Tea at Svenskt Tenn

I don’t generally go for bright or bold. I prefer things to be soft, pretty or plain. Or at least I used to until I discovered Josef Frank textiles and wallpaper.

I first noticed Frank’s vibrant patterns when living with friends for a few months while in-between flats (ahhh the joy of finding somewhere to live in London). Their kitchen walls are papered with the white Springbells pattern as shown below. I spent countless moments gazing at the tulips and violets before my morning coffee kicked in.

A highlight of our visit to Stockholm in April was afternoon tea at the wonderful Svenskt Tenn department store. Founded by Estrid Ericson in 1924, the store was originally opened to sell pewter goods (Svenskt Tenn translates to Swedish Pewter). Ericson recruited Frank, an Austrian-born architect, designer and artist to the business 10 years later and the duo became synonymous with Swedish modernism.

Today, the store still sells designs by Ericson and Frank and, as we discovered, is home to some of the loveliest tea-rooms I’ve had the pleasure of sipping tea in.

How amazing are the chairs designed by Frank below? And the rattan and bamboo design chairs which you can just glimpse. I’m afraid my photos don’t really do them justice.

We left the department store empty handed, but warmed by tea. I’m still kicking myself for not buying, at the very least, a cushion. The exchange rate and Sweden’s super expensive prices were all a bit too much for my cold-addled brain. Fortunately the store’s website is awesome. I’ll be dreaming over Josef’s patterns for many more days to come. You can read more about Svenskt Tenn over on Apartment Therapy.

A birthday in Stockholm

We recently spent four nights in Stockholm to celebrate the Mr’s birthday. He’d wanted to visit for ages, and I must admit, I’m a complete convert now. If it wasn’t for the freezing cold dark winters*, I think I could live there.

We stayed in a studio apartment we hired from City Living Apt. It’s full of stylish Stockholm accommodation available for short term rent.  We opted to stay in an apartment so we could eat at home (as Sweden is ridiculously expensive to eat and drink out). But more on that next time, as I have a million photos of our cute accommodation to share next time.

Despite sleet, torrential rain and very cold winds we wandered the streets (and bridges and islands) of Stockholm through the gloom with a long list of places to visit. If you’re looking for a guide to Stockholm I recommend taking a look at these ones on Emmas DesignBlogg and Design *Sponge. With these guides printed, guidebooks at the ready and umbrellas up we spent several lovely days wandering around finding lots of cute and cosy spots.

So many of the buildings are painted a golden-yellow or terracotta. Warm and sunny colours to ward away the wintery gloom.

Taking a stroll around one of the islands.

Everything is so aesthetically pleasing. Even the Stockholm hire bikes beat the pants off Boris’ blue numbers.

The sea.

The old town.

Some of my favourite spots:

Fotografiska – the photography museum (as shown in the gloom above) is housed in a listed Art Nouveau industrial building. We were literally soaked by the time we found it but leaving our brollys and coats drying in the coat area we explored the massive space, which has several exhibitions on at any one time. We were lucky enough to see the dream-like pics of Helena Blomqvist and behind the scenes Godfather photos by Steve Schapiro. Well worth the entry fee.

The super stylish Urban Deli was just a five-minute walk from where we stayed in Sofo. The only bar, seafood restaurant and grocery all in one that I’ve ever heard of. We found having a drink at the bar then buying some yummy fresh food to take back to the apartment made up for not going out for dinner. Oh and they have a juice bar too. (There’s a completely vegetarian store just around the corner too).

Clothing and vintage furniture Grandpa is just around the corner from Deli and worth a look, although it’s bit on the expensive side.

We had an amazing afternoon tea at design store Svenskt Tenn.  Amazing furniture, fabrics, wallpapers, and gifts all designed with bright colors and bold patterns. As this already photo heavy, I’ll save more on this for next time.


*Swedish doctors have estimated almost 20 per cent of the population suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

Sneak peek: Cold and wet Stockholm


Stockholm. The apartment we stayed in was clean, stylish and gorgeous in that way the Swedish are famous for. I was in love with the decanter lamp above (one of three) and all the other pieces in the flat so took loads of photos. We had a lovely and relaxing time wandering the streets, despite the sleet, torrential rain and freezing cold wind.  More to come soon.

x C

A fairytale castle, a bluebell wood and a lovely rug

Maybe it’s because I grew up surrounded by strong women with Welsh names*, or maybe it’s because Wales is the home to dragons and fairies. But the idea of spending the day roaming a Welsh castle, an historic home and fairytale woodland is right up my street.

Newton House

With Mr Ukulele’s parents playing tour guides, we visited Dinefwr Park and Castle in Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, on our Easter trip to Wales.  Located just a mile from Llandeilo town this National Trust property has a 12th-century castle, a historic house and an 18th-century landscape park. All of it’s set in a medieval deer park (we didn’t spy any deer on our visit).

Above is the French style Newton House where, unlike some other similar properties,  you can touch and photograph everything inside. Apparently this is because only the paintings are original to the house and everything else was brought in by the trust after they had acquired the property.

The contents of the house are no less impressive for it though. Just look at that collection of trunks and hat boxes.  And as for this rug, I can only dream…

beautiful rug

Grand piano

Manicured garden

After exploring the house the Mr and I, having left the others eating cake in the tea-rooms, trekked through the grounds and up a winding woodland path to the castle.

Bluebell woods


This stick hut reminded a bit of Game of Thrones for some reason. There were no white walkers in sight, thankfully.

Old oaks

primroses and violets

A resting spot

The castle itself is like a giant adventure playground for children. Dozens of kids clambered all over it, unafraid of tumbling down.  But the view from the top is spectacular.

castle wall

Dinefwr Castle

Strolling down

Then it was home for lemon meringue pie and coffee.

I could go on about Dinefwr Park and Castle all day but I won’t. You can find out more about it here on the National Trust’s website.

* My mum is Browen and my grandma was Blodwen. And yes, with ‘e’ not ‘y’.

Antique hunting in Wales

For me Easter always used to be about how much chocolate I could cram into my mouth, a trip to the beach (it’s still nice in NZ generally) and, later on, how much extra partying I squeeze into a four-day weekend. These days I only feel the need to consume a small amount of chocolate and as for the partying, well I can take or leave it. I must be getting old. Let’s just not mention the beach again.

This Easter I spent in Wales for the second year in row, staying with Mr Ukulele’s family. They live just outside of Swansea in some village I can’t pronounce. (No matter how hard I try I don’t think I’ll ever get it right.) And again like last year, they were only too happy to take us off on some day trips exploring gorgeous south and west Wales. First stop was two antiques shops in Llandeilo, a town in Carmarthenshire. I would’ve liked to walk away with half the stuff there. A massive range of old china, pictures, furniture and just about every old thing I could ever desire all. Unfortunately, there was just no way I would’ve been able bring it back with me on the train to London.

I’m still on the hunt for a perfect traditional blue platter. Unfortunately these were more antique shop prices than junk shop prices.

There was a grand selection of traditional Welsh blankets for sale. I’m still regretting not buying one as they were more reasonably priced than any you see in London.

Immediately next door to the antique shops (actually they are more like antique warehouses than shops) is the sweetest little garden centre. Again, I was tempted but sadly I couldn’t see it being easy to drag plants back on the train.

All the spring flowers were putting on their best show. The tulips.

The grape hyacinths.

And especially the fritillaria. I’ve been besotted with this bulb ever since I saw photos of its little purple checked flowers in a book when I was just a wee girl. They don’t grow in the Southern Hemisphere so I’m still quite fascinated by them. How are they checked? Just how? I did plant some bulbs last Autumn but sadly they don’t seem to have come up unlike the rest of my Spring flowers.

I left the buying up to Mr Ukulele’s mum, who came away with plants and a very sweet pressed glass cake stand.

I really wished we’d driven to Wales so I could have packed up a car with loads of plants and treasures from the antique stores. Maybe next Easter…

Paris: troisième partie (part 3)

Since our wee break to Paris is now officially AGES ago here are a few final photos…

I love the chairs in the Tuileries garden. Would quite like some for my own garden. Do you think I could smuggle some back on the Eurostar? Oui?

The beautiful canals with their arching bridges. I’ve never forgotten the glorious scene from Amelie of her skimming stones. (If you need to refresh your memory you can watch it here.)

The cafe at the top of the Musee d’Orsay is well worth a visit just to look at the way they’ve designed the space. And for the cake, obvs.

I really want to go back to Paris as soon as possible, but in more immediate plans we’re off to Stockholm next weekend! Wahoo. Any hints or tips of places to visit will be gladly received. Have you been to Stockholm? Where do you recommend?

x Charlotte

Bits and pieces: Chanel, beetroot and a vintage slip..

Gee whiz it’s been busy lately. Some days it seems I barely have time to breathe let alone write a coherent sentence (and I write for a living).

I’ve decided that a few treats are the only way to get by. I’m making this month brighter with:

1. New make up, and Chanel’s new spring nail colour called ‘April’.

2. Actually finding the time and will to paint my nails.

3. Beetroot for dinner. The bright pink vegetable that truly is the sweetest of them all. Roasted, boiled, raw, grated or baked in a chocolate cake: I adore it all. Especially when the mister cooks it for me and when it’s in all shades of gold and pink.

4. A green vintage slip I bought on a day trip to Brighton recently. It’s currently soaking in a bucket in my bathtub. A few minor amends and it will be as good as new in no time.

5. Breakfast. I’ve been making an effort to actually eat breakfast at home before work these days. This is apple, pecans, soy yoghurt and oats. Deliciousness in a bowl.

How do you cope when you are too busy to think? What little things do you do to cheer yourself up?

All photos by me.