Friday Fun: Inspiring Stationery

For some reason, book people are also often quite fond of stationery products – and of course, as a writer, one can never have too many notebooks or pens. It’s quite funny to see how popular expensive stationery is, when we are writing less and less by hand! I will be including some Japanese products as well, for January in Japan, and because they are masters of paper production!

This is the Japanese stationery we are familiar with nowadays – all cute and ‘kawaii’. I think my (now nearly fully grown) sons like this sort of stuff even more than me! From Ali Express.
The Japanese produce a huge variety of paper, from thin tissue to parchment style. This fragile type is called chiyogami, is typically used for origami, and features patterns from traditional kimonos, from LC Paper Co.
Some day I will find the time to take up Japanese calligraphy properly, especially with a set like this, from Art Lot.
This transportable leather stationery set would have been my favourite thing ever as a teenager, from Candle & Blue.
Some people are so good at having a tidy desk with plenty of delicious stationery, like @annimint on Twitter.
I often tidy up my stationery, but it somehow never stays tidy like this for long! From Creative Boom.
To be honest, I am more of a fan of the dark, sleek type of stationery – what one might call the ‘masculine’ look, from
And this is my current favourite as a notebook, Tsubame from Japan: beautiful quality of paper, the pen just slides on it perfectly, opens up flat, and it’s light, easy to carry with you everywhere.

Friday Fun: Wishing for Snow

It has been a cold winter in Egypt, one of my work colleagues tells me, and an unseasonably warm one in many parts of Europe. There has been more snow for skiing in Aberdeen than in Switzerland. So here I am wishing for snow to fall in places where everyone can cope with the snowfall, where people’s livelihoods depend upon it falling, and where it looks as pretty as in the pictures below.

This is the kind of American home I would aspire to: including the colour. From Kelly Elko.
An altogether grander, more modern affair, from Architectural Digest.
Swiss chalets, whether traditional or more modern, always come with excellent insulation. From SwissGetaway.
The traditional Norwegian houses are just made for snow – the red and white and green are the perfect Christmas decoration. From
More red and white beauties from Norway, because I can’t help myself! From
But I also adore the very pointy traditional Japanese houses, like these from Shirakawa, from Japan Objects.

Friday Fun: Castles in the snow, that is what we are…

In summer we might be islands in the stream, but in winter, I feel more like a castle in the snow, don’t you? And, since it’s escapist Friday, we won’t even worry about the heating bills!

Some day I will get to see this enormous monument (and hotel, I believe) in Quebec City, from
I’ve featured the beautiful Chateau de Gudanes before, but here it is in its winter coat. From (they do an advent calendar as well, good to know for next year)
Almost as stunning as Versailles, the frozen grounds of Vaux-le-Vicomte, which is open for wedding bookings if you are thus inclined! From Sumptuous Events.
The most famous German castle, Neuschwanstein, looks like a dream in winter. From
But there are other dreamy German castles too, such as the Hohenzollern one, which makes me wonder why they bothered to leave it in order to become kings of Romania (a country they had no connection with) in 1881. From
A more modest castle, which I visited many a time with my young children, Chateau de Chillon in Switzerland, in whose dungeons lurked a prisoner whose sorry fate inspired Byron. From
A rather charming poster of Chateau de Chillon, from Swiss flag is indispensable, of course!

Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating, and a happy end of the calendar year to everyone! Hope you get a chance to rest and recharge your batteries!

Friday Fun: Festive Decorations and Lights

There are so many holidays all over the world during this period: Christmas, Hannukah, New Year, any thing to drive out the cold and gloom. Here are some scenes that should cheer us up, even if we haven’t yet put up our Christmas tree or sent any cards.

All cosy inside with a Christmas tree, from House Beautiful.
Winter solstice spiral, from Alpenglow School.
Japanese New Year decorations, from
Hanukkah decorations, from Pinterest.
Festive Field of Lights at Blenheim Palace, from Country and Town House.
Light displays in Tokyo, from WAttention.
There are Christmas markets all over Europe, but I will leave you with just this one from Sibiu, Romania, which also boasts an ice rink. From

Friday Fun: Traditional Japanese Houses

Traditional old houses in Japan tend to lose their value and are difficult to restore. Few people want to be saddled with them, as they are frequently in remote locations and badly insulated. However, you can’t fault their aesthetics – and since these Friday posts are all about escapism, I will simply look for the positives: that elegant, minimalist style which is so good for my mental health. (They are also very much present in Studio Ghibli productions)

A countryside home – minka (people’s home, for the non-samurai classes), from Japan Objects.
The gardens are of course one of the most appealing features, so far removed from most city dwellings, from Japan Travel Magazine.
Some houses are on stilts or water, from Wonder Travel Blog.
A renovated house, combining Japanese and Western style, from CNN.
I can’t tell you how frequently I have longed for a kotatsu type table (that would be heated underneath, keeping your feet toasty). From Mansion Global.
The typical corridor going outside the main rooms, like a sort of porch, with sliding shoji doors. It feels like absolute peace! From Mansion Global.
One more inner courtyard to finish things off. I would never move from that veranda! From InDesign Singapore.

Friday Fun: Tucked Away

It’s the time of the year when all I want to do is drop everything and hide away in a cosy little place, preferably in the mountains, preferably with snow and skiing nearby, with a log fireplace and plenty of good books to keep me happy.

Country cottage, anyone? From
This modern Swiss chalet will also do the trick, although it does look a trifle exposed. From
What about this sleek tree house in Austria designed by architect Peter Pichler? From
The simple comforts of a Norwegian cabin, from
Finland is also great at making the veranda look appetising even in extreme cold, from
A traditional Romanian country home which has been renovated as a B&B, see Casa Glod on
This fairytale setting is also from Romania, from

Friday Fun: Back to What I Do Best…

When things go against you and the entire family collapses with something that could be flu or bronchitis or tonsillitis or all three rolled into one, one should stick to what one knows and likes best, namely my beloved chateaux or manor houses, which is how Friday Fun got started.

In previous years, I might have been tempted to do a World Cup of stately homes from the countries participating in the FIFA World Cup, but this year it has been so problematic (not that I was any happier about 2018) that I will just stick to a few sturdy favourites. Oh, and they all are (or were until recently) for sale, so better hurry!

Chateau Pezenac in France, from Sotheby’s Real Estate.
Chateau in Provence, from Knight Frank.

Wonder if the sheep come with the property? Chateau de Marsan, from The Glam Pad.
Chateau Marsan is available for sale with all its interior decorations, which, as you can see, are very chateau-like indeed.
Not just France, Italy also provides stunning locations for villas, this one is popular as a wedding location. From Luxury Architecture.
The Italians never stint on their external decorations, unlike the more austere French exteriors. From Mansion Global.
This Chateau Hauteville in Switzerland was put on sale by the family for auction with all its contents and was purchased by Pepperdine University for its European campus.
The Neo-Gothic splendour of Miclauseni Castle in Romania, from Tripadvisor.

Friday Fun: To Read, Perchance to Dream

I think we’re all agreed that you can never have too many inspiring reading nooks, right?

Comfy reading chair and picture window, from Modern Home and Decor.
You can even turn your back to this window and I love the little inbuilt table for your drink or bookmark etc. From Decoist.
Back to window seats, with a landscape like a painting outside. From
It’s not all about forests: here’s an option for those of us who live in cities. I love the cosy throw. From Pinterest.
For the lucky few who have a porch and a swing chair, from Bored Panda.
Not strictly speaking a reading nook, more of a tiny house, but I wouldn’t mind using it as my personal library. From

Friday Fun: Going Mad in Attics

I’ve just finished reading Marlen Haushofer’s novella The Loft, but I’ve long had a love for attic conversions. In fact, back in the days when I thought this might be my forever house, I was planning to convert the loft into a very big study for myself (so that my sons can call me ‘the madwoman in the attic, perhaps?), drawing inspiration from one of the below.

A porthole, a swingchair and a skylight, who could want anything more? From
This one has my favourite colour scheme and a shabby chic look, but might feel a bit chilly in winter. From
Beautifully romantic rural feel, plus another hanging chair. From
This one actually reminds me of Austrian B&Bs in Tyrol and Salzburg, from
This one is on a gigantic scale, perfect as a ballroom with a reading corner. From
Needless to say, it’s the ones full of books that I really appreciate. From Pinterest.
This one has an especially cosy feel to it. From

Friday Fun: Shepherds’ Lifestyle

I often boast about being descended from shepherds, which is also the most traditional occupation in Romania (one of our oldest folk ballads features shepherds – albeit, quarrelling ones). There is no one in the younger generation to keep the tradition going, but maybe if I had a hut like one of those below, I might change my mind!

Now a popular form of ‘glamping’. I just can’t see my great-uncle sitting in that deckchair! From

They look more like railway carriages than shepherd huts to me, but I wouldn’t turn one down. From

I’m certain that the only bath my ancestors had in their huts while they were up on the mountain in summer was in buckets or mountain streams. From

Is it a shepherd’s hut or a boudoir? From

This is the more realistic sort of place that I remember from my childhood, from AlpinClick.

And here is a French one from the early 20th century. From