Welcome To ‘Toyland Austria’.

Austria.. A truly breathtaking country that is just perfect in every way. A country that leads your imagination towards dream land, ignites your creative fire and lifts your soul with its beautiful rolling hills.. a time to rest from the ordinary and fill your heart with warmth of nature and see that  ‘The Hills Are Alive’

Austria’s style is radically different to many European countries, keeping its own simplified uniqueness, mostly incorporating the beautifuly natural formations, from mountains, rivers, streams, to its pretty floral tyrolean villages. I was completely surprised how Austria’s culture manages to encorporate such simplicity in every way, and to find myself dreaming of a fairyland and adventure into toyland.

Green Meadows Of Tyrol.

I began my travels in a small village outside ‘Zell Am See’ known as Kaprun. Each of these are well known ski destinations but hidden gems in the summer.

I wanted to explore this region, merely for its toy land villages and see for myself how the region could influence my art development.

Nature lifting the soul
A dose of the ‘Hills are alive’ came to mind..

Travelling  towards Kitzbuhel, from Kaprun, is absolutely such a gorgeous drive, where during the drive of about 1 hour, I was literally blown away by such incredible natural beauty.. again not believing it was real, so beautiful that it really is mind blowing. Along the trail, high up in the mountains you are greeted by toy like trains, colourful villages and dream like rolling farmlands.. so cute it definitely got me thinking of little boys and adorable toys.

 

A field so rich in colour.
Toy land village of Kitzbuhel, in Tyrol.
The Toy train with 2 carriages that ran through the mountains known as the ‘ PINZGAU’ line - running for over 115 years. It definitely looks like it was plucked from a fairy book.

I also took a trip to the German border of lake Koenigsee, a natural lake with its most beautiful church of ‘St Bartholomew’ literally again taken from a toy village, and a lake so clear, your reflection smiles back at you.

Lake Konigsee. Magical world.

A trip to Austria is never complete without a visit to ‘Salzburg’ once again driving through the most incredible lush mountain our scenery to reach a complete fairytale untouched town, one that literally personifies a ‘Disney Set’.

Salzburg is a must for all music buffs, heaped with stories from the infamous ‘The Sound of Music’ and Mozarts birthplace. It is a city that I found to be the master of baroque architecture with some beautiful playful additions of obscure stunning street signs, to magical fairy gardens of ‘Mirabell gardens’ where the magic of the ‘Sound of Music was created’ and remains untouched to date.

 

Street Charm!
Stunning Austrian Squares.
Brogue perfection.
The Icing on the cake, Buildings that look so good they could be eaten. Sugar coated Rooftops.

From Yodelling, to dancing, to dreaming Austria is a true dreamy destination, and a destination worth seeing for anyone loving nature, music or simply just living in Fairyland!.  XX SR

 


Belle Provence.

Its always joyful to stumble across something different. And so,  I began my scenic breakaway basing myself in the heart of Aix En Provence, a town full of vintage shops, hip trendy buzzing atmosphere.

Take a trip to the beautiful Aix En Provence..

Oh its worth it!. The approach to the town never fails to surprise, you sense that something special awaits, it is a truly magical town. There is something so completely wonderful and warm about Aix, I constantly am drawn to return year after year. It has such atmosphere with its narrow winding streets, boutiques and café's occupying the ground floor to some of the most stunning architectural buildings, there is a rich avangarde aristocratic feel to the region. Fountains tinkle in little squares and tourists stroll gracefully down traffic free streets such as cours Maribueau, the elegant main street in Aix. Every Friday hosts the most wonderfully colourful market and a visit to Place Rochelle food market is a must.

 

Les Deux Garçons, Aix
Buzzing student life quartier
Aristocratic buildings - steeped in such history and beauty.

 

Dreamy fountains and courtyards on a padestrianised street.

 

Aix en Provence is a place that works, whether for artists, gourmet lovers, or even visiting for a pampering cultural short trip, it never fails to fill your heart with such warmth!

Along the fabulous roads took me deep into the Cote Provencal region - Le Jardin De Provence, where, my world became a ball of colour, ever peaceful, ever present and ever grateful to see such beauty.

Market Day Aix !

Route  - The ultimate Luberon Valley guide - the heart of Provence. 

From Aix en Provence travel north towards Pertuis, stopping along the main view points of Villelaure, Cadanet, Lourmarin, Ménerbes,  Bonnieux and Roussillon. These  beautiful small hill top villages certainly won't disappoint and will guide you deep into provence , its lavender fields & farming scene, Bursting Poppy fields, and rows of rapeseed fields.

Rolling poppy fields - a pure delight

 

It is a place where time has seemingly stood still and you can capture this magnificent charm throughout these unspoilt historical villages. The rows of colour is a sight only to be dreamt of, and holds a deep profound calmness and warmth in my heart.

 

Beautiful farmyards

A trip like this, from Aix en provence will take you 1 day. Directions are well signposted. I suggest a good road map along with sat navigation, as you can find some exclusive tiny village spots hidden and worth exploring.

 

Views from bonnieux
Colours and tranquility

I based myself in a beautiful farmstead  - with easy access to Pertuis to begin my journey into the hills. (also within 15 minute walk into the heart of Aix en Provence. (www.lemoulindespinchinats.com)

The Luberon valley really is one of the most beautiful places you'll visit, it excites the scenes with its gorgeous sights, smells and tastes. It completely invigorates the soul - that is unquestionably for sure, and you will leave with memories from your time in the region the will last deeply!  Bonne Vacance  :) XX SR

 

 


With Irish summer In bloom!

It wouldn't be an Irish summer without someone making lists of the essentials to bring for an Irish day out, umbrellas, rain coats, factor 60 creams, ham sandwiches (which usually end up as ham & sand sandwiches), tayto crisps but to name a few things. But a simple ramble through the Irish Countryside and simply enjoy it's stunning natural colours and beauty, is a special treat, an Irish Green wonderland. 

and you can find .... rolling hills

beautiful Rolling Fields

beautiful scented cherry blossoms bursting with colour and vibrancy ....

Cherry Tree Hills

Rolling rapeseed fields of golden sunshine bursting with delight...

Rolling Hills of Rapeseed

 

explosions of pink marshmallow balls puffing through the air...

Cherry trees bursting with colour

 

blue skies ... beautiful blue skies....

The Skies the limit

 

and soft sounds of birds chirping

Soft touches of the magnolia tree

 

magical Ireland, We are blessed. XX SR


The Cotswolds; Chocolate Box Perfection!

Stepping into this artistic location delights the senses, with its beautiful fresh rolling hills, picturesque villages and country charm, there is so much to see that it can be hard know where to start in the Cotswolds.

Here are a few inspiring ideas I managed to come across while touring this absolutely beautiful part of the world - one area that is picturesque no matter what the season, one of my most inspiring art trips I have been lucky to visit...

the Church where many Downton Abbey scenes were created.
Home Sweet homes.

Share The View - 

Beginning with a stay in the most picture perfect village of 'Bampton', around 1 1/2 hour from Bristol Airport, you are immersed in English Chocolate box perfection. The village, where many Downton Abbey scenes were filmed, is a perfect way to settle into the gorgeous tranquil way of life, picture postcard perfection in the fantastic heart of the cotswolds.

Down the Valleys - 

A short drive away & into a medieval hill town of 'Burford', set along the river Windrush, a place to take stunning walks into the plentiful forests. It is often referred to as the 'Gateway' to the cotswolds. Heaved with country bars, art galleries and quaint little shops, its beauty marvelled by its historical atmosphere.

Down the Misty glen - Steep hilly town of Burford

Live the Fairytale - 

Arlington Row, Bibury

A visit to the cotswolds wouldn't be complete without living  the fairytale and taking a trip to 'Bibury' where 'William Morris' called Bibury the most beautiful village in England. wonderful tiny cottages are strung together along the banks of the river Coln. Arlington Row, owned by the national trust, old weavers cottages, is one of England's most iconic 'picture perfect' sites, and it truly is, breathtakingly pretty. It even appears on the cover of UK passports, personally my favorite delight to be found!.

Tea For Two - 

Explore the magical sweet shop charming village of 'Stow on the Wold' - the highest town in the cotswolds, full of history, charm and delicious coffee and tea houses. Personally my little dream art village, where magical art vibes are alive.

treat yourself to delicious home made toffees and fudge. The aromas will guide you there.

Fields Of Green - 

Dotted along the roads, some of the prettiest views and drives can be found in the tiny villages of 'Swinbrook' and 'Minster Lovell' - where you will find magical views of rolling hills and stumble across houses that are so pretty, no doubt of total chocolate box perfection.

Rolling Rapeseed Hills - Views from Swinbrook.
'Minster Lovell village, chocolate box perfection

A little Boat Spotting -

Known for being named as ' The Venice of the cotswolds'; the village of  ‘Bourton on the water’, featuring a replica minature toy village in the village itself. Bourton on the water is known for its low bridges which run through its centre, with narrow pathways and stone houses, holding a beautiful charm of its own.

'The Venice of the Cotswolds'

So no matter where you go into the heart of the Cotswolds, you will be emersed and wrapped in its elegance and total perfection, ambiance and love.

Happy touring and dreaming! XX SR


The Magical World of Ms Potter.

Believe there is a great power silently working for all things good, behave yourself and never mind the rest” - Beatrix Potter.

A short inspiring, long wished for trip, brought me to the truly calming ‘Lake Windermere’ for some rest time, and to emerse and become inspired by the tales and illustrations of Beatrix Potter, (best known for her tales of Peter Rabbit, and Jemima Puddleduck’ ) and breath the fresh crisp air of the surrounding countryside, where Beatrix devoted her life protecting this beautiful landscape.

Stepping back & being called into nature, views of Windermere.

“Hill Top farm” the original home of Beatrix Potter, is located in Hawkeshead, a short scenic lake cruise, across the lake from ‘Bownes’, followed by a short bus trip through a twisty road taking you to the most wonderful destination overlooking the countryside.

 

Hill Top is a 17th Century house, a stunning timecapsule of her life, a house built with the traditional Cumbrian slate stone walls, now treasured by the national trust. It is a grade 2 listed building  and is now happily open to the public as a writers house museum, showing off how Beatrix herself would have lived and best known it.

Beatrix bought the house and its 34 acres in July 1906 as her retreat home from London and her artistic retreat. The house, farm, and nearby villages feature in her books, (The tale of Tom Kitten, the tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck). The farm was managed by Tom Cannon, a long friend of Beatrix Potter and the wing of the house was left to him in 1906.

Hill Top Farm.

The beautiful tale of Jemima Puddle Duck was dedicated to his children, who appear in her illustrations as does their mother.

Many of her furnishings are displayed throughout the house and you can take a beautiful walk around her gardens and enjoy the tranquil views of the surrounding countryside. You may even meet the gardener in charge of Hilltop who will show you some exciting features:)

Stories of her books to be found around the nearby village
Stunning view of the countryside

A beautiful few days at Windermere, bringing nature and a love for art closer to home.

Shop 'In Dreams' collection on my website for more insights & dreamy images.

(Details of Hilltop Farm can be found on www.nationaltrust.org.uk) Enjoy, xx SR.