• Inspired by nature

    by  • 30/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    Samuel_Winterbourn_for Ulster_Weavers_on_Country_Days

    We were captivated by these stunning wildlife designs by Samuel Winterbourn, inspired by his rural surrounds in the heart of the Cornish countryside. His beautifully intricate drawings have been turned in an accessories range by Ulster Weavers; his designs feature in striking colours on tea towels and canvas tote bags.

    The collection perfectly captures the beauty of the flora and fauna of the British countryside, with familiar country creatures including hares, foxes, owls and butterflies.

    We’d love to know which one is your favourite?

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    Spend your weekend building sandcastles

    by  • 29/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    sandcastles | Country Post | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors

    You’d be hard pushed to find a beach in Britain that isn’t decorated with some sort of sand sculpture. From classic overturned buckets to giant castles complete with moats and turrets, building sandcastles is great fun for young and old alike. With the sun set to shine this weekend, why not head to the coast and indulge in this traditional seaside pastime? The National Sandcastle competition is being held this Sunday at Croyde beach, so take to the sands and watch teams battle it out for the chance to win the sought-after title. For those of you with a less competitive nature, have a look at our shortlist of beautiful beaches around the UK – all with the perfect building conditions of course!

    Weymouth, Dorset
    Home to Sandworld, Britain’s one and only sand sculpture festival  (running from April to November this year), the pure sand on this beach sets solid – ideal for building castles to last. Take inspiration from this year’s literary festival theme and check out wonderfully detailed sculptures of favorite characters including Mr Men and Shakespeare.

     Meadfoot, Torquay
    Believe it or not, scientists have discovered that beaches in Torquay have the best sand and water mix for making sandcastles in Britain! They’re all lovely, but we have a soft spot for this one in particular. A mile from the harbour, it’s a beautiful little haven hidden away underneath a row of imposing cliffs.

    Polzeath, Cornwall
    A blue flag beach, it is nice and safe for little ones who want to make their mark in the sand! It’s nice and wide too, allowing you plenty of space to build big. Take a break from digging to take in the beautiful views along the north Cornish coast.

     

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    Get whisking!

    by  • 28/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    Blackberry cake

    The Country Homes & Interiors office has gone cake mad  - it’s that GBBO time of year again and there are endless discussions on all things baking related. So the time feels right for a cake blog. Cast your mind back to the first ever series of Bake Off – remember Miranda Gore Browne, with her signature dainty shoe and handbag bakes? Well she’s just brought out a storming new book which is packed with speedy ideas to fill your cake tin. This is one of our favourites (there’s no avoiding the fact autumn is most definitely in the air), a simple seasonal Blackberry Cake. Move fast with that foraging basket and you will still find sweet and juicy berries in the hedgerows.

    BLACKBERRY CAKE
    Serves 6–8 

    275g blackberries (don’t worry if you have less), unwashed
    150g unsalted butter
    3 large free range eggs
    150g caster sugar (or vanilla sugar), plus extra for sprinkling
    2 tbsp demerara sugar
    1 tsp vanilla essence, or seeds from 1 vanilla pod
    250g plain flour
    1½ tsp baking powder
    125 ml semi-skimmed milk

    1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Line a 23-cm spring form cake tin that is at least 6cm deep with a cake tin liner – great to use as this is quite a runny batter. Alternatively use non-stick baking paper.

    2 Check  the blackberries and brush off any debris with a piece of kitchen towel (don’t wash them as this will add water to the mix), and put to one side. Melt the butter, and set aside.

    3 Put the eggs, sugars and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment and whisk until pale and fluffy; alternatively use a hand-held electric mixer.

    4 Sift in the flour and baking powder, and mix until incorporated. Pour the melted butter and milk into the mix, and whisk again.

    5 Sprinkle a handful of the blackberries into the bottom of the prepared tin. Pour about half of the cake mix over the top of the blackberries. Sprinkle half of the remaining blackberries over the cake mix, then add the remaining cake mix.

    6 Put the cake tin on a baking sheet (to catch spillages) and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until the cake is golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before taking out of the tin. Scatter the remaining blackberries over the top and sprinkle with caster sugar (or vanilla sugar if you have some).

    *Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can by Miranda Gore Browne (Ebury Press, £14.99). Photograph: Rosie Barnett.

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    Love Laura Fletcher’s woven home textiles…

    by  • 27/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    Laura Fletcher style setter | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors

    Laura, of Laura Fletcher Textiles, developed a passion for weaving during her time at Chelsea College of Art. She loves to experiment with texture and colour, using mixtures of linen, wool and cotton to create beautifully unique homewares from cushions to lamp shades.

    Tell us a little bit about what you do.
    I create small woven samples in my studio. It’s crammed with designs and yarns but in an orderly way – I can’t bear mess! I then work with a traditional silk mill in Suffolk to develop them into lengths of fabric.  I love stripes so my designs tend to feature a lot of these in varying colours and sizes.

    What inspires your designs?
    I find beauty in the most subtle things, such as tree bark or weathered rope found on the beach.

    What do you love about the countryside?
    I love the wonderfully fresh air you get on wind-swept English beaches, there’s nothing else like it. I find it very calming to stand and take in the lovely colours around me. I have been brought up in the countryside and it is where I feel most content.

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Calming, tactile and natural.

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    Where coast and country meet…

    by  • 26/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    Country living room Country Days blog Country Homes and Interiors

    Seaside holidays may be a fading memory but we love a hint of coastal style in a country living room at Country Days.

    Here’s a way to combine the best of both – emulate the light and airy feel of seaside properties by painting panelling white and introduce chalky blue country fabrics such as pretty florals and cosy toning plaids that herald the onset of autumn. (Fabrics from the Ellingham Collection by Linwood.)

    The laid-back simplicity of a coastal scheme is reflected in the rush matting that adds texture underfoot, while wooden birds and a pebble mirror provide the perfect nautical finishing touches.

    For a similar country living room, take a peek at bit.ly/1p0uevD

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    Snug door curtain

    by  • 24/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    DOOR CURTAIN,COUNTRY DAYS,COUNTRY HOMES AND INTERIORS,HOUSETOHOME,CRAFT,SEWING,

    Cloak your home from winter chills with a snug door curtain drawn across entrances and thresholds. Made from a stylish hedgerow patterned fabric by Voyage, this door curtain featured in our October issue and mirrors the seasonal autumn changes beautifully with it’s design and colour. To discover how to recreate for your home click here

    If you like this idea we have lots more easy craft projects for you to try. Or for more country crafts, recipes and room ideas, why not try our new Country Home Ideas app?

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    Happy Campers

    by  • 23/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    Glamping moodboard on Country DaysAffordable and fun for all the family, a countryside camping trip is our recommendation for this Bank Holiday.

    Feeling adventurous? Avoid organised campsites and head for the Highlands – Scotland’s relaxed trespassing laws allow camping in open country. Choose a secluded spot and embrace your wild surroundings, getting back to basics and reconnecting with nature.

    If you’re after a little more comfort, why not opt for a cosy camping pod instead? Situated in stunning rural locations all around the UK, they’re a home from home and the perfect solution if the weathers changeable.

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    Celebrate country produce this weekend

    by  • 22/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    22Aug14 | newsletter | country days | country homes and interiors

    There are some fantastic food festivals taking place throughout the UK this weekend, all dedicated to showcasing the simple beauty of homemade and homegrown produce. As well as being a lovely place to socialise with other country food lovers in your community, they also provide a great opportunity to meet local farmers, suppliers and shop owners – what better way to show them your support than by stocking up on fresh, seasonal produce and indulging in tasty homemade treats? Why not get involved and take along your own bakes, preserves and homegrown goods? From entering competitions to selling at stalls, there are plenty of ways to share your wares. Have a peek at our shortlist and pop along to a festival near you – it’s the perfect recipe for a weekend of foodie fun!

    Flavours of Herefordshire Festival23–25 Aug, Hereford
    Held on Castle Green, a rural oasis in the centre of Hereford, this annual celebration brings edible goodies and thirst-quenching tipples from many of the county’s finest producers, growers and retailers. With exciting workshops and the likes of Mary Berry on hand to give expert advice, it’s the perfect place to develop your cookery skills.

    Great British Food Festival, 23-25 Aug, Lancashire
    Enjoy free chef demos, artisan talks and over 80 stands filled with all manner of culinary delights. Keen bakers can take part in the Great British Cake Off competitions, taking place regularly across the three days. Children are also catered for, with cookery lessons and fun food-related activities on offer.

    Love Food Festival at Treefest, 23-25 Aug, Tetbury
    These two much-loved festivals have teamed up to take place in the most spectacular of settings, The National Arboretum. From woodland walks to craft workshops, the weekend is packed with fun activities as well as top quality food from small producers and local farmers; all to celebrate the inherent relationship between food and nature.

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    Fresh from the seaside

    by  • 21/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    Hot pollack wrap

    Just back from salty sea dog adventures in the Isle of Wight and feeling the love for the British seaside. Stripy deck chairs, regatta bunting, spinnakers and bowsprits, fish and chips out of paper – hoorah! Then with exquisite timing the  glorious new technicolour Rick Stein Fish and Shellfish book arrived in the post. A celebration of all that’s great about good British seafood, it includes recipes for the sort of thing you find in rock pools (cuttlefish and crabs) as well as all the classics spiced up 2014 style. This particular recipe caught the eye – it feels so right for now, and is perfect for the beach or anywhere in fact.

    90g couscous
    400g pollock fillet, cut into 1cm slices (or any other cheap, sustainable fish, such as coley, hake, pollock, whiting)
    Salt
    90ml vegetable oil
    3 cloves garlic, grated
    15g fresh ginger, grated
    4 Mexican-style flour tortilla wraps, 20cm in diameter
    60g bok choi or salad cabbage, thinly sliced
    60g beansprouts
    8 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
    A small handful of coriander, roughly chopped
    ½ tsp Tabasco  sauce
    ½ tsp soy sauce

    1 Put the couscous in a shallow bowl. Season the fish lightly with salt and turn over in the couscous, then gently fry in a shallow pan with the vegetable oil for 3 minutes. Remove the fish to a plate, add the garlic and ginger to the pan and fry with the residual couscous for 1–2 minutes.

    2 To warm the tortillas, place on a hot, dry frying pan or under a hot grill for approximately 6 seconds on each side.

    3 Place the fish in the centre of each of the wraps. Sprinkle with bok choi and beansprouts, then spoon over the garlic, ginger, couscous and oil from the pan. Cover with the spring onions and coriander, then drizzle over the Tabasco and soy sauce. Fold up the wraps and serve.

    *Fish and Shellfish by Rick Stein (BBC Books,  £25). Photograph: James Murphy

     

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    Meet Sarah Hardaker

    by  • 20/08/2014 • 0 Comments

    Sarah Hardaker | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors

    Fabric and wallpaper designer Sarah Hardaker is known for her soft, chalky, vintage inspired linens. She works from her home studio in the beautiful Stroud Valleys where she lives with her husband and two children.

    What inspires your designs?
    The countryside around where I live, the amazing view from my studio, local artists… lots of things! I have just returned from a month in France, where I was inspired by drifts of wild fennel and fabulous soft chalky painted shutters on the buildings. I’m also a real hoarder, so I have lots of lovely scraps of vintage fabrics and buttons which are a constant source of inspiration.

    What’s your working space like?
    I have recently had a studio built in my garden. it is a large, light-filled space with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the surrounding countryside. Inside, it is packed with fabric and design inspiration. I have my vintage Bernina sewing machines up all the time and a wall where my team and I pin up all of our inspirational bits and bobs.

    What’s your company ethos? 
    I’m very proud of the fact that all my products are designed and made in the UK, supporting the British textile industry. I’m also really keen on using every scrap and minimising waste, so all of our off-cuts are used for sampling.

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Soft, chalky and vintage.

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