Thursday, 28 April 2011

A few days in Holland

I know everything's a bit flowery at the moment what with pansies and wisteria everywhere - but things aren't always quite so sweet and innocent at HC. We have just taken delivery of a parrot chair (1970s Swedish hanging thing) which looks unnervingly cage like and would be quite at home in a dungeon. Catering to Lads' Mags and pop videos is a big part of our business and so we're always on the look out for groovy props to keep Nuts and the like coming back for more.... 

me relaxing at home lol

Anyway, more about that next week but at the moment my head is still full of pretty things having just come back from a few days in Holland - more specifically Eftelinga magical theme park, set in a 150 acre forest. First opened in the 1950s it has a wonderful European fairy-tale atmosphere - nothing like Disney. Efteling has been a constant source of inspiration to me and you can't really go far wrong using the 'Efteling approach' as a starting point for all your interior design projects.

Villa Volta
Hackney Chateau

Villa Volta, the amazing, topsy-turvy chateau, stuffed full of gilded mirrors, chandeliers and candelabras isn't far off our front room and the Arabian Nights - a boat ride through an automaton populated mysterious East, with sultan's harems, bejewelled life-sized tigers and the scent of roses pumped into the air is a fun theme for any dinner party. 

This palace houses the Arabian Nights ride

Dream flight is my absolute favourite ride: built in 1993 at a cost of £12.5 million, you travel through incredible, enchanted woodlands, carpeted with perfumed flowers and inhabited by fairies and elves; drift past twinkling planets and sparkling palaces, floating in a star-lit sky; then descend through a canopy of trees, beside a waterfall to watch goblins splashing in a secret pool. I stole the idea of fake flowers for my 40th birthday. At the end of the coldest June on record not a single flower had bothered to bloom in the garden so Brian and I filled the back of the Volvo with artificial ones from a stall on Chapel Street Market and wired them all-over the bushes. A few strings of outdoor fairy lights and a couple of glasses of champagne and whoaa - our very own Dream Flight.
There are loads of other rides including a few white-knuckle ones for the boys and the recently built Flying Dutchman which is a mixture of magic and thrill. You start the voyage at  the bustling, jolly docks but after being securely fastened into your seat you head into the gloom and fog of the harbour where seagulls screech and your little boat is dwarfed by the hulls of spooky ships with ghostly figureheads. After a bone-shaking ride, you're suddenly shot out into the daylight, high up above the park where you hurtle along a spiralling track into the lake. You'll love it! There's something for everyone and even if you don't fancy the Flying Dutchman ;) you can just wander round and admire the beautifully landscaped grounds or take a boat out into the lake.

Hansel & Gretels House

The wizard tree - the ground trembles when the thunder rolls....

I thought you said you'd strapped him in!

This year we tried a new hotel - it turned out to be really good. I was worried as it looked a bit old folks home on the website but is set in a lovely spot with a terrace by the lake, nice bar, decent rooms an indoor pool, four different types of sauna and.... wait for it.. the whole Arsenal football team stayed there in 1997 so the boys were over the moon.

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