All posts by Linda

Walking In Thetford Forest

There is something undeniably therapeutic about being in a forest – the greenery is relaxing, the silence, the smells, the general aura of the trees, the feeling of being remote, the shade on a hot day …. Ever since I was a young child I have loved being amongst trees. My woodland playground in them days was Epping Forest, on the fringes of East London and Essex. A woodland setting for a hot July weekend away recently was bliss – destination Thetford Forest.

Mile Marker in Thetford Forest

Thetford Forest straddles the border between Suffolk and Norfolk in the East Anglia region of England. It covers well over 19,000ha (47,000 acres). It is the largest lowland pine forest in England, although other trees are present including oak, beech, lime, walnut, red oak and maple. These hardwood trees are found along the sides of the roads acting as fire breaks. This Forest is actually manmade – a fact I was amazed to discover- it was created after the First World War in 1922 to provide a strategic reserve of timber since Britain had lost so many oaks and other slow growing trees as a consequence of the war.

Deep in Thetford Forest

Considering that 4 main roads bisect Thetford Forest and that visitor numbers exceed 1 million annually; the part of the forest we visited was extremely quiet and remote and we passed only a couple of fellow walkers going the opposite way to us. Thetford Forest is a very popular destination for mountain biking – there are several trails to make the most of the experience.

Driving through one of the main roads that bisect Thetford Forest

However, as my youngest son had a broken foot and was on crutches, we didn’t partake. At his insistence though, we did the 5 mile circular walk trail through the forest, starting from Lynford Hall, passing the metal statue of the Lynford Stag at the halfway stage, crossing the Lynford Lakes and back to the hall. The walk is actually a distance of 4.5miles (7.2km) but we did get lost and ventured down the wrong path and had to retrace our steps! As the weather was hot and dry, the paths were easy to walk on (and to use crutches) but there were some areas where the paths were overgrown and my son did have some trouble disentangling his crutches out of the grass!

Half Way – Lynford Stag

Thetford Forest is home to a large population of hares, rabbits, game birds, scarce breeding birds such as woodlarks and golden pheasants, and breeds of deer (muntjac, roe deer & red deer). The air was alive with the sounds of birdsong and you could hear the occasional rustle in the trees … was that a gruffalo?! …. alas we didn’t see any deer but we knew they were close by as we came across piles of deer poo pellets! Ethan was trying to avoid landing his crutches in them! By the lakes we saw a few frogs though…

Part of the Lynford Lakes

The wildlife are able to thrive in the forest because of the Forestry Commission’s strict policies – dogs are welcome to be walked in the area but must be kept on a lead at all times and kept away from the children’s play areas. In the Lynford Arboretum area dogs are not allowed (except guide dogs). Each winter, The British Siberian Husky Racing Association hold several husky racing events in the forest. I have been on a sledge driven by huskies when I was in Finland – they went really fast over bush and logs etc – it was like a rollercoaster! So I can only imagine what fun husky racing can be! Might be something to mark in the calendar….

Thetford Forest

Our start and end destination to our walk was the beautiful Lynford Hall, set in the heart of Thetford Forest. The original Hall was built in the 1800s and belonged to the Sutton family, and sat in its grounds of 7,718 acres. In 1857 Mr & Mrs Lyne Stephens took up residence & began to rebuild the present hall, designed by William Burn. It took 7 years to build, and when it was finished in 1869 it became a grade 2 Mansion. Mr Lyne Stephens made his money by inventing Dolls Eyes that opened and closed. In 1930 it became residence of Sir James Calder who frequently entertained his friend, the then American Ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, and his son, John F Kennedy, who eventually became US President. Even King Edward VII viewed Lynford Hall as a Royal Residence but chose Sandringham instead.

Nearly finished the walk…. the drive of Lynford Hall

In recent years Lynford Hall has been the setting for many popular TV series including “Allo Allo”, “Love On The Branch Line”, “You Rang My Lord” and “Dad’s Army”. Nowadays it is a hotel that also hosts events and weddings – such a great venue amongst the lakes, parkland and thousands of acres of forest that adjoin Thetford Forest itself.

Lynford Hall Country House Hotel

When we’ve visited Thetford Forest before we stayed at Center Parcs …. and there are various other lodges and campsites in the forest that offer accommodation in the forest. This weekend though we stayed at Lynford Hall. My boys said they felt very “Royal” ! I didn’t get a picture of my youngest going up and down the grand sweeping staircase with his crutches but I did get pictures of the gorgeous views and gardens…

Ornate gateway of Lynford Hall
A window view, Lynford Hall

One thing my sons were fascinated with was the old gramophone that sat outside our room – I think they were dying to have a go but didn’t! Standing in the ballroom I can just imagine the Royals and other VIPs of the day, dancing to the sounds of the gramophone…

The gramophone At Lynford Hall

What a weekend – a lovely mix of nature and history, peace and romance! Do trees inspire you in the same way?

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden

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Take 5 Ingredients – Linda’s Salmon Tagliatelle

When the weather is warm, it is hard to decide what to cook for the family main meal. A family favourite in our house is my version of Salmon Tagliatelle – it is a good budget meal, takes less than half an hour to cook, has only 5 ingredients, is relatively low calorie and, best of all, it is extremely tasty! Why don’t you try it?

Ingredients (SERVES 4)

4 BONELESS SALMON STEAKS. TAGLIATELLE (OR SPAGHETTI) TUB OF SOFT CHEESE (I USE PHILADELPHIA LIGHTEST). HANDFUL OF COOKED PETIT POIS (OR GARDEN PEAS). BLACK PEPPER

METHOD

  1. In a hot oven (180/200ºC ) bake the salmon steaks in an oiled roasting tin for 20 – 25 minutes.

2. Whilst the salmon is baking, put tagliatelle in a deep saucepan, cover with water and boil for 10 – 15 minutes.

3. Once cooked, drain the tagliatelle. Add the soft cheese, cooked peas and salmon into the saucepan with the cooked tagliatelle. Stir well to mix the ingredients. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve.

Bon Appetite!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

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Destination Lincoln

As part of my husband’s ongoing cycle training for the Grand Depart Classic in Brussels (first leg of the 2019 Tour De France) on Saturday 29 June 2019 – he is riding on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK (find out more HERE) – Adam took part in early May in the Lincoln GP Sportive (Lincoln Grand Prix). Although the Brussels ride is around 125 miles, the 75 mile Lincoln GP ride was excellent training as the finishing line was at the top of a 23% gradient cobbled hill – aptly named Steep Hill – and the cobbles were something Adam had not yet faced and the Brussels ride features two cobbled hills of steep gradients – so Lincoln was the perfect training ride. Fortunately the hills in Brussels are not at the end of a gruelling 75 mile undulating cycle ride but occur when legs are still relatively fresh, so to speak. Our two youngest sons and I were in Lincoln to cheer on Adam and to give him some moral support as he attempted the cobbles. In the meantime, the boys and I had about 6 hours to kill whilst Adam was poodling around the Lincolnshire countryside so we did some exploring of our own around the city of Lincoln…

This was the first time I had actually spent some time in Lincolnshire – I had travelled through the county on my way to Yorkshire, Newcastle and Scotland in the past – so I was looking forward to spending some time in Lincoln. I must admit I was under the impression that Lincolnshire was a flat county – however, I now know that Lincoln itself is pretty steep and Adam assures me that the Lincolnshire Wolds that surround Lincoln were pretty undulating too! Having arrived in the evening, in rain, it was great to open our hotel room curtains and have a terrific view of Lincoln cathedral and blue skies. The boys and I decided the first place we will be exploring was to be Lincoln Cathedral.

View of Lincoln Cathedral from Premier Inn Lincoln City Centre

It was a 10 minute uphill walk to the Cathedral and on the way we diverted into a small park with trees planted in dedication to university staff who had died. It was a pretty place to wander around with a small outdoor gym. I must admit I was hoping that there was an underpass or shortcut across the busy main road via the park but I was disappointed that the park’s path was a circular route (oh well, just think of those Fitbit steps!)

Lincoln cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral is pretty impressive. It was first constructed in 1072 in the gothic style of that era. In fact, from 1311 – 1548 it was the tallest building in the world. Nowadays it is the 4th largest cathedral in the UK after Liverpool, St Paul’s, and York Minster. The original Cathedral was damaged by an earthquake on 15 April 1185 – an eye witness described the Cathedral as having been “split from top to bottom”. All I can say is that the reconstruction must have been sturdier as the Cathedral looked strong to me! Lincoln Cathedral is one of the few English cathedrals built from the rock it is standing on. The Cathedral’s stonemasons use more than 100 tonnes of stone per year for maintenance and repairs. It was in maintenance mode when we visited, but the building still looked splendid. You might have seen Lincoln Cathedral in films: it doubled up as Westminster Abbey in “Young Victoria” and in the Netflix Shakespeare film “TheKing”. Lincoln Cathedral also once housed a copy of the Magna Carta – now it is housed in Lincoln Castle …

Lincoln Cathedral

Out of Lincoln Cathedral, past the Magna Carta pub, we ventured onto Lincoln Castle with its extensive grounds and intact wall. Visitors can now walk the full circumference of the wall, which is an impressive third of a mile long. The views over Lincoln and the countryside are supposed to be stunning but I must admit that the clouds started to roll in and a cup of tea beckoned so we retreated to the cafe that was set within the castle walls & the Victorian prison instead. Lincoln Castle was built by William The Conqueror in 1068. The Victorian prison was added on in 1788. In the Castle grounds was the impressive building of Lincoln Crown Court, alas not open to the public. The boys though were more interested in the Lego Space Exhibition being held in the grounds. Presented and built by Bricklive, the exhibits included larger than life models of The Earth, astronauts and the Space Shuttle.

Lincoln Castle Walls
Lincoln Castle Walls
Lincoln Crown Court
Lego “Earth” at Lincoln Castle
Lego Astronaut
Lego Space Shuttle

Next stop, Steep Hill. This cobbled hill & its adjacent street, Mickelgate, was where the finishing line was. We still had a bit of time to visit a shop on Steep Hill that I had discovered online some months previously: Roly’s Fudge Pantry! I couldn’t wait to discover this little fudge enclave and I thought Adam and his fellow team cyclists might appreciate fudge once they passed that finish line. Let me tell you, the fudge pantry did not disappoint! The sweet aroma hits you as soon as you crossed the threshold and there was fudge being made in front of our very own eyes. So many flavours to choose from ! The fudge was appreciated by the cyclists at the end and we came back the next day to buy more before our drive home . We tried the following flavours: Maple & Walnut; Honeycomb; Strawberry & Prosecco; Mint Chocolate; Hot Cross Bun; Whisky & Ginger; Chocolate; Salted Maple & Pecan….. it was hard to pick a favourite but my 3 faves were salted maple & pecan; strawberry & prosecco and whisky & ginger. Apparently you can now buy them online.

Roly’s Fudge Pantry

Other shops on Steep Hill worth checking out are Pimento Lincoln’s Original Vegetarian Cafe for their soya hot chocolate with vegan whipped cream & marshmallows; Annushka Russian Dolls Shop (!) and the Mouse House Cheese Shop & Coffee Bar ….for marmite scones …

Steep Hill

Around 2.30pm, my boys and I were halfway down Steep Hill ready to cheer on the cyclists as they make their arduous way up the steep cobbled hill. Adam and his teammates made it up the hill in one piece and are ready to face the Belgian challenge.

Steep Hill
Adam on Steep Hill
Made it!

Lincoln is a university town so after dark on a Saturday night the place was buzzing with bars, clubs and restaurants – it was especially vibrant down by the waterfront. We ate in Zizzi’s and I highly recommend their King Prawn Linguine.

Lincoln had so much to offer that I didn’t manage to explore the shops, the Museum of Lincolnshire or The Collection Usher Gallery …. but I will endeavour to visit next time ( a repeat visit to the fudge pantry would be on my itinerary too)

Check out my previous blogpost about Adam & his prostrate cancer cycling rides: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/one-in-eight-men

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Linda x

Photographs are by Linda Hobden

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Revisiting Liat Hughes Joshi

Back in February 2015 I interviewed on my blog author Liat Hughes Joshi (read the original interview HERE). Since then, I have spotted Liat on TV ; she has written a couple more parenting books and her child has become a teenager! It seems a great time, therefore, to have a catch up!

Welcome back onto the blog, Liat! Could you please reintroduce yourself !

Hi! I’m Liat Hughes Joshi, a parenting author, journalist and broadcaster. Also a mum. I’ve written five parenting books and have just signed up for a sixth.  I live in London but grew up by the seaside in a place called Lytham St.Annes in Lancashire. Most people who have heard of it have an elderly relative who lives/ lived there because it has traditionally been a retirement town but it’s really changing and if you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit for the independent shops and restaurants in Lytham centre in particular.    

What truly inspired you to become a writer/ journalist in the first place? 

I did always love writing and it was something I wanted to do as a child but there were other ideas too. I wanted to be an interior designer at one stage and a lawyer at another. I’m also very interested in business so spent nine years as a management consultant before finally giving in to the urge to write in 2002.I do sometimes make forays back into the corporate world, giving talks on parenting and family life for companies and working with brands on their campaigns.

Since we last spoke way back in February 2015, you have since published 2 more books “How To Unplug Your Child” (May 2015) & “5-Minute Parenting Fixes” (February 2018).Was your book “5 Minute Parenting Fixes” inspired by your own parenting journey?

Yes and no. I’ve been writing about parenting for 14 years and it does come from a lot more than my own experiences as a mum. The idea for 5-Minute Parenting Fixes came because I realised there was SO much information on parenting out there now and it’s easy to get bogged down after a simple search on the internet with overload and confusion. At the same time we all seem to have busier lives than ever. Or it feels that way anyway. So I thought mums and dads might welcome a single, reliable and sensible source of information, and something that can be read very quickly – picked up for five minutes to check out solutions to a specific problem. Just as the book’s title suggests! It covers all sorts of common problems for parents of 5 to 16 year-olds, from dealing with bullying to getting them off screens more, or doing their homework or chores with less fuss.

Apart from your writing, you have appeared on TV daytime [and news] show debates on various parenting issues. Do you get nervous appearing on TV? Any memorable or embarrassing TV moments?

I have no idea why but I really don’t feel nervous at all with TV interviews. I just go in and chat  and debate with the people who are there and don’t think about or worry about the audience watching on TV at home. Pretty much all the presenters and newsreaders do a great job of making guests feel at ease though. There has been one TV project recently that pushed me out of my comfort zone…but I’m not allowed to talk about it until it airs which won’t be for a couple of months (sorry!). It involves comedy but luckily I wasn’t expected to be funny, or else people would want their money back. And they weren’t even paying. Most memorable…probably that one and when I had a spat with Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain.

Although non -fiction/parenting advice books are your writing genre, are there any genres you would like to have a go at, but haven’t as yet? 

I’d actually love to write a sitcom but see above I’m not sure I am funny enough. Perhaps more realistically, I’m keen to explore ideas for radio. I absolutely adore Radio 4 and it’d be a dream to write and present documentaries on there.

Are there any new books or writing plans in the pipeline?

Yes! I am just sorting out the contract for a sixth parenting book. This will be my fourth with Summersdale. They are fantastic to work with and it’ll be interesting to see how much is different or the same now that they are part of Octopus, which is in turn part of Hachette.

What book are you currently reading?  What book is on your kindle wishlist?

I’m reading Nutshell by Ian McEwan, one of my favourite authors. It’s narrated by an foetus and quite unusual but entertaining and clever. I have given up on Kindles and reverted to reading print books so I haven’t got a wish list. I wrote a feature about switching back to analogue in various aspects of our lives [https://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/life/happened-gave-tech-went-analogue-month/] and definitely find material I read in print sinks in better.

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Are your books available to purchase worldwide?

YES! Both the original UK published editions are sold via international bookshops online but also in various local versions and translations. Off the top of my head there have been editions of one or other of my books published in the US, Vietnam, Romania, Italy, India, Portugal and Slovakia, with Saudi Arabia and Germany coming soon.

Family holidays – which place is a particular favourite family holiday location?

In the UK, my heart belongs to the Lake District. I had so many childhood trips there, both with family and my school (which had an outward bound centre near Ullswater). Luckily my teenage son and I share similar ideas, at the moment at least, about what we like to do on a holiday. It would involve days spent hiking, with perhaps a run or a bit of kayaking, then a lovely, hearty dinner in a gastropub. Repeat for a few days!

What other projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’ve recently agreed to join the charity Kidscape as an Ambassador and I’m really excited about being involved with them. I was bullied as a child and it sounds like a cliché but it’s a subject close to my heart.  

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’ve turned into something of a ‘uniform dresser’ in the last couple of years. I almost always wear blue, especially navy. If you were to open my wardrobe, you would not find an array of colours and tons of pattern in there that’s for sure.  It means everything goes with everything and I can throw set combinations on without thinking too much. That’s not to say I don’t care about how I look. I absolutely do! It’s always a treat if there’s ‘hair and make up’ on offer at the studios before TV interviews. My default outfit most days certainly involves skinny dark denim jeans (Levis Mile High Super-skinnies are top of my list currently). Fashionable or not, I’m too short to carry off those wider leg trousers everyone is wearing at the moment. I have noticed far fewer women in London seem to wear heels nowadays but I’m really quite short (5ft1) so do like a bit of a height boost, either via my flatform white Superga, some long boots, or espadrille wedges. When I do TV interviews, I have a favourite Reiss TV jacket. I’ve tried to diversify and find others that I like as much but it is just so perfect. It’s fitted, single-breasted and so flattering. And it’s navy (obviously).

Liat’s adorable dog!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

As I’m short, I do struggle with finding things that fit. The majority of clothing ‘drowns’ me. Wandering round most clothing shops on a high street is a waste of time for me, as I’d simply end up frustrated in the changing rooms. Reiss and Boden are favourites because they do size 6 and the latter has a petite range that I’ve got a fair few things from.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’ve got really quite minimalist so actually…I can’t think of anything! I often reorder the same favourites, such as the Levi’s skinny jeans, Jigsaw’s t-shirts and a fresh pair of white Superga trainers now and again. 

Boots or Shoes?

Boots…for daily walks with my dog and hiking! 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

My website is liathughesjoshi.co.uk and I’m on Twitter and Instagram at @liathughesjoshi. My books are available on Amazon.  

It was great to catch up with you Liat! I’m loving the fact that you champion the colour navy – I wear black for work as part of my “uniform”, so navy is always the colour of choice for me when I want the smart and classic look. That goes for shoes too – I love my navy slingback kitten heels! 🙂

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of it Hughes Joshi.

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An Interview With Olbrish

I know that many of my readers love a good handbag (me included) and I have showcased many bag makers over the years on this blog – rabbit shapes, those inspired by buildings, and so on. So I’m thrilled to introduce onto my blog a company from Germany, Olbrish, whose distinctive designs have not only won my heart but have won some prestigious awards too. I caught up with the founder, Wolfgang Olbrish, recently to find out more about his impressive bag collections….

Hi Wolfgang, please introduce yourself and Olbrish….

Hello. We have been producing our handbags in Berlin since 1981. Over the years the company has changed a lot, both inside and, probably more, from the outside. What has stayed the same is the clear expression of form in our designs. For me and the factory Olbrish, it all started on the Kurfürstendamm where I offered  the Berlin wall & city tourists my first hand-made hippie belts and hand-dyed hair clips. With the new collaboration with Bernd Goebel 1981, we started our own protest against the throw-away culture – our bags were mostly made of leather remnants. Today, our principle has remained the same:  custom-made, bags for money, whatever the male or female customer wanted. In the early 90s, we hired the first professional seamstresses. I studied painting at the “Akademie der Künste” (University of Arts in Berlin) and things became more serious. The shapes of our bags became more geometrical and less playful; we moved to a bigger workshop in the heart of Berlin Kreuzberg. In 2003 the circle closed itself and we moved our store and were are back at the Kurfürstendamm, where it all started. Today we still produce everything by hand in our factory in Berlin Kreuzberg.  We experiment with new materials like horsehair and our newest project, fish-leather from a small fish farm in Austria. 

What inspires the distinctive designs of Olbrish bags?

Everyday objects like bowls, bathrobes or the human body itself. Both curves and edges are also beautiful in handbags.

Olbrish bags, briefcases, wallets and belts are made from genuine leather, woven horsehair & recycled materials. What are the main attributes towards working with leather?

Leather is a beautiful material. On the one hand it is very forgiving and easy to apply on our recycled carrier material, on the other hand extremely durable. The thing is, it is only forgiving if you know how to work with it and if you have the right machinery. We have special sewing machines for leather and the carrier material. Normal machines would break after a few stitches. The horsehair is a completely different story, although being even more durable than leather, it is not forgiving nor is it easy to work with in any way. It was a long process until we found out how to use it for our handbags.

I love the “Wave” bag – timeless chic!  What bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our Wave handbag always works, usually in the classic black and red colour combination. But also the Torii in both sizes is a good selling bag. Normally the brand new bags sell well in the beginning, then after a year or so it shows if the bag has the potential to stay with us or if it will be stowed away to be rediscovered at the right time. Also the Arcade shoulderbag is very popular. It is also the one for which we got the “Red Dot Design Award – Best of the best”

The company also offers custom made bags. Have you had any bizarre requests?

Usually it is odd colour combinations like a bag in purple, orange and white. 

Once a guy (seriously) asked if we could make him a bulletproof briefcase, when I asked him “but why?” he answered that he wanted to protect himself. I didn’t ask again and had to turn down his request. 

Hypothetically speaking, which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of Olbrish?

Michelle Obama: she is great, beautiful, always looks energetic and has great sense for fashion.

Have you any other new products/accessories in the pipeline for 2019?

We have one new bag, which is not registered yet and no one has seen it so far. Only us in the factory have seen it and  everyone in the company loves it so far which almost never happens. The last time this happened was 10 years ago when we won the red-dot design award. So we are really excited.

The company has won a few accolades over the years – congratulations- what award are you most proud of? 

The “Red-Dot design Award- Best of the best” was probably the highlight.

As you are based in Berlin, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

Yes, we ship worldwide but our main markets are Germany and the US. We would love to find new customers in the UK. 

When designing bags to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, vintage quality or bits of all those?

I definitely take into account my own tastes, I listen to our customers and colleagues and try to design the bag with as little compromise as possible. If I listen to requests too much, the outcome of the bag is usually not as interesting. Trends are not really important to us. They change too often and are often outdated after only a few months. So even if we wanted to, we can’t design a whole new collection for only a few months, which has to be replaced by a new one in the next season. Also our bags are made to last and want to be worn for more than one season.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Rainjacket- dark grey, striped shirt under a sweatshirt- in case a customer comes to visit and  I have to look respectable, blue jeans- 501, dark grey sneakers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

Schrauben24.de

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A snake skin jacket, so I can feel 20 again.

Boots or Shoes? 

Shoes, I don’t have boots.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Olbrish .

https://www.olbrish.de/browse/olbrish/,0,5334,0,0.html

https://www.instagram.com/olbrish/

https://facebook.com/olbrishtaschen/

Many thanks Wolfgang! I must say that I find the idea of using fish leather very intriguing and I am on tenterhooks to see your latest bag design – looking at your other styles, I am sure it is just as exquisite!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Wolfgang Olbrish.

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An Interview With Author Isabeau Kelm

Every now and then you come across an author whose writing just blows you away … and I have been fortunate to have read debut novels from a couple of authors this month whose talent for writing have been beyond excellence. This week I want to introduce you to Isabeau Kelm , author of “At The Blue Hour”, an historical novel set in Moldavia in 1583. It is a genre of book that I enjoy on occasions and this had not only history, but it was based in a part of Europe whose history is rich & vibrant and I hadn’t read many books based in that area. I love Isabeau’s style of writing. It is a classical literature style, full of description and clever use of words to set the mood of the day. “At The Blue Hour” isn’t an “easy reading “ style novel … the book slowly reels you in to the shadowy world of medieval Moldavia ….for me it got me hook, line & sinker by chapter 3 or 4. This book is English language/literature at its finest and would appeal to those readers who enjoy reading the classics. I was fortunate enough to have been sent a copy of the book by Ben Cameron of Cameron Publishing, and my views on the book are my genuine reactions. I loved it so much I’m looking forward to reading the follow ups…

After reading the book I just had to chat to the author! Hi Isabeau & welcome!

Hello. My name is Isabeau Kelm and I live in Madrid, Spain, with my fiancé and our daughter. I completed my Bachelor’s Degree programme in Art History at the University of Glasgow and later earned an MA in Creative Writing at Teesside University, Middlesbrough. I derive my ideas from my numerous travels and my personal interest in my own biographical roots. You can find my creative non-fiction works that explore my family history and my collection of poems under my pseudonym ‘I.W. Zilke’.

Your degrees in Art History & Creative Writing obviously helped to set the ball rolling towards a career as a writer, but what truly inspired you to become writer in the first place? 

I honestly think I was born with the desire to write. Whatever I see or hear inspires images and conversations in my mind that I often express in poems or stories. Like many other authors, I am prone to daydreaming and have been writing since I learned how to write, but it was actually my mother who encouraged me to write professionally and I am forever grateful to her for believing in my writing abilities.

“At The Blue Hour” is your latest novel – I enjoyed reading the book from start to finish. It was an interesting historical novel, inspired by true events, set in Moldavia in 1583. The young gypsy slave, Irina, who catches the eye of the Prince, had me mesmerised with her positivity; the Prince, who happened to be the great grandson of Vlad Dracula, annoyed me slightly with his possessiveness; Cornelius, the magician/advisor/teacher, what a character – I didn’t know whether to pity him or tell him to reveal his true feelings (never mentioned but I sensed the feelings!); the monks who enslaved Irina & her mother; the absent father; the villagers who were scared of Irina & her ilk, abusing them…. Which character/s did you enjoy writing about the most?  Which character was the hardest?

“At the Blue Hour” is actually my very first novel that I have written in German and published in 2015. It has been translated into English by my sister Eugenia Zilke, a certified translator, and edited by two professional editors. A Russian translation of the novel is available for purchase as well thanks to my mother Ida Zilke who has translated it. 

Since then I have published the sequel of “At the Blue Hour” which is called “At the Golden Hour” (there will be soon an English and a Russian translation for sale), and two creative non-fiction books and a collection of poems under my other pseudonym ‘I.W. Zilke’ which I have written in English. Two of these works contain illustrations created by my fiancé whose artistic name is ‘Enjolras’.

Right now I am working on the third book of the many adventures of Irina Botezata, the protagonist of “At the Blue Hour”

Before I answer your questions, I would like to thank you for reading my book. I am very happy that you found the story interesting.

Now to your questions. Honestly I enjoyed writing about all of my characters as each of them has very different morals and beliefs. This made the creation of them challenging but interesting at the same time as I had to tap into all the different elements of my subconscious. 

However, I enjoyed writing about Radu the most, Irina’s childhood companion and friend, because he is a rather mysterious and yet down-to-earth character.

The hardest character to write about was actually Irina because I constantly tried my best to portray her in a realistic manner, with flaws and all, in order to refrain from creating a stereotypical “Mary Sue”-protagonist. To me it was important to show that we as humans are all morally ambiguous to a certain degree, i.e. nobody is perfect. Additionally, she has experienced many traumatic events in her life, so I also had to envision what these experiences do to a person, how the personality of such a person evolves etc.

What is it about the turbulent history of Eastern & South Eastern Europe that inspires you?  

I was born in Soviet Russia, in Siberia to be precise. However, I was a toddler when my entire family moved to Germany. Since then I have visited Russia only twice. It is a vast, unexplored land in my mind which has been created by the many stories my parents and grandfather told me. I guess it is the exploration of my roots that fascinates me so much about Eastern European history.

As far as South Eastern Europe is concerned, not much is known about their history in the West. As soon as you start reading about the complex historical events that took place in this part of the world over the centuries, I am surprised that not more Western authors are inspired to make use of the vastness of inspiration South Eastern European history offers.

Although historical novels are your writing genre, do you enjoy writing other genres? Are there any genres you would like to have a go at, but haven’t as yet?

First of all, I would like to stress that although “At the Blue Hour” is seet in the past, I rather consider it to be a Bildungsroman with a touch of Magical Realism. The main theme of the novel is really the learning process of Irina and the exploration of what freedom really means. Nevertheless, my readers will learn a lot about the history of 16th Century Moldavia and of the Ottoman Empire as I tried to be as historically accurate as possible, so the novel can be considered a historical novel.

As mentioned before, I also write creative non-fiction books and poetry under my pen name ‘I.W. Zilke’. 

But there is one genre that I would really like to have a go at – Science Fiction! My fiancé and I were thinking of a joint collaboration, that is he (a cyber security engineer)will help me by updating me with the newest and future advances in technology, and I will write the story. We would like to create a book that explores the many ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence that are sure to follow with the unstoppable advances in that field.

 Are there any new novel ideas or writing plans in the pipeline?

Yes, right now I am conducting historical research for the third book about the adventures of Irina Botezata and have actually written some scenes already. In the near future I would also like to finish my book about my family history, spanning four generations, that I have begun writing as part of my MA dissertation. And of course my very first Science Fiction novel.

 Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

I am a bookworm, although now it is getting increasingly difficult for me to find time to read as I have a toddler at home to take care of as well. Usually I read when riding the subway. That is why I almost always carry a book in my purse.

My favourite author of all time is the French writer Marguerite Duras. I have read almost all of her books and each of them speaks to my heart and lets my soul sing and weep. She was able to write about her life in such a poetic and at the same time brutally honest way that I consider her to be one of the bravest writers in history.

To be honest, I love reading the classics – Maxim Gorky, Dostoyevsky, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Vladimir Nabokov…

I prefer reading actual books, but I can definitely see the advantage of reading on an e-book reader. My fiancé gave me one as a Christmas present and it is really amazing how many books can fit in one of these devices. However, nothing tops the smell of old books or the ability to make notes on the pages or underline some lines that I find particularly beautiful.

 Is “At The Blue Hour” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, it is available to purchase worldwide.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why? 

I have already visited almost all the places that I will mention or have already mentioned in my books. However, I have been obsessed to travel to the Congolese jungle since I have read Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. I think this is one of the few places on earth that harbours exciting secrets in many senses. Although I am not planning to write about Congo (maybe in the future?), I am still certain that this travel experience would give me writing inspiration for decades.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I do not shop often, although I love fashion! I don’t follow every trend though. 

You would normally find me wearing a plain-coloured dress in pastel or navy blue, and high-heeled shoes. Recently I have discovered mom jeans. They are surprisingly comfortable!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

As far as designers are concerned, I love almost all the dresses created by Karen Millen. In order to find exclusive wedding gifts, the Ralph Lauren online shop is my go-to place. Zara is my number one high-street choice. Regarding personal care, I am obsessed with L’Occitane and Guerlain products. As a matter of fact, my signature perfume is called “L’Heure Bleue” by Guerlain, which means The Blue Hour. Talking about taking your own books to the next level!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Block heel sandals! No matter the brand, my only requirement is that they should be comfortable enough to walk around in them in the Spanish Summer heat for more than one hour. Next on my shoe wish list are white Christian Louboutin shoes for my wedding that we plan for next year.

Boots or Shoes?

Both because boots are useful in the winter and shoes are for having fun in Spring and Summer.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Yes, I would like to share some links where you can find out more about my works and me:

WEBSITES: https://www.iw-zilke.com/ & https://www.isabeaukelm.com/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/isabeaukelm/ & https://www.facebook.com/AuthorIWZilke/

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.es/kelmisabeau/ & https://www.pinterest.es/iwzilke/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/isabeaukelm_iwzilke_author/

YOUTUBE: http://bit.do/AUTHOR-Kelm_Zilke

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Thank you Isabeau – I’m so looking forward to reading about more of Irina’s adventures! Also I am so glad to meet a fellow kreader who not only enjoys reading the “heavy” classics but has also read Joseph Conrad’s “Heart Of Darkness”. It was this book that urged me to visit darkest Africa … although I have yet to experience Congo but I have visited the continent in the North, West & East so far…

And “At The Blue Hour “ has now added the countries in East & South Europe to my never ending bucket list…..

Linda x

Acknowledgements:

Thank you to Ben Cameron of Cameron Publishing for a copy of the book “At The Blue Hour “.

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Isabeau Kelm.

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10 Best Pampered Pooch Cities (UK & USA)

One of the UK’s leading price comparison website, comparethemarket.com, recently conducted an interesting survey on cities and towns in both the UK & USA to find out where the most pampered pooches resided! They based their findings on the number of dog salons, dog training facilities, kennels, vets, and parks each city had; and then they ranked each location by the number of amenities per capita. They also discovered some great doggy training programmes available nationwide in both countries.

Flynn & Reed

🇬🇧 UK

Here are the top 5 locations in the UK:

LocationDog Salons TrainingKennelsVetsParks
1.Nottingham 147127311216
2.Liverpool1159261168107
3.Hull8261162746
4.Birmingham2684278205156
5.Edinburgh11262125155

Out of 25 cities/towns surveyed, London came out at number 16 with a total of 30 dog salons, 173 dog training facilities, 341 kennels, 500 vets and 683 parks.

Flynn, Percy & Reed

Other doggy services found in the UK include sheepdog training in Somerset; Cani-Fit – jogging trails for you & your dog; in Newcastle, dogs are offered Hydrotherapy; in Kent, there is CSI Training – searching for suspects, helping with rescue missions etc. The survey found a large number of restaurants around the UK and London who pride themselves on being dog friendly.

Percy with his owner

🇺🇸 USA

Location Dog SalonTrainingKennelsVetsParks
1. Long Beach, CA25998544975471
2. Mesa, Arizona18654633761941
3. Atlanta,Georgia13947330366165
4. Sacramento,CA11447127243988
5.Seattle, WA15266339867396
Reed

Other doggy services found in the USA include Nose Workshops – teaching your dog how to sniff out different smells; Doga or Dog Yoga – extremely popular in the New York City area.

American dogs are very sporty. Dog Diving Championships are held in Florida; Flyball – where 2 teams of dogs race against each other in a relay and are judged on how quickly tennis balls can be retrieved – Tournaments are held all over the USA with the league HQ based in Las Vegas ; and finally, Disc – a sport similar to frisbee that tests the agility, speed & accuracy of both dogs and owners – apparently this sport is highly competitive!

Flynn

So, now you know! Is your dog a pampered pooch living in one of the Pooch privileged places?

Linda x

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Photo Credits: Pinterest photo has been published with kind permission of comparethemarket.com. The other photos are by Margaret Hobden. Dogs featured: Flynn, Reed & Percy.

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An Interview With Harmonia Lily

Springtime. New beginnings, flowers, spring cleaning & sprucing of old items, Easter rabbits. What has Spring got to do with my guest this week? My guest is Aphrodite, who hails from New York and her company has just been launched in 2019 (New Beginnings); her company name, Harmonia Lily, is very florally (Flowers); her business is concentrating on making vintage accessories modern & accessible (Sprucing up of old items); and rabbits…. well her first limited edition vintage reproduction handbag “Freya” is a delightful bunny shape!

Hi Aphrodite and welcome! What inspired you to set up “Harmonia Lily”?

I have always been fascinated with vintage wicker handbags.  The craftsmanship in them is unlike anything else.  They are each handcrafted, and the details of each piece is remarkable.  From the simple square bags, to the animal shapes, each one has a story to tell and it all started with one person sitting down and picking up materials to start weaving them. 

You have spent years collecting vintage, so what is it about vintage fashions that you feel warranted a special modern makeover? 

I don’t feel that anything deserves a modern makeover really.  The thing about many vintage pieces is that with age it has been through many homes, hands, and simply can’t stand the test of time. Sometimes you pick up a piece and its meant to be admired and not adorned because of its age, and I want to be able to share it with the world. I want to recreate pieces that make people happy and will last them a lifetime so they can pass to down for generations to come.  

I love the “Freya” – the first limited edition vintage rabbit design bag – so cute! What colours of the bag are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Funny thing is that I thought pink and black would be the most popular colors, but it looks like purple and blue are proving me wrong!  I even have a natural color bunny that I thought for certain people would love because colors scare people sometimes.  Color takes people out of their comfort zone.  But it is the least selected color out of the 5 of them so far! 

Where did you get the inspiration from to design “Freya”?

Several years ago I saw a vintage bunny bag at a flea market that was in the worst shape imaginable and the price tag on it was even more ridiculous than the shape it was in.  When I finally sat down to decide that this was what I wanted to do, I wrote out a list of items I’d want to carry under Harmonia Lily and handwoven handbags was on the top of the list.  Then I had to figure out how to get the handwoven bags into animal shapes and that has not been an easy task!  

Hypothetically speaking, which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of Harmonia Lily?

Someone like Dita Von Teese or Debi Mazaar.  Both of them not only have style and grace, but they have such confidence that doesn’t say ‘I’m wearing this because I have to and it’s my job, I’m wearing this because it’s who I am and this is my style’  

Have you any other new products/accessories in the pipeline for 2019?

Future designs of handbags will include a unicorn, a flying pig, dinosaur, and a few secret ones too! I have vintage inspired belt buckles, necklaces and bracelets coming towards the end of the year.  If you keep a look out on @HarmoniaLily instagram, you might end up being able to win some of those accessories in a few weeks 😉  

I love knowing how brands decide their company names – so what is the story behind the name “Harmonia Lily”?

Well my name is Aphrodite Rose.  Aphrodite was such a strong woman in greek mythology, and in some stories her daughter’s name is Harmonia.  I wanted to keep with the greek name line and name the company since this is now my pride and joy, my child.  Roses and lilies also happen to be my favorite flowers, so wanted to keep the names just right.   You’ll see as time goes on, that many of my bags will be named after gods/goddeses.  Such as Freya, my bunny bag.   

As you are based in New York, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

You can purchase my products from anywhere in the world. 

When designing bags to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, vintage quality or bits of all those?

A combination of all of the above.  

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

There is not a ‘normal’ day in my world.  I can go anywhere from highwaisted wide leg pants and flats, to a dress and heels and flowers in my hair.  Every day is a mix up. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

There are so many to mention! I follow most of them on instagram, so if you wanted to find out you could stalk me there. 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

For me personally, I love styles that are unique, bold, stand out from the crowd.  I am a fan of Trashy Diva because they use vintage patterns and use modern patterns and prints for their clothing line.  And they also happen to carry lingerie and shoes that are vintage style as well. 

Boots or Shoes?

Depends on the outfit, and the season.  I live in New York, so depending on the season, boots are necessary.  

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Harmonia Lily.

You can find Harmonia Lily at www.harmonialily.com

www.facebook.com/harmonialily

www.twitter.com/harmonialily

www.instagram.com/harmonialily

Thank you very much Aphrodite for sharing your passion and future plans with us! I wish your brand continued success and I, for one, will be looking forward to seeing your new products as the year unfolds!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Harmonia Lily.

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An Interview With City Dance Parties

It might have been the popularity of TV shows like Strictly Come Dancing or it might have been the heady days of the 1970s/1980s with the emergence of films such as Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Fame…but one thing is for sure is that on the whole the UK seems to be “dance- mad”. I’m sure the other world nations are the same, though. Since launching in January 2017, City Dance Parties have gained in popularity, and they were winners of the “Best Hen and Stag Provider” category at the 2019 British Wedding Awards. The dance parties are not just for hen nights, as I found out when I chatted with founder, Jenny Haynes. Hi Jenny!

Hello! My name’s Jenny Haynes, and I’m the founder of City Dance Parties, a nation-wide dance party company that specialises in dance classes for hen parties, birthdays and corporate events. 

Congratulations on being the winner of “Best Hen And Stag Provider” at the 2019 British Wedding Awards  – so, what triggered the eureka moment to begin your company, City Dance Parties? 

Thank you! What a bonkers surprise, I’m absolutely over the moon still. I trained as an actor at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and to earn a bit of extra money to help with living expenses, started teaching hen party dance classes on a Saturday afternoon (we were in school Monday-Friday from 8am -7pm). It was after my partner pointed out that he always really enjoyed hanging out with me after I’d finished teaching the classes as I was in such a good mood that  I realised how much I really enjoyed the work, and thought this was something I might want to take more seriously.  After I graduated from Bristol, I started putting things into action, so I could try to forge a side hustle that would work in tandem with auditions, and acting……we’ve grown step by step from there really! 

Have you always wanted a career in dance or did your aspirations lie elsewhere? 

I’ve always loved dance/movement, and always wanted to work in the physical theatre and movement side of acting – discovering how much I enjoyed teaching hen parties dancing took things on a slightly off piste path (a path I’m very grateful for), into a career that is a mixture of event planning, dancing and teaching!  

You offer a vast range of dance classes, including Burlesque, Beyoncé, Bollywood, Dirty Dancing, 80s & 90s dance classes, salsa ….What would you say are the most popular dance masterclasses?

The most popular last year was definitely Beyonce! Everyone is loving Queen B (and with good reason in my opinion) – we once had a booking for a Beyonce class for a 70th Birthday, which I thought was absolutely F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.  This year (for obvious reasons), Spice Girls have been making a big resurgence, and 90s dance is always super popular, as 90’s Children/Teens are all starting to get married now! Disney, which we added last year,  has been a really popular choice, and, Dirty Dancing continues to be a firm favourite! 

Which dance masterclass is your personal favourite? 

I have to say I love a bit of Roaring 20’s…..it’s the perfect opportunity to get dressed up, and get really into the feel of the class (we’ve had some fabulously dressed groups for our 20’s classes over the past few years!). 90s Dance, Beyonce and Belly Dance are also solid favourites of mine to teach! 

What does a typical Hen Party Dance Class include?

The exact details of the class can vary slightly depending on what length of class you choose, and what style, but you can expect lots of laughs, all the basics of your chosen style, taught to you by a professional choreographer, dance-offs, and a fun-filled group routine (we sometimes even crack out a MegaMix routine depending on the style of dance!) that everyone can perform together, and video, so that you’ve got a long lasting memory of your special day. 

A lot of parties like to dress up or at least have a few accessories to jazz up the weekend – what clothing guidelines do you recommend? What dressing up outfits are most popular? What has been the most unusual/unique dance party outfit you have seen?

We tend to say that as long as you can move comfortably, that’s the main thing! Some groups love to dress up, others wear dance/gym gear, and some wear slightly more relaxed clothes they’re wearing out later on. It’s all about finding what you’re comfortable in, and what will make the session most enjoyable for you. We’ve had some fantastic fancy dress, and some absolutely bonkers costumes….some of my highlights are: a group we had come in dressed as archaeologists and dinosaurs, a group that came dressed as various iconic artists from the 90’s (YES to the lady who came in a power rangers morph suit!!), and a group who donned the most stunning vintage outfits for a 20’s masterclass. One that always sticks in my memory though, is one from a few years ago, when a group of ladies came to a burlesque class slightly later on in the day (I think a few glasses of bubbly had been had by that point!), and within 5 minutes of the class, one lady had stripped completely naked, and was stood covering her modesty with two strategically placed feather fans!!  (NOT compulsory for Burlesque Classes I might add!) 

You currently operate in Bath, Bristol, Brighton, Cardiff, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and York. Any new places on the horizon for 2019?

We actually added Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, Birmingham and Chester to the list last year! I’m always keen to keep expanding and branching out into new cities. Sheffield is one that’s definitely being added to the list, and we’re slowly taking over the UK! I never want to rush things and try and grow too quickly, as I want to really establish a good quality base in each city we offer. We do have our first international booking in May this year, so just watch this space!! 

Would the dance classes take into account those who may be uncoordinated, unfit or not as agile?  

Absolutely. With an event like a hen do, or a birthday, there’s often going to be a big range in abilities, ages, and often co-ordination, so I try to cater the sessions so they’re really suitable for all abilities, and they’re fast paced enough for those experienced in dance, but also really accommodating and fun for those who have never donned their dancing shoes before! We’ve had groups of ex professional dancers in before, and ladies who have never taken a dance class in their life; whatever the ability, our main focus is creating a class that’s fun for you, and will ensure you have the best time possible.  
Often the idea of dance can be a bit nerve-racking,  especially if you haven’t got much experience, or haven’t danced in a while, so we try to make the sessions focused around having fun, creating some special memories and building confidence. It’s actually one of my favourite things about the work….having ladies come in who aren’t confident at all, and are perhaps a little resistant about the idea of dancing leaving with big smiles on their faces, new skills, and the realisation that dance can be great fun! 

I love shows like Strictly Come Dancing – I especially love watching the Argentine Tango! Which dance style do you enjoy watching?  Is there any dance style that you would like to try that you haven’t attempted before? 

I LOVED watching So You Think You Can Dance when I was a teenager – it’s an American reality dance show, that showcases some incredible choreographers and dancers of all different styles. I personally love a bit of jazz and commercial….the sassier the better! I’ve never been particularly good at tumbling or flips, so I’d say the ‘Acro’ or ‘Gymnastics’ side of dance is something I’d love to really master one day.  

Personal now, what outfits/footwear would you normally wear for a dance class?

Now…I’m a sucker for a lace leotard. I have some customised City Dance Parties leotards I wear for classes I teach (I mostly work on the admin side of things now, but always try and jump in and teach on quieter weekends!) , and my absolute favourite is a backless black lace number. Combine it with some bright, funky leggings (my wardrobe is 99% lycra so I need to make sure I’m kitted out properly!) and some bright trainers and you are good to go! A brand I’ve been LOVING recently is KYODAN, which I buy through TK Maxx; they’re really gorgeous designs, fab fitting, and won’t break the bank. 

Boots Or Shoes?

I have to say shoes…..in particular trainers!! I grew up wearing high heels on any occasion (Geordie Girl born and bred!)  but after a back injury in my early 20’s switched over to trainers pretty much full time, and I’m now a convert to trainers for pretty much whatever occasion I can get away with wearing them! 

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more about City Dance Parties

City Dance Parties – www.citydanceparties.co.uk Facebook – www.facebook.com/citydancepartiesTwitter: @CityDance_UK Instagram: www.instagram.com/citydanceparties

Thanks Jenny! Those classes sound a lot of fun! Talking about loving lace leotards – in the 1980s one of my favourite “disco” outfits was a bright yellow lace leotard/bodysuit which I wore with black satiny leggings and a bright yellow/black kimono style shirt/jacket held together with a wide black patent belt! And black patent court shoes with a high thin metal stiletto heel! 🙂 Couldn’t dance in heels like that nowadays though!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from City Dance Parties; apart from the Pinterest photo which is by Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Lana KK

Abstract canvas paintings and gigantic world or country maps can help when designing your perfect interior. With basic pastel walls in rooms, which is the current trend, the splash of bright co ordinating colour from a large canvas painting adds not only colour but interest and character. I was lucky enough recently to catch up with Kathleen Kolibius-Konig, graphic designer, artist and owner of Lana KK ….Hi Kathleen..

Hello, I am Kathleen. I am a very creative but still goal oriented person. Besides my life as an artist and company owner, I love nature and animals. I enjoy spending time with my husband, our chicken, dogs and cockatoos. For people who do not know me perceive me as a reserved person, but if people get to know me better the find out that I am a very happy and warm person.

What was the inspiration behind the setting up of your company, Lana KK?

I always loved art and design. I always wanted to inspire people to surround themselves with beautiful things.

I love the World Maps and the Wonderland Green Wall Picture particularly caught my eye! To date, what has been your most popular art work or item?

The world maps are our most successful products, closely followed by the abstract designs. 

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

I really love our world maps. Apart from the fact that the world maps are one of our most successful products, they represent a lot what Lana KK is about. Our goal was to create something new out of the ordinary world map. We thought that a world map could be great piece of art and design that people would love to have in their homes and offices. Picking a real favorite is hard for me as every picture represents a part of my own development.

I’m a bit of a map geek and your world maps are really gorgeous.  What do you like about maps and why do you think they are popular? 

I think we have found a really good balance between excellent design themes and geographic information. Our goal was to combine a piece of art with the benefits of a world map. Besides visuals, I think our customers love the cork magnetic variants of our world maps as this allows them to interact with the map and keep track of holiday dreams and memories. 

Growing up, did you all have dreams of being an artist or did you have other career plans?

I did not plan to be an artist. Although I always loved drawing, I imagined myself being an assistant or manager in a company. I love organizing things and building processes. Having my own company gives me the opportunity to do creative work and organize things. Win win.

As Lana KK  is based in Germany, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

At the moment, we deliver all over Europe regularly. We also deliver worldwide on request. As you can imagine, especially the shipment of large products, needs some extra planning, but we try to make everything possible for our customers.

If you could visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a new artwork collection, where would you go and why?

I love places that are as natural as possible. I really enjoy to be astonished by nature in all of its beauty. For me there is no such thing as one single place for inspiration. Most of my inspiration I can draw from small details. I believe nature has always been the greatest inspiration for humans.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love showy and sporty outfits and shoes with a tendency towards elegance. I am always looking for special pieces with a great design. Sometimes I buy high heels just for the design. I do not wear them very often, but if I wear them I do them with pride 🙂

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I have no real favourites. Generally, I love sites with well curated offers.

Boots or Shoes?

Both 🙂 In everyday life I often prefer shoes. They are simple and comfortable. My husband and I enjoy walking with our dogs, that often requires the more practical choice. Sometimes I prefer boots, because I just think boots are more elegant and just look better on me.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Lana KK

https://www.lanakk.com/uk/

https://www.lanakk.com/uk/magazin.html

https://www.facebook.com/lanakkart/

https://www.instagram.com/lanakk_art/

https://www.pinterest.de/lanakkart/

Thank you Kathleen for fabulous abstract designs and for taking the humble world map to a new dimension. Dear reader, would you consider having a world map on your wall or do the abstract paintings strike more of a chord with you?

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kathleen (Lana KK)

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