• Archive for June, 2009

    Water butt weekend

    by  • 29/06/2009 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Our latest project this weekend has been installing this superb water butt. The previous incumbent was a blue plastic barrel that had been washed up on the beach with ‘Produce of Ethiopia’ stamped on it. It did its job but I was seduced by this weatherd wine barrel (the aroma of red wine is still pretty strong) with peg tap from Round Wood Trading in Mayfield, East Sussex.

    The children love it as they can turn the little tap easily to fill their watering cans – they are now officially in charge of watering the tomatoes and salad leaves!


    A barrel becomes a water butt!

    A barrel becomes a water butt!

    It has been baking here… I hope it rains soon so it will fill up! By the way, if you are interested in the Garden Ammonite, let me know and I will pass on the details to you – it was made by someone I know locally.

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    At home with British Wool

    by  • 26/06/2009 • Country moment, Country style • 1 Comment

    Did you know there are 60 breeds of sheep in Britain – more than any other the country in the world? Yesterday, I spent the day with the people from British Wool in the beautiful Yorkshire town of Harrogate. British Wool represents 50,000 farmers and collects, grades and markets this totally home grown, natural and environmentally friendly fibre. It is particularly good for carpets and rugs, so look out for the British Wool sign if you are planning a purchase in the future – as they say ‘origin is everything’. You can find out more at www.aboutwool.com.

    Swaledale sheep

    Swaledale sheep

    At the showcase I particularly enjoyed meeting Jane Exley, a designer and maker of handtufted rugs made from local Herdwick wool. The Woolly Rug Co is run from her home and workshop in Ambleside in the Lake District. Jane is inspired by the landscape around her and ‘more recently my garden’. Here is a sample of her work – it was beautiful!

    One of Jane Exley's rugs

    One of Jane Exley's rugs

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    Update a vintage quilt

    by  • 23/06/2009 • Country craft, Country style • 0 Comments

    I love this idea for giving a modern twist to old bedspreads, quilts or throws. ‘Just back the quilt with a modern fabric such as denim,’ says our talented interiors stylist Carol Wortley. This beautiful picture was taken by photographer Spike Powell for an upcoming feature on New cottage style (look out for it in the September issue, on sale 30 July).

    A denim backing bring new life to an old qulit

    A denim backing brings new life to an old qulit

    Vintage style bench, £139.99, Vintage Living. From top: Vintage Eiderdown, from £70, Decorative Country Living. Floral quilt, £250; Vintage Eiderdown, £85, Rosehip in the Country. Backed with: Denim Plain, Mid Blue, PF50125 660, £34.50 a metre, Baker Lifestyle.

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    Making elderflower cordial

    by  • 22/06/2009 • Country craft, Country food • 4 Comments

    I have always been a big fan of elderflower cordial – Belvoir does a lovely and refreshing version that you can buy in the shops – but I have never got around to making my own. With the local hedgerows filled with the pretty, frothy elderflowers right now I decided there was no excuse this year. With the help of Garden Writer Elspeth Thompson and all the children we made two big batches of elderflower cordial last week.

    Elderflowers at the bottom of our garden

    Elderflowers at the bottom of our garden


    Here’s the recipe we used:

    1.3 litres of water

    1.8kg granulated sugar

    25 heads of elderflower

    2 lemons, sliced

    65g citric acid

    Add all of the sugar to a large pan with the water. Bring to the boil, take off the heat and add the elderflowers, slices of lemon and citric acid. Leave to infuse for 2 days, strain through a muslin into sterilised bottles.

    Elderflowers and lemon in the pan

    Elspeth's beautiful picture of the elderflowers and lemon in the pan

    And here we are bottling the cordial yesterday. I couldn’t find a muslin so we used a pair of tights to strain it – much to the amusement of my son, Will.


    Straining the cordial

    Will straining the cordial

    Served with sparkling or still chilled water it tastes delicious. Or why not try it with Prosecco as a lovely evening drink as suggested by Elspeth.


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    Beautiful natural floorcovering

    by  • 19/06/2009 • Country style • 1 Comment

    Claire and Tamara from the Decorating Team are raving about Crucial Trading’s new brochures. This company, renowned for its beautiful natural floorcoverings, has just launched a brilliant new way to decide on the right carpet, rug or border for your country home.

    The beautifully photographed brochures: Book 1 Animal (wools), Book 2 Vegetable (sisals), Book 3 Minimal (inspirational) has life-sized photographic images of each design. Each page has a perforated edge so it can be ripped out and laid on the floor, so you can see exactly what the carpet or rug will look like.

    Simple ideas are the best! Check it out at www.crucial-trading.com

    Crucial Trading's new Animal brochure

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    Local pub grub

    by  • 19/06/2009 • Country food • 0 Comments

    I was delighted to see that our favourite local pub was the No 1 entry in The Guardian’s Summer Pubs guide last Saturday. The Queen’s Head Inn in Ickleham, East Sussex is everything a good pub should be: lovely pub garden with beautiful views (down the Brede valley to the ancient town of Rye and Romney Marsh beyond, and to the right the sea), no-nonsense pub food (my favourite is the local ham, egg and chips), real and local ale for the lads, and a play area with climbing frame for the kids. Just sit and enjoy… everyone is happy…

    The Icklesham Arms, Parsonage Lane, TN36 4BL 01424 814552 queenshead.com


    Queens Head, Icklesham

    Queens Head, Icklesham

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    Early morning view…

    by  • 15/06/2009 • Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

    I thought I would just share this photo with you of the view from my house. It was taken at 6.30 this morning from the balcony outside our bedroom window. Despite my early start – it felt lovely to be looking towards the calm sea, sun already hot, no-one around – just me, the birds…  and my cup of tea.


    The view from my home of Winchelsea Beach

    The view from my home of Winchelsea Beach

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