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An idyllic Welsh holiday cottage

We were meant to be in the Isle of Wight. But at the last minute plans changed: we were craving a holiday somewhere remote, blustery and warmed by an open fire.

So we drove for almost a whole day to spend a week on the very beautiful Llŷn Peninsula in north Wales.

After despondency at so many holiday rentals that were photogenic on the outside, but startlingly ugly on the inside we couldn't believe our luck at finding Aberdaron Cottage, in the village of the same name. This is what "country cottage" should look like – what do you reckon?

It being so surrounded by water, there was quite a sea theme going on.

So many of the cottages we'd looked at seemed to have no concept of good lighting. Note to owners: stark overheads aren't a welcoming look for your promo photos. We couldn't move at Aberdaron for lamps: perfect.

Little details count. Loved the light switches.

The cottage isn't style mag fashionable (hurrah!): instead it had clearly been furnished with warmth, care, a collector's eye and in a style befitting the building, an ancient crog loft (a Welsh crofter's cottage).

The strong wall colours were different in each room, but picked up as a theme in details all over the cottage to hold things together. They really added to the cosy glow of the place.

And the views... This one is from the sitting room, while below you can see what we woke up to – the picture was taken out of the bedroom skylight.

Even the bathroom, often a chillingly blank canvas in the average holiday rental got lots of love.

The kitchen was huge and its orange walls and cosy lighting (it's out of shot, but there's a worktop lamp – instant atmosphere while you cook. But I loved the sign above the door most.

And as for the walks nearby... We spent one afternoon on a four-hour trek around the headland. We came back to tea and Welshcakes by the fire with a very happy dog (oh yes, and the cottage is dog-friendly too).

Reggie eyes up the local sheep.

Fancy staying in Aberdaron Cottage? Here's the website. Rates are currently £50 per night and technically it sleeps four, though probably only if the extra guests are your children – or you're very close friends – as the bedrooms open onto each other. There's an outhouse called the Garden Lodge on the land behind the cottage that sleeps more people. And the owners are very friendly too.

For more stories on other interesting holiday rentals, check out these previous posts.

Words & photos by Kate

Spotlight on... Ingela Arrhenius for kids

Ingela Arrhenius is a Swedish illustrator, who specialises in colourful, graphic and (largely) child-focused designs with a midcentury slant. 

Looking at her work makes me happy – it's got the sort of joyful simplicity of Charley Harper, and the characters she draws are friendly without being sickly.

Lionface poster, £18 from Hus and Hem (details below)
I featured some of her for-grown-ups work in this gift guide for chaps a while back and discovered that, disappointingly, her work wasn't then widely available in the UK. So I was delighted when a reader (thank you Tim!) emailed me the link to a nice shop in Dorset called Ruby Rockcake that sells lots of her stuff. And it now also appears to be stocked in quite a few other Brit outlets. Hurrah.

Because how good would a child's wall look decorated with these melamine plates (£6.95 each, 20cm diameter)?

Though, frankly, why save it for the little people?

Her memory card game is, from an adult perspective, a box of tiny prints ripe for adorning any room. I have a set of the Charley Harper memory game cards arranged in a square Ikea frame that hangs in my hallway. People always stop on their way out to comment on it.

Matryoshka dolls, £19.95 from Ruby Rockcake
Among Ingela's designs for larger fans of Ingela's illustrated animals, are these washing up cloths (above) from Hunkydory Home, £3.75 each. Apparently Scandi dishcloths are generally this good-looking. Gap in the market, Brit designers?

Find Ingela Arrhenius designs at shops including: Hunkydory Home, Ruby Rockcake and Hus and Hem. If you like her work, do also check out her nice blog,

Post by Kate

A radiator – remade

I've got lots of holiday snaps to share (just back from a blustery cottage break in the country, which featured some very good interiors). Haven't finished sorting through the zillion photos I took yet though. So, meanwhile...'s a rather unexciting photo of the radiator that used to be in my kitchen. But why am I showing you?

Because something quite unexpected happened to it. Though (I think) it is a very handsome radiator, it was in the way when the kitchen got redone. After hoarding it for a couple of years, I eventually put it on eBay a few weeks ago. As the thing was quite nice – it looks like an old-fashioned, school-style design but was actually one of these ones you can get in B&Q – I thought someone else might want it. I was right.

What I didn't imagine was that my buyer would want to do this with it...

Turned out the guy who bought it from me, Mark, had an alter-ego: The Barefoot Welder. As he heaved the radiator into his boot he told me he makes all sorts of things from discarded metal – garden lights, chimineas, gates, tables. And showed me this photo to illustrate the new life he hoped to give the radiator. After he'd left, I emailed to ask him more – like however did he get such an unusual idea, and how did he manage the radical transformation?

"It all started when I needed to design new pieces for the Kent County Show," he explained. "I wanted something eye-catching that would attract people to my stall. At a reclamation yard, the radiators there caught my eye and I knew I had found my new piece!"

"I knew I could create something unique from them; I loved the curves and shape, and despite the rust and cobwebs I could see potential. The old style of them makes a statement alone.

"However coming up with the design and figuring out quite how it was going to happen was another thing. I got the radiators back to the workshop and began drawing it up on the blackboard. The first stage was cutting the radiator into individual pieces. I then used aluminium tube to create the adjoining segments. It was at this stage I decided on the curved seat, making it a chair you can slouch into, a different type of comfort than the radiator once provided. I then gave the chair some lift with four tube legs made from steel.

"After a few pieces of chalk, hours of manual labour and a coat of paint, I was left in the workshop with my latest creation, the 'rad' chair. You'd be surprised, but it's really, really comfortable too!"

See more of Mark's work or commission him at

Post by Kate

Graduate art talent to
fill your walls

Fenton Art & Design has a business model I admire. The young company (it launched at Tent in 2012) was started by Cherry Anderson and Steve Chapman, who are passionate about finding and supporting new artistic talent.

Each year the pair, who have a combined background in graphics and film/ TV, scour the art college graduate shows, looking for artists to help create their designs, which include these striking wall murals, below.

Once they've found artists whose work throws up the "interesting themes, shapes or forms" that will work in a collection (which, along with the murals, includes prints and fabrics) the pair get busy adapting it. The aim is always, they explain, to "retain the spirit of the original artwork, but to be distinct, separate creations with an identity of their own". The selected artists, meanwhile, get a cut from each sale to plough back into their own careers – as well, of course, as plenty of exposure outside the world of fine art.

Above, you can see the design produced from work by 30-year-old Goldsmiths MFA graduate, Haroun Haward. In this case, the original work (which you can see in its original form on the left) is called Exotic Construction With Mangoes. It's an interesting idea, adapting an artist's work in this way – but if it brings new talent to a wider audience, and pays the original creator, why not? Besides, adaptation for product design is hardly new.

In mural form, the works cost £45 per square metre (each installation is bespoke). And you can also buy a A2 giclee prints of the original work for £65.

This mural comes via 2009 Central St Martin's graduate, Charles Robinson, aged 26. The original artwork is called Problem Child and is a five foot square oil painting on canvas.

This mural has adapted the work of Korean American artist, Eun Young Choi.

Below you can see some of the other artwork-based products Fenton is selling. What do you think?

 Lampshades start at £59.

Cushions start at £39.

Post by Kate

Wishing I was here: the perfect country getaway?

No posts for the rest of this week, as I'm on holiday... on the Isle of Wight. You may have read about black leather sofa-gate the other week, when we were first looking for a UK cottage to stay in. 

Well, we found a decent place with friendly furniture – but it wasn't a patch on this which, typically, I discovered too late. But for anyone else planning a southern British break...

This is The Shack, one of the shamelessly nostalgic self-catering locations run by Isle of Wight-based Vintage Vacations, started up ten years ago by Helen and Frazer Cunningham. Their colourful accommodation collection includes Airstreams, a 1950s caravan, a bungalow, an old scout hut and a former mission hall – all beautifully restored and furnished with gems from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and a joyful little sprinkling of kitsch.

Most are for families or larger groups, but The Shack could have been our dream holiday base a deux (though it actually sleeps three – the dog could have has his own room). Prices, in case you're tempted, start at £525 per week, or £255 for a weekend. Have a nose inside.

Not sure how much use we'd have got from this in October, but you never know.

Here are some more examples of Helen and Frazer's hospitality options, all on the Isle of Wight.

Here are the airstreams for hire. What dinky insides...

The Mission and very similar looking adjacent building, the Scout Hall (pictured above), both sleep 8 in four rooms, and prices per week start at £780.

Stay toasty. Catch up next week.

Find out more about a holiday in one of the locations above – and more – at

Post by Kate