• Follow a bluebell trail

    by  • 06/05/2016 • 1 Comment

    Love bluebellsWith sunny spells and blossom in full bloom, it’s time to take a wander through a woodland glade to catch a final glimpse of vibrant bluebells in the countryside. Follow our favourite routes from riverside walks in rugged Yorkshire, and gentle bridleways in Buckinghamshire, to the colourful ancient woodlands of Gloucestershire – you’re bound to find that spring in your step!

    Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
    Known as Little Switzerland, these rugged woodlands are set in a valley awash with bluebells along its pathways and riverside this season. Keep your footprint green with a trip to 19th-century Gibson Mill where sustainability is the key at its eco-friendly visitor centre and café.

    Ashridge Estate, Buckinghamshire
    Swathes of bluebells can be seen along pretty nature trails and bridleways here, while the forest is teeming with busy birds and wildlife. Discover wonderful hues of bluebells beneath a bright green beech canopy and the age-old trees of the magnificent Chiltern Hills.

    Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
    Follow the family-friendly New beginnings and new plantings trail through the Old Arboretum and (dog-friendly) Silk Wood to see the prettiest of bluebell glades. Head to Maple Loop, too, where you’ll find colourful new foliage on the Japanese maples in this Victorian landscape.

    Where is your favourite bluebell walk? We would love to hear…

    Want more inspiration for weekends in the country? Sign up for your weekly Country Post!

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    New potato and asparagus salad

    by  • 05/05/2016 • 0 Comments

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    Delicious served warm or cold, this summer-time salad is substantial enough for lunch on its own, or can be made into more of a main meal by adding grilled chicken, steak or crispy bacon pieces.

    SERVES 4

    300g (10oz) Jersey royal potatoes or new potatoes, washed
    600ml (1pt) hot vegetable stock
    200g (7oz) fresh asparagus tips, trimmed
    150g (5oz) fresh or frozen broad beans
    100g (4oz) goats’ cheese
    about 12 small, fresh mint leaves

    FOR THE DRESSING:

    2tbsp olive oil
    4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

    1. Halve or slice the potatoes, put in a large pan with the hot stock and simmer, uncovered, for 9 to 10 minutes. Add the asparagus and beans, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the stock has reduced to a glaze. Drain the vegetables carefully into a serving bowl.

    2.  To make the dressing, warm the olive oil in a small pan, add the spring onions and cook for about 1 minute, until just beginning to wilt.

    3 Pour the warm dressing into the bowl with the vegetables and use your hand to coat them in oil. Break off small pieces of the goats’ cheese and dot them on the top of the salad, along with the mint leaves. Serve immediately.

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    Meet Kate Moby

    by  • 04/05/2016 • 0 Comments

    READY_Kate Moby 01 HeadshotInspired by a childhood of climbing trees and paddling in streams in rural Herefordshire, illustrator Kate Moby adorns homewares and accessories with her brightly coloured country critters…

    What makes your business special?
    My way of working is pretty quirky, I hand carve bamboo from my garden into dip pens which I then use to create my illustrations. I also champion eco-friendly British manufacturing in a sustainable way, so all my pieces are proudly made in the UK.

    How did you get into the world of design?
    Having come from a very academic background, it took a while to admit to myself that design, creativity and the freedom that I felt doing those things was what I really wanted. Giving myself space to try things out and just ‘have a play’ led to my signature designs. Initially done to please myself, I soon found that other people quite liked them too!

    Describe your workspace.
    I’m really blessed with a beautiful studio up on Marcle Ridge in Herefordshire, with a view across the fields to the Malvern Hills in the background. It’s absolutely stuffed full of stock, scribbles, ink and a lot of paper!

    What inspires your designs?
    The amazing limitless design and variety, pattern and chaos, colour and vibrancy of the natural world never fail to inspire me. A lot of my work focuses on British woodland; we need to celebrate it so that we don’t lose it.

    Which is your favourite and why?
    It has to be the cheeky Inky Animals collection, particularly the Inky Mouse (shown above). He was my first design, the one that kicked it all off!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Inky, friendly and nature-inspired.

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    Natural beauty

    by  • 03/05/2016 • 1 Comment

    country dining room

    Looking to create a relaxed country dining room? Take your inspiration from the great outdoors and inject a wealth of natural textures that are perfect for the country home.

    The beauty of natural textures adds an extra layer to any scheme and evokes timeless appeal. Make your backdrop a simple white or soft grey one to make the pieces really stand out.

    We love the use of limewashed finishes on the furniture here – from the taper-legged table with its beautiful vintage finish to the chunky wicker chairs with rustic linen seat cushions. They combine to create an informal dining area, but are also perfect for a lived-in conservatory.

    Team with a distressed console table for a dash of elegance and  furnish it with period-inspired artichoke lamps, a weathered-look stone planter and a windowpane brass mirror to create a beautiful focal point and reflect light back into the room.  (Dining table, console table and wicker chairs I & JL Brown.)

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    Are you a food or drinks producer? Be mentored by Yeo Valley

    by  • 02/05/2016 • 0 Comments

    Ready_DanRusga

    If you can eat it, we want to know about it. From baked goods to jams, beverages to pâtés, we’d love to taste your wares and learn about your brand. Enter the 2016 My Country Business Awards category for Food Producers now and you could be mentored by Dan Rusga, Marketing Director, Yeo Valley.

    Established in 1961, this family-run dairy produces tasty, 100% organic products from its award-winning British Friesian cows and other local organic dairy farms. Dan specialises in promoting and marketing this award-winning brand.

    Remember to enter the My Country Business awards now at housetohome.co.uk/business

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    30 Country Style Icons: the dresser

    by  • 01/05/2016 • 0 Comments

    19Country Homes & Interiors is 30 this year! In celebration, we’ve picked 30 of our all-time favourite design classics that have stood the test of time, thanks to their real sense of history, craftsmanship and purpose, to share with you over the coming weeks.

    9. The dresser
    Any maker of high-quality furniture will tell you the key to a good dresser is getting the proportions right. It’s a favourite freestanding piece for the country kitchen, whether it’s made by your kitchen company (such as the Chichester here, £2,100, Neptune) or a great vintage find. Most designs combine open display and useful cupboard storage, but the term also covers half-glazed units, which can be handy for china and glassware or for keeping cutlery and serveware close to the dining area. It’s a smart addition to a open-plan kitchen, too, as not only does it offer a degree of flexibility, it also creates a focal point and adds statement style.

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    Stencil leaves on table linen

    by  • 01/05/2016 • 0 Comments

    Ready_RT_TableRunner_0016_smallTake inspiration from the latest leaf patterns on fabrics and wallpapers and use nature’s own to create stunning table linens. You can tailor your design to the season; with spring underway, forage newly appearing shoots and baby foliage for a fresh woodland feel.

    To make, lay a plain white table runner or a napkin on a large flat surface covered with newspaper and use masking tape to section off the areas you want to paint. Arrange clean, dry leaves in each masked area – tacking them in place with needle and thread makes painting easier. Working quickly, use a stencil brush to stipple green stencil paint inside the masked areas and around the leaf edges. Let the paint dry completely, then remove the tape, tacking thread and leaves. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fixing the fabric paint, to finish.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – pretty stationery essentials

    by  • 30/04/2016 • 0 Comments

    Ready_Caroline GardnerIt’s National Stationery Week so what better excuse than to celebrate with a lovely new writing set?! We’ve rounded-up a gorgeous trio of paper-friendly buys to encourage you to give the keyboard a rest and put pen to paper the good-old fashioned way.

    Keep snail mail in business and post a sweet card to a nearest and dearest to perk up their day. We adore this cute-as-a-button Ditsy Notecard & Pen Set (above), £16, from Caroline Gardner. This beautifully boxed set of 10 notecards includes two different floral designs and is supplied with elegant envelopes, and a matching black ink ball point pen – it’s true that great things come in small packages!

    normal_rabbit-letter-writing-setIf you’re animal lovers like we are, you’ll be smitten with this adorable Rabbit Letter Writing Set (above), £9.95, by Sirocco Design at Not On The High Street. With each set containing 10 sheets of A5 illustrated paper, matching envelopes and address labels, you’ll have everything you need to make someone’s day with a lovely letter.

    Ready_notelets-set-1-the-lovely-drawer-900x900Let the words do the talking with this beautifully simple Brush Lettered Notecard Set (above), £12, from The Lovely Drawer. This hand lettered set of postcards with corresponding textured envelopes has three designs and is the spot-on choice for writing your messages on, whether that’s a thoughtful thank you or a jolly ‘hello’.

    Banish the writer’s block and let the handwriting flow…

     

     

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    Meet Country Homes & Interiors at the Weald of Kent Craft & Design Show!

    by  • 29/04/2016 • 0 Comments

    Penshurst Place FairThe Weald of Kent Craft & Design Show returns to Penshurst Place, near Tonbridge, this bank holiday weekend (30 April to 2 May 2016) , showcasing British handmade and artisan crafts at more than 250 stands! Pick up furniture, glassware, jewellery, beauty products and leather goods. With workshops and demonstrations, plus luxury food and drink stands, it’s the perfect family day out. Pop by and see us on the Country Homes & Interiors stand and save 51% on a subscription!

    Here are three of our favourite show highlights this year…

    Cookery time
    Join a lively lesson with Masterchef of Great Britain, Paul Da Costa Greaves and learn how to make Paul’s favourite summer recipes. If you’re still feeling peckish, head in to the Good Food Live area where you can stock up on delicious produce, including farmhouse cheese, handmade chutneys, sauces, seeds, chocolates and wine.

    Artisan makes
    Visit a rural crafts demonstration workshop and have a go at traditional, heritage and contemporary craft-making. There are workshops tailored for children too.

    Show garden
    Visit The Tempus Fugit Garden, created by How Green Nursery and Chilstone, which features inspiring planting, stone sundials and armillary spheres. And look out for stonemason Nigel Hartfield, who demonstrates the art of stone engraving alongside the garden.

     

    Will you be visiting the Craft & Design show? We would love hear about your experience…

    Want more inspiration for weekends in the country? Sign up for your weekly Country Post!

     

     

     

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    Squidgy chocolate, almond & prune torte

    by  • 28/04/2016 • 0 Comments

    Ready_Genius Chocolate Torte

    We found this rich and fruity torte in the Genius Gluten Free Cookbook by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne (Vermilion, £14.99) – a must-have for anyone with a gluten intolerance. It tasted so good, we just had to share – serve with double cream or crème fraîche.

    SERVES 8–10

    55g ready-to-eat pitted prunes, roughly chopped
    50ml brandy or Amaretto
    3 medium eggs, separated
    140g caster sugar
    200g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, roughly chopped
    110g unsalted butter or dairy-free baking margarine, diced
    100g ground almonds
    40g cornflour oil, for greasing

    1. Soak the prunes in the brandy for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm springform tin with butter and line the base with greased greaseproof paper.
    2. Beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar on high speed until thick and creamy.
    3. Place the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of water in an ovenproof bowl, sitting on the rim of a small pan of simmering water. Stir the melting chocolate and water together until smooth. Slowly incorporate the butter, a few pieces at a time, to form a smooth, shiny liquid.
    4. Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the whisked egg yolks, and gently fold together using a large metal spoon.
    5. Sift the ground almonds and cornflour over the chocolate mixture, add the soaked prunes and brandy, and gently fold through.
    6. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks that do not wobble when the bowl is shaken. Stir a large spoonful into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
    7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and bake in the centre of the oven for 35–40 minutes until the centre of the torte is just set. Leave to get cool in the tin on a wire rack.
    8. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the torte, remove the tin and lining paper, and transfer the torte to a serving dish.
    9. Serve in narrow slices with double cream or a dollop of crème fraîche on the side. Your guests can always come back for more.

    Photograph by Joff Lee.

     

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    Love a country lantern

    by  • 27/04/2016 • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupMake a statement in your home with a beautiful fabric lantern from Inspired Lanterns. There’s a range of country-inspired designs to choose from, all drawn by local artists. Poppy Seed (above) is one of our favourites for adding drama to a country bedroom. Good friends and joint owners of the business, Annette and Izzy, tell us more…

    How did Inspired Lanterns come about?
    The inspiration for our lanterns was first discovered on a little back street in Laos, Greece, where some fabric and fairy lights were used to decorate a little café. The idea blossomed and evolved into the enchanting products we make today. When it came to naming the company the word Inspired sprang to mind, because it sums us up. We’re inspired every day by each other, our family, friends and the beauty of the world around us.

    What’s your workspace like?
    Ever changing! Whether it’s a photo-shoot in Annette’s living room or a road trip round England to source local materials and meet artists and designers, we go wherever the work takes us.

    What inspires your designs?
    Britain in all its glory! From enchanting countryside scenes to historic cityscapes, our designs aim to capture all the things we love about it.

    Talk us through the design and making process.
    Our prints are sourced from local artists and designers, chosen or commissioned to fit with our brand. We strive to keep our lanterns as natural and local as possible and digitally print onto 100% unbleached cotton sourced in England.

    What do you love about what you do?
    From the moment we decided to embark on this venture together, it’s been an exciting roller-coaster of a journey. We started out with a rather limited understanding of fabric, printing and product design, but it never stopped us pushing forward. Every day we’ve faced new and exciting challenges and learnt so much.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Contemporary, country and quintessential.

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    Sweet dreams!

    by  • 26/04/2016 • 0 Comments

    floral country bedroom

    This time of year is all about throwing open the doors and bringing the outside in, and it’s a look that’s perfect for a country bedroom.

    Here, a classically elegant bedframe (Lily by Button & Sprung), evokes chic style with its understated scroll detail and row of handstitched buttons on the headboard, plus turned wooden legs.  Choosing a bed that’s upholstered in a neutral colourway, such as this silver grey shade, is guaranteed to go with any scheme and also creates a hint of hotel luxe.

    Partner with pretty summer-meadow inspired bedlinen (this one is Butterfly print by Zara Home) for a seasonal edge and layer with a fringed woollen throw for chillier evenings.

    Big up the country feel with a distressed, rustic bedside table and keep the flooring understated by teaming bare floorboards with a natural fibre rug.

     

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