I’ve recently developed a slight obsession with textiles especially handwoven and embroidered.  I’ve been drooling over Kanthas and Suzanis and spent hours trawling the internet and bemoaning the fact that I don’t live in the USA.

uzbek-craft.com – look but don’t attempt to buy if you’re in Australia.

Those few US stores that do ship to Australia charge you ridiculous prices – US$100 to ship a 1kg suzani throw!

Kantha from Etsy

The way to go, I have discovered, is Etsy.  There are some wonderful Etsy stores that sell suzanis and kanthas and you don’t need to sell your firstborn to pay the postage.  Wonderful.

While I was in Bali I visited a little shop in Ubud called Threads of Life tucked away up a narrow cobbled alley way.  Inside was a wonderful collection of Indonesian handwoven textiles.  As well as a shop it also offfers classes on indonesian textiles and tours.  The difference here was that each product had its own story attached so that you know exactly what the textile is, when it was made and its traditional use.

This is the textile I bought and here is it’s story…

Sayut, Jawa, Tuban 2011

This handspun, batik textile is called Sayut.  The cooperative, Sanggar Sekar Ayu, from Luwuk, East Java is one of the few remaining communities where natural dyed, traditional textiles are still being made and used.  The threads are spun from cotton and woven into a continuous 3 meter warp textile (gedog). After weaving, the motif are drawn with wax, and repeatedly dyed with natural dyes.  The motifs on this textile are referred to as Slimun (blanket) and are thought to have healing powers.


on my sofa

They even supplied a photo of the weaving cooperative so that you would know the people that handwove and dyed my beautiful textile.

The only thing better than a beautiful textile is a beautiful textile and its story.

Villa Raja

It’s been almost a month since we got back from Bali and the wonderful Villa Raja, a 4 bedroom house we rented in Canggu.


via villaraja.com

It was a wonderful oasis of calm and relaxation in an otherwise hectic place.  The traffic in the southern tourist part of Bali is absolutely horrible which did restrict our movements a bit as every trip into Seminyak had to be weighed up against the possibility of getting stuck in a traffic jam that could make the 15 min drive into over an hour!

Combine that with the lovely pool, good food and company and we ended up staying in the Villa more than I thought.

Our bedroom!  via villaraja.com

The staff were wonderful and our chef’s cooking so good that we ate in six nights out of seven.

Eoin banging the gong for breakfast

The slippery slide and pool were a hit with both adults and kids alike.

We ended up having lunch in Kuta (not as bad as I thought but no desire to go back),  trips into Seminyak (fancy shops mixed with broken footpaths and uber-exclusive beach hotel and bars).

With Catherine at the Legian Hotel

We had a wonderful morning at a beach bar called Potato Head relaxing in a day bed and trying out cocktails and tapas.


Cocktails at Potato Head

We did manage to tear ourselves away for a couple of day trips.  The first one didn’t go quite as planned.  We’d read in the guide books about an out-of-the-way beach called Geger Beach just south of Nusa Dua so we headed off with the driver for an afternoon of lounging in beach side deck chairs and warm blue waters.  Unfortunately two things went wrong.   Firstly the way there is through the worst of Bali’s traffic and secondly Bali’s largest resort is currently being built at Geger.

We were expecting this…..
But we got this!

The most frustrating of it was that the driver was obviously aware of both issues but neglected to mention them till we got there.  So the whole afternoon was a bit of a debacle but we managed to laugh it off and enjoy a nice lunch of nice campur at a beachside warung about 10m from the building site!


Ulun Danu temple at Lake Bratan

Our second excursion was into the mountains and the north of the island passing through some lovely countryside, stopping off at a coffee plantation and ending up by a temple on a lake amidst lovely gardens.

Lex, Di, Me, Kara and Karl at the coffee tasting

Overall we had a wonderful trip.  Some things about Bali were better than I expected and some worse.  You hear so many mixed accounts of Bali and differing opinions.  But that’s part of what I enjoyed about it.  It’s enchanting, frustrating, aggravating and vibrant.  Love it or hate it certainly isn’t boring!



Bedside flower arrangement

Flowers, monkeys, broken pavements, hot days and cool nights.  And so many shops….

Ubud isn’t a “village”, it’s definitely a town.  Or maybe more accurately a series of villages that have spread out, joined up and become a town.

At Ubud palace

I’d done a lot of reading (maybe too much) before arriving and I’d scared myself with horror stories of rabies-carrrying monkeys and incessant touts.  But it wasn’t like that.  Sure there were offers of ‘transportation’ and ‘massage’ regularly.  A polite ‘no’ was all that was needed.

Our hotel, Alam Indah, was gorgeous. It was situated on the other side of the Monkey Forest from Ubud making it very quiet as the road was a dead end.


We stayed in the Gardenia Suite overlooking the swimming pool.  We met some other Australian families and the boys loved Mali, their Bali friend.


We had dates down at the swimming pool in the afternoons and the boys swam while the adults had afternoon tea.


The Gardenia Suite

We walked through the Monkey Forest the first morning.


Like I mentioned I was nervous about being scratched or bitten but we were very careful and were fine.  The monkeys were very amusing except for a scraggly looking, twitching one that followed us around for a bit.  I was sure that one had rabies.

Nasi Campur in Ubud

A long, hot walk through Ubud followed.  It was bigger than we expected so we quickly exhausted the boys energy and patience.

I’m tired AND bored.

That evening we went across the road to Laka Leke Restaurant where we had a lovely dinner while watching Balinese dancing.  The last dance included audience participation so up went Ralph. I also have video of this but I don’t think the world is ready for it yet.


All Balinese dancing needed was some ‘Jazz Hands’ to improve it.


The next morning we’d booked to canoeing on Lake Batur with C-Bali.com. Lake Batur is a holy lake in the crater of an active volcano (!).  We canoed around the lake for two hours visiting a temple on its banks.  It was a great morning out and was great to do something slightly adventurous with the kids.

Alex squished between the C-Bali folks.

On our last morning in Ubud we went shopping and picked up a couple of paintings at an enormous art gallery.

I then bought a little handwoven basket that was repurposed by the boys.  I’m not quite sure what they are supposed to be, but we thought it was amusing.


So that was the first few days of our holiday.  Our time at Villa Raja will have to be a seperate post!


Bali Blues

I suppose you’ve all heard about Air Australia. Well, we were some of the unlucky customers. We’d booked flights for a family holiday with friends to Bali in September to celebrate my birthday. I’ve been talking to the credit card company and hopefully we’ll get some of our money back either through them or our travel insurance. But in the meantime we are out of pocket a few grand and now have to book new tickets. That are much more expensive. So do I hold my nerve and wait for a special or just bite the bullet and book now?

To contribute to my bad morning I went to the Magnolia Interiors sale and the inlay telephone table I longed for had just been sold. Devastated…. I knew exactly where I wanted to put it – at the top of the steps with a plant on it.

On a brighter note I took the boys to get their hair cut. Can you guess which one is the joker?