Insight

Clutch Control

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It’s so tempting. When you’re going somewhere and you know you’re already late but you just can’t help yourself. You have to take a glimpse at the sea, the hilltops, animals grazing…and you know what? You’re right to do it! The best part of any journey is often the view, whether you’re walking, on a train or in the passenger seat of a car. Put down your phone, book or iPad and breathe in the beauty – go on, take the scenic route.

Giant clutch £20 from Alphabetbags.

Hotel review: Why I want to live inside Haymarket Hotel

haymarket_firmdale_hotel_reviews_conservatory.JPGIs Haymarket Hotel an art gallery or a hotel? I’m going with both. A colourful, creative, oasis of sheer delight, Haymarket Hotel (run by the Firmdale group) takes sleeping away from home to a whole knew level. Comfy? Yes Welcoming? 100%. Clean? Absolutely. Spacious? Totally? Good food? Hands down. The tick box elements are easy to complete, but where this London retreat gets its Wow Factor and personality is in the design and décor. We’re not talking ‘finer details’ either. Character is in the every essence of every  decision made, whether that’s with centering the Brumus Restaurant around a striking, colourful painting of an African woman with her sparkly shoe collection, the fish print toilets in reception, with a felt elephant parade on the walls, or in the giant lamps that stand at the foot of the magical, sunset themed indoor swimming pool, where it actually feels like you are wadding into another world.

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(Haymarket Hotel library)

If you’re after somewhere to hang out, to take a break from the craziness of Piccadilly Circus, in Central London, the public conservatory allows visitors to be enveloped by the beauty of this visionary space…but if you’re staying here overnight the treat really begins.
library_haymarket_hotel_reviewThere’s a chic art lounge library filled with handcrafted furniture and furnishings, and of course, the chance to experience your own slice of creative heaven inside one of the boutique hotel’s bedrooms or suites…where basically I nearly died from delight.

Haymarket Hotel: One Bedroom Suffolk Suite
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There are three of these suites within Haymarket as well as a number of two bedroom suites but what struck me on entering is how on earth they managed to get me a room that so immaculately matches my current hair shade?
master_bedroom_mannequin_firmdale_hotel.JPGWhat are the chances of finding a bedroom in shades of pink, blue and white? That was my initial shock. After that I was overjoyed by stumbling into a beautiful living room filled with colour.firmdale_haymarket_one_bedroom_suffolk_suite.JPGFrom the mannequin in the corner through to the framed fabric wall hanging and rose print cushions: this suite was Everything. The vision of Interior Designer Kit Kemp MBE (imagine going to her house for tea?), the Co-Owner and Design Director of Firmdale Hotels, has a book called Every Room Tells A Story, where shares her inspiration behind designing the hotel rooms, which include working with artisans and crafts people from all over the world, making every room completely different.
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Yes. Firmdale Hotels are the ultimate places to stay for fans of Craft and Travel.
haymarket_hotel_swimming_pool.JPGThat pool!

One of the most thoughtful touches in the room was a shelf of records and a record player to play them on, so of course I did just that before heading down for a dip in the pool, which temporarily, while the hotel’s new bar is being fitted, has a poolside cocktail bar adding to the ambience. I also had a peek inside the hotel’s meeting rooms which are in keeping with the hotel’s delightful décor.
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Breakfast buffet selection with the best granola ever

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Kedgeree with a delicious spicy sauce & avocado on the side

Friendly staff and yummy food are part of the experience here, the hottest shower I’ve ever had and comfy bedding that cocoons you into a perfect’s night sleep are luxuries that enhance your stay even more,  even when it feels like it can’t be enhanced anymore.

Fun, fabulous, fashionable…I can’t think of a more perfect place: now when can I move in?

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All the Haymarket Hotels are gorgeous…enjoy the pics online before booking a stay. www.firmdalehotels.com Get more of a taste in this video interview with Kit Kemp.

Momtaz Begum-Hossain
Images: CraftandTravel.com

 

 

 

 

9 Need To Know Tips For Visiting Algeria

practical_guide_visiting_algeria.jpgWhy do so few tourists visit Algeria? And should you visit Algeria? The most recent Algerian guidebooks are a decade out of date and few travelbloggers write about travelling to Algeria – yet it is the largest country in Africa. Algeria is not geared up for tourists in the same way that Morocco is, and there are no package holiday resorts like those you’ll find in Tunisia, but it’s a nation in North Africa that is rich in history and heritage and is a photographer’s paradise.children_playing_algiers_algeria.jpg(Local youth hanging out by the Port of Algiers)
From the faded grandeur of colonial buildings, to Roman ruins, unspoilt sea views, rolling hills, silent deserts and snow-capped mountains, it’s a country that is ripe for exploring and one that will reward those who take the plunge to go somewhere different. As I found out in December 2016, when I went to ring in the bells of 2017, on my annual New Year expedition.

But turning up there I felt like I was entering the unknown. There just wasn’t enough information (especially anything up-to-date), so I’ve complied this Need-To-Know practical guide to visiting Algeria which I hope someone finds useful (especially UK folk!) It takes just two hours to fly from London to Algeria – two hours, that’s less time than it can take to commute across London!

  1. UK Visa to travel to Algeria

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(Bridge: Constantine)
Getting to Algeria is far less stress-free than it first appears. Remarkably there are two weekly flights from London Gatwick on British Airways…yes BA flies to a country that is relatively tourism-free – the flight was filled with Algerians, not tourists and clearly there’s a population who demand travel, so it makes sense. I paid approximately £220 for the return journey which included luggage on board and an in-flight sandwich. The part I was most concerned about was my visa. Getting a visa for a country that doesn’t encourage tourism doesn’t on first look seem easy, but I am pleased to report it was stress-free, if a little pricey.

The London Algerian Embassy is a short walk from Oxford Street in Central London and visa applications are processed on certain days of the week. The £85 is paid in cash and along with the visa form, you need the following: a letter from your employer explaining that you are going to Algeria on specific dates and will be returning to your job afterwards (or evidence of self-employment) and a confirmation of your hotel booking. This is the annoying part. For my trip I wanted to stay in AirBnB accommodation however an AirBnB booking is not acceptable and neither is a reference letter from an AirBnB host. So the only way to get around this is to book a hotel, show the booking with the confirmation, get the visa, then cancel your hotel – just be sure you book one that doesn’t take payment.

As for the visa office experience itself, it was the quickest transaction I’ve ever had in a visa office. No queue on arrival to hand in my forms and money, and no queue when I went to collect it – result!

2. Is it safe to visit Algeria?martyrs_monument_algeria
How safe is it to visit anywhere in the world right now? It’s impossible to judge and high security alerts are never as accurate as you would like them to be. Embassies of countries with past and present political problems rarely encourage travel, so I’m not going to advise on if you should go to a place or not, you need to weigh up the odds with your own beliefs.
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(Streets of Constantine at night)
During the time I spent in Algeria (I visited four places, capital Algeria, Constantine, Blida and Timpaza – I didn’t have time on this trip to visit the desserts in the South), I only felt unsafe once and that was one late night occasion walking from a Metro station at 11pm to get to a bar which was in the middle of no where, and there was limited street lights (I have had the same experiences in London) – but the rest of the time I felt perfectly safe, unthreatened and didn’t witness anything intimidating or scary.

3. What about if you’re a woman?
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Ratio wise I saw one woman per nine men. There are very few women on the streets out and about. You definitely won’t see them in coffee shops, they are completely male-centric, and most market stallholders and shoppers are men too. I did however see one female taxi driver and there are women and families out and about during the daytime. Rarest is a woman alone: every woman I saw was with another woman or with children. With that in mind I am going to give some advice: Algeria is not a suitable place for female solo travellers, because locals are not used to seeing it, so go with another female or in keeping with the cultural norms of the country, travel with a man for the ‘safest option.’

4. What’s all this about police escorts?
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So there are currently (as of January 2017) two main guidebooks on Algeria, by Lonely Planet and Bradt. Both were written a decade ago. One of the strangest things I read in both was this concept of police escorts. People so rarely see tourists that if a police officer sees you they will insist on being your guide, escorting you. Also it’s unadvisable to visit places alone, always have a guide. Not sure if things have changed or whether this was simply an exaggeration but I never once needed a guide or got approached by a police officer. Being a tourist may be rare but it wasn’t so strange

5. Money and changing currency
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(Port of Algiers)
Don’t even think about using your international bankcard in Algeria or waste time on traveller’s cheques. The only thing you need is hard cash which I took in sterling (though Euros and US Dollars) would be fine too. Don’t bother going into a bank to get it changed either; ‘money changers’ are everywhere and they will give you the best rates.

There are two ways to meet them, they are men who will approach you and ask you if you want to change money, and then there are shops and hotels (the small ones not big ones as big ones will want a cut so your rate will be bad). Ask in any shop, a cigarette kiosk, clothes shop – they may change your money or will advise you on where to go if they can’t help.

I realise this sounds completely crazy but it is perfectly normal and acceptable and the police don’t bat an eyelid at it. My advice is exchange small amounts at a time and have in mind the rate you want. It’s actually very hard to spend money in Algeria, I barely spent anything so don’t change too much. For your first ‘change’ you can easily do it at the airport as money changers hang around the official exchange booth – you can take that route, but the rate won’t be good value.

6. Communication
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Get yourself a local SIM card for internet data. WIFI is very limited, there are few cafes with wifi and if you are staying in a hotel it won’t be fast, even the high end business hotels don’t have the kind of wifi speeds you may be used to. The bonus of having data on your phone is that it will enable you to use an app like Google maps – with lack of printed maps and guidebooks available this if is your sure fire way to get around, and it means you can do things like check currency rates, train times etc, especially if language isn’t your strong point.

You will encounter French and Arabic so either brush up on these languagea (if you can!) or be prepared to communicate with hands or seek out someone who can help you who speaks English. Mostly broken English is spoken, but some people speak fluently and others just won’t speak it at all.

7. Transport
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(Views from Blida cable car)
Algeria is the biggest country in Africa, but for travellers a destination holds no appeal to visit, unless you can get around the country. So one of the initial aspects I looked into before going was how can I get around. Driving (in Algiers at least) is a no-no. Road accidents are rife as there’s little in the way or road rules. Buses, cars and coaches all exist, as do short flights across the country, but the best budget way to travel over long distances is by train and there is a good train service which covers large parts of the country. Tickets can be purchased shortly before travel on the day of travel, and for long journeys there is the option of first-class or second class. There’s not a huge amount of difference. There are toilets on board, a small café and you may get a visit from a man selling tea and coffee if you’re lucky. One of the biggest surprises was the overnight train from Constantine to Algiers.cafe on algerian train.jpg
It leaves daily between 10am-11pm (tickets available from 9.30pm) and arrives around 7am. You’ll be given a bunk bed in a ‘couchette’ – there are six beds in each and luggage space at the top, above the top bunk. You’ll receive two sheets (clean!) and there are in-built pillows, but you’ll find it more comfortable to bring your own, or at least cover the hard mattress pillow.

It’s a comfortable journey, clean, and perfectly acceptable. I paid £20 for a return journey, daytime travel on the way, and overnight with bed on the way back.

Algeria has much high ground in the way of mountains and one aspect that is not mentioned in the out-of-date guidebooks is that cable cars are cropping up all over the country – there’s even an entire government department dedicated to overseeing construction and running of them.
blida_cable_car_station_algeria_2017I travelled on the Blida cable car just two weeks after it opened. It cuts down a winding mountainous road trip which normally takes over an hour, to 20 minutes on two cable cars. Queuing took a while, it’s popular as it costs the same as the bus but is so much more fun.

8. Food
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No one comes to Algeria on a foodie mission, well I don’t think they do. Eating out isn’t common in Algerian culture so because average people/families don’t often eat out, restaurants are rare and there are certainly no establishments specifically to cater for tourists. You will however find endless fast food pizza joints – you’re never far from somewhere that sells pizza and crepes. There’s also numerous burger bars. Larger branches may serve additional dishes like paninis, omelettes and chips (homemade as opposed to frozen). International cuisine isn’t widely available – I saw a Chinese restaurant selling donar kebabs!
bread_street_food_algeria.jpgDuring the day street food is a good option (freshly made bread, baguettes filled with spicy chips, cous cous cake, meat snacks), by the ports and waterside destinations like Timpaza there are plenty of seafood restaurants and in Algiers a side street with cafes serving grilled sardines. There are a few cous cous restaurants but nothing like on the scale of Marrakech, most people eat cous cous at home so wouldn’t dream of eating it out!

chickpea_stew_constantine_algeria.jpg(Constantine’s legendary chickpea stew)
You may find some regional specialities and certainly in Constantine visiting one of their chickpea stew cafes is a must. Warm, hearty and herby, stews are cheap and come with a hunk of fresh bread. You will find them tucked away in the market identifiable by these metal cookers.

chickpea_stew_chef_algeria.jpgCoffee is a way of life in Algeria and it’s so strong! Regular coffee drinkers will find the taste  rather surprising and if you’re a non-coffee drinker, take it from me,  Algerian coffees will be too much for you.algerian_cakeshopLuckily they sell tea too. And if you do need to rid the pungent after-taste, cream cakes and patisseries are the way forward.

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(Living room in Algiers AirBnB)
Not particularly appealing. They are either very expensive five star hotels or old and faded cheaper places in need of refurbishment. If you can find a private rental like an AirBnB you may get better value for money.

So that’s all the practical stuff out of the way. I wrote this guide because after much searching I found nothing online or in print like this to help with my trip, so I hope in some shape or form it is useful to anyone else who visits Algeria, or is planning to visit. If you have any questions about visiting Algeria I’m happy to answer! Email me or leave a comment below.

And now the advice is out of the way, it’s time for the kind of blogging I like best – writing about and photographing my experiences, especially those with a creative edge, so here are my other blog posts about my trip to Algeria:

The Lure of The Casbah, Algiers, Algeria and why you have to visit it – read here.

8 Paintings To Seek Out in Algiers – see here. 

24 Hours in Constantine, Algeria (on the way!)

Visiting The Museum of Popular Arts & Traditions, Algiers, Algeria (coming soon!)

Momtaz Begum-Hossain
All images: CraftandTravel.com

8 Paintings To Seek Out in Algiers, Algeria

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Street art is one thing, but painted public places to make life more interesting is quite another. From the moment I landed in Algeria and my taxi headed into central Algiers the first thing that struck me was the colour. It’s everywhere: from rainbow railings through to giant murals on public buildings. Here are some of my favourites…now if only the rest of the world would take a leaf out of Algeria’s book and make carparks this pleasing…

Carpark Specimen 1
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Carpark specimen 2
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Carpark specimen 3
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Railway bridge
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Random building
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Cinema / arts centre wall
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Archway
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Stairs
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Yes. That’s me on the stairs and this is only a flavour of the colour and creativity in the streets of Algiers. Don’t get me started on the mosaics. They are an entire artistic entity of their own, worthy of a coffee table book.

Momtaz Begum-Hossain
Images: CraftandTravel.com

 

The Lure of The Casbah – why you should visit Algier’s most-feared streets

homes in the casbah_algiers, algeria.JPGMy journey begins at the bottom, surrounded by colourful women’s clothing. Long rainbow hued dresses with vibrant trims hang in lines beside fabric shops selling reams of shimmery fabrics.

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In front of their entrance, a plastic toy walks cross a table, while the familiar call of fruit and vegetable sellers fills the air with the promise of bargains. Wheel barrows piled high full of promise are hand-pushed along, while fishmongers spread out their wares for shoppers to ponder the catch of the day.

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The biggest crowds can be found standing in line for their morning coffee hit, while elsewhere the early birds have filled their trolleys and are carrying their purchases home. The Casbah looks like any other market, but as a visitor I cannot help but walk amidst the streets, observing the activity while thinking about this area’s rich past.

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The Casbah and its people were responsible for Algeria getting independence and throughout the 1950s and 60s it was the home of freedom fighters and revolutionaries: a ‘ghetto’ of locals and Muslims, separated by the rest of the city, which was abundant in European residents living and holidaying in a Mediterranean holiday resort.

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It’s a place where bloodshed was rife, bombings, explosions, attacks, raids; pre-independence and after. The 1966 film The Battle of Algiers is a starting point to get an insight into Casbah life, back then, but now it continues to be a residential area where businesses reside, but remains on official blacklists. As recently as the 1990s it was considered one of the world’s most dangerous places.

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Most advice about visiting the Casbah has negative undertones: it’s dangerous, lawless, you must have a guide to enter…yet here I am, broad daylight, snapping photos, navigating warrens of alleyways and climbing staircases as I would anywhere else. There are many myths about the Casbah, the beauty is coming here and discovering most are unfounded. Ok, wondering through dark unlit streets at night is never going to be recommended, anywhere in the world, but in daylight the Casbah offers a favourable visit where your thighs will get a workout thanks to all the staircases, and you’ll be rewarded by the dilapidated architecture and creativity that filters through the enclave.

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You can either start a the bottom, the Lower Casbah as I did, and work your way up, or begin at the very top, at the High Casbah (Citydel) and work your way down. The Casbah is not suitable for immobile visitors of anyone who detests walking – cars and vehicles are banned, this is a place to explore on foot and it requires the ability to walk up and down staircases. My biggest regret is not packing a proper pair of walking boots or trainers. No floor in Algeria is even, especially in an ancient labyrinth, and if you walk around without foot support you will feel the strain. Ignoring the pain was my only option.

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There’s a definite difference between the lower and higher parts. In the lower levels it’s more spacious, so you’ll find the markets and shops, mosques and even the national craft-filled Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions (separate blogpost on museum coming soon). As you head upwards the alleyways become narrower, even claustrophobic. The key is to keep walking, up and up, until you find the traffic once more.

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Worth making the visit to, the Casbah requires at the very least two hours, but would make for half a day well-spent. With longer, you can linger more and enjoy the feeling of getting lost. As for not coming here at night, it’s nothing to be sad about. It will simply be dark and closed, it’s far better to enjoy how the daylight hits the streets so as you look up, you discover all manor of details like mosaics, signage, painted signed and people, looking over their balconies.

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This is the Casbah that is filled with present-day hope, and while restoration of crumbling buildings continues to take place, there is still plenty of original features and discoveries to enjoy, if you open your eyes .

Momtaz Begum-Hossain
All images: CraftandTravel.com

Stitch & The City: Interview with Tapestry Artist Hannah Bass

tapestry_cushions_hannah_bass.jpgPut down Google Maps and start appreciating the beauty of a real one. Contemporary Tapestry Artist Hannah Bass has a lifelong appreciation for maps and colour, so after a decade spent in a day job being surrounded by neutral shades, she gave into her passion and launched a tapestry kit company where she designs colourful kits based on maps of the world’s major cities. Each one is accurately drawn and can be turned into a cushion, allowing you to bring some crafty city chic into your home.
Hannah tells CraftandTravel about her how she got into this stitchuation…

What are your earliest memories of stitching?
I come from a big family and I remember stitching away with my cousins one summer. It was a way to keep us quiet and occupied. My first ever kit was of a teddy bear holding a big, bright yellow sunflower.

hannah_bass_tapestry_artistHow did you make the move into becoming a tapestry artist?
I love colour and I love making things with my hands. I spent 10 years as an Interior Designer but found that my clients mainly opted for neutral colours, which wasn’t really me. I thought that if I started designing tapestries, I could be as colourful as I liked, just like when I did my student projects. I pondered with the idea for a while, then I just decided to take the leap, I quit my job and started designing tapestries.

What is tapestry and how does it differ to other types of embroidery?
It’s the simplest form of needlepoint. It is ‘half’ a cross-stitch. So basically a running stitch – you make just a single diagonal line. With tapestry you mostly work with chunky 4-ply wool rather than cotton or silk, so it is not as fiddly or straining on the eyes. The simplicity of the stitch is the joy to me, it’s incredibly relaxing. Just like in yoga, you turn your brain off and let the flow of the stitch take over.

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Sounds perfect, how can we try it out?
I design tapestry kits based on city maps which you can buy from my online shop or my stand at craft fairs. I love to travel and I love maps because they are both a functional tool and a piece of art. They can look quite abstract as patterns so I thought they leant themselves well to tapestry. I’m from London, so for my first design, I created a tapestry map of the capital. It was a success and people asked for other cities. Initially I sold my kits at a very small local market. The first market wasn’t a great success, but I had confidence in the product, so I went back the next weekend and tried again.

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How may tapestry kits do you currently have? 
25 at present. I hope to make another 10 this year. Everyone has a connection with a different city. I get a lot of requests for different cities.

How accurate are the designs in terms of geography?
Very. I couldn’t have them inaccurate, they wouldn’t be maps then. They do take quite a while to design for this reason, but it’s worth it. I love it when customers look at my tapestries and work out where they travelled and stayed from them. They get so excited if they fit on the map, as do I.

IMG_6338.jpgThe designs are very colourful how do you choose the colour schemes? 
Each design has a theme. Some are more obvious than others, i.e. Moscow is Soviet, San Francisco is the Rainbow.The colouring is very important though. Some people won’t buy the city they want because they can’t relate to the colours and others buy a city they have no connection to just because they want to stitch those colours.

Berlin_B.jpgHave you visited all the cities you have made kits for and what cities are still in the pipeline that you’d like to design?
I’ve been to most of them. Not Moscow though, and oddly not to Barcelona – I must fit that in this year. I’d love to see the Gaudi buildings. This year will be Cardiff, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Melbourne, Toronto, Hong Kong, Stockholm and Copenhagen. I always choose the most requested cities.

IMG_5793.jpgWhere do you like to do your stitching?
It’s usually one of three places; in front of the TV, in the conservatory listening to Radio 4, or in my bedroom listening to an audio book. They are a good holiday activity too!

How long would it take for someone to make one of your tapestry for cushions kits?
Well mastering the stitch is very easy anyone can do it. If I’m in rush to finish a design, it will take me five working days to complete one but the kits aren’t designed to be stitched like this – they are relaxing hobbies to pick and a put down like a book.

IMG_6517.jpg What has been the highlight so far in your journey of selling your tapestry kits?
Gosh, that’s a tricky one. I don’t think there is one specific moment, rather an inward feeling of self satisfaction of coming up with a concept and having the determination to see it through to fruition, and that from my own efforts and creativity I can financially support myself. It’s not been easy, but it has definitely been worth it.

Fancy stitching a city? Check out Hannah’s website to order one and follow her on social media to see kit creation stories.

www.hannahbass.com
Facebook: hannahbasscontemporaryneedlepoint
Instagram: @hannahbassneedlepoint
Twitter: @hbneedlepoint
Pinterest: hbneedlepoint

 

Hand-painted Japanese Boxes

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You know when you find all those niggly annoying things at home that you have absolutely no where to put like random safety pins. keys, hair clips, that kind of stuff? Well these dainty boxes (£36.75) are just the thing to hide them away in. Hand-painted with antique style Japanese flowers they look so quaint piled up in the corner on a table or shelf and no one ever need know what they are really being used for. Available from Ian Snow.

Museum of Bags and Purses, Amsterdam

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There are around 300 museums in Amsterdam, more than any other city in the world. From beer production and house boats to galleries filled with masterpieces and modern art, it’s impossible to get bored here – creative inspiration is all over Amsterdam.

One museum that merits a visit if you’re a fashionista is the suitably stylish Museum of Bags and Purses.

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There’s plenty to look at (over 5,000 bags!) but it’s the information plaques that are surprisingly interesting, especially in the historic areas (there are bags here from as early as 16,000). The Museum is based over several floors, starting at the top, with the earliest bags leading you through to a temporary exhibition that changes, through to icon, modern handbags.

Look out for pop art bags…pop-art-handbag

Real animal bags like this leopard one…

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Beautiful beaded bags…

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And the one I really, really want, a lips clutch!

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Handbags have been a thing since earliest times, even in the Middle Ages folk had bags tied to their belts and right up until the 19th century, as this was before clothes had pockets. Once men got pockets in trousers and jackets their need for bags declined but women continued using them, in particular wallets became a place to store love letters.

There’s an opportunity to look at bag-making materials, techniques and fixtures too like…

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and bags with silver frames…

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But my favourite were the novelty bags. Mice playing a card game on top of a hamper?
Now that’s my kind of handbag!

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diet-coke-can-hangbag

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There’s a beautiful tearoom in the museum too and a shop packed with handbags so you can take home a memento from your travels.

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Museum of Bags and Purses, Amsterdam
www.tassenmuseum.nl

Planning on visiting lots of museum while you’re in Amsterdam? Get yourself an IAMSTERDAM card. They last 24, 48, 72 or 92 hours, give you free public transport, a canal boat trip and free ntry to most of the cities galleries and museums.

It’s well worth checking out.

Momtaz (CraftandTravel.com)

Foreign Coin Craft

Foreign Coin Craft

You know those random coins you never end up spending that you hold onto at the end of a holiday as you can’t bear to drop them in the airport charity collection cylinder – yes them. Well how about rather than storing them with no purpose you turn them into art?
I wasn’t able to get this blog link translated, but it doesn’t need instructions. The pictures speak for themselves…