Shared Workspaces

I have worked in a number of different environments over the years, from teaching undergraduates in historic buildings at Trinity College Dublin, to hunched up on a bench in the wind outside our flat on rue des Fosses St Jacques in Paris, stealing wifi when our own didn’t work.

Curious Workings - Co working

Of all places, I find working at home the hardest, as there are so many distractions.  Laundry that suddenly seems very urgent, or a misguided belief that I just *can’t* work when the sofa needs to be hoovered so badly (?).  Or worse – I think to myself that I will work better in a cafe when we all know that is blatantly untrue.

So how glorious that one of my clients has taken some space in a fantastic shared working environment not just locally in Oxford, but about 1 minute from where the children go to school, so I can drop them off and be at a huge bright desk surrounded by friendly coworkers.  The open plan split level office means that you are in the same space as everybody else, but with only a few in your line of vision.  Everybody seems to work in IT, which makes me feel vaguely more techy than I actually am, which I don’t mind at all.

I’m really happy to be working in this new space, and am looking forward to weeks and months of increased productivity ahead of me!

Do you work for yourself?  What sort of workspace do you have?

Images above: Canvas, a creative coworking space in Washington, and a workspace shot by Stefano Borghi 

What we can learn from: Capuchine Safyurtlu

It’s one thing to say “Okay, I’m going to drastically reduce my palette, and my wardrobe will all come together” and another to actually make it work, so today I’m looking at one of French Vogue’s fashion editors, Capuchine Safyurtlu.

Curious Workings - Capuchine Safyurtlu

Her look is very simple – monochrome obv., trousers as often as jeans, lots of grey and black, of course, but also white, which is a colour I am traditionally a bit scared of.  I got what might be my first ever white garment a couple of weeks ago, this shirt from Whistles, and I have even worn it out and the world did not, in fact, end.  So looking at the things that make Capuchine Safyurtlu’s look work, I’m thinking that I need to run with white a bit more and add a white tee and some white jeans to my summer wardrobe.  Topshop Jamie jeans always fit me really well, and come in white, so that’s something I can implement pretty easily, at least.

Her tops are never tight – always a little loose and skimming, and lots of simple t-shirts, but most alarmingly, she always seems to wear a belt, something which I haven’t tried in many years.

However, one aspect of her look that I will have to ignore is the heels.  I can’t and won’t wear heels any more, but I keep meaning to look out for comfortable pointy flats, so I might be able to adapt that side of things.

How I would do her look for summer:

Asos Forever T-Shirt in white, grey and black  -get all three, just to be safe

Topshop Jamie jeans in white, grey and black – ditto

Zara grey and white scarf – it doesn’t look like much in the pic, but it’s amazing in real life

Whistles Romy white shirt for wearing on its own and layering under dark grey

Whistles black leather belt – face the fear

Pictures of Capuchine above from, and Harper’s Bazaar, all via Pinterest.

Listening to: Baby L0ve by Petite Meller

Will it be ready?

Next weekend we are going to Crete to see our house for the first time since we bought it three years ago.   We don’t actually know for certain that it will be finished when we arrive, but over the next 10 days I know at least that the doors and windows will be installed, the plastering finished and some basic furniture delivered.  Maybe even some painting, if we’re lucky.

Curious Workings - Bathroom Inspiration

We are definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel at the moment with our budget, so we have cut back on a lot of the things that grace my Crete House pinboard, and ahead of our arrival have ordered only the most basic furniture (sofas, table, chairs, mattresses) with a view to taking stock of the space properly when we arrive, before buying anything else.  We will paint everything white, except for the doors and windows, which are being painted in a vivid blue green, not unlike Farrow & Ball Arsenic.

The bathroom is one aspect of the house that can’t really be left undone while we take stock, so it will be tiled with a combination of white metro tiles around the shower and dramatic geometric tiles in black, white and grey on the floor.  After agonising for months, I have taken my inspiration for the bathroom from the picture above, found on My Scandinavian Home.  A large walk in shower and a rectangular sink on a custom built oak shelf will, I hope, make this a very stylish and comfortable bathroom, and I am very much looking forward to choosing the right mirrors and lighting for it when I see it next week.



Gothic Furniture with a Tradescant Touch

Tradescant & Son - Hunter & Rose 4

Tradescant & Son - Hunter and Rose

I often lament that I never get to see the finished product when I sent my Tradescant & Son printed fabric out to clients, but I was over the moon last night to find a selection of my favourite prints gracing a wonderful collection of furniture just launched by the wonderful Hunter & Rose, a design shop based in Kent with whom I have worked for several years.

Michael selected a number of our prints for his launch collection of upholstered furniture, and joy of joys, had them professionally photographed  recently, and shared the pictures with me.

Go and take a look at his range – it’s really lovely, and right up my street.

Hunter & Rose, also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Tradescant & Son - Hunter & Rose 2

Tradescant & Son - Hunter & Rose 4

Tradescant & Son - Hunter & Rose 5


Tradescant & Son - Hunter & Rose 3



Soft at heart

Curious Workings - Jack Wills Bras

I’ve always been flat chested, and in my youth I used to seek out bras that gave the illusion of having cleavage, even though soft bralets were more comfortable.  I’ve noticed in recent years that bra manufacturers find it difficult to believe that small breasted women might not actually want to appear larger, and that the majority of bras, including those for teens, are t-shirt style, with thick moulding and wires, which I don’t want.  I want a bra that is pretty, feminine without being overtly “come hither” and flatters my real shape instead of pretending I have a completely different shape and size.  I like preppy underwear in general, in bright colours and not too fiddly.

So I was thrilled to find the very thing at Jack Wills this week.  Cheerful colours, no wiring (except a tiny bit at the side to stop the fabric bunching) and small enough even for me!  I got one in white and one in pink, and apparently they will also have them in navy and lime green soon.  I’ve always been a fan of their knickers, so it’s great to find that their bras have caught up.

Curious Workings - Cos Soft Bras

Obviously Jack Wills aren’t the only high street retailers with soft bras.  I haven’t tried Cos bras yet – they come in all the colours of the rainbow, but I never think to try them on when I’m in London.  I’d love to know what other people think of them though, if you’d like to share!

Jack Wills Hoath Mesh Bra

Cos Soft Triangle Bra

Small Investment, High Return

Back in the day I was a goth, which you may know is an extremely high maintenance look with extraordinary levels of hair and makeup perfection required, even if there isn’t a lot of wardrobe colour coordination to worry about.

Curious Workings - NARS Heat Wave

After a phase of wearing very little makeup after the children were born (relying overmuch on a completely imaginary “glow”), I have become very interested in products that require little or no brain power/time but deliver maximum returns in terms of instant glamour.

A full face of makeup looks like you are trying too hard, and I firmly believe that you should err more on the side of “Oh, I just look like this anyway”, especially with regard to foundation.

This philosophy suits me very well, of course, because I have no intention of going down the Kim Kardashian route for the school run.  However, there are some stand-out products that I have discovered require almost no effort at all, but have a transformative effect, the main one being red lipstick.

I have tried and failed with red lipstick, as I imagine most of us have.  I enjoyed brief success with a Chanel lipstick (I’ve forgotten the name) which I have lost somewhere here at home.  Because it is somewhere in the house, I can’t bear to buy it again – if I could even remember the name, so we have to move on from that one.

I have MAC Russian Red, but that was a blue-toned disaster (although the matching Lipglass is fine), and Giorgio Armani Rouge D’Armani Sheer Lipstick in 301 is great, but too, well, sheer.

Then I found myself at a NARS counter a few weeks ago and found NARS Heat Wave, a perfect orange-toned firey red.  Quickest look ever.  Normal light makeup, two seconds with with liner and new lipstick and I look positively intentional.  And it lasts for HOURS AND HOURS.  It’s unreal.

The children are not too impressed with a scarlet-pouted Mummy, and won’t actually let me kiss them, so it’s possibly not a weekend look, but definitely an easy one for a weekday.

Finally using my own designs!

Curious Workings - New Blinds

For years I have been vaguely meaning to have Roman blinds made for my (connecting) sitting room and dining room.  Our tiny Victorian house has lovely big windows, but doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight, and I have never wanted to obscure that light with curtains.  Recently, though, I was inspired by the beautiful blinds (above) that one of Tradescant & Son‘s lovely clients, NW3 Interiors, made with our Cyanistes (Bluetits) pattern.  I particularly love the copper chains the curtain maker, Raspberrylime Bespoke, used to set off the navy print.

Carly has inspired me to take the plunge with my own blinds – not using the Cyanistes, but the gorgeous Parakeets design that Grace Ironside drew for us and which I have loved since the beginning.  I’m going with Ink (navy) and it will be printed onto a heavy cotton sateen instead of linen, as (I have learned) that even the linen blend will crease.

Curious Workings - New Blinds 2

There is no copper in my living room (above), but I have a fantastic brass Martineau light shade from Habitat and will pick that up with brass chains.

This is a project for after Easter, but I’ll be ordering the fabric next week and I’m very excited about it.  I can’t wait to share the finished product here.

Follow NW3 Interiors on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Rasberrylime Bespoke on Facebook and Instagram

Will it ever be done?

In three weeks time, we are going to Crete for the Easter holidays.  That’s great, right?  Except the last photograph we got of our house from the builders was this.

Curious Workings - Crete house

Oh my God, right?

It’s going to look JUST LIKE my Crete board on Pinterest by the 28th. Lol.

What needs to be done in the next three weeks?  Well, that picture makes it look a bit worse than it is.  It has been taken from the garden across the way, and there is actually a little lane between those rusty railings and our front door.  Behind those crumbling walls, a lot of work has been done to rebuild a house that mostly fell down about a century ago.  Some of it was built in the 1700’s, and as a result, the planning office has taken a lot of interest in the project.  The building is protected to the hilt, so our architect had to work within rather limited parameters to create a flexible and guest-friendly space.  The original arched doorways are present throughout, as is a large arch spanning the living room.  There are huge doorsteps to step over, and amazing ceiling beams in what will be the kitchen.

There have been some setbacks.  A wall fell down.  Then a second one.  Then it rained – and snowed – for four months straight.  It’s still raining there now. Not very helpful for all that external work, as you might imagine.  Still, it’s mostly there now, and when the floor and the plastering is done it will look a lot more habitable.  Unlikely as it seems, they’re putting in the boiler for the hot water this week, and the plumber is actually there today doing the bathroom.

We’re not having a fitted kitchen, but instead getting a freestanding range cooker and ceramic double sink and taking it from there, so that’s one thing we don’t have to stress about.

Look – I found a couple of wobbly films that we took of the house (in the loosest sense of the word!) right before we bought it.  What were we THINKING?

Rous house 1st film

Rous house 2nd film


Mr Elbank at Somerset House

Curious Workings - Mr Elbank Beard Exhibition Somerset House

I love a good beard.  In fact, I’m not sure that I have ever even dated a cleanshaven man.

John (my husband) is blessed with the ability to grow a full beard in about three weeks, so he has the luxury of being able to shave his beard off quite casually, safe in the knowledge that he can have it back within a month.  So even though he is flirting with being cleanshaven this week, I can linger over the photographs taken by Mr Elbank for his current exhibition at Somerset House without risking John’s feelings.

This exhibition features over 80 amazing photographs including images of actor John Hurt, models Ricki Hall and Chris Millington, as well as many others who sent their pictures to Mr Elbank for consideration after an open call last year.  The project is linked to charity founded by Australian beard-owner Jimmy Niggles to raise awareness of melanoma in men,  and began in 2004.

Visit the exhibition Beard at Somerset House now

Follow Mr Elbank on Instagram or Tumblr

Look after your beard with Apothecary 87.  The original Beard Oil smells amazing.


Help Me Out

The blogging world has changed so much since I last blogged that I don’t really know what to do with it. I felt like this way back when I started my first blog, in Marrakech, in 2006.  Gradually I got to know the blogging world, or at least the part of it that I was interested in, and when we moved to Paris the following year, and I started a new, more sophisticated blog, I had an endless list of blogs that I used to read on my feed every day.

When we moved to Oxford and I had the bright idea of starting Natural History, I was very much influenced by the visual world of the blogs that I wrote and read, but as work took over, blogging – both reading and writing – fell by the wayside.

Now that I really want to find my stride again, I don’t know where to start! I love Joanna Goddard’s blog, and Garance Dore.  Bleubird is always lovely, as well as Oh Happy Day, or course. But who else? Can you recommend any? I love stylish lifestyle blogs, with a dash of career and parenting.