Yes, it's April, although at times it's hard to believe it as we've had snow, sleet and hail every day. But Spring will rise and tomorrow we'll go on a little road trip to search for our Spring and inspiration from some lovely castle or garden...
But before that I wanted to share this beautiful sunset. At least the cold weather won't take all the pretty little sunsets away (and yes, this is from our garden - suitably we live in Kent, "the Garden of England")...
Tagged with: garden, sunset, Kent, April views, beautiful moments
Spotted at Beijing Airport - a Finnair plane with pretty Marimekko classics print of the Unikko flowers in blue. The trend of creating artistic airplanes has been going on for a while (such as the famous Hello Kitty planes, one of which we spotted at Hong Kong airport a couple of weeks ago to the delight on my kids).
I like this Finnair plane, but then again I am also a Marimekko fan. Two thumbs up for me, but what do you think about this plane? And do you have a favourite branded plane you have spotted at some airport?
Today, yesterday, a while ago - and probably for some time in the future - in some places it seems that the time has stopped, whereas other parts of the world technology takes over in cyberspeed. Here in Philippines the traditional boats and homes, or rather huts made out of resources around people (that is wood, canes, leaves, stones - pretty much everything goes) are still seen everywhere outside bigger cities.
People might be considered poor compared to the western world, but that does not stop people being happy. I have yet to hear any yelling or see angry faces; no-ones seems to be in a hurry. I have been quite happily adjusting to the lifestyle too, maybe too much as I am not always aware what day of the week it is, not to talk about time since I haven't been carrying a watch to the pool and beach. And it feels good! I wish we could stop the time more often and enjoy life as it comes...
Tagged with: inspiration, lifestyle, Philippines, timeless, cease the moment, in the slow lane
I sometimes get comments about how much fun and how easy our travels appear - but be relieved: everyone has not-so-great days. The secret for those days is to vent it quickly out and find something good out of every moment - those days got to provide to at least a fantastic cocktail-party stories, if nothing else! Sometimes those days just have to happen, but of course you always hope it's not a day when you have something special and important to do, or places to go to. Well, it did happen to us yesterday in Beijing, and now I am writing this post from Hong Kong instead of exotic Cebu in Philippines (sometimes I wouldn't mind staying an extra night somewhere on the way, but when you are going to a lovely beack resort a foggy city (like HG was upon arrival) certainly looses that comparison...)
It all started because it started snowing overnight in Beijing - and a few unrelated incidents added on top certainly made me think that it was my Friday the 13th. First early in the morning our driver did not appear at the hotel. Luckily I was able to get a taxi, which nowadays is not such an easy thing to do in Beijing (but I guess it helped that it was early Sunday morning and snowing). At the airport the driver didn't want to give me change from a 100 when the fare was 54 plus few more kuai for airport tax (in China you don't tip like in some other places). After a little fight I managed to get 30 back and the driver drove away swearing at me profusely since I wasn't an easy tourist to trick.
The airport check-in was swift and we moved onto the train to get to the gate area - but the train sort or broke down - frozen brakes or something, which made the journey last 25 minutes instead of the standard 3 or so. But we had plenty of time to spare, so spirits were still high. I already knew that the flight was going to be 45 minutes late the night before, but was not worried since we had almost three hours to change the plane in Hong Kong. But, but...we ended up waiting at the airplane for nearly three hours!
When we finally started moving I was a bit worried of the snow on the wings and the fact that we had not been sprayed when I could see some Air China planes being cleaned further away. However, we only taxied to a special area for de-icing and an hour later were finally in the air. So I pretty much knew we were going to be missing our flight. in Hong Kong we then got after quite a wait hotel and meal vouchers, and were told to pick up our luggage in the counter. I quickly filled the landing cards to Hong Kong so that we could join the long immigration queue (which moved really fast though). When our turn came the lady was not very impressed by three kids passports all spotting almost identical baby photos (our kids do looks very much the same, especially as babies. Even my own baby photos fits perfectly to that bundle). She shows one passport and I point to Hugo, another passport and I point to Anais. But then, she decided to ask Celeste what her name is and...this girl is a bit special and likes to joke around. So she says Hugo!!! I was thinking that now this lady thinks that I have a fake passport or a kidnapped kid or something. The lady shuffles couple of times through all our passports and then finally lets us know. This mom starts lecturing about well-raised kids who politely and truthfully must answer these questions...
But no, the obstacles for the day are still not over - I am told that I cannot get my luggage as it has been directed for the next day's flight so we go with to the hotel without any extra clothing. And of course this hotel has two nice pools. No worry kids, we all needed some new swimwear so let's go shopping says mom. The hotel is out of swimsuits and apparently the million airport stores right now have no swimwear either. Luckily kids settle with some nice TV-program and a good dinner. Oh yes- the dinner. Airline said we can order food, but hotel only gives you a dinner buffet - I loved it though: Indian, seafood you name it. My kids still aren't big spicy food eater so especially Hugo settles with plain rice and not much more aside some meat. Buffet offers tea and coffee, but the kids would like some milk like they normally have. Yes, we get milk and a big bill too - this is what probably made me really fume: we are talking about 7 USD a glass, more than beer for this simple white stuff. My son's 40 USD dinner of boiled rise and milk!!
So that was last night. The morning was a bit foggy but is clearing up. We had a lovely breakfast, kids are taking pictures with iPads and excitedly waiting for the flight to Philippines. We are all happy and in high spirits again, ready to check out of the hotel and get into that plan. The plate is clean, little troubles forgotten as our big ADVENTURE (hopefully - me and three kids alone couple weeks certainly spells like adventure of some sorts) is about to begin. Happy Monday to you too, may your week be filled with goodness and less of those not-so-great moments!
And what did I learn about this event? Normally I pack some extra clothing in the carry-on, and will certainly do that in the future too - swim suits included. Now if the same things happens on our way back we are for sure better prepared ;).
8pm - travellers update: 37 hours after we left Kempinski Hotel in Beijing we finally made to the Crimson Resort in Cebu, Philippines. And our bag made it too, although it was among the last ones to arrive and kept me on my toes. Little Master H. fell asleep so deeply in the car that I had to carry him all the way to bed. Miss A. sadly wasn't feeling great and twice vomited on herself in the lobby, but a shower and bath while watching cartoons, some medicine and TLC for mom made it all good. Miss C. as always was just asking for some chocolates...
It was dark and very humid when we arrived, there was a faint smell of flowers in the air and some animals chirping - hopefully tomorrow reveals a beautiful scenery and a healthy, well-rested team - and do I also selfishly get to hope that the next 6 days of cloudy and thundery weather turns into sunshine and a gentle sea breeze???
Oh no, the snow just keep coming at the airport
I see planes being de-iced...
...and get a bit nervous as we start moving with all that snow on the wings. Next time, captain, please tell what's going on to your passengers!
This view greeted us in Hong Kong airport - no lack of taxis here for sure...
We finally made it to Cebu! This little traveller did not wake up during the check-in or the ride to our rooms!
Tagged with: Beijing, hong kong, delays, air travel, travel trouble, good moments
A grey day needs a little bit of cheer and inspirational thoughts. I am sending my thoughts to all those being affected by natural or other tragedies lately; be strong and remember life is a gift!
This is pretty much it - my last 24 hours - including flying over the mountains we went hiking to the day before. Witnessing an amazing red sunset somewhere above Japan, and a sunrise closer to the Pacific coast - ending up in California once again where Starbucks and other local chains were happily greeting me everywhere. Friends, lunch and a bit of shopping - the week is all mine to enjoy and explore!
Peeking at the hazy mountain tops in Huairou district
Impressively red sunset
Sweet first rays of the run rising
Hello California where the blue sky is clearing up to a beautiful, warm day
Unfinished. A bit of vintage. Worn out and shabby chic - that is what Rought Luxe Design -book is made of. And what a fab book it is - inspiration from reusing the old and mixing it with some new: it's the ultimate shabby chic style, and even the book has that recycled rough wood finish.
Rooms that make you think of Classy Halloween spirit, industrial kitchen looking like last century's apothecary...so cool and relaxed. if only the price was a bit lower, but you gotta fork it out for what is in right now. Recommended? Oh yes, if this is the style you like!
Tagged with: inspiration, decor, interior, design books, Rough Luxe Design, Kahi Lee
This is beautiful Spain where old meets new - amongst the old stone buildings one finds tons of wind turbines at a pretty setup with sunflower fields. A road like this is a pleasure to drive on!
I think only in Sweden you can rent your own floating sauna and go down the sea canals of the capital, Stockholm. Last year I spotted the hi-tech and cool-looking little cultural saunas scattered around the city of Turku in Finland (on and off the river), but this sauna party certainly beats it!
Creative thinking and must be lots of fun on a warm sunny day...
Tagged with: Sweden, stockholm, New Experiences, fun things, floating sauna
Isn't this romantic? I love these leafy, old cobblestone streets lined by detailed, pretty wooden buildings...
This one is from the city of Hämeenlinna in Finland (name literally means the Castle of Häme, a region not far from the capital, Helsinki) and this street leads to the old castle. Oh pretty summertime!
Tagged with: nature, trees, Sightseeing, fun things, cobblestone street
Built-in concrete terrace, sun going down, sweet aroma of the flowers in the air, maybe some birds singing - such a romantic setting. Add some white decor, natural wood and little candles and it's just a little haven to enjoy nature's beautiful evening show...
The big Games are about to start - the London Olympics. In the end I got no tickets in the lottery and will be just watching them on TV, which is sort of sad, since I worked on the olympic bid in 2005.
Anyway, I am sure it's going to be a lot of fun and we'll do our own mini-olympics at home inspired by what we see in the games... Anyone else planning to watch and celebrate this great event, or even attend it?
Tagged with: Sports, inspiration, Fun Stuff, Olympic Games, London 2012
I confess, after a day in the spa I had a mojito in the bar and I am feeling tropical. It was a sunny day, but hot it was by no means, and I have resorted to dreaming of Caribbean getaways, sitting under the palm trees and relaxing.
I am feeling the blue sea and the green around me - and more than anything else I am feeling this fabulous daybed in an ourdoor room. Dream on I say, and I hope you have some good dreams today too!
Tagged with: design, inspiration, decor, patio, Outdoor, green tops
I would have called it a typical day of my childhood. My kids describe it as the ultimate adventure. I wonder if I have deprived my kids the basic "rights" of freedom other kids normally experience in Finland - exploring their neighbourhood, being surrounded by accessible nature and having plenty of free time. We haven't practised any instument, used the French flash card or opened the mathbook, but the kids have learned so many things I can't even describe it all.
So, they have picked tons of blueberries and strawberries. Had oatmeal and blueberry soup for breakfast. Made meatballs, baked buns and blueberry pie. They have biked a ton the streets nearby and in the forest (did I feel wobbly since I haven't biked for a year!), jumped for hours on the trampoline, built crosses for the pets that have passed away with the new Moomin toolkit, horsed around and asked all the time how they could help (please continue that when at home in China too...). They have been to the ice cream van (it stopped for us right in front of the house!), swam in (what I think as) freezing water as the weather hasn't been that warm, but they weren't cold at all (I just sat in the sauna listening the radio). They have seen a tree being cut down and helped to saw little branches off.
Basically, they have been kids and were very good it at! We are all happy - and tired after being on the move all day long - and believe me it is long as our kids have been used to shorter days and try to follow the cycle of the sun; not a great idea in a country where the sun barely sets down at this time of the year!
Anyway, here goes the adventurous, but oh so normal Finnish day:
Tagged with: buns, baking, activities, building, nature, swimming, trampoline, blueberry soup, summer day
For a day I almost felt like turning into a nature photographer - the beauty was all around us and it was so hard to resist. This is time for Lotus flower to bloom and thus the Lotus festival - and hundreds of enthusiasts had gathered in the Old Summer Palace (Yuan Ming Yuan, or literally the Gardens of Perfect Brightness - located in the Haidian District, within the city of Beijing) area with the so-professional looking equipment.
Since I now have a new camera (which I still can only use on automatic...) I took a couple of little snaps too. We spent around five hours (these kids certainly have developed some stamina) walking around, but only managed to see a little fraction of this gorgeous place (more pictured to follow soon). Enjoy the beautiful Lotus and dew drops!
My star rating for Old Summer Palace (Yuan Ming Yuan): Excellent
"We loved this place, so beautiful and relaxing, and despite the occasional crowds of photographers it was relatively empty. Great for kids to run around too. Read more on Yuan Ming Yuan on my other blog post here."
Tagged with: Beijing, nature, inspirational photos, fun with kids, Lotus flowers, Old Summer Palace
I have moved onto garden furniture in my house furnishing search, and if there is something I always dreamed of owning it would be to own a canopy byt the water (lake, sea or even a pool would do)...
I can feel the cool breeze in my mind when i picture myself relaxing in the canopy with a nice summer read. Oh those delectable canopies and their promise of a relaxed and somewhat romantic lifestyle!
Tagged with: inspiration, decor, garden furniture, outdoor spaces
OK, two weeks in China and I have not learned much yet of the local lingo. I am looking for a language school and started working on my Rosetta Stone beginner's Chinese with the goal on being able to shop basic things at the end of week in the local market.
But oh man, do I need some encouragement as things go in one ear and come out the other a few minutes later! I don't believe I can fly, but I can certainly learn some basic Chinese (and pin these cute inspirational notes on Pinterest)...
This is a party I'd love to join - everything just looks so delicious, the decor is fantastic, and weather warm and sunny too. Oh, when do I get to move to a house and host a party too!
Tagged with: accessories, inspiration, garden party, bunting, summer theme, Union Jack decor
I have just come across a fab site called Ginger & George. Cute and amazing stuff and her little guides make it look like an easy ride - made your own stamps, cards, wall art - you name it... This framed pictures especially made my day today - so pretty with such a special message!
Beautiful creation and an inspirational message
I loved the tutorial on how to make your stamp and this framed card with it
I admit that lately it's been a bit hectic and I haven't had time for all the fun things I'd like to do. Today I've been house hunting again and dreaming of gardens (I think I might have also found the house for us, but that's a different story...) as many of them were rather dead and therefore plain canvases ready for garden makeovers.
As the weather here gets very hot in the summer, I am thinking of my lifelong dream of having a fab succulent section. So I started creating this cool board on Pinterest called "Succulent Love" - so have fun browsing! ...And I promise more fun and cool boards to come soon, and to update the existing ones also!
Tagged with: inspiration, Succulents, decorations, Bouquets, pinterest, centrepieces
Recently we attended a little party at friends house, and I just loved the way the hostess had used coffee sacks as accents in the garden. Such a simple and easy to realise idea where the outcome is really great!
Even on a rainy day these lush English gardens are nothing short of gorgeous - artful topiary, endless fields, flowers, immaculate lawns, statues, little ponds, ivy-covered walls - and not even one mole hole visible anywhere! At a time where most suburban house have a garden too small to have any greenery, this countryside hideaway is just worth a ton of garden love - and a bit of garden envy too!
if you planning a trip to Mexico, and San Pedro is one of your pit-stops, then here's a must visit place for your agenda: the uber-fabulous Theurel & Thomas French macaroon shop.
Beautiful and tasty macaroon in such a fashionable all-white setting!
Tagged with: inspiration, white interiors, French Macaroons, Theurel& Thomas, luxury treats