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Posts tagged ‘Shopping’

Norms in Rome | The Spanish Steps

The Norms do enjoy a little bit of something chic, al la mode, au courant. So, when in Rome, do as the Roman high society would have you do, and go shopping in the city’s glitziest boutiques, all of which can be found in the immediate vicinity of the Spanish Steps.

The sweeping staircase of 135 steps has always had a touch of baroque glamour about it, but gained a Hollywood dazzle when it was the backdrop to Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s not-so-chance encounter in the 1953 epic, Roman Holiday. But even before hitting the silver screen, the staircase was the stuff of romantic legend, as it was location to the house of English Romantic poetic, John Keats, who lived and died in his house on the right side of the staircase in 1821.

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Norms on the Spanish Steps (2018 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Naturally, the Norms feel an impulsive need to imbue themselves in the natural elegance of this area, and while they find bouncing up and down the many stairs somewhat tiresome, there can be little denying the true pleasure of both seeing, and being seen in the place that society says really does matter. No wonder the Norms are out in such large numbers to enjoy this true highlight of the Roman cityscape.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. 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. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit 

Moroccan Norms survey the Souks of Marrakech

Anything we can do, the Norms can do better, and more often than not as soon as we explore a new part of the world, the globular footprint of these gelatinous characters follows in our wake. Marrakech may be a surprising choice for these travel-fond creatures, especially given the relative unavailability of bubbly wine which a recent trip to Siena confirmed was their favourite source of sustenance. But given that their second favourite pastime is buying their way around Norm-World’s most interesting shops, the utterly diverse product-packed labyrinth of Marrakech’s Medina Souks is a pretty suitable choice for the Norms.

Marrakech Norms Souk

Moroccan Norms Survey the Souks of Marrakech (Pen and ink on paper, © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, 2017)

But of course visiting Norms are not the only blobs to gather in the Norm-Souks, and in today’s illustration, you can see the Norms who are also resident traders and local shoppers alike. Whether it be to breathe deep the perfume of rose essence and moroccan spices, to touch the silken thread of magical carpets, or to gaze in wonder at the sparkling brass pots, lanterns and lamps, the magpie Norms are naturally attracted to this Aladdin’s cave of exotic emporiums. And is this packed street, framed by horseshoe arches and plied with plenty, it is not hard to see the attraction. Happy shopping Norms!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. 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. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit 

The Colours of Marrakech, Part 4: Multi-coloured Souks

Winding, uneven, disorientating streets, packed with every kind of sight and sound and smell. A maze of chaotic, pulsating brilliance, cross crossed with shards of light as the boiling heat penetrates awnings made of grass and bamboo. These are the Souks of Marrakech, the utterly mesmerising completely confusing labyrinth of tightly packed market streets which sit at the heart of the city’s ancient Medina, and of its inhabitants. For trade has always been central to the functioning of Marrakech, which grew up around its perfect positioning for business with Spain and the rest of mighty Africa. Today the Souks remain the ancient location for the thousands of craftsmen eking out an existence selling their handmade wares, and easily the most fascinating place to visit.


The Souks are intrinsically beautiful. Packed with gold and ivory, leather and metalwork, great piles of spices, others of candied fruits, stalls loaded high with magical carpets, they are a real sight to be seen, as well as to smell. But be under no illusion. A visit to the Souks is an endurance test and a hard often intimidating slog for any westerner (since, lets face it, we stick out like a sore thumb against the more traditional dress of the locals). Wherever you go, you draw attention. Many see money, others see a nuisance, but almost everyone will want something from you and every 5 seconds you will need to handle an approach or a plea. Walking along those precariously narrow streets is no stroll in the park – locals use the same narrow lanes to drive like maniacs on mopeds, weaving as they do so in and out of poor donkeys, still heaving along heavy carts like a rewind back 200 years, and chickens who meander around clucking, unaware of their forthcoming bloody fate. For those on foot, you must get used to jumping out of the way, being careful not to fall into one of those precariously balanced spice piles as you do so. Then there’s the merchants. Catch their eyes, and like spiders they will ensnare you in their web. Look at their produce, take an interest in their wares, and they will lure you further still until the trap closes in. Try to get out without purchasing something I dare you! And don’t even think of looking at a map. Suggest for one second you are lost and you will be surrounded by mischievous teenagers who will try to persuade you to take them on as a tour guide. Their tricks are well known. They will get you all the more lost, taking you deeper into the Souks, before demanding money for your release.


It all sounds rather terrifying, I know. And going to the Souks is never exactly comfortable. But there is something so utterly mesmerising about this magical world that you cannot help but go back for more and gaze in sheer wonder at this incredible picture of a wonderfully different life. Until you go to the Souks, you will never truly appreciate what is Marrakech, nor Morocco. This is where the cultural differences are at their most extreme. The authenticity of the scene makes the so-called Moroccan shops in Southern Spain look like a sham. And the beauty of the place is such that you will want to photograph until your camera battery is exhausted – but be careful with this too. The locals hate being photographed and those less shy will demand money for the privilege.


So those are the Souks that ensnared our souls, scaring us aplenty but which provided the most memorable experiences of our trip. And we came away with some Saharan pottery, a metal lion, a miniature red tagine and some orange blossom essence. Not bad, especially as we were required to barter as part of the process, something which is inherently uncomfortable for the polite English. Long will I remember this maze of plenty, its exotic smells and hardened people. Most of all I will remember the multiple colours which characterise this dazzling place.

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

Norms Palma Series: Christmas Shopping at La Pajarita

While there is no doubt that the island of Mallorca truly comes alive when the summertime descends, its capital city of Palma is often uncomfortable when packed with tourists and baked under a relentless sun. But come Christmas, when the tourist hoards are back at home and the city becomes once again the realm of its locals, Palma metamorphoses into a festive delight of late night shopping, Christmas carols and streets filled with lights. As the local Palma Norms prepare for this most favourite of their annual celebrations, they delight in the sparkling manifestation of Christmas in the streets of their city, bouncing from shop to shop as they stock up on presents, food and of course a treat or five for themselves.


Norms Christmas Shopping at La Pajarita (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

But of all the shops in the little maze-like streets of Palma, the Norms’ absolute favourite at Christmas time has to be La Pajarita. Not only is it one of the oldest shops in the city, but the one which sells all of the Norms’ greatest temptations: marzipan fruits, chocolate langues du chats, unctuous turrones, glacier cherries, and boiled sweets of every shape and size. Resembling Norms in both texture and colour, marzipan is probably the Norms’ ultimate delight, and here we join the Norms as they gaze in wonder through the window at the marzipan treats on show, while others bounce away joyfully with their sweet selection wrapped, bagged and ready to go home.

© 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at

Discovering Palma: Mercat de Santa Catalina

This weekend, rather unbelievably, we will be marking two months since we moved to Mallorca – in some ways surprisingly long, in others surprisingly short. For we have already discovered so much about our incredible home city of Palma de Mallorca – from its winding old town streets, to its hidden tapas gems, nearby sandy beaches and even a cinema showing films in English – that it is hard to accept that we have only been here a mere matter of weeks. But despite many an exploration made, there is still much left to discover, as our recent gastronomic sojourn in the Santa Catalina market demonstrated.

We had heard much about the Mercat de Santa Catalina (or Mercado in Castellan) before we ventured there ourselves. Half the problem was that despite its excellent reputation, we could never quite seem to find the market, despite wandering always close by. But this time we had the market firmly marked on the map and did not miss it.

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Compared with the Mercat de Olivar, a market on an almost industrial scale, the Mercat in Santa Catalina is a far more select affair, and for that reason is characterised by a clear focus on gastronomy rather than economy – a clear case of quality, not quantity in this refined temple of food. Walking amongst its compact and well stocked aisles,  any chef or food lover cannot help but get emotional at the sensational food on offer, from an abundance of fresh fish in glittering silvers and soft pinks, to fruit and vegetables so perfectly rounded and robust in colour and quality that they look picked straight from Eden.

Happily if, like me, you become a little overwhelmed with all that is in offer, so astounded by the impact of the produce that all cooking ideas float straight out of your head, you can at least sample some of the best food from the market in a series of popular bars dotted around the periphery. Such is their popularity however that you must jostle for a space, and that meant seizing upon such opportunities to reach a bar as arose. For us that meant finding ourselves squeezed into a small space at the bar of the Tallat a ma S’agla, which was a fine piece of luck, because the Salamancan bellota ham we indulged in was amongst the finest I have ever eaten.

The Mercat de Santa Catalina can be found bridging the Carrer de Servet and the Carrer d’Annibal just East of Palma’s centre.

Discovering Palma: Boutique Shopping

Of the many characteristics of Palma de Mallorca which make the city such a charming, vivacious and engaging place to discover, one of my favourites has to be its proliferation of privately owned boutique shops. From shops crammed with local produce, to fashion boutiques selling unknown designers, sweet shops full of jewel like offerings and basket weavers with their rafts full of artisan hand-woven products, Palma is a city which promotes the hand made and locally created, as well as supporting local business men and women in setting up their own shops. Unlike the UK, whose high streets have become such a depressing spectacle of widespread commercialisation, with privately owned shops being priced out of the high street to be replaced by the same monotony of big chains which appear in every town and city across the country, Palma’s streets are full of one-off unique boutiques. This makes a stroll through Palma, or a quest for that perfect distinctive gift an enthralling experience – there is so much to choose from in shops each individually different from their neighbour.

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As is so often the case with privately owned boutiques, these shops are a pleasure on the eye, as shopkeepers vie with one another to dress their windows, shop walls, ceilings and floors with the most plentiful and creative offerings. So many of the shops have stood the test of time, and as a result can be found within the original distinctive art nouveau casing created when the shops were first conceived. Take the stunning Forn Fondo pasteleria on the Carrer de la Unio for example: this enticing sweet shop can be found enveloped in a blue and gold decorative modernista shop front which is itself good enough to eat, and straight out of the golden era of late 19th century street scenes. Then there’s the La Pajarita Bomboneria and Charcuteria on the Carrer de Sant Nicolau whose red panelled frontage complete with stripy red and white awnings looks like something straight out of Dickensian London.

Forn Fondo

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La Pajarita

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Asides from the sweets, some of Palma’s most visually enticing boutiques are those selling the local savoury specialities, from sabrossada sausage (which is a little like chorizo but softer), to local goats cheeses and the famous Mallorca salt. These shops are a treat for tourists, who cannot help but gaze in wonder at Aladdin’s caves full of local produce, with sausages of every shape and size hanging from the ceiling, and shelves loaded from floor to ceiling with local wines, olive oils, jams, salts and pickles. You’ll also find a good many ensaïmadas, the spiralled local pastry sold in what look like hat boxes all over town.

Aladdin’s Caves of local produce

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Finally, Palma is evidentially an artistic and creative hub, and asides from the significant collection of galleries, fashion boutqiues and interior design emporiums, you will also find a number of artisan shops where crafts men and women live and work, selling their handmade wares expertly crafted with years of experience behind them. Gordiola glassworks for example is a kaledascopic heaven of multicoloured glass, all blown by hand and made at the site for generations. Then there’s the wonderland of weave that is the Mimbreria Vidal, a father and son basket shop which is one of the last remaining shops on the island to ply this traditional Mallorquin trade, and where basket and weaved items of every shape and size, from chairs to laundry baskets are made to order. Unable to resist the charm, several of their baskets are now being put to very good use in my bathroom.

Gordiola glassworks

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Mimbreria Vidal

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And that is the thing about Palma’s boutique shops. They make you want to buy, to support local trade. For there is nothing nicer than the friendly face and attentive service inherent in a business privately owned. I just hope that, against the trend of towns and cities the world over, these private shops continue to thrive far into the future.

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

Norm Christmas Cards – now for sale on Etsy!

Halloween is over, the evenings are quickly darkening, and there are only 7 weeks until Christmas – so the time has surely come to get your Christmas cards in order. Here on the Daily Norm, we like to help out with these little things, and in the spirit of spreading the Norms’ reach criss-crossing around the globe this festive season, the Norms have printed their very own Christmas cards in the hope that readers of the Daily Norm from around the world will also help to spread a little Norm festive cheer this year.

Hot off the press, these Christmas cards are prints of my 2011 paintings, Santa Norm and Snowman Norm. With whimsical, quirky, colourful and Christmasy artwork, these cards are both original and artistic ways of wishing your friends, family and associates a very Happy Christmas. With these cards, you will truly be sending a work of art this Christmas!

The Cards consist of a high quality, semi-gloss image printed onto sizeable A5 cardboard (148 x 210 cm/ 8.3 x 5.8 inches). Each cellophane wrapped pack of 10 cards comes with 5 cards of both the Snowman and Santa Norm design and 10 matching white envelopes. The inside of the cards reads: “WARMEST WISHES FOR A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR”.

And most importantly of all, they are available on my Etsy shop right here!

Now I don’t mean to turn my blog into a sales room, but since Norm is the new Holly (not to mention the Ivy), these cards are pretty much a must for those in the know this year. Need I say more?

Seasons greetings from the Norms (it’s early I know, but Norms are very organised creatures).

Ravishing Radleys – The picture bags that keep on giving

Now you can never accuse the Daily Norm of neglecting its female audience, nor indeed the best of British. And in todays post, I’m targeting both. On a recent trip to my parents home, I was treated to a display of my mother’s new Radley picture bags. The bags, which are limited edition leather creations by London luxury bag maker, Radley, and which generally retail for around £200 each, are a pictorial delight, so much so that I just had to photograph them and share them on The Daily Norm. My mother now has one bag from each of the respective 2010, 2011 and 2012 collections, but a fair number of equally exceptional designs have gone before them. The bags are unique, playful and colourful – sufficient to brighten anyone’s day. Nonetheless, it is ironically recommended that the bags should be stored away, in their original packaging, and never touched – such is the value which attaches to these limited edition items. Like all things, it is tempting to pack limited edition items away for prosperity, but with whimsical scenes as good as these, surely this protectionist stance somewhat misses the point? At the very least, the bags require a regular outing around the house just so we can gaze at their jolly offerings.

The first bag of my mother’s collection is Beside the Seaside launched in the Spring Summer 2010 collection. Complete with beach huts, a deckchair, a seagull and a seaside promenade, it illustrates the archetypal British seaside resort.

Inside, the picture bags contain a little coin pouch, while the back of the bag has its own accompanying design.

My mother’s next purchase was the 2011 Autumn/ Winter picture bag, Through the Hoop, a wonderful Toulouse Lautrec inspired circus scene.

And here is it’s back and coin pouch.

Finally the 2012 Spring/Summer picture bag, Happy Camper, illustrating a typical camping scene complete with caravan, awning and summer barbeque. It appears that after only a week since its release, the bag has already sold out from the Radley website, but I’m sure overpriced resales are widely available on ebay!

So all this makes me think – I really need to make Norm handbags! Can you imagine the possibilities?! But how to go about it… If anyone knows someone who makes leather goods, please let me know! In the meantime I leave you with a picture of the bags all packed up in the protective drawstring bags ready for bed. Until next time…