A few weeks ago my husband booked an on-the-spur-of-the-moment weekend away. To make it simple, he planned a dog friendly trip that would distract, relax, provide inspiration for my blog and give us some ‘us’ time. We packed up the car and escaped London for Lewes in East Sussex.
I have found that being a carer for someone is rewarding and satisfying, it can be done out of loyalty, friendship, love or because it’s the only way. With the feeling of satisfaction and joy there are times when everything becomes stressful, tiring, frustrating and all that multi-skilling leaves your nerves jangling. I’m not special: 1 in 8 adults (around 6.5 million people) are carers, almost half of those juggle care and work.
This post is about caring for the carer, how 2 days in Lewes mooching about with my husband and two dogs changed me from from being an at-the-end-of-my-tether, stressed out wreck and got me back on track.
I’m sharing with you the visual inspiration of Lewes, my delight at new ideas and possibilities, appreciating people’s attention to small design details, people’s generosity, all these things that took me out of myself.
We stayed at the Blue Door Barns ‘where rustic meets rustic chic’. I would add, where chic meets warmth, thoughtful details, clever design and a fantastic breakfast . We stayed in the Sailors’ House a tiny gem of a barn that never felt small. The walls, and ceiling were painted in shades of soft, soothing grey. The tall ceiling gave a sense of space. The floorboards and details were shades of gentle blue and aqua. And everywhere details that were novel and delightful. Inside our barn we were in a very special world.
The bathroom was full of clever space saving ideas: a sliding bathroom door and the bathroom sink unit, a room that felt comforting and inviting, exotic oriental patterns on the floor tiles and the black slate tiles in the shower were exactly what Marianne Shillingford had talked about in my previous blog post.
In the dark, our heart beat slows and we begin to properly melt into a pre-sleep state. Small dark spaces in our homes become sanctuaries in which we can truly unwind. Something it’s worth sacrificing a bit of light for – especially if you have a full on stressful life.
Lewes is in East Sussex, apparently it has more beautiful, independent shops than anywhere else, it has a castle, lots of dog friendly cafes and pubs, a steep high street and wiggly side streets dropping away to the river. It has its own brewery, Harvey’s, a lovely pint (apparently) and a beer called The Kiss.. after all this town was the home of Rodin’s Kiss sculpture . The town is made up of some very, very old houses and buildings, some build in flint, some timber framed and some painted sugar almond colours. This seems to be a town that is comfortable and enjoys its history and arts, there are loads of artists, craft shops, print shops, antique shops, music shops, book shops and interiors and every style of homeware… everywhere.
BLUE and WHITE
My first stop was at Baltica at the top of the High Street. This shop is full of the most amazing range of Boleslawiec Polish pottery. This is spongeware with the most vibrant blue and fun decorations, they are easy to mix and match across the patterns because the colour is so consistent and what makes them practically bomb proof is that they are made to go in the dishwasher, oven, microwave, aga and even the freezer. Easy life. We had two shopping trips to Baltica, we bought cornflower rice bowls and star covered spoons for presents. This shop was our first experience of Lewes friendliness, we chatted with Will Rogers who owns and runs the shop, he tells a good story and knows so much about the Boleslawiec potteries. A must.
Everything in Freight HHG is beautiful, everything is beautifully made and most of it made in the UK. I love the black, copper, linen textiles and warm wood. The design of their products as well as the styling of the shop is inspirational, their branding continues to their packaging, their labelling is handritten- check out their website.
LEWES VINTAGE STYLE
On Saturday morning as we headed out for a day of beach walking and then shopping, Bryony from Blue Door Barns gave us some biscuits that she had baked that morning. Packed in a heart shaped tupperware with a stripy paper napkin this summed up the Lewes Vintage Style. Thoughtful, generous, honest and fun. I love the Lewes Vintage Style, you can shop it in the Lewes High Street: there’s Tom Paine printing press, a working metal press producing cards and prints. A tourist information centre with local crafts in the window. Wickle, the tiniest ‘mini department store‘ a relaxed, welcoming, dog friendly homeware shop with beautiful cards, children’s toys and clothes, a cafe, restaurant.
And Closet & Botts with its bicycle, pots, baskets and bunches of flowers and lavender parked up right outside. There is something for anyone in here: printed ephemera, glassware, clothes, characterful books. Its a magpie’s nest of vintage treasures, old and new.
LEWES ANTIQUES STYLE
There are so many antique shops, antique book shops and flea markets in Lewes that you can rummage in, we looked at the arcades and shops in Cliffe High Street and in the High Street as it was easy with the dogs. The Famous Lewes Flea Market in Market Street is in a converted Methodist Chapel. There is even an Auction House in town. Just look at some of these pictures and see for yourself!
Lewes is surrounded by the South Downs but it was the nearby beaches that we headed for on Saturday and then Sunday morning. This is the most wonderfully calming landscape. Wrapped up warm, the sea wind blowing out the cobwebs, dogs scampering across the pebbles, beach huts, cups of tea and coffee. This is the colour palette that underpins so much of the Lewes style and that’s what makes it calming and soothing.
I returned to London, my head buzzing with new ideas, refreshed and optimistic.
If you are a carer there are a couple of good websites with a lot of supportive information such as Carers UK www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/alone/how-we-can-end-carer-isolation
or Age UK www.ageuk.org.uk.