Our second day in Portugal and the agave awe does not stop. We took a walk around the beachy area to see giant barbed limbs stretching in the distance. Yes, I did carefully hop over the steep ledge to take a snap of the spiky stems. I couldn't resist that shade of minty green, topped off with a sunshine bloom. Yellow and green seemed to be a common colour combo here and I was down for that. Prickly paddles lapped up the sun rays, sitting amongst a bed of dried floral buds. Sounds like the makings of a great arrangement.
We hadn't made any specific plans, so quickly searched Google for places to visit. A 'nature reserve', you say? We hopped in a taxi and arrived at our destination. We enquired about tickets at the main reception to find 'this is actually a campsite'. Ah right, Google failed to mention that. No problem; a chance to explore the local area...and what an area it was. Huge cacti forms stood in a front garden with unfurling agave dotted alongside them. A terrazzo vibe pebble arrangement lay in the clay-like ground.
Mars, we here? The landscape took on an intense russet hue as we made our way around the winding roads. A great shade for a bronzing palette. One you wish could be dusted over yourself when a dose of rich sunshine is needed. A geologist would've had a field day. I know I stopped to appreciate the various stony forms embedded in the land. You can read about my appreciation for all things rockery in this post. Seeing as we're here talking stones, take a look at this one, which looks like light embodied - potentially as a bolt of thunder.
Keep those stony formations coming, Portugal. Here, the corrugated lengths of the agave had a blueish tinge, with a silvery touch. A hearty heathery lilac shrub grew from the cracks. The purple flowers are reminiscent of this one, which had invited a few guests of its own - a sedate kaleidoscopic party. I was expecting greenery when we decided to visited this holiday destination, yet I wasn't expecting full-blown colossal succulents. You can probably imagine how excited I was. 'Look at this variegated one over here too!'
Our walk took us past colourful homes, where those famous tiles came to feature again. Our first encounter with them can be found here. Bougainvillea canopies draped overhead, with vivid pink petals contrasting with vibrant walls. Talking florals, I decided that my blog and work would be more botanical based, stepping away from painting fashion illustrations at this point. I still appreciate the creativity of fashion and will continue sewing behind the scenes. I'm finding that magic carries on coming through with a beaded picture forming.
Colour blocking here was done so well. That sand and sea analogy coming through with yellow and blue. It's time to bring all things nature to the forefront. I found myself asking,
'If I could spend my time doing one thing with my day, what would it be?' The first thought that came to mind was 'garden'. Growing plants. Flowers. I want to bring an element of that feeling onto paper too, all the while embracing the outdoors where I can, Bouquet and plant arrangements at a larger scale, as well as mini pots sprouting beaded blooms.
Take a peak at the markings of this florally plant, which wouldn't look out of place in the baked landscape around us, as well as in Jumanji (Robin Williams edition, of course). Palm trees framed pistachio picture-postcard buildings, where architecture ebbed into the horizon. We stopped by a charming dessert place for some gelato in fab Ferragudo. Here during World Cup season, the locals came to sit and enjoy the big match, adding to the friendly atmosphere. You can see more of this day at the 10.40 min mark, on sis's vlog here.
Captivating fleurs and motifs feature on many a tile. The linear blue tendrils have me thinking about plants in this colour. I recall talking about the subtly bluish-grey echeveria in the boaty post here - what an idyllic day at Rutland Water that was. There was also the beautiful blue Himalayan poppies spotted at Coton Manor, which I've yet to see in a flower bed around me since. Pinks and red collaborate in curved vases for one of my first plant/floral illustrations. Angular stems come through with as much impact as the vessels themselves.
An element of the fisherman's life was embodied in this painting we discovered, perched atop the winding cliff. I can totally appreciate a good hat and the blended blues of the fisherman's hat echoes the waters perfectly. A palm sat comfortably in front. Is it need of a good drink or is that shade of coppery brown it's natural hue? Either way, yes to sporadic palms planted in many places. The mélange of colour continued at every turn, with sky-hued sailboats and homes in shades of apricot,
I'm in my green element for sure. A quick note to self for the future - maybe touching the cacti arm, while admiring the coastal view, should be done with a tad more attention. There's a slight chance one of the little spikes on the edge might have other ideas. A sharp ouch as I nicked my ring finger (almost like an encounter with a thorn), leaving me wondering where I did the plant wrong. Really, I was just taking a moment to appreciate it's beauty. A quick tending to the wound and then it was swiftly back to all things nature.
Agave leaves towered proudly in the glorious evening sun. A mottled pattern coursed through a leaf length, like multiple glass fragments. It was reminiscent of scattered brown and cream seed beads. The intricacy of terrazzo also comes to mind. Recently, I've been on the search for a planter with a similar pattern. There's miniature ones I've come across, yet I can't find one which matches the shape and stonework I have in mind. I've thought about making one, which would involve cement, moulds, sanding, polishing etc. I mean, if I'm this invested, then there'd surely be a whole range to consider, with stone chip and colour variations. Time to get experimenting with mediums? The material jesmonite could also be an option. Even so, I'll still forever be on the lookout for perfect planters.
I remember reading about the Japanese concept of 'forest bathing' or nature therapy. The idea of being surrounded by the calming environment to help with mental well-being and overall happiness. It's all true. I'd suggest no to hugging agaves though. Not that I tried. Here's a fun perspective I read on tree-hugging. It would probably apply to non=spiky plants, as well as trees. The coursing of energy and all. Zen. Being around these beautiful banded triumphs, I wonder how to go about growing larger-than-me succulents back home...
Ferragudo had been a pleasure. As the sun set, we made our way back to Portimão. Before we headed to dinner, I had to capture a picture of the beach as dusk set in. A delicate sunset appeared like a watercolour wash on paper. Idyllic quiet shores. Rock formations were dotted majestically in the waters and the horizon was tinged with rainbow hues. I'm getting a Baked Alaska vibe with the mountainous feat on the left. Viewings of The Great British Bake Off are having an effect on my outlook. I'd be happy to see dessert in everything I glance at, to be honest. Shrubbery and green shoots surrounded the scene, where there was no filter required here, whatsoever.
When I moved to my new place in Letchworth, Hinisha_ gifted me with a housewarming succulent poster. Note the agave with orangey/red floral stalks emerging from the top right of the illustration. Here, they dappled through the pathways in abundance, translating delightfully. Various bands of colour came through with the mini-mountains, in a fascinating gradient. Glancing back at these snaps, I adore seeing the mass of plants that thrive with little maintenance. I travel back home to Leicester on occasions and can't water the non-succs for a few weeks, Even with a good dousing before I left this time, I returned to find the calamondin orange tree (mentioned here) on it's last leafy legs and the orange orbs looking more like prunes. Distraught. Here's hoping a hasty soaking can revive it. If you can suggest any plant self-watering mechanisms, I would definitely like to hear them.
I have to say, this is one of my favourite posts and one day that I'll look back on with fond memories. Ah, I just want a massive greenhouse and have it strategically crammed with succulents and flowers. I'm thinking a variety of anthurium, orchids and an entwining hoya kerrii. Many a wooden terrarium to create too. My latest creation features a dome of sempervivum and lithops blending effortlessly with the pebbles. Until I find myself strolling through vast leafy/rocky terrain again, the miniature versions have a way of taking me back.
I'm throwing it back to my 29th birthday last year and what a lovely day it was. Me, sis and mum visited Langton Greenhouse. Giant burnished giraffes at the entrance were a surreal
and inviting way to enter the place. Lavender lined the path, where a gentle twinkling of lights emerged behind the buds. Light has a way of bringing out the chatoyancy of beads too.
This was the case with the abundance of gems making this skirt sparkle. A flower or two wove it's way into the beady constellation, of course.
I'm always on the lookout for a new feature for the garden. Pots, plants and sculptural elements to name a few - pyramid rocks spotted. Speaking of rocking pyramids, it was
Glastonbury last week and The Killers took to the main Pyramid Stage. My last post may have mentioned how me and sis went to see them in Luxembourg, which was an amazing
experience. I wasn't at Glasto, although seeing how awesome it looked took me back to the time we got to see them in all their glory. This Charming Man rendition gets me on my feet.
Upon entering, an array of orchids lined the ledge in shades of pink and cream. I remember purchasing a beautiful soft pink one a few years ago for my studio, when I first started D&T.
It's such an elegantly delicate plant. I did find they can be a tad fussy when it comes to maintenance and watering. Even so, when an orchid lover knows how to best look after them, a
vast collection can blow you away. I got to experience them in full splendour this year, when I visited Singapore for my 30th birthday. More to come on that soon!
Ah, cacti. There's such a variety of fascinating globular forms, shapes and patterns. Just don't get too close, as I've found on occasions, mainly when tending to the the terrariums. I've
made a cacti planter featuring various lengths and ochre pebbles, reminiscent an Arizonian landscape. This piece entitled 'Sanguine Saguaro' was painted in the summer, where the
colours used created a psychedelic twist. I imagine walking through this scene would be quite the experience. The bright orange buds of my Christmas cactus are a beauty too.
Speaking of Spore, it felt like a dream when we visited the cactus garden at Changi airport. As hinisha_ mentioned, it was like walking into a large scale version of one of my terrariums.
Moon cacti with an array of vivid bulbs dotted the floor, alongside large spiny barrels from the same family. There's much inspiration to be discovered from every garden I visit. The
blue bud above reminds me of the Himalayan poppies I spotted at Coton Manor. I wandered through many wooden islands decorated with flower pots...which blooms to choose?
Calla lilies are stunning. I planted some a few summers ago - rich purple & pink shades. I've re-potted them this year and I'm glad to see that they've grown again. Check out the sunset
gradient above though! Contrasting speckled leaves fan out with an elegant snap. Since we're talking leaves, let's take a mo to appreciate the eye-catching nature of the Polka dot
Begonia. One to grace a table top near me soon? Some begonias have the most striking leaves - check out the Ribena-dyed effect of these and the continuous swirls of this variety.
Yes to the prospect of a large wooden wall filled with botanical art. You could stop by for your daily reminder of 'You got this', Wispy poppies stood out against an eggshell white
background and fern tendrils adorned the page. I also had some fun decorating a wall of my studio with an array of illustrations painted over time. The surrounding motifs on each
complement the central design. I've tried my hand at pressing florals too - foxglove petals and pansies worked particularly well. Gerberas, not so much. What to create with the petals...
I find myself covering pretty much every inch of spare square space with a plant, which is echoed in the mini rockeries post too. I do briefly recall saying, in so many words, that I would
ask myself whether it was really necessary to buy the bromeliad (or such) to grace a surface near me, I've found that yes, yes I should. Some purchases recently include a miniature
calamondin orange tree and a sansevieria with the sunshine yellow edges. The garden back home is rippling with black scallop leaves pouring from many a pot.
On the subject of sansevieria, we came across striking marbled stalks, in an outdoor feature in Portugal. I love seeing plants that would usually be considered an indoor one, being at
home in the warmer climate of the outdoors. More agave appreciation to come in a following post! Back in December I bought an amaryllis lily in a terracotta pot, which brought a
festive feel with it's rich red petals. Should you need more reason to surround yourself with foliage, I came across this article which adds insight into why plants make people happy.
A giant angular rock.,,were it filled with quartz, I'd be mentally mapping out how to safely get it home. On this occasion, it'll have to stay here and I'll take a moment to appreciate the
stormy bands of black and grey. In the canopied greenhouse area, mottled acer trees with swished reddish leaves stood in corners. A layered bench was dressed with a collection of
leafery. I've been propagating the colourful coleus, where one of these wooden frames would be perfect for arranging all the tiny seedlings and the bright leaves coming to follow.
Just like the orange dianthus I chose for my 28th birthday, this Vial's primrose was picked as this year's birthday plant. The floral tips feature a lovely blend of lilac and contrasting ruby.
Native to China, this charming flower can be found sprouting near watery valleys and wet meadows. It's great coming across greenery I haven't seen before; the garden centre can be
a utopia for this. These cabbage-like fleurs were spotted in Covent Garden, which I've since learnt are called ornamental brassica and are indeed a part of the cabbage family.
A creamy dahlia sat amongst an eclectic mix of stems and a family of bewildered stone owls. I thought about planting more of this bloom this year, considering the Spectacle (a Thai
iced tea colour) variety and the popular Café Au Lait. An anticipated visit was made to the shop for bulbs, to find they weren't available. I did however, come across some alliums, which
I've also wanted to see grow in the garden for a while. I chose the Dutch Garlic, Round-headed Garlic and Sicilian Honey Garlic (sounds like I'm seasoning up a meal). Delicious,
Tea has got to be one of my favourite times of the day. We stopped for coffee & walnut cake, with a spot of tea. Look at that variegated ruby ficus in the back. The fractal-like patterning
and jewel tones sat well with my new primrose. A reason to invest in a rubber plant? The temptation is real. My illustrations have featured a botanical theme recently and I'm excited to
explore that more. About the petals and that's for keeps. This ties in with lilac bell layers I came across on a walk in Letchworth. Summers spent this way are a dream.
Sis came across a post of The Killers last year, where it showed they were touring for their Wonderful Wonderful album. We had a casual conversation about going to see them,
making it as far as the booking page. Then we thought about logistics, switching work shifts and wondering whether we'd be too far away from the main stage. A stadium in Bolton, I
believe it was. It all culminated in us deciding 'Ok, maybe not this time.' Then we saw footage of how spectacular the show was. Yes, the auditorium was huge, although the energy was
electric. We questioned whether we made the right choice. Quick search as to their next venue in the UK. Oh, Luxembourg. Right. Maybe they'll tour again next year?
I got a text from @Hinisha_ the next day, 'So, Luxembourg?' There was some similar deliberation as previously mentioned, logistics of course factoring in that little bit more. Sometimes
- most of the time - overthinking leads to not very much getting done. We switched around work commitments, booked what we needed to and were pretty excited about flying out
the following week! We booked our stay at Hotel Grey, which featured many pieces of art draped on the walls. A giant fashion illustration was etched into the glass wall of our room. It
was a fitting welcome.
When we landed at the airport, I glanced down at the mat which said 'Bienvenue'. We were in the right place... a chance to put my French to use! All those hours of GCSE lessons
resurfaced. Since then, (a whole lifetime ago) I'd wanted to speak French fluently, so have watched many a film, read text and listened to the language unfurl with French-speaking
friends. It was fun engaging in friendly chat with people in the city, especially buying croissants and orange juice in the morning for breakfast.
'On the corner of Maine St.. just tryna keep it in line...'
I first listened to The Killers when I was at secondary school. My brother gave me a collection of albums he thought I'd appreciate, where Hot Fuss and Sam's Town were two of them
. Mr Brightside, of course, from the the first album is one of their more popular hits. One of my faves is actually 'Believe me Natalie', with it's rousing rhythmic beat, which also left you
questioning whether 'there is an old cliché under your Monet, baby ?'
Back to our first day in Luxembourg - best believe there's still many a plant to appreciate, when in another country. We strolled past a flower shop, with bright moon cacti, lavender and
sempervivum lining the shelves. Speaking of one of my fave succulents, I recall planting many mini rockeries with them in the post here. Scaling the winding landscape, I spotted an
allotment perched atop the mountainous area. Looked like a pretty zen place to spend your mornings, trowel at hand, overlooking the park.
Our car journey to the airport involved belting out tunes, including the amazing 'When you Were Young' and 'All These Things That I've Done.' Atmospheric car arena. Here's a mellow
version of of the first melody mentioned, which is perfect chilled listening. The doors for the show opened at 7pm. About 2 hours in, we continued to wait in the sweltering venue. I
think everyone was in a state of 'Come onn! We want to see these guitars on stage put to use!' Still, all was calm and it was a great crowd. Before you knew it... the lights descended.
Purple lazer beams fanned out in the darkness and figures made their way on stage. It was finally happening! A silhouette of Brandon Flowers appeared on stage; the spotlight
focusing on him. He pulled back his phantom arrow and the entire stadium erupted with confetti, amidst screams from the ecstatic crowd. Me and sis were absorbed in the moment for
sure. I've wondered what kind of experience would warrant keyboard spamming such as this: wijfidhofmiskhmkjbjksfaiahh. I feel like this was it.
We were launched into the upbeat synth of The Man with Brandon taking a moment after to acknowledge how hot the venue was. That it was. Hearing the classics from the first two
albums being played was so surreal. Read my Mind, Reasons Unknown and eventually being catapulted into When You Were Young. One of my absolute favourites. An electric wall of
sparks ignited behind the musicians, as the bridge kicked in. Arms flailing in excitement. Head bopping something good, I remember thinking half way through the concert... 'I can't
believe this has to come to an end'. It's not often you get the chance to be taken by live music elation.
There's a few albums you look back on which remind you of an era of your life. I remember the first time I listened to Songs in A-minor by Alicia Keys and Stripped by Christina Aguilera.
Coming home from school to play stand-out songs on the CD player. There's nothing quite like rediscovering songs that evoke all the memories.
So, if you zoom in really hard into the bottom left quadrant of this photo, you will indeed see my bespectacled face smiling away. Ronnie Vannucci Jr. toasting us and the show. What a
pleasure it was.
Back to regular plant scheduling - our first day in the city was full of foliage. Is that a hydrangea bush? In this post, I spoke about how I wanted to plant this flower variety with the full
floral orbs. Since then, a visit to Homebase saw me find the blue shade of Hydrangea I'd been searching for. It's proven a tad tricky to settle in to the ground, although I'm hoping next
year the roots will have taken hold and blue blooms will be out in force. The evening of this day was an evening like no other. I mean, a concert that rocked your socks right off.
We've made it to March. Current view is multiple windows pierced with sun rays. Tranquil. Throwing it back to the Christmas holidays, I went home to Leicester and I was happy to be
back. I do remember this little niggling feeling, as if there was something I missed doing. Something I spent many an hour engaged in, which I hadn't recently. It quickly occurred to me
that it was gardening. I stepped out briefly, just to see how it's all doing. As expected, bare branches, grey undertones and dormant bulbs. Winter isn't the most joyous time to don the
gloves and grab the bucket; some gardeners might enjoy a wintery spruce up. I prefer to leave it for late Feb/March. I'd like to think the the worst of the cold has been and gone. Thus
leaving time for straight-up blooming. Or so I'd like to believe. We all remember the Beast from the East last March...brrr,
The warmer months of course, are generally a happier time for all to be outdoors. This includes a few visitors I'd rather just looked at the plants, instead of think 'hmm..dinner'. I have to
say I'm not too keen on snails as a result, although they do get a fair amount of air time in this post. I'm sure they play an important part in the ecosystem...circle of life and all. That
aside. I'd be happy for them to just bask in the garden, take shade under a leaf and chill. Not to take chunks from the foxgloves and leave it looking like a Swiss cheese plant. After
reading the article, it was interesting learning that this particular plant hedges it's bets when it comes to extending in leaf size, in the chance of getting more dappled sunlight. Cool.
This is a retrospective post and this day actually took place around two years ago! A fair amount has changed since then. Dad's great DIY skills have seen the back wall regrouted and
painted white, as well as new slabs put down. Looking fresh. I'm happy to trade in my paintbrush for a trowel when I can and replace paint with compost under the finger nails
(although to be honest, I'd prefer to keep the fingernails clean). You have to get your hands dirty sometimes to get things done. It's all about embracing everything that comes with it -
want beautiful blooms...be happy in the soil. Sometimes I like to combine the two, as I did on this day. It was a cool spring day and the canvas, paints and plants came out to play. The
joy I find, is switching between it all. Don't think I had bought my gardening clogs at this point, as who knows, they might have made an outing on this occasion.
Two summers ago, I taught fashion illustration at a summer school in Cheltenham. In my spare time, I had the chance to walk around and explore the city. I remember spotting a wall-
mounted face with blossoming crown (and slightly alarmed faux pigeon) to foliage pouring from pots. Gardening feats to be found everywhere. Textures and patterns were evident
in many a trail. These repetitive forms reminded me of the winning moment in 90's Microsoft Solitaire, with all the cards dance in-canon along the screen, Does it ring a bell?
How fragrant is sweet pea? I remember the first time I planted them and catching the scent in the air. Silk purse-like petals in shades ranging from white to maroon. The bright
orange/pink variety was a delight, where I think back to the one I had to celebrate my 27th birthday. It's a shame that they are annuals and the delicate trail only blooms for one year.
That said, if you collect the seeds in the pods and keep them, they're good to go for the following year. Colours of the crocosmia buds below look like little pearls of fire. Alongside
them in the flowerbed, there's a hydrangea bush. When I bought it online, I didn't realise there were many a variety (realised after watching a feature on Gardeners' World) and I was
expecting the French hydrangea. It took a few months to settle and grow, where it revealed itself to be the pink 'Tea of heaven' variety. I was waiting for all of the tiny tightly-packed
buds in the centre to bloom, yet that's this fleur's style. It's still a lovely bloom. There's also scope to go ahead and plant another hydrangea in the future. Can't have too many.
For as long as I can remember, the back of the garden was lined with trees and a mass of spindly blackberry branches. Childhood memories include picking them and enjoying the
bounty of fruit every year. I recall attempting to make blackberry jam with my sis and bro, although we were fairly young and had no idea how to create it, so it was more watery
blackberry soup. Safe to say it wasn't spread on any toast. Memories. After the Summer school two years ago, I remember coming home to find the dense greenery being ripped out.
Technically, the green growth which draped over wasn't part of our property and the owner of the building behind had decided it was time to clear the area. The week which followed
was like a scene from FernGully/Avatar - roots hoisted out and sticky tar steamrolling over trunk stubs. The Evergreen tree. Gone. Elderflower tree. Gone. Blackberry brambles, no
more. I attempted taking a cutting from the tree and growing it. To no avail. For some time after, it looked bare when stepping out into the garden.
Onwards and upwards. Peering over the wall a few weeks later, it was nice seeing nature reclaim what once was, with a thick blackberry stalk shooting through the edge of the tar.
We're considering a trellis along the back and growing rambling roses through it. That or multiple pots, filled with various flora. Now, I love to find all types of nature residing in the
garden, from butterflies to beetles. I saw an angular beetle resting on the foxglove once; it like a prehistoric bug from the past. As I've mentioned, the difficulty in gardening remains in
keeping the plants wholly intact. Slugs and snails who can't resist the delicious lure of foliage. I can't blame them - it's just that I would once love to pluck a juicy strawberry and not
find a network of tunnels burrowed inside. A few summers ago, I tried a homemade rosemary oil and water concoction spray. I've read neem oil works a treat...maybe it'll do the trick?
I'm trying to find a way to purely deter them, in an environment and bug-friendly way. Any gardening tips? Would be great to hear them.
Creatures of the garden inspire many realms, including the fashion world. I'm a fan of the whimsical scenes shot by Tim Walker, such as watering of the giant roses whilst perched on a
ladder. Stumbling across a snail practically the same size as me and hanging from the door - I'm pretty sure I'd have the same reaction as her. Using fresh coffee grounds on the earth
is a measure I have heard of, which apparently keeps leaf-nibblers at bay. It has been used as a fertiliser, as it adds nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil. Costa Coffee have an
excellent initiative called Grounds for Grounds, where they can prepare a bag of grounds for you to take home, to use on your flowerbeds. I tried this method for a while, where I did
notice the berries and leaves were left, for the most part, complete. Not to mention - forget brewing coffee, you could wake up and smell the garden,
Floral clusters have been traded in for bead clusters recently, where I'm working on a small embellishing project. I'll share the progress soon. Vegetables found themselves dug up and
translated onto fabric, in Schiaparelli's S/S 2016 collection. Here's a close up. Jewelled turnips and Intricate seed-bead peas? I'd plate up to get my 5 a day.
There's a definite happy moment, when you see what you've planted bear fruit. Fruits of your labour indeed. Yet, it doesn't feel laborious to me, even when I'm in spade wielding mode,
digging away. When you lose track of time, you know you're onto a good thing, It's the kind of tired you'd welcome from spending the day doing what you love, I'm heading back home
for the Easter holiday...guess where I'll be.
July this year saw us take an amazing family trip to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday. We all wanted to be by the beach - the sun. sand and a subtle tan. Our morning flight meant a
not-so-bright wake up at 3am and flight at 6 in the morning. An hour on the plane and a hat-draped snooze later, we arrived in sunny Portugal. First on the agenda was a hearty
breakfast, followed by a dip in the sea and a sand manicure. Ah, the beach. A knee-deep lounge in the water, sitting in the doughnut float. The simple and calming joys of a sea soak.
We stayed at the Jupiter Algarve, which had comfortable rooms and friendly staff. I would recommend it for sure, especially as it was a stone's throw from the beach. The view from our
room balcony overlooked the twinkling sea and the majestic building above, where every morning felt that extra bit zen. You can see it all unfold on sis's video here. We were based in
Portimão, which had a family-friendly feel and pleasant buzz about the place. The sunshine and sand always helps. On our second day, we decided to venture into Lagos for the day,
A colourful carousel in town added to the backdrop of pastel buildings. Shop fronts in the lanes featured an array of souvenirs, from shell-adorned boxes to rows of magnets. As well as
cork art. More on that in a mo. A gallery window exhibited rock-inspired art, with vibrant hues smeared skillfully on a canvas. Which reminds me, I have to experiment more with
impasto paint in the coming year. I've dabbled slightly, yet haven't got around to creating an entire piece with the medium. It tends to get a bit messy, particularly having to clean the
brushes with turpentine. The end result is worth it though. The art has a tactile, raised surface, which adds to the impact.
A local artist beautifully captured the rocky vista, at what appears to be golden hour. I love the use of such vivid colours to capture the striking subject on canvas. I knew I couldn't be
the only person in awe of the landscape. I took many a picture of the stony cliffs, which I'll be sharing in the coming Portu posts. A well-layered stippled palette - a good sign the paint
and ideas have been flowing, This year, I experimented more with shapes and contrasting colours. The Abstraction series features clashing and complementary patterns.
'Hey, shall we hit up the cork factory?' Anyone? Cork was a big thing in Portugal. Tourist spots and vendors sold cork bags, sandals, purses and art-adorned slabs. There was a small
purse with colourful flecks in the cork; I remember thinking, if they had made that in a larger size, possibly circular and satchel style, I would have snapped it up. 'So, cork factory?' No
takers. Well, should you find yourself in Portugal with time on your hands, you know where to go. Cork as a canvas. I do like an unconventional canvas. I am joking a little and
by no means obsessed with the material. It does seem an interesting medium to work with, maybe even craft with... a bag? Not just good for preserving your favourite tipple, ya know.
Detailed tiles lined many a wall. I thought it'd be fun to try my hand at different crafts, so earlier this year I bought some mini tiles and and a pair of tile-cutters, to create mosaics on
paper. Grouting and walls we'll save for another day. Speaking of tile work, I came across the craft of Caroline Jariwala of Mango Mosaics, when I was watching Kirstie's Handmade
Christmas. Pieces spring to life in vibrant florals and lunar panels, where crockery is also creatively re-purposed in her designs. Many a different element forming the final picture.
Once we arrived in Lagos, we stopped in the main city for lunch and then set on our way to the crazy golf venue. Walking though the rustic town, colourful alleyways and repetitive
arrangements entertained visually. Such vibrancy to the city. This year I also combined abstract motifs with fashion illustrations on paper. I remember touching on the thought of
letting the paintbrush flow without overthinking results, at the end of this post, This led to brushstrokes which worked and other segments which had scope for development. Seeing
as we're by the coast, here's 'Shoal'. I went back to three of the designs in the series a few months later to add finishing strokes. The maroon segment at one point appeared quite
dense, so I later added the shimmering scales coursing through it. Sometimes, having that time in between allows for the reflection needed.
Best believe plant spotting takes place wherever I am. Long lengths of sansevieria cast shadows on the windows, forming the backdrop of sprawling greenery. The patterned lengths
mirrored the marbled surroundings. There's plant inspiration everywhere. I mentioned in this post how plants waken many a vessel - there, notably a life-size boat filled with them. We
finally arrived at our destination, where I wasn't expecting buoyant ladies pirouetting away. What a sculptural surprise. The putting park was empty when we arrived - time to play!
Funky plant forms were embedded in the surrounding rock beds. Giant acorn-like structures and fronds with perforated edges lined our game. Alike the rockeries built in my own
garden, the different heights and layers gracefully draw the eye throughout. On a much larger scale in this case. I'm considering adding more ferns to my garden...maybe a collection
which has a similar texture to the lengthy leaves below. Orby hedges wrapped around the expressive silhouettes and the dancers themselves added a light-heartedness.
We enjoyed making our way around the course, at a relaxed and fun pace. I found there was a shot to make atop a mini hill, which I was able to putt in quite easily and some other
holes to make were a little trickier. The score sheet balanced out again - no embellishing the scores here. It was looking fairly level pegging throughout, A continuing and curving shot
was to be taken, where dad smoothly putt the ball in one go. I took a moment for composure on my chance, to find the ball gracefully plipip in too. Yay! Mini celebration all around.
The pink figure must convey how you feel once you've hit a hole-in-one. Speaking of the dancing ladies, a mini placard told us more about them. Their enthusiasm was the brainchild
of artist Karl Heinz Stock, where he wanted to convey the attributes of 'lightness, elegance and grace' through his organic sculptures. Made from polystyrene and a protective layer of
fibreglass, they added a carefree touch throughout the park. Their bold colours stood out against the lush shades of green. Strike a pose.
So, squirty frogs were dotted throughout the course. Boom! A jet beam of water came straight for you when you least expected it. They must've been sensor activated. It wasn't even
subtle: a splashing with a straight up super-soaker pistol . After one encounter, hopping over rock barriers to make a water-free journey was the drier option. You could stay light on
your feet and sprint through, which I did on a few occasions, Midpoint, the boat-pulley-system seemed the only way for us to make our way to the next shot. We emerged on the other
side unscathed and couldn't stop laughing on the way. The prospect of being at froggy's mercy was too much. We later realised there was the option to circumnavigate the route by
walking, but where would've been the fun in that? Our last shot saw the balls vanish into the structure and dad did very well to clinch the win in the end.
I thought I'd have to hop a flight to Hawaii to see such hibiscus. The exotics come to mind. We made our way back to the main town, taking the scenic route past the beach. There's
always time to stop and smell the flowers. Some of these fleurs may not be the scent-emitting type, yet still have an allure about them. The dried floral arrangements combined shells
with materials such as metal and paper. There's no end to the combination of styling blooms, be it a rose in a frosty cube or a cascading coral-esque collaboration.
Palm trees stood breezily along the path, shooting firecracker-like fronds. It'd probably be a stretch to have one in the yard at home. A miniature version would be perfect, especially to
work harmoniously in size with other greenery. If I did plant all the fascinating tree species that caught my eye, I don't think there'd be any walking space in the garden. The fiery yellow
one spotted at Coton Manor would also make an appearance. The texture of this palm's layered bark resembled stacked shells. It looked as if it you could play a melodious scale,
running a xylophone stick across the surface. This tactility is something I want to add in the new shrubs I plant for summer.
We came to the end of the road, to a vista of sails. All things water were happening on the coastal edge: canoe lessons, fishing, boating and general glee from taking a dip. Eye-
catching lighthouses stood strong and striped, irrespective of the weather having had an influence on them. Nothing quite like horizon gazing into the distance, which was the case
with our day in Rutland Water too. Talk about tranquil. Glancing down, mosaic cobbling nodded to the nautical feel surrounding us.
A giant anchor sat ashore, where I'm assuming Poseidon lobbed it far from his underwater haven to land here. It did have a trident quality about it. There's a whole new realm of a world
in the watery depths and you never know what lays just beneath the surface. Elements underneath can also have a stunning impact at a visible level, such as Colombia's rainbow
river. The macarenia clavigera plant is responsible for the hues, with lime green and fuchsia appearing in ever-changing patches. This would be other-worldly to see in person.
As we strolled along, I said 'wait a moment, I'm just going to take a clear shot of the allium.' Sis, of course, felt Homer-Simpsoning into the shot was necessary. Here's the beautiful
result. Stepping in and out of the photo as I tried to capture the flowers. Straight out of the shot as soon as it was taken. I do like this photo, where I made her a 2018 Christmas card with
a photo compilation featuring this one, of course. Can't wait for Spring to make an appearance again, to see an abundance of petals...and maybe another little photo appearance.
Rich orange gladioli danced with the tall palms, where you can never go wrong with blooms in this tone. We continued exploring the town, to come across a lively music and beer
festival. A few dessert stands joined the line-up too. It was time for a strawberry and Nutella crepe and some live music. I wouldn't say no, at any point in my life to either. You can see
the tribute to Elvis and our sweet treat endeavour at the 7 mins 48 mark on sis's vlog. We then ventured back to Portimão for dinner and the hotel for a game of pool with dad.
It's not very often I can step out of the door to find myself at the beach, so I wanted to make the most of it. In the evening, I strolled towards the sandy path, towards the calm waters. I
was accompanied by a hazy lilac sky and delicate swishing heather. The sand resembled multiple mini dunes, ready to mould beneath footprints. It was great being able to see the
mood the beach takes on at different points of the day. We walked past the beach late another night, where the glowing full moon rippled on the dark waters. I was reminded of
the time I spent in Eastbourne and how relaxing the dusky seascape can be.
Running my hands through the grains, shell shards become unearthed. Iridescent pieces caught the last glimmer of daylight, with creamy brown and white bands decorating the sand.
I brought some of the shells home with me, so I could create a sea-inspired terrarium. Maybe some pearly stones combined with spiky air plants to best encapsulate the scene. Quiet
moments on the beach, Pretty serene. Raindrops gently began to make their way down, just as sis joined me. We took in the view, before the heavens opened up something good.