Tales of travel and shopping the world – Summer House NZ

Tales of travel and shopping the world

River Beads February 14, 2017 13:38

Zulu Teething Beads, Imfibinga Seeds, Job’s Tears – call them what you will they are amazingly versatile and everyone should have a set in their accessory drawer!

River beads on vintage silk tunic
They are natural beautiful, characterful, eco friendly, fairly traded and sustainable and the match nearly everything in most wardrobes. Batch them together, or wear them as single strands. You can even wind them around your wrist as a bracelet.

Truly a feel good addition to your wardrobe your riverbeads are not made in a factory,  are completely sustainable,  are stylish and natural,  are fairly traded and generate income in small communities.

green river beads

That’s not all – they have an interesting, international and multicultural history,  even though ours are from Africa,  the Imfibinga Seeds or Zulu River Beads have been around for centuries and are native to South East Asia and Africa where our River Beads come from. They have been naturalised around the world and were even used in the tribal wear of Eastern Cherokee Indians.

Our Riverbeads are grown wild in the Mpumalanga area for KwaZulu in South Africa. Generations of Zulu Mothers have used them as teething aids for their babies, they are also know as "teething beads". (but not to be used as such please!)
river beads grass seeds
These tropical wild grass seeds are known as Coix Lacryma Jobi in formal circles and around the world are called Job's Tears or Chinese Pearl Barley.

For centuries they have been used as decorative jewellery and rosaries, the softer variety used in ancient Chinese medicine, Korean tea, Vietnamese sweet, cold soup and even as a cereal crop.

So buy a set or two – they look great en-masse and I promise you – they will go with just about everything in your cupboard.

river beads with indigo cotton

5 tips for very happy and colourful Xmas table - Summer House Style December 12, 2016 17:00


happy Christmas table decor



Don't be scared, don't be shy,  there are no rules and no mistakes It's Christmas - today of all days you are welcome to have chocolate with breakfast and embrace your colourful inner child!


Mix and match,  complementary shades, colour wheel,  monochromes,  bla bla bla,  it's out the window - clashing colours look amazing next to each other - the more the merrier!  Colour is everything, colour is happiness,  colour is life!  Add in shapes for interest - round balls and pointy stars and trees!


We all love nature and you don't want is a flat and bland table,  so take your scissors outside and cut some down, take a turn around the garden and down the road for a walk and bring back branches and leaves and flowers to create a lush green base for your centrepiece - long or round, your choice,   then randomly add items of differing heights amongst your lovely leafy centrepiece, baubles, lights, ornaments, candles, decorations. (style tip - remember tallest things to the middle)


It's Christmas - twinkles are essential,  go glitter crazy,  I don't care what people say about glitter being the herpes of arts and crafts,  no-one needs that kind of negativity in their life.  Glitter is glorious,  the light bounces off it,  it gets in our hair and makes us feel like extravaganza dancers,  Go glittery gaga - use it with gay abandon!  Glass and anything high shine and reflective.  Fairy lights and candles - mix them into the foliage - create reflections off your glasses - watch the flickering movements bring your table to life.


The most important decoration,  surround your table with your friends and family and for a few hours everyone is present,  play those carols even if the teenagers moan,  sing Michael Buble or Rod Stewart at the top of your lungs,  the kids will love them too when they are older!  Create a happy space for everyone to share love, happiness, food and drink on a day designed just for that!


Here are a few ideas for you - and these table covers are all available on the website with free shipping until Christmas!  (shameless marketing angle!). Click the pic to go straight to the page....



flamingo mandala tablecloth














We make it easy for you to shop consciously and do no harm October 29, 2016 12:20


Clear Conscience shopping - our views on Fair, Ethical and Sustainable trade.  Sounds serious right?  It is, and its complicated - but don't worry we are making it easy for you.

How do Summer House enable you to shop consciously and ensure we do no harm to people and the planet? We have a few simple practices


  • We buy direct from the manufacturers and visit them all personally every year.  All of our manufacturers are small home and family businesses - any employees are from the local surrounding area.  Our main manufacturers are all currently applying for their Fair Trade certifications.  Infact we like our manufacturers so much that most of them have become personal friends of ours



  • NATURAL FIBRES we select only natural textiles only such as cotton and silk.  Cotton is sustainable, renewable and bio-degradable which makes it one of the most eco-friendly fibres on the planet.  It is also really drought resistant which makes it environmentally friendly in the growing process.


3  FAIR LABOUR PRACTICES - on each visit we talk to the owners and the workers to ensure

  • SAFE AND COMFORTABLE WORK ENVIRONMENT for all workers,  we visit the factories and would not expect anyone to work in conditions that we ourselves would not work in.  All of the factories are well ventilated and lit with safe exits.  Radios playing and comfortable workstations.  Usually there is a lot of chatting also!
  • FAIR PAY AND WORKING HOURS .  Please see our meet the makers blogs which details the work environments of all of our manufacturers. They are all individual but I can assure you are all paid fairly and offered extra opportunity for earning and development.
kantha making ladies



  • NATURAL FIBRES - Summer House chooses only natural fibers such as silk, cotton and jute.  Remember - Cotton is one of the most sustainable fibers on the planet!
  • RECYCLE SCRAPS - we recycle and re-purpose scraps.  Our range of Khadi stationery, all made from recycled cotton scraps,  our rugs and poufs - also cotton scraps. 
  • VINTAGE TEXTILES - Our gypsy bags are made from vintage Banjara dancers costumes and our silk dresses are all made from vintage saris.  The Kantha quilt is made from many layers of reclaimed cotton stories.
  • SMALL SPECIAL ORDERS - We only place small limited orders,  this ensures no waste,  quality manufactured items reduce disposal and over runs.  We value uniqueness.


Many ancient crafts are dying and we believe it is vital for culture that craft and heritage artisan skills continue,  our textiles are all either hand block printed or hand screen printed by artisans who are often several generations in practice.  Please view their amazing skills on our you tube channel or our mandala printing blog. Our Kantha products are also all hand-stitched by very talented ladies - for  more information read our Kantha Blog or our post on Hand Block Printing.

We love that our offerings to you are either vintage, or hand-printed and handmade items,  it takes skill to make them with human hands which keeps heritage alive and offer a livelihood to many.  You can buy from us with a clear conscience knowing that you own a unique item which has made a difference and has done no harm.

MEET OUR MAKERS - follow this link - for in-depth posts on our manufacturers and artisans.



I hope you have heard of SLOW FASHION?  This is a nice short article with all of the info you need - SLOW FASHION.

GREEN STRATEGY - for a more comprehensive read this website has so much info GREEN STRATEGY

LOCALLY INSPIRED - and if you are feeling inspired download the Good On You Ethical shopping app to your phone - which helps you source good conscience brands in Australia and New Zealand.  We hope we will feature on there soon too! GOOD ON YOU APP




Welcome to India - lets go shopping! October 14, 2016 13:21

Just a minor glitch for Adi because her faulty budget travel agent Shirli booked her domestic flights for the wrong date – but she capably managed to make it to her Air Ethiopian connection for her trans-Africa flight from Durban to Johannesburg to Delhi via Mumbai and Addis-Abbaba – sounds so nice you say it twice! (but apparantly not as nice as it sounds) Can’t wait to hear more about her trip which was not straightforward even by an experienced travellers standards.
Luckily for me Air India Cuisine was a surprising start to the trip – I kid you not – they served Butter Chicken with Naan for lunch!
We are delighted to once again be staying at our favourite oasis of calm in New Dehi – the Lalit Hotel.  Last night we headed immediately to our favourite restaurant to catch up and eat the long anticipated heavenly Dhal Baluchi – lentil stew of the gods and obviously – Garlic Naan from the Naanery!  All washed down with a crisp glass of local pink bubbly Sula Brut.  This is us together again with the naan!


Its early morning now and jet-lag has me up before dawn,  but a good time to prepare for our big day.  Last year we were like gawping tourists at our first IHGF Trade Show no knowing which way to turn– this year we are prepared, planning Summer House ranges for next year and of course buying anything completely irresistible to bring home to you immediately!

Its not all travel and blog writing flippery you know, I have done a bit of research too and these are the colours that the clever people at Pantone have forecast to be, how do I say it – “the next big thing!” What do you think? I for one am delighted about the greens, blues, pinks and hazelnut – oh goodness – I love them all! Anyway long story short – these are the colours we will keep in mind all day when we are looking for inspiration.








If you really wanted to be an ahead of the curve, trendy trendsetter – here are a few things in our range that are already within this palette! Don’t forget you can use your special Summer House VIP Travel voucher code IndiTrip for a 10% discount during the trip.

Don't forget the most important ..... Hazelnut

 See you at the show.  Standby for photo overload later!


From a Blue City to a Pink City .... Rajasthan Roadtrip April 30, 2016 00:11 1 Comment

Have I told you about the time I needed a passport photo taken in India for the purchase of a sim card? No faster had my head-shot been clicked, than there I was larger than life in the front of the store on the big computer screen – without asking he fired up the photo-shop and proceeded with extreme makeover in the form of digitally applying copious amounts of make-up – most especially eyeliner (top and bottom lids!). I may not have mentioned that I had spent plenty of time putting on make up that day!                    Passport photographer 1 – Shirli’s self esteem 0

I tell you this story because one of the things I love about solo, anonymous travel in a foreign land – especially India, is that you really can be whoever you want! Try on an exotic persona, so if you want to wear your slops (jandals) and a T shirt – that’s OK because millions of people aren't wearing any shoes at all, or if you want to wear colourful silks and & jingle with bangles & bling you can – you can also use your kohl pencil and black eye shadow with generous abandon here (I mean – even the babies do!) Its pretty liberating because believe me – no one cares!

Yesterday I checked out of the Blue City and my trusty driver Monu and I made the 5 hour trip to the Pink City of Jaipur – the old town of Jaipur is still walled and most of the buildings are painted pink. Its very charming and boy does it bustle. Our first meeting was with a great chap called Razi – who operates his export business from his home based showroom through a maze of streets into the centre of the old town. I turned his showroom upside down selecting the cushions of the rainbow – and drank his poor mother out of the most delicious chai tea I have ever tasted!

The afternoon ended with a re-union of our favourite manufacturer Parvez – I met his entire family in his lovely home and drank his wife out of Chai tea whilst surrounded by floor to ceiling, silks, cottons, bags, quilts and 4 all manner of wonderful textiles vintage and hand printed textiles. It’s a very special thing to be around Parvez and his wonderful, gentle spirited team who all work at his 4 story home factory which over looks the desert.

The great handbag hunt was the mission of the final day in Jaipur, this involved meeting Narinder – a French/Italian Indian who also runs a home-factory called XIWICKJ – pronounced Shireek-edge. Its an Italian word – don’t ask! 


Narinder and his team design & make Suzani bags from scratch – they even dye the canvas, embroider the Suzani patterns and cut, roll and trim the Goat leather for the handles. We will be the first exports to the Southern Hemisphere because up until now his market has been purely Europe.

   Our second visit was to Nishant – his factory is on a road – I kid you not called – "Factory Area Road"  together we are developing a new range of handbags and luggage called “bindi”– above pics are just a glimpse of what to look forward to …..


There was no better way to end off than with a final visit to Parvez for some more Chai and to wreak havoc in his showroom selecting Gypsy bags – think – Bohemian tassels, Banjara clutches and totes made from genuinely vintage embroidery, silks and coins – these are truly special, unique and historic handbags. 

It's Friday night and my last evening in India - I just have one more thing to say before I rush out to make it count..... 



NAMASKAR - I have arrived - India is My Happy Place April 26, 2016 13:51

As is the whole point of the mission, I made my way to Sharma Farm on Sunday, this is on the outskirts of Delhi and is a series of enormous barns packed full of vintage pieces of furniture, antiques and all sorts of odds and ends in wood, glass, iron and brass. It’s a treasure hunters dream. I barely noticed the lack of ventilation in the 35 degree heat as I selected some “life well lived” pieces to re-home to the other side of the planet. The mission will continue today in Jodhpur which is know as the town for furniture so fingers are crossed for some more gems!


Yesterday I left the big city of Delhi and headed deep into Rajasthan to the Blue City of Jodhpur – there are many myths about why the houses are painted blue – (although don’t be fooled – the blue houses are about as rare as hens teeth)– but mostly it has to do with them being cooler. The first vision is the airport – which looks a bit like a manor house!

My hotel is called Ajit Bhawan – this is a Heritage Haveli , which means that it is a genuine old Palace that was home to the Late Maharajdhiraj Sir Ajit Singh the younger brother of the Maharaja of Jodhpur which is now open as the first Heritage hotel of India, and I quote “open for you to journey into the mysterious legends o the desert kingdom of Jodhpur”. Its quite nice! It feels a bit like Jodhpur Disney but it is a very comfortable place to escape the heat and dust.

As I had a bit of spare time yesterday and since I haven’t been to Jodhpur before, it was only fitting that I attended to some sightseeing – the town is dominated by a big fort on the hill called Mehrangarh Fort so I headed in that direction. Something you may not be aware of, is that Indian Nationals travel extensively within their own country and for some unknown reason (which I do need to get to the bottom of) they love to have their photos taken at tourist landmarks with foreign travelers. Seriously today I must have posed in about ten photos!

Sorry – I digress! The fort was quite interesting when I wasn’t pretending to be a famous supermodel – it offers perfect views over the Blue City (as a good fort should) – I took a photo with the Opium Pipe man – who’s job it to give you a sniff of his opium, then chatted to the Moustache man and viewed the Phool Mahal – this is a room that was dedicated to the entertainment and pleasure of the King – it is opulent and beautiful – and it fires up the imagination , my mind goes immediately to the gutter and I cant help but imagine what has gone on in that room since the 15th century.  If there had been facebook back then this room would be much more famous!!

Fun time over, I was off to visit Khush (whose name means happy and comfy) and Arjun –these guys run a 4 story treasure trove and will be supplying our fab new silk scarves which I have posted on FB.   Their showroom was through the crazy clock tower market (also a video on FB) where I stopped for a glass of Lassi at the Mishrilal Hotel – don’t be fooled by the name – it’s a hole in the wall kiosk but it has worldwide fame- check it out on the lonely planet and trip advisor! After tasting this sweet curd milkshakey concoction – I understand why – it was quite delicious.

Today I have a couple of warehouse visits on the cards as the hunt continues ......

SO SO SOHO AND SO LONG HONG KONG April 25, 2016 00:52

So how many foot massages do you suppose it is appropriate to have in one day?

I was wandering aimlessly around SOHO – up and down Hollywood Road checking out antiques, thinking that it must be ridiculously festive with a bunch of friends on a Friday night when I was beckoned (by glaring neon lights and a small Asian woman) into a place called RELAX-CITY.

Now the thing I notice about Hong Kong is that it happens vertically so in we go and up to the 11th floor round some dark and twisty corridors and into a massage room.

What do you do in this situation when you are now beyond escape, told to take off your clothes and the lovely but non English speaking lady called Fen is talking loudly and gesticulating towards a laminated, confusing bit of paper which shows a few words and symbols indicating foot massage, body massage and timings? You point aimlessly at some part of the paper, smile, nod and say yes vigorously a few times, then as instructed you take of your clothes, lie face down on the table, stop worrying that your handbag, wallet and passport will be stolen if you fall asleep, and proceed to have the BEST FULL BODY AND FOOT MASSAGE of your entire life!

Now to be honest – I did chicken out of street food because I still have another 7 days of intensive traveling and couldn’t afford a “man-down” situation so early in the trip, but instead decided to fully immerse myself in the “Yee Tung Heen” Cantonese dining experience and boy was I glad I did – it was the perfect opportunity to tick BIRDS NEST SOUP off my bucket list - not un-delicious but not really extraordinary and another first time and once in a lifetime was the abalone dimsum – how about these guys – (don’t stress out like I did – they are not really goldfish – just dim sum shaped like goldfish)

What I have learned whilst traveling in Hong Kong is that I am perfectly happy to eat solo in a restaurant of any kind - except a street-side one!
Standby for the next installment - Rajasthan coming up......



HI FROM HONG KONG April 22, 2016 15:06



Let me put into perspective for you how big Australia is, I realized this when after take off from Sydney – I watched 2 movies, read some of my book and ate dinner (with wine obviously) then looked at my screen which very informatively displays the route – only to discover that we were STILL FLYING OVER AUSTRALIA!   Thank heavens however I had such a great flight – exit row to myself and such friendly Qantas staff – the kind Hostess Lady offered me a few bottles of Chardonnay to take home!


Well, wow – what a city – its big and tall and glittering but clean and tidy and somehow it all works.  Check out the facebook clip (because I don't know how to embed it here) - this is me doing the hard job for you guys and getting my bearings with a map and a view over to the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. I am staying on the Hong Kong Island side – land is being reclaimed for development on both sides and the tour guide yesterday joked that one day we will be able to take a walk over to the other side so much land will be reclaimed!

The trade show was a slick affair and surprise surprise – I felt myself drawn again and again to the India / Asia halls because they have the stuff that I find most appealing. Have a look at the Summer House NZ facebook page for photos of some of the goods which I have fallen for and which I am ordering for the new collection in August.

I am particularly in love with the Seagrass hamper baskets from Vietnam. Let me know what you think. (What I think is that a trip to Vietnam needs to be plotted quite soon!)

Last night I took the “Splendid night of delights tour” which included a drive down the Golden Mile, the Temple Street Market, night views from the Pier 9 and an area up the hill called Mid-Level – finally dinner on a 50 year old floating restaurant in an area called Aberdeen.

The names are amazing – don’t they make you want to get on the next plane to “the Pearl of the Orient” …

Happy Valley, Kowloon, Causeway Bay, Cotton Tree Drive. Our lovely tour guide Ivy taught us two words - she says they are the most important 2 words to know –

Pandi – which means “cheaper please” and Yum Sing – which means “Cheers!”


Anyway – no jokes about the food – some of it is amazing, and some is – how shall I say – interesting, but more on that later – I am planning a food exploration today so standby and brace yourselves. Ivy (who is Cantonese herself) - also told me that the Chinese will eat anything with four legs – except for the tables and chairs! She also said eat first then ask – which is exactly what I will do tonight…..

I can’t really hang around and chat – I have heard from several sources that a foot massage in Hong Kong is imperative and I am off to find one! Chat again tomorrow!

THE WANDERLUST HAS WON - COME WITH.... April 17, 2016 12:15


How would you feel about a quick, exotic shopping trip? Winter is creeping in, the year is creeping on, imagine it, this week - 3 days in Hectic Hong Kong followed by Delhi, The Blue City of Jodhpur and the Pink City of Jaipur?   (Summer House is all about colour!)

I know, I know, its kids, its jobs, its finances, its commitments and you cant make it. Don’t worry, I know it’s a tough job and some one has to do it, so I have stepped up to the plate and decided to take one on the chin for all of you!

  • I will deal with the cramped economy leg room, eternal flights, (since NZ literally is in the bottom right hand corner of the world),
  • Surly Australian customs officials (you have watched Border Patrol on TV – you know what I mean!),
  • Airline food and elbows in the queues in the 45 degree heat of India!
  • I will force myself to stay in 5 star hotels or Heritage Haveli’s (Palaces)
  • I will dig deep and somehow find the strength deep within me to shop all day every day for exotic, gorgeous and colourful things from masterful artisans and bustling markets.

And whilst I am enduring these hardships I will photograph, video and write so that you can come along with me without leaving the comfort of home.

It’s the first time I have ever visited Hong Kong and although it is my 5th trip to Incredible India (which incidentally is my favourite place in the world), I have never been on a completely SOLO adventure before.

Our (yours and mine) Itinerary looks something like this:

Wednesday – travel to Hong Kong and arrive at night to glittery lights

Thursday – Homeware and textile trade show – check out the 2017 trends

Friday – exploring, sightseeing and shopping – this is going to be an adventure

Saturday – Travel to New Delhi arrive at night

Sunday – Shopping at Mehar Chand Market– to sense check this very exclusive and creative fashion and home-ware area in Delhi

Standby for melt-down – temps are in their mid 40’s (haha – but so am I!)

Monday – very early bells – flight to Jodhpur – also know as the Pink City

Visiting furniture and antique collectible factories and treasure troves!

Tuesday – More Jodhpur – including shopping in the market for leather slippers and bejeweled gypsy bags and sightseeing some old Rajasthani Palaces

Wednesday – we drive to the Pink City of Jaipur – the seat of the textile and gem industry – we will visit some amazing artisans and see how a lot of our products are handmade.

Thursday – Some more visits in Jaipur (one place is actually called Alladins cave) and then a drive back to Delhi

Friday – A treat as we visit Sharma Farm for endless barns full of the most amazing old furniture you have ever imagined – we are also going to a town called Panipat where the Summer House rugs and footstools are made to meet the artisans there and discover their process.

On Friday night – (timing for obvious health and safety reasons left to the last night), a street food walk – standby for this – you will be sold on the next trip just so that you can meet Anubhav and taste some of these delicacies!

On Saturday morning – I start the mission home again – weeping on the way to the airport waving goodbye to beloved India – but with a few extra suitcases of surprises for you all and a container of furniture following on the high seas!

Come along on the journey, I am going to need your advice, interactions and opinions all the way –

photos on instagram at House.summer

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Daily "micro" blogs on the website www.summerhousenz.co.nz and www.summerhousesa.co.za (I promise not to waffle on for too long!)

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See you at the airport on Wednesday morning – I’m off to start packing – travelling light which is not as easy as it seems!

Indian Kantha Quilt November 25, 2015 14:42

We were on a mission to source goods and top of the list was the increasingly popular Kantha Quilts,

So what exactly is a Kantha Quilt? Traditionally the term Kantha refers to the embroidered running stich that joined 2-6 layers of vintage (read “pre-loved”) sari’s together to form a quilt.   Sometimes soft cotton, sometimes rich silks.

Each item is obviously unique and handcrafted in a process which usually takes a skilled Rajathan artisan up to 2 days per piece.

Now believe me its easy to source goods in India, but we were after product that incorporated our Fair trade mission along with assurance that the working conditions of these incredibly nimble fingered ladies who spent all day creating these one of a kind masterpieces.

Our quest took us to the pink city of Jaipur where we met some of the friendliest people in the world – we wanted a manufacturer whom we could form a relationship with who would welcome us into their environment and process and we found just the people.   This is a picture of Adi and I meeting the ladies who make these gems – they are warm and friendly and even though none of us shared the same language we shared a few laughs and they showed us how they craft these beautiful quilts.

Kantha emroidery artisans in Jaipur


Out of choice the ladies prefer to sit on the floor – on top of the very quilts the make! Not just any floor however – Jaipur is the are in which the white marble of the Taj Mahal was mined and the floors of the factory are nothing less than white marble, a multitude of ceiling fans hum in a very comfortable environment with music playing on the radio – we spent several hours there and left very comfortable that the artisans were very happy with their working conditions!

Why do we love Kanthas? –

  • because they are bright and colouful and individual,
  • they are from our favourite exotic India.
  • The wildly intricate stitching enhances the handcrafted specialness of each masterpiece
  • Each piece of fabric has had many lives before it became your quilt that you can only begin to imagine. They are historic!

Why should you love Kanthas?

  • add instant individuality, personality, interest and bohemian flavor
  • Kanthas are great in the bedroom as light quilts
  • Kanthas are great in the lounge and drape perfectly over a sofa
  • Kanthas are light enough to make a festive tablecloth
  • Kanthas are perfect for a picnic


cotton kantha





Incredible India - survival 101 October 17, 2015 23:10

Many people have expressed an interest in visiting India - so much so that I have started to consider putting a tour group together with some of the best sights, hotels and a bit of the real deal shopping - so hold onto your horses for that proposal.  Before you get excited and jump on the bandwagon please observe the noticeable India difficulties below....

As much as I love India there are a few skills one needs to master in order to function effectively, there are a lot of foodie tips,  obviously that is a biggie in order to ensure basic survival,  but that will be another whole blog .... We are particularly excited for the street food tour in our last night, but in the interim,

Evening 2 on the way out of the restaurant we were presented with Paan. This is a bitter fresh green leaf folded into a small triangle pocket if who knows what herbs and spices. When chewed become juicy and sweet and bitter and numb making in the palette. Only one of us managed to swallow here and it wasn't me! I will chalk up the following mornings mild and passing nausea up to this paan experience. Tip one in India - don't eat the Paan.

After the deepest and most refreshing sleep in what must be one of the most comfortable beds in which I have had the pleasure to slumber (courtesy Lalit Delhi), we woke up for the early shuttle from our hotel to the show. Imagine this to be easy, but one thing you need to learn is how to queue in India .... This skill will be especially relevant when boarding and exiting busses and planes and buying tickets to tourist attractions

Queuing in India 101.
The concept of lining up in a first come first serve basis does not exist
Use of weapons is not only recommended but essential i.e. Elbows feet and handbags, if you have a backpack this works exceptionally well to knock your opponents out of the rush to the door
Other people may use their small children as pushing in decoys, don't under any circumstances fall for this because small children come with large families
As soon as the door to your destination opens rush at it with no regard for women, children or babies, it's every man for himself.
Now this may sound drastic but believe me when I tell you that Adi and I have missed 2 shuttles out of pure politeness. Today Adi is armed with a sizable handbag.

Consider that there are more than 26 million people in Delhi, the daily movement of these people around the city and on and off their life's of transport is bound to be somewhat complex .....  Jaipur is actually not much better although much smaller.

I write this having eventually boarded a coach which brings me to the next order of business which is traffic. Unless you have ever been to India you cannot imagine, let me try to help you .... There are no lines on the road and no rules. Some of you in SA may think you understand road lawlessness but believe me Sa roads are oasis of calm and order in comparison.
The sound of tooting is a constant, it's like a swimming seething river of cars, rickshaws, Tuk Tuks, mopeds, trucks, buses and bicycles all crawling in no particular direction. Throw in utterly fearless pedestrians (in most countries they would be referred to as jaywalkers), just as fearless homeless dogs, and the odd holy cow and you have absolute road mayhem - throw in some camels and donkeys - you get the picture!
The 25km drive from hotel to trade show takes almost 2 hours.

The motto of the driver is that there are 3 vital requirements as a driver in India
Good brakes
Good horn
Good luck!

This may all sound a bit disastrous and put you off,  but its just a quick nip of reality before the next installment when we are In Jaipur - the Pink City - City of Maharaja's and Maharani's Palaces.  I don't want to overwhelm you with my OTT romantic notions of India all at once!  Expect me to be effusive .....

Photos are courtesy of Adi Weerheim - you can follow her on instagram - @adibaby


Incredible India - Delhi Day One October 15, 2015 15:02


Adi on arrival at Delhi Airport at the crack of dawn

Our start was hilarious – the burly looking guy at the airline counter who checked us into our flight to Delhi via Abu Dhabi was surprisingly effeminate and theatrical – he asked what on earth do we do in India – when Adi told him – “only have the time of our lives!” he snorted with laughter and told us we were weird.  We told him one of the reasons we loved India was the smell of incense he told us further that we were crazy and explained that because the smoke of incense represented the prayers rising, he would be terrified that someone elses prayers would land on his shoulders – but wished us luck and sent us off with an entire exit row to ourselves. I can safely say one of the most comfortable flights ever.

International Home and Gift Fair - Autumn 2015

We arrived in Delhi at our hotel just before 5AM this morning so were understandably fatigued when we arrived at the Trade Show this morning but WOW – 15 halls of exhibitors – one of the largest exhibitions in the world! Into the first hall we walked there I was in my happy place, an infinite variety of furniture, cushions, quilts, sheets, carpets, lights, glass, ceramics - and not just flea market style - great quality and contemporary merchandise.  (there were not enough hours in today at the show and we met some wonderfully friendly people and found some superb products. We only made it half the way around and are massaging our feet in preparation for tomorrow.) I have put a few pics on facebook of the things we fell in love with yesterday.

This evening to celebrate our first night in India we went to a restaurant called Baluchi and ate Black Dhal cooked for 24 hours in a charcoal oven, garlic naan from “the Naanery” (listen can you hear the laughter!) and then finished off with Paan Flavoured Kulfi – a special Indian Ice Cream – described by my friend Adi as prayers in her mouth – I would even say one of the most delicious deserts I have ever tasted – ice cream which tastes like incense and rose petals – we have no further words.

The most delicious Dhal ever and bread from the "Naan-ery"

Its early to bed this evening for an early start to make our way further around the trade show tomorrow we visit gift and jewellery exhibits and in the afternoon a trip to Karol Baugh Markets for a little Bridal shopping.

Day one draws to a close and it feels like we have happily been here forever –

Incredible !ndia - I never want to leave.


Summer House - Merchant of Marvels October 02, 2015 22:57



Have you ever imagined warm breezes perfumed with incence,  tinkling sitars playing in the background, colour, richness and texture in every direction?  Your are invited to join us ..... please read on ....

You have to know,  when someone asks you - What is your dream job and you answer immediately - you have to do something about it - as a knee jerk reaction I can say -  Decor, India, Shopping!  Summer House is my ideal job. 

To be honest the seed was planted about 6 years ago on my first trip to India to meet my friend who was there on sabbatical.  We lay on the beach in Goa and imagined our ideal futures in depth.   I was then a conference and event organiser but I yearned for a more creative vocation.   11 000km from Durban to Auckland, and six years later Summer House was born from the seed planted those years back in Goa - India.    Recently I attended a seminar call the Entourage Un-Convention - something was mentioned there about when the whisper becomes a roar.  Undoubtedly Summer House is now a roar!

To say I am an India-phile is an understatement - Shirli-ann is an Indiaholic and proud of it.  Its an ailment of which I do not want a cure.  I am proud to say I am addicted to all things India and Bohemia to the extent that I want to share this with the world and am convinced that everyone out there deserves a little Summer House in their life.

I am Shirli - I love to travel,  I love all things visual - my creativity kicked off when I began a degree in fine art along with some time spent designing furniture and creative environments.  My desire is to annually curate a unique collection of glorious bedding, art and homeware from around the world and include you on our journeys as we do so - this year India,  next year Morrocco,  follow us to design exhibitions in Europe so that we can bring you not only creative but edgy, current and updated design for your own spaces.


Stand-by will tourist at the Taj Mahal in a matter of days - (this unashamed selfie is me last year)

The richness of colour, texture, pattern, light and scent is something that every home deserves for a little depth and character and it is our mission to bring this to you.  From the start of our journeys into Bazaars and markets follow us on a delectable photographic journey as we seek out and curate unique and beautiful gifts,  bedding, art and home-wares.  Everything will have a story so please subscribe and enjoy.  As a delectable add on - I will also be shopping for my Indian Princess styled wedding dress this trip.

Everything we source will have a story and will be available online when we return.

We depart next week - I will be traveling with my incredibly creative and talent friend and new colleague Adi - who is a professional photographer - destination India - Delhi, Jaipur and Agra are on the itinerary, we will visit expo's, bazaars, markets, manufacturers and ancient Palaces of Rajasthan.  We will travel on elephants and in taxis and rickshaws - hold onto your hats and come along for the ride , it will be so close you will smell the incence......