• Archive for November, 2009

    The Original Pop Up Christmas Shop

    by  • 30/11/2009 • Country moment, Country style • 5 Comments

    One of our interior assistants, Louise Restall, has set up the Original Pop Up Christmas shop  in Newark, Nottinghamshire with her mum Carol. It came about when mother and daughter put their heads together to come up with a winter use for Carol’s ice cream parlour.

    ‘Pop up shops are springing up all over the country making use of empty shop space, for limited periods of time,’ says Louise.  The Original Pop Up Christmas Shop will be the first of its kind in Newark, adding a touch of festive cheer and sparkle to the town. You’ll find lots of lovely handmade and country-style accessories.

    The Original Pop Up Christmas Shop

    The Original Pop Up Christmas Shop

    Gorgeous gifts and ideas

    Gorgeous gifts and ideas

    The Original Pop Up Christmas Shop is located on Tolney Lane, Newark NG24 1DA

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    Curlew Country

    by  • 27/11/2009 • Country moment, Country style • 4 Comments

    One of the best things about autumn is relaxed weekends with family and the chance to cosy up at home while we look forward to Christmas. I love to visit Curlew Country, where blogger Steph is enjoying every minute of the changing seasons, decorating her home with vintage finds and taking her two children to see the Christmas lights switched on in the market town of Leek, Staffordshire. See her lovely pictures of the twinkling lights and her boys gazing up at the Christmassy window displays… 

    Steph's cosy country home

    Steph's cosy country home.

    ...and the count down to Christmas.

    The count down to Christmas begins...

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    Sleep heaven at Harrods

    by  • 26/11/2009 • Country style • 1 Comment

    I have never really associated Harrods with beds but yesterday I was given an exclusive tour of its new Bed Studio on the 3rd floor. This is bed heaven – the best of the bedmakers all in one beautiful space with experts on hand to diagnose why you may not be getting the good night’s sleep you desperately crave. With names such as the glamorous Ciive Christian, all-natural Vi-Spring and Hastens, plus And so to bed and Roche Bobois with their gorgeous country styles, this is the perfect destination if a new bed is on your shopping list. After all that bed testing I was happily exhausted…

    Clive Christian

    Sweet dreams from Clive Christian

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    My kind of colours

    by  • 25/11/2009 • Country style • 2 Comments

    Working here, I get to see lots of really beautiful things – it’s a bit like working in a visual sweetie shop. But sometimes my eye catches a picture  that really resonates with me. For some reason, the colours in this picture did just that this morning so I am posting here. That combination of kingfisher blue, light aubergine and ochre is just… gorgeous…

    Toast Papas Pottery

    Papas Pottery Pots, £39 each, Toast

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    Christmas makes

    by  • 24/11/2009 • Country craft • 2 Comments

    I decided yesterday that I am officially in ‘Christmas mode’! When you work on a magazine like Country Homes & Interiors, Christmas starts in July when we plan and start shooting the gorgeous December issues that are on sale now. It somewhat takes the spontaneity out of Christmas for me. But having had a conversation with my son, Will, about putting up the advent calendar (see my earlier blog about making one) next Tuesday I felt a little spark of excitement that the festivities are about to start.

    I thought I would just post this picture, which sums up a country Christmas perfectly. If you like the look of the sack at the bottom of the bed, you can make it yourself by clicking the link here for the instructions www.housetohome.co.uk/sackmake. Thought I might have ago myself…

    Christmas sack make

    Make this Christmas sack - it's easy

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    Aston Pottery

    by  • 23/11/2009 • Country business, Country moment, Country style • 1 Comment

    I spent a lovely day with Stephen and Jane Baughan, who own Aston Pottery in the Oxfordshire village of Aston, on Friday. ‘There are very few small potteries like us left in the UK,’ says Stephen. ‘We make and paint our own pottery on site.’ Last year Stephen and Jane built a new building alongside the existing pottery to create a country cafe and extended shop in which to sell their beautiful pots which are decorated with lovely hand applied stencils of country birds, flowers and scenes.

    All the Christmas ranges were on display from large serving plates to bowls and cups and saucers with robins, snowmen, reindeer and holly. I bought two little mini mugs for my kids for their stockings.

    Aston Pottery is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area – you can combine your Christmas shopping with tea and cakes in the cafe – perfect! And good luck to Jane and Stephen – they are absolutely passionate about making their pottery business thrive…

    Aston Pottery

    I loved the Robin design

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    Sainsbury’s Spring/Summer

    by  • 19/11/2009 • Country style • 3 Comments

    For the last two weeks journalists and stylists have been viewing the new home and interior collections for Spring/Summer 2010. I popped along to the Sainsbury’s show on Tuesday to discover it has gone all country on us. Its lovely country-inspired and handpainted hen design and spots can be found on kitchenware from storage jars to jugs and also on textiles, such as oven mitts and tea towels. Look out for it in store and online from early next year…

    Sainsbury's hen design

    Sainsbury's hen design

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    Knitters’ paradise

    by  • 18/11/2009 • Country craft • 1 Comment

    Our Deputy Chief Sub Editor Sarah has come back very excited from a weekend workshop at Rowan‘s headquarters in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. ‘I was like a child in a sweetie shop’, she says, ‘and the best thing was, I wasn’t the only one – there were lots of other knitters stroking yarns and exclaiming over shades! I’ve wanted to go on a Rowan weekend for ages and this one, Working with Colour, was just fab. The brilliant tutors, Sarah Hazell and Emma King, showed us with humour and patience how to work perfect, hole-free intarsia and smooth, even fairisle, as well as explaining colour theory while we made lots of little practice squares for our sketchbooks from yummy Rowan yarn. I had a lovely time – I learned so much from Sarah and Emma. There were plenty of knitters and crocheters who’d been at other workshops and it was fantastic to spend time with people who share my passion! Next year’s workshop schedule will be available soon – if you’re a crafty type and love the Rowan style you should put your name down as soon as possible. I can’t wait!’ 

    Gorgeous Rowan yarns waiting for a project

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    Venison, Guinness and Chestnut Pie

    by  • 16/11/2009 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    This time of year is perfect for gathering sweet chestnuts. As the leaves fall so do the chestnuts and it will be a race between you and the squirrels, so act fast! Each year varies but you should find them anytime from October onwards. Our Shopping Editor, Alice, gathered these beauties whilst in Devon recently and decided to make our deliciously comforting Venison, Guinness and Chestnut Pie, as seen in our November’s seasonal food feature.

    Foraging for chestnuts

    Foraging for chestnuts

    Before you start it’s best to roast them. Make a small nick in the bottom of the nut. It will open up as they are cooking and make them much easier to open and peel. Then follow the recipe below. Enjoy!


    Ask for stewing venison diced from the cheaper cuts such as the leg, shoulder or neck. Cooked slowly, the flavour is just as delicious as that of the more expensive cuts.

    1.2kg stewing or pie venison, diced

    3 tbsps plain flour

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    65g unsalted butter

    225g smoked bacon, diced

    1 leek, chopped

    3 carrots, sliced

    4 garlic cloves, crushed

    Several sprigs of thyme

    500ml bottle Guinness

    300ml beef or game stock

    250g mushrooms, sliced

    200g cooked chestnuts

    500g pack shortcrust pastry

    1 beaten egg, to glaze

    Sea salt, to sprinkle

    1 Toss the venison in the flour and seasoning. Melt 50g of the butter in a frying pan and fry the meat, in batches, until deeply browned. Transfer to a large saucepan. Add the bacon, leek and carrots to the frying pan and fry gently for 5 minutes. Tip into the saucepan with the garlic and thyme.

    2 Add the Guinness and stock to the frying pan and bring to the boil, scraping up the meat residue in the pan. Season lightly and pour over the meat. Cover with a lid and cook very gently for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours until tender.

    3 While cooking, heat the remaining butter in a clean frying pan and lightly fry the mushrooms. Once the meat is tender, stir in the mushrooms and chestnuts and check the seasoning. Leave to cool. 

    4 Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 5. Pour the filling into a pie dish that holds about 1.5 litres. If there’s too much liquid, reserve for heating through and serving in a gravy jug. Cover the pie with the pastry, using the trimmings to shape antlers to decorate the pie. Brush with beaten egg to glaze and bake for about 45 minutes until deep golden, covering with foil if the pastry starts to over-brown. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve with vegetables.

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    Rye bonfire night

    by  • 16/11/2009 • Country moment • 1 Comment

    The winds and rains lashed the South coast on Saturday but thankfully abated for the annual Rye bonfire procession. Bonfire societies from Kent and Sussex marched through the medieval streets of Rye with their flaming torches and beating drums to the bonfire on Rye Salts. This is a fabulously ‘real’ occasion celebrating the ancient tradition of the bonfire and this year we went with friends, family and kids and loved it. Here are some photos…


    Procession through the Rye streets

    The dragon that breathes fire!

    At the bonfire (I couldn't resist these ears!)


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