Finland has been on my ‘I-really-really-really-would-like-to-visit’ list for many years. In fact, it’s probably been sitting there on The List since I graduated from university seven years ago. So when the folks at Three kindly invited me to visit with them on a colour hunting trip through the snow, I literally clapped my hands and screamed with happiness. The moment I looked out of the window as we flew over the Baltic Sea and saw the most incredible winter sunset I knew the trip was going to be full of inspiring experiences. Read on to discover where I stayed, how I got on guiding a husky safari sled, what it was like to see the Northern Lights for the first time and so much more!finland-lapland-holiday-2
During the four day trip I stayed at Torassieppi Reindeer Farm and it felt like living in a fairytale. Log cabins with snow-capped roofs and wood burners inside sat nestled amongst the trees in the forest, while hanging lanterns lined snow covered paths which led down to frozen lakes. Reindeer roamed through the trees and candles flickered from the windows of each cabin. Yes, it was as ridiculously charming as it sounds! It was everything I imagined a trip to Northern Finland to be and more.finland-lapland-holiday-4
It was fascinating to learn about the Finnish approach to livestock while on the trip. Although reindeers roam feely, none are truly wild as they are all part of herds that belong to locals. Also, they aren’t bred only for food or their skins. Rather they let the animals live full lives and once they pass away naturally they use all parts of the animal for different things. Their antlers are used to make knife handles and drinking cups; their skins for rugs in the home; and their meat for food.finland-lapland-holiday-7
You see this teepee? It’s actually sheltering a hole in the ice of this frozen lake, and is there for sauna users to jump into after rolling in the snow. Sidenote – It’s Finnish tradition to do so naked – very exhilarating and great for circulation but also incredibly #cold!finland-lapland-holiday-8
On the first day I went ice fishing. Although I didn’t manage to catch any fish (apparently only two fish have been caught in this lake all winter!), I did manage to look about twelve in my snow suit and hat. Drilling the hole in the lake by hand proved to be a great workout, too!finland-lapland-holiday-9
Aside from seeing the Northern Lights for the first time (more on that further down!), I think the Husky safari was the highlight of my trip. I set off guiding the sled with one passenger sat at the front. The moment we set off we headed down a really steep corner and the huskies were so excited to finally be free to run. Let’s just say we went really, really fast and I loved every second. I loved feeling the wind rushing through my hair and the winter sunlight flickering over my face as we practically flew through forest after forest – it was so invigorating! The dogs are happiest when it’s under minus thirty degrees and are born and die outside, so they love the exercise and adventure. Oh, and getting to pet the dogs at the end was like icing on the cake of what had been a feast of an adventure already!finland-lapland-holiday-10
After the Husky safari I was keen to extend the euphoria of trying something new, so I headed out cross country skiing for the first time. Setting off from the edge of one forest, I had to navigate a small slope down to the frozen lake. Yes, I fell straight on my bum! With much hilarity and struggling I eventually managed to make it back to the vertical position and found my rhythm as I crossed the lake. Soon I had found my stride and explored countless deserted forests on my skis. I loved the workout going up hills knowing the reward of rushing through the hilly forests at speed awaited when I skied down the other side.finland-lapland-holiday-13
People often ask me how I manage to share my #mrbazaartravels content on Bright.Bazaar’s Instagram feed while I am on-the-go travelling. The reason is because I have a Three sim card that has a Feel At Home function, meaning I can use my phone and data at the same cost as if I were in the UK. Goodbye roaming fees and Hello to uploading many Instagrams as I like! While in Finland I used my usual Three sim card and it meant I could share my colourful finds and adventures in real time as I captured them on the iPhone 6. Then, back in the cabin, their mobile broadband meant I could keep on top of my emails and other work while travelling, even in a location as remote as this forest in Northern Finland. Incredible, right?!finland-lapland-holiday-14
One of my favourite things about visiting this region was the light. I had expected Northern Finland to feel a lot darker than it did. The first day was very cloudy and grey, but the following three days offered clear blue skies and brilliant winter sunshine. The best bit was that the sun never rose very high in the sky, so it meant there was a low, rich and golden hour light all day. This meant constant picture taking and I didn’t mind one bit!finland-lapland-holiday-15
Where do I start with describing what it was like to see the Northern Lights in person for the first time? When I write that it was like an out of body experience, I’m not exaggerating. When the lights really “kick off” and start to sink and dance across the sky, they look so perfect – just like the pictures on Google or in the pages of National Geographic – that it feels as though you are in a movie or seeing something fake. I promise they are as incredible as I am describing! I was standing on a frozen lake in Northern Finalnd for an hour and a half watching the auroras build (above picture), when suddenly the whole night sky lit up. It was as if someone flicked a switch and suddenly the colourful lights shined so brightly as they danced majestically around the stars and across the inky night sky (below picture). This really was a colour hunting moment for the books and a total bucket list moment!finland-lapland-holiday-17
Skidooing (or snowmobiling) through the dramatic landscape of Northern Finland was an other incredible adventure of the trip. From driving at seventy miles per hour across the frozen lakes, to navigating up and down steep mountain sides the whole experience was an adrenaline rush from start to finish!finland-lapland-holiday-19
As we drove our Skidoos through the snowy forests I kept stopping to capture the beautiful natural textures and colours of the trees. The way the golden light danced across the frozen branches and pine needles made everything appear as though it was sparkling and twinkling.finland-lapland-holiday-21
Standing on top of a mountain that was 200km inside the Arctic Circle was breathtaking. You could just see frozen lakes and forests as far as the eye could see. It was so remote and so peaceful – I loved it.finland-lapland-holiday-23
Remember how I said the light in Lapland was incredible? Yeah, I wasn’t joking! Wow. Have you ever been to Finnish Lapland? What inspires you about my pictures from this beautiful corner of the world?finland-lapland-holiday-24

// Photography by Will Taylor | Three UK sponsored for my trip to Finland but all views are my own.

In Autumn last year I hinted towards a big project that I had become part of, and I’m so excited to finally be able to blog about it: I’m Valspar Paint’s Brand and Colour Ambassador! The moment the Valspar Paint team approached me with the idea of the partnership I was immediately sold on the project. Entitled ‘colour outside the lines’, their campaign to launch America’s second largest paint brand in the UK market would focus on inspiring people to invite more colour into their homes and lives. If you have been reading Bright.Bazaar for a while, you’ll instantly understand how this is identical to the message I started Bright.Bazaar with six years ago. The brand’s values and aims are so well aligned with my own that felt so exciting to work alongside like-minded people who were as passionate about colour and paint as I.valspar-paint-uk-2
The first part of our partnership was to work on a nationwide TV commercial together. I really appreciated how the Valspar team and their creative agency were keen to show each person’s individual relationship with colour in the advert. It was an honour to be chosen to feature alongside talented artists who I have admired for many years. As my relationship with colour focuses around utlising social media platforms to inspire others to dive into their own colourful journeys, the advert follows me as I go ‘colour hunting’ around London. The team literally filmed me as I explored the city, discovering new-to-me colourful walls in real time – it was an incredible moment when I happened upon a yellow and blue building (by complete chance, honestly!) that matched the outfit I was wearing. See for yourself, by watching the TV commercial below:

“Your imagination, your colours, they are yours to keep.” Of course, I love the bright, bold and eclectic visuals of the advert, but it’s the voiceover words that really struck a cord and pull it all together for me. If I’m honest, the first few times I watched the finished advert there was a lump in my throat. You may have read the introduction to my first Bright.Bazaar book, in which I talk about my relationship with colour and how it’s been the foil of my life in good times and bad. The Valspar advert resonates with me on that level and reminds me of how grateful I am to be able to see and experience all of natures vibrant hues, and how much happiness colour brings to my life. It might sound ridiculous but put me in a completely colourless hotel room for more than 24hours and I genuinely start to feel sad. For me, colour is the zest of life and I really feel like this commercial portrays that for all those involved, while also helping those watching to think about *their* colours – the exact aim of the Colour Cocktails chapter in my book.valspar-paint-uk-3
One of the most awesome things about Valspar Paint is their colour match service. Of course, colour matching for paint is no new thing but Valspar do it with a difference. Instead of matching the colour of, say, your favourite pair of shoes to a colour aleady in their system, their software creates the colour from a range of two million possibilities! Plus, they can save your created colours on their system so that when you visit any B&Q store you can call up your colour and get another pot of the exact same paint that’s completely personal to you. Awesome, right?valspar-paint-uk-4
As well as the TV commercial Valspar and I have loads of exciting collaborations to come in the near future – there’s one in particular that is SUPER cool. I am itching to be able to show you guys! In the meantime, I thought I’d end with this short video interview the team did with me while on set of the commercial. I talk about the start of Bright.Bazaar, my approach to colour and what ‘colour outside the lines’ means to me. Check it out and let me know what you think!

I’ve love to know how you do/plan to colour outside the lines? What does it mean to you? Thanks so much for following along with my colour adventures, folks!valspar-paint-uk-5

// Photography by Valspar, with permission | Posted in partnership with Valspar Paints, all views my own

Trash. Rubbish. Garbage. No matter what term you use to describe your unwanted or recycled items, there’s no longer a need to hide it away before they leave your home. No more wonky bins hanging from the cupboard door beneath the sink – no siree! Enter stage right: the fancy pants (and oh so graphic/colourful/stylish) new bin from Brabantia. I’ve been a fan of Brabantia bins for sometime (remember this mint beauty?!), but their latest collaboration with ‘Queen of prints’ Orla Kiely is one of my favourites to date. Of course, that extra splash of make-you-smile style yellow in the lid really sold it to me too!orla-kiely-brabantia-bins-2
Orla Kiely’s stem pattern is now world famous for it’s instant retro feel, which is why I feel it works so well on Brabantia’s iconic Retro Bin design. There’s a cream on charcoal with an orange lid colourway, but the black on cream with the yellow lid was my favourite! I was drawn to the graphic repeat pattern and splash of accent colour in the design. I think it’s the perfect way to dip your toes into both design elements without committing to a whole wall or scheme based on either. That’s what I love about good design, how it can transform an everyday object into something fun, stylish and notable in a space.orla-kiely-brabantia-bins-3
The smaller 12 and 20 litre Retro Bins are ideal for smaller spaces, I like to place two side by side so I have one for recycling and one for rubbish. The larger 30 litre size is a good size for the kitchen but is still compact enough that it doesn’t take over the space. I love the hit of pattern and hue it brings to this streamlined white kitchen! orla-kiely-brabantia-bins-4
The range is exclusive to John Lewis until April 2015 and if you buy one of the limited edition bins from them between 13-18 February you will be entered into a prize draw to win a £500 Orla Kiely room set. You can find out more over on Brabantia’s blog! I’d love to know where you would use these stylish bins in your home?orla-kiely-brabantia-bins-5

// Photography by Will Taylor | Posted in partnership with Brabantia, all views my own