• Rye grain & barley porridge with spiced apples & bee pollen

    by  • 27/10/2016 • 0 Comments


    This week is honey week and we have so much to thank our bees for – not least an incredible range of honeys infused with a host of floral fragrances. As a guide, the lighter varieties, such as acacia, clover or orange blossom, combine well with similarly delicate and aromatic flavours, such as vanilla, mild dairy and hints of citrus. This warming, wholesome porridge is dairy-free, but it can be made with cow’s milk and butter, if preferred.

    Serves 4
    125 g rye grains
    125 g barley flakes
    50 g jumbo rolled oats
    600 ml unsweetened almond milk Generous pinch sea salt
    15 g coconut butter
    2 firm eating apples, such as a Cox or Orange Pippin, cored and sliced
    1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
    2 tbsp honey, plus extra to serve
    2 tsp bee pollen

    1. Put the rye grains in a large mixing bowl and cover well with cool water. Leave to soak overnight, or for at least a couple of hours if time is short.
    2. Drain the rye grains and transfer to a large saucepan with the barley flakes, rolled oats, half the almond milk, the salt and 750ml fresh water. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring often, until the rye grains are just tender.
    3. When the porridge is almost cooked, melt the coconut butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the apple slices and the cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the honey and cook for a few minutes, until caramelised. Set aside.
    4. Add the remaining almond milk to the porridge and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, until thickened to the consistency you like.
    5. Divide the porridge between bowls and top each with a quarter of the spiced apple, half a teaspoon of bee pollen and extra honey, to taste.
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    Meet the winners of the My Country Business Awards 2016: Petra Hall

    by  • 26/10/2016 • 0 Comments

    ready_groupIn May, we launched our seventh My Country Business Awards in association with Not On The High Street, a leading supporter of small businesses. Meet the amazing people who won…

    Category: Fabric, furniture and wallpaper designers
    Petronella Hall

    Petra Hall lives with her husband Greg and children Isaac, 19, and Ellana, 16, plus snow Bengal cat in a village in Kent. She is passionate about interiors and produces original fabrics and wallpapers featuring her beautiful hand-drawn designs inspired by the beauty of nature.

    Petra’s background was in fashion – designing and making wedding and party dresses, then creating designer children’s coats. In 2010 she began a degree in illustration with the aim of illustrating children’s books, but found she missed working on fabrics. While studying, she screen-printed her own designs on linen from her home.

    ‘A friend saw my work and said I should be in business designing fabrics,’ says Petra, so in 2014 she started Petronella Hall. ‘Through a friend, I had a meeting with Stephen Lewis of Lewis & Wood who suggested I put the designs on wallpaper too. I took my designs to a wallpaper manufacturer who happens to be only 15 minutes away and they asked me to do some bespoke designs for them. They are now printing my wallpapers for me.

    ‘Living in the countryside gives me a feeling of freedom and I hope my designs reflect a sense of that. I am also now offering cushions and a bespoke wallpaper service. I’m a supported of all things British, so I use local companies as suppliers.

    I was shocked and delighted to win this award, I had to reread the email. I was over the moon and it was such a lovely surprise.

    What the judges said…
    I see so much design on wallpaper and fabric, but this collection is fresh, detailed and different. Petronella Hall is definitely a talent for the future. The calibre of all the entries was excellent. It’s refreshing to see that there is so much talent and originality in our country.
    Melanie Adams, Founder and Buyer, Wallpaper Direct

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    Rustic revival

    by  • 25/10/2016 • 0 Comments

    country bedroom barker and stonehouse

    Make a bedroom extra cosy for chilly days ahead with the texture of beautiful wood. Here at Country Days, we couldn’t help but fall for this gorgeous modern country bedroom with its rustic, washed wooden furniture that makes a statement, yet creates a lovely, relaxed look.

    The furniture is from the Austen range by Barker & Stonehouse and works beautifully against earthy green-based neutral walls. Crafted from reclaimed timber, the chunky designs evoke a contemporary feel.

    ‘Working with wood is a great way of creating interest in a neutral scheme,’ says Claire Hornby, creative stylist at Barker & Stonehouse. ‘The rustic nature of the furniture adds depth to the look and allows the rest of the palette to remain soft and sophisticated. The beauty of this material is in its uniqueness. By adding subtle injections of colour and pattern into the layout, this charming look can be interpreted in many ways to suit the natural architectural features of your property.’

    Team with sumptuous faux fur throws and cushions, and fabulous antler-inspired lighting for a scheme that will pave the way for winter.


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    Create a seasonal table arrangement

    by  • 23/10/2016 • 0 Comments


    Planning a bonfire night get-together? Let seasonal fruit take centre stage on an outdoor table with a beautiful display that also incorporates flowers and berried foliage.

    Begin by washing the apples you are going to use with warm soapy water, rinse, then place them in a large glass vase. Fill the vase with cold water to the desired level before carefully adding in a selection of flowers and foliage. The aim is to create an abundant seasonal display so include a colourful mix of fruit, flowers and berries. Remember to use firm stems as these will hold their shape better and last longer. Top up and refresh with water as necessary to extend the life of the display.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – layers of loveliness

    by  • 22/10/2016 • 0 Comments

    ready_linen-storeBrrr it’s chilly! It’s definitely time to delve into the armoire and bring out the heavy tog duvet. This week, we’ve rounded-up the most dreamy (pun intended) of new season bedlinen layers to ensure you have the cosiest, cuddliest and loveliest of hibernating weekends…

    Mix and match autumnal tones in beautiful textures to ensure the ultimate night’s rest and relaxation. This 100% Washed Cotton Percale Aubergine/Duck Egg Bedding, £65 for a double duvet, from Secret Linen Store, is woven and dyed with a 200 thread count, and tumbled and laundered to create the softest feather like finish – it’s the perfect set for early nights and lazy Sunday snoozing…

    ready_cloth-clayAdd a touch of Danish ‘hyggelig’ ambience in the bedroom with premium quality bedlinen in calming tones. This new Nordic Nights Sayen Cotton Digital Printed Bedding Set, from £120 for a double set, from Cloth & Clay, is inspired by the serene and beauty of the Nordic landscape in deep winter. Each 100% cotton, 300 thread count set comes complete with a duvet cover and pillowcases – it’s just the thing to make the pleasure of a simple lie-in feel extra special and guilt-free.

    ready_bedeckDress your head-down-feet-up haven in timeless charm. Composed of 100% cotton percale and boasting a 300 thread count, this gorgeous Tile Blush Pink Bedding, £85 for a double duvet cover, by Murmur at Bedeck, features a dusky geometric design on a crisp white background. Inspired by the simplicity of Scandi decor – the soft neutral tones and nod to a more intricate texture, promise to bring a calming and stylish edge to your bedroom.

    Layering up is the key philosophy – so pile on the cushions and throws in abundance and create the toastiest retreat from cold evenings. Sweet dreams all…


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    Unwind in a hot tub retreat . . .

    by  • 21/10/2016 • 0 Comments

    Love a hot tub holidayNothing beats lounging in a warm bubbling tub on a chilly day, surrounded by beautiful scenery. We’ve found three of the best hot tub hideaways to rejuvenate the mind and spirit this season…

    The High Cabin, Tyn Y Groes, Conwy
    This beautiful bolthole offers the best of both worlds – the tranquillity of the log cabin and its views of meadows and ancient woodlands, with great food and banter close by at The Groes Inn. On arrival pick up a map from the inn and follow the short drive through scenic countryside to the pretty log cabin. Complete with a king size bed, stylish bathroom with Temple Spa toiletries, a modern kitchen and outdoor hot tub on a heated veranda (pictured) with lofty views of Snowdonia and the Conwy Valley by day, or enjoy mellow nightcaps by evening.

    The Raft at Chigborough, Maldon, Essex
    This is the place for dreamers… Hop aboard the floating cabin and take time out with a good book on teak recliners. On warmer days, go rowing and look out for splashing trout and abundant wildlife among the surrounding reeds, woods and fields. Indoors, spacious rooms include a sofabed on the main deck and a mezzanine double. Eco-friendly guests will love the solar power which charges the gas shower and high tech loo; and the kitchen is complete with fridge and gas hobs. On the banks of the lake there’s a fire pit, log store, hot tub and bicycles. Enjoy a welcome hamper on arrival or head to The Cart Lodge Tearoom (on site) for lunch and cream teas. Head to nearby Goldhanger village for pub roasts, or fish and chips.

    Ivy Cottage, Brinsop, Herefordshire
    Set on Brinsop Court manor estate, this 18th century gamekeeper’s cottage is made for romantics with views of rolling countryside towards mountains and woodland, and a half-timbered rustic exterior which harmonises with stylish interiors. Enjoy garden walks or tennis before a soak in the hot tub under the stars. Curl up on squishy sofas in the cosy sitting room with its warming wood burner and venture out to the private tub on the terrace. Upstairs there’s a double bedroom with a super kingsized bed, Egyptian cotton sheets, bathrobes and a bathroom with a free-standing bath and walk in shower. Make a homely meal with the kitchen’s Aga, or cook up a barbecue on the fire pit.

     Have you stayed in a fabulous hot tub hideaway? We would love to hear more about it…

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


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    Chicken Katsu curry

    by  • 20/10/2016 • 0 Comments


    Originally a Japanese meal, chicken katsu curries have become very popular everywhere – and this recipe even has a gluten-free twist. We found it in the lovely Coconut Oil: Recipes for Real Life book by Lucy Bee (Quadrille £15).

    SERVES 2

    1 tsp plus 1 tbsp curry powder
    50g chickpea (gram) flour
    Pinch salt and ground black pepper
    1 egg, beaten
    60g gluten-free breadcrumbs
    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    30g coconut oil

    30g coconut oil
    150g onions, chopped
    50g fresh ginger, peeled and grated or blitzed
    2 medium carrots, diced
    3 garlic cloves, crushed
    1 tbsp chickpea (gram) flour
    375ml chicken stock
    2 tsp honey
    1 bay leaf
    1 tbsp tamari sauce

    150g brown rice
    Chopped coriander (cilantro)

    1. For the chicken, mix 1 tsp curry powder and chickpea (gram) flour together in a bowl and add the salt and pepper. Put the beaten egg into a separate bowl and the breadcrumbs into a third bowl.Dust each chicken breast first in the seasoned flour, then the egg, followed by the breadcrumbs to coat. Set aside while you make the sauce.
    2. Melt the coconut oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, add the onions, ginger and carrots and cook for a few minutes until the onions begin to soften, stirring to make sure they don’t burn. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, adding a little more coconut oil if necessary.
    3. Stir in 1 tbsp curry powder and chickpea flour and mix everything together thoroughly. Add the stock gradually, stirring continuously. Add the honey, bay leaf and tamari, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft (which may take a little longer). Use a hand-held blender or food processor to blend into a smooth sauce.
    4. While the sauce is simmering, cook the rice according to the packet instructions and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
    5. To cook the chicken, heat the coconut oil in an ovenproof frying pan. When hot, place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, then transfer the pan to the oven for about 10 minutes until cooked through.
    6. Remove the chicken from the pan, cut the breasts into slices, place the slices on a plate with the rice and pour over the sauce. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander (cilantro) to serve.

    Photography Dan Jones


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    Meet the winners of the My Country Business Awards 2016: Lauren Aston

    by  • 19/10/2016 • 0 Comments

    ready_groupIn May, we launched our seventh My Country Business Awards in association with Not On The High Street, a leading supporter of small businesses. Meet the amazing people who won…

    Category: Home Accessory Crafters and Makers
    Lauren Aston Designs

    Lauren lives with her fiancé Alex Pierson and cockapoo puppy Harry in Devon. She has had a passion for knitting since childhood. ‘My grandmother taught me to knit when I was 11 and I then did a fashion and textile degree at Winchester School of Art where I specialised in knitwear’.

    A visit to the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey, Devon, provided the spark for her business. ‘I saw the passion of the artists and makers and knew it was what I wanted to do. I love hand-knitting and wanted to create as quickly as possible, so I decided to knit super-chunky home accessories on giant knitting needles using lovely unspun merino wool.’

    Lauren Aston Designs launched in February 2015. ‘My work is statement pieces for interiors – cushions, blankets, footstools and lampshades. I had a store-front on Not On The High Street and it took off from there. People hadn’t seen anything like it before – it’s knitting on a different scale! I was thrilled when I heard I’d won. I feel humbled.’

    What the judges said…
    Lauren’s work is original – I hadn’t seen anything like it before and that’s what you need to stand out from the crowd these days. She’s passionate about what she does and seems to have so much fun making her products.
    Sophie Allport, Founder and Owner, Sophie Allport.

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    Chalet-style chic

    by  • 18/10/2016 • 0 Comments

    Anthropologie living room

    Cooler autumn days make us want to embrace hygge – the Danish art of living cosily – and here’s a gorgeous country living room that’s really inspiring us here at Country Days to hunker down.

    This beautiful room has the feel of a ski chalet with features such as the dark timbered walls, wooden beams and flooring and the amazing exposed stone chimney breast.

    Here, light and bright pieces of furniture really sing out. Cream clean-lined sofas introduce a modern edge while a statement chair, the Moresque from Anthropologie, adds drama to the scheme with its modern, armless shape and kaleidoscopic colours. Its luxe velvet upholstery is inspired by traditional Turkish rugs. And that ethnic feel is continued with the Heradia cushions and embroidered throw, also from Anthropologie.

    We love the eclectic accessories, such as the stunning tiered tapers chandelier and golden mirror, that add extra textural detail.

    And, if you haven’t got a roaring fire as a focal point, create a similar effect with a cluster of candles in lanterns, as shown here.



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    Craft an apple candle holder

    by  • 16/10/2016 • 0 Comments


    Perfectly proportioned for tealights, these seasonal candle holders are easily made by carving out the top of an apple.

    To make your candle holder, first place a tealight on top of the apple and draw around it. Remove the apple and carefully score around the circle shape with a craft knife, then press down and follow this cut line around to slice into the apple. Carve and remove the apple pulp with a corer or small spoon until the depth of the tealight is reached.

    Take a small brush and wipe around the inside of the cut area with a little lemon juice to prevent the apple from going brown, then push the tealight into the hole until the sides are completely concealed. Ensure that the base of the apple is stable before lighting the tealight.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – creature comfort treats

    by  • 15/10/2016 • 0 Comments

    cosy_cuddly-2As the nights draw in and temperatures begin to plummet we’re suddenly craving all things cuddly and homely. Hibernating silver linings on cue, in this week’s shortlist we’ve rounded up a trio of creature comfort items inspired to help us all relax and be happy – because when it comes down to the boil, it’s the little things that make us smile…

    For indulgent pleasure, turn a corner of your snug into a blissful haven with a super squishy and cosy cushion-come-chair. This 100% Sheepskin Beanbag, £785, from Celtic & Co, is generously sized making it the ultimate soft landing pad to sink into after a tiring day clucking around here there and everywhere. Made in Great Britain and filled with fire-retardant beans in an internal net lining – the only danger is that you’ll never want to get back up! D109 x H55cm approx.

    cosy_cuddly-1Hit the sweet-tooth spot and warm up from the inside out with a cuddle-in-a-cup hot chocolate served up in a must-have cup. This Natural Canvas Textured Large Mug, £14, from Denby, features a warm, neutral hue and subtle Chevron pattern inspired by the brand’s iconic seventies range of the same name. Handcrafted in England from high quality, locally sourced clay and expertly glazed to prevent chipping and enhance durability – it’s the loveliest addition to any teatime break, with a capacity of 300ml to allow for the full works toppings! D9 x H9.5cm.

    cosy_cuddly-3Go on and spoil yourself rotten with a real hottie on your arm! We think this Cashmere Hug A Hottie Hot Water Bottle, £89, by Plum & Ivory at Notonthehighstreet.com, is pure genius. Luxuriously snuggable on a cold day, this extra thoughtful little number includes a pocket for you to put your hands in – it’s the essential improved design on the conventional that promises to get you through any down and gloomy day. 33 x 21cm, available in dark melange grey, dove, winter white/cream and amethyst pink.

    With such soul warming delights to help us retreat and rest in style – the short days and long nights are looking ever more appealing and blissful…

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    Our favourite place: Godalming

    by  • 14/10/2016 • 0 Comments

    our favourite place to visitSet in an idyllic  location by the River Wey and the magnificent Surrey Hills, this market town is perfect for a family day out. We also love it for its…

    Markets The weekly Friday market dates back as far as 1300! Source everything from furniture and household items to art, jewellery, flowers and food. There’s also a farmer’s market every fifth Sunday of the month at Crown Court, High Street.

    Godalming Museum Step inside for one of the friendliest welcomes to visitors and advice on everything from popular attractions and exhibitions to local history. Discover the town’s roots in the woollen cloth, papermaking and leatherwork industries, plus its notable historic residents including designer Gertrude Jekyll and architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. And don’t miss the 19th century Old Town Hall and former medieval market site ‘The Pepperpot’ which stands proudly in the town centre.

    Riverboats Hop aboard a narrowboat with the Godalming Packetboat Company and take a trip back to Victorian times as heavy horses draw the load by canal locks along the tranquil River Wey.

    Dining  Set in a lofty 17th-century church in the town centre, The Bel & Dragon is a great place for brunch, dinner or evening cocktail masterclasses this season! Or head to nearby Eashing, where The Stag on the River offers modern British dishes using fresh seasonal produce.

    Shops Godalming has a wonderful selection of independent shops with plentiful country-style shops along the High Street and Church street. The Little Shed sells furniture, homewares, antiques and gifts with brands including Flamant, Blanc d’Ivoire and Annie Sloan Paint. Browsing is relaxed and expert advice is available. Katherine Letts Interiors fabrics, 103 High Street, 01483 860106, sells home accessories, decorative items and gifts including Emma Bridgewater Pottery, Bombay Duck and Gisela Graham. And Heart of the Home, 10 church street, 07515 284288, offers modern country style homewares and gifts. For wallpaper, fabrics (Morris & Co, Sanderson), paints (Berger, Little Green), blinds (Luxaflex) and invaluable decorating advice, head to Cornmeter. And, for contemporary fine art by leading and emerging British artists, visit McAllister Thomas who also hold regular exhibitions.

    Food produce Delicious local ingredients from the region are easy to source here. At the Godalming Food Company, there’s an array of products to tempt foodies from freshly baked artisan breads and cakes to cheese, meats, pâté and handmade pies in addition to fine oils, chutneys, preserves, sauces, coffee, ales and wines. For meats, try The Godalming Butchers who offer free range meats from slow-growing breeds with a healthy outdoor lifestyle. Fancy something sweet? Then The Crumby Bakery is the place to be for coffee, scones and delicious treats.

    Where is your favourite market town? We would love to hear more about it!

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



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