A Weekend at Ivywood Cottage, Norfolk

Mr Malmo and I are not really country people. He grew up in Nottingham surrounded by bus fumes rather than bushes and, although I hail from Northumberland, 20 years of living in London have rendered me twitchy whenever I am more than 300 metres away from a filament bulb and a flat white. However, having three boys has given us a new found appreciation of wide open spaces where you can let lad/labradors off the leash with less people around to hear you loudly telling them to stop what they are doing and go for a poo or to take a SuperZing out of their nose. With this in mind my google holiday search have increasingly started to feature more escapes to the country than city breaks which is how I discovered Ivywood Cottage on the Norfolk/Suffolk border .

The black timber clad exterior of a rustic shed in the garden of Ivywood Cottage in Norfolk

The black timber clad exterior of a rustic shed in the garden of Ivywood Cottage in Norfolk

About the Cottage

Ivywood Cottage is owned by Laura and James who live in the big house next door with their 3 year old identical twin boys and new baby. It was the discovery that they were expecting the twins that prompted them to trade in their one bedroom flat in Islington for James’ native Norfolk and a Georgian House in the country with the added bonus of Ivywood Cottage attached. Moving from such a busy part of North London to Redenhall was, Laura admits, a massive change. Instead of the emergency services hurting past at all hours of day and night and noisy neighbours stomping around, they now have the odd tractor trundling past and a cockerel crowing next door. But having grown up on a farm herself and James a country village it wasn't the huge shock it could have been.

The dreamy cottage exterior of Ivywood with a picture perfect porch. I love the whitewashed bricks and clematis growing up around the door

The dreamy cottage exterior of Ivywood with a picture perfect porch. I love the whitewashed bricks and clematis growing up around the door

In the summer this would be the perfect spot to sit out with a glass of wine watching the sun set

In the summer this would be the perfect spot to sit out with a glass of wine watching the sun set

Their adjustment to country life has, therefore, been fairly smooth bar some standard country-newbie errors (running out of oil...several times, forgetting they have a septic tank, not realising they had a soak-away pond, not realising the lush green garden was actually thick with ground elder and bind weed…. Reading this list revealed the depths of my own #urbanignorance because I initially thought Laura was referring to running out of olive oil here and thought a soak away pond might be some sort of cool Grand Designs style contemporary garden water feature rather than a tricksy pond drainage system.

Where most people see an old shed I see my dream modern rustic cabin with black cladding. I would love to add a garden studio at home a little bit like this. I loved the bunting strung from it

Where most people see an old shed I see my dream modern rustic cabin with black cladding. I would love to add a garden studio at home a little bit like this. I loved the bunting strung from it

Downstairs at the Cottage

Ivywood Cottage has been beautifully restored so that you get the best of old and new. So there are gorgeous flagstone floors, exposed beams and quirky staircases but also the comfort of having a beautiful contemporary kitchen in soft grey with metro tiles and on trend copper taps and the very 21st Century pleasure for soft linen bedding from Loaf on all the beds.

I loved the whitewashed brick flooring in the living room laid in a herringbone pattern

I loved the whitewashed brick flooring in the living room laid in a herringbone pattern

The living room at the cottage was painted in neutral colours with texture and warmth added through touches such as the jute rug and woolen cushions and blankets

The living room at the cottage was painted in neutral colours with texture and warmth added through touches such as the jute rug and woolen cushions and blankets

We visited in January so took full advantage of the cosy woodburner in the living room which comes complete with all the urban comforts you need to ease you into country life gently i.e. ready access to the latest copy of Kinfolk. I loved how Laura has carefully mixed interiors styles together in this room, introducing vintage pieces such as two 1950s midcentury armchairs covered in gorgeous mossy green and smokey grey velvet.

One of the changes that Laura and James made to the cottage was to add a woodburner

One of the changes that Laura and James made to the cottage was to add a woodburner

Laura has been really clever at blending contemporary and vintage in the cottage. I loved these velvet mid century armchairs she had had restored

Laura has been really clever at blending contemporary and vintage in the cottage. I loved these velvet mid century armchairs she had had restored

City dwellers relax, the cottage was fully stocked with the latest issues of Kinfolk and Cereal Magazine

City dwellers relax, the cottage was fully stocked with the latest issues of Kinfolk and Cereal Magazine

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The nearest town to the cottage is Harleston where we stocked up on locally baked bread, bacon from Norfolk bred pigs and fresh orange juice for breakfast (and if I am honest also Weetabix, Nutella and Robinsons squash because my kids regard Granola and Fresh Orange Juice as their breakfast enemies ). The kitchen has a gorgeous farmhouse table, bench and tolix seats and I loved the industrial touches like the vintage lights over the island and the concrete worktops.

White metro tiles on the walls give the kitchen a contemporary feel that works with the medieval bones of the cottage

White metro tiles on the walls give the kitchen a contemporary feel that works with the medieval bones of the cottage

Concrete worktops contrasted with the shaker style kitchen units to add a shot of industrial style to the kitchen

Concrete worktops contrasted with the shaker style kitchen units to add a shot of industrial style to the kitchen

Restored vintage brass taps in the kitchen with my dream Belfast sink

Restored vintage brass taps in the kitchen with my dream Belfast sink

I loved the vintage industrial pendant lights hanging over the kitchen island

I loved the vintage industrial pendant lights hanging over the kitchen island

The dining table and chairs which comfortably seat 6-8 for large family breakfasts, lunches and dinners

The dining table and chairs which comfortably seat 6-8 for large family breakfasts, lunches and dinners

Upstairs at the Cottage

Upstairs are two double bedrooms (one with an ensuite) and a large landing area with vaulted ceiling which houses a sofa bed meaning the cottage can comfortably sleep six making it ideal for a family break, a weekend away with friends or a romantic retreat with your partner where you can enjoy spaces in your togetherness i.e. escape their snoring if you need to!

The vaulted ceiling landing space which has a sofa bed. I loved the pinstripe blinds

The vaulted ceiling landing space which has a sofa bed. I loved the pinstripe blinds

High ceilings and gorgeous exposed oak beams in the landing area. I liked the modern twist added by the contemporary bulb lights

High ceilings and gorgeous exposed oak beams in the landing area. I liked the modern twist added by the contemporary bulb lights

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I loved the panelling that had been added to the second double bedroom and the smoky grey colour on the walls

I loved the panelling that had been added to the second double bedroom and the smoky grey colour on the walls

The combination of linen bedding and cast iron radiators in the bedrooms make them super warm and toasty

The combination of linen bedding and cast iron radiators in the bedrooms make them super warm and toasty

There are a plethora of lovely country walks you can do from the cottage and a host of country pubs dotted all around. Laura’s favourite walk is a big loop from the house which just happens (!) to pass three pubs along the way. The last pub (about a 10 minute walk from the house) has a super children's play park a stones through away #parentingwin. After you have been out to take in the country air come home and warm up in the huge roll top bath. I have never been a huge shower curtain fan but the yellow and white candy striped one at Ivywood totally changed my view. I would happily have it cling to my naked body (if you are reading Ryan Gosling have similar thoughts about you).

The vintage sink and vanity area in the gorgeous rustic bathroom

The vintage sink and vanity area in the gorgeous rustic bathroom

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Pale pink metro tiles add a contemporary twist in the bathroom and provide contrast to the timber walls and wooden floors

Pale pink metro tiles add a contemporary twist in the bathroom and provide contrast to the timber walls and wooden floors

The yellow and white shower curtain that frames the roll top bath

The yellow and white shower curtain that frames the roll top bath

Exploring the surrounding area

Whilst the cottage is perfectly positioned for enjoying the best of the countryside there are also plenty of lovely coffee and cake shops nearby should you need a #FlatWhiteFix. One of Laura’s favourite cafes, Marsh Larder, is on a local farm and when it's warm, you can sit outside with a glass of prosecco, eating homemade cake whilst the cows in the field next to you gaze on. Or, if, like me, you have a slight fear of bovine animals, why not try the Earsham Street Cafe in Bungay who serve up an awesome homemade cake. Bungay also has some great antiques and interiors shops and Laura recommends checking out Naken Interiors in Beccles who stock great brands like Ferm Living. Slightly further afield are all of the delights of the Suffolk coast. We worked our way over to Southwold one day via Darsham Nurseries which serves up delicious breakfasts and lunches in a garden nursery (think Petersham Nurseries rather than Dobbies Garden Centre).

Darsham Nurseries is a must visit place for delicious lunches and brunches close to the Suffolk Coast

Darsham Nurseries is a must visit place for delicious lunches and brunches close to the Suffolk Coast

I loved the vintage mirrors and industrial pendant lighting in Darsham Nurseries cafe

I loved the vintage mirrors and industrial pendant lighting in Darsham Nurseries cafe

The reclaimed wood clad bar at Darsham Nurseries was ticking all my modern rustic boxes

The reclaimed wood clad bar at Darsham Nurseries was ticking all my modern rustic boxes

There are great beach walks to enjoy at Dunwich, Covehithe, Aldeburgh, Thorpness and Southwold to name but a few and even more great pubs and bakeries to sample. No self respecting instagrammer (or donut fan) should leave Suffolk without calling in at the Pump Street Bakery in Orford. And if you are looking for the perfect place for Sunday lunch look no further than the Unruly Pig near Woodbridge.

Miniest Malmo enjoy a romp through the sand dunes at Walberswick

Miniest Malmo enjoy a romp through the sand dunes at Walberswick

The sand dunes at Walberswick beach on the Suffolk Coast

The sand dunes at Walberswick beach on the Suffolk Coast

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We stayed at Ivywood Cottage at a discount but even at full rates it is great value for a weekend away at around £100 a night depending on the time of year. A single hotel room can easily cost that without any of the comforts, luxuries and style that Ivywood offers. We are already thinking about coming back not least because I can’t wait to see the renovations that Laura is carrying out on their neighbouring Georgian House. I am hoping I can convince her to let me come back and do a house tour when she is finished! In the meantime if you would like to book a stay at Ivywood Cottage the link is here

Source: http://www.malmoandmoss.com

Best Places to stay in Malmö and Skåne County

Oh goodie our plane is delayed by two and half hours said no parent travelling with 3 young children ever.  With all electronic devices capable of playing C-Beebies having been drained of their batteries before we even left the tarmac at Gatwick, by the time we arrived in Malmö at 1am in the morning I would, quite frankly, have happily slept in the stockroom of the local Ikea.  I think the passenger in seat 11E who was hit in the face by a polystyrene recreation of Mr Tumble during an in flight toddler meltdown would have happily seen us locked in said stockroom.   Luckily, however, we did not end up bedded down amongst the Billy Bookcases and below is my round up of the best places to stay in Malmö whether you are travelling Hans Solo, in a couple, with friends or as a family.

Malmö

The Story Hotel

The first hotel we were booked into the was the Story Hotel.  Centrally located on the waterfront, it is a great place to stay if you are after somewhere that has Scandi interiors with an industrial edge.  Rooms come with great views over Malmö although you may find yourself just lying in bed staring at the amazing concrete ceilings instead.  If that sounds a little bit multi-storey car park then let me assure you there is not a whiff of the NCP about the decor as industrial features are balanced by warm tones and textures such as velvet chairs in deep burnt orange, warm copper lighting and thick natural linen curtains. 

Story Hotel

The hotel is also home to the only rooftop restaurant and bar in Malmö which has amazing views across the city and then out across the water to Copenhagen.  Being in the company of three kids under 8 we naturally had about as much chance of sipping a quiet cocktail at sunset as I have of slipping into size 6 skinny jeans and going out on a date with Ryan Gosling but we did get to enjoy the views of Malmö over our museli in the morning instead. 

The stunning rooftop restaurant

The stunning rooftop restaurant

The miniest Malmo enjoying breakfast with a view at the Story Hotel

The miniest Malmo enjoying breakfast with a view at the Story Hotel

Downstairs off the lobby looking out over the harbour is the restaurant Lokale 17.  It mirrors the industrial interiors of the hotel and had a really great atmosphere, with a cosy seating area and a buzzy bar.  Whilst the Story Hotel may not be predominantly marketed at families we did still find it worked really well as we had interconnecting rooms (the wholly grail for a family of five) .  It had a really relaxed friendly atmosphere and there were lots of lovely touches like a teddy left in the cot for our youngest and chocolates in the room for the eldest two (even there beige palettes were slightly affronted by the liquorice flavour choice).  It's location is also perfect for exploring Malmö.

The Lokale 71 bar

The Lokale 71 bar

The Loakle 71 restaurant

The Loakle 71 restaurant

If I was travelling with just Mr Malmo or some girlfriends and therefore had more than a 1 in 1.6million chance of a lie in, then the other hotel that caught my eye is the Hotel Duxiana.  The rooms all look beautifully designed with less of an industrial edge and more of a classic Scandinavian simplicity about them and because the hotel is owned by the luxury bed manufacturer Duxiana, you are pretty much guaranteed an amazing nights sleep!

Picture credit: Hotel Duxiana website

Picture credit: Hotel Duxiana website

If you have less Kroner clunking around in your pocket then the Clarion Hotel & Congress which is literally right next to the Malmo Saluhall (so maybe pack extra elasticated pants if you stay here) also looks a good option.  I did not visit it personally but I like the industrial styling in the restaurant and bar area from the website 

Picture credit: Clarion Hotel & Congress

Picture credit: Clarion Hotel & Congress

The OhBoy Hotel

For the second half of our stay in Malmö we moved to the OhBoy Hotel which has 31 loft type rooms split over two levels and equipped with kitchenettes meaning you can easily self cater if you are facing a #ryebreadrebellion from your kids. The interiors are light and bright using natural textures such a wood and brushed concrete and all the rooms feature locally designed and produced furniture from southern Swedish creatives. There is a strong emphasis on sustainability with every room being provided with a bike free of charge meaning you can easily navigate Malmö without needing a car.

The bedroom at the Ohboy Hotel

The bedroom at the Ohboy Hotel

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The kitchenette at the Ohboy had gorgeous concrete worktops

The kitchenette at the Ohboy had gorgeous concrete worktops

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The hotel is located in the Västra Hamnen area of the city which is a former industrial area by the water which has been completely redeveloped and is now one of Malmös most exclusive neighbourhoods .  It is the perfect place to stay if you are travelling with kids as there are some lovely cafes, brilliant playgrounds, a beach and gorgeous long wooden walkways stretching along besides the sea which are perfect for scooting and cycling down. Oh and if your kids are of the teenage variety they will love the shiny new skate park that is just opposite the hotel.

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Air BnB Options

The Ohboy is a good compromise between a hotel and self catering accomodation but if you would prefer a little bit more space then there are also some great Air BnB options in Malmö.  Two to save to your wishlist include this 1 bed close to the city centre with great Scandi/Industrial interiors or, a little further out, this 3 bed villa with rugged Swedish good looks would make a great base for a family.  

Skåne County

Hus 57

We used the small town of Ängelholm as our base for exploring Skåne County which is about 1.5hrs away from Malmo.  It is quite a quiet small town and we stayed in the Hus 57 whilst we were there which is part of the Best Western group.  But this was no functional business hotel it has been designed with an instagram generation in mind as the decor is an super cool mix of industrial textures, luxe fabrics and quirky design touches all for a super affordable room rate.  I particularly loved the velvet sofas in the lounge areas and the restaurant design.

The Hus 57 lobby

The Hus 57 lobby

I loved the concrete walls and floors against the luxe fabrics in jewel colours

I loved the concrete walls and floors against the luxe fabrics in jewel colours

The restaurant at Hus 57

The restaurant at Hus 57

We stayed in interconnecting rooms on the top floor (the ultimate family of five travel goal!) which opened on to a securely enclosed roof terrace.  The hotel works great if you are travelling with kids as the rooms are really spacious and in the basement there is a huge games room with table tennis, table football and lots of board games.  It was hard to lure the mini malmos away from it to explore the stunning coastline!  There is also a small spa, pool and jacuzzi to enjoy.

Our bedroom at Hus 57

Our bedroom at Hus 57

The bathroom made me go home wanting to scallop tile something!

The bathroom made me go home wanting to scallop tile something!

Hotel Skansen

If you want to stay somewhere a little more lively and closer to the sea (and have a bit of extra budget!) then without a doubt I would say book the Hotel Skansen  in Båstad.  It overlooks the most stunning golden sandy beach and had a gorgeous restaurant with floor to ceiling windows that let you lap up that view as the sun goes down.  It was home to the Swedish football team when we popped in for a drink meaning I got to sip a glass of wine whilst taking in an even more pleasant view.

The stunning beach that Hotel Skansen overlooks and the sauna at the end of the pier for use by hotel residents

The stunning beach that Hotel Skansen overlooks and the sauna at the end of the pier for use by hotel residents

Air BnB Options

There are a pleotora of lovely Air BnBs you could make your base for exploring Skåne County.  A few of the my favourites include this gorgeous modern bungalow with a pool in smart seaside town Bastad or this simple, contemporary timber house in the countryside need Torekov

*Thank you to Visit Sweden for hosting us whilst we were in Malmo and Skåne County and covering the cost of our accomodation*

Malmo & Moss Sleeps: The Vintage Curator House

Growing up the child of Guardian reading muesli eating parents in the 80s/90s meant that our Summer holidays followed a well trodden middle class path across the channel to a French Gite my mum had booked through the Brittany Ferries catalogue.  This being the days before the internet the most you had to go off in determining whether your accommodation was tres chic or a shit gite was usually just one picture of the exterior.  On several occasions we turned up after an 12 hour journey in our Rover 316 (anyone else remember the faux mahogany trim that made you feel like you were trapped inside David Dickinson’s wet dream) to find what waited behind the keyhole was more ‘A Week in a Romanian Orphanage’ than ‘A Year in Provence’. Happily saying Bonjour to the internet has meant we can say Au Revoir to the horrible holiday lottery and these days Gites even come with their own Instagram accounts.  So having followed and drooled over the Vintage Curator House feed it took me all of 20 seconds to say yes when it's owner Sam ( aka @vintagecuratorinteriors) asked me if I would like to go and spend a week there. 

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The house is located in the Vendee which on the West coast of France.  The nearest airport, La Rochelle is just over an hour away but because we have 3 small children and therefore travel about as light as a zumo wrestler we decided to take the ferry and drive instead.  Our plan was to hit the road straight after picking up the kids from school thus avoiding rush hour traffic. Obviously the reality was that an hour after picking up the kids we were still trying to find someone to feed the cat and locate the chessboard that my middle son claimed he couldn't live without but then didn't play with all week.  A last minute discovery that I had neglected to pack myself any knickers set us back a further 15 minutes and whilst returning to fetch them avoided this blog being called "Malmo's Muff Gets into Merde"it did, on the other hand, result in us both running into rush hour traffic and Hurricane Brian.  Arriving at Dover to discover our ferry had been delayed by 3 hours merely confirmed my suspicion that nothing good comes from things called Brian.   But when we arrived at the Vintage Curator House the next day all negative thoughts about Hurricanes named after tax inspectors from Wilmslow were forgotten.  

The stunning scene that greeted us when we arrived at the Vintage Curator House.

The stunning scene that greeted us when we arrived at the Vintage Curator House.

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Sam and husband Oli bought the house back in 2010 after their search for a holiday house that didn't need much work instead resulted in the purchase of something that needed all of the downstairs beams replacing to avoid the top floor falling in, new windows, new doors, new roofs, the installation of two new bathrooms, a new kitchen and a new septic tank.  Having taking care of the sewage and sash windows, the couple then added a swimming pool, outdoor cabana and al fresco eating area.  Whilst the renovation may have had its ups and downs (particularly for a French plumber who had to climb into a pit of raw sewage to fix a leak in the septic tank) the end results are nothing short of stunning. The house has modern rustic good looks in spades with oodles of gorgeous exposed stone walls, wooden beams and flagstone floors.  

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Males big and small loved the Vintage Curator House kitchen

Males big and small loved the Vintage Curator House kitchen

With 5 bedrooms and 4 huge reception spaces it is perfectly set up for big groups and there is just as much space outside as in with a swimming pool, outdoor barn with table tennis, and, to my 7 year olds utter delight, a garden big enough to host a mini football pitch.  We visited in October which I think offered us the best of both worlds with warm sunny days and cooler nights when we could light the wood burners in the kitchen and living room and get our hygge on.   I would, however, like to go back in Summer so I can use the pool which I wasn't brave enough to venture in this time having seen Mr Malmo jump in and then rapidly get back out with his manhood resembling a terrified field mouse.  

The lobby sitting area that is the first room you see when you step inside the Vintage Curator House

The lobby sitting area that is the first room you see when you step inside the Vintage Curator House

I loved Sam's collection of vintage carbuoys which she sells through her vinatge business @vintage curatorinteriors

I loved Sam's collection of vintage carbuoys which she sells through her vinatge business @vintage curatorinteriors

The house is located in quite a rural area so every couple of days we would head to the nearest hypermarche about 20 mins away and stock up with provisions.  This took me back to my teenage years when I would blow all of my holiday money on Hollywood chewing gum, Galak chocolate and Lafuma pencil cases the moment I stepped foot in a L'Eclerc.   My sister is still paying my mum back after suffering a bad case of #HyperMarcheHardOn and sinking all of her cash into buying a crushed silk peach coloured Naf Naf jacket in the Summer of 1993.  To be honest though, the house is so well set up that it was a struggle to leave even with the lure of a L'Eclerc. 

I have this thing about Sam's amazing chandeliers......

I have this thing about Sam's amazing chandeliers......

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With the kids in bed we would light the woodburner in here and cosy up

With the kids in bed we would light the woodburner in here and cosy up

Even getting out of bed in the morning proved a struggle as our bed in the stunning master suite was so big and so comfortable that if I didn't have an 18 month old who is fond of watching the sunrise I would happily have stayed in it all day.  Well, maybe I would have got up, but only to run a bath in the en suite bathroom which has a toll top bath and huge walk in shower. I know Mr Malmo was definitely wishing he had stayed in bed on the day we took the kids swimming at a local leisure centre only to discover an obscure French byelaw was being enforced which requires men to only wear "spot the sausage" swimwear. 60 Euros and 3 pairs of budgie smugglers later we entered the pool with him wearing swimwear shorter than the hot pants Kylie wears in the Spinning Around video.  He didn't see the funny side when I told him he had, to quote Alan Patridge, "just popped out" whilst bending down in the shallow end. 

The stunning master suite

The stunning master suite

Our ensuite bathroom

Our ensuite bathroom

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest modern rustic holiday home of them all

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest modern rustic holiday home of them all

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There were so many amazing bedrooms to chose from!

There were so many amazing bedrooms to chose from!

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If you prefer day trips that don't require you to leave your dignity and loose clothing at the door then our favourite local town was Fontenauy le Comte which has pretty winding medevial streets to lose yourself in with plenty of instagrammable doors in arrays of fading pastel colours.  Slightly further afield is the Il de Re which has to be one of my favourite places in the world.  It is an island just off the coast of La Rochelle and about 1 hr 15 mins drive from the Vintage Curator House.  In the height of Summer you can't move for Chic Parisians on holiday enjoying it's impossibly pretty villages, wide stretches of sandy beach, cyclepaths through salt marshes and daily food and antique markets.  However it was much quieter in October and we had a great day pottering around in the Autumn sunshine and cycling out to a lighthouse after somehow managing to find a configuration of bikes for 4 adults, 2 toddlers, 1 cycling seven year old and a non cycling 4 year old.   

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The Il de Re is full of instagrammable moments like this!

The Il de Re is full of instagrammable moments like this!

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Back at the Vintage Curator House the weather was so mild that we even managed to squeeze in a couple of BBQs on the outdoor terrace and a mini drinks and (L'Eclerc) canapes reception up by the pool cabana before we set off home.  Obviously we were only one Vol Au Vent in before one of the kids had thrown a shoe in the pool and broken the temporary Come Dine with Me calm but if you are child free or have older children less prone to throwing things in water then you will absolutely love all the spaces the house has for entertaining.  

The lovely al fresco eating area at the side of the house

The lovely al fresco eating area at the side of the house

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If you would like to find out more about how to book a stay at the Vintage Curator House then click here to book through Air BnB or visit www.vintagecuratorhouse.com.  To find out more about Vintage Curated Interiors, the business through which Sam sells some of the gorgeous french vintage items she has found whilst visiting the Vintage Curator House visit www.vintagecuratorinteriors.co.uk 

Malmo & Moss Sleeps: The Danish Hamptons

Prior to July this year, if you had said Tisvideleje to me I would have said bless you.  Fast forward 3 months and I still can't pronounce the name of this small village on the Danish coast without sounding like I am gargling mouthwash, but I have found my holiday heaven. The name "Tisvideleje" is derived from "Ti's vælde", meaning a place dedicated to the God Tyr which makes me think that he must be the Danish god of coastal chic.  I discovered Tisvildleje after asking Danish instagrammer Kirsten Skovbon where cool Copenhageners liked to go on holiday in Denmark.  It turns out this is their Hamptons, tucked away on the North coast of Zealand just 80 minutes on the train from Copenhagen.  It takes little bit longer by car but it is a beautifully scenic drive through small towns, woodlands and then the last stretch right by the sea.  

Beautiful beach huts dotted the coast as we drove to Tisvildeleje

Beautiful beach huts dotted the coast as we drove to Tisvildeleje

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Where We Stayed

Obviously ideally I would have been gazing out of the window drinking in the gorgeous nordic scenery listening to a soundtrack of Sigur Ros or something similarly etheral and evocative but being in a car with 3 kids I just had to try and imagine that as Imelda Stanton's Calypso version of A Squash and a Squeeze blared out instead.  With Staunton's jaunty acapella rendition still ringing in our ears, we arrived at what was to be our home in the Hygge Hamptons: the Tisjvidleje Strand Hotel.  

The dining room at the Strand Hotel

The dining room at the Strand Hotel

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My favourite part of the hotel, the gorgeous internal courtyard

My favourite part of the hotel, the gorgeous internal courtyard

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I had an instant #ClapboardClimax the moment we pulled up outside.  The hotel oozed Cape Cod being housed in a gorgeous white clapboard building on a hill with front and back terraces filled with pale bamboo furniture.  Inside it was like walking into the pages of Kinfolk with effortlessly stylish designer Danes at every turn.  It quickly became apparent that by having a penis but no ponytail Mr Malmo was horribly off message compared to the rest of the male hotel residents.  With his short back and side from AJ's Barber Shop he was little bit like Alan Sugar to their Joaquin Cortes at breakfast. 

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We had an interconnecting family room just off the gorgeous internal courtyard which was my favourite bit of the hotel.  It had pale bamboo sofas with huge squishy cushions to lounge on and the whole area was strung with festoon lights and some very swoonworthy rattan pendant lights.  The room itself was decorated in simple neutral colours although we did have a very un kinfolk rear view of the back of the kitchen and a fire escape.  Am sure that for some trip advisors this would have been a big deal but we were just happy to have two rooms together so we didn't have to spend our evenings playing Scrabble in the toilet so as not to wake the kids.  

Simple but delicious breakfasts

Simple but delicious breakfasts

Breakfast was included in the rate and it was lovely to sit sipping tea in a room lit by twinkling candles in the morning with a simple selection of breads, meats and eggs to choose from.  There were lots of young Danish families there and babies are well catered for with very instagram friendly vintage wooden highchairs on offer (although if anyone else has a Highchair Houdini on their hands these are not particularly practical on account of their lack of straps).

Ten minutes down the hill from the hotel was the beach which is overlooked by thatched cottages dotted in behind the dunes with rocky groines leading out to sea.  When I was not trying to stop the toddler from eating sand or locating a small lego catwoman my son buried "under a white rock" on a beach of 10,000 white rocks, I enjoyed channelling my inner Saga Noren and gazing out across the sea to Sweden. 

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Saga looks out to sea.......

Saga looks out to sea.......

5 minutes walk the other way from the hotel was the centre of Tisvilde which is dotted with lovely bakeries, cafes and interiors shops.  My favourite cafe was Brod & Vin which bakes Kanelsnegle to die for (pop your elasticated waist trousers on and go and try the chocolate Snegle but be warned there will be no going back to Deliciously Ella's sweet potato brownies after you have opened Pandora's chocolate snegle box).  Just across the road from Brod & Vin was also my favourite shop, No 17 Limited, which blended clothes and interiors together in a way that made you want to remortgage your house and buy everything in the shop.

The Snegle laden counter at Brod & Vin

The Snegle laden counter at Brod & Vin

My favourite shop

My favourite shop

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Tisvilde shop.jpg

We also loved Sommerhaven which was essentially a coffee hut in somebody's front garden.  There was a slide, trampoline and clapboard wendy house so the kids were happy whilst we were getting our caffeine fix.    My favourite part was the pallet seating and cool cushion combo that had me rummaging in skips looking for pallets to recreate the look once we got home.  They also seemed to have mastered the art of planting raised flower beds with plants that blend well together and flourish rather than our own attempts at home which always end in everything dying except mint which then spreads everywhere faster than a veruca at a swimming pool.

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I loved the super sweet little wendy house

I loved the super sweet little wendy house

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How do they get those flowerbeds looking so abundant?

How do they get those flowerbeds looking so abundant?

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Tisvilde restaurant.jpg
Tisvilde restaurant 6.jpg

Another one of our favourites was the pizza place near the station called Den Rode Tomat because, if I am honest, whilst I love almost everything about Denmark, there comes a point for me when rye bread and pickled herrings just aren't hitting the spot.  At which point I need an injection of melted cheese which this place delivered with knobs on.  It serves great, reasonably priced pizza, has a cool bar made out of a shipping container, a lovely outdoor seating area with mini playground too.  The place we fell most in love with, however, was the Helene Kilde Hotel.

Hello heaven on earth

Hello heaven on earth

Helenekilde is located right above the beach in a stunning white house which was originally built as a summer home by a construction magnate called Mr. Grüner for his wife in 1896.  Oh to be Mrs Grüner! In 1904 it was converted into a summer and seaside boarding house and then, in 2008, was renovated into the paradise that it is today by former ballet dancer Alexander Kølpin.  He also owns the Strand Hotel where we stayed so is clearly a major #DanishHamptonsMogul. It has a gorgeous veranda, outdoor terrace and gardens that stretch down to the sea.  When we were there people were preparing for a birthday party winding hundreds of fairy lights into the bushes and hanging photographs from the trees.  What I wouldn't have given to be a guest at that party.  Inside is just as beautiful as outside with log burners for the winter months and lots of hygge corners to hideaway in.

A gorgeous gallery wall in the reception area

A gorgeous gallery wall in the reception area

I am hoping for a lottery win before we next visit so that we can check in.  We would probably be a few Kroner closer to that dream if I hadn't discovered Esther's Garage on the road out of Tisvileleje.  It is doesn't look like much at first glance but inside it is a complete treasure trove of homeware both contemporary and vintage, all beautifully curated and displayed.

Esthers Garage

Esthers Garage

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If you want to explore a little further up the coast then I cannot recommend a day trip to Elsinore highly enough and not because I am a #HugeHamletBuff.  Bear with me when I say it is, in fact, because of the Maritime Museum.  Don' t worry, I am not a secret naval nerd, I don't know my port from my starboard.  But you don't have to be interested in boats to enjoy this place.  Converted from an old dry dock, the interior is an industrial luxe lovers dream being hewn out of concrete with huge panels of architectural glass.  But it is not just the building that is stunning.  Everything had been so beautifully curated that at times I forgot I was learning about Danish maritime history and just stood spell bound by huge, scrolling projections of old shipping routes.  

One of the stunning video installations at the Martime Museum

One of the stunning video installations at the Martime Museum

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It strikes a great balance in appealing to both adults and kids.  When we visited, there was a treasure hunt for the boys to do which ended in a lego workshop room where boxes as big as sheds all filled with lego awaited them.  If you can tear them away from that lego mega load, then be sure to take in the cafe which is housed in an exposed concrete atrium and will take your breath away.

Have you ever seen a museum cafe like it?

Have you ever seen a museum cafe like it?

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We returned home from our trip to Tisvildeleje dreaming of owning a cabin on this stretch of coast but alas only Danish residents are able to buy property in Denmark.  So, whilst I wait for an answer back fromPeter Schmeichelto my bigamous marriage proposal, I will have to settle for the best Air BnB has to offer instead.  I figure this one would do.  If you would like to get your hygge on in the Danish Hamptons then read more here.  

Malmo & Moss Sleeps: Five go Brocanting

Growing up, our Sunday night ritual was crumpets in front of the fire and a tv double bill of Antiques Roadshow followed by Lovejoy.  Consequently my knowledge of antiques extended to either Chippendale desks fenced to dodgy Russian oil barons by Lovejoy and Tinker or baroque art that someone found in their Granny’s attic and claimed they would never sell until they discovered it was worth £250K.  The BBC budget never stretched far enough for Lovejoy to go on a tour of the South of France, so, until I met my mother-in-law  age 23 (who has her own homewares business) I thought Brocante was some kind of infectious chest disease rather than a type of distressed vintage.

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Malmo & Moss Sleeps: Lyme Regis

Malmo & Moss Goes Jurassic

The last time I went to Dorset I was 9 years old and spent almost the entire time in the garden of our holiday house racing snails with my sister.  I therefore can’t remember much about Durdledoor or the rest of the Jurassic Coast but I do recall that I found the Ferrari of the snail world who frequently reduced my sister to tears as he accelerated (in snail terms) past her slippery chap who badly needed an injection of snail steroids. This Easter, having put those heady snail racing days behind me, I returned to Dorest with my in-laws

Where We Stayed

We booked a great Air BnB about 5 miles away from Lyme Regis.  Kerb appeal wise from the front it was not exactly a stunner, situated across a narrow road from a working farm, operated by a farmer who would probably not have been chosen to front a Duchy of Cornwall campaign on account of having only 3 front teeth and more hair coming out of his ears than I have on my head.  It looked more the kind of place to be cordoned off by DEFRA for starting a foot & mouth outbreak than to feature in a soft focus segment on lambing on Countryfile.  However, the rear and inside of the cottage were a very different story.

Best viewed from behind, the cottage that is.

Best viewed from behind, the cottage that is.

Once we got inside all thoughts of Foot & Mouth were forgotten

Once we got inside all thoughts of Foot & Mouth were forgotten

Wellies were helpfully left for us Down From Londoners

Wellies were helpfully left for us Down From Londoners

The Interiors

With 7 bedrooms in total (3 doubles, 3 singles and one with bunk beds) it was once two old workers cottages knocked into one with oodles of period features but decorated with a modern twist with great vintage, statement wallpapers and bold colour choices.  The real showstopper was the master suite which was painted a gorgeous dark green which had me mentally scouring a farrow & ball colour chart to work out which shade it was. Green Smoke was the insta consensus.  I wonder if doctors trying to diagnose dementia in middle class patients use some sort of system based on how many Farrow & Ball colours you can still name?

We won the coin toss for the master suite, the first and only time I have congratulated my husband on being a Class A tosser

We won the coin toss for the master suite, the first and only time I have congratulated my husband on being a Class A tosser

Gorgeous light flooded in through the old crittal style windows

Gorgeous light flooded in through the old crittal style windows

A vintage mirror wall never gets old for me

A vintage mirror wall never gets old for me

I would never have thought to go for a raspberry headboard but it worked so well against the green with the colour picked out in the picture tooo

I would never have thought to go for a raspberry headboard but it worked so well against the green with the colour picked out in the picture tooo

I wonder if doctors trying to diagnose dementia in middle class patients use some sort of system based on how many Farrow & Ball colours you can still name? At the foot of the gorgeous raspberry coloured bed was a roll top bath with stunning rattan pendant lights hanging overhead.  Downstairs there was a lovely big dining table for family meals, a snug living room with woodburner and then upstairs there was another big family room.  If I had any criticism it would be the carpets which were obviously next on the list of jobs to do but in meantime added a weirdly fusty air to proceedings. 

The second bedroom, not too shabby either!

The second bedroom, not too shabby either!

White with lots of great colour pops in the kids rooms

White with lots of great colour pops in the kids rooms

This was the lovely downstairs snug area with a woodburner and a massive stack of back issues of Living Etc

This was the lovely downstairs snug area with a woodburner and a massive stack of back issues of Living Etc

The main living room which was painted downpipe with the slightly retirement home carpets.

The main living room which was painted downpipe with the slightly retirement home carpets.

However, the garden more than made up for any carpet based disappointment.  It was huge and had a sea view over rolling fields (with the abundantly ear haired farmer often strolling past with a herd of sheep).  It had a built in trampoline and separate den area with two brilliant treehouses.  We enjoyed speculating Lloyd Grossman style “who lived in a house like this” and concluded that they were a London couple from the arts, possibly theatre designers, based mainly on the presence of several feather boas which, in truth, could equally have indicated they belonged to a burlesque troop.

Sunset and the occasional view of a hairy earred farmer

Sunset and the occasional view of a hairy earred farmer

The brilliant kids play area

The brilliant kids play area

The drop from the ladders did cause a phew sphincter tightening parenting moments

The drop from the ladders did cause a phew sphincter tightening parenting moments

Places to Go

The Rousdon Village Bakery

Anyone looking to book it should make sure to pack a pair of elasticated waist trousers in their luggage as it is a hop and skip away from the Rousdon Street Bakery.

The artist formerly know as Rousdon Petrol Station

The artist formerly know as Rousdon Petrol Station

Where the orgasmic bacon sandwich magic happened

Where the orgasmic bacon sandwich magic happened

Need i say more?

Need i say more?

Bear with me when I say it is in a former petrol station, I promise it is not a case of perching on a disused petrol can whilst eating a stale Ginsters. It has been converted into a light modern space with big communal tables and serves, hands down, the best bacon sandwich I have ever tasted.  Served on fried brioche bread, I think it might have caused me to suffer my first bacon induced orgasm.  There is also a nice shop next door selling textiles and ceramics when you have finally concluded, for the sake of your coronary arteries that two bacon sandwiches in one day would be too much.  If you get a second wind you can also pop to the sister branch in Lyme Regis called the Town Mill Bakery

Lyme Regis

View from the Cobb

View from the Cobb

We loved the slightly old fashioned charm to Lyme Regis.  The sandy beach to the west of the town centre is overlooked by lovely pastel coloured beach huts and it is a great spot to grab some fish and chips from Herbies before one of you causes the RNLI to come and rescue the 11,151st person to fall into the sea whilst have a little French Lietenants Woman moment on the Cobb. 

Ryder & Hope

I also discovered a rather nice little interiors shop called Ryder & Hope at the top of the High Street whilst my son was blowing his holiday money on an allegedly pre-historic shark’s tooth.  It stocks a very insta pleasing mix of botantical inspired products, gorgeous textiles, candles and interiors books.  I particularly loved their display shelving made of reclaimed scaffold planks & copper piping. 

Never has a dusky beach bathroom suite looked so good

Never has a dusky beach bathroom suite looked so good

Clever coppoer pipe shelving solutions

Clever coppoer pipe shelving solutions

Bridport Brocante

Further afield, Bridport and the Broadchurch featuring beaches of Burton Bradstock and Westbay are both worth a trip although the single lane A35 is prone to the type of slow moving tailbacks that may cause your children to ask what “cunting caravans” are.  If you visit Bridport on a Saturday it plays host to an open air vintage/flea market with all of the bric a brac shops also joining in which is located in the shadow of an old mill. 

This was my favourite stall

This was my favourite stall

Loved this old dolly tub but not enough to try and persuade Mr Malmo to strap it to the roof to get it home

Loved this old dolly tub but not enough to try and persuade Mr Malmo to strap it to the roof to get it home

Soulshine Cafe

Having been tasked with finding a café for lunch whilst we browsed the market, the men unexpectedly came up trumps with the Soulshine Café (although they did later confess to also having brought sausage rolls from the Spa which was their preferred preference but for some unknown reason they thought might be mildly unpopular with us).  It had a lovely garden area, quirky furnishing and lots of games and toys to keep the kids amused. However, save room for a icecream from the Hive Beach Café on Burton Bradstock beach which is well worth braving the middle class bunfight for. 

The lovely outdoor seating area

The lovely outdoor seating area

I know it would be covered in banana within 5 seconds of coming through the door but I still lust after a pink sofa!

I know it would be covered in banana within 5 seconds of coming through the door but I still lust after a pink sofa!

The SPA defintely wpouldn't have offered Kinfolk with the sausage rolls.

The SPA defintely wpouldn't have offered Kinfolk with the sausage rolls.

Burton Bradstock

Burton Bradstock beach is definitely worth going along the coast too.  It was used as a location in Broadchurch so is a good spot to go and close your eyes and pretend David Tennant is your husband, but it's real attraction is the Hive Beach Cafe which is justifiably popular offering a winning mix of great breakfasts, delicious cakes and ice cream from a hut out of the back.  Although prepare yourself for having to fight off middle class children called Freya who are trying to queue jump you in a bid to get a mango and pistachio sorbet first. The beach also comes with the added bonus of a National Trust Car Park which you can use for free and thus convince yourself that you have totally got your value for money from your £15 a month National Trust membership despite not having been near a Stately Home in 7 months.

Back at the holiday house once we had got the kids to bed of an evening we would settle down for a couple of rounds of traditional family favourite “In the Bag”.  As we headed home, sad to leave behind our contemporary coastal country pile, we were all left trying to erase from our memories my husband’s attempted mime of Julian Assange which involved leaping out from behind a curtain whilst thrusting his crotch and dangling a wire. Sexual assault allegations, diplomatic asylum and data leaks are, admittedly, a tough combination to act out through mime.

How do I book?

The property we stayed at is available through Air BnB.