Girl Meets Scandi Rustic Cabin of Her Dreams: Our Week Glamping in Belgium

If you did a straw poll of 100 people asking them where they went on holiday this year I am guessing the results might be: Spain (40), Greece (20), France (20), UK (10), Belgium (1). That one would be me! So why did we choose Europe’s least obvious holiday destination for our Summer break this year? There is actually a very obvious reason : two of the national culinary specialities are chocolate and cheesy chips. What is not to like?!

But if you are more of a plant than prailine based diet person there is a actually another great reason to flock to the Flemish land. Enter the Scandi/Rustic cabin of my dreams. About 6 months ago this image popped up on the explore page of my Instagram. It had me at festoon light. When I discovered it was located in the pine forests of Belgium rather than the plains of the American Mid West I was sold on a glamping holiday for 2019.

The rustic cabin picture that popped up on my Instagram explore page

The rustic cabin picture that popped up on my Instagram explore page

We booked 4 nights over the August bank holiday. At 700 Euros it was approximately half the price of the equivalent break in the UK with a significantly reduced risk of coming home with a veruca. I am not going to lie, I was a little bit worried that I had gone completely off piste as we drove ever deeper into Belgium past all the places I had heard of and could easily pronounce but when we arrived all of those fears evaporated and hopefully after reading this Belgium will also be top of your holiday hit list for next year

The Setting

There are approximately 28 of the cabins at Nutchel located in a beautiful pine forest close to the border with the Netherlands. It is the perfect mix of being secluded/an escape from everyday life whilst also 10 minutes drive from a supermarket that stocks toilet roll and marshmallows should you run out of either in the middle of the night, There are a mix of different cabins depending upon your party size and budget. We stayed in one of the cozy cabins which has all of the living accommodation at ground floor level and then a raised covered platform with seating for outdoor dining up in the trees.

Our own slice of Scandi cabin heaven for the week

Our own slice of Scandi cabin heaven for the week

This was one of my favourites. It overlooked a lake and had a hot tub

This was one of my favourites. It overlooked a lake and had a hot tub

2019-08-28 09.10.49 3.jpg
If you were there as a couple one of the smaller cabins would be really cosy

If you were there as a couple one of the smaller cabins would be really cosy

There are some which are all elevated though which looked really cool and a couple which come with their own hot tubs which I would definitely splash my Euros on when we return next time. But to be honest you really can’t go wrong as all of them have the same great combo of crittal style doors/windows, contemporary cladding and festoon lights

This is the cabin in the trees that we have our eye on for next time!

This is the cabin in the trees that we have our eye on for next time!

The Interiors

Where do I start? They were my wildest Little Modern Rustic House on the Prairie fantasy!

THe kitchen was small but perfectly formed

THe kitchen was small but perfectly formed

I loved the industrial interiors touches like the copper taps

I loved the industrial interiors touches like the copper taps

2019-08-30 05.13.02 1.jpg

Wooden clad walls, flowing linen curtains, cosy woodburner, industrial inspired kitchen, fairy lights and lanterns, cosy corners to curl up and read a book in, fluffy white duvets and a view of the forest from your bed, hell even copper piping taps in the bathroom!

My favourite spot to curl up in the window

My favourite spot to curl up in the window

The layout is basically one open plan room for the living space that has a sofa, a kitchen, a table and built in seating (as well as the woodburner) and then a separate bathroom and sleeping area with the beds sort of stacked up on top of each other. Hopefully you can see what i mean from the picture below.

The view through from the living space to the bedrooms

The view through from the living space to the bedrooms

The sofa had lots of clever storage so the cabin never felt cluttered

The sofa had lots of clever storage so the cabin never felt cluttered

The sleeping arrangement did mean that marital relations were pretty much off the cards for the week on account of us having children directly below and above us at all times but I did have a really good book I was reading so that actually worked out quite well for me!

I am going to miss waking up in the trees

I am going to miss waking up in the trees

I loved how much the kids enjoyed the whole experience

I loved how much the kids enjoyed the whole experience

A Camping Experience with Glamping Comforts

The cabins definitely deliver on the back to nature front and offer the chance to live a simpler life for a few days. There is no television, no WiFi, no microwave and no fridge (though there is a clever cold box before you start worrying about where you will store your almond milk).

The two sources of lighting were fairy lights and oil lamps

The two sources of lighting were fairy lights and oil lamps

ANd of course candles!

ANd of course candles!

I want o say that without Wifi the kids were reading books but I think he was scrolling my phone in this picture!

I want o say that without Wifi the kids were reading books but I think he was scrolling my phone in this picture!

Running hot water and no compost loo!

Running hot water and no compost loo!

But before you worry that you will be pooing into compost and unable to charge your phone, I should reassure you that there are power points flushing toilets, warm water and 4G reception in the cabins. So it is back to nature with data roaming still intact!

Crucially there is a kettle

Crucially there is a kettle

Things to Do

In all honesty your really won’t miss the TV because there is so much to do on the site and in the surrounding area. What i hadn’t appreciated when I booked is that there is a actually a really nice common area that all of the cabins have access to that includes a lake with a sandy beach around it which is dotted with Tiki style parasols, lazy boy bean bags and happy looking parents. The lake has a series of stepping stones in it for jumping off , a mini water slide and then in the landscaping around the lake there are also some adventure challenges like log stepping stones, a net bridge to navigate over a pond and some tightropes. On a Wednesday night there is a big barbecue in a cosy tipi strung with fairy lights over looking the lake and they open a bar up on the sand. Our kids loved this whole area (as did I Aperol Spritz in hand as I watched them play) and we easily spent 3-4 hours each day hanging out there.

The lovely lake and beach area

The lovely lake and beach area

It had definite Ibiza vibes!

It had definite Ibiza vibes!

This water slide provided hours of fun

This water slide provided hours of fun

processed_2019-08-28 09.46.02 1.jpg

If you can prize your bum off a bean bag there is also a Go Ape style adventure park which culminates in a huge zipline across the forest and for littler ones there is a woodland playground that doesn’t require a crash helmet or for you to conquer your fear of heights! One of the things our boys loved the most though was just playing in the woods! They set up a mini cricket pitch in a clearing by our cabin and played a woodland version of the Ashes (with perhaps a greater proportion of tantrums and runs ending in one of them calling the other an idiot).

The Go Ape style adventure park

The Go Ape style adventure park

But our boys just loved playing in the woods

But our boys just loved playing in the woods

They used this little area as their cricket pitch

They used this little area as their cricket pitch

On our last day we booked a session in the hot tub set in the woods in a bid to persuade the boys that sitting in gently bubbling warm water is more enjoyable than trying to find a cricket ball in a bramble thicket. There is also a sauna and a Finnish wooden hut you can hire for a barbecue experience!

Romantic hot tub for……..5!

Romantic hot tub for……..5!

I am hoping I have won them over to a Spa experience!

I am hoping I have won them over to a Spa experience!

We also ventured into nearby Masseig one of the days which has a pretty square with restaurants and bars around. The boys declared our meal their the best they had ever had on account of the waiter giving them both a football and a plate of fizzy sweets at the end of the meal. Note to Heston Blummenthal if you want that fifth Michelin Star swap Petit Four for fizzy dummies.

processed_2019-08-29 05.08.43 2.jpg

Two holidays in one

The other thing I loved about this as a break is that you can really easily combine it with a city break on your way there. We drove and from Calais to the cabin it was about 4 hours but we broke the journey up by both having lunch in Bruges and then staying a coupe of nights in Antwerp. I would really recommend Antwerp. It has not perhaps got the Belgium Venice good looks of Bruges or Ghent but it has lots of great museums, cafes, restaurants, parks and, as the fashion captial of Belgium, shops!

The MAS Museum in Antwerp

The MAS Museum in Antwerp

Would definitely recommend it for a city break

Would definitely recommend it for a city break

So have I persuaded you to swap Greece for Ghent next year? This is the link to Nutchel so you can have a closer look and if you are interested I would say it is worth e-mailing and asking them to let you know when availability for Summer 2020 is released as I hear it gets booked up really fast!

Hopefully we will be back soon!

Hopefully we will be back soon!

The Malmo & Moss Guide to Majorca

We recently got back from spending the week in Majorca. It was my fourth visit to the Island and it is rapidly becoming one of my favourite holiday destinations. Although when we first visited on honeymoon 11 years ago we left feeling a little underwhelmed. It was the weather rather than Majorca’s fault though. It tipped it down almost the entire time we were there meaning we spent most of our time sheltering from torrential rain rather than dipping our toes in turquoise waters.

The view of the mountains from the pretty village of Fornalutx

The view of the mountains from the pretty village of Fornalutx

The winding old streets of Fornalutx

The winding old streets of Fornalutx

However, 3 years ago we hired a villa in the Tramuntara mountains on the North-West side of the Island with my cousin (who is conveniently married to one of my husband’s best friends) and finally fell for its charms.  In fact so much so that we returned for girlie city break in Palma just 12 months later losing ourselves in the winding streets of the old town and the changing rooms of Mango and Zara.

Palma’s beautiful Old Town

Palma’s beautiful Old Town

Being on a girlie break meant lots of time to pratt around getting Instagram shots against graffiti walls

Being on a girlie break meant lots of time to pratt around getting Instagram shots against graffiti walls

This time round we hired a villa in the middle of the Island in a village called Consell.  It is not really a touristy type of a place lacking the postcard good looks of Deia or Fortnalux but it still has plenty of flaky paint doors, white washed buildings and winding alleyways to fill up your camera roll with and felt much more like we were discovering the “real Mallorca”. So with four trips now under my belt I thought I would do a little roundup of my favourite places to stay, eat, beach and explore on the Island.  Please do add suggestions in the comments below as I feel like I have probably only explored about 35% of this gorgeous place so far oh and Rafa Nadal’s home address if you happen  to have it…..

Best Places To Stay in Majorca

Hotels

Son Brull

When we visited on honeymoon we stayed up in the North of the Island near Pollenca in a boutique hotel called Son Brull.  If you are unencumbered by children and want to stay somewhere Mr Tumble free with beautiful crisp clean interiors, an infinity pool and a bartender who memorises your favourite cocktail after the first night this is the place.

Hotel Nakar

On our girlie break we were looking for somewhere right in the middle of Palma that had nice interiors but which wouldn’t break the bank.  We chose the Nakar Hotel which I would whole heartedly recommend for the following reasons a) it is very centrally located so very easy to get to the Old Town, Cathedral and Harbour as well as to pick up buses to get to places along the coast b) the rooms are large, clean and contemporary c) it has rooftop terrace and infinity pool which look out over a view of terracotta rooftops, blue skies, the twinkling sea and magnificent Cathedral (in the evening a DJ plays so you can go up there after a few Roses and two step dance like it’s 1998 again) d) there is a breakfast buffet that features both limitless chocolate cake and cava and e) the concierge staff are almost exclusively very handsome young Spanish men who smell and look great as well as obviously being great fonts of knowledge on Palma’s cultural sights.

The Scandi style outdoor seating on the roof terrace of Hotel Nakar

The Scandi style outdoor seating on the roof terrace of Hotel Nakar

The view from the roof terrace where breakfast was served

The view from the roof terrace where breakfast was served

The rooftop infinity pool

The rooftop infinity pool

Self Catering

I actually deliberated long and hard about writing this blog and sharing the details of the Villa we stayed in this time round as it was such an amazing find and I am slightly worried that when I let the secret out it will get booked up and I won’t be able to go back!

One of the the gorgeous outdoor seating areas at the Villa

One of the the gorgeous outdoor seating areas at the Villa

As I mentioned above it was located in a village about 20 mins North of Palma called Consell and it’s location was perfect as we could explore all over the island without ever having to drive more than an hour.  There is a little bakery, a bar on the local square, a newagent, supermarket and a couple of nice restaurants (of the local rather than trendy variety).

A view of the street on which the Villa is located

A view of the street on which the Villa is located

Give me all the flaky paint doorways

Give me all the flaky paint doorways

But to be honest most days it was hard to drag ourselves away from the Villa compound!  It really was heaven.  Sleeping 12 in total there are 5 double bedrooms all ensuite with air conditioning and two with their own private roof terraces.  Downstairs is a huge dining/living space with a whopper of a kitchen table and a massive corner sofa with access to Netflix.  Outside there is a lovely enclosed courtyard garden, a further outbuilding with seating and a table and chairs and then through a gate is the stunning infinity style pool and outdoor dining area.

The pool was a lovely temperature and had shallow steps in so perfect for little ones.  It also had colour change lights for the evening which the kids said were their favourite bit of the whole holiday.  Around the pool dotted amongst lemon and orange trees are sun loungers, parasols and ridiculously comfy bean bags

The pool glistening in the early morning light

The pool glistening in the early morning light

There wwas lots of stylish seating around the pool and shady spots to retreat to

There wwas lots of stylish seating around the pool and shady spots to retreat to

It really has got everything you could ever hope for and more.  If you are in a smaller group then the neighbouring property is owned by the same person and has the same great combo of stylish, simple interiors and a knock out pool.  If you travel as a group in peak Summer months it works out at about £350 per person for the week which is amazing value compared to some of the other far far less nice places we looked at.      

Majorca Villa 4.jpg

So if you would like to book this slice of paradise for your holiday click here for the link. Promise to leave me a week free in July 2020 though?!

Best Beaches

Majorca has a lot of great beaches to chose from it just depends what you are looking for.  My personal beach criteria are: turquoise clear waters, access to shade, a secluded/cove like location if possible, beach bar in easy reach, parking in close proximity and a walk down to the beach that does not require you to have previously gone on a survival skills course with Bear Grylls.  Oh and if there happen to be Rafa Nadal types playing Beach Volleyball near my sandcastle all the better.

Blue skies, turquiose sea and white sand = my beach paradise

Blue skies, turquiose sea and white sand = my beach paradise

Our favourite find from our first trip was Cala Fornells down in the South of the Island.  It is not a huge beach but we rocked up late afternoon and found a lovely shaded spot in amongst rocks with plenty of shade from pine trees and it delivers the full turquoise sea experience.  It is theoretically possible to hire loungers although we had a stand-off with a German man in very small trunks after some confusion about which ones belonged to the hotel that backs on to the beach.

One of the idyliic coves at Cala Fornells

One of the idyliic coves at Cala Fornells

This time round we headed East for a day and our favourite find was Cala Mesquida . We parked easily and it was a simple five minute stroll down on to a sandy beach with loungers under Tiki Parasols to hire (with no stand offs with Bavarians in Budgey Smugglers).  The water was incredibly clear and warm and there is a great Beach shack serving up snacks and a mean mojito.  There is a resort above the beach but it is very small, low rise and unimposing.  If you are child free or have somehow ended up with the kind of kids who will walk for more than 5 minutes without asking to turn back/be carried/be given sugar then from Cala Mesquida there is a tail you can walk over to Cala Torta a more secluded beach with no resort attached and the famous Dolores and Manolo’s beach bar which is renowned for serving up great seafood in this beautiful setting.

A walkway leading away from Cala Mesquida to Cala Torta

A walkway leading away from Cala Mesquida to Cala Torta

Beach heaven at Cala Mesquida

Beach heaven at Cala Mesquida

There is an option to hire a more deluxe sun lounger if you are flush with Euros. the standard sun loungers we hired were 15 Euro for two for the day

There is an option to hire a more deluxe sun lounger if you are flush with Euros. the standard sun loungers we hired were 15 Euro for two for the day

Our other new discovery was Playa D’Albercuix up in Port de Pollensa.  Port de Pollensa has a big wide sandy beach well served for water sports and family friendly facilities but the bit that we explored and fell in love with was at the end of the Pine Walk that stretches along the harbour in the Port.  We parked up near the Hotel Illa D’Or (which itself looks like a lovely spot) and then based ourselves on a lovely little stretch of sand on Playa D’Albercuix just along from the hotel which had stone jetties reaching out into the water for the kids to fish from and beautiful clear, shallow water for swimming and cooling off in.  If you fancy an ice cream walk from there towards Pollensa under the shade of pine trees whilst taking in some of the beautiful Villas that back onto the beach.  We had a beautiful seafood lunch on the terrace of the Hotel Illa D’Or (whose rather nice loo facilities we also used for the day) which is lovely and shady and has a great menu that changes daily.

Hotel Illa D’Or just off the pine walk

Hotel Illa D’Or just off the pine walk

The shade stretch of sand that we made our base

The shade stretch of sand that we made our base

The lovely shady pine walk in Port de Pollensa

The lovely shady pine walk in Port de Pollensa

If we come back to the Island I would be tempted to base myself in Pollensa or Port de Pollensa and then to go off exploring the stunning Cap de Formentor.  If you don’t fancy the slightly butt clenching journey to the end of the Cap you can catch a boat from Port de Pollensa to Formentor beach which would make a lovely day trip. 

Beach Clubs

Puro Beach

When we were on our girlie break we took a bus from Palma to Illetes Beach which in itself is a lovely little beach with a couple of great bars from which you can watch the sun set whilst sipping a cocktail.  You can hire loungers from the beach club there which was our original plan.  However when we arrived we discovered there had been a mix up and our booking lost.  However whilst we were waiting for them to reveal this fact I spotted just around the bay the glistening of white Balinese beds on a rock above crystal clear waters. 

The Balinese beds that caught my eye from across the bay

The Balinese beds that caught my eye from across the bay

Enter Puro Beach. To know it is to surrender your credit card and fall hopelessly in love.  For 60 Euros a day you can lie back on a white lounger and spend a further sum of your monthly salary on Rose Wine, perfect crispy squid and at lounger Spa treatments.  We made our way back there again this time and it was just as heavenly as we had remembered. 

The view as you walk down to Puro Beach

The view as you walk down to Puro Beach

Puro Beach 3.jpg
Two (ok three) Roses down happy faces

Two (ok three) Roses down happy faces

The turquoise sea view from my lounger at Puro Beach

The turquoise sea view from my lounger at Puro Beach

Assasona Beach

A new opening since our last visit and located in the trendy Portixol suburb of Palma, Assasona has more than a little flavour of Ibiza with its boho beach good looks.  The setting in the harbour right on the beach is amazing.  There are loungers to hire but we visited for dinner just as the sun was going down and enjoyed a gorgeous open air dinner looking out to sea

New for 2019 Assaona Beach Club (their image)

New for 2019 Assaona Beach Club (their image)


Roxy’s Beach Bar

Not strictly a beach club but on our girlie break we visited Puerto Portals and loved this place.  It is right at the end of Puerto Portals beach on a pontoon out in the water from where you can watch yachts coming into harbour and tanned young types on jet skis whilst sipping Sangria and listening to a chilled out sound track.

Roxys Beach Bar in the distance

Roxys Beach Bar in the distance

The view when sat in Roxys Beach Bar Sangria in hand

The view when sat in Roxys Beach Bar Sangria in hand

Puerto Portals itself is sort of like a Majorcan version of St Tropez.   Think a harbour full of yachts, boutiques full of clothes that look like they have got caught up in a Swarkorski Crystal hurricane and boulevards full of Sugar Daddies and their twinkies.  That makes it sound awful but if you take it with a pinch of salt and add 10 Euros to what you thought was your previous ceiling price for a pizza then it is a great fun place to while away a few hours people watching.

Places to Eat

Because we were staying in such an amazing Villa (and had 5 kids between us) quite a few of the nights were there this time we just ate in. 

Palma

We visited Palma one evening and parked near the Cathedral.  Parc de sa Feixina is just adjacent with a great playground to let the kids burn off some energy and then from there you are a short stroll into the winding streets of the Old Town.  Just off the square is a Tapas place we didn’t eat in but which has great reviews called S’Angel.  We were due to eat at the Mercado de San Juan but realised it was actually 30 mins from the centre so instead nabbed a last minute table at Forn .  It has great industrial style interiors and tapas style menu and they were very family friendly although the prices were a bit eye watering.

Just across the Street was the sister restaurant Koi which came recommended by a friend and is known for its great oven cooked Pizzas.  We rounded off our evening with an icecream at Can Miquel which is located through a maze of the beautiful old streets.  The Hazlenut flavour is not to be missed.

Both of the times we have holidayed as a group we have traded babysitting so we each got to go out to a more special occasion type of place.  The first time we wen to Hotel Castell Son Claret and I cannot recommend the magical setting enough.  It is an old castle and the enter courtyard was strung with tiny fairy lights making it look so pretty on a clear starry night.  The food was almost as pretty.

This time my Cousin visited Cap Rocat and ate at the Sea Club (we were also meant to but I booked for the worng week!).  The food itself is ok but the real draw is the amazing setting on the cliffs from which you can watch the sun go down with a huge gin and tonic in hand . I guess I will just have to go back next year to experience that sunset!

 

A snapshot of images from the Cap Rocat Instagram to wet your appetite

So there you have it the Malmo & Mos Guide to Majorca. It probably only scratches the surface of all this gem of an island has to offer. I guess i will just have to keep going back for the purposes of research. Puro Beach 2020 here I come.

Best Places To Stay UK: The Fife Coast

Do you ever get stuck in a holiday rut where you end up packing your suitcase to head back to the same places over and over again? When it comes to UK staycations we have fallen into the habit of heading South-West in search of Cornish beaches, cream teas and the opportunity to potentially spot Poldark indulging in some topless farming. However this Easter we headed North rather than South of the border after a chance conversation with my Sister lead me to discovering a secret the Scots have been keeping under their Sporrans: the East Neuk of Fife. This stretch of coast between Leven and St Andrews is where well heeled Edinburghers come to spend their Summers drawn by the miles of sandy beaches, gorgeous little fishing villages and some of the best food and drink in Scotland.

Beautiful Elie our base for the holiday

Beautiful Elie our base for the holiday

The harbour in Pittenweem

The harbour in Pittenweem

Granted you may have more chance of spotting Gordon Brown paddling in the sea with his trousers rolled up than Poldark tending a field with his top off but that is pretty much the only drawback of visiting this beautiful part of the world. We travelled up from London by train (which takes about 4.5hrs) and then hired a minibus from Edinburgh for the final hour or so of the journey. Before you start thinking that I am a secret mormon with enough children to fill a bus I should point out we were travelling with friends so there were 12 of us in total. I would highly recommend getting the train as the stretch of the journey north of Morpeth runs alongside the sea and includes coastal views stunning enough to cause kids to look up look up from their I Pads.

Ruby Bay beach in Elie which our holiday house led directly out onto

Ruby Bay beach in Elie which our holiday house led directly out onto

Where We Stayed

There are four or five different places to choose from as a base on this stretch of coast. St Monan’s, Elie, Anstruther, Crail, Pitenweem and St Andrews itself are all charming.  We chose Elie after I lucked out and found a stunning contemporary house right on the beach.  For all of you who asked for the link  click here.  Midrock House sleeps up to 12 and has a wonderful open plan layout downstairs with floor to ceiling windows to take advantage of the stunning views out over the beach. 

The entrance to Midrock House with bags of coastal kerb appeal

The entrance to Midrock House with bags of coastal kerb appeal

The design of the house maximised its stunning coastal location

The design of the house maximised its stunning coastal location

The back of the house and the path down onto the beach

The back of the house and the path down onto the beach

This side of the house has a bedroom with 4 beds for kids and a separate living space and TV to keep them entertained

This side of the house has a bedroom with 4 beds for kids and a separate living space and TV to keep them entertained

There are polished concrete floors throughout, an open plan kitchen/diner, five double bedrooms, three bathrooms, three living rooms, a utility and boot room. Everything is built around the stunning views which in the Winter you can enjoy snuggled up inside in front of the beast of a log burner.

I loved the concrete seating bench which also housed a woodburner

I loved the concrete seating bench which also housed a woodburner

Plenty of room on the sofa for six

Plenty of room on the sofa for six

We lit the woodburner one of the colder nights and cosied up watching the sea as the sun went down

We lit the woodburner one of the colder nights and cosied up watching the sea as the sun went down

There is an amazingly well equipped kitchen at the centre of the living space that had every pot and pan you could ever desire and then there is a gorgoeus (and enormous) vintage farmhouse style table for dining at. This is positioned to take full advantage of the views and in the Summer there is an outdoor seating area on the terrace that runs the width of the house that is steps from the beach.

There is a huge island in the centre of the kitchen which makes it a really sociable space

There is a huge island in the centre of the kitchen which makes it a really sociable space

We easily fitted all 12 of us around the vintage farmhouse style table

We easily fitted all 12 of us around the vintage farmhouse style table

The open plan living/dining space. There is a further seating area with TV beyond the wall behind the table

The open plan living/dining space. There is a further seating area with TV beyond the wall behind the table

When the sun was shining you could open up the doors and eat outside on the terrace

When the sun was shining you could open up the doors and eat outside on the terrace

Upstairs the bedrooms have been designed to take full advantage of the view. The decor is fresh, white and neutral but huge picture windows flood the rooms with light and offer an outlook over the bay and beyond. I can’t tell you how soothing it is to fall asleep at night with the blinking light of a lighthouse reflecting at you over the sea. There is almost an annex/separate wing of the house that is designed as a cool kids crash pad with four single beds and a separate living space with its own tv.

One of the bedrooms with views of a lighthouse

One of the bedrooms with views of a lighthouse

Another bedroom which had an enormous picture window running the width of the room

Another bedroom which had an enormous picture window running the width of the room

Five things to see and do

Exploring Elie

We chose Elie as our base mainly because the house just completely bowled me over but when we got there I realised it was actually a great choice for a number of other reasons as well.  If you come out of Midrock House and turn right you come to the huge, flat main beach and, most importantly, The Ship Inn.  This lovely pub has great interiors that have just the right amount of nod to the nautical and is the place to eat in Elie.  The menu majors on amazing locally caught seafood and they have just added a new outdoor Gin Bar for 2019 which means that you can sit outside, drink in hand watching the sun go down whilst the kids play happily on the beach just metres from you. 

The famous  Ship Inn  which was just 3 mins from the house

The famous Ship Inn which was just 3 mins from the house

The house itself looks over the second beach which is the more sheltered Ruby Bay (so called because garnet stones have been known to be found on the beach). And beyond Ruby Bay you can follow the coast around to the lighthouse and explore a ruined temple. For the more adventourous (who do not have a toddler hell bent on throwing himself in the sea) there is the Elie Chain walk. We didn’t do it because of aforementioned toddler but is basically a bit like coasteering but with chains to help you navigate the rocks.

We loved doing the walk around to the lighthouse from the house

We loved doing the walk around to the lighthouse from the house

Even if it was a little windy

Even if it was a little windy

There is also the option of further exploring the coast on the Elie Chain Walk

There is also the option of further exploring the coast on the Elie Chain Walk

upload.jpg

The Bowhouse Market

Ten minutes up the coast from Midrock House is the Bowhouse.  A monthly food and craft market in a super cool converted agricultural building that gathers together some of the best local food and drink producers and adds in some great local designers and makers so that you can chow down on a freshly baked Creme Egg Brownie whilst perusing locally made ceramics and jewellery.  There is a brilliant atmosphere with lots of great stalls.  The are big communal wooden tables to sit, live music and some great food demonstrations.  It is an absolute must visit

I loved the concrete planter in the entrance to the market

I loved the concrete planter in the entrance to the market

Just some of the great stalls to peruse

Just some of the great stalls to peruse

I loved this jewellery stall

I loved this jewellery stall

There is a great and lively bar area

There is a great and lively bar area

And a separate barn with huge communal wooden tables and more great food trucks

And a separate barn with huge communal wooden tables and more great food trucks

When at a farmers market dress like a footballing farmer?!

When at a farmers market dress like a footballing farmer?!

St Andrews

Hands up anyone born between 1983 - 1986 who considered popping St Andrews on their University application form to have a go at #WinningaWindsor.  Prince WIlliam is long gone but this great little town is definetely still worth visiting.  It has great beaches, oodles of lovely architecture, golf if you are that way inclined but most importantly of all in Janettas potentially the best ice cream parlour I have ever visited (and I am a veteran #parlourpurveyor). 

upload.jpg

Scotland’s Hidden Bun ker

Whilst the Fife Coast is Scotland’s sunniest spot this is still Scotland so you will get the odd overcast/rainy day.  In which case this place is defo fun to visit.  Declassified in the 90s it turns out that in a non descript field in the middle of nowhere there is in fact a huge underground bunker built to withstand a nuclear attack from which the cold war was being fought.  Well I say fought, it mainly seemed to involved lots of men looking at maps and practising their morse code every now and again.  If you are used to London Museums where the cafe is part of the attraction you may want to adjust your expectations before visiting though as the err facilities are more of the formica table and vending machine than avocado on toast and filament bulb variety.  Although the vending machine did sell Wham bars which I am pretty sure may have been outlawed some time around 2003 on account of their e-number account but which I would still happily lose a tooth to eat.

upload.jpg
The err retro cafe which looks like it is still trapped in the Cold War era

The err retro cafe which looks like it is still trapped in the Cold War era

Young secret agents in the making

Young secret agents in the making

Craigtoun Country Park

If you are, like us, in possession of kids who seem to share their DNA make up with Labradors and thus require exercising everyday in wide open spaces then Craigtoun Country Park is great.  It is about 30 mins from the house and great to combine with a trip to St Andrews.  There are loads of different adventure playgrounds and activities to choose from as well as the park itself being rather beautiful and it is the number 1 visitor attraction in Fife for good reason

A couple of soft southerners struggling with the Scottish breeze at Craigtoun Park

A couple of soft southerners struggling with the Scottish breeze at Craigtoun Park

Anstruther

There are lots of lovely villages to explore on this stretch of coast with lovely fishing harbours, sandy beaches and pastel and sand coloured houses but Anstruther might just edge prize of the prettiest.  It has some nice indepdent shops and an award winning fish and chip shop (the Anstruther Fish Bar) right in the beach to round off your visit. 

upload.jpg

Best Places to Eat and Drink

I should probably caveat this heading as best places to eat and drink if you have kids with you who have a maximum restaurant concentration time of 25 mins.  Any meal that takes long than that to arrive  and be eaten usually ends in carnage so unfortunately I am not able to offer my review of some of the more fine dining establishments ( Seafood Restaurant and Craig Millar @ 16 West End  both look amazing).  However the beauty of this stretch of coast is that there are loads of great farmshops so even if you are not eating in restaurants you can still fill you tum with fabulous food.  One of the best is Adross Farmshop and it is just five mins from Midrock House.  Here is my round up of my favourite places we chowed down

Cocoa Tree in Pitenweem

It doesn’t look very promising from the outside and the decor does have a slight feel of Mystic Meg’s dressing room but this is the best place for a Hot Chocolate for miles around.  It is part chocolate shop part cafe run by the Pitenweem Chocolate Company so you are guaranteed an amazing chocolate experience.  They have a stove in the winter that creates a cosy feel and a sheltered courtyard garden to enjoy in the Summer and the owners were extremely friendly and accomodating of our party which included 6 kids between us.  Pitenweem itself has a lovely little fish harbour and pretty pastel houses and buildings.

The pretty streets of Pittenweem

The pretty streets of Pittenweem

I loved the pastel coloured houses

I loved the pastel coloured houses

upload.jpg
The perfect place for a hot chocolate

The perfect place for a hot chocolate

The Cheesy Toast Shack

Mr Malmo tends to take a back seat when it comes to our holiday planning but every now and again he comes up with a gem out of the blue that makes me think he would make a very good substitute #ModernRusticJudith Chalmers were I to retire.  The Cheesy Toast Shack is one such gem.  A chance read of a Jay Rayner review in the Observer led 20 of the best minutes of my life sat in a steamy mini bus looking out to sea whilst eating a macaroni cheese filled toasted sandwich which may have furred my arteries but was worth every ounce of cholesterol.  I cannot recommend this place highly enough.  No pretty flat lay for you of this one just a full frontal shot of the melted cheese magic.

Best cheese sandwiches in Scotland

Best cheese sandwiches in Scotland

Sex in a sandwich

Sex in a sandwich

The Ship Inn

I have mentioned it already but I am going to mention it again because we had such a great meal here.  If budget had allowed I would happily have eaten here every day of our stay.  Seriously amazing food in a lovely relaxed atmosphere.  In the Summer the Ship Inn also organises beach cricket tournaments with a barbeque. No pressure but they have been known to attract ex professional cricketers from the West Indies so make sure to pack your cricket A game.

upload.jpg
The upstairs dining room with great views of the beach

The upstairs dining room with great views of the beach

The Millhouse Pizza Company

Whilst the Bowhouse market that I mentioned is only on once a month, there is a permenant woodfired pizza restaurant in the same building that is open 6 days a week and serves up the most delicious pizzas in a gorgeous beamed ceiling space.  They also do coffee and cake if you are not in the mood for pizza (if that is even possible).

upload.jpg
upload.jpg

So there you have it my round up of the best of the Fife Coast. I would put this in out top 5 holidays of all time. I loved it that much and we are already planning a return trip next year having spotted these amazing looking Cath Penny Safari Lodges just outside Elie.  We also added a night in Edinburgh into the mix on the way back which I would highly recommend. Although I would probably not recommend climbing Arthur's Seat with a toddler who (within 1 minute of starting the ascent loses all of the power in his leg batteries).

No leg batteries but a big smile at least

No leg batteries but a big smile at least

A Weekend at Eden Hall Cottage, Norfolk

Does anyone remember the TV programme ‘Challenge Anneka’?  The basic premise was that Anneka Rice (sporting a blue jumpsuit that made her look like an errant Kwik Fit employee) had 48hrs to complete a seemingly impossible task like reintroducing an obscure species of Owl to the UK or persuading Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen to wear beige.  It sadly disappeared from our screens some time around 1994 but I think the BBC should bring the show back and set Anneka a new challenge. Find a holiday cottage near the coast in the UK that sleeps 10-12 people (without anyone having to sleep in a drawer) with interior’s that don’t look like the inside of your Auntie Pat’s conservatory all for less than £5000 a week.  I suspect it would make reintroducing that obscure owl look like child’s play.  But fear not Anneka, I’ve got this one.  In my little black book of holiday cottages is a place that ticks all of those boxes and more: Eden Hall Cottage.

The gorgeous back porch of  Eden Hall Cottage  which is a traditional flint cottage on the North Norfolk coast

The gorgeous back porch of Eden Hall Cottage which is a traditional flint cottage on the North Norfolk coast

About the Cottage

The cottage is located on the North Norfolk Coast on the so-called secret side (i.e. the stretch that is not overrun with men called Tarquin down from London for the weekend who are partial to red trousers).  Eden Hall’s owners are Vicky and Chris White.  If I tell you that Vicky is the founder of the beautiful home and lifestyle brand Plum & Ashby you will start to appreciate that this is going to be a pretty special place.

Edenhall as it looked when Vicky and Chris first went to view it

Edenhall as it looked when Vicky and Chris first went to view it

Vicky, Chris and their dog Bertie live in Olney (Bedfordshire) but have always been regular visitors to the Norfolk coast.  They got engaged there and, in 2015, they started to look for a property they could turn into the coastal holiday home of their dreams.  After two years of searching and several close misses, in November 2017 (on their shared birthday) they went to view Eden Hall Cottage and fell in love. 

upload.jpg

The Renovation

It took some vision to see it’s potential as a beautiful beach bolthole because it was, at the time, completely run down with rats in residence and a random toilet in the middle of the drive.  However they were able to look past the loo and having secured the property, brought an architect on board to help them restore it to it’s former glory. Their ambitious goal was to have the property ready for its first visitors by the summer of 2018.   

The inside of the property had seen better days but the potential was easy to see

The inside of the property had seen better days but the potential was easy to see

Some gorgeous period features were still shining through the gloom

Some gorgeous period features were still shining through the gloom

Having hired a team of local builders following a tender process, their first step was to strip the property back to it’s bare bones (including taking out and replacing all of the upstairs floors the joists of which turned out to be rotten).  This is what the cottage looked like when I first popped round “Kevin McCLoud” style at the start of their renovation journey.

The upstairs landing and staircase. The entire upper floor had to be removed as part of the renovation and replaced after the joists were found to be rotten

The upstairs landing and staircase. The entire upper floor had to be removed as part of the renovation and replaced after the joists were found to be rotten

upload.jpg
Vicky and Chris kept and restored the original brick fireplace

Vicky and Chris kept and restored the original brick fireplace

The Interiors

By the time Malmo McCloud returned to stay as one of their first guests in October 2018, it was virtually unrecognisable.  With the renovation complete, the cottage has five double bedrooms (three of which are ensuite), a stunning kitchen diner with vaulted ceilings, a relaxed sitting room with open fire, a family bathroom with a gorgeous cast iron roll top bath and a boot room and separate utility.  There is a lovely secluded patio garden at the front and a large lawned area at the back (perfect for letting our pack of lad labradors off the leash). 

Vicky battled her builders to have vaulted ceilings in the kitchen/dining space that is at the heart of the house

Vicky battled her builders to have vaulted ceilings in the kitchen/dining space that is at the heart of the house

The rowing oars are a subtle nod to the cottage’s coastal location

The rowing oars are a subtle nod to the cottage’s coastal location

The family bathroom blends contemporary and vintage features with a huge rolltop bath to relax in

The family bathroom blends contemporary and vintage features with a huge rolltop bath to relax in

Vicky said that her aim for the interiors was to create an English take on an American beach house and it is a triumph of Nantucket come to Norfolk.  The walls are painted in a pallet of clean minimal neutral colours which act as the perfect backdrop to some seriously luxurious furnishings from brands such as Neptune, Rowen & Wren, Also Home and the White Company.  There is not a jaunty anchor or whimsical shell in sight. 

The relaxed sitting room is at the front of the house and opens on to a secluded patio courtyard garden

The relaxed sitting room is at the front of the house and opens on to a secluded patio courtyard garden

upload.jpg
upload.jpg

The star of the show has to be the duck egg blue Humphrey Munson kitchen which is at the heart of the house and fabulously well equipped.  I loved the way that Vicky and Chris had chosen to leave sections of the original flint walls exposed in the kitchen to provide a rustic contrast to the contemporary units. 

The Humphrey Munson kitchen Vicky chose in duck egg blue works perfectly with the flint walls left exposed

The Humphrey Munson kitchen Vicky chose in duck egg blue works perfectly with the flint walls left exposed

The perfect shelfie

The perfect shelfie

Those flint walls

Those flint walls

Marble worktops and brass taps add a vintage edge to the

Marble worktops and brass taps add a vintage edge to the

We stayed at the house as a group of ten (with 5 friends rather than 5 children I have previously failed to mention in case you are wondering).  The layout of the cottage is perfect for groups of friends or families..  Upstairs are two generous double bedrooms (one of which is ensuite) and a further single with bunk beds and some lovely touches for children staying like a minature teddy version of Bertie the dog. Upstairs is also host to the family bathroom of dreams which has Georgian style panelled walls, a huge roll top bath and gorgeous brass taps. The bath products are all from Plum & Ashby’s beautiful range made in the UK.

The upstairs ensuite bedroom with gorgeous striped headboard and exposed wooden beams

The upstairs ensuite bedroom with gorgeous striped headboard and exposed wooden beams

I have this thing with the amazing honeycomb tiles on the floor in the ensuite

I have this thing with the amazing honeycomb tiles on the floor in the ensuite

upload.jpg
The second upstairs double bedroom which is a great size

The second upstairs double bedroom which is a great size

The family bathroom with fabulous Georgian style pannelling

The family bathroom with fabulous Georgian style pannelling

The lovely single bedroom complete with bunk beds and lots of thoughtful touches for junior guests

The lovely single bedroom complete with bunk beds and lots of thoughtful touches for junior guests

I love that Vicky and Chris were able to keep the original window frames

I love that Vicky and Chris were able to keep the original window frames

Downstairs are two further double bedrooms both of which are ensuite.  This layout meant that those in our party with kids could sleep upstairs whilst those without occupied the bedrooms downstairs so that they were spared a 7:30am wake up by the Octonauts/Fireman Sam/Mr Tumble emptying his spotty bag.

One of the downstairs double bedrooms. I love the panelling painted in a lucious dark green

One of the downstairs double bedrooms. I love the panelling painted in a lucious dark green

Pinstripe cushions from Also Home up the comfort levels in all the bedrooms

Pinstripe cushions from Also Home up the comfort levels in all the bedrooms

The bedrooms are all beautiful but the one to fight over is definitely the master suite off the kitchen which has both a four poster bed and roll top bath of it’s own.  It is set off the kitchen/diner and is like a mini hotel in it’s own right. I loved the vintage boathouse sign that hangs above the doorway to this room adding a nod to the coast.

Prepare to duke it out for who gets to sleep in the stunning master bedroom

Prepare to duke it out for who gets to sleep in the stunning master bedroom

The four poster bed of my dreams from the White Company in the master bedroom

The four poster bed of my dreams from the White Company in the master bedroom

upload.jpg
A peek into the ensuite which has a roll top bath of it’s own

A peek into the ensuite which has a roll top bath of it’s own

And a shower to with marble metro tiles

And a shower to with marble metro tiles

We all then enjoyed big communal breakfasts together with papers around the huge kitchen table which can easily seat 12.  Bacton, where the cottage is based has a small local shop which stocks all of your bread/milk/Sunday papers essentials. Though it is not the kind of the place where you will be able to source artisan pate or gluten free granola so maybe stock up in advance if those things are your daily essentials.

upload.jpg
upload.jpg
upload.jpg

Evenings were spent slobbed out on the two huge comfy sofas in front of the fire. The zinc coffee table is truly a sight to behold, I am pretty sure that it may be bigger than one of our bedrooms at home. If you have been out taking the sea air during the day then coming back and running a bubble bath in the stunning main bathroom of an evening is also to be recommended.

The living room with open fire and that zinc coffee table!

The living room with open fire and that zinc coffee table!

I love all of the subtle nods to coastal decor that Vicky has included in the cottage without it ever feeling beach themed

I love all of the subtle nods to coastal decor that Vicky has included in the cottage without it ever feeling beach themed

Settle down on one of the two huge sofas and enjoy a film

Settle down on one of the two huge sofas and enjoy a film

The kind of bath you want to linger in with Plum & Ashby products on tap

The kind of bath you want to linger in with Plum & Ashby products on tap

upload.jpg

The Surrounding Area

If you can bring yourself to leave the comfort of the house then there are two stunning (and nearly deserted) beaches close by.  The one at Carts Gap has a little café and Happisburgh boasts a Lighthouse and an excellent playground.

The seafront in Bacton on a slightly stormy day

The seafront in Bacton on a slightly stormy day

The lighthouse at Happisburgh which is just ten minutes drive from the house

The lighthouse at Happisburgh which is just ten minutes drive from the house

Bacton woods close to the house offer excellent dog walking/Gruffalo hunting opportunities and if you are in need of a National Trust top up then Felbrigg Hall is just 10 minutes away.  The delights of the rest of the North Norfolk coast are also within easy reach with Holt (a lovely Georgian market town) just twenty minutes drive and beyond that gems including Wells on Sea, Blakney, Stiffkey, Holkham and more.

The harbour in Blakeney a lovely place to visit about an hours drive from the cottage

The harbour in Blakeney a lovely place to visit about an hours drive from the cottage

upload.jpg
HUge open skies and miles of sand on Holkham beach

HUge open skies and miles of sand on Holkham beach

Disclosure 5 minutes after this idyllic mother and son photo was taken he did an emergency poo in a sand dune

Disclosure 5 minutes after this idyllic mother and son photo was taken he did an emergency poo in a sand dune

We enjoyed a delicious pub lunch at The Victoria at Holkham and then a run on the vast and beautiful beach.  We also called in at Stiffkey Stores for a coffee and spot of modern rustic interiors shopping.  The kids loved a) the cabins for sitting in outside and b) the excellent selection of sweets for less than 50p on offer. I should also mention that the Gunton Arms (rated in the Top 50 places for a pub lunch by [    ]) is also just ten minutes away from the house.  Be sure to reserve a table well in advance of your stay though as it gets really booked up!

The  Victoria Inn  at Holkham where we enjoyed a delicious pub lunch

The Victoria Inn at Holkham where we enjoyed a delicious pub lunch

Stepping inside  Stiffkey Stores  in like stepping into my Modern Rustic paradise

Stepping inside Stiffkey Stores in like stepping into my Modern Rustic paradise

Some of the beautiful displays in  Stiffkey Stores

Some of the beautiful displays in Stiffkey Stores

So Anneka hang your jumpsuit back up and return to presenting the Sunday Morning Sizzle on Radio Colchester as this is one challenge I have solved without your helicopter even having to leave Broadcasting House.  If you would like to book a stay at Edenhall Cottage click here you can also follow the cottage on instagram here. We were lucky enough to be guests of Vicky and Chris when we stayed but at less than £2000 for a stay even at the height of peak season it is a complete bargain compared to anything I have found of similar size/quality anywhere else in the UK!

*We did not pay for our stay at Eden Hall but I was not asked to produce any content in return for our stay. I am writing up our stay for the blog because it is genuinely one of the nicest places I have ever stayed and I wanted to share it with you *

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

upload.jpg

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

upload.jpg
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

upload.jpg
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

upload.jpg

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

Discovering the Dutch Coast

Tell people you are going on holiday to the Maldives and you will be greeted with reactions such as "wow that sounds amazing" or "you lucky thing I am so jealous" or "you are going to have such a fabulous time".  Tell them you are going to spend a week taking in the beaches of the North Sea in Holland and you are more likely to encounter perplexed looks (think Joey from Friend's smell the fart acting face) and querying comments such as "Holland?  That is an unusual choice" or "What made you decide to go there?"  Chances are nobody will say "Ohh Holland, you are going to love the stunning coastline, oodles of beach clubs with amazing boho interiors and tiny hamlets over looking the water with cobbled streets and clapboard houses." Well, unless you tell Kinship Creative, my Scandi Sister from another mother that is.

The gorgeous interior of Branding Beach Club

The gorgeous interior of Branding Beach Club

It was on her instagram feed a year or so ago I first spotted an amazing looking beach bar with bleached rattan furniture and rustic textures galore that I mistook for a hotspot in Ibiza but which turned out to be on the Dutch coast just 30 mins away from Amsterdam, a city we had a one night stand with (not in) last February.  One night was enough to make me think I would very much like to go steady with the Dutch capital city.  Dotted as it is with beautiful buildings, amazing cafes, cool lifestyle and homeware stores and great museums and parks to keep kids entertained.

Amsterdam through the eyes of  Petite Passport

Amsterdam through the eyes of Petite Passport

So just after Christmas I started doing my Air BnB research.  It quickly became apparent that to stay in central Amsterdam itself in the Summer holidays in something that was not a shoebox or a youth hostel (although to be fair some of those looked quite nice) would potentially cost more than the UK's Brexit bill.  I was about to give up when I widened out my search area a little bit and spotted a clapboard house located on a dyke (an inland sea) about 15 mins drive outside of Amsterdam which fitted the bill perfectly.

Talk about kerb appeal, our  Air BnB  for the week

Talk about kerb appeal, our Air BnB for the week

Sometimes in life things which look great in a photo or on the TV turn out to be disappointing in real life.  Like Dermot O'Leary for example who I used to be rather partial to until I spotted him in Euston WH Smith and realised he is about the size of a small Irish Leprechaun in the flesh.  Happily when we arrived out our home in the Holland for the week it turned out we had the luck of the Irish on our side.  Click here for the Air BnB link but the pictures really can't convey what an amazingly idyllic setting it is in.  Durgerdam is a tiny Hamlet of impossibly appealing houses looking out to sea.  Our view to the front of the house was of boats bobbing in the harbour and sailing in the sea beyond and from the back there were meadows with sheeps and cows grazing with a stream running out throught the field.

The beautiful veranda looking out over meadows

The beautiful veranda looking out over meadows

upload.jpg
upload.jpg

The house is arranged over 3 levels and is a perfect base for a family break.  The owners also have three sons of very similar ages to ours so there were a wealth of toys and activities to keep the trio of todgers entertained including a pool table, a mini astroturf pitch a full scale basketball net and a sandpit  all in a safely enclosed garden.  This meant that I actually managed to spend ten minutes lying in the huge hammock on the veranda which wraps around the house without anyone under the age of 8 appearing to tell me they were bored, had accidentally flushed their lego down the loo/wanted to use my phone to play a game that involves a sausage on legs running an assault course that would consume my annual data allowance.

I had competition for the hammock

I had competition for the hammock

Anyone for Tennis/Volleyball/Football/Basketball ? The mini astroturf pitch in the garden kept the boys very happily entertained as did the cows who would occasionally pitch up to spectate over the fence

Anyone for Tennis/Volleyball/Football/Basketball ? The mini astroturf pitch in the garden kept the boys very happily entertained as did the cows who would occasionally pitch up to spectate over the fence

There was also a huge range of indoor toys to keep them happy

There was also a huge range of indoor toys to keep them happy

There are 4 bedrooms, two double, two single kids room and two bathroom all decorated in a crisp clean Scandi inspired style with some gorgeous rustic features like the pine cladding wall in the main bedroom and concrete sinks in both of the bathrooms.  It is a style I am going to call Netherlands Nordic.  

The stunning master bedroom

The stunning master bedroom

I loved the wood cladding wall which added a rustic edge to the Scandi decor

I loved the wood cladding wall which added a rustic edge to the Scandi decor

Miniest Malmo's bed for the week

Miniest Malmo's bed for the week

The real jewel in the crown though is the kitchen which leads out on to the wrap around veranda I mentioned.  This is where we spent most of our time with breakfasts around the huge oval table which had a really cool built in plywood benches to sit on with lots of storage incorporated.  Dinners were taken out on the deck watching the sun go down over the fields.  The kitchen leads through to a living space and kids play corner and I loved the crittal style windows that linked the two spaces and the timber ceilings in the kitchen which added a touch of cabin chic to proceedings.

I loved this idea of having custom built ply seating with storage incorporated

I loved this idea of having custom built ply seating with storage incorporated

Kitchen 4.jpeg
The wooden clad ceiling was one of my favourite features

The wooden clad ceiling was one of my favourite features

As were the crittal style windows linking the kitchen to the living space

As were the crittal style windows linking the kitchen to the living space

Kitchen 3.jpeg
Breakfasts al fresco on the veranda

Breakfasts al fresco on the veranda

10 minutes up the road from the house is a Landmarkt supermarket for all of your grocery requirements.  I think it might be the Dutch equivalent of Whole Foods judging by the amazing range of mouthwatering fresh produce and slightly eye watering prices.  It is definetely not the cheapest place to stock up on nappies and bin bags but all of the food on offer was delicious.  There is also a lovely little restaurant in Durgerdam with tables right on the water and seems to be the place that Amsterdammers like to come and moor their boats and grab a bite to eat and glass of wine of a weekend so make sure to book in advance.  

The local bar and restaurant in Durgerdam

The local bar and restaurant in Durgerdam

upload.jpg
Spotted on one of our evening strolls, my dream house though think it is technically a boat shed....

Spotted on one of our evening strolls, my dream house though think it is technically a boat shed....

upload.jpg

The weather when we were there was amazing so we were happy to have the option of cooling down by going or a swim in the sea from the pontoons leading out to sea or to let the kids paddle in the shallow waters from a little beach just 5 mins walk from the front door of the house.

At the end of this track was a little beach where you could swim in the inland sea just 5 mins walk from the house

At the end of this track was a little beach where you could swim in the inland sea just 5 mins walk from the house

If you can tear yourself away from this little corner of paradise then Amsterdam is just on your doorstep and you are within an easy drive of the beaches to the North.  I have rounded up below a few of my favourite places that we visited but it is a far from comprehensive guide to all of the delights that Amsterdam and the coast have to offer (and definitely doesn't include delights including ping pong balls I am afraid).  I hope to go back many times to this gorgeous area to build up the Malmo & Moss guide gradually!

Amsterdam

Westergasfabriek

Having kids is a wonderful life enriching experience but it does mean sacrificing some of the things you previously took for granted.  Like the ability to cough without also doing a little wee or any hope of going to the toilet without someone bursting in within two minute of your cheeks hitting the seat.  Mooching whilst on a city break is another one to add to the list.  By which I mean idly wondering pretty streets with no clear aim other than pottering in and out of little boutiques and stopping in whichever bijou winebar, cute cafe or rustic restaurant takes your fancy.  If, like me, you are exploring Amsterdam whilst also keeping an eye on 3 boys, 3 footballs and with a buggy more heavily loaded than an Eddie Stobbart lorry then head to the Westerpark neighbourhood and explore the Westergasfabriek, the site of a former gas works which has been redeveloped into a beautiful park and cultural complex with indie shops, elecetic eateries, an arthouse cinema and brewery all housed in gorgeous old buildings.  We ate at Westergas Terrass which had statement boho lighting, industrial textures and vintage features and tables opening onto a huge public space in which the boys could run around and play whilst we waited for the food to arrive.

Parental heaven: a table overlooking an open space so the kids don't have to sit down until the food arrives on the table at the  Westergas Terrass Westergas Terrase

Parental heaven: a table overlooking an open space so the kids don't have to sit down until the food arrives on the table at the Westergas TerrassWestergas Terrase

The interiors of the former industrial building were right up my street

The interiors of the former industrial building were right up my street

Dignita

Dignita.jpeg
Dignita 2.jpeg

On the other side of town, the Vondelpark runs through the centre of the City with miles of cycle paths, open space and playgrounds for kids to explore.  Just aroound the corner from the park is Dignita which sounds like it might specalise in Euthansia but which is actually a kid friendly cafe that serves a mean brunch,  They have a play area to enterain the kids and a licensed bar should you fancy a bloody mary with your eggs benedict.

Pluk

If you are in Amsterdam unencumbered by junior chaperones then the 9 Streets is the area to head to for mooching.  There are a myriad of gorgeous lifestyle stores and cafes to while away the day in.  By allowing the boys to plunder my annual data allowance watching Thomas the Tank Engine/Angry Birds/Fifa rerun videos on my phone we managed to squeeze in an instagrammable brunch at Pluk, a cafe within a lovely lifestyle store with plenty to tempt you in the way of food and homewares.

Hello lovely herringbone tiles at Pluk

Hello lovely herringbone tiles at Pluk

The cakes were as delicious as the decor

The cakes were as delicious as the decor

And there was lots of lovely home ware to tempt you over your cup of tea

And there was lots of lovely home ware to tempt you over your cup of tea

Zandvoort & Noordwijk

The nearest beach to Amsterdam is in Zandvoort about 30 mins drive away and then slightly further up the coast is Noordwijk.  The towns themselves are nothing to write home about (there is a slight air of Soviet by sea about the drab concrete buildings that line the seafronts) but when you get down onto the beach all thoughts of Gorbachov will be forgotten.  The beaches are miles long, wide open and, compared to Majorca or the South of France, relatively deserted.  The sea is perfect for swimming in and surprisingly warm and there are shallow inland channels perfect for kids to paddle in without any fear of being swept out to the North Sea. 

On the beach in Noordwijk

On the beach in Noordwijk

Dutch Coast 5.jpg

The real stars of the show are, however, the beach clubs which, with their relaxed rustic boho vibes will have you thinking you are in Ibiza not the Netherlands.  Think bleached wood, rattan lampshades and lashings of botanicals mixed in.  Our three favourites (all under the same ownership) were Hippie Fish on Zandvoort beach and Tulum and Branding Beach Club in Noordwijk.  The atmosphere was super relaxed and friendly with great brasserie type food with an asian fusion twist being served up.  The prices were not the cheapest but definitely not as eye watering as St Tropez.  When the sun goes down bonfires are lit and festoon lights turned on to add to the magic

I loved the floor to ceiling crittal style windows in  Tulum  beach club

I loved the floor to ceiling crittal style windows in Tulum beach club

I loved all of the statement lighting at  Tulum

I loved all of the statement lighting at Tulum

The concrete hexagonal tiles in the kitchen at the  Branding Beach Club  really caught my eye

The concrete hexagonal tiles in the kitchen at the Branding Beach Club really caught my eye

I loved this idea of creating a feature wall with old door panels at  Branding Beach Club

I loved this idea of creating a feature wall with old door panels at Branding Beach Club

upload.jpg
upload.jpg

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

Ohboy Hotel.jpeg
The kitchenette at the Ohboy had gorgeous concrete worktops

The kitchenette at the Ohboy had gorgeous concrete worktops

Ohboy Hotel

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.

Turning Toros.jpeg
playground 2.jpg
Vastra Hamnen 4.jpeg

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*

Malmö and Skåne County with Kids

When I was pregnant with my first child, one of my friends (who is admittedly a pessimist) told me that there is no such thing as a holiday once you have had kids.  By which I think she meant I could kiss goodbye to the days of lounging around an infinity pool with nothing more pressing to worry about than where my next margarita was coming from and whether I had brought enough books with me to last the fortnight (#kindleluddite). 

Image from  Oh Couture

Image from Oh Couture

It is certainly true that the arrival of the trio of todgers has cut down the amount of time I spend horizontal on a sun lounger (it is hard to lounge when you are worrying about a toddler falling/pooing in the pool) and ensured that I am now more likely to go home having read the New Adventures of Spot rather than anything off the Booker Shortlist.   However, I am a firm believer that you can still have a relaxing time on holiday with kids without handing over 3 months salary to Centre Parcs.    If you are looking for a destination where you can lap up great design, interiors and impossibly beautiful blonde men named Lars whilst the kids experience premium playgrounds, sandy beaches and acres of open space then look no further than Malmö and Skåne County.  Here are five reasons why it is the perfect place to holiday with kids and my top tips for things to do with them whilst you are there (none of which cost the earth).

Perfect Playgrounds

It is fair to say that with 3 kids under 7 approximately 33% of my time is spent either in search of or in playgrounds.  So I know my swings from my roundabouts when it comes to what makes a good one.  Malmö has hands down some of the best I have ever experienced.  There was not a dog poo, broken swing or treacherous slide in sight (I am looking at you Oakwood Park).  In fact they are so good that you will need all your best parental negotiating skills to get the kids to leave them without the kind of reaction Donald Trump would have if he was served a quinoa burger.

This amazing playground was just around the corner from the  OhBoy Hotel

This amazing playground was just around the corner from the OhBoy Hotel

Malmo playground.jpg
playground 1.jpg

Our favourites were one off Lillas Varvgatan near where we were staying at the OhBoy Hotel, the Slottsträdgårdens and Folkets Park but rumour has it Pildams Park is also well work a visit (we didn’t make it there on account of my 5 year old’s leg batteries running out that day).  The Swedes are also great at combining their stellar playgrounds with instagrammable cafes.  My favourite has to be the Slottsträdgårdens Kafè (@Slottsträdgårdens Kafè.)  where we headed for for a cup of tea and some fika after a sphincter clenching hour of letting the boys climb the trees in the neighbouring park.  I am not sure my Swedish vocabularly extends to "please could you call the fire service, my son appears to have climbed a tree the size of the Eiffel Tour and got stuck".  You can recover your calm siting outside under the shade of rippling trees or duck inside the greenhouse strung with bunting and dotted with candles

slotts cafe.jpeg
Slottsgarden 2.jpg
Folkets Park.jpeg
Fun in the sun at  Folkets Park

Fun in the sun at Folkets Park

Fantastic Foodhalls

I love almost everything about Scandinavia but if you are travelling with companions who turn their noses up at anything non beige/vaguely textured/potentially containing vitamins it’s cuisine can, at times, be a little bit of a challenge.  FYI if you ever want your kids to tidy their bedroom just plop a herring rollmop down in front of them and tell them it is that or putting their lego away.  However, take them to either Malmö Saluhall or Höganäs Saluhall and you can guarantee you will have no ryebread revolution on your hands. 

The deli counter at  Höganäs Saluhall

The deli counter at Höganäs Saluhall

There are a host of different stalls catering for all palettes and both are located in gorgeous old industrial buildings meaning you can lap up the bare bricks and rustic textures whilst they are tucking into ice cream from Favvo Glas, Pasta from Papi or  cinnamon buns from St Jakob Stenugnsbageri. 

The gorgeous industrial seating area in the  Saluhall  in Malmö

The gorgeous industrial seating area in the Saluhall in Malmö

Holy Greens.jpeg
Sampling the delights of a pastry from St Jacobs Stenugnsbageri

Sampling the delights of a pastry from St Jacobs Stenugnsbageri

If, like my kids, sitting down for longer than 10 minutes at time, you can grab the makings of a gorgeous picnic and head around the corner to Slottsträdgårdens where there is acres of green space and trees to climb to burn off some post lunch energy.  If you have kids old enough to understand the concept that if you throw yourself out of a boat you will get wet and force your mum to make like a podgy Pamela Anderson to rescue you from the water, then you can also hire a boat to gently explore.

Beautiful Beaches

Malmö itself has a small sandy beach which looks out over the water to Copenhagen but hop in the car and within an hour you can be exploring impossibly pretty cobbled fishing villages with miles of unspoilt coastline to enjoy.  Our favourite spots were Mölle, Torekov and Båstad.  We spent a very happy morning exploring the dunes and rocks of Torekov where old ladies whizzed passed in dressing gowns on their bikes on the way for their daily swim.  In the Summer you can catch a ferry across to Hallands Väderö an uninhabited nature reserve (thanks to @myscandinavianhome for the tip).  If you are in Mölle head for Mölle Krukmakeri.  You will initially think I am crazy telling you to take kids to a pottery but swerve the pots and head to the quirky café where they will be too distracted by quirky things like a giant stuffed tiger dressed as an airline pilot to cause any ceramic calmamities.

Exploring the gorgeous cobbled streets of Torekov

Exploring the gorgeous cobbled streets of Torekov

TOrrekov.jpeg
An old fisherman's shelter in Torekov

An old fisherman's shelter in Torekov

Torrekov 3.jpg

Our favourite beach of all was in the upscale resort of Båstad where the Swedish Tennis Open is held everyyear.  There is a long flat golden sandy beach, shallow waters perfect for splashing around in and pontoons leading out to sea off which older/more proficient swimmers will love jumping off.  In the Summer months there is cool beach club at the top of the beach and if you can hose them down and wrestle them back into their clothes then the swish Hotel Skansen is actually remarkably child friendly with friendly waiters and kids activitiy packs on hand.   

The harbour in Båstad

The harbour in Båstad

The beautiful sandy beach in Båstad

The beautiful sandy beach in Båstad

Toddler heaven

Toddler heaven

Bastad.jpg

Modern Museums

Going round museums with kids can be somewhat of a hit and miss experience.  Find a good one and they will be channelling their inner David Attenboroughs or Mini Monets but visit a dud and you will find yourself setting a new Guinness World Record for the number of times one person can say sshhhhh, don't touch that, don't climb that in one hour.  Luckily Malmo has some great ones.  Our favourites were the Malmo Hus which is a castle in the middle of a moat inside which there is a mini interactive aquarium and ramparts to explore.  The aquarium was a particular hit with my kids because it had lots of things they could touch and climb on without setting off any alarms.  Even Mr Malmo couldn't resist sticking his head inside a giant diving helmet in the middle of a tank of eels. 

Malmo Castle.jpg
Malmohus.jpg
Malmohus.jpeg

For an experience that doesn't involve eels then head to the Konst Hall.  It is in a beautiful old orangery building and had a giant sculpture exhibition inside when we visited.  It looks on first glance like the kind of place that might not love an invasion of sticky fingered noisy kids but it actively welcomes them, running free crafting workshops in a room off the main exhibition space.  There is also a gorgeous courtyard cafe where they can be as noisy as they like and another brilliant playground literally right outside.  If art is your thing then the Moderna Museum is also not to be missed.

 

Kunst Museum.jpg
Kunst museum 2.jpg

Strolls by the Sea

If you are staying in Malmö with kids then I would recommend basing yourself in the Västra Hamnen area of the City, a former shipyard which has been transformed into a sustainable area of contemporary housing with a harbour bobbing with boats.  There are stretches of wooden walkways looking out towards the sea dotted with beautiful Scandinavians (young and old) who have come to enjoy the sunset and a swim in the sea off bleached wooden pontoons. There is plenty of room for kids to run/scoot of some steam and then Vespa is a great spot to grab a pizza and watch the sun go down/watch the sun go down whilst also watching the kids to make sure they aren't about to attempt to swim to Copenhagen.  This area is also home to the famous turning torso building which fascinated our kids.  Questions they asked that I couldn't answer, how do they clean the windows, why does it look like a twiglet and why can't we live there (well I could answer that one, it is something to do with not having a spare 500 million Kroner down the back of the sofa)

Vastra Hamnen 4.jpeg
Turning Toros.jpeg
Vastra hamnen 9.jpg
Pizza from Vespa as the sun went down was a holiday highlight

Pizza from Vespa as the sun went down was a holiday highlight

Bountiful Buns

I have never known a tantrum that can’t be quelled by a cinnamon bun (well apart from the one Mr Malmo had when I gave away to Oxfam a jumper which he loved by which I thought made him look like he was on day release from a juvenile detention centre).  If you need a little cinnamon related bribery up your sleeve then there are numerous spots around the city to pick up a bun to stifle a toddler rebellion. .  Some of our favourites were from Söderberg & Sara in the St Knut area of the city and on the other side of town the cardamon infused buns from Bagaren & Bonden were out of this world.

cinnamon buns 2.jpeg
Cinnamon buns.jpeg
Family feast at  Söderberg & Sara

Family feast at Söderberg & Sara

Behold bountiful bus at  Söderberg & Sara

Behold bountiful bus at Söderberg & Sara

Thank you to Visit Sweden UK for hosting us whilst we were in Malmö and Skåne County.  Whilst our stay on this occasion was in partnership with Visit Sweden UK, we have visited and loved Malmö as a family and will definetely be returning in the future.  If you have any questions at all about travelling there with kids please feel free to ask in the comments below.  

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. 

A VCH1.jpeg
A VCH 2.jpeg

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.

VCH Dining 1.jpeg

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.  

VCH Kitchen 7.jpeg
VCH kitchen 4.jpeg
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......

VCH Living Room 3.jpeg
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

VCH Bedroom 4(3).jpeg
VCH Bedroom 3(5).jpeg
There were so many amazing bedrooms to chose from!

There were so many amazing bedrooms to chose from!

A1.jpeg
VCH Bedroom 2(3).jpeg

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.   

at Fountennay let Comte.jpg
A fontenau.jpg
The Il de Re is full of instagrammable moments like this!

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

a il de re market.jpg
at il de re 2.jpg

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

VCH House outside 5.jpg
VCH outside 7.jpeg
VCH Cabana 1.jpeg

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

Beach Huts 6.jpg

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

Strand hotel 2.jpg
My favourite part of the hotel, the gorgeous internal courtyard

My favourite part of the hotel, the gorgeous internal courtyard

Strand HOtel 1.jpg

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. 

Tisvilde room.jpg

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. 

Beach 1.jpg
Beach Huts 9.jpg
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

Tisvilde shop 4.jpg
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.

Cafe 2.jpg
I loved the super sweet little wendy house

I loved the super sweet little wendy house

Cafe 1.jpg
How do they get those flowerbeds looking so abundant?

How do they get those flowerbeds looking so abundant?

Cafe 6.jpg
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

Esthers Garage 3.jpg

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

Maritine Museum 2.jpg
Maritime Museum 9.jpg

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?

Maritime Cafe.jpg

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: Copenhagen

I spent my formative years in the North-East of England where my only contact with Scandinavia was the Gateshead branch of Ikea and even on trips there I was initially more interested in the mini hotdogs and 50p whippy icecreams than the bleached birch Billy Bookcases, Sodermalm sofas and fabulous faux sage.  But somewhere along the way I discovered my inner Agnetha and this North-Eastern girl went Nordic. I began to dream of moving to a Scandinavian country and even went to so far as to take Swedish lessons with Mr Malmo who proved his undying love and devotion to me by spending his Thursday evenings desperately trying to form a Swedish sentence that didn't just sound like he was trying to clear a sticky piece of flem out of his throat.   When it became obvious that we would struggle to ask for a Daim bar in a Netto we downgraded the plans to emigrate to frequent holidays there instead.  Two Summers ago we went Scandi with the kids for the first time (if you don't count frequent trips to Edmonton Ikea) staying in Copenhagen and then crossing the bridge (yes, The Bridge) to Malmo to stay in the house of one of my all time favourite bloggers My Scandinavian Home.  We had a brilliant time so this year, having sired another son (in medieval times I would surely have been given a cow or something by now) we decided to head back to Copenhagen. 

The beautiful living room of My Scandinavian Home

The beautiful living room of My Scandinavian Home

My Scandihome 1.png

Where We Stayed

I am one of life's nervous flyers. I am about as comfortable on a plane as Nigel Farage would be at a Liberal Democrat conference in a vegan cafe.  However, it was not my extreme fear of flying that led to our last minute decision to drive rather than fly to Denmark.  It was rather the fact that I left it until 2 weeks before the date of departure to book seats by which time return Ryanair flights were about the same price as a small helicopter.  But 14 hours with 3 small children crammed into an overpacked Audi were quickly forgotten the moment we stepped inside our Air BnB apartment in Copenhagen.  Even with my right eyeball still manically twitching from the 4 large cans of Redbull consumed to keep me awake on the autobahn, I could see that it was the apartment of my Danish dreams.  

It is owned by a couple in their early thirties called Signe and Mark who live there with their two young children.  They describe themselves in their profile as civil servants and design entrepreneurs causing me to radically re-evaluate my previous stereotypes of civil servants as people who wear short sleeve beige shirts, keep pens in their top pockets and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Common Agricultural Policy.  

The apartment is part of a block in which the Danish Prime Minister lived during the second world war.  But as you can see it is no gloomy underground Anderson shelter.  The main living space is a huge, double reception room with high ceilings and gorgeous sanded original wooden floors. The rest of the rooms lead off that main space and are all painted white creating a beautifully spacious, light and serene feel. 

It was a case of love at first sight for the boys as well.  However, it was the massive smart enabled TV loaded with car racing games rather than the Dinesen reminiscent floorboards that captured their young hearts.  Whilst their new found precious bought us a few uncharacteristic holiday lie-ins, the downside was that anytime we left the apartment to take in some Danish culture at one of the many brilliant museums and galleries Copenhagen has to offer, they had a tendency to ask us at 10 minute intervals when we would be going back to the holiday home to play Nitro Blast.

The boys with their precious

The boys with their precious

I loved the the texture and colour they had added to the living room with their choice of rugs and throws

I loved the the texture and colour they had added to the living room with their choice of rugs and throws

\

\

My favourite part of the apartment was, in contrast, the kitchen.  It featured all the modern rustic elements that I love.  Rough hewn wood: tick, earthy collections of ceramics: tick, accents of dark metallics: tick.  It was a lovely space to sit with a cup of tea flicking through one of their Nordic cookbooks pretending that I am not the kind of person who thinks that rye bread should be reserved for hamsters instead of humans.  We tended to eat out at lunchtime and then come back to have dinner at the apartment around the lovely rustic kitchen table having picked up ingredients from the local Meny (the Danish equivalent of Waitrose) on our way home.  

There was also a branch of  Lagkaghuset  next door to Meny so at breakfast time, whilst one of us put the kettle on and stood in the weetabix firing line, the other would pop out to pick up the best cinnamon buns I have ever tasted (and believe me when I say I have tasted a lot!).   It is a chain so you can find branches all over Copenhagen should you need a cinnamon top up at any time during the day.  I guess they are the Danish equivalent of Greggs but with polished concrete floors, pale wood, twinkling candles and handsome bakery assistants called Lars.  

In the evenings once we had the kids in bed we would light some candles in the kitchen (when I say we I obviously mean me as there is about the same chance of Mr Malmo independently lighting a candle as there is him suggesting we sit down to watch a Vicar of Dibley boxset) pour a glass of wine and make plans for the next day together. One of my favourite features of the kitchen was the black pendant lights hung at different heights over the table and worktops, they added a little bit of edge to all the natural textures and got me thinking about changing up our kitchen lights at home.

The kitchen looked out over a gorgeous internal courtyard which was a lovely spot to sit in the sun, watching the boys play with toys shared by all of the apartments with the Danes not being territorial over their tiny tikes.  When we visited in late July there were mounds of hydrangeas in whites and pinks in full bloom to enjoy.

Copenhagen Apartment 3.jpg
Copenhagen Apartment 13.jpg

There were 3 bedrooms.   The master bedroom was a beautiful tranquil space as it was flooded with light from the two big windows which looked out over the quiet street and a small park.  The only blot on the bedroom landscape was that the bed had, as is the Scandi way, two separate single duvets on the bed rather than one double.  I am not sure if this is because Danish men are chronic duvet stealers so the divorce rate is kept low by everyone having their own duvet, but I found that it meant that I frequently woke up in the night to find that Mr Malmo had rolled off with both duvets leaving me exposed to the Danish indoor elements.  

Bed, Buns and Bolig = Bliss

Bed, Buns and Bolig = Bliss

Getting our hygge on

Getting our hygge on

Although the other two bedrooms were used as kids bedrooms, one had a double bed in and could easily have been used as an adult bedroom if you didn't mind waking up with the squad of FC Copenhagen (on the wall rather than in your bed that is unless you had enjoyed a particularly wild night on the Aquavit.) The other bedroom had a small cabin bed in and the only adult it would be suitable for would be wee Jimmy Krankie.  Although the bathroom didn't have a bath it had a huge walk-in shower which was perfect for hosing down three mucky boys at the end of every day.

The Local Area

The apartment is located in the Østerbro neighbourhood and is about 15 mins walk from the City centre.  It is known as the old wealthy neighbourhood in Copenhagen with lots of beautiful old architecture, broad shopping streets and leafy squares with cafes and shops. Whilst it is definitely not as hip and trendy an area as say Norreborre or Vesterbro, it is super family friendly so will work well if it is first class playgrounds rather than pulsing nightclubs you are after.  If your kids are good at walking without claiming their leg batteries have run out, then take a stroll down to the lakes where there are some great restaurants and a section of townhouses so drool worthy that you will be wondering if having watched every episode of the Killing, Borgen and The Bridge will be enough to qualify you for Danish citizenship post Brexit.

Cafe Bopa was our local brunch spot.

Cafe Bopa was our local brunch spot.

Bopa 7.jpg
Osterbro 1.jpg