Cancun, Mexico

Dreams Resort & Spa Cancun... the never mind it's in the middle of Spring Break, and teeming with restless youngsters, the resort is ideally positioned at the northern part of the lagoon with a seaward outlook.  This lunch restaurant had a loosely slatted covering with curves in each slat - this caught any water from rain and pushed it down channels in the beams... good design.  The slats let sufficient sun through like dappled light through an apple tree... things to ponder on whilst getting stuck into a seafood lunch.

The frond-laden bar which was behind me when I took this shot was memorable for the first pina coladas and frozen margaritas after arriving from the airport, with warm air wafting in from the sea... after two hours at this bar we happily couldn't remember a thing.

cancun, mexico : Dreams Resort & Spa Cancun Yucatan Peninsula Gulf of Mexico tropical, crystal-clear Caribbean, restaurant, palm trees, beachfront jetty, palapa umbrella

Shamwari Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Three days in a game park ... but not exactly roughing it.  A Shamwari safari requires dawn to dusk out in the Land Rover tracking down big game but you retire every night back to comfortable accommodation, a gourmet dinner and vast selection of South African wine at your disposal - which is the problem - going safari the next day after the night before of wining and dining is more than a challenge. 

One evening post-dinner a firepit (as in a dent in the concrete plus a lip of rocks) was lit up with huge logs - armed with a good Shiraz, the conversation sparkled enjoying the heat in the southern hemisphere winter (~ +5C).  Reminded us of hanging around the fire in Europe during ski season with glasses of mulled wine.  Mental note: need to build a firepit. So we did:

The 'firepit' idea had a few beers behind it before the construction started...


Barcelona, Spain

In the centre of Barcelona the famous Las Ramblas ends at Mirador de Colon, a monument to Christopher Columbus, and the Passieg de Colon which is one of the road arteries through the city closest to the port (more like a racetrack).  Nearest the water, they maintain a very wide pedestrian walkway... and we find this: the local government seems keen to support street art - massive prawn sculpture on top of a frame... that looks like a bit like Cobi, the Olympic Games mascot in 1992 - yes it is: the artist is Xavier Mariscal, who created Cobi.

I can see climbing roses and bougainvillea looping through something like that ...  now what could we create to hang on the edge?

barcelona las ramblas: Spain Catalonia Barcelona Xavier Mariscal Lobster Giant prawn timber Sculpture La Gamba or Gambrinus, pedestrian walkway Ronda Litoral street art

Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain

Of all the Latin design influences we like most, cracked tile is the most appealing.  Mainly because armed with a hammer, we can go postal on a pile of defenceless ceramic tiles and cement them into an amazing art-form / functional piece.  We have exquisite historical artisan examples from Antonio Gaudi's Park Guell in Barcelona, right through modern day industrial-scale crazy tiling in the buildings at the Valencian City of the Arts and Sciences.  Either way, its where the hammer hits, where the tile decides to give, and the creativity of the artist as to how to use the bits as to what the outcome is.

The benches in Park Guell are a superlative example of pre-industrial scale process ceramic production, articulate selection of elements, and a striking long-distance vision of the outcome ... i.e. it would cost more than XX million Euros to recreate it using the same techniques and time frame today.  The selection of curves and vivid colours in the tile work suggest many of the materials were custom made back in the day, and, since they are custom cut (chipped ) to fit the available space, it is safe to assume they had to be made in large quantities. 

So, can we get some inspiration from this?  Yes, but within available means;  we've done the firepit at the Perleta house as an ode to Gaudi, even though it is nowhere as complex or dramatic.

barcelona park guell: Spain Antonio Gaudi's Park Guell, Barcelona, innovative crazy tiling, colourful mosaics, creative artistic benches, World Heritage Site, works of art

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE

Before the monster Burj Khalifa was built, the Burj Al Arab stood proud as not only one the tallest buildings in Dubai, but the most luxurious.  6 or 7 star?  Since hotels are just collections of bedrooms with ensuites, it's the extra facilities that make the difference.  Since the Burj Al Arab is way out there in terms of budget and bling, just rocking in for a few drinks and taking photos isn't available, so we had to join a 'tour' which included an hour nosing around (limited) plus high tea. 

The decor is totally insane - money can buy you taste as long as the $$$ is in the stratosphere; it will require a lottery win as first start to even consider some of it, but at least we have the photos to remind us if we do.

dubai: Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai, UAE, Arabian Gulf, Jumeirah beach, spectacular steel marvel, architecture, opulent triangular shape, Arabian sailing ship

dubai: Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai, UAE, Arabian Gulf, Jumeirah beach, spectacular steel marvel, architecture, opulent triangular shape, Arabian sailing ship

Wellington Bar, NZ

Down in Welllngton for a week conference at the end of January, Jackie and I head out for dinner and then find ourselves at one of many niche drinking spots around 10:30pm.    Most modern bars in capital cities tend to trendify their decor to keep their zeitgeist quotient current with the movers and shakers that frequent their doorstep... Washington DC, Milan, London, Paris, Frankfurt Sydney, etc etc.  There's always something unique in the big city.

This particular bar back-fill had layered opaque glass, with glass shelves, and individual LED panels that slowly rotated through a colour palette... had seen that sort of thing before in larger establishments, but because of the size of the place, the colour always seemed to wash out. 

However,  in the small bar it became the focus as well as the primary source of lighting for the bar.. cue soft vibes from the sound system and it was a really chilled out place to enjoy a few drinks.  Not quite sure when/where to use it, but if we build a downstairs bar this concept will provide a lot of ammunition.

wellington: NZ, Lambton Quay, Wellington, Wine Bar floating, backlit light glass panel, creative, glass shelves, glass counter reflection, LED colour panels, custom design

Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain

A grand tour around Andalucia should minimally include Seville, Cordoba, and Granada, with Cadiz, Vejer de la Frontera, Rhonda, and Malaga if you want to stretch it.  Here is a photo of some of the 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite in the Mezquita (mosque) in Cordoba.  It is the original mosque from the Moorish occupation (~600-1100 AD) but with a Catholic church built in its centre, officially it's the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.  

The arches are spectacular... building something like these over your porch, or as a trellis into the back garden would be something... maybe smaller ones as ends of the hallway in the house?

cordoba: Spain, Mezquita Cordoba, Andalucia, cathedrale-great mosque, hypostyle prayer hall, columns, jasper, onyx, marble, granite, Moorish architecture, double arches, lower horseshoe arch

Havana Cuba

Modes of transport differ around the world.  Taxis, jeepneys, tuk-tuks, rickshaws from the traditional Oriental foot-drawn model, to the Malaysian bicycle rickshaw with an integrated sound system (Malacca),

What about a coco-taxi?  With the same colour scheme as the US Yellow Checker cab, the coco taxi is Cuba's take on the theme: a coconut-shaped body on three wheels, a 75cc two-stroke engine, one seat for the driver and two passenger seats, and it is no slug - these things zip along at top speed all around Havana and Varadero....  emergency stopping might involve forward-motion car rolling, we don't know.  We've seen coco taxis ferrying up to three kids, or a mum and lots of shopping, or two sunburned tourists, with ease. 

Got to have one just to park it in our driveway -  maybe upgrade it to a 750cc... what a laugh!

havana: coco-taxis, egg-shaped, three-wheeler in the shape of a yellow coconut, downtown Havana city, cuba, worldwide holiday ideas

Royal Selangor Pewter Factory, KL, Malaysia

Malaysia had and still has significant deposits of tin although the market and industry that made industrialists wealthy in the earlier part of last century is no longer the case.  However, the manufacture of pewter products is still very much in evidence.  Pewter is 85–99% tin, with the remainder consisting of copper, antimony, bismuth.  The Royal Selangor factory on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur relies on handcrafting in preference to automated manufacture so as to maintain the skills.  We were invited to have a go at one of the processes during the factory tour - looked easy but the small hammer went everywhere!

This large beer tankard outside in the grounds gave me drink rather than food for thought, as in it appeared to be as wide as the original hot tub... perhaps build a jacuzzi with an exterior that looks like a beer tankard?  The German beer stein with the flip-top lid came to mind...  yeah, so you could keep the heat in as well as keeping leaves and other stuff out.  Cool.

selangor: Royal Selangor Pewter Factory, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, tin, copper, antimony, bismuth, handcrafts, tourism, giant pewter beer tankard

More cool pix we've taken on our travels, as food for thought or they just happen to be very good: