Food & Design: How to do Malmö on a budget

 

Everyone says Sweden is expensive. I knew it was going to be expensive. In the back of my mind I brushed it off, “Yeah, yeah – I know, I know!” After all, I’d been there on holiday, I’d seen the prices in supermarkets, I knew what I was talking about. That is, until I actually moved here and began living with the reality of it being as expensive as it is. 30% tax on your wage plus nothing costs less than a pound in supermarkets. The bargains aren’t as tempting, the staples aren’t as cheap and you’re surprised on a daily basis by the things you’d assume would be a similar price are actually three times the price!

This was my reality for the first week of living here while my partner and I found our feet. Everything we did was tinged with a sense of “can we really afford to keep up our old eating habits long term?” So much so that the both of us started losing sleep over it. So far, our Swedish adventure wasn’t working out the way we expected it to. After a week or so we knew that things would have to change but we weren’t prepared to totally give up on quality. Having lived on a budget before I knew we had to be canny about what we bought, where we bought it and when we bought it to make our SEK stretch further.

Two months on and here we are, making it work in Malmö! I’ve gathered some of the best tips and hints for basic survival, but also ways of maintaining those treats that keep you sane. Living here can work long term if you’re on a budget and a bit sneaky!  Here are some of the solid gold tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the past few months:

 

Food and Drink

Checking your local ICA Nära from 7-8pm for cheap sourdough, fikabröd & rolls should become part of your weekly (if not nightly) routine. Conveniently, ours is just around the corner but chances are wherever you’re living in Malmö you’ll be close to one too. You can pick up sourdough for 12kr, big baguettes for 5kr & rolls & pastries for 3kr a piece if you catch them at the right time.

Livs (grocery) stores are the way to go in Malmö. Cheap, good quality produce, good variety & they reduce their prices in the evening around about the same time as ICA. I’ve often got big bags of passionfruit, apricots & strawberries for 10kr & big sacks of potatoes for 25kr. Picking up a “ten bag” of fruit and veg has become a staple of our evenings!

Möllan market is like the beating heart of the city when it comes to food. With so much competition in the area you can be sure that prices are always as low as they can be. If you catch them just before closing you may end up picking up some mega bargains, but be warned you’ll have to compete with other people to get the best stuff!

 

 

If you’re looking for snacks in Malmö then you’re also in luck. Cheap falafel can be found practically on every street corner, but the cheapest storfalafel I’ve found is for 25kr at Chaplin Grill on Bodekullsgatan and Värnhem. Babylon Grill near Folkets Park also offer a great range of Vegan alternatives. There’s a lot of competition here too so you won’t be out of pocket wherever you go.

If you know where to go you can always get a cheeky gratis coffee when you’re out and about in Malmö. How about some free organic coffee, tea & hot chocolate at the design shop Bolia, with a free chocolate accompaniment? So you can have a cappuccino whilst you ‘windowshop’ all of the lovely interior design pieces. Think of this as flicking through a real life catalogue over a nice cuppa!

IKEA Malmö (like other IKEAs) offer free coffee & tea on weekdays for IKEA FAMILY card owners. Even in the most unlikely places you can get a cheap coffee a free påtar (second cup), like at the Form Design Center in the middle of town. Enjoy the stunning examples of cutting edge or classic Scandinavian design (for free) AND not feel guilty about it!

 

 

Out and about.

The JOJO (pronounced yoyo) SOMMER KORT is the best way of getting out and about in the summer. It’s only 640kr (£62 ish) and is available from June 15th to August 15th. It will take you all over of Skåne, working on busses & trains, so you can visit the beautiful features & quaint little towns of the whole Skåne region. Public transport in general is very good and the prices can be flexible. You’re encouraged to use the regular Jojo Kort or your phone with 10% discounts and the ability to pick and choose where you go (why pay for all of the city when you only go to half of it?).

Malmö city is ideally designed for biking. Picking up a second hand bike on Blocket is pretty straightforward but biking is always available for the whole year for 250kr, around (£25!) with Malmö City Bike. You just have to sign up to the service. You get the bike for an hour before having to put it in one of the many docking stations dotted around the city at key locations, where you can simply pick up another if you need to. Nothing in Malmö is more than an hour’s cycle ride away. They even have a handy app to show you where your nearest docking station is in realtime, showing you how many stations are free and ready to use.

 

 

Malmö is a hive of activity, especially in the summer when it seems there’s a festival or event every other week. Malmöfestivalen is a week long festival of culture, food, music and entertainment that sprawls across the city offering free performances from some big name Swedish acts.

In addition to that there are regularly free shows & events at Folkets Park where you can see a wide variety of things in a small area. The park draws together people of all ages as there isn’t a square inch of it not buzzing with something going on. There are plenty of free art exhibitions at Malmö Konsthall, Form Design Center & Moderna Museet Malmö. If art is your thing then you’ll find the quality and variety is high.

There’s also Malmö Gallerinatt & Malmö Art Walk, which happened on the eve of September 30th. They are events in which open spaces around Malmö from 6pm till 12am to showcase the city’s galleries and up-coming artists and designers. That night the city is overflowing with great exhibitions, talks and projects to become a part of; FOR FREE!

 

Shopping

Loppis hunting is a big thing and a great way to pick up some bargains. Literally translated as “flea”, loppis stores are the equivalent of second hand and charity shops. This being Sweden you can pick up some big design names like Höganäs, Iittala, Stelton and many more. Emmaus near Triangeln is like a second hand department store with a huge range of men’s, women’s and children’s wear, not to mention household items and books. You can also visit Humana second hand clothes shops. Loppis Lounge on Djaknegatan also offers free black coffee and biscuits for its customers. So while you’re on the hunt for bargains, perusing the shelves for some Scandinavian design gems, you can rest assured you’re not bleeding cash as you go.

 

 

Getting stuff done.

Need to do some DIY? Can’t afford to just drop 500SEK on a drill? Then ToolPool is the place for you. Situated in a handyman shop on Störa NyGatan, they offer a service where you sign up and are allowed to take any of their power tools/DIY equipment for 24hrs, free. It’s a great way of getting things done cheaply and is a perfectly Swedish solution to a potentially expensive problem.

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Malmö is a hotbed of startups and small companies eager to make money and get recognised. That means there’s plenty of talent and competition out there, but it’s great for getting the ball rolling with meeting people, creating new business or job searching, which can otherwise be a daunting prospect.

Sign up to Creative Mornings: Malmö, for free events. They are great places to network and offer free coffee. Minc Malmö StartupLabs offer the possibility of a free-of-charge workspace, with wifi & coffee included for up to 6 months. Even though the tickets for ‘The Conference’ business networking event are expensive, there are many side events, talks and workshops for free. Also, Boxspace Malmö, offer a quick and easy sign-up to their free day-pass; including wifi & coffee.

I hope my little guide has helped any budding travellers or people wanting to move to this great city!

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Food & Design: Uncommon Delights

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As you may or may not be aware the last few months have been a tad turbulent, to say the least! But now things are starting to settle into a rhythm here in Malmö and there are exciting things on the horizon. With that in mind I’ve decided to do a Top Ten list of some design and food products that are essential for a new home. I’ve curated my list from UncommonGoods.com who have an extensive range of gift ideas for men, women and the home, to name but a few. I don’t know what your priorities are for feeling at home after you’ve moved in somewhere new, but mine centre around food, wine and home decor so check out these links for more great ideas!

Sustainability is at the heart of Uncommon Goods’ mission as well as providing environmentally friendly and socially responsible products. They work with a wide range of producers and companies, both large and small. I particularly admire their mission to become as paper free as possible, moving the majority of their business to online. In addition to that they’re keen to promote handmade, recycled and organic products wherever possible and this is all to the good. There are plenty of big companies out there that offer amazing products but there are also plenty of smaller producers struggling to make their mark.

 

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1 – Infused Oil & Vinegar Trio

Anyone who knows me (or has read the rest of my blog) knows I’m a sucker for flavoured oils and vinegars. Doesn’t matter what you’re cooking, sweet or savoury, they add a flavour kick that can knock your cooking into overdrive. Consisting of Blood Orange, Lavender and Basil flavours consider this your new home starter kit for transforming your salads, desserts, side dishes and even your breakfasts (if don’t believe me then try some of the Blood Orange Oil in porridge with a dollop of marmalade and some vegan crème fraîche!).

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2 – Flavoured Simple Syrup Set

In a similar vein this little set of syrups can be used equally creatively to up-level your cooking or indeed form the basis of some delicious cocktails. Featuring some really interesting flavour combinations including cucumber habanero and grapefruit basil, combine with a flavourless oil to impress your friends and family with some daring dressings for your salads.

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3 – Salts of the World Test Tube Set

Salts can be used in a variety of ways and not only to simply sprinkle on top of your dishes before serving (although that’s also totally legit!). Try the Himalayan Crystal Pink Fine Grain salt on the rim of a cocktail glass for a touch of class or combine the Spanish Saffron Salt with some classic rice pudding for an extra dimension.

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4 – Wine Aerating Tool

We all enjoy a good bottle of wine but sometimes you can forget to give it time to breathe before you serve. Every kitchen drawer should contain one of these little beauties for those moments when you’ve been rushed off your feet but still demand that your wine tastes its absolute best.

 

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5 – Wine Pairing Towel Set

Now this one is basically a cheat sheet for anyone who doesn’t know their chablis from their chiantis! We can’t all pretend to be Jilly Goolden but these towels will give you a bit of a head start, if nothing else you’ll definitively know whether to serve a red, white or a rosé with your food. No one wants a creamy risotto with a rich, full bodied red so make sure you’re clued up. Alternatively, this could be a great present for that friend or relative who needs a little revision!

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6 – Oval Oak Salt and Pepper Shakers

These classy shakers from Sagaform will definitely add a dimension of class to your dinner table. Scandinavian design classics, these will flexibly fit in with country kitchen or sleek and minimalist styled decor. And as I own the matching wine carafe, these would suit my interior to a tee.

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7 – Boxcar Planter Set

These delightful little planters are a great addition to any modern interior. Handmade in Portland, Oregon, from gorgeous deep walnut, these are the best way to show off your succulent/cacti collection. Plus, artist and designer, Joe Gibson was inspired by the classic American boxcar design, so these moveable planters, look good alone or next to one-another.

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8 – Sea Spell Doormat

This cute doormat would go perfectly in our new apartment in Malmö! Not only is it in my favourite colour, teal, but look at the cat-mermaid. I repeat, CAT MERMAID. That is all 😉

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9 – Kitchen Utensil and Tablet Holder 

How much of a cool product is this?! It’s so useful for someone who, like myself, loves cooking in the kitchen. This handmade stoneware utensil pot, gives you an easy way to follow a recipe on your tablet. Or if you find cooking to be an arduous task that needs to be endured rather than enjoyed then you can put your tablet in the holder to listen to music/watch videos whilst you get on with the job!

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10 – White Earthenware Bowl with Stand

This cute bowl is totally Mid-Century inspired, with it’s copper legs giving you that atomic vibe. Channel that Don-Draper (or for that matter Peggy Olson) vibe into your place and be the hippest cat in town!

 

 

Update: We are moving to Malmö!

My Facebook friend’s know and a few other people, so just in case you haven’t heard yet, I will be moving to Malmö in late July/ early August.

Tom has got a job teaching in nearby Lund, at Lund International school and as for myself & jobs, I have a few things up my sleeve 😉  Lund, btw is a stunning university town, home to one of Europe’s most prestigious of Uni’s, Lunds universitet. Only being roughly 10 minutes away from Malmö on the train, if you come visit Skåne, take some time to see Lund!

Jag kan inte vänta! (I can’t wait!)

I’m writing this morning, with news that the Brexit Bill put forward by PM Theresa May passed in The House of Lords last night, with no amendments to the original Bill; which doesn’t guarantee EU citizens rights living over here. It doesn’t guarantee for people who have set up their homes and families in the UK, who have paid their taxes. Instead, it will no doubt use EU citizens & their rights as bargaining chips when the negotiations start with the European Union and its 27 members. We will be effected by this, but It is better to try before the whole opportunity for young, working class people like myself to live & work within the EU fades into the ether.

The language isn’t much of a barrier, with Malmö being both in Sweden, where proficiency in English is impeccable, and it being a World city, I can get around with my English. However, this does not mean I’m not going to learn Swedish. Being interested in languages it’s a must. Having been learning the language on & off for years, now is the time to get my head down and learn it!

I have wanted to move to Norden for years and visiting Copenhagen/ Malmö 3 times in the last 12 months I had truly fallen in love with it! So before Brexit totally stops us, we are trying. We cannot do more than simply try.

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A reason I love Malmö is how multi-cultural it is! Supposedly the city is home to people from 170 countries of this world. Which is bloody fantastic! It is so important, in these times, seeing the rise of Rightwing populism and xenophobic rhetoric and attitudes, that we expose ourself to as many cultures as  we can. Hopefully then, people will humanise eachother which stops the main strategy of the current Right; to de-huminise and see people from different nationalities as ‘other’ and usually, therefore, lesser.

Being only across the bridge from Copenhagen (and a hell of a lot cheaper!) loads of infrastructure has crossed over. So, whilst Copenhagen is the top city for cyclists in the world, Malmö is also in the Top Ten.

Ever since the Öresundsbron/Øresundsbroen  (the setting for the Nordic Noir drama, The Bridge) opened in July, 2000, Malmö has benefitted from being Linked to it’s Danish sis. These days Malmö is a young, creative city, reportedly one of the most inventive cities in the world. So much is happening these days, so many startups! Like the Studio Malmö, or Media Evolution City.  Malmö even, recently hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013, following singer, Loreen taking the crown in Baku, Azerbaijan with her song ‘Euphoria’.

 

As a foodie, the city seems like heaven for me! There’s new places popping up all the time, providing great food/ drink. From the new gourmet/ artisan food market, Saluhall, Djäkne kaffe, a quality coffee shop & great place for fika, the HQ of one of the most innovative vegan brands in the world, Oatly to Wunderchef, a new innovative food delivery service, serving up home-cooked food.

Or for the restauranteur, there’s, Michelin starred, Bastard, to amazing concept canteen, Saltimporten. You can pretty much get any cuisine in the city, with it being so diverse. The shawarma you can get there, is one of the best I’ve ever tasted and as a Brit, thinking i’ll miss the unctuous cuisine of back home, well no fear, theres even a fish & chip shop in Malmö. I love it!

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And as a design lover, it’s simply amazing. Being only 30 mins from the Design Mecca that is Copenhagen, you are spoilt for choice in Malmö. There are plenty of design & interior shops, written about here. The city is home to Scandinavia’s tallest structure, The Turning Torso, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. There is also the Form Design Center, home to the famous and coveted Cocoa Ögon poster by Midcentury master, Olle Eksell. The city is home to my friend’s design brand, Emerybloom. Check them out if you’re looking for amazing prints for your interior! Malmö even has its own Moderna Museet, it’s like the Comparison between Malmö and Stockholm; Stockholm is bigger, Malmö is smaller, but both are as cool as eachother!

 

I cannot wait to move! If you haven’t noticed I’ve fallen completely in love with the city;

Jag älskar dig malmo! Ses Snart!

Design: Housfolk #featurefriday

I’m so chuffed that the Instagram group Housfolk, an Interior inspiration group who are as in love with Scandinavian, Mid-Century & Modern design as I am, have featured me in their most recent #featurefriday post. Run by the 3 admins of the Facebook group where it all began; Neena, Laura & Natalie are lovely lassies (Laura & Natalie are Scottish ;)) all with stunning homes & a penchant for Nordic/retro design. A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Laura if I’d like my home included, I jumped at the chance.

 

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I feel so blessed that even as a Swansea boy on a tight budget, that people, other than myself actually like what I’ve done with the place. Considering, here in the UK the crisp white walls of the Nordic interiors palette are more common to find in an art gallery than in ones home. But why not make your home a gallery, let the pieces of furniture sing like great paintings I say!

Housfolk was a great find to not only drool over other peoples interiors & antique finds, but also a great place to communicate with likeminded people, troubleshoot any problems or to share a great bargain deal, so that they could join in with finding that little bit of cheap, Scandi-inspired design on our very lackluster British Highstreet.

They even do #winitwednesday giveaway competitions, working with brands & artists to bring you amazing pieces that you can win.

Check them out!

 

Food: Jamaican Jills

Jamaican Jills has been one of Neath’s best kept secrets for some time. Now it’s migrated west to Swansea and taken up residence at the bottom of Wind St. You’d be forgiven for thinking Jills was a chain restaurant as the scale and the impact of the place screams success. Perhaps it helps that the previous residents left a shell that could easily be adapted, but it’s really the heart and soul of the cooking and the people who cook it that shines through.

 

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Using the Jamaican flag and the Caribbean as its decorative cornerstone the restaurant is bright and cozy, with splashes of Patois overhead and her signature hot wing challenge on the wall near the kitchens. The design lover in me also noticed the Artek A330S lights, designed by my favourite Architect and designer, Alvar Aalto. Probably a repro, to have something Finnish in the place, seems odd but the glow of the brass on the lights does suit the warmth of the place.

The whole place sings with its unique selling perspective – cosy, good value and gloriously Jamaican. Building on the reputation of its parent restaurant, this bright new light in Swansea’s culinary spectrum looks set to set many a tongue alight with its big flavours and great atmosphere.

 

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The menu sports the dishes one would expect of a Jamaican restaurant but I think, and I’d hope, that people would be brave enough to go off piste and try some lesser known delights. Standouts for me included the wonderfully tender and spicy goat curry, served with rice & pea, her Ackee and Saltfish is also deliciously moreish, served with gorgeous fried dumplings. Lunch menus and seasonal special menus are available too (like the recent one for Valentine’s Day) and are as varied and interesting as can be. Typically, the Jerk chicken is bold and punchy, the wings big and juicy. If you’re feeling brave you can try the Spicy Wing Challenge and get a t-shirt and your face on the wall. If you’re bold enough to sign the disclaimer then bragging rights come at the price of 7 hot wings in fifteen minutes with a 5 minute cool down – no drinks!

 

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Their bar is fully stocked with regular favourites (including Red Stripe, naturally) with a particular emphasis on cocktails for that Caribbean dimension. Two for one exists on most of the favourites with the Rum Punch being a particularly delicious and unique offering. They also offer a range of “smoking” cocktails served over dry ice for that added wow factor. The Children don’t get short shrift either, their meals echo the adult menu but come in Small Portions or Big Portions so you can gauge them by the appetite of your child. They also come with unlimited drinks and a dessert, which is a nice touch.

 

It’s so easy with new restaurants for them to have a muddy and confusing atmosphere, like they don’t know what they’re about, but that definitely isn’t the case with Jamaican Jills. From the bubbly staff to the slick management, Jills has hit the ground running and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. Locally grown successes like this should be sung from the rooftops and supported wherever possible, but when the food is this good it’s all the more satisfying to just go along and see for yourself what the fuss is all about.

Drink: Beer Revolution, Hay-on-Wye

Set up two years ago by local team, Emily & Rob, Beer Revolution has become a true Tour de force of the craft beer world, and is my personal favourite bottle shop. Originally situated in Hay Castle, they have recently moved to a new (and warmer!) premises on 7 Market Street, right in the middle of Hay town.

With a huge bay window at the front, it lets you see their quality product from the opposite side of the street! Opulently framing it with the great period features of the building. It also floods the space with light, so the interior is light but cosy.

As you walk in you are met with a mish-mash of table tops, (some old reels, some with hairpin legs) stools & comfy burgundy Chesterfield sofas that are just asking to be sat in as you quaff a pint. The floor, of stripped floorboards, lends nicely to the laid-back, effortlessly cool atmosphere of the place.

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To the left, you have the reason you came in for! The beer!

Rows of refrigerators, jam-packed with interesting brews & ales. From the biggest selection of Welsh beers & ales I’ve ever seen to interesting international picks like Dugges, Beerbliotek, Poppels, Stigbergets & Brekeriet breweries from Sweden, Euskadi outfit Basqueland, Norwegian Haandbryggeriet, Stone from Germany or Oedipus brewery from The Netherlands.

As I am Scandinathan, I must add you can get the Scandi greats here like TO ØL, Omnipollo, Evil Twin & Mikkeller as well!

Their Welsh section is worth travelling for alone. Considering Hay is a border town you wouldn’t think that they’d have such an extensive Cymraeg collection. Think again! Coming here has led me to learn & discover up and coming breweries I’d never heard of. Like the Pontypool based Mad Dog,  Gellioedd based Geipel or Cowbridge based Tomos a lilford.

They also stock a great selection of local Herefordshire ciders.

Unlike many places these days that don’t offer many Vegan options, Beer Revolution has a surprisingly wide range, and interesting new finds like Good Chemistry Brewing or Cloudwater Brew Co.

At the bar, you can get this weeks selection on draught.

Can’t get to Hay? No bother, they offer an online bottle shop on their website http://www.beerrevolution.co.uk/

If you do come to the shop, (which I highly recommend), after you’ve bought your beer, why not peruse the room in the back with their side business, selling  Vintage clothes. Soon they will be opening their kitchen and serving food, becoming a hub of great beer, tasty food & vintage fashion. Sounds like Heaven!

 

 

 

 

 

Design: Styling with Pantone’s Color of the year 2017

This year’s ‘Pantone Color Of The Year’ is Greenery, a bright yellow-green shade that evokes nature, bright sunny walks and the shiny dew on morning grass.  As I own many succulents & plants Greenery really speaks to me for styling interiors.

With it being quite a bold, strong colour I believe you could put it to use with furniture, but they would have to be statement pieces and have a neutral background, for them to sing.

Pieces like the MADE.COM Kubrick armchair

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or the IKEA STOCKHOLM 3 seat sofa could work, if you’re wanting to create a big statement and splash out.

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I believe the strength of  this shade lies in styling it as accessories into your interior. These subtle yet bold ANVÄNDBAR vases from IKEA are just enough of the colour to emphasise the plants going in them and brings the outside in.anva%cc%88ndbar-vase-for-cuttings-set-of-3-green__0410111_pe573151_s4

With just a few plants, and even some accessories you can give some botanical life into your home, turning it into an urban jungle. Taking tips from the Urban Jungle Bloggers, I’ve styled my windowsill with these principals. I think the outcome is quite effective!

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I’ve used a mixture of my own plants & succulents with a few faux cacti in the form of the SERAX large vase by Marie Michielssen, SJÄLSLIGT set of ornaments by IKEA and some cacti forms by Flying Tiger Copenhagen. I’ve also used a variety of pots from the IKEA KARDEMUMMA, Glass bubble bowl vases, to a Scheurich pot I got at a charity shop for 50p.

There is a lot of scope to have with this colour, and it gives chance for people to bring more plants into their home, which I’m all game for.

Have fun and style Greenery into your interior!