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Contemplating our First Anniversary

It’s hard to think that a year has already past since that blissful wedding day when I married my soulmate one year ago. That small but perfectly formed little Chelsea Wedding felt so emotionally momentous that I think I have been bouncing happily in its blissful wake ever since. Yet to think that it’s been a year is rather bizarre, not least when I consider that it feels as though I was only just finishing off the last dabs of gouache on my paintings commemorating our honeymoon. How time flies. But how happily tangible are the memories still.

Our magical day

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It was in the contemplation of this anniversary that Dominik and I recently headed to Deiá, easily our favourite place on the island of Mallorca, and perhaps in the whole world. We knew that there could be no better way to celebrate a first year of marriage, and 7 years of being together. While my mother’s witty gift of toilet paper (and a little something extra) reminded that this is traditionally the “paper anniversary”, for us it was bubbles and sunshine all the way as we toasted our union in the stunningly floral grounds of the Hotel Residencia over two glasses of cava – one brut, the other rosé. In a way those two glasses appeared to represent something of our relationship and the keys to its success. Two people who are characteristically, externally different, but whose integral sameness binds us so strongly together. And all this in the most exquisite surroundings of the Teix Mountains and the Mediterranean sea. Magical.

Bubbles at the Residencia and dinner at Restaurante Nama

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While the 15th June marks our wedding anniversary, the 16th June is the anniversary of our first date. But there is something so much more special now in celebrating an anniversary of marriage, than that day of first discovery. Because while our daily life may not have changed all that much as a result of the certificate we signed, the comfort and security and wholesome oneness it has brought us can never been replicated outside of marriage. One more year has passed and another coat of time’s varnish adds an extra veneer of strength to our union. Here’s to that.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

The day I married my soul mate

I knew I wanted to marry my soul mate Dominik almost from the first moment we met. It was within a few dates that I knew we were two inseparables, so alike in our tastes and ambitions, thoughts and feelings, that it was like finding myself all over again, and gaining the best friend, companion and lover a man could wish for. We marked our commitment very early only – it was within 6 months that we placed eternity rings around one another’s hands on a snowy night in Montmartre in Paris – but it took us a further 5.5 years to seal the deal.

Getting ready for the big moment, and with mother of the groom and my nephews…

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I suppose for us, the big step was engagement, and the marriage was only ever the cherry on the cake, or at least that was how it felt when we decided to opt on a completely secret, tiny ceremony two weeks ago, inviting only our most intimate family and very few friends, in order to keep our wedding small, both numerically and economically. For us it felt more administrative as we filled in the forms and gave our official notice. And when, in the days leading up to our wedding, people asked if we were nervous, I couldn’t understand why we were supposed to feel nerves, when on paper it all seemed so simple.

The magical moment, and stepping out into a confetti of peonies 

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That was until the wedding. In that moment, when joining hands before a Chelsea registrar, we looked into each other’s eyes, and placed the final wedding band on our fingers, suddenly it all became very, wonderfully real. The extent of our commitment, the magic of the moment, the utmost celebration of the most perfect union: the moment I married my soul mate. Now, looking back on those magical few minutes, my memories are flooded with the great surge of emotion I felt in that moment, the pride and the love, and the utmost and complete joy.

Photos, celebrations and a top-notch lunch

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So for anyone doubting whether the US decision of last week, which legalised gay marriage across all states, was the right one, let my experience cast those doubts asides. Gay marriage in the UK has enabled me to commit myself not to a boyfriend, nor a civil partner, but to a husband, in the eyes of the law and before my family and friends. It has enabled me to bind myself to my one true soul mate, and in doing so share the same right afforded to everyone around me, whatever their sexuality. The world is finally moving forwards, common sense is prevailing, and equal love is truly victorious.

Rounded off with an incredible cake (courtesy of lady-aga.com)





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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

Appreciating the everyday: Waking up to Palma

It’s all too easy to be complacent, to get used to the good things in life and stop appreciating them, and here in Palma de Mallorca, where we are literally surrounded by the utmost of urban and then rural beauty at every stretch I am constantly reminding myself just how lucky I am. Such complacency resides more than anywhere else in the home, where we enjoy the same stunning surroundings every day, but the constantly changing beauty of our immediate environment provides a frequent reminder that it should be appreciated afresh every day.

Such were my musings when I got up one early morning a few days ago, and looked out of the window onto the multi-coloured panoply of old town streets which surround our apartment. Radiant in warm yellows, terracottas and greens, the nearby streets are archetypally Mediterranean, and look simply resplendent under the golden morning and evening sun rays. But what enchants me even more is the length of the early shadows, adding fresh stripes to an already linear landscape which move across the facades with the sun.

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This small set of photos was snapped quickly before work, when in a sudden moment of realisation, I was made to stop and appreciate my daily views afresh. Even my sculpted model, made during my first ever sculpture attempt in London back in 2011, appears to be captivated by the view she now enjoys on a daily basis. And who can blame her.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Mallorca Moments: Post-work beaching

Life is deeply enriched by the smaller moments, the spontaneous unplanned hours of wonderment which make a day unexpectedly special and are subsequently recalled with as much fondness as the very best of meticulously planned holidays. Such moments can happen anywhere, from finding a cosy new candlelit cafe with a single empty table waiting as relief from a wintery rainstorm, to the sudden impulse to take a walk which leads to the discovery of a hitherto undiscovered magical corner.

Last night, I enjoyed with my partner one such unplanned magical moment. We had a choice between going to the gym or going for a walk. The weather had been good as ever, as a fiery orange sun had been burning high in the Mallorca sky all day and was only now cooling. So a walk it was, and in a moment’s inspiration we decided to head to the beach, to paddle and admire the water’s sparkling majesty.

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But once down at the water’s edge, we found the May waters to be so seductively warm that we dived right in. And there was the magical moment. Wading out to see with a silhouette of Palma’s stunning cathedral on one side, and a magnificent liner cruising into the Port of Palma on the other. Meanwhile, as the sun began to sink, the waters were infused with a golden light, like swimming in a melting pot of precious metals.

We emerged from the sea enlivened by our seaside dip and excited by a further treat which lay in wake…a frozen yoghurt layered with fresh fruit and laced with sticky white chocolate and apple syrups. The cherry atop a large serving of the good life.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Christmas comes to Palma: Part 2 – Home decor

With the streets of Palma de Mallorca awash with the sparkle of Christmas, my decorations were never going to be far behind. It’s been a bizarre state of affairs – we only moved to Mallorca 3 weeks ago (although it feels like longer) and have been unpacked for barely 2 weeks, and yet now it is time to change the decor again in order to welcome Christmas through the door. And much are the decorations needed, for with the sun still beating down upon us, it certainly doesn’t feel all that Christmassy otherwise.

Regulars of The Daily Norm will know that I love my Christmas decorations, and that each year they become perhaps more extravagant in their scale and abundance. And being unwilling to lose any of my precious Christmas cargo, I faced the somewhat Herculean task of getting all of my decorations from London to Mallorca in one piece. But transport the load I did, and with some 1,000 glass baubles amongst our collection of decor, I think the angels must have graced our move for there was not a single bauble broken when we unpacked the other end – that is at least until I started decorating  and the inevitable breakage or two commenced!

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But with the decorations unloaded into the now bigger space of what is our Palma apartment, we have been able to go to town with our decor, even adding a tree ontop of last year’s scheme. I give you the new golden glamour tree! Abundant in its effusion of elegant embellishments, this tree is a homage to all things golden and gorgeous, and the gold offsets to spectacular effect atop a black tinsel tree, and with flashing warm white lights making each golden decoration sparkle.

Golden Glamour

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But what of the others? Well as with last year, our favourite Venetian-inspired Eiffel-themed sparkling red and silver scheme makes its return, looking wonderful in this new Mallorcan setting, where the higher ceilings of the 19th century apartment block add extra glamour to this sparkling spectacle.

Venetian-Eiffel Splendour

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I’ve also reintroduced the citrus theme of a previous tree, but hung yellow and orange baubles amongst cerulean blue on a tree of white. This modern and fresh Christmas look works wonderfully amongst the paintings and easels of what is my new Mallorcan art studio, reflecting the vibrancy of colours which bounce off my artwork.

Mediterranean Christmas

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My grand red and green hallway tree has also made its way over to Mallorca, although the tree which previously needed to be bent at the top in order to squeeze it into my London apartment looks practically dwarfish in this new space.

Traditional Abundance

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And finally the bedroom scheme, which this year takes on a much fresher blue and white theme to match the blues of our new moroccan inspired space. Stripped of all tinsel and garlands, this is a much simpler look which nevertheless remains full and abundant because of the sheer number of baubles, and a balanced hang throughout. It was something of a struggle to buy a real tree out here in the Med, but we found this 7ft beauty in a side street florist, and since it comes complete with roots and a pot, we’re hoping that it won’t become crunchy and dry within days of being installed.

Scandinavian Arabia

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And of course throughout the flat there are the accessories, the smaller trees, the little scandinavian santas and the sultry comforting sound of Doris Day singing Christmas standards better than anyone before or since. All that remains is the Christmas food and the mulled wine. But it surely won’t be long in coming.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

Musing on the Magic of a Marbella Morning

I’ve often thought that the true magic of a town happens not in the bustling middle of a day, but first thing in the morning, when the first rays of sunshine hit deserted squares, when workmen and women head quietly into the streets to prepare for the visiting masses, when cafes start to open up for business, and when the squares and fountains and pavements are scrubbed clean in readiness for another day. In Rome I remember savouring the view from my hotel window in the Piazza Della Rotunda at 6am, watching the elegant fountain being scrubbed clean in front of the Pantheon before the tourist masses descended. In Krakow likewise I would be mesmerised watching the cleaners out on the streets first thing in the morning, while from the Mariacki Basilica the Hejnalista trumpeter would play his mournful tune. 

Marbella, one of the gems of Andalucia, is no exception when it comes to the tourist crowds. And while I often find myself becoming vexed at the sheer number of visitors who clutter up the streets of the city’s old town, which I am lucky enough to call my second home, I cannot blame them for wanting to visit. For Marbella’s old white washed streets and cobbled squares are amongst the most beautiful on Spain’s Costa del Sol.  But for me, they never look better than first thing in the morning, empty and in the first sun rays of the day. 

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So when I headed out to Marbella this Easter, the first thing I did on my first morning when, accustomed to rising early in London, my body clock got me up early, was to stroll out into the deserted streets of the old town to enjoy these rare quiet moments of having the town almost to myself. The shop shutters were still closed, and the postcard stands hadn’t yet made it out onto the streets; the rising sun was casting long shadows over the cobbled squares; and the only people around were those few taking equal advantage of these quiet moments: to head up a ladder to change a light bulb in a street lamp, to mop the patio in front of a cafe, to quickly walk the dog before work. 

So as Marbella gradually opened up for the day, I took a seat in the Plaza de Naranjos at the heart of the old town, sitting in one of the only spots being hit by the slowly rising sun. And with the square’s cafes only just beginning to open up, with chairs being unstacked and umbrellas gradually opening up around me, I gave the first order of the day to an open cafe’s lone waiter: churros and coffee, to be sampled slowly while watching the world around me awaken. 

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Now that is the magic of a Marbella morning.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Life lessons from a rose at its best

I’ve always thought that a rose is at its very best just before it dies. When in bud a rose is elegant; almost like a young girl ready to ripen into the fulness of her adult beauty. When it starts to open, the flower begins to form a pleasing curved shape, almost like a small teacup, delicately scooping up and inwards, before spreading outwards again opening into a multi layered, but still complex bundle of petals. But my favourite stage is the point just before a rose begins to die, when its petals have spread to their widest in an attempt to gather as much possible light and air. It is at this stage that the shape and the fullness of the rose is at its most sumptuous and generously bounteous. All of its multiple petals have curved outwards showing the rich layering of its structure, like a dense lacy undergarment from the Victorian age, and it’s cupcake shape has spread further resembling more of a regal crown with its abundant beauty spread wide to capture the widest admiring audience.

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But as beautiful as the rose is at this stage, you know that it is but days away from death and decay; when the edges of those sumptuously soft petals begin to turn, go brown and shrivel, until the petals start falling one by one, unveiling beneath their elegant cluster the uglier stamen at the flower’s centre.

It was as I was staring, enchanted, by a beautiful bunch of orangey-peach roses in my lounge the other day that I contemplated this life cycle, admiring both the beauty of the roses as the whole bunch had expanded into a sea of mango-coloured wonder, but also reflecting, somewhat sadly, that this array of perfectly placed colour is but a transient creation, soon to shrivel up and diminish. But what it also made me realise is that while on the one hand it seems ironic that something can be at its most beautiful when it is at its closest to death, there is also a life lesson to be learnt here: that nothing lasts for ever, and happiness, joy, and beauty are all things which are transient. If that isn’t a reason to enjoy life to the full, and to reflect upon and appreciate the best of every moment, at every opportunity, I don’t know what is.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Finding the light in a gloomy wet winter

Gloomy short days which get dark before you make it home in the evening; a deluge of rain which has flooded areas of the UK whose residents didn’t even realise they had a river nearby; and a protracted season without leaves on the trees or flowers on the ground. The winter is a long, depressing period which I cannot stand. Days go by without any sense of hope or vitality of life; when you don’t even notice the scant daylight, and get used to a life without sunshine.

For me the only way to get through the winter is by taking a threefold approach: 1. To think, dream, paint and write about past holidays, and to book a load more for the year ahead; 2. To eat lots of delicious food whose flavours are imbued with the flavour palette of the Mediterranean and other sunny locations; and 3. Whenever the slightest glimpse of sunshine peeks through the clouds, to rush out of doors to soak in this rare glimpse of happiness.

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The small collection of photos on this post were taken during my Winter-survival tactic number 3, usually over my lunch hour when I occasionally take a stroll through St James’ Park in Westminster to blow away some of the winter cobwebs. It’s amazing to see, during those walks, that despite the protracted period of winter, nature is still very much in action (that may be in part due to the excess of rain which has kept London temperatures pretty mild). In St James’ park for example, there is no sign of hibernation for the cute little squirrels who scurry tamely around London tourists in search of their lunch; and the huge resident pelicans are still out and about, preening their snowy white feathers before crowds of camera-happy visitors.

So in sharing this small set of photos, which also includes a glimpse of a 4th way to get through the winter – cinema season! – as well as some of my Instagram shots taken out and about in the capital, I hope to spread some of the hope which these moments provided to all those of you who wonder when this gloomy season will ever end. Let’s hope it’s soon.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Vintage Italy – advertisements from a golden age

Many may have empathised with the characters Gil and Adriana in Woody Allen’s 2011 film, Midnight in Paris, who were accused of having suffering from “golden-age nostalgia” – the condition whereby a person believes that a previous era was better than the present. In a way, the purpose of the film was to disprove this way of thinking, since Gil’s obsession with the 1920s led him to meet Adriana who was from the 1920s but who herself thought the golden age was the Belle Epoque, who in turn met the likes of Degas and Manet in the Belle Epoque who in turn thought the golden age was the renaissance…and so it goes on. Which just goes to show that “the grass is always greener” applies to the past as well as a comparison of your own life with other possibilities.

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Despite this chord of warning which was espoused in Woody Allen’s film, I have to admit to suffering from a little golden-age nostalgia myself. Who could not pine after the elegance of evening dress in the 20s and before – the Downton Abbey style of dressing for dinner every evening and the top-hatted gentlemen in the Moulin Rouge? True, much of my nostalgia is probably founded in fiction – of course we all know that sanitary conditions and general quality of life was probably much lower then than we are used to now, especially for the poor. But nonetheless, the charm of past years cannot help but seep into my imagination, and fill my days with a warm sense of longing for a time of sophistication and innocence. And that charm is no more embodied than in the multi-coloured art work of vintage advertisements at the start of the great commercial age.

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I love old adverts. This passion is directly inherited from my father who collects enamel advertisement signs and various advertising paraphernalia. Sadly I have to make do with reproduction postcards and posters, but the images are no less pleasurable for the reproduction. And following on from my recent series of Italy posts, I thought I would share with you a few classic examples of the vintage advertising age promoting the very cities which I have just visited: Venice, Rome and Naples.

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With their bold lettering, romanticised skies, bright colours and simple motifs, it is completely understandable how these posters would have been effective in luring the pre or post-war era of awakening travellers to the charms of Italia. If only adverts today could exude such innate charisma. Oh no… there I go with my golden-age nostalgia again. I think I’d better leave you with the posters. Till next time…

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The Daily Norm’s Christmas Tree of the Week | No.4: Traditional Glamour

It’s appropriate, I think, that the last of my four Christmas trees to be featured on The Daily Norm should be the most traditional and glamourous of the lot. For in these final days before the great day of Christmas itself, what better way is there to reflect on the abundant design bounty of the season than to revel in decorations which are, in their traditional character, a real nod to the lavish spectacle which sits at the centre of this season of plenty.

Yes, my final tree is the tallest of the lot – at just over 7 ft it almost touches the ceiling of my modern flat, and leaves no space for a fairy to sit atop. But asides from this notable absence, the tree is in every way a homage to the traditional colours and exuberance of Christmas, while retaining a sleek and at times eccentric twist. The design of this tree is very much dictated by its location. Set within my hallway, it has to be narrow enough that it does not become un-passable in the fairly tight space of my hall. But it also has to be big enough and abundant enough that it impresses upon a guest’s arrival – after all, it is the first sight which will grace visitors to my home in this merry season.

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Meanwhile, the design of my hall also leans towards the traditional, with its broad book shelves, floor to ceiling art work and framed old adverts, and various paraphernalia which would suit the most traditional of studies – an antique typewriter, a leather arm chair, a barrister’s wig and so on. So in attempting to fill my space with Christmas cheer which fits seamlessly within the scheme of my hallway, I have not only gone for the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and gold (which also feature in the surrounding artwork); I have also matched up the library theme with the addition of some very quirky little decorations such as gold stags heads, armchairs and even this year’s magnificent addition – baubles shaped to look like a framed Da Vinci (thanks Liberty’s!). These slightly more unusual features are then filled in with plain sparkly baubles in shades of rich forest green and perfect berry red, while the whole tree comes alive with glittering gold baubles and tinsel.

Despite being a tall narrow tree, this vertical pillar of festive abundance is probably my favourite of the lot, because in being almost overloaded with bauble after bauble of glittering glass spectacle, it is as over the top, as plentiful and as generous as the season it is dressed up to celebrate. Happy Christmas everybody!

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.