. ..Janice Issitt Life and Style.. Tribe All One ...

travel, food, photography, home, crafts, personal style, tribal shop,

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Slow Living

It's become a bit of a buzz word, but what is slow living? There's one good way to find out and that's to go straight to the top, and join up with the guru of Slow Living - Melanie Barnes of Geoffrey and Grace  And what's more, it's free!

As a fellow anxiety sufferer, Melanie has been taking a good look at ways to calm down all areas of your life in simple and practical ways. It may not be possible to do every single thing that is recommended, but you can definitely find a lot of sense in it and it's a good check list of reigning in the clutter.


On the Slow Living Retreat, Melanie gives us some examples of reconnecting with reality and with yourself. Simple ideas of how to put your phone down and not have it glued to us (guilty), not be so worried by the seemingly perfect lifestyle of others on instagram (guilty), and not to let your home get cluttered with piles of untidy homeless objects (guilty). 

During the week of my e-course with Mel, I was suffering the worst anxiety I have had in years, so much so that I couldn't really tackle the tasks immediately, but now looking back and going through it more, I can see so much of what Mel says is helpful.

I've been doing more gardening, getting close to the outdoors is a brilliant way to slow down, and tending to plants with trimming and watering is very fulfilling. I've got help from some cleaning ladies to make my life a little less stressful, and with them keeping a check on me (yes I do tidy up before they come), I have finally had a clear out of my studio which had become some sort of mad woman's nightmare.


The very hot spell of weather forced things to slow down as it was too difficult to do very much in the melting sun, but I started to create some tidy and relaxing areas in the garden, digging out the gazebo from the shed and creating some nice table displays in the shade. 

Unfortunately I had a photo shoot in the sweltering heat, although the work was lovely and super creative it was exhausting. Despite wearing sunblock I did get a bit burnt, and although I was wearing a hat and sunglasses my skin took a bashing. 

don't forget to put water out for birds, this house sparrow has nested in the box on my house and has helped me wind down
watching her going in and out of the box all day to feed her babies.


As if they had read my mind, those wonderful people at Curious Egg asked if I would like to try out a few new products they are stocking now by A.S. Apothecary.  

A.S. Apothecary products are a real treat. The A.S. is Amanda Saurin who produces small batches of natural products made from essential oils carefully distilled from plants, flowers, roots, bark and herbs.

The Summer Skin Balm is everything I need at the moment in one small pot. It helps to soothe the skin from sun burn, but also has natural antiseptic  for bites and rashes, with all the ingredients to also calm the mind. 


The Lavender Aromatic Water is another good all rounder, it cools the skin, works as a refreshing aftersun, can be used to rinse your hair and reduces itchiness from bites, (yes, some critter got me). Best of all it aids sleep, which for me is a great combination when I'm travelling as I often can't sleep in unfamiliar beds. 

The Balm and Water will be a good way to help with my relaxation and my slow living efforts. While doing my breathing I can inhale the aromas of lavender, rose geranium, cantharis and hypericum. 

Coincidentally Mel has a interview with the owner and maker at A.S Apothecary so while you are over on Geoffrey and Grace please do have a look at that too. 





A.S. Apothecary balm and water from Curious Egg highly recommended.
Glasses from www.glasssesshop.com 
The Slow Living Retreat free e-book from Geoffrey and Grace

I would love to hear from you about how you slow things down and relax, take good care of yourselves xx Janice












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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Villa Anouk Essaouira, the ultimate Beldichic

It was a serendipitous meeting with a cool interior designer in my favourite cafe that led me to discover the most amazing retreat on the outskirts of Essaouira.  It was probably the mention of Instagram, and some spooky vibes, that prompted John to tell me of a place I simply had to check out. A quick message and a short taxi ride later, the gates were opening to paradise on earth, Villa Anouk.



the hammam bath


The Moroccan word Beldi means traditional, and in homes this translates to natural local materials like the pale and soothing, creamy coloured sand stone with ceilings of wood and thatch, some left open and some with decorated panelling, lovingly hand painted. Taking the Beldi and adding the Chic, this widely spaced villa, set right alongside a forest, is like walking into a mood board on Pinterest, you have to pinch yourself.

However, there is something different here, something extra. Villa Anouk is a fusion, a carefully curated and meticulously thought out blend. Like a brilliantly cooked meal, the flavours and enhancements which hint through, are hand chosen by it's owner Anouk, a lady with incredible style and flare.




So it wouldn't surprise you to learn that Anouk has come from a background of style and a heritage of passion, having worked in America for many of the top glossy publications and from a French family. Like many of us before, and for those yet to discover, our host fell head over heels with this fishing port full of cats.

Something happens to you when you go there, the place creeps into your soul, wipes away all the cobwebs and by day three you will begin to absorb the pace. I have never been one to visit the same place twice, it's always seemed that there are so many other cities to conquer. Since my first visit 18 years ago I have held Essaouira in my heart, it's been calling my name, and now I just can't get enough of it. So much so that I want to turn it into a thing I do regularly and therefore share my discoveries and knowledge. So here is where Tribe All One is formed.






Since my twenties I've often had conversations with girlfriends about what we would do if ... we won a million pounds, if ... we had a super power. The super power thing, well that still changes, but the millions pound thing, that never has. My answer was always, "I would still have to work, but do something that I really really enjoyed, taking all the best bits, like travel and shopping." 

It's taken me a few years to get the travel bug back, and last year it crept up on me more than ever, with the added enjoyment of ensuring shopping trips are featured largely. Finally the penny dropped, what I really want to do is source gorgeous things, I trust my eye now with the extra confidence that thirty years can bring. So while the lottery win didn't happen, I'm not going to talk myself out of that dream.


Anouk has confirmed to me a style that I have in my head but haven't been able to do for geographical reasons. There is no 'theme-ing' of rooms or cheap copies, just a feeling of liberation.

The retro pops are a clever twist.  Good bohemian interiors rely on a few pieces from the sixties and seventies, like these metal formed chairs. Placing them with a giant woven rush lampshade and berber rugs, an old door as a coffee table and a ceiling painted in traditional Beldi style (but with a different palette of colours). The key pieces are having a conversation with each other, and the soft furnishings paired back so as not to 'over-egg' the pudding, (sorry but that English phrase is the best description).





Anouk and her Villa are inspirational and I'm gutted we only had a few hours together, so I had better rectify that pronto. Even as I'm writing this, I'm looking at the photo above and wondering how to get that plaster wall in my house! There are so many wow factors in the furnishings here, and Anouk loves to see the look on people's faces, especially when she explains their stories.  

Here at the Villa Anouk is a perfect example of following your dreams, and if you aren't completely sure what yours are yet, then go here, learn how to relax and just do nothing but think, (and look up at that ceiling maybe). 

I'm pretty sure that Anouk has a super power, I just need to tap into it and drain a bit off.  I can only dream of the determination it must have taken to build, design and manage the construction and decoration of this network of connecting rooms and patios.


 The interior style is simple rustic tactile spaces, decorated with ornate furniture and blankets yet also hints of retro and re-cycled.
Solid stone steps take you from level to level, interspersed with giant cacti and fountains. Anouk has salvaged lots of items from the flea market, where old French furniture turns up covered in dust and dirt. It takes a honed and skilled eye to dig out the treasures and find a new twist on how to make them better. 

Instead of re-covering these old inlaid chairs, Anouk painstakingly removed every tack to reveal the lovely hessian upholstery. The inlaid mother-of-pearl was covered in a thick layer of lacquer which had to be carefully removed and exposed. 









Wedding blankets are a key feature in many rooms, either as cushions or at the end of a bed. I will be talking more about these very soon, their rich history and romantic stories. At Villa Anouk the soft furnishings aren't overdone, it would be easy to fill the place with traditional reds and muddy colours found in many Moroccan homes.

The simple white muslin curtains help to divide the spaces and add some softness to brick, such a basic yet effective way to bring romance and seclusion. With too few textiles the rooms could be echoing and cavernous. The balance of materials explains the zen of why it works. 




Solar power provides most of the energy I believe, but power cuts regionally, can play havoc with the facilities. The technicalities of keeping this place ticking are complex, yet like the swan sailing gracefully along, underneath it's feet are paddling. 

Anouk did explain about dealing with the engineering side, but I think I was lost in the colour of a wall, or detail on the coffee table, to remember.  In the west we forget about how water is a precious commodity, so I was slightly ashamed at myself for not noticing how careful the Moroccans have to be, and why that hadn't occurred to me before. 

Safe assured, Anouk will bend over backwards to keep your cocoon gently wrapped around you, going to every effort to insure smooth and silent passage. Her knowledge, having now built up over 4 years, is not to be sniffed at, my point being that this lady is more than an interior designer. She is a visionary, a mum, an engineer, a linguist, and many many more things besides.

Without putting myself under too much pressure, I will be hatching a cunning plan to slot into place the start of something for all the tribe to enjoy, and I have a funny feeling that this place could just be the start of it.

Morocco is such an amazing country but where you visit and for how long will reflect on the kind of experience you have. Essaouira is small, enclosed in ancient walls and alongside the sea. Here it feels less stressful than the buzz of the larger cities but with all the beauty of them still intact. 



If you need to pace your experience  at a slower rhythm then a stay straddling some time in the medina and some time away will enhance the ability to unwind. More basic accommodation can tend to be Moroccan authentic but bear in mind this means the possibilities of cockroaches in unlit hallways, showers which only work off ancient gas canisters intermittently, bedding and towels which are like something your granny threw away years ago, and the sounds of families echoing through stairwells. For me the student living aspect can only last a few days before I want a really nice proper bath with white fluffy towels and a bed of freshly laundered cotton sheets and pillowcases. 

If you have a problem with stairs the Riad's in town are tall and thin buildings with lots of them. Now that odd apartments are being rented out through Air 'bnb' you can find yourself on the top floor of a building not complying to western health and safety. While this is charming in lots of ways it may really bother older people as the steep staired hallways can be unlit, with no hand rails intact, worn away steps and entrance doors which operate by pulling a bit of wire at a funny angle and took three of us to fathom, including two large men. My older female friends would have struggled just getting in the first door at street level, and a definite no no for anyone with small children.  The close proximity of families and very old women living either side, above and below, makes one aware not to make noise above whispering level, so while we wouldn't dream of having parties, the relaxing side of things felt slightly awkward. Many of the apartments have metal front doors so the banging of these is loud within a building.

If you know your limits then it's worth spending a bit more on a Villa that understands you are on holiday. The level at which you want to relax will determine how much time you spend in the main town, and if you have concerns over mobility then be very careful where you choose. 


We made friends with a local chap who has lived a lot in the UK, his apartment is in the Medina and is completely amazing. This would rent out at around the same price as an Air bnb and showed that the town places can vary enormously. Don't judge a book by it's cover, as you probably wouldn't even have noticed his door on a narrow alley yet it opened up to a beautiful French style hall and was spacious and elegant in it's details. Renting in town can be a gamble and it may take a few different tries before you find the place that suits your needs best.

Choosing a Villa in the countryside will give you quite a different experience and if the host speaks your language there is no time wasted on communicating your personal needs. You are much more likely to get straight about the task of relaxation here with no nasty surprises.

please do go and have a look over at ;  http://www.villaanouk.com

Over the next few months I hope to unveil the whys and wherefores of Tribe All One and so if you have an idea of something you would like me to look for then please message me through instagram, here, facebook or email to janissitt@btinternet.com




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Friday, 2 June 2017

my VQ Summer Hepburn playlist

I've been testing out another model of the VQ range of Emma Bridgewater patterned dab radios, this time the Hepburn MkII. As a result I can offer you a discount on this of £50 by simply using the code JANICE50 here



Choose whether to use batteries so you can take it on a picnic, or mains power (which even has a European adapter included). The speaker has been improved with digital sound processing and gives much more bottom end for a fuller sound than the single speaker versions. You can get a good volume out of this one.




I really love the style of this model, the buttons on the top are very clear and the larger speaker is great quality. I tend mostly to bluetooth my own playlists so I've put one together for you on spotify, called My VQ Summer, search for Janice Issitt.




The long sleek Hepburn MK11 version has bluetooth function to play from spotify or your own library, also DAB/DAB+ and FM radio.  There is a usb connection socket for charging your devices, very handy this. 




I like the quality of these metal buttons over the plastic ones and the weight and feel of this radio is not heavy but substantial enough to feel like a transistor radio of old.

The Hepburn really is the perfect summer accompaniment, providing the soundtrack to cool drinks, wafting scents, colours of the garden in full bloom and pretty enough to match with your china or table linen.

So what's top of my summer playlist, if you don't make it over to Spotify then here's a few of the classics that remind me of summers past ..
Midnight At The Oasis - The Boys Of Summer - Here Comes The Sun - Mr. Blue Sky - Moondance - A Horse With No Name

So get on your boogie espadrilles and hop on over to the myvq website to grab one of these Emma Bridgewater designs with £50 off.

Wishing you sunshine and happy days over the summer months, love Janice   p.s. check out my Tribe All One page as my Etsy shop is now being uploaded!
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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Be Home Free May

We were very pleased to have as our sponsor this month, the incredibly generous and talented artist Jessica Zoob, who has offered the winner of 'Be Home Free' their choice of print from her catalogue.

I was looking for colours and abstract in the photos which reminded me of her work, some essence of the mood that she conjures and here are my favourites, grouped together to complement each other.



@birdsforme @fishman1963 @scarlettlowry @saponeta


@petiteharvest @so_siehts_jinke @beforeandagain @this.little.wandering


@yun.khaye @carina.michelli @amblingthenorth @fabricofmylife


@carrieslaven_ @alwaysinsearchof @_marzieh_ @yvonnecoomber


@tamsynmorgans @saponeta @sarahpcorder @peonyandpraxis


@takingamomentintime @taraleaver @jvlachster @dr.jimi
It came down to these three pastel beauties by Zoe, Charlotte and Julia.

@zoepower @lottsandlots @createandbalance

And, the winner is .... this entry from Charlotte at @lottsandlots, who features some lovely Jessica style hues on her shelfie.  




Thank you everyone for your continues tagging, and my next post will be offering you a huge £50 discount on a digital radio.... coming soon ...


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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Cats of Essaouira

I must have been a cat in a previous life, I’m sure, having rescued a number in the UK I seem to be finding my calling over in Morocco now, as have the amazing volunteers of HSAM, Help Street Animals Morocco.




here is one of the great ladies helping my Colin
Last time I visited Essaouira I thought the animals looked ok on the whole, most cats finding their own little territory in a square or alleyway where they occasionally get food and most often get a little plastic bowl of water. Relying on the kindness of strangers and some locals who can afford to share their meagre earnings, the street cats are part of what makes this fishing port wonderful.

On my last trip we noticed how they mostly had a bit of their ear missing, I wrongly assumed that this was due to either fighting or skin cancer, which I know can damage cats ears if they are in full sun everyday.  They do seem to like to sit in the sunny spots as well, and if lucky will get a lovely rug to lie on outside a carpet shop.  So the ears, well, this trip I found out that it’s an indication of whether they have been neutered or not, when the HSAM go round they take all those intact males and females,  spay and neuter in one day and return the cat to it’s exact location on capture, with a snip made on one ear to indicate that this animal cannot breed. 



The major difference between my last visit and this is kitten season.  Those cats who had evaded capture by the HSAM have bred and there are kittens everywhere.  A few problems here, the mother becomes quite poorly as there isn’t enough food to sustain a feeding mum, and many of the kittens are born with health problems which need attention.  So It’s no coincidence that the HSAM visit at this time, to ensure that those which have bred and the new babies all receive the necessary treatment.  Not only do they treat on the spot, by cleaning wounds and applying worm and flea treatment, but they also have a fortified milk for the nursing felines.  I’m sure that what I witnessed was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the team achieve.  

early morning rounds before the Saha Kfe opens

local cats to the square where the Saha Kfe is in the corner

if you are lucky he will move over so you can order some lovey food and juices

The volunteers from HSAM try to get familiar with the cats in their designated area, often helped by local shop keepers and cafe owners who have spotted this or that.  I found a male cat who had definitely been through the wars, bad wounds around his ears and scars on his face, I fed the poor little man until the ladies did their rounds and took him away.  When he returned the next morning, now called Colin, they told me how they had been looking for him for ages and back at the clinic they were delighted to finally be able to help him.  Colin lives around the square where the Saha Kfe is, so please look out for him if you visit, the ladies who work here not only serve brilliant food but have a little group of lovely cats which they monitor.  If you want to sit and share your space in a cat friendly cafe, please be sure to head over to Saha Kfe, near the clock tower, just up from Bab Sbaa gate. It’s in the corner of a square where there are carpets, clothes and a pharmacy, ( just round the corner from Villa Maroc). 

some of the regulars at the Saha Kfe

my boy Colin after his treatment from the HSAM
So back to the pussy cats, delighted by the help that little Colin received, I found somewhere to buy some cat food, this, of course,  made me very popular, and like the pied piper of Essaouira you could find me before breakfast, kneeling on the pavement dishing out food. I also became attached to a little girl cat and managed to point her out to the HSAM in the hope that they would find her after I left.



If you would like to support the HSAM, please find them on facebook where you will see daily updates, during my first week they treated 308 cats and were just moving onto dogs.
On the HSAM page you will find a link to donating, and every few pounds will go directly to some kind of medicine or food supplement, nothing is wasted.  Alternatively, you can sign up to volunteer.


They are grateful for any bit of help on the ground, so if you are in Morocco and you see the pale blue t-shirts bearing their logo, feel free to say hi to the volunteers who will explain what they are doing.  Cats often wander off and hide away so sometimes the more eyes on the ground the better.

SAHA KFE in the corner with the red umbrella, look for the knobbly trees and you are in the right place

poor old Colin with bad ears, the food has painkillers in  it
favourite drink containing avocado, dates and nuts.  My beautiful friend Anouk in the background


great breakfast and lunch here, please find this hidden gem


Facebook page with links to HSAM https://www.facebook.com/helpthestreetanimalsofmorocco/


Coming soon, more about best cafes and restaurants around Essaouira, great places to stay and visit and more general advice for visiting. 



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