Friday Fun: My Personal Interior Designer

I’ve shown his work in previous Friday Fun posts (see last week’s libraries for example), but let us take a moment to fully appreciate Luis Bustamente, Spanish interior designer of international renown. He started out as a sculptor and painter, and this shows in his quite grandiose interior schemes with large pieces of art. However, the reason I love him is that in nearly every one of his projects, he includes a library or at the very least some bookshelves. Let’s hope the owners of the properties appreciate this as much as he does. So, if I ever become fabulously wealthy, he’ll be the one designing my house, complete with at least one or two or three home libraries. All of the pictures below are taken from his website.

No windows? No problem with this hidden library that has doors leading in from multiple sides and mirrors to enhance the light.
For those who cannot conceive of a library without a mezzanine floor…
Clever use of skylights and a light colour scheme to make the most of another windowless room.
The best wall divider one can have: bookshelves.
He managed to squeeze in bookcases even in a Swiss chalet in Gstaad. Well, I’d certainly want some books for apres-ski, wouldn’t you?
Even in corporate projects, Bustamente manages to sneak in bookshelves. This is for the London Embassy Gardens luxury apartments in Nine Elms.
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Friday Fun: Emerge from Your Library?

Maybe not just yet, not when the libraries look so tempting…

This looks like something out of Beauty and the Beast, from Pinterest.
Library of the Waldsassen Monastery in Bavaria.
Victor Hugo’s library in his house in Guernsey.
A cosy fireplace and a cuddly pet are great accessories, from Archzine.com
And that is why I love high ceilings – designed by Luis Bustumante.
Books really bring colour to even the most neutral and airy of bedrooms, from Pinterest.
And if you can’t leave your books alone overnight, or need to recover after all the holiday eating, here is the sleep-in library from Mildred Slane.

My 2018 in First Posts

As in past years, I may cheat a little bit to find the most relevant sentences from this year’s blog posts which best describe 2018. A year of finally achieving stability and contentment of sorts after 4 years of tumult, but with all the usual feelings of guilt and never having enough time to do everything I want. 

So, each year I leap.

Soothe through boxing gloves…

Too ferocious to be constrained by borders in light and shade/ we shimmer in the mirror

I emerged like a warrior after endless wars in Troy: with a strained ligament, a pulled deltoid, throbbing headache, shortness of breath and a cold.

It is tempting to wonder what Orwell would have written if he had been living today.

With all of the book-buying binges I’ve been indulging in for the past year, I’ve had to rethink how I arrange my books on the shelves.

She sat down to do her mission report and invoices.

Close Encounters of the Welsh Kind

I finally took a couple of days off work and visited Cambridge with my sons.

Motherly guilt played a part.

The stones on the ground all glitter enchantingly, since these hills used to contain gold. 

I’ve let my #EU27Project languish for far too long… 

It has been fun keeping so busy, attending so many events, getting involved in multiple literary projects. But I think my word for 2019 will be ‘Restraint’. Not sexy, but necessary. It’s time to choose just a few important things to focus on. Help my son through his exams and to make the best decisions about his future. Make the poetry chapbook as good as I can and bring the novel to a presentable state. Save money by not buying books, booking holidays and going to shows at the drop of a hat. Read wisely and deeply rather than too widely and superficially. Take better care of my health: not eat so excessively, not be quite so extravagantly lazy.

Happy New Year, one and all! Let’s hope 2019 will be better than expected.

Friday Fun: Tasty Conversions

But not always tasteful… Perhaps it’s overindulging on all those Christmas treats… Have a great end to 2018 and may 2019 be gentle with us!

Churches are always very popular conversions – and who doesn’t want a rosette window? From sellhousefast.co.uk
Another church conversion – perfect if you don’t mind the heating bills… From Deardesigner.com
Austrian barn conversion by Gangoly & Kristiner Architekten, from homedsgn.com
This barn or farmhouse takes conversion perhaps a little too far for my taste. From trendir.com 
Converted oast houses abound in Kent, from The Telegraph.
Industrial conversions from the Victorian or Edwardian age are rather spacious – this is a former pump house. From thespaces.com
It’s the farmhouses that attract me every time, especially when skilfully blended with glass to let more light in. From luxuryideas.blogspot.com

Friday Fun: Hunkering Down for Christmas

Most suggestions for Christmas decorations feel a little tacky, but I cannot resist showing you some seasonal delights. And not a red Christmas tree in sight!

A bountiful dining scene from Virginia, USA, from Jennings and Gates.
Cosy fireplace at Gravetye Manor, from luxuryrestaurantguide.com
Cliveden House is even more spectacular than usual at Christmas.
Weston Hall Hotel looks ever so slightly spooky…
Chalet chic for Christmas, if you prefer the Continent, from Lushome.
Or what about this French country home, from SerendipityRefined.com
A few enchanting Scandinavian details to round things off, from Pippa James Interiors.

Friday Fun: Urban Gardens

After attending my beekeeping classes, I’ve realised just how important even the tiniest of urban gardens are (as well as big trees in parks) for keeping the bee population alive and thriving in our cities. In many cases, the bees are better off in the urban environment, because there are fewer pesticides than in the countryside. 

Balcony on Ile St Louis, Paris, from guestpartment.com
Quick, cheerful and cheap option, from deco-cool.fr
Garden in Rome, from SimonMetz.com
Penthouse garden in NYC, from Laurel B. Interiors
The more DIY approach to rooftop gardens from Germany, from diana212blogspot.com
Why not a house surrounded by a garden and koi pond, like this Nagasaki home, from Pinterest.
Disuses railway lines have been transformed into promenades in a number of cities, including the Highline Promenade in NYC.

Last But One Book Haul of 2018

I still have some books that are winging their way towards me, and I may still be swayed by one or two reviews or recommendations before I close up book-buying-shop next year. Of course, I will still have the Asymptote Book Club subscription to stave off my hunger pangs. And a couple of hundred of unread books on my shelves…

So, with that caveat, what are my most recent acquisitions?

First of all, #EU27Project noblesse oblige, I had to find a book for Bulgaria and Slovakia. Well, strictly speaking, I’d already found a book for Slovakia but then I  met a translator from Slovakian, Julia Sherwood, at the Asymptote Book Club meeting, and so I had to buy one of the books she translated. This is Pavel Vilikovsky’s Fleeting Snow, a gentle set of reminiscences about a long marriage as the wife of the narrator gradually starts to lose her memory. A very different novel about the fall of Communism in Bulgaria, Party Headquarters by Georgi Tenev seems to not have found many fans abroad, but that rather incited me to read it and make up my own mind.

From publishers, I received two crime novels to review. Bitter Lemon Press sent Petra Hammersfahr’s novel The Sinner formed the basis for the recent TV series, although the setting has been changed from Germany to the US. Many of the links are more obvious in the book than in the TV series, so it’s interesting to compare the two. Meanwhile, Simon and Schuster sent RJ Bailey’s  Winner Kills All, featuring female Personal Protection Officer Sam Wylde. In the wake of the huge success of the TV series The Bodyguard, this book series may do very well indeed!

Most of the other new arrivals were the result of reading other people’s blogs. So hereby I am naming and shaming them! Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings is responsible for Portraits without Frames: Poems by Lev Ozerov, essentially a group portrait of Russian writers of the 1920s and 30s in free verse form. Jacquiwine’s Journal needs to take a bow for Brian Moore’s The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, although it may take a while until I summon up the courage to read this very sad tale. Melissa Beck, who blogs at Bookbinder’s Daughter, is the one who first drew my attention to Odessa Stories by Isaac Babel, translated by Boris Dralyuk (who also is one of the main translators of Ozerov). Last but not least, Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best, with her #6Degrees link for December made me stumble across Black Run by Antonio Manzini, and I remembered I’d come across it before, mentioned by another Italian writer, and my ordering finger was once again hyper-active.

Who needs divorce lawyers sucking you dry, when your online friends also make sure they finish off your budget through their recommendations?