65/night –  but this varies a lot depending on season

Dine out: Traditional meal served at a Kyoto’Ryokan’  (including the prettiest plate of pickles you’ve ever seen )food 3

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Arashiyama Bamboo Groveso beautiful and the trees are so tall!

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“Ojizo San”  is what these little statues are called , you see them a lot round shrines, they are there to protect people.

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Fushimi inari – Shinto shrine with thousands of “tor-ii” gates lining pathways up a mountain. We didn’t make it all the way!

Kyoto shrine

 

 Travelling around Japan – with JR Pass: this is a train pass only available to people who are not resident in Japan. You can use it as often as you like and go anywhere as long as it’s on a JR train and you reserve a seat. (It doesn’t include the fastest Shinkansen called Nozomi fyi. The second fastest is fast enough though!) It costs from around £180/week. Definitely recommend getting this if you’re going to multiple places.

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Travel Japan.. part 2 to follow!

ESCAPE…. LES BAINS D’OVRONNAZ

If you are looking for a quick escape, scenically beautiful and restorative for body & soul, the Thermal pools at Ovronnaz Switzerland might just hit the spot.

The Rena at Lac Lemand

Ovronnaz is a sleepy, quiet village, 4,300 feet high and nestled at the foot of The Muverans mountain range , in the Valais region. On route you will pass sprawling vineyards and unspoilt valleys finally reaching the bubbling thermal springs of Ovronnaz, offset by glaciers and majestic mountains. Ovronnaz offers outdoor thermal pools and terraces as well as a full panoramic SPA, it’s an absolute treat. Open both summer and winter, with late night openings on a Friday (babies and children welcome  and children under 6 go free). This  gem of a place is surprisingly low key, quiet and a unique opportunity to be pampered at the heart of nature.

Lake Geneva

I travelled to Ovronnaz via Easyjet cabin luggage only with my Rena bag and a stopover at Lausanne and Lake Geneva

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Patio vista ovronnaz

The Rena at O'vvronaz

Indoor spa ovronnaz

Location: Thermal pools at Ovronnaz, Valais, Switzerland

Bag: The Rena bag in Dove

Travel: London Luton to Geneva with Easyjet , £127 ( at time of travel, June 2017) flight time 1hr:30mins

Train and local bus to Ovronnaz : 3hr 38mins mins from Geneva train station/ approx. £85 per person return journey ( at time of travel, June 2017)

Day pass to Spa and pools: Day passes for the outdoor pools and SPA facilities start at 50 SF/£40 per person and can be bought in advance online. Accommodation at the resort starts at SF205/£166 per person per night including SPA and pool pass.

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The Japanese house at The Barbican

Call me a Japanophile and you wouldn’t be wrong. Fascinated by Japanese culture and style from a very young age (my dad visited frequently bringing back treasures and stories) I made sure I visited as soon as I completed my studies.  I have been many times since, never disappointed and forever fascinated.

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My design work has always been by influenced by architecture, so this was one exhibition I was not going to miss.  I found The Japanese House exhibition at the Barbican to be a beautifully executed exhibition for anyone interested in Japanese culture, design, living and architecture.

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An insight into the changes in Japanese domestic architecture following World War 2, a period which is known for producing arguably the most influential and ground-breaking examples of modern and contemporary design.   Following the war and the widespread devastation of Tokyo and other Japanese cities there was an urgent need for new housing, creating much architectural experimentation and debate whilst producing innovative solutions to changing lifestyles.

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Take time to stroll through the 10 rooms in the full-size recreation of the Moriyama House.  Compact and orderly, with a tiny bathroom and a kitchen tucked under the stairs each little detail has been placed to create a harmonious balance, the outside merging with the inside and in my view the best minimalist design to be found in a compact space.

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the exhibition also features a Japanese teahouse, gardens and an outdoor cinema- much to see, explore and aspire to.

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The Japanese house at The Barbican runs until June 25th 2017, don’t miss it

California Dreaming

As far as ‘Busman’s holidays’ go, my recent sojourn to LA served up a pretty balanced combination of work and pleasure.

For those who know me and in true ‘Nadia style’ I made sure that I maximised every minute of my 10 days, as well as every opportunity I had to enjoy the blue skies.

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Having spent the first part in Downtown LA showing our Nadia Minkoff London collection at the California Market Centre I spent the latter part visiting vineyards, driving along the coast, exploring desolate beaches, collecting moonstones ( for real) and finally back to LA for some much needed retail therapy.

My chosen ‘companion’ on this journey? The Richmond midi tote in yellow and I am happy to say it didn’t disappoint.

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Going to let the photos do the talking as they are SO good. A big thank you to Director of Photography Dennis Madden for these beautiful captures.

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My travel lowdown:

I flew out from London Gatwick  to LAX  with Norwegian Air on the brand new Dreamliner, can’t recommend enough! Return trip with luggage and x 2 meals from as little as £500

Stayed at the  Millenium Biltmore Hotel, in downtown LA. This hotel has seen more glamorous days the lobby is grand but alas the rooms are in need updating, still the location is great. Rooms start at  £150 per night.

Don’t leave downtown LA without trying Pitchoun Bakery, the raspberry croissants are as tasty as they are beautiful! You will be spoilt for choice

For some of the best handmade noodles you will ever try and an impressive selection of beers to boot visit Peking Tavern

Mexican with a twist at B.S.Taqueria, so bloody good, take me back today!

The Landsby boutique Hotel in Solvang, Scaandi interiors to die for, wanted to move in. Double rooms start at US$350 per night

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Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach, if you are after spectacular ocean views, moonstone collecting and sea lion viewing, this is the perfect location… complete with your very own in room  fire place , Doubles start at US$ 200 per night

Rock n Fish restaurant, Manhattan Beach LA, for some regional food and super fresh fish dishes, beautifully served in this gorgeous seaside corner of LA

The Griffith Observatory, immerse yourself in La La Land, watch the stars, the Hollywood Hills, the view of LA, have a dance if you want!

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‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ William Morris

I grew up surrounded by William Morris prints, my childhood house had William Morris curtains, cushion covers, chairs and just lengths of fabric waiting to be sewn up.
A great admirer of his prints I made a trek some years back to North East London’s Walthamstow, the most unlikely of locations it seemed to me at the time, to house such a gallery. As it transpires, this used to be William Morris’s family home from 1848-1856.
During my first visit the house was beautiful but a bit worse for wear, the front and rear garden in a state of disrepair, the interior in much need of some TLC. But in 2011-2012 it underwent a major redevelopment and I headed on up there last month on a sunny London afternoon, with my mother, for a much overdue re-visit.
The redevelopment of the William Morris Gallery  is beautiful, it is almost unrecognisable both in and out.
With a new wing housing a gallery and a café , a lovely walled front garden and a beautifully landscaped Victorian garden to the rear, it has regained its former charm and glory.

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Carefully thought out it tells the story of William Morris and his artistic circle. Housing textiles, wallpaper, furniture, glass ceramics and books right down to his very own famous canvas satchel with leather trim, something that a bag designer like me can only look at and admire.
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For those who’ve not yet explored the life of William Morris, there is so much more to the man than design, in fact the more I know the more I admire him and his values. During his life he was best known for his poetry and politics, it was only after his death that he became best known for his textiles.
Although born to a wealthy middle-class family he became a radical socialist, engaging his energies to create a free and fair world, where all people are equal. Tackling the issues of free education, shorter working days and better housing for workers. In his company he employed young destitute boys as apprentices and hoped to give them a skill and an opportunity in life. He sought to make craft a lifelong skill to be taught at school. He fought for preservation of heritage and strongly opposed the destruction of old buildings and features within them. He fought for the environment and I wonder what he would make of the environmental ‘mess’ we live in today.
And with that in mind it is not at all surprising that his textiles and sense of style are still as contemporary today as are the causes he fought for, I can only think that he was one of a kind and one step ahead…

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Glass pearl ‘v’ natural pearl, is that the ‘vegetarian’ alternative?

ImageOur new winter 2013 pearls are in, ready for our first show in Feb. They are just beautiful, luxurious  satin coated nuggets of glass and the colours are exquisite. So whilst I was eating my lunch I wondered if these are the ‘Vegetarian’ alternative to the real thing?? Now I know that real pearls are hugely expensive and quite scarce,I also know that there is a large industry of cultivated fresh water pearls, but is it the case that people that don’t do leather don’t do real pearls either??  Have to say,quite honestly… vegetarian, meat eater, environmentally concious or not, I really can’t recommend these glass ones enough!