Opium Newsletter April 2020

Thoughts & Inspirations from Opium Kings Road

April 2020

Dear Opium Friends

Now that we're a few weeks into the lockdown, the novelty of a slower pace and being at home may be starting to wane, but hopefully we're all managing to adapt to our brave new world. It was Earth Day this week and it's timely that we've experienced how much our environment improves after just a few weeks with less cars and planes. In northern India, the Times reported this week that, as the smog cleared, the Himalayas have been seen for the first time in a generation from the Punjab. I saw (and fell in love with) the beautiful painting that heads up this newsletter in the City Palace, Udaipur. It so perfectly captures the wonder of the Indian monsoon, a weather pattern unique to the sub-continent.

I'm sure like me, you've found yourself thinking about what you would have been doing had none of this happened...Just before lockdown, I had started my Spring buying trip to India, which as you can imagine, is what I like to do most in the world. The anticipation of the treasures I will undoubtedly find, the discovery of textiles and crafts I haven’t seen before and watching the artisans bring my jewellery designs to life is life affirming and when in India I always feel I’m my ‘best self'. But after just a week I had to return home as the lockdown seemed inevitable. The wonderful pieces I’d started to source are there, patiently awaiting my return...

Home Away from Home...India

Clients in the shop often ask me where to stay when planning a visit to India and of course there are many fabulous places I can recommend, but here I'd like to introduce you to where I stay on a buying trip, but with a budget in mind, as I'm away for several weeks. My trips mostly take me to Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and sometimes Cochin in the South. For most of the time I’ve had the shop, I’ve not only stayed in the same guest houses and hotels, but also in the same rooms! These places have become my second home and settling into my favoured room, completes the landscape.

Since my backpacking days 25 years ago, I have stayed at Master Guest House in West Delhi, which has only 4 rooms (Ganesh & Krishna being my favourites). Run by husband and wife Avnish and Ushi Puri, it’s a homecoming every time I walk across the threshold. They have become my good friends and nothing is too much trouble. If there’s a chill in the air, I find that Bhagat Singh, the room boy has left a hot water bottle in my bed at night and a pot of Master Guest House tea (Assam mixed with Darjeeling) may actually be my favourite drink in the world...maybe even more than wine!

Fort House, Cochin

Fort House, Cochin

Kankarwa Haveli, Udaipur

Kankarwa Haveli, Udaipur

In Jodhpur, from dawn to dusk I spend my time scouring architectural salvage sites and rummaging in back alleyways for antique and vintage treasures both for the shop and for client projects. Once sourced, I begin working with skilled craftsmen to adapt and restore all the beautiful pieces I have found. My refuge during this time is the wonderful Devi Bhawan, a heritage hotel with rooms dotted around a beautiful tropical garden with a delightful verandah for breakfast and dinner. Here I'm in love with Room 12 which is huge and set up amongst the tree canopy. The hotel is run for the family owners by the wonderful Rakesh Singh who promptly calls my room each morning to gleefully announce the arrival of my drive..."Ma’am, your pilot is waiting!"

In Udaipur, I favour Kankarwa Haveli right on the lake below the City Palace. An old 16th century small haveli, the character of the original palace remains.

Jaipur takes me to room 33 at Narain Niwas with doors opening straight onto the garden and peacocks sauntering by. The staff here find just the right balance of being attentive, but at the same time leaving me to do my own thing, as if I’m just living there for a while...

In Cochin, I love to stay at Fort House, set right on the dock with rooms in an Indian minimalist style and absolutely the best seafood in town.

Bar Palladio

Bar Palladio, Narain Niwas, Jaipur

Devi Bhawan

Devi Bhawan, Jodhpur

World of Interiors magaize article

This Week's Inspiration for the Home - World of Interiors

We were thrilled to be included in the Inpiration pages of the May issue of World of Interiors (see left), so for this Newsletter we'd like to focus on the importance of 'Aesthetically Acceptable Receptacles'!" and introduce you to all our beautiful marble plates, bowls and candle holders along with our vintage Indian stone bowls and one-of-a-kind lassi cups. All are aesthetically pleasing, but all are practical, be it for cut Spring flowers, fruit bowls, soap dishes or to keep your jewellery together on a dressing table. The marble lotus bowls make a wonderful centrepiece with floating candles and petals.

Brass & Pewter Vintage Lassi Cups

Brass & Pewter Vintage Lassi Cups. Each one unique and available in 3 sizes from £28

Lotus plates & bowls

Hand carved marble lotus plates & bowls from £20 - perfect in a bathroom or as a table centre piece with a candle

Stone Chapati Bowls

Vintage Stone Chapati Bowls from the Thar Desert, Rajasthan from £28

Conch shell marble dishes

Opium's conch shell marble dishes...perfect as a soap dish by the bath

Marble lotus bowls
Lassi cups

The collection of lassi cups above make a beautiful fireplace decoration. Marble lotus bowls (left) make the perfect wedding gift.

Marble lotus candle holders

Opium's marble lotus candle holders above ... hand carved and so romantic - £22. Opium's hand carved marble lotus planters (right)come in 4 different sizes.

Marble lotus planters

Back home...but India still on my mind

And if, as I do, you need an India fix during the lockdown, you can travel to Pondicherry and Rishikesh with our delightful client, Henry Blofeld who is one of the celebrities trying their hand at retirement on the Indian sub-continent in the new series of The Real Marigold Hotel which airs on the BBC from this Thursday, 30th April. Can't wait!

We’ll also be posting regularly on Instagram, so please start following us on @opiumkingsroad and on Facebook @opiumshop by clicking the links at the bottom of this newsletter. And of course we’d love to hear from you too by email at shop@opiumshop.co.uk


We look forward to seeing you soon at Opium, Kings Road, but it maybe a while...

Yogi the dog

Yogi enjoying the lockdown sunshine & still working that Opium cushion...