A woman’s handbag is a universe in itself. It contains both the essential and the futile - from the shopping list to the shells found by the kids on the beach last summer. You will find, in them, both everything (but all mixed together) and nothing (of what you were really looking for). To be fair, until now, I was only one thing of them: extra-resistance as I tend to overload them and take them to the roughest places. One day, I stopped in front of the Osprey ones – stopped right in my tracks. Gorgeous curves, interior as beautifully done as the exterior, practical handles, glamour yet easy to live with. I feel like collecting them like others would buy nail varnishes.
The founder, Graem Ellisdon, did not stop there. Weary of usual shops, he decided to create a more welcoming, comfier environment, one men would feel more comfortable buying too. He found the perfect location in Herfordshire and spent love and efforts renovating it. It now presents its home collection: unique furniture, many found during his trips around the world, wood washed away by years revelating a rainbow of colours. One even was made with drift wood on which barnacles had grown - very poetic indeed…
How could you resist those warm colours mixed with more natural ones? Materials are all noble - wood, metal, leather, comforting. Each furniture gives the reassuring impression that it has seen many adventures and yet will be there still many generatiosn after you. They need no extra accessory, no other decorative effect. You could spend hours just admiring each one, the veins of the wood, the passing of time on them, the bleaching of the sun. They call foe a touch, a caress.
Graeme has put a lot of love in choosing them – each handmade kilim, each sculpted door has some kind of story. He unrolls carpets to show his guests the details, opens a beautiful barber’s box with a delighted smile, chats around a cup of coffee sharing inspiration, travels, generous with his time and friendship. A real modern gentleman and inspired artist. One of those people I’d like to be able to draw, to sculpt on paper to make them live forever.
Impossible, though, not to go around the shop at least 3 or 4 times - so many details! The leather goods are disposed here and there and you can fully enjoy their bright colours. Makes you rethink fashion completely: you will wonder what to wear with it rather than the other way round.
Don’t miss the jewellery either. We looked, amazed, at a ring necklace made of one single piece of wood. As unique are those Ayala Bar’s pieces often including vintage fabric.
This countryside oasis also offers a café in the previous saddlery. A very design yet homey atmosphere. Beware – go there last or you will sit down and never move! On a sunny day, the yard also is very welcoming – picture yourself there with a steaming cup of tea, a brownie, the morning’s newspapers…
A collection and an address reflecting Graeme Ellisdon’s passion for beautiful things, giving a soul to interior designs. You will forget instantly about mass production – cheap and pratical but ever so cold and which you will find in any home you visit. Take your car or rent one – a beautiful escape from the city.
Coopers Green Lane,
Hertfordshire, AL4 9HJ