Behind the Scenes – Time out and my love of Africa
Morning lovelies, and breathe! Waaah! This week has been completely full on, sharing the gorgeous Kate & Andy’s Paris engagement shoot (thank you all so much for your awesome comments!), having the glamorous and opulent inspiration shoot I styled at Fetcham Park earlier this year featured on Whimiscal Wonderland Weddings and the Wedding Ideas Blog (more from this and the amazing team behind the shoot next week but if you just can’t wait here’s the link), and culminating with the b.loved tweetup on London’s Southbank on Thursday night! It was a truly fabulous evening, and I am so honoured that so many lovely wedding folk turned up (seriously, I had visions of sitting there all on my lonesome) and made it so much fun, more on this to come soon too!
Today, however, I’m back with another personal post. Those of you who visit these pages regularly will be well aware of my love for Africa, so today I wanted to try and give a little insight into just what it is that makes this place so magical to me. Back in March Mr B and I went to Cape Town for a couple of weeks. The week before I had experienced a complete burnout and had been stuck in bed with laryngitis for 8 days, so a trip to the sunshine was literally just what the doctor ordered. With a South African husband, and many, many trips to this stunning country over the last 10 years, it has become so much more than a favourite place, but a second home. We are so lucky to have his wonderful family spread throughout the Western Cape, allowing us to experience a little luxury in the City Bowl, suburban life in the Winelands, and relaxation on the white sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean coast. While we were there we met up with friend, and fabulous photographer Monica Dart who brought along her camera to brunch and did an impromptu couple shoot with us at the beautiful V&A Waterfront (one of our favourite spots). I don’t usually share many photo’s of me on the blog, but I loved these photo’s by Moni so much that I wanted to share them! They capture us a a totally relaxed and happy time :)
There is no one single thing that defines why I love this beautiful country, and unless you have been yourself it’s so difficult to describe, but the majesty and scale of the mountains, bold blue of the sky and huge orange ball of fire beating down are just the starting point. Capetonians are well known for their laid-back lifestyle, but there’s also a strong multi-cultural feel from the mix of local Africans and Cape Malay’s who share their history, along with immigrants from all over the world, creating a real melting-pot. The history of Africa in general fascinates me too, from the indigenous tribal battles to colonialism, the sad stories of Apartheid and the birth of a new South Africa in the 1990’s. Whilst there are still many issues to overcome, I get the feeling that the beat of Africa will eventually bring all these people together to dance to a similar, if not exactly the same, tune.
During our trip we took the boat trip to Robben Island, something I’m ashamed to say we hadn’t done before, and spent a day exploring the history of this rocky island that has been used as military base, leper colony and of course more recently as a prison for political prisoners like Nelson Mandela. The trip was fascinating not just because of the stories from our ex-political prisoner tour guide, but the sense of looking forwards and not dwelling on the mistakes of the past. We were also shocked at how tantalisingly close the beaches of the most upmarket settlements in Cape Town appear from the island, seemingly just a short swim through the dangerous currents and absolutely freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean (though we were told no-one has successfully swum to the mainland!)
As a designer, of course I am drawn to all the African objects and artefacts on sale in just about every shop, even the contemporary homeware stores have a less than subtle nod towards an African style in their use of materials, textures and colours which I love. Needless to say our home is filled with beautiful objects from our travels in South Africa, and our honeymoon in Zanzibar and Kenya, sitting alongside modern classics and pretty finds from the UK.
Of course it was lovely to catch up with Mr B’s huuuge family. We’re quite a crowd when we’re all together so even a simple night out turns into a bit of a marathon mission! But it’s lovely to spend time with them, even if we don’t get to do it nearly enough. We did long, leisurely vineyard lunches (with copious amounts of wine and cheese and a rather friendly goat!), family braai’s (barbeques with attitude!) at the beach house on the coast, and spent some beautiful evenings at the glamorous Camps Bay sharing sushi and cocktails as the sun sank in the sky, turning from orange, to crimson and pink before fading into a soft purple haze as it dipped below the ocean. We’re also lucky to have some amazing friends in the wedding industry in Cape Town, so I got to catch up with the girls from Wedding Concepts, our wedding photographer Christine Meintjes, and of course Monica Dart.
Spending time out from the wedding world, getting some rest and proper sleep, spending time with family and friends is something I think we all need to do more often. I returned feeling fresh and ready for the spring and summer seasons, full of ideas, inspiration and excitement. Do you often take time out from your business? Whether it’s a day or a week, I think it’s something you and your clients really benefit from, when you’re relaxed and de-stressed it’s easier to see things from a fresh and clear perspective. Although, of course I would say that, we’re back in Cape Town in November :)