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7 Ways to Bring Holiday Home, A Crafternoon with James Villas

Azure Window Malta

If you are anything like me, then holidays are a time to reignite your creativity, to fill your head with dreams and ideas. I bring a lot of ideas home from holidays, as a travel writer obviously, but also for hobbies, mealtimes and our house.

  1. This winter I will be covering the walls of our hilltop cottage in sunshiney photos of our holidays, hoping to trap the Mediterranean weather in the blustery Peak District. This is one of my favourites below, taken by me on Gozo, when we stayed in a jaw droopingly beautiful James Villas place in Malta. I think it is destined for the bathroom, I just want to wander back into that hazy street, I have to pinch myself to believe I was there once.

I just want all those memories to last a little longer, do you know what I mean? Holiday memories and feelings are so special, they need bottling, preserving and capturing.

2. I love to try and recreate dishes I found on holiday, like this feta and courgette pie from Greece, that tart from Paris, or the baklava I ate in Rhodes.

3. I have a memory lane, a street of little pottery houses from places I have visited, Spanish tapas bowls galore and beautifully woven Greek cushions covers.

I often pick up the crochet hook or notebook and pen on holiday and vow I will finish my blanket or novel back at home. I always leave feeling creative, inspired, energised and ready to try a new hobby, but don’t always stick at it. But crafting, in the form of new experience, helps to release serotonin in our brains. That kick we get from making something new is almost as good as holiday sunshine.

James Villas kindly invited me to a wonderful event last week, the perfect marker of the end of summer and tonic for that tricky back to school transition. A day of crafting memories of summer, complete with cocktails, tapas, a gorgeous location and wonderful company.

4. A gin cocktail was pressed into my hand and as the craft tuition began, it felt a lot like a mini holiday.

The conversation flowed, amongst some of the bloggers I have known the longest, it really did feel like the heady early days of blogging again… Mummy Endeavours, Deep In Mummy Matters, Pink Oddy, Mari’s World, Red Ted Art  Incredibusy and Being Mrs C .

We tried two crafts, Ikat weaving and making espadrilles. Both were suitably challenging and rewarding. How cool to make your own super funky holiday mood shoes? And how magic to trap a never to be forgotten holiday sky in the weft of a beautiful wall hanging.

5. Ikat Weaving

After a quick intro explaining Mallorcan “cloth of tongues” fabric is created using a method of production known in its countries of origin as ikat or ikkat, Daughters Of Weave had us googling Ikat weaving for inspiration and I immediately fell for a design based on stripes.

I am a bit of a perfectionist. It was a bit of a back to school experience for me, as you can tell by my face I was taking it far too seriously.

My design inspiration, which you can see below, turned out to be much more complicated than I had realised and with two gin cocktails and so much exciting chat and gossip going on, it began to get a little stressful, but once I got into it, let go of the rules and opted for some thicker wool and saw the possibilities, it was full steam ahead, I loved it.  My end design was more of a play with ideas than a finished pattern, it looked a lot like fluffy clouds though. I came away determined to pick a photo of a holiday sunrise or sunset and weave it, so watch this space. Wouldn’t that be an amazing way to remember a magical holiday forever?

The food took me to amazing places too…

6. Make your own Espadrilles

I have so much respect now for the Spanish grandmothers who sew espadrilles, they must have fingertips like leather. It isn’t easy work but the end result was really satisfying. We were encouraged to go for it and stand out, and make our own craft rules by our hysterically funny workshop leader from Luchi and Ota. I’d been so obsessed with getting it right with the weaving, so this was music to my ears. The colours looked completely wild on the table, but by the time they were formed into espadrilles they took on a whole new quality, and I kind of wished I had gone for an even wackier thread colour.

I finished one fabulous espadrille, I wish there had been more time to practice my blanket stitch before sewing the shoe, but once my fingers recover, I will tackle sewing the second and it will be perfect!

The James Villas team were a real giggle to hang out with too and got stuck in crafting alongside us. Talking about the villas brought back so many lovely memories of our time in Malta, we made lots of memories in our villa, there is something very special about having a villa, shopping local and living alongside locals.

Do check out Villa Kentia and our adventures in Malta if you want to get a feel for a James Villa, I will never forget the sunrises and sunsets from our villa and managed to capture them on video. Visit James Villas site if you are curious about their villa holidays.

I would love to hear about what creativity you bring home from holidays!

If you are anything like me, then holidays are a time to reignite your creativity, to fill your head with dreams and ideas. I bring a lot of ideas home from holidays, as a travel writer obviously, but I also bring back hobbies, recipes and interiors inspiration.



  1. 14/09/2017 / 10:55 am

    Oh I love your idea of a memory lane pottery houses. I haven’t been to stay with James Villas but if the experience is anything as wonderful as last Friday afternoon then I am going to definitely have to try it. And I love the picture of us having a selfie. Great to see you.

    • Penny Alexander
      14/09/2017 / 6:12 pm

      So glad you took that selfie, it captured a lovely moment!

    • Penny Alexander
      14/09/2017 / 6:11 pm

      Proper Old Skool!

  2. 14/09/2017 / 2:16 pm

    Your espadrille (singular) looks amazing and your blanket stitch to boot! It blooming did hurt the fingers though didn’t it! Great post, great avo and lovely to meet you all! x

    • Penny Alexander
      14/09/2017 / 6:11 pm

      Aw you are kind! Lovely to meet you too!

  3. 14/09/2017 / 6:07 pm

    Lovely read. I loved the bit about being called hysterically funny. It was such a wonderful day and how I wish I could have taken part in the weaving..looked amazing.
    Hope you get to finish your second espadrille.
    I am so chuffed I met you guys, you made me laugh my head off. Hope we can get together again very soon.

    • Penny Alexander
      14/09/2017 / 6:12 pm

      You made us giggle so much, love your enthusiasm and amazing sewing skills and teaching skills! I will finish it 🙂

  4. 14/09/2017 / 10:59 pm

    I love this post Penny, I am ALL about making and recording memories and you have hit the nail on the head. It was lovely to see you again, I had so much fun it felt good to be back with the old school bloggers xx

    • Penny Alexander
      15/09/2017 / 1:56 pm

      Aw it was just the tonic wasn’t it! Memories are so precious aren’t they, its great to spend time been creative too x

  5. 15/09/2017 / 12:13 pm

    It was lovely to have you with us Penny and we are so pleased the day was so successful. That street in Gozo – what an amazing photo, it really does need hanging somewhere in the home.

    • Penny Alexander
      15/09/2017 / 1:57 pm

      Do you know it was the most magic event, the ongoing chat on twitter is testament to that! Thank you, I’m very proud, it’s been repinned on Pinterest lots, but needs a real life home too!

I'd love to know your thoughts!