Tag Archives: travel

Dennis Severs’ House

Yesterday, I had a long time wish fulfilled. Wishes being fulfilled are magical in themselves, but this wish was extra special. For many, many moons I have wanted to visit 18 Folgate Street, the former home of Dennis Severs. Yesterday, as a glorious ending to our Thanksgiving weekend and as a start to our Christmas celebrations we headed out to Spitalfields, in the biting Sunday morning air and joined the already formed line waiting to enter behind those coal black doors.

You are not allowed to photograph inside the home; the image above is my only snap of this building. The house belongs to itself, it is its own person, it has its own soul. Yesterday, was their first Christmas opening day. The gas lantern outside was bedecked with pine boughs and red satin ribbons. Christmas trees stood guard at either side of the entrance. It was charming and felt very Dickensian.

You enter into the house in small groups. As you travel through the rooms, you make your way in silence. Your journey takes you through time. The fireplaces are lit with wood or coal. The only light sources in the house, come from a combination of natural light through the windows and the flickering glow of candles.

Each room is its own experience. The smell of a fire in the kitchen, intermingled with the heady scent from the bowls filled with raisins and citrus on the main table, soon to be turned into something delectable by the cook, no doubt. The tapping of the faucet in the sink was a cheery kerplunk, as vegetables waited in a strainer to be washed. There was fresh bread, a slice already cut off, ready to be stabbed with a toasting fork and held over the fire. A gingerbread man garland was strung above the fireplace, their faces smiling out at you from the candlelight glow around the room. It was cozy, it was warm and inviting after waiting outside in the cold, it was the kind of place you would want to come and have a cup of tea and a chat, or simply curl up by the fire in a chair.

As you made your way up through the house, each room had its own sights, smells and sounds. I was even lucky enough to spy Madge, the resident cat. Who was sitting so perfectly still underneath a chair with the white winter light streaming over her fur, for a moment, I thought she wasn’t real. But, her ears twitched and I bent down to rub her silky ebony fur and was rewarded with a long purr before she dashed down the hallway.

As you enter each room, it is as if the occupants of that room have just slipped out a hidden door and you are trespassing into their world. A letter half finished on the table, the ink still wet on the nib, a cup of tea going cold or the sound of carriage wheels going by. Every element in each space works to create the perfect atmosphere for it to exist within.

The house has a motto: Aut Visum Aut Non!: “You either see it or you don’t.” I saw it. This house spoke to me in such a way. I understood her. I was fascinated watching others travel through the house, who didn’t appear to get it. Or maybe to them, they were getting it. But I think they were seeing, but not really “seeing”.

Etched into the wall of one room in particular is a pyramid. If you didn’t stand in the right place, you might have just missed it. There was a hole in the wall above it and as I peered through a glowing eye was looking back at me. No other person seemed to take that in. They seemed to move about with quick glances. Maybe it is the art historian in me that makes me stop and study? Each room was like a painting. It told a story. It was a puzzle to dissect.

The final room on our journey was the Victorian Parlour and it was so gorgeously decorated for Christmas. The strawberry red velvet curtains against the heavy floral wallpaper were the perfect backdrop for the tabletop tree that was bedecked with ornaments and candles yet to be lit. A box of glass ornaments sat patiently by, waiting for their turn to be hung. A holly and pine garland was strung over the mantel and along the walls. The green leaves with twinges of white gave the room an even more inviting warmth.

As we left the room, I noticed Dennis Severs’ baseball cap sitting on a little corner table, it made me smile. We made our way back down the entrance hall, that from one wall to the other was strung across with boughs of pine and red satin ribbons, that would dance in the breeze every time the door opened. We thanked one of our gracious hosts and out the door we went into the harsh winter light and as the door closed behind us, the spell was broken. Like Alice, in reverse we had stepped through the looking glass back into our world, but I wanted to step back into the world of 18 Folgate Street.

We took a moment to don hats and gloves and then made our way to Spitalfields Market. Everything was too loud, too many people; I wanted to go somewhere quiet to sit and think about all I had just seen. This house spoke to me, I’m still pondering it this morning. I think I will be pondering the magic behind those doors for a long time to come. I am utterly enchanted.

See images from inside the house via their Instagram account.

18 Folgate Street {Wikipedia}

Home on the Range

I’ve been absent for the past few days because I’ve been lost in the land of a red-headed curly haired cherub, tiny baby toes and two wagging lab tails and I couldn’t have been any happier. I even got to see the Wienermobile! What a treat! As we move into this weekend, I wish everyone a blessed Easter. Happy weekend! Long may it last!

Peppermint Pie

We were lucky enough on a cold afternoon to find a cozy spot by the window at The American Pie Co. In a warmly lit space, by the glow of candlelight, we feasted in delight. We were slowly defrosted by mugs of hot chocolate and coffee. Mr. Michie got a slice of the deep dish cinnamon bread pie, glazed in a shimmering sweet drizzle and I got the pink peppermint pie. It was decadent and chocolatey and refreshing all in one bite.

Happiness is…

Going…

Going…

Gone!

Roskilde

We ventured out to Roskilde during this trip to see the Viking Museum and the Cathedral (which was the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick in Scandinavia and a UNESCO World Heritage site). The town itself, is just charming. It was a Viking stronghold and became the capitol and center of Danish life during the Middle Ages.

We strolled from the train station down through town. There were lots of stops for window shopping and I just had to go in to one store in particular. It was a gorgeous place with a tea and cake shop on one side and beautiful gifts and antiques on the other. I was very good and just looked, but I could have bought out half the shop!

This was written on a plaque next to the Spring: St. John’s Spring was a holy spring, named after St. John the Baptist. The outflow as it appears today dates from 1834. In 1835 the 11m deep well was excavated. Numerous potsherds and two almost intact earthenware jugs were found, dating from the time when sick persons came to the spring to be healed.

We walked down to the Viking Museum first. As we neared a field just past the church, we could hear the sound of splashing water. We both looked around and discovered a spring. Not just any spring, but the Skt. Hans Kilde ( St. John’s Spring). This was one of three sacred springs within Roskilde. It was a popular pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages, because many of the sick, thought they would be healed by drinking the water.

As we approached the museum, the smell of the sea filled our nostrils. The front of the museum acts as a storage shipyard. Boats were covered for the winter and lined up along the path with descriptions written next to them. I fell in love with one boat from 1944, Brudpiga. It was a church boat that carried people from scattered villages and farms along the Siljan lake in Sweden to church on Sundays. It could hold up to 60 people. It had 20 oars and a crew of 22 men. My imagination was running wild after reading that sign. I am sure I was romanticising it within my head, but I had cozy visions of traveling in that boat by candlelight along the shores, gathering people and meeting friends, who you might not see again until the following week.

The architecture of the building housing the five ships was thoughtfully devised. You felt as if the boats and the sea blended into one. The outside and the inside working together in harmony. The Viking Museum was truly fascinating! It’s incredible that this discovery was even made and then the time it took to excavate and preserve it, is even more astounding. I can’t wait to go back in the Summer to watch them working on boats in the shipyard and if we’re really lucky to ride on one of the ships they take out into the fjord.

I couldn’t help but snap this picture of a picture, of one of the conservationist working on preserving the wood of the ships. Those glasses just rock!

A view over the bridge to the working shipyard and outbuildings.

We stopped for a snack in the cafe. I had hot chocolate and we split a piece of apple cake. The cafe’s menu is inspired by the Vikings. They use the same ingredients that were available during the Viking Age as well as those that were brought home from the Viking’s voyages. They strive to bring to life the five Skuldelev ships through food. I liked that. Food is important on so many different levels and to intertwine the past and the present was a lovely way of bringing the Vikings to life.

I loved this terracotta pink house with it’s green trim. It looked cozy inside.

Next stop was the Cathedral. We only had a short time in the Cathedral and we definitely needed longer. The sun was setting and the shadows that were created were both breathtaking and also eerie. The history within the church, it’s connection to the monarchy and to the artists who worked there piqued my interest.

Frescos c.1460, in the Chapel of the Magi

Tomb of the Scandinavian Queen Margrethe I.

Tomb of Christian IX and Queen Louise.

In the Christian IX chapel the three female figures that flank the double tomb of Christian IX and Queen Louise were designed by Edvard Eriksen. He was the creator of the famous Little Mermaid statue that sits in the harbour in Copenhagen. His wife was the model for these statues and you can particularly see that in the posing of the Little Mermaid and the central female figure at the tombs. We stayed until the bells chimed to signal the doors were closing for the night.

Roskilde Convent

We walked back through town in the dark. The twinkle of Christmas lights glowing all around us. I couldn’t resist peeking through the gates of the convent to see their lights, a welcoming beacon on a frosty night. This city is on our list to keep exploring, there was just too much to see in a day! But, I’m not going to complain about that, it’s a good excuse to go back!

The Flowers of Copenhagen

I have always loved flowers and I adore the flower shops in Denmark. Simple, yet elegantly arranged, candles lit in the windows and on stands outside. The flowers aren’t just contained within the stores, they spill out over the thresholds and into the street.

Without fail, I spot something unusual, like wreaths that have bulbs, ready to burst open, wired directly to the the frame. Or, hydrangea petals glued around a star shaped stake; placed in a pot amongst moss, bulbs and miniature candles. It’s invariably an array of colour and smells. A feast for the senses and a true delight!

Tivoli at Christmas

This is not the first time we have visited Tivoli at Christmas. It is always on our list of “To-Do’s”, when we go to Denmark.

Already a magical wonderland to begin with, Tivoli transforms into an enchanting fairytale world during Christmas. The smell of hot apple cider and Æbleskiver, permeate the air. Stalls selling hot dogs and Christmas roast pork sandwiches are dotted along the paths as well as cabins selling Christmas goodies.

This year we visited the Honningkageslottet (Honey Cake Castle). Here you could not only “watch” the elves make the honey cakes, which is made using the honey harvested from Tivoli’s bees, but you could also buy a honey cake to decorate yourself. We bought one to eat and one to decorate. The smell of honey, spices and chocolate infusing the air was intoxicating.

Whatever season we visit this fairytale land in, I am always amazed at the gardens and hanging baskets. I know they work tirelessly to keep it looking so magical. The planning that goes into the design layout is months and months of work. It is a feast for the eyes.

Tivoli will pick over a thousand trees for Christmas. All of them will be adorned with lights in the forest, before they are cut down; so they are ready to be placed amongst the gardens upon their arrival. The smell of all that fresh greenery walking around that Christmas tree farm, well it would just be Heaven!

Louise Bourgeois at the Louisiana

A trip to Denmark, never feels complete unless we get to walk through the breathtaking halls of the Louisiana Museum. It holds a special place in my heart. Strolling through the sculpture gardens; staring at Sweden across the sea; absorbing all the light from the floor to ceiling windows; taking in the architecture and the lighting, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

This was a special trip for me, as we were going to see the Louise Bourgeois Exhibition. I have long been an admirer of her work and to see her Cell series put together like this was hair-raising. It featured all 25 cells and was the first exhibition to do so. To be able to touch and see what she had touched, seen and created, made the experience a deeply moving and intimate one. I noticed on a few of the cells, her hand writing scrawled across the upper part of the doors, labelling them as the “top”. There was a realness to these nooks, they existed within their own worlds. Worlds that we were, at once, a part of and an intruder. I was overjoyed that we had the chance to see this particular exhibition.

Louise Bourgeois, Cell I

Louise Bourgeois, Cell I (a peak inside)

Louise Bourgeois, Cell VI

Louise Bourgeois, Spider

Louise Bourgeois, Spider (detail)

Louise Bourgeois, I Give Everything Away

Louise Bourgeois, Cell XXVI

Other highlights on this visit were the Daniel Richter paintings and work by the Spanish artist Juan Muñoz. Of course we made a pit stop to step inside Yayoi Kusama’s Gleaming Lights of the Souls. It is always worth the wait to go in to that magical little room.

Juan Muñoz, Half Circle

Daniel Richter, Tarifa

Daniel Richter, Alles Ohne Nichts

Daniel Richter, Amsterdam

Daniel Richter, Winter Journey 4

As always it is a treat to stop and eat lunch at the Louisiana. The fire was lit, and there was a beautiful view from the windows of the ocean rocking and rolling at a steady pace just beyond. The air was damp and clean. We feasted on sparkling apple juice and Christmas sausages with the most divine orange sauce; bowls of Jerusalem artichoke soup; and a variety of salads and fresh bread. It is simple, yet elegant.

Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Powerless Structures, fig. 11

Copenhagen Hot Chocolate

Sort Kaffe & Vinyl

Sort Kaffe & Vinyl

The American Pie Co.

Sort Kaffe & Vinyl

Sort Kaffe & Vinyl

Baresso

I adore hot chocolate and it tends to be my breakfast drink of choice while in Copenhagen. These were just a few snaps I took at some of my favourite places to have this comforting concoction of velvety chocolatey happiness. Very hygge!