Growing up with my family in Brighton, we never once left the country on a trip overseas so it probably comes as no surprise that ever since I was able I have had a strong desire to travel and explore new countries and cultures.
Although I have my special favourites (who can resist New York?), I do try to make time to discover new places every year. It's so difficult to see all there is to see on the first visit to a new destination and let's be honest, the first part of a holiday is usually finding your feet and settling in. Then suddenly it's time to leave and you just wish you could stay that little bit longer. I really do have to resist the urge to revisit old favourites as there's a big wide world out there just waiting to be explored!
I feel like this year is going to be the best year ever in terms of managing to get away and we've not only managed to squeeze in three family holidays, but I'm also lucky enough to be looking forward to a girlie trip to Iceland! And it's not all play and no work! I've made time for two business trips to a couple of the best trade shows that have been on my bucket list for a few years now...New York and Paris!
So, the new year kicked off in style - a New York Trade show accompanied by my lovely Production Manager Sascha. I can't lie, it was a busy one and I did struggle a little with the jet leg as we clocked up an impressive 30 - 40k each day strolling to and from our hotel and spending days on our feet covering this vast show with so much to see.
At the end of each day we made our way to one of our favourite districts, West Village. With its partly cobbled streets and boho intimate vibe, this lively area is full of designer boutiques and totally on trend restaurants and bars, and it was here that we discovered happy hour at BoBo's! The perfect end to long, tiring and action-packed days.
New York is, of course, synonymous with shopping and no trip to the Big Apple is complete without a little retail therapy. So we were thrilled that we managed to make time for a little sightseeing and shopping trip on our last day. Off to Macy's for Levi's and who could possibly resist the cool chic of Kate Spade (check out that carrier bag!).
We also managed a few of those NYC 'must-dos' including a visit to Ground Zero, watching the sunset from the top of the Rock Bar at the Rockefella Centre and squeezing in a quick wander around Times Square!
Not long after the New York trip it was time to celebrate my husbands 50th birthday... a truly special occasion! I decided to treat him and the family to a trip to the stunning city of Marrakech. This was our first ever trip to Morocco and I was well and truly blown away by the
city’s distinct sense of craftsmanship, courtesy of local artisans including leather, woodwork and of course, the tiles! Oh, those tiles!
I'm currently in the process of renovating our house and Moroccan influences are definitely reflected in some of the choices I've made with a view to evoking the exotic vibe of a traditional riad. I
nterior design trends are embracing patterned tiled floors right now and there are a number of companies that do import Moroccan tiles. Check out Best Tiles
- they have a great choice and I've found them to be super quick at delivering too.
The night markets of Marrakech are a veritable smorgasbord for the senses. Delicious smells, and a colourful carnival of storytellers, acrobats, musicians and entertainers. There is nowhere in Morocco quite like the Jemaa el-Fna – no other place that effortlessly immerses you within the culture and keeps you coming back for more. By day, in contrast, the majority of the square is simply one big open space dotted with a handful of snake charmers hypnotising cobras with their flutes.
I was totally mesmerised watching this incredible man make chess pieces with his feet! And the areas on the periphery of the markets are just full of amazing people using their artisan skills to hand craft the most beautiful pieces... I would have loved to bring more of Marrakech home with me. Still, there's always next time I guess!
Moving through the year and on to the summer months. As it was a big birthday year for my husband, I thought it fitting that he should choose our summer trip. Now, this could have gone one of two ways...but luckily for us, we didn't end up surrounded by classic cars, but palm trees and surf! He chose to spend his big 5-0 in true Hawaii 5-0 TV style.
This proved to be a truly magical holiday and one that we will never forget. Being a family of water babies, we love nothing more than being in and on the water and Hawaii certainly didn't disappoint. A tropically beautiful mix of palm trees, an amazing reef and crystal clear waters, you can't help but fall in love with this island. And you can't talk about Hawaii without mentioning the sea turtles.
Sea turtles have been around for over 100 million years, which is longer than the Hawaiian Islands themselves and in Hawaiian culture, these gentle and graceful creatures have almost mythic status with some Hawaiians considering them to be their ancestral guardian.
This incredible experience was definitely one of those to cross off my bucket list of places to visit. I made my own bucket list after gaining inspiration from our recent NYC trade show visit where I discovered our new, simply gorgeous journals. If you haven't got round to making your list yet, you can get hold of one of our Bucket List
books here and they also make terrific presents for friends with wanderlust (just like me!) or simply to inspire someone to achieve all those things they really want to do. And as we just love personalised gifts here at Suzy Q, we'll give you the option to add hand embossed initials or a short name to ensure you give a truly personal and unique present for that special someone.
The waters were stunningly clear on many parts of the island and I have never seen so many varied and beautiful fish - and what a privilege to be able to share their habitat for a short time.
About 25 percent of Hawaii’s fish species are endemic and milletseed butterflyfish and saddle wrasse are two common fish that you won’t find whilst snorkelling anywhere else on the planet!
Hawaii's underwater world is truly unique and beautiful. If you love snorkelling and swimming alongside fish and turtles, this is definitely the place for you.
As you may or may not know, I rarely stray far from home without one or two of our best selling, personalised swizzle sticks
! Because let's face it, you just never know when you'll have that amazing cocktail or cheeky coconut and an Insta worthy backdrop! Come on, who could resist that vista! Our fabulous Suzy Q cocktail stirrers have been spotted all over the world at bridal showers, weddings and birthday get togethers. They've even been on TV on last years Christmas Saturday Kitchen!
Being such a lover of travel I have recently become rather obsessed with filling my house with mementoes and keepsakes. And no, not just the traditional fridge magnets. Although we do have a huge collection, with a theme...bottle openers, which has turned into a crazy family tradition of searching for one wherever we go! My new passion is to take great photos which can be framed, and not only do they look amazing on the walls at home, but are resonant with the fantastic times we've had. And let's not forget those fun holiday snaps of course!
My love of travel art brings to mind a very dear friend of mine, Natalie. This super talented lady heads up the fabulous 2by2 Creative
where she creates beautifully unique travel prints including skylines and portraits.
My current favourite is this stunning depiction of Norway with its icy landscape and auroral light show. I'm going to have to add this beautiful print to my collection at home despite the fact that I've yet to visit the 'happiest country in the world'. With an outdoor culture just waiting to be explored, it's next on my bucket list for cycling, hiking, canoeing and kayaking and even skiing.
Natalie is uber talented, and recently returned to university to study for a masters degree in illustration - she never stops learning and developing and really is a true inspiration to me, not only in business but in everyday life too.
Currently in its sixteenth year, 2by2 Creative aim to bring the world beautifully designed, exquisitely made products. Her skyline prints are highly sought after and make perfect presents for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and all sorts of special occasions. If you're looking for some beautiful, inspirational artwork for your walls, do take a look.
Another of my wonderful friends from the business world, Betsy of Betsy Benn recently introduced me to a trade show in Paris, which facilitated a trip to the French capital! This was of particular interest to a new business venture that I'm in the process of setting up and hoping to launch next year. As I'm at the planning and ideas stage, Maison Et Objet was definitely on my 'to-do' list and as a lifestyle platform I hoped it would help me to gain a real feel for what beautiful things are out there waiting to be discovered. My aim is to mix my love of interior design and lifestyle products and add them to my new brand, The Curated Corner. I have started by setting up an Instagram feed, but my longer term goal is to introduce gorgeous products that can be purchased online, either via a dedicated website or via social media.
This is just one of the many amazing products that I fell in love with! Most had a similar theme and I think I have definitely found a passion for black and white aztec prints. This stunning wicker basket is so original and I can just visualise these set out in different sizes each with its own luscious plant. Just beautiful, and I think they would suit any style of home decor.
Oh my!! Feast your eyes on these tables!! They were so heavy, with cement Moroccan tiled tops...I would have loved to import these beauties but the cost was sadly, prohibitive. My absolute favourite was the beautiful mustard coloured one at the front of this picture. Just imagine it tucked up next to your sofa while you're sitting in front of your roaring wood burner sipping a hot toddy!!
And look at these chic and stylish canvas shoppers with soft leather handles! Simple classics and would have been perfect for my next trip to Portugal with the famalam in a week's time. Really wish I'd grabbed one before I left!
Well as you can see, 2017 has been a whirlwind of work, travelling and trade shows. And I have to say I am sooo looking forward to my visit to the Algarve. All I need is a sun lounger and a good book or two, which reminds me...I really must finish that book club book, 'Good Me Bad me' by Ali Land, ready for our next meet up. Always last minute Annie when it comes to book club, I'm usually found cramming with an audio book version prior to our meet ups. But not this time! The book is in my travel bag and I am going to make sure I take the time to enjoy reading it!!