During the aforementioned break I started my annual festive preparation, which these days, always starts with a trip to Amsterdam.

My friend Robyn has a new flat in a new neighbourhood. A real Amsterdam flat where the stairs are so steep and narrow that you basically crawl up them.

We saw the Vivian Maier exhibition and watched the documentary about her. I admire her courage and the way she could approach people, her beautifully framed photos of course, and her attitude.

The flowers were stunning. I always seem to be in Amsterdam around the same time of year so rosehips, berries, crabapples and amaryllis were the stars of the show. I love the simplicity and sparseness with which they arrange flowers, and their complete acceptance that a wilting flower with dried grass can too, be beautiful.

The planting was a revelation. Why is there hardly any wisteria in Newcastle? It is everywhere in Amsterdam and it seems to cope with the climate. I love pot gardens and some of the best are in this city.

So I have returned inspired and ready for Christmas, I’m gearing up for my first wreath of the year and am looking forward to making cranberry and juniper jelly. This weekend is a flower-free Blume job… more details coming soon.