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

 

 


Lisbon Delights - A new colourful adventure.

Ever Wonder where they hide the colours in Europe.. Well Lisbon has all the secret colours heaped into each street and definitely high on an artists city bucket list.

Lisbon is the second oldest City in Europe, after Athens, with its own cultural vibe, tiles streets, infamous cobblelock roads, and ‘Fado’ music, heard around the beautiful streets.

Aflama 

One of the oldest Districts, and a walk through here, fado music is inescapable. From its beautiful views of the City to its old art charm where you can stroll the walls of Castello de S George. Orange rooftops shine as you walk and watch views ‘Above it all’

Views from Afalma

Bari Alto.. 

Lisbon’s oldest and most traditional area, a walk around the arty streets, local living spotting and vintage shopping whilst catching some magnificent shots of the colorful tiled buildings that line the streets. Bari Alto district is architecturally dreamy.

Tiled to perfection
Examples of wall tiles to be found on buildings.
Sloping streets of Colourful Bari Alto.

Baxa Chiado

fashionably stylish district, with its selection of monuments, vintage shops, protégées traditional stores, and fantastic restaurants, catch the buzz of the trams as they Zip through the streets...

Street Art on the famous Elevador Da Bica.

 

Lisbon, Famous for its hilly streets, and its fun vibe, to complete a journey, visit Sintra, known for its fairytale castle and colourful walls, an artists dream world.

 

Archicetural beauty. Bari Alto District.

Lisbon is a Hilly wonder to the colourful eyes. Enjoy the vibes, (Remember the trainers! ) XX SR


Archi Icons, NYC.

New York City is alive with energy, fast paced as always and a complete feast to the senses and in this wild city lies some of the most stunning architecture. Besides the most famous of all, the Empire State Building, NYC has a vast array of styles, with a few that stand out and lend themselves to a unique look in the City. Below are some of the eye catching styles that I came across whilst visiting the power house city.

Art Deco with some Art Nouveau shapes and structures surrounding Chelsea’s Arty areas.

Walking the Chelsea district, you can see where the roaring 20's time of excitement, freedom of expression, abstraction, jazz and the Joie de vivre left this stylistic Art Deco vibe around the streets. American designers paid homage to the French Art Deco style which created an architectural rhythm evoked from the speed, dance and jazz times.

 

The infamous Flatiron Buiilding - a true iconic landmark surrounding 29th street and 5th avenue.

 

Along 5th avenue, one of my favourite landmarks, the flatiron building is a sure eye dropper. originally the fuller building, it is a triangular 22 story steel framed landmark. Interestingly it was one of the very first buildings to high rise the Manhattan skyline, and the top 21st and 22nd floor were added 3 years after it was first erected. When the building opened, it only housed bathrooms for men, but later it was alternated, one floor for men, one for women. This building used to be the location where the open air tour bus originated. During its construction, New Yorkers were fearful of its steel cage construction, that they feared it would fall over, due to its size.

The art Deco structure of the Empire State Building - standing proud in NYC - an iconic landmark.

With fierce competition at the time to achieve the tallest Art Deco building, The Empire State building was designed in under 2 weeks and when construction began in 1930 it was erected in 15 months, standing as the tallest building in the world for 40 years. The Empire State building is a landmark Art Deco building and possibly New Yorks most famous, with its 102 floors, 6,000 windows, windows lined with aluminium, and an impressive use of how the windows are setback, creating the effect of building blocks. At its crown is an illustrative Art Deco observatory, where you can enjoy the grandest views of the wonder of NYC. Notable tenants of the Empire State building include Linkedin, Shutterstock, Expedia, and even JC Deceaux.

El Dorado Building - 91st and broadway.

 

To decide on your favourite Art Deco building can be difficult, so to mention a few examples are the 22 acre Rockefeller centre, the Waldorf Astoria hotel, the Chrysler building and the Eldorado building that stand along 90th & 91st Street, the 2 towers taper by way of geometric setbacks to form sharp, abstract spires. Designed by emery Roth, there are metal fine lines that add a futuristic touch to the terraced texture of the building.

Closer Detail of the El Dorado Building.

 

Enjoy to architectural views. 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


'Rainbow Real estate’ ! ‘The Brownstone’ - Recognizable Style & Elegence, NYC '

As one of the most desirable form of dwellings in New York City today, the brownstone remains the most recognisable style found throughout the City, creating the most luxurious rows of elegance dotted around the boroughs.

Gentle arches frame the beautiful brownstone streets

There are quite a few distinctive styles of brownstones around the city, mostly 3 stories, with a basement and with notably tall windows. A stroll around neighbourhoods of Carroll gardens, Park slope and prospect heights in Brooklyn you will be awed by their grandeur and beauty, the beautiful Swedish brown sandstone framing these elegant streets.

Many of the stone cuttings and carvings for brownstones memorialized their owners, once in fashion to have a celebrity depicted on a residence, but most of the details found were mythical characters or even building owners.

Historical Building. Fine ink pen sketch.

Probably the best of the brownstone in Manhattans’ boroughs can be found on the Upper West side where the oldest building can date back to 1880.

A dreamy facade I came across whilst strolling the areas.

Brownstone, a building where NYC pride and elegence are grandurely connected by artistic beauty. - A dream place to call home.

All artwork available to purchase by clicking into ‘Colour In The City’ Collection above. A beautiful way to show off the artistic elegence in the home. XX SR

 

 


'Via Margutta' - 'Roman Holiday' Historics

"The best thing I know is to do exactly what you wish for in life, for a while" - Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday.

And this is exactly how I adapted my Roman Holiday experience, that took me to a fabulous old historical hotel of 'Hotel Forte, Via Margutta, a street made famous in 1953 - where Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck in the movie Roman Holiday, attracted attention to the public eyes, by staying in one of the modest 16th century houses. Via Margutta is a narrow cobble stoned street, where ancient buildings are covered with Ivy and wild wisteria, a street in the centre of Rome, situated between Piazza Di Propolo and Piazza Di Spagna, accessible from the street Via Del Babiuno. Via Margutta originally was home to modest craftsmen, workshops and stables, but now hosts many art galleries and fashionable restaurants.

The 'One hundred painters of 'Via Margutta' is an annual street art fair, where over 100 Roman artists gather to host a week long festival of art from 28th April each year. the Street is currently host to many art galleries and museums, and to an array of beautiful restaurants, 1 in particular catering towards vegetarians, but what better way to enjoy fine Italian dining then being surrounded by superb artwork. (11 Margutta Ristorarte)

Via Margutta, a true artistic cultural charming drop of Bella Roma. xx SR.


'Vintage Roma' - From Gucci to the finest Vintage flea markets

Ten years ago, acquiring great vintage pieces in Rome was expensive and time consuming. There were a few premium resellers,  they wanted a lot of money for their old stuff. But as vintage appreciation has increased in the city and throughout the world, conversely, the options and the prices have become much more reasonable and variety is fantastic around the city.

Take a trip along the street off piazza Di Spagna to see how 2017 iconic fashion brands such as Gucci, Prada, Moschino all are completely influenced by the iconic style.. a multitude of eclectic colourful shop windows, and an eccentric price tags to boost its adoration... but follow the fabulous eye catching streets to a few well kept secrets:

  1. Bohemienne - 'Via Dei Cappellari', 96 (Campo Di Fiori area) - Bohémienne is predominately for women, with an incredible selection of accessories in particular. Mixed into the variety of vintage is a lovely of collection of leather hand bags, handmade by one of the owners. The stock and displays have a soft, antique feel about them, full of old-world charm.
  2. Flamingo Vintage - 'Via Del Boschetto' 123 (Monti area) - great, but boutique style selection of vintage and well-preserved designer wear. This store has the smart ladies vintage who have polished outfits, perfectly accessorized with Chanel sunglasses and YSL shoes. Flamingo is for designer ladies with attitude and an eye for funky style.
  3. Twice Vintage - 'Via San Francesco di Repa', 7 (Trastevere area) This hip little store in Trastevere keeps its stock incredibly up to date, reflecting the current trends- denim, preppy and hipster accents, with a huge range of quality shoes. It has a cool, downtown vibe about it, think rustic Americana with a dose of sportswear.
  4. Omero and Cecilia - 'Via Del Governo Vecchio' 110 (Piazza Navona Via Cavour Area) The quality of vintage available here is impressive- think violet sure skirt suits, flowing 70’s dresses and band jackets. Each garment has been carefully preserved, offering immediate wear, and has a guaranteed uniqueness. The hats are worth a special look in- it has possibly one of the best selections in Rome.

... and when shopping has finished don't forget to travel home, in style, on one of the local transport systems - the vintage Vespa - in an array of colours down every alley way!  :-) Zoom Zoom and happy shopping - Bella Roma xx SR