Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Festive’

Christmas in Bruges… Decoration immersion

For a city trip at Christmas time, Bruges in Belgium pretty much has it all. Christmas markets…tick! Mulled wine (laced with amaretto – serious yum)…tick! Cute medieval houses surrounded by quaint little canals… multiple tick! Soothing chocolate and hearty food to be consumed by a crackling fireplace by candlelight… tick again! But for that most important of all things at Christmas, the handmade, unique, home-changing, life-enhancing tree decoration…well Bruges gets the biggest tick of all! Yes, yes, yes, for those like me who love a good Christmas decoration, this is the city where it’s at. Only one thing… make sure you take a hearty wallet with you in turn.

IMG_6430DSC09095IMG_6428DSC09169DSC09627DSC09698IMG_6432DSC09171

While we weren’t overly impressed with the quality of the decorations in the Christmas markets themselves, the array of superbly high quality decor available in some of Bruges’ cutest little boutiques has the power to take the breath away, and transport the shopper into a kind of quasi-imaginary childhood paradise all at the same time. These are not just shops, they are veritable grottoes, like the archetypal Santa’s workshop lined with more decorations than you could take in on multiple-visits, crammed full of variously themed trees, layer upon layer of glass, metal and wooden baubles, figurines, nutcrackers, incense burners and candelabras to name but a few.

Chief amongst these shopping gems is De Witte Pelikaan, a true Winter Wonderland on two floors, whose many trees are hung with such a unceasing delight of extravagantly shaped baubles of every shape and size that we left with large dents in our bank accounts, but with many delights to show for it. Then there are the legendary boutiques of Käthe Wohlfahrt (of which Bruges has two) – a dazzling European Christmas brand, and it’s not hard to see why. This is the true wood-based grotto-like delight that festive dreams are made of. We came away with little hand-carved wooden characters which have already added enviable quality and character to our London tree. As with all these decorations, we know that we will delight in that moment of unwrapping them each year, allowing the memories of their purchase to flow forth into the winter air and fill our home with happiness.

IMG_6473IMG_6431IMG_6457IMG_6440IMG_6433IMG_6501DSC09713IMG_6429DSC09734IMG_6427DSC09700IMG_6426IMG_6029IMG_6132

It’s hard to fully capture the incredible atmosphere of Bruges’ Christmas shops on camera, not least because, at this time of the year, they are understandably heaving. However, here are a few photos to give some idea of the array of delights on show, as well as a few shots from Bruges’ equally festive churches, thrown in for good measure.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised 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.

Advertisements

Christmas Comes Home: Party time!

I’m not ashamed to spend many an hour making my home wonderful for Christmas just for myself and my partner to enjoy. Who else really matters? After all, it is us who get the ultimate pleasure of waking and sleeping to lights twinkling like an enchanted forest all around us. Nevertheless, there is something of the Nigella in me, and I can’t help but revel in the opportunity to share my winter wonderland with friends. So in this last post extolling the virtues of my home at Christmastime, why not take a glimpse of the flat all trussed up for a small soiree we held last weekend.

DSC08088DSC08070DSC08055DSC08128DSC08152

Central to the event was the table. A vase at its centre hosted a flurry of discarded Clapham Common tree branches. What the wind had cast asunder, I recycled, creating the perfect skeleton for a cornucopia of lights and dazzling gold and glass decorations. On those branches, our glass treasures from Venice have never looked so beautiful, hanging freely, suspended in mid air, rather than getting caught up in the denser gathering of Christmas tree branches. Beneath this composition, a plethora of festive food gathered: a cheese board bedecked with berries and nuts, freshly cut meats from Italy and, best of all, the “Merookies” (a cross between meringues and cookies) recently featured on the newest Christmas episode of Nigella Lawson’s At My Table series. With an exquisite salty pistachio balance to the sweetness of the meringue and the rich depth of chocolate chips, I was completely sold on these Nigella creations. So was everyone else – they disappeared in seconds.

DSC08066DSC08180DSC08179DSC08162

I love Christmas parties. I love sharing with friends. And I love seeing my home so pristine in its presentation for a night out on the town. But even more, I love the clearing up at the end of the evening – when empty champagne flutes tell of hours of merriment enjoyed, and the crumbs of cookies and Christmas biscuits intermingle with fallen shards of glitter flickering in the dying candlelight. Home sweet home.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorised 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 Home: St Petersburg Palace

Christmas is in full swing. Ridiculously there’s only a week to go! While that makes me panic ever so slightly, the best tranquiliser is to switch on some Christmas carols (or Nigella Lawson’s Christmas series on TV…oozing pure aesthetic) and sit in the warm glow provided by my beloved Christmas trees. Last week I shared with you my new kitchen-inspired carrot-laden scheme. Today I want to take you to frostier quarters, where elegance reaches an all time high: my tree inspired by a St Petersburg Palace.

DSC08023

Replacing the annual real tree whose needles played havoc with my cream carpets, this year we have introduced a new 7ft snow sprayed false tree adorned with warm lights and begging for the fake polar-bear throw which is wrapped around the base of the tree and provides a wonderful soft landing for all those gold and white presents. On the snowy white branches, I added golden fern leaves for embellishment, and thus set the scene for my favourite ever set of decorations: an abundance of whites and golds and blues of every shade, all in homage to the glory and opulence of a Russian Christmas.

DSC08013DSC07991DSC07985DSC07978DSC07977DSC07998DSC08006

Choosing Russia as a theme meant a stark contrast to the interior design of the bedroom setting which is very Mediterranean in feel. But what better way to get cold blue and warm gold into a tree theme than to translate the tones of a Mediterranean beach into the frosted splendour of a St Petersburg Palace. With its onion-roofed houses, night-sky baubles, glass whales, white nutcrackers and elegant Russian dolls, I love the way this design has pulled together. It is the ultimate bedroom tree and a true delight to both see out and see in these festive wintery days.

DSC08149DSC08146DSC07988DSC08016DSC08017DSC08077

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorised 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 Home: The Kitchen Tree

I am ashamed to see that the last post on my blog is entitled “An Autumn Overview”. It’s shocking testimony to the fast passage of time. Now in mid-December, the comforting glow of Autumn leaves have been replaced by ice and snow. But December brings with it a very joyous respite from the arrival of cold in the form of the festive season – simply my favourite time of the year. And while work has largely prevented me from hanging out on The Daily Norm, it has not precluded me from that most important of annual tasks: decorating the Christmas tree.

Regular readers of The Daily Norm will know that I love Christmas decorations, to an almost obsessive degree, and while I always make a few small tweaks to my scheme as each year goes by, I enjoying taking out the old familiar decorations year on, year out. However, this year, as if in celebration of our return to London and the house redecoration that accompanied it, I’ve shaken things up a bit in the Christmas decoration department.

DSC08039DSC08052DSC08040DSC08059

The modernist black trees of old went into black bags, and out came an altogether more traditional look. Sage and forest greens now host warm oranges, berry reds and a little silver and black (a small nod to the modern surroundings). Glass carrots and green glass mushrooms bring something of a culinary vibe, while ravishingly regal cheetah heads sit proudly upon their festive boughs. And as if to complete the animal theme, underneath the tree, fox furs and presents round off the scheme with a cosy but finessed twist.

And that’s just the lounge. In the bedroom we’ve gone all white and frosty, like a scene from Dr Zhivago. But I’m going to save that until next time…

DSC07963DSC07970DSC08041DSC08047

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorised 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.

Revealing my Festive Wonderland

A few weeks ago, the three photos I posted signified the official arrival of Christmas in my home, even though back then it was still November. Now, some 30 Christmas trees later (most of which were for work I should add), time has galloped onwards and as only ten days remain until the full celebration of Christmas truly begins, there can be no doubt that we have well and truly arrived at the festive season. What better time then to share with you the very Festive Wonderland which is this year’s Christmas manifestation of my home.

Christmas decoration is very much part of my annual creative calendar. I relish the opportunity to transform my home with seasonal touches which have the power to add insuperable cosiness and magic in every corner. Thus, over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of baubles and trees which, while changing slightly throughout the years, retains the same core of cherished pieces, each involuntarily launching their own sentimental tale of memories past. However, the rather open-plan layout of my apartment in Mallorca means that my various trees, which in London would have each graced separate rooms, are here seen together in more of a unified space. The effect is quite magical, as tree is reflected in tree, and different coloured light sparkles across the entire living space.

dsc06547dsc06672dsc06667dsc06704dsc06629dsc06717dsc06600dsc06621dsc06685img_6451

So here I present a miscellaneously mixed magical gallery of decorating touches, featuring bauble details, whole tree portraits, and my favourite photos of all – those blurred out of focus light landscapes which in themselves seem to carry the festive magic which is the effect given by such a mixed scheme of light and glitter.

Merry Christmas everyone!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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.

Three photos suggesting the onset of Christmas

It’s the 25th November. Which means only one thing: no no, not black Friday. I would frankly rather pay double the original price than fight my way to near death for the sake of a much tried and tested cut-price pair of Calvin Klein boxers. No, the 25th November means that the final countdown to Christmas has finally begun. And with one month to go, its time for the sceptics and the anti-festive moaners to return to their holes of gloom, for the festive season is truly upon us. And indeed in my home, its onset has come early.

Yup, that’s right, my home is well and truly a Christmas wonderland as this year I took to decorating even earlier than usual. The reason is largely a practical one – travelling a lot during the latter weeks of November and the early ones of December, I pretty much knew that it was now or never. And as the evenings get even darker as each day passes, I am surely enjoying the festive cheer which this prompt decorating spree has brought.

dsc06522dsc06534dsc06526

So as we begin this final month’s countdown to Christmas day, here are three photos – just small snapshots from my very Christmassy home – suggesting that the onset of Christmas, at least in my world, is very much here. Merry pre-christmas everyone!!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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.

Memoirs from Venezia, Part 1: Christmas on a Gondola

As most of us look, somewhat gloomily, towards a mediocre post-Christmas period with our homes becoming sparser as decorations are packed away and everything returns to normal, I am sustained by a head full of daydreams, as I recall the time I spent this Christmas in Venice.

I am no stranger to this utterly unique, magical floating city, but no matter how many times I go, I am equally if not increasingly held captive by its enchanting spell. For where else on earth can you find palaces whose golden doorsteps are laced with a layer of green algae; whose magical buildings appear and disappear within veils of mist as mysterious as the masked characters who walk the city’s streets; and where you can spend Christmas day on a gondola.

The jewel of the Adriatic, as photographed on Christmas morning

DSC05463 DSC05469 DSC05464 DSC05467 DSC05470 DSC05472 DSC05468 DSC05460

For with my partner’s mother making our Christmas a family affair, this festive season was going to be special for all sorts of reasons. And first on the to-do list of the day was to toast Christmas and the city from the luxurious comfort of a gondola. Despite its being my fourth visit to the city, I had never before been in one of these iconic vessels, fearing the grossly inflated prices and tourist traps. But when you discover that it is as expensive to remain on land in Venice as it is to embark upon the water, this cheeky half an hour on board one of the world’s most famous boats can be easily justified.

On a gondola for Christmas!

DSC05303 DSC05403 DSC05356 DSC05375 DSC05354 DSC05391 DSC05316 DSC05306 DSC05406 DSC05335 DSC05323

And so as families all over the world toasted the day over a roast turkey, we started ours floating gently over the milky green canals of Venice, gazing in wonder as we passed cracking palaces, rosy-pink street lamps and some of the most beautiful churches ever built. The day continued with indulgent feasting in the Taverna la Fenice, a stroll across the Accademia Bridge to the gentle Dorsoduro district, the purchase of far too many handmade glass santas from the island of Murano, and later prosecco bubbles with homemade Tuscan panettone munched in-between the exchange of presents aplenty.

Magical details, from the water and back on land

DSC05369 DSC05422 DSC05439 DSC05430 DSC05441 DSC05432 DSC05456 DSC05455 DSC05471DSC05457

It was, in every way, the perfect Christmas day, and the memory I hold with me now as I reticently prepare to leave Christmas behind for another year.

DSC05476

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 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.  

Reinventing the Ribbon: My Christmas Trees, 2015

As a largely self-appointed Christmas tree expert (although to be fair, I was the official House of Fraser Christmas decoration expert in 2014 don’t you know…) the festive season is always a busy time for me, and that is just with the four trees that spring up lovingly in my house. But this year, I had the charge of some additional 18 trees for my employment, as well as my parents’ tree back in the UK, bringing this year’s efforts to a grand total of 23 trees. That’s a lot of baubles, lights, prickly branches and this year’s addition – ribbon – to contend with. Is it any wonder the Daily Norm has been so quiet of late? But finally I am in a position to share some of the fruits of my labours with you, my dear readers.

DSC04635DSC04576DSC04698DSC03746DSC04707DSC04368

Rather than focus on each tree in detail, I have instead decided to bombard you with a post full of photographs showing decorative detail. The trees featured largely comprise those in my own new Mallorca home, all four decorated in a unique and individual scheme of their own. But also featuring are a few of the trees I put up for my employer. Across the board, and as I have already mentioned, the newcomer of the season has been ribbon.

I was always a big fan of tinsel, despite its reputation as protagonist of the 80s, to such an extent that some would almost declare its adornment today to be “vintage”. However, my mantra has always been that anything is better than the draped strings of beads of the 90s, and for this reason, tinsel, which glitters and sparkles from every angle has always been a feature of my trees. But tinsel is scarcer out here in the Mediterranean, and when a chance visit to a local florist saw me rummaging in big box of multi-coloured ribbons like a child on Christmas morning, I was hooked. For the way it can crumple and crease, wave and undulate, hang in loops and in haphazard formulations across a tree, I was a tinsel-man transformed. And now all of my trees feature this truly versatile construct, in every colour and texture. For me the result is a level of elegance which my trees have not reached before and which, when coupled with branches fully loaded with baubles both monochromatic and patterned, round and cutely shaped, produces a truly festive display, both at work, and at home.

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.    

Cabalgata de los Reyes

Christmas in Spain is altogether a different experience from the UK. Yes, you have the Christmas lights hanging in their abundance throughout the streets of Spanish cities, but the warmer air around them feels less Dickens, and more Diego Rivera. And where many would place a large twinkling tree in their house in the UK, here in Spain, they might instead place a wonderfully detailed nativity. But of all the differences of the season, the one which surely brings the most cheer is the celebrations of the Three Kings festival on the night of 5th and the day of the 6th January. For while in England the 12th night is possibly the most depressing night of the year, when decorations come down to reveal a bleak and empty January, here in Spain it is one of the most joyful celebrations of the year.

At the heart of those celebrations is the Cabalgata de los Reyes, literally the ride of the Kings, when Spaniards in their hundreds of thousands line the streets of their respective cities to watch huge carnival-style parades. At the heart of the parade are the three Kings themselves, each enthroned with their various gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, while both before and after the Kings, a number of other widely varying floats of every kind of fantastical theme, colour and performance entertain the crowds. Most importantly of all, sweets and other gifts will be thrown in their hundreds from the floats to the eagerly awaiting audience.

DSC04483 DSC04341 DSC04331 DSC04391 DSC04402

Here in Palma, the Mallorcan brand of Three Kings parade did not disappoint – I’ve never seen one on such a brilliantly spectacular scale with unicorns and fairies, devils and acrobats, live musicians and dancers all brought into the mix. With sweets showering the air, and the streets packed with people, it made for an unbelievable atmosphere which enabled the festive season to end with a magnificent bang. Now, filled with such positivity, I feel not sadness at taking down my decorations, but excitement and anticipation about welcoming in the onset of Spring!

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.

Happy Christmas from The Daily Norm!

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and in the office of The Daily Norm, we intend to get thoroughly sloshed on mulled wine. Meanwhile the blobby white Norms are toasting their favourite snack – marshmallows – over a glittery Christmas candle, and trying to solve the age-old dilemma of how best they should hang out a stocking for Santa when they don’t have feet.

After several weeks settling into our new abode in Mallorca, my beloved and I are newly returned to England to pass the season with family. For us, that means a trip to Sussex, and here in a county of green rolling hills, crackling fireplaces, smoke puffing from old stone chimneys and homes alight with the glow of Christmas, we have spent Christmas Eve exploring some of the more Christmasy spots: the County Town of Chichester, whose rather magnificent cathedral was alive with the Christmas spirit when we visited this afternoon, and the little hill top Seat of the Dukes of Norfolk: Arundel. In both historical towns, there was plenty to photograph, what with the Georgian townhouses trimmed with seasonal ornamentation, and the little shopfronts alive with a Christmas glow, but with only my iPhone to hand, what follows is a series of mobile phone square-framed shots taken in last-minute homage to the season.

IMG_0970 IMG_0969 IMG_1007 IMG_1010IMG_1004

So with these pictures, and with these final sober words, I bid all of The Daily Norm readers a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for your loyalty, your interest and your support. Have an amazing, suitably indulgent seasonal celebration and see you soon! Right, that mulled wine smells about ready…

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.