SUMMER

Every summer we look forward to the visit of my niece, Coco Bella, at the beginning of August. This year, we were able to pick Coco up on her birthday afternoon on our way back from Cambridge. Upon arrival into Bath we headed out to get some pizza and eat it by the canal, enjoying a wonderful sunset, the sky turned orange, pink and yellow and it made us so excited for the summer evenings we would get to spend together over the coming two weeks.

After our pizza, we treated ourselves to some of Bath’s finest ice cream from the Real Italian Ice Cream parlour and headed home giggling, weary eyed and ready for some rest.

On Tuesday we packed up the car bright and early and headed for Wales. (After a little breakfast and magazine rendezvous in town first!)

We sang and chatted the entire way home, excited to be greeted by my mum and take our first dip in the sea. Upon arrival we gave Coco her birthday gifts, which were a big success and grabbed our beach wear.

The following days comprised beaches, swimming in the sea almost every day, surfing, dolphin diving, bbq and picnics outdoors, fireworks and ponies.

We decided to make two day trips this year, leaving the house in the early hours to head north towards Cardiganshire and Mwnt Bay in search of dolphins (which was another big success!) and to Pembrokeshire and Skrinkle Haven. It was such a treat to share these two places with both my mum and Coco, places that Michael and I had found earlier on in the year and had been excited to share with our family.

We were so anxious to see dolphins at Mwnt Bay as they have been Coco’s favourite animal for some time. My mum and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we heard people talking in the car park about seeing the dolphins. We were lucky enough to be in the water playing when the dolphin and its calf, not too far away from us, dived out of the water. A special moment we will never forget!

I will let the photographs tell the rest of the stories. Photographs that we will treasure for years to come.

Coco is 9 and pretty pumped about being in year 5 and having her pen license!

We adore this girl and all the laughter, kindness and fun she brings to our lives.

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CAMBRIDGE

Michael turned 26 and to celebrate we booked a city break in Cambridge. We had never been to Cambridge before (except for Michael’s interview back in the day before university) and we were excited!

We packed up the car and headed for Cambridge early on Saturday morning, checked into our hotel and the heavens opened! It poured and poured and poured. Determined to squeeze in as much as we could, we wandered the maze of back streets and pretty courtyards getting quite lost and quite wet. We headed for Aromi, an Italian cafe we had read about online and fell in love with its delicious food and cosiness, it was the perfect retreat from the rain and we felt like we had been transported to Sicily!

Once our tummies were full and we had dried off a little we continued to sniff out creative and independent shops and perused the arts section at Heffers book store.

By mid afternoon the rain had eased and we headed back to our hotel to freshen up ready for an evening catching up with Michael’s old housemate and his girlfriend.

We met Laurence and Lucy at the pint shop and headed swiftly onto the riverbar steakhouse for a delicious candlelit dinner.

Sunday, we woke early and finally Michael opened some of his gifts which I had long awaited for! It was his birthday!

Heading out as soon as we were up and ready, the sun was shining and we made our way to Fitzbillies for a full English birthday breakfast (and a croissant for me) we watched the city wake up from the cafe window and the tourist start to form queues at every cafe door. We were lucky to get in when we did!

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the River Cam, we plucked up the courage to go for our first punting experience which was more difficult than it looked (and a little stressful – ha ha)! We manage to zig zag our way perfectly towards granchester and broke all punting etiquette rules along the way!But fun nonetheless!

Back safely on dry land, with soggy trousers and tops, we decided to relax in the sun, watching others navigate their punts and had a little birthday cake with candles and fresh tomatoes from the market.

We decided to wander along the river cam towards the centre of town, passing the mathematical bridge, kings college and finishing at the ‘orgasm’ bridge. Enjoying the beautiful architecture, long vistas and picturesque punters.  Relaxing on the rivers edge with a cold drink, watching the last boats of the day go out. Perfect.

As the sun began to set, we wandered towards Jesus green. It was so nice to see families, young and old, teenagers, students and couples all enjoying the evening, outside on the grass, eating, drinking and playing.

We grabbed some dinner at Thaikhun and slowly walked home through the city, through its swathes of green, passing cows, barges and cyclists along the way.

A great birth day spent in beautiful Cambridge!

On Monday morning, we got up early to head into town to grab a croissant and hot chocolate for breakfast, eating it in one of the many green residential squares of Cambridge, watching people head off to work and get ready for their day. We spent some time wandering the clothes shops and happened upon a cute home ware store where we treated ourselves, bringing home a memory of a lovely weekend.

We checked out of our hotel, jumped in the car and did a whilst stop tour of the much talked about in architecture school, Accordia. Pleased to report that I actually loved it and of course Michael did too!

A lovely weekend, catching up with an old, meeting a new friend and exploring an enchanting city.

Happy Birthday Michael! XX

Next it was on to St Albans to pick up another birthday buddy – my niece, Coco!

The European Architectural Medal

Every year, Schools of Architecture across the continent nominate one Masters Project for the ‘European Architectural Medal’. This year 120 projects were submitted from 29 countries. On the 26th November the Jury met in the exhibition hall of the Uauim in Bucharest and decided that ‘Re-constructing Porto: The Massarellos School of Construction’ was the winner of the European Architectural Medal 2016.

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The jury commented that ‘It tackles the problem of contextualising in a decaying urban fabric, a common preoccupation in many of our cities, looking for responsible urban regeneration. The school project tackles the brief by connecting it to its surroundings and its access points, by responding to the topography and existing imposing structures like the overhead bridge. It does this physically with the tower of the liftshaft, but also asserts its presence with the same sign. A more subtle expression of building forms and spaces diversify the school functions, as for example from the harsher laboratories on the ground floor to the airy, comfortable work spaces on the first floor. The project correctly combines regard for energy use and sustainability of materials with the characteristics of user needs. The layering of building materials, forms and juxtaposition of volumes, all hint at the didactic process of construction – which is the School’s role.’

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Of the 120 projects submitted, 30 were selected and displayed at the awards ceremony. Throughout 2017 the shortlisted projects will form part of a travelling exhibition stopping at various Architecture Schools across Europe.

I couldn’t quite believe I had been awarded this amazing prize. A really great end to a very enjoyable final year at Architecture School. To read more about the prize check out this link: https://eam.uauim.ro/projects/2016/38/

COPENHAGEN

The weekend before Christmas, we bundled up and headed to Copenhagen, a city we had heard a lot about throughout our design studies at university and through friends who had visited. We didn’t realise quite how much we would fall in love with that city and feel so instantly comfortable. Upon arrival to our cute Airbnb in a family neighbourhood, we felt welcomed by our hosts and their new baby who were about to head off on a Christmas trip themselves.

With a love for design, architecture and crafting we had planned on exploring the city, slowly, taking in the lifestyle and seeking out the ever popular principal of ‘hygge’, commonly defined as ‘cosiness’.

With our visit being so close to Christmas, homes, streets, cafes and shops were filled with twinkling white lights, Christmas trees and the most adorable Christmas gnomes.

On our first day, we decided to take the metro into the city centre to get our first taste of Copenhagen, we walked through Christianshavn, through the art quarter and headed for the Street Food Market to warm up. We must have spent at least 40 minutes deciding what to have because the food all looked so delicious and tasty. We settled for a shredded duck burger and shared a chocolate cheese cake for desert, it was perfect. The Market hall was filled with art, lights, various smells and flavours filled the air, it was bustling with atmosphere. We wish to have a venue like this close to home. It was great. We checked out the new Opera Theatre and a few boutiques along our way, and headed over the river to the Nyhavn Christmas Market. Since we had such an early flight, we decided to get some pasta and vegetables from the local supermarket and spent the evening cosied up in our apartment watching a movie.

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On Saturday, we took the metro to the other side of the city, Kobenhavn, and meandered through the side streets towards the park surrounding the Castle in search of The Little Mermaid sculpture. Along our walk we drooled at all the homeware and antique shops, wishing we could buy loads of furnishings and dreaming of ways to get them back to the UK! It was a cold morning so we made a brief visit to the mermaid sculpture and read a little bit about its history in our favourite lonely planet pocket book. We had decided to visit just one museum on our visit and decided upon the Danish Design Museum which was next on our agenda. We arrived just in time as the doors opened and were so happy to get indoors to defrost and strip all our layers off.

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We loved the design museum, we meandered slowly around, we particularly loved the Danish chair displays they have and the tunnel setting out the history of the chair and all the different styles that have been designed over time. The museum leads you around in a loop ending in the gift shop (Michael’s favourite) and the café (my favourite). We had a delicious lunch, I had a leek and potato soup which was served in a stylish glass tumbler with roasted pancetta and mushrooms on top and Michael had a beef sandwich with a tasty relish. We didn’t want to leave so we browsed the magazines that were on display. In the afternoon we wandered the shopping district, admiring all the trendy and designer boutiques and stopped off for a mid-afternoon snack and warm drink at a popular café.

In the evening we headed for the Tivoli Gardens which was like a magical fantasy world, we happened upon another food hall so grabbed a quick oven baked pizza for dinner. The Christmas displays at Tivoli Gardens were so fun and our cheeks were aching from grinning so much. I am not a fan of theme parks but I loved watching the vintage rides and loved the Christmas spirit that filled the air.

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On our last full day, we rose early and walked through the neighbourhood of our apartment to the beach, we were surprised by how close the coast was to where we were living and loved the boardwalks over the natural marshes towards the sea. We felt like we were stepping into a Cereal or Kinfolk magazine, the tones were muted, with wooden jetties leading out to the water, reeds and grasses lining the shore – it all seemed so typically Scandinavian to us. As ever, Michael was eager to scout out a local Kastrup Sea Baths that he had noticed on the map. We passed some sort of triathlon on our walk along the coast which was fun to watch, despite the cold, men and woman of all ages were sprinting across the sand with their fancy bikes on their shoulders – brave, brave people! We loved the baths and were surprised to see a couple of ladies braving the icy cold waters! After our walk we were cold and craving breakfast so went to the recommended Holm bakery for a tasty brunch.

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In the afternoon we wandered over to the Food Hall and Market again to browse the different stalls, the Architecture museum to browse their book shop and stopped off at a lovely little boutique we had spotted on our first day to buy a Christmas decoration to remind us of our trip and checked out the Church of Our Lady from the outside as it was sadly in use for an event.

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For our final evening, we went ice skating at Frederiksberg Park, which, to our surprise, was a low key rink at the edge of the park filled with local families. For our final meal we headed to Sankt Annae (I think) for a lovely meal. Before heading back to our apartment for our final time, we wandered the eerily quiet city, over the bridge, and did a quick peak of the impressive Frederik’s Church.

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We were so sad to leave early on Monday morning, we felt so instantly comfortable in Copenhagen and loved the way of live that we had experienced.

A few things I want to remember for the future:

  • The way the parents cycled with their children in a bucket trailer attached to their front wheel, the children often wrapped in blankets snuggled in together, reading books – so, so sweet.
  • The Gnome that we fell in love with and brought home as a memory of our trip and named Christianshavn – a running joke throughout our stay
  • The wooden pig that we picked up from the Food Hall and Market near Tivoli Gardens and fondly named Hans – another running joke throughout our stay
  • Being told off by the guards outside the Frederik’s Church for standing where we were and being so scared but laughing at the same time
  • Finding the recycled market and the free workshop like a little cave of all things crafty
  • Trying to remake the leek and potato soup on our return home for our Christmas Eve meal before heading out to Midnight Mass.
  • The feeling of comfort and cosiness as we walked the neighbourhood of Amager, looking at all the homes lit up under the night sky with Christmas lights and candles.
  • Admiring the houses and their wonderful roofs with green spaced surrounding all sides of their homes.
  • Locking up of bikes anywhere and everywhere using a special wheel clamp clip
  • The fashion, ooooh the fashion!
  • The Metro which was always on time to the second and so clean
  • Our attempts at pronouncing Danish words but making up our own instead and laughing about it

We would LOVE to visit Copenhagen again and venture out of the city, onto the mainland countryside. It is not often that I feel so comfortable in a new city that I imagine myself living and becoming well accustomed to the lifestyle.

A great trip with lots of special, festive memories.

Anna X

ARCHITECTURE WORKSPACES

Last month Archdaily published an article entitled ’42 Sketches, Drawings and Diagrams of Desks and Architecture Workspaces’. Readers from across the world were invited to submit drawings of where they work, ranging from busy office spaces to a small desk in the bedroom.

Amongst the 42 drawings submitted, my illustration of Livraria Lello was featured at number 22. We discovered this beautiful library last year on a university study trip to Porto. It is rumoured that J.K. Rowling used to visit this workspace when writing the legendary Harry Potter series. It does make you wonder whether the rich decorative interior of this space with its grand central staircase influenced the design of Hogwarts!

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To see the full article and the other drawings, check out the link : goo.gl/chvnZ5

PEMBROKESHIRE

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The weather was looking to be good for the last weekend in August and since it was a bank holiday weekend, we decided to pack up our and head to the Pembrokeshire Coast – a place I had never been before but heard great things about.

We checked into our not so wonderful camp site and quickly drove away to make the most of the beautiful countryside and coastline that surrounded us. We spent the first day at Skrinkle Haven, a beach we happened upon and absolutely loved. There was a steep and narrow walk down to the beach meaning it wasn’t so easy to get to and therefore not so busy. We swam, admired the wonderful rock formation, played cards and picnicked!

After struggling to find somewhere to have dinner we decide to grab some makings for a barbeque and spent the evening back on Skrinkle Haven as the sun set, another family on the beach had a bomb fire and later we were joined by a young family playing a ukulele and folk songs. It was so beautiful and an evening I hope to remember.

Check these photos out – so much beauty in our own country!

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SUMMER 2016

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This year my mum and I were able to organise our calendar in advance and lucked out with two whole weeks off work, at the same time. My niece Coco came to visit for these two weeks so we had a jam packed, fun filled time!

The weather was pretty good so our days were spent on the beach, having picnics and barbeques. It was a year of firsts of Coco as she perfected her cycling (without stabilisers) and become a whizz on the surf and body board catching nearly every wave that came her way! We also booked her first real riding lesson so she learnt how to walk, steer and trot for the first time too!

We had a wonderful time, so many memories that I hope Coco will remember as she grows. I know that my mum and I will cherish them forever.

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We love you Porthcawl.

We love you summer.

And we love you SO much Coco!

ALGARVE

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We planned a last minute, long weekend in the Algarve in early August. We had been told to steer clear of the Algarve coast, particularly at this time of year. Boozy holidays, hordes of tourists and drunken antics are really not our kind of holiday but after looking on Airbnb we found a cute little converted stable in the countryside north of Faro, with picturesque drives to beaches with more locals and tourists. We checked some flights and timings and things all seemed to align so we went for it and booked a car!

We absolutely loved having the car with us, despite it being a bit nerve wracking at first as we had not driven on the other side of the road before! – It was a success and we can’t wait to do it again! (We lucked out and got a cute Fiat500 which is my dream car so that was a bit of a bonus!)

Our days were filled with dips in the beautiful pool outside out little apartment, beach hoping, picnics and late night dinners. We played a lot of cards and loved exploring the countryside.

One evening we happened upon a medieval festival in a little village and decided to stick around to catch the procession with real life camels, donkeys and snakes walking down the street! We watched jousting re-enactment in the evening as the sun set, a great find and one of the major perks of having a car!

We love finding quieter places, off the beaten track, a little more difficult to get to, but so worth it! (This is definitely one of the perks of having a car!)

We do not have many photographs of our trip which always means that we were able to really relax, unplug and just enjoy our little getaway, we feel so comfortable in Portugal, we love their welcoming, friendly, family focused nature.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHAEL!

Last weekend Michael turned 25. I had been planning his birthday since early April as I always find him so difficult to buy for but had seen some bits that I thought he would like so bought them early! This caused his actual birthday to feel so fleeting and seemed to rush by!

We decided to spend his birthday weekend in London, doing a few architecture-related things as this is one of his most favourite things to do and also went to the theatre to see ‘The Book of Mormon’ which was hilarious! We had some delicious food, the best being a pizza from a street food van at Shoreditch market. For a moment, it transported us back to Florence!

We stayed in a cute hotel that we had visited before but I rang ahead and got our room upgraded with free prosecco and a great view – what a treat!

It was a fun, whirl wind of a weekend. Looking forward to what 25 has in store for us!

Happy Birthday Michael!

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A NOTE ON LEAVING

I did it!

Today is my last day at Arup, potentially my last day as a landscape architect. I love affair with a long coming break up.

I’m waiting for my final commuting train to Bristol, I am slower, taking snapshots with my eyes of every step I take – a journey I have been making for almost two years with a commute to Swindon for a year prior to that.

The billboards, the underground passageways and the smiles of the friendly people at the ticket booth who have become so well acquainted with my everyday ritual.

No bike today he asks? Why you so late, you on holiday? Surely you’re not going to Bristol on your day off? – It’s my final day, I reply! Oh you’re staying in Bath? They say. Yes I beam.

They thought I was on holiday, was it my casual clothing, my bright eyes and gentle smile, my slow demeanour, my steady pace?

I am breathing deeper than I have for weeks, months, could it be years?

Dramatic? Yes.

Lighter. I feel lighter and courageous and what a wonderful feeling that is!

I feel hope. Hope for my life and my being. My mind is restful in this day.

There are twinges of sadness, guilt, quickly washed away with the thought of what may be, will be.

I feel packed with knowledge and lessons. Some stemming from education, but most from experience.

I truly feel like I am on a journey today and this will be a notice on the timeline registering change and decision.

I’m getting off my phone now, my eyes are open, I am ready and I am waiting.

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(Just two little photos with a whole lot of memory – a whole lot of work took place in that seat over two years, physically and mentally, a lot of emotion – I was and still am forever grateful for those trees!)

New beginnings.