Tag Archives: spring

Springtime Traditions

What are your family’s Easter or Springtime traditions?

Ours has always usually been some form of travel, because we love to travel.

My husband and I have traditionally always gone away at some point in the spring. In the early days, before we were married, this was usually some sort of exotic location like Morocco or the Dominican Republic. Despite being married in the autumn, we took our honeymoon in springtime and were in Guatemala and Belize for the entire month of April in 2012. When our daughter was born, we started venturing a little closer to home and spent a few days in Lyon, which was easy to get to on the Eurostar (where children under 4 travel for free) and where we had an immaculate city centre apartment, complete with ancient stone walls. It was very comfortable and the only downside was that the host hadn’t checked the apartment between us and the previous guests (it was cleaned, just not checked!) and tried to charge us for a cup or a bowl or something that was missing after we’d left. Thankfully Airbnb just asked us if we’d broken anything and didn’t charge us, but it did leave us with a slightly sour taste for the place after that.

Finally when the toddler stage really hit, we decided to stick to UK based locations. And honestly, those have been some of my favourite family holidays ever. We like staying at rental properties when we travel because it allows us to do our own laundry, cook our own food, and keep our daughter to a somewhat normal meal and bedtime routine. From an ecological and economical perspective, I like this way of travelling too. Check out my article on eco travel tips.

A couple years ago we went to Northumberland for Easter and hiked with our then 2 year old through the beautiful and impressive woodland and lakeside parks – Kielder Forest Park and Northumberland National Park. There are Roman sites galore in the area and we did spend most of an afternoon at a fascinating bit of Harian’s Wall ruins at Vindolanda. It’s run by an independent charitable trust (rather than by any of the big heritage organisations) and I thought it was a really excellent site and museum (well, there are 2 museums they run actually and both are included in your ticket). We rented a beautiful Airbnb stone cottage near Hexham with an amazing view to the rugged hills behind the fields of grazing sheep. We were able to light cozy fires in the evening, put our daughter to bed in her own little bedroom (complete with travel cot provided!) and make our own Easter meal. That area of the country has the Northumberland International Dark Skies Park and the view of the stars at night is spectacular – even by my own Canadian standards!

Last year we ventured slightly closer to home and stayed in Norfolk. It didn’t wow me as much as the rugged beauty of Northumberland did, but it also was a lot shorter drive and the tiny stone cottage – April Cottage in Winterton-on-Sea – which we rented from Airbnb “superhosts” Ian and Shirley was absolutely immaculate. They even left us a lovely goodie basket with wine and treats. There was a small courtyard garden, just perfect for our little one to do her Easter egg hunt on Easter morning. (If you’d like to save £25 or $35 off your first Airbnb booking at this or any other of their properties around the world, use this link and we both save money on our next bookings!)

This year, due to the financial uncertainty around Brexit and the fact that our ancient car is not really that trustworthy anymore, we’re going to skip going away for Easter and stay at home in London. To be honest, I’m really going to miss getting away into the countryside to see a new part of the UK and enjoy the hiking and historical sites. My daughter has even been asking when we’re “moving to our other house with the chocolate eggs in the garden”. But we’ll make the most of things this year. My husband enjoys making a big Easter meal (I’m not bothered about Easter-related food really) and my daughter will enjoy hunting for chocolate eggs no matter where she is.

One thing I am going to do to get the inspiration flowing is order a copy of this wonderful book on seasonal activities and celebrations…well, I should say my second copy of this wonderful book on seasonal activities and celebrations, because my mother loved it so much when I took it home at Christmastime that she kept it! It has all kinds of lovely family traditions which include family members of all ages and I can’t wait to read what fun Easter activities they have in mind.

But I’d love for you to inspire me with your ideas. What are your Easter and/or Springtime family traditions?

Ingle & Rhode at Kew Gardens

On my first visit to London back in 1997 (while on a Reading Break from university), I discovered that this city often has the most glorious sunny and warm Februaries. I’m not sure if its a London thing or a global warming thing, but this year was no exception and during the 20 degree Celsius weather we experienced during the recent half term week my husband suggested we head out to Kew Gardens to check out the annual orchid display – something I’ve never managed to see before. I also thought it sounded like a great place to feature my newest collaboration with Ingle & Rhode who had recently kindly gifted me with one of their fair-trade sterling silver pendants in the shape of a hummingbird with two small Canadian diamonds for eyes.

Green orchid with silver hummingbird pendant in foreground.
Coral orchid with silver hummingbird pendant in foreground.

So before we get onto the orchids and spring flowers, let me tell you a little bit about Canadian diamonds. I’m Canadian, for a start. (Did you know that?) And I first fell in love with Canadian diamonds while I was attending the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and one of my jeweller friends was doing her thesis on the Canadian diamond mining industry.

Melon orchid with silver hummingbird pendant in foreground.

I was delighted to find that London-based Ingle & Rhode, creators of fine ethical bespoke engagement and wedding jewellery, wished to work with me to promote their collection of ethical fair-trade sterling silver jewellery set with Canadian diamonds. Mother’s Day is coming soon (well…UK Mother’s Day, not the Canadian one) and I think one of their sterling silver love knot necklaces or lotus flower earrings would make a beautiful present for mama. The pieces are very well crafted and have the luxurious weight and finish which you expect from a piece of English silver craftsmanship. (I have a few pieces made to this standard and my other silver pieces simply do not compare.) I have received quite a lot of compliments on my little hummingbird too.

Photo of me wearing Oakley sunglasses, a thrifted J Crew jumper in a mossy brown and wearing the silver hummingbird pendant. My hair's a bit frizzy!

Metal and gemstone mining will never be perfect industries. Lets face it, but there are better options which have less environmental impact and mining companies which care about the welfare of their workers more. We all have different opinions when it comes to what we consider ethical, so to find out more about Ingle & Rhode’s ethical standards, click here.

Canadian diamonds are as good as you can get when it comes to ethical diamonds. They are mined in the Canadian arctic and Canadian diamond miners often say that while most diamonds have the 4 C’s for cut, clarity, colour and carat), Canadian diamonds have 6 C’s because they’re also conflict-free and Canadian. All Canadian diamonds carry a tracking number and diamonds from the mine in Ontario also carry a small tritium emblem, as that is the provincial flower. (I thought that sounded like a sweet touch!)

Canadian environmental protection laws require that environmental assessments be carried out before new diamond mines can be approved and that effective systems are in place to protect local wildlife. Also, once mining has stopped, the mining company is required to restore the land. That being said, a mine is still a mine and has an environmental and socio-economic impact on the surrounding area; we can’t polish that truth away, but Canadian diamond mines will have far less environmental impact, as they do not use the heavy chemical solvents that many other mines around the world use.

Three stone diamond ring.

Most of us mark celebrations or important points in our lives with jewellery. I bought my husband vintage Tiffany cufflinks on our anniversary and he bought me a bespoke made asscher cut diamond solitaire ring for our engagement in 2011. I’d love to have some baguette cut shoulders or side stones added to it someday, similar to this Bellecanto ring. Those wanting to mark an occasion with something a bit more substantial than a silver necklace should look at Ingle & Rhode’s engagement ring collection or even work with them to create a special, unique bespoke piece using all ethically mined and/or recycled precious metals and gemstones. If you’d like to see me go in and visit them at some point in the future to find out more about how this process works, just let me know in the comment section below.

But now…more about those orchids. The orchids are all in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens and will be there until 10 March 2019 (although its an annual thing, so if not this year, then next). I highly recommend you get over to Kew to see them if at all possible, because they are spectacular.

Pillar of pink and peach and yellow orchids.

Lady slipper style orchid.

Green orchid with burgundy speckles.

Purple orchid flowers.

Cream and yellow orchids with some burgundy ones in background. They're formed into an arch which you walk under.

Green and pink orchids tumbling down from a tree where they're growing.

A day out at Kew Gardens is not inexpensive, so I found a 2 for 1 ticket deal online with one of the train companies and we were both surprised how short the trip was from Peckham to this far west London outpost. A short walk from the station led us to the Elizabeth Gate. Even with the 2 for 1 voucher, our visit cost us £24. We were really disappointed after entering the gardens to find that the Treetop Walk was closed for maintenance, something which had not been mentioned on their website while we were planning our visit.

After seeing the orchids we made time to walk around all the beautiful grounds at Kew, enjoying the Palm House and the Spring Flowers before heading off to a late lunch at local friendly pub The Cricketeers where they have a great extensive vegan menu.

My daughter (4 years old) walking on the lawn by the lake towards the Palm House.

Crocus and daffodils growing under a tree.

A lawn spattered with croci.

Interior of the palm house, looking upwards.

My daughter's hair in a french braid with small daisies woven in throughout.

My daughter thrusting a handful of illicit daisies into my face.

Our Little Organic Life Spring 2016 Style Edit

This Spring the OLOL family will be doing some travelling to the South of France and Southern Italy.   Pretty stylish places, huh?  Well, just because we try to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn’t mean that we can’t look good while doing it, so thought I’d share what I’m planning to shove in my suitcase.  I’m going for a really simple capsule wardrobe where everything coordinates.  Wardrobe emergencies hundreds of miles from home are NOT COOL.  We’ll be doing lots of walking around in the sun so a big floppy sun hat, a pair of comfy shoes and my faithful Oliver Peoples Layla sunglasses will all be in order, as will a large capacity tote bag to carry around bottles of water, snacks for the baby and an extra nappy or two.
After a couple of years of use, my tan suede Sebagos need to be retired and I’ll probably buy these suede Tom’s sneakers to replace them.  Also, Anthropologie is a favourite of mine and I’ll be heading there before I go to look for some sort of loose linen jacket like this Eva Franco coat to wear in the evenings when it gets a bit cooler.  I tend not to travel with jewellery but have a simple amber tagua nut chunky bracelet which I’ll wear as an accent piece and as it wasn’t expensive, I won’t be devastated if it gets lost or stolen.
Food wise, we won’t be bringing much with us.  I mean…we’re going to France and Italy for pete’s sake.  But I will pack a couple bags of emergency snacks, just in case.  My favourites are the beetroot and acerola kale chips from InSpiral.  I’ll also bring a few Ella’s Kitchen coconut and pineapple smoothies for the baby.
So happy Spring and happy travels!

MaxMara short sleeve shirt
houseoffraser.co.uk

Paige Denim blue jeans
£180 – brownsfashion.com

TOMS suede shoes
£55 – cusp.com

A L C hobo handbag
£550 – saksfifthavenue.com

Eugenia Kim beach hat
£300 – anthropologie.com

Oliver Peoples oversized sunglasses
£67 – therealreal.com

Chantecaille eyeshadow
£18 – farfetch.com

Chantecaille eyeshadow
£18 – farfetch.com