How to introduce a taste of the exotic to your home

Eclectic bedroomcredit

Who doesn’t love travelling, seeing the world and learning about other cultures and customs? When you’ve arrived back home you may want to incorporate your exotic experiences into your home décor. Here are a few of our tips for doing just that.

Have faraway dreams

You may have returned home, back to your everyday lives, but you can always go to sleep and dream about your past adventures. Envelop yourself in beautiful, bohemian bedding like this duvet set pictured below from Vaulia.

Exotic duvet set available from Vaulia

Turn your bathroom into a tropical rainforest

The bathroom is where you go to wash away the stresses of the day and recharge your batteries. Fill the space with lush, architectural plants. Many exotic, tropical plants will thrive in a warm, damp bathroom environment – even where there’s little sunlight. Try growing ferns, orchids and small bamboos to create your own tropical rainforest.

Roll-top bath surrounded by tropical plantscredit

Wall to wall paradise

Wallpaper is a great way of updating the feel of a room. Bold, bright, sumptuous prints incorporating exotic birds, flowers, plants – and in this case – palm trees introduce an equatorial ambiance.

Palm tree print wallpapercredit

Map the world

We all have a wish list of places we’d like to visit before we die. Hang a large world map on your wall and stick pins into the countries & cities where you want to holiday. You could also attach snaps, postcards, ticket stubs and the like to the places you’ve already been as a reminder of past good times. We love the idea of this DIY project below where a string of fairy lights has been used to illuminate spots on a map where the maker has been.

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Art

This massive mural of Vladimir Tretchikoff’s ‘Lady from the Orient’ creates a striking, eastern vibe. Such a stunning addition needs plenty of space around it in order to appreciate it to full effect. Keep furnishings in muted colours and accessories to a minimum.

Wayne Hemingway in front of a huge mural of Tretchikoff's Lady from the Orientcredit

Display souvenirs from your travels

When you’ve visited exciting and far-flung destinations, a way of of keeping the memories of your trip alive is to bring back souvenirs. Anything from vernacular furniture items to unique trinkets & handicrafts, beach-combed finds to pieces of locally-made jewellery. Blow up, print, frame and display your favourite holiday photos. Having them in out plain sight feeds your wanderlust – you’ll be planning that next journey in no time!

Ethnic furniture finds with blown up photograph of an African girl in traditional dresscredit

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Keelham Farm Shop

Keelham Farm Shop entrance

We had a lovely drive over to Skipton today to visit Keelham Farm Shop.

Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton

We saw the shop on television at the weekend on the Countryfile programme. We were really taken with the Huddersfield-produced halloumi that was featured.

Keelham Farm Shop floor, Skipton

So we decided to go buy some of that – and see what else was on offer. We filled a trolley with all manner of deliciousness!

Coffee shop upstairs in Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton

There’s also a large ground floor restaurant and mezzanine café with a vintage industrial vibe – now bedecked in its Christmas decorations.

Adelle in the Keelham Farm Shop coffee shop

We found a Hygge-friendly corner! Adelle had a cute little penguin to keep her company while relaxing with a cup of coffee and slice of carrot cake.

Stairway looking down on to the shop floor of Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton

We bought quite a selection of (mainly) Yorkshire produced food & drink… including two types of the Halloumi (or Haloum! – as they call it). A mint variety and a fiery chilli. Justin bought himself a pork pie – he always judges and establishment by its pork pies. To be honest, he bought four different kinds of pie! As well as bread, cheeses, soups, ales, biscuits and puddings.

Selection of (mainly) Yorkshire produced food & drink | H is for Home

We’ve been sampling items for both lunch and dinner – they’ve all got top marks so far! We’ll be making a return trip very soon as we really like Skipton anyway – and this shop is just one more good reason to go.

Gimme Five! Car lighter accessories

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Selection of car lighter accessories via H is for Home

We’ve made a couple of long car journeys to London and Brighton recently. Various things pop into your thoughts as the miles pass by – “I wish I had this, I could do with that”. We’ve chosen a selection of items which plug into the car lighter socket that resolve potential problems and enhance the travelling experience; whether it be playing music, re-charging devices, giving you a back massage or providing emergency air for a flat tyre!

  1. 60w car charger power adapter for Apple MacBook Pro: £22.98, eBay
  2. REALMAX® car music FM transmitter: £7.99, Amazon
  3. Portable power pack with 200w inverter and USB charging socket: £59.99, Maplin
  4. Lifemax heated back and seat massager: £39.99, Amazon
  5. Halfords rapid digital tyre inflator: £34.99, Halfords

Out & About… Bingley

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mossy wall overlooking a humpback bridge and river

Last Sunday we went Out & About in Bingley, West Yorkshire. The walk was organised by Natalie on behalf of Turtle Mat. It brought together various bloggers from the Yorkshire area.

Yorkshire bloggers on a quick stop in St Ives Estate's picnic area

Bingley is a town we’ve always wanted to see a bit more of; we’ve driven through it a couple of times, but have always been on our way somewhere and couldn’t stop.

Fudge drinking from a stream in Bingley

Our guide for the day was Cedric – originally from France, but a firm Yorkshire fan and indeed, Bingley resident. We can say straight away that from first impressions it’s a lovely little place.

Historic Butter Cross in Bingley town centre

We all met up at the train station and, from our brief view of the town centre, we could see that there were lots of beautiful buildings & interesting corners to save for later visits. A river & canal run through its centre and there seems to be real history all around. By the looks of things, there’s no shortage of shops, pubs & cafés too.

alleyway off the main street in Bingley

Within a few short minutes of setting off, we’d found ourselves in an attractive open park, then passed some charming & well-tended allotments – then into pretty countryside and the grounds of St Ives Estate.

Adelle walking in St Ives Estate, Bingley

We stopped to take in the view on rocks overlooking the valley and Ilkley Moor beyond.

Cedrick, Justin & Fudge on a rock overlooking Ilkley Moor

From here, we dropped back down into town to have our lunch at the Brown Cow pub. We started with a well-deserved pint from a good range on offer. Adelle chose bubble & squeak with poached egg and watercress sauce.

Bubble & squeak with poached egg, tomatoes and watercress sauce at the Brown Cow, Bingley

Justin opted for traditional fish & chips – Fudge was hungry too and was hoping for a dropped chip!

Justin eating fish & chips with Fudge looking on intently

Despite not having much space left, we couldn’t resist dessert to finish. Treacle tart with raspberry coulis for Adelle…

treacle tart with raspberry coulis at the Brown Cow, Bingley

…and waffles and ice cream for Justin.

Waffles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce at the Brown Cow, Bingley

We were each given a Turtle Mat to take home… perfect for post-walk muddy boots and dirty paws.

Turtle Mat mat with pair of walking boots

On the day of the walk we enjoyed beautiful warm sunshine, so no mud to speak of that day. We’ve had plenty of opportunity to test out the mat since though – well, we live in the Pennines after all!

Fudge in the lounge with the Turtle Mat mat

It’s found the perfect home by the front door and it really does work wonders. Our carpets and rugs might now stand a chance of staying clean!!

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Rain

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detail of Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border | H is for Home

We had a lovely long walk last weekend, taking in Blackstone Edge which sits right on the border of West Yorkshire & Greater Manchester (Lancashire really!!).

Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

As we walked along one of the bridleway tracks this striking outcrop of gritstone rock came into view.

Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

Lovely in its own right, but it had a little extra secret to unveil as we got closer.

Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

Expertly chiselled into its surface was a poem entitled RAIN.

Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

We suspected it might have been written by Simon Armitage when we saw the SA, but weren’t sure. Having since done a bit of research, we now know that it’s one in a series of elemental works by him entitled The Stanza Stones dotted around the Pennines. They were commissioned by Ilkley Literature Festival. Other titles include Snow, Mist, Dew, Puddle and Beck.

Simon Armitage's initials from his 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

Ironically, it was a glorious sunny day but the Pennines are certainly no strangers to the watery stuff. It’s a fundamental force in shaping this landscape.

 detail of Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

It’s a beautiful poem and we found it very life affirming – and strangely wished that we were standing in the rain reading it – the rock’s surface glistening and droplets running down our faces. Justin read it out loud and we recorded it on a mobile phone – so we’d be sure to have the words when we got home. We needn’t have worried as there’s a lovely book available called The Stanza Stones published by Enitharmon. Justin is a bit embarrassed, but his open air reading has been embedded at the bottom of this post – his Northern accent suits it! 🙂 All that’s missing is the pitter-patter of rain in the background.

 detail of Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

We’re now very keen to read the book and visit the other works in this series.

RAIN

Be glad of these freshwater tears,
Each pearled droplet some salty old sea-bullet
Air-lifted out of the waves, then laundered and sieved, recast as a soft bead and returned.
And no matter how much it strafes or sheets, it is no mean feat to catch one raindrop clean in the mouth,
To take one drop on the tongue, tasting cloud pollen, grain of the heavens, raw sky.
Let it teem, up here where the front of the mind distils the brunt of the world.

© Simon Armitage 2010

Click the little triangle on the left to hear Justin reading the poem

Stanza Stones is available from Amazon.

If you fancy giving the walk(s) a go you can download the poetry trail guide from the Ilkley Literature Festival website.

A Yorkshire Post!

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Ribblehead ViaductRibblehead Viaduct | Image credit: Andrew

In association with Yorkshire Water, we’ll be extolling the virtues of the fabulous county where we live & work in this post.

Malham Cove in the Yorkshire DalesMalham Cove, Yorkshire Dales | Image credit: Alison Christine

The diversity of the landscape is amazing – beautiful farmland scenery, rugged mountains & moors, pretty woodland, meandering rivers & dramatic sea coasts – it has it all.

Flamborough Head LighthouseFlamborough Head Lighthouse | Image credit: Mike Elleray

The county has three national parks either wholly or partially within its borders, which is quite something. This stunning scenery was a major factor in Yorkshire being chosen for the Grand Départ for this year”s Tour de France. The enthusiasm of the population & amazing spectator numbers would follow later.

Dry stone wall in MalhamDry stone wall, Malham | Image credit: Paul Stephenson

The man-made additions can make a wonderful impact on the landscape – just look at the stunning Ribblehead Viaduct which we featured as our main photo – or the classic dry stone walls which snake for thousands of miles across the countryside.

view over Scarborough taken from the castleview over Scarborough from the castle | Image credit: Dave Kilroy

There’s amazing architecture both old & new – from ancient castles like the coastal fortress at Scarborough to spectacular abbeys like Rievaulx, Bolton & Fountains. Stately homes like Castle Howard – through to classic Georgian market towns & spas such as Richmond & Harrogate.

Workers' houses in SaltaireWorkers’ houses, Saltaire | Image credit: Tim Green

Victorian mill buildings & civic splendour of the 19th century – Saltaire immediately springs to mind!

Salt's Mill in SaltaireSalt’s Mill, Saltaire | Image credit: Tim Green

Relative to size, the number of listed buildings in industrial towns like Halifax & Huddersfield is amazing.

Twins l and ll by Jaume Plensa at Yorkshire Sculpture ParkTwins l and ll by Jaume Plensa, Yorkshire Sculpture Park | Image credit: Bryan Ledgard

Then right into the 21st century with places like Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Even the humble car park can grab your attention. This is the Charles Street car park in Sheffield, christened ‘the cheese grater’ by the locals (it’s been voted the 3rd coolest in the world don”t you know!).

Charles Street Car Park in Sheffield also known as the Cheese GraterCharles Street Car Park, Sheffield | Image credit: Duncan Harris

We have a choice of cities such as York, Leeds & Sheffield for a metropolitan buzz and shopping trips.

An extensive canal network, originally built to transport goods in the 18th & 19th century, criss-crosses the county. It now provides the perfect opportunity for boating holidays & tow path walks.

Five Rise Locks in BingleyFive Rise Locks, Bingley | Image credit: Allan Harris

It’s hard to pick favourite places when there’s so much on offer. Everyone who lives here or holidays in the area will have their own ideas.

Whitby Abbey at sunsetWhitby Abbey | Image credit: James Whitesmith

We love the Yorkshire Dales and the coast around Whitby. Malham is a great place to visit – with it’s stunning limestone scenery of streams, springs, caverns, gorges, clints & grykes – it’s a real life geography text book!

Winskill Stones in the Yorkshire DalesWinskill Stones, Yorkshire Dales | Image credit: Alison Christine

…and just mentioning Whitby makes us dream wistfully about a trip over there.

It’s a lovely drive from here – through Helmsley & Pickering, across the North York Moors – stopping for a sandwich & a cuppa at the Hole of Horcum – then dropping down through Sleights and into picturesque Whitby.

Whitby Harbour with the abbey on the hill in the distanceWhitby Harbour | Image credit: Matthew Hartley

We’d probably stay at the Old Dispensary. No doubt, there’d be walks on the beach or coastal path to Staithes or Robin Hood’s Bay. A mooch around the town maybe, fish & chips on the harbour at sunset. Perhaps a few drinks in the Black Horse pub – and a lazy breakfast with the newspapers the morning after.  Bliss – the perfect weekend away.

Staithes Harbour looking out to seaStaithes Harbour looking out to sea | Image credit: PauliCarmody

We really enjoy a drive out somewhere – a day wandering around the local sights & shops – stopping for a coffee. We’re spoilt for choice really – places like Ripon, Ilkley, Harrogate, Skipton and Richmond all within reach. It brings to mind another favourite little trip – with flask of tea made, take the lovely drive over the moors through Oxenhope to Addingham (where you can pick up a snack for lunchtime if you  haven’t brought a packed lunch. Spend a couple of hours by the river at Bolton Abbey, then onto Ilkley or Skipton for the afternoon. Each has its own attractions depending on what you fancy that day – auction house, antiques centre, shops, park, boat trip on the canal, medieval castle, Betty’s Tea Rooms!

Stepping stones across the river at Bolton AbbeyStepping stones across the river at Bolton Abbey | Image credit: linearclassifier

And then there’s home of course – we can’t write a post about Yorkshire without highlighting our own little corner of the county. We live & work in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. We know the neighbouring towns of Todmorden & Hebden Bridge particularly well having lived in both.

Todmorden stone on entering the townTodmorden stone on entering the town centre

It’s Todmorden at the moment and we’re very happy here. It’s actually very easy to shop & socialise in both which is ideal. Two for the price of one! A ten minute drive or train hop between the two – or an hour’s walk along a lovely stretch of that canal we mentioned earlier – the perfect distance for a stroll with a well-deserved pub lunch at the other end!

Rochdale Canal at Hebden BridgeRochdale Canal at Hebden Bridge | Image credit: Phil King

There’s a lot going on here for relatively small towns. Interesting independent shops, markets, art galleries, restaurants & bars. Each town has a  lovely, big park where they stage a wide variety of events. There are agricultural shows, vintage car rallies, beer & music festivals and spectacular fire work displays.

View of Hebden BridgeHebden Bridge | Image credit: Tim Green

We have beautiful countryside on our doorstep where we spend many hours walking with our dog Fudge. The folk are friendly & helpful and there’s a strong will to give things a go – whether it be a new business or social endeavour. Just take Incredible Edible as the perfect example – a wonderful organisation aiming to provide access to good local food for all.

view overlooking TodmordenView of Todmorden nestled in the Calder valley

So, that’s our Yorkshire. In addition to sharing lots of lovely images, this post gives us the opportunity to highlight the importance of Yorkshire Water in all this.  It’s actually one of the county’s largest landowners and has given access to thousands of acres of their land for everyone to enjoy. Their Blueprint for Yorkshire details their achievements to date & plans for the next 25 years. Their work is essential, from providing our drinking water, to reducing flooding to protecting wildlife and the natural environment. Their activities affect residents & visitors alike and are vital for the well-being of this county.

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