I love glimpses into other people’s lives.  Especially their interiors.  So when yesterday my friend Eva and I spent an exhilarating day in London enjoying lunch with friends on board The World I was in heaven.

There’s no denying the beauty and buzz of London.  Especially when you spend much of it on water with fabulous hosts, glorious weather and a wonderful group of friends.

Fun, quirky interiors inspire me and trump timeless elegance and formality every time.  Our hosts’ apartment was packed full of quirky, contemporary art and sculpture that made the space feel large despite being compact.  By far my favourite ornament was a large wooden painted penguin so realistic I half expected it to waddle in amongst us as we chatted before diving off the balcony to swim with friends.

I can only imagine the freedom such a lifestyle brings but am glad to see that art, design and friendship play a vital part in a liberating approach to life and business that happily accommodates many months at sea.

It’s refreshing meeting successful people who’ve taken a different approach.  To friendship, to living harmoniously with their soul mate, to balancing motherhood with work commitments, to business and relationships in general.  Taking a different approach takes confidence, something women often lack, so meeting brilliant, confident women and the men confident enough to be married to and do business with them was an invigorating delight.

Perhaps secretly we’re all pirates stealing moments of pleasure with our children, seeking love, adventure and work related riches that are ours for the taking if only we were brave enough to fight for what we need in life and the people we believe in.

I’ve not figured out how I’m going to create an interior styling business based in Edinburgh that works with international London clients but I’m more inspired and determined to than ever.

I met a very interesting gentlemen doing something different and exciting in high end property.  At the heart of his business model was putting client’s interest first and doing everything he could to satisfy clients’ commercial goals whilst surpassing the service offering of the traditional estate agency model.

It’s amazing how few businesses put client service at the heart of their business.  Those that do soon realize this not only leads to happy clients, but managed carefully, is a recipe for success.

Once lost, trust can rarely be recovered.  This is as true in business as it is in personal relationships.  Financial services learnt this the hard way, so it’s always interesting to meet people intelligent enough to seek reward for clients by eschewing outdated business models and doing things very differently.

As a child my mother always instilled the importance of writing thank you cards.  I had a truly wonderful time in London but as I sit here choosing a card to send my hosts, I can’t help wondering. “How do you send a thank you note to friends who live on board a boat?”




Last night was a wake up call on Scotland’s stalled economy.  Friends selling large homes are refusing low-ball offers thousands below home report valuation.  Not for the first time there’s a drive to move to London and I’m reminded how many dads work abroad while their families live in Scotland or commute weekly south as I did.  Lawyers in good firms are having 3rd and 4th round pay cuts and are threatening to strike.  We’re living precariously beyond our means in a housing market that’s dysfunctional and unused to families desperate to downsize.

I briefly consider a return to financial services.  The easy money is gone but there’s work to be had for those who can endure it.  But it’s thankless work in a dying industry whose reputation is in shreds.  I’m a writer with dreams and concrete plans of running an interiors business and know it’s not an option.

The conversation turns to leggings.  It’s impossible to get decent quality black ones that don’t fade to grey or cost a fortune.  I make a mental note to source some stock and manufacture my own as soon as possible. I have a 3 prong brand development strategy.  Black interiors, inspirational writing, simple quality black clothing.  Leggings are one of the prongs.

Earlier in the day I’d spent an hour or at my friend’s quirky interiors store Casa Maorada.  Not a single customer enters the shop and there are 10 shopping days til Christmas.  We discuss the merits of attending Maison Objet, the Paris Trade show to check out suppliers, absorb the atmosphere and get inspired.  It’s tempting if we book now and pool hotel accommodation.  I leave with black candles for my advent wreath and industrial wire tealights for fireplaces, table decorations and to give as presents.  I love this store and would happily drop by daily.

I’m nervously excited about the future.  There’s a lot of work to do.  I must create a website over Christmas, source product, rent a pop up shop in Stockbridge for storage and capitalise on PR and marketing opportunities relating to selling the hosue.  There’s a market in Stockbridge to attend on 6 Jan and I’m reshooting press photos of my kitchen with Scotsman photographer Jane Bowman tomorrow to capture it’s new dark dramatic look.

There are also interior styling classes to organise and last but not least a house to sell.  The recession is making entrepreneurs of us all.  I’m determined to stay focused, seek out global opportunities and review a move to London as an option.  I collect my business cards from Juliana.  They look amazing.  I feel triumphant.  There is DEFINITELY no bailing out now.  What do you think I should do?

Industrial tealight, Casa Morada

Industrial tealight, Casa Morada

Black candle, silk flowers, painted fireplace, Acanthus