Turkish delights

August 25, 2011

Ah, it’s been a while, friends. But I’ve blown the dust off the old WordPress dashboard and managed to locate the log in password lurking in the darkest corner of my holiday-addled brain. For the past few weeks, I’ve been pottering around Istanbul taking low resolution disappointing iPhone photos of cushion covers, admiring amazing architecture, loitering in markets and developing a serious apple tea (or elma çay) habit. Despite my best intentions, I returned to London with a suitcase packed full of beautiful Turkish home accessories, of course…

A metal tray and a set of six pretty little tea glasses were the first things that slipped in to my shopping bag as I tried (unsuccessfully) to haggle. Apple tea (which, if you have the powdered kind, is basically just sugar with four different e-numbers added – no wonder it’s so addictive) is drunk by everyone everywhere in Turkey, so, like typical tourists, we stocked up on a few boxes which will no doubt sit in our kitchen cupboard for the next ten years, alongside the suspicious ‘spices’ we picked up in Marrakesh.

Luckily, you don’t have to hang out in the Grand Bazaar to get the gear… 1. Idyll Home sells beautiful Turkish tea glasses and china saucers; 2. Dotcomgiftshop does a bargainacious hammered metal tray; 3. You can even get hold of the dreaded apple tea powder from Goodness Direct. Diabetics, beware…

The next thing I accidentally bought was a beautiful ‘Suzani’ quilt from Uzbekistan. Not strictly-speaking Turkish, but sold everywhere IN Turkey, so bear with me. Apparently, Suzani quilts are traditionally bridal dowry blankets – embroidered by hand by Uzbek women who start sewing when a girl is born and continue, with the help of family and friends, until her wedding day when the quilt is completed and presented to her. The bold, folk-style patterns and the bright colours are gorgeous – and every throw is unique so it took me about three hours to choose one…

Again, while it’s certainly cheap as chips to pick up a beautiful Suzani bedspread like this in a Turkish market, you can get the look in the UK, too… 1. Check out the Uzbek-inspired designs from the talented Niki Jones; 2. Shop at Yurdan for the real deal (but at highly-inflated prices).

Of course, no trip to Turkey would be complete without a visit to a mosque’s hammam – a traditional Turkish bath house where you lie on a slab of hot marble then get covered in foam and flipped about like a baby by a large Turk. It was all good fun and the full body massage was amazing – if a little painful at times. The hammam we visited had a whole room full of beautiful woven cloth towels (peştamalsin pleasing stacks – like some heavenly linen cupboard. Emerging like a mole, blinking in the daylight, weak, dazed and highly-polished, I marched straight to the local market and bought six for next to nothing.

Luckily, you don’t have to lie topless in a stone chamber having your shoulder knots kneaded by gigantic hairy elbows to get hold of a hammam towel, although they’re not cheap outside of Turkey. 1. Pop to L’Aviva Home to see a huge selection of designs and colours; 2. Head to Toast for beautiful loom-woven ones with knotted fringing. They’re Anatolian, dahling, yah, and you can even find traditional hammam olive oil soaps at tasteful Toast, too.

Luckily, easyJet is quite generous on the old baggage allowance front. – Ellie

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Kazzbar magique

October 12, 2009

A sack of wool has appeared beside my desk. It’s big. It’s heavy. And it smells, unsurprisingly, a bit sheepy. The delivery man gave me a withering look after he had heaved it up to the seventh floor, sweating, and rolled it off his trolley. I admit I’m not looking forward to lugging it home on the train tonight…but at least if all the seats are taken, I can sit on it. And, if I don’t manage to roll it up the steep hill I live on, I could always use it to create some sort of emergency overnight nest.

style500I foolishly didn’t realise that my birthday Moroccan pouffe was sold un-stuffed – we live and learn. But now all that stands between me and the Moroccan cosy corner of my dreams is a tonne of wool and an hour-long commute in high heeled boots…

pouffeI don’t think my other half truly appreciates or grasps fully what The Arrival of The Pouffe means. Now I can play with all my pretty trays and tealights creating styled displays on the top of The Pouffe. I can put my feet up on The Pouffe when I’m watching TV without kicking over the wine on the coffee table. I can produce The Pouffe for last-minute extra guest seating in a flash. I can pat The Pouffe, proudly. The cats can sit on The Pouffe. I can perch on The Pouffe. How did I ever survive without The Pouffe? It’s quite unimaginable. What a misery my pre-pouffe, pouffe-less existence must have been. Check out these lovely pouffes in the elegant white and silver Moroccan-magic home of Cecilia Granath in Copenhagen, (but it could be Marrakesh). This is how my dream Moroccan cosy corner looks (in my head):

granath354When I travelled around Morocco a few years ago, I should have brought some un-stuffed leather pouffes back with me. Instead, I packed my suitcase full of twenty five large plastic bags of red, unidentifiable ‘spice’ which I accidentally bought in a souk due to peer pressure and which is so potent and strange-tasting, I did at one point wonder if it might be some sort of powdered paint. I used the boyfriend’s suitcase for a ridiculous, never-used, rarely-dusted, tagine. Sigh.

EME_M1Thanks to Bethan for her pretty wedding-themed post on Friday. Lovely! Makes me want to be a wedding planner. I spent my birthday weekend dragging polite-but-bored people around my favourite antiques barn in the Cotswolds, where I found some excellent vintage buys. More about that tomorrow – I need to start the wool transfer now. No pain, no gain. – Ellie