Greek green living in Athens

I just visited Athens, city of marble for the first time.  The Greek side of my husband’s family visited us in London before we all headed to a big fat Greek wedding in Athens.

I’ll keep references to that film brief, but it’s been a running joke since my first dinner with them. “What do you mean she don’t eat no meat?” A good excuse for me to share some good Greek spots for vegetarians visiting Athens.

Teasing over the Elgin Marbles was also inevitable.   Stereotypically English, I neatly queued up their banter, as my eyes started tearing up in the heat as we queued for the Acropolis.   “Awww she’s crying at the sight of the other marble they could have taken.”  Elgin marbles aside, Athens is a city with marble in abundance.   I walked on pavements, staircases and curbs made of the stuff.

I wore vintage Zandra Rhodes (above) from Circa Vintage and gladiator sandals I bought from a local London based brand IRIS.

Outside the Acropolis museum, running as a tour guide uses my shirt dress to describe the meaning of the colours in the Greek flag, blue sky, white ocean waves.  Accessorising my Greek flag with Castañer espadilles and a vintage cork backpack from People of 2morrow.

Stay

We chose an Airbnb with views of the Acropolis, solar thermal energy and homemade wine in the southeast neighbourhood, Koukaki.

I packed Bentley Organic shampoo and conditioner and Aloe Pura Organic Aloe Vera sun lotion with pomegranate, protecting echinacea, nourishing Jojoba and avocado oil.

Eat & Drink

Greece has a cornucopia of natural products that promote wellbeing. Vegetarians visiting Athens can’t go far wrong with the salads.  Vegans should check out both Mama Tierra and Avocado.  As a pescatarian, I feasted on vegetarian starting plates in more meaty Greek restaurants, which shouldn’t be skipped for the traditional live music.

I loved the salads at Skoubri (above) Σκουμπρί, Drakou 14, Athina and the floral vintage wallpaper, old Athens style decor and dishes at Cherchez La Femme (below) Σερσέ λα φάμ, Mitropoleos 46, Athina.

In local Lotte Cafe – Bistrot (below) Tsami Karatasou 2, Athina and Birds & Booze in Plaka you could feel like you are in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  Both are fun day and night.

Shop

Athens is painted in graffiti, so I couldn’t resist sharing this.  There is some great guilt-free shopping to be had in the independent shops amongst the touristy traps in Plaka and Monastiraki .  Check out repurposed accessories made in Greece at 3Quarters with bags made from leftover balcony awnings.

I couldn’t leave Monastiraki without handmade sandals from The Poet Sandal-Maker of Athens. Good enough for John Lennon and Jackie O. Good enough for me.

The store opened in 1920 and remains a family business today, run by the grandson of the founding artisan.  The makers know your sandal size just by looking at you.  You choose a style and they fit and cut the leather to your foot.  I chose Aeolian No. 2.  

©photographs Reclaimed Woman

Jewellery from repurposed antique cutlery to mark National Upcycling Day

I know I am not the only one to have jewellery boxed-up in drawers, saving it for best.  The same goes for antique silverware, often passed down through family, brought out for special occasions when firstly, we remember it’s there, and secondly, we can digest more than the daily cutlery drawer by the time dinner is prepared.

Not that I am suggesting you consolidate your treasures into fewer drawers, but Joseph Bucsi created his brand Boochi & Co, crafting antique silver cutlery into jewellery.  A concept worth chewing on.

“In a world that is so transient and increasingly unstable, history is one thing that we can learn from and hold onto. All of my pieces have travelled through time and had many lives.  A spoon made in 1750 has seen more than we can imagine throughout its lifetime.”

Joseph was introduced to antiques by his girlfriend Charlie and her family.  Hard to believe he became a craftsman just 3 years ago, he immersed himself in the history of found items and began researching hallmarks and makers through auctions and fairs.  Joseph came across stories of servants appropriating silver cutlery to reshape them into wedding rings when they wanted to marry.

Dating back to the 1700s, hallmarks, initials and patterns throughout the sterling silver Boochi & Co collection tell stories of their provenance. Available to shop online and at The Vintage Look in Henley.  Boochi & Co is also joining my Fair Fashion pop-up at Salvo Fair on 23rd-25th June 2017.

I can’t think of a better way to mark national upcycling day (Saturday 24th June) than with a spoon ring, destined to be used everyday.

SALVO 2017 at a glance

Where: Icehouse Lane, Henley on Thames, RG9 3AP

When: Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 June 2017

Open: 10am to 5pm

Smart Works Charity Gala Preview and late night shopping with organic wine from Vintage Roots: Friday 23 June 2017, 5pm to 8pm

See salvofair.com for more details and to book tickets

©photographs courtesy of Boochi & Co

Me and my home want to be dressed top to towel rail in Mahala

I’ve got my eyes on a pair of made in England clogs stocked at Mahala, an independent homewares and accessories shop selling handmade bags and handcrafted pieces by designer/maker Emily Griffin.  Emily’s East London shop is based in an old fishmonger, where a material sign waves you beyond the fish shopfront signage with the aroma of organic candles and wild pistachio soap.

Bags made from salvaged army surplus fabric and British saddlery leather first introduced me to Mahala when I interviewed Emily for London Design Festival last September.  I was thrilled when she agreed to swap East London for an eccentric Henley estate to exhibit at Salvo fair .  I am collaborating with Salvo, the original architectural salvage fair to incorporate zero waste food and fair fashion for this year’s Green Living Fest on 23rd-25th June 2017.  A showcase of salvage, reclaimed interiors and antiques, not simply for their beauty, but for their green value. The Green Living fest will celebrate salvage as a lifestyle choice.

There is no perfectly sustainable material, but getting to know the materials you dress your home and yourself with is a good place to start.  Upcycled and carefully sourced, materials at Mahala include antique and traditionally crafted modern Turkish towels.  Currently completing the renovation of my flat with reused and reclaimed materials, I visited to buy bathroom towels.

If you have yet to experience a hammam. Let me fill you in with my first experience in Morocco.  Wearing nothing, but the traditional towel around my waist, I was scrubbed with black soap made from olive pulp and vegetable soda.  My two friends got lucky with beds to rest on, whilst the kessa gloved women worked their magic, and I was left to be exfoliated in the shower room.  Suitable for all skin types, we were equally pleased with the soap’s purifying properties, I just left slightly more attached to the durable, yet soft Turkish cotton towel protecting my hips, whilst flat-out on the floor tiles.

I joke, but the experience is a ritual of relaxation that I was keen to replicate at home.

Back soon with inspiration for turning tiny bathrooms into tranquil spaces, and how I tackled my tiny bathroom renovation with reused and reclaimed materials.

Mahala

Join me and Mahala at SALVO 2017 

Salvo fair, Icehouse Lane, Henley on Thames, RG9 3AP

Book tickets for the zero waste Silo at Salvo lunch with a weekend fair pass

Follow Emily Griffin on the beautiful @Mahala_london Instagram

©photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

A reggae fuelled road trip to the organic grapes of wine merchant Vintage Roots

If you love wine, but you are less attached to the sulphites, perhaps in search of vegan or biodynamic wine, then you need to know about the organic wine people, Vintage Roots.

The name was derived from a reggae compilation tape on a road trip the  founders took to France in 1985.  They started the business with a sheet of road trip “research” – a list of fifteen wines, and now sell over 400 organic wines and drinks.  Co-founders Neil Palmer and Lance Pigott continue to fly the flag for organic, biodynamic, natural and ethically produced wines from around the world, not to mention quirkier offerings such as organic cachaça, a seaweed gin and the imminent arrival of their first organic Tequila.

Vintage Roots is  joining this year’s Salvo fair in Henley, 23rd-25th June.  Salvo fair is the annual event of Salvo.co.uk, the online marketplace and directory where I source a lot of salvage for my flat, so I am getting involved for this year’s Green Living Fest.  Zero waste food, vintage and sustainable fashion are set to join the unique mix of architectural, garden, midcentury and industrial antiques.

Just like antiques, wine can be a stuffy business, but Neil (pictured above in his eighties bins), is admirably honest about Vintage Roots’ struggle at the start.

“This is not meant to sound arrogant, but I wouldn’t have given too much advice to my younger self, as it is important to learn by your mistakes. We grew very slowly in the early days (about 10 years!), and earned little from the business, but all came good and we had some fantastic memorable times.”

Vintage Roots is giving Salvo’s (Fri 23rd June) evening preview party plenty of fizz in support of Smart Works Charity, and unique fashion reuse that both supports out of work women and reduces landfill.  See the details and buy tickets here (all proceeds to Smart Works Charity)

Vintage Roots are planning to be in my Fair Fashion marquee for tastings over the weekend too.  They describe wine as bottled history, which begs the question – what is the future for winemaking and the favour for organic or biodynamic wine?

“In the wine trade there is a growing number of wine makers and producers who are choosing to return towards older ways of making wine, using little or no intervention. Only natural yeasts to start the fermentation, sometimes ageing in old Amphora pots and adding little or no sulphur dioxide. Wine should not be a mass produced, ‘industrial’ product, more treated as something that is living. Organic and biodynamic farming methods keep the soils alive, which in turn feeds the grapes, and produces higher quality, more complex wines, whilst maintaining the soil for the growers of the future.”

Since 2005 their office has been powered by 100% renewable energy and in 2006 the company became the first in the UK to offset the carbon footprint of all its wine and beer imports. Last year saw the introduction of a “Vine to Lips” logo, designed to communicate the carbon commitment of a firm that sets the standard for green retail.

Vintage Roots  /  Salvo Fair 

©photographs courtesy of Vintage Roots

 

 

Woman, Reclaimed

One year ago I left my corporate fashion job to follow a more conscious life.

My job gave me pleasure and pain, and enabled me to buy my first home in west London. Like a secret diary, I started to blog under the name Style Salvo, following my journey into a more sustainable existence (shoe collection excluded), as head of PR for a shoe brand at the time…. I vowed to do-up my new home with as many old, reused and reclaimed things as possible.

One bedroom, one bathroom, one garden, one kitchen… now my walk-in wardrobe, and one woman taking her first steps into a salvage yard.

One foot in fashion, one foot in salvage, often up to my knees in reclaimed building materials, but refusing to part with my knee-high leather boots, whilst dancing in mud with reclaimed radiators from the roaring 20s.  I started to question, are these industries really so different? Both can be intimidating, but as soon as you cross the facade, you find the heart of great stories. The reason I fell for fashion PR in the first place.

Fashion at an unsustainable pace, ticking-off trends rather than expressing personal taste left me cold compared with the storied pieces of individuality I was dressing my home with.  This is when I decided that I not only needed to claim to love my fashionable life, but actually live it.

Designing my home with reclaimed materials was a style choice as well as an ethical, environmental one. Reclaimed Woman is my attempt to find fashion and home fashions that don’t compromise ethics. A space to retrieve yourself, be real, inspired and conscious, because the examined life is worth living.

Sara Morel