• Archive for November, 2014

    Love a tree…

    by  • 21/11/2014 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    21Nov14 | country post | country homes and interiors As well as marking the start of winter tree-planting season, National Tree Week (29 Nov – 7 Dec), is a time to celebrate our wonderful woodlands, so take a moment this weekend to appreciate the natural beauty of trees in all their forms – from ancient oaks to little saplings. Feel like branching out? See our top tree-themed events taking place across the UK…

    Tree Planting and Guided Walk, Leicestershire
    Saturday 22 November
    Spend a happy hour walking through Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood and see just how much it has transformed over the past two years. Bring along a spade for the chance to contribute to this historical woodland by planting your own tree.

    Willow Weaving Workshop, York
    Dates available throughout November and December
    Celebrate one of the UK’s most striking trees at Beningbrough Hall and turn your hand to this traditional craft. Make a rustic wreath, selection of decorations or a reindeer sculpture in time for Christmas. From £45 per person.

    Tree Planting at Foxbury, Hampshire
    Dates available throughout November and December
    Get involved with a fun tree planting volunteer day at Foxbury to make your mark on the New Forest landscape and discover native broadleaf trees including Sessile Oak, Common Alder and Sweet Chestnut. With an aim to plant 20,000 trees between now and 2019, extra hands are appreciated!

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    Comfort food in a loaf

    by  • 20/11/2014 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Sausage and tomato plait

    The simple things… Sometimes all you need is the smell of a home baked loaf wafting around your kitchen to transform your day. This one is packed with herby sausagemeat and squidgy semi-dried tomatoes – such a tasty combination – and best served straight up.

    600g good-quality sausagemeat
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    50g breadcrumbs
    3 tbsps chopped oregano
    1 tbsp chopped thyme, plus extra leaves for sprinkling
    Sea salt and black pepper
    Butter or oil for greasing
    Flour for dusting
    500g all-butter puff pastry
    150g semi-dried tomatoes, diced
    Beaten egg for glazing

    1 Mix the sausagemeat, onion, breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme and a little salt and pepper until evenly combined.

    2 Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Grease a baking sheet. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to 4mm to 5mm thick and cut out three strips around 45cm long by 12cm wide. Arrange one-third of the sausage mixture down the centre of each strip, keeping the filling 2cm in from the edges of the pastry.

    3 Arrange the tomatoes on top. Bring the edges of the pastry over the filling and pinch firmly together. Roll the three pieces over so the joins are underneath. Loosely plait the 3 lengths together. (It makes a more even shape if you start in the middle and then plait each half to the end.) Carefully transfer the plait to the baking sheet and glaze with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sea salt and thyme leaves.

    4 Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4 and bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

    Recipe: Joanna Farrow. Photograph: Dan Jones

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    Love a cosy spot by the fire

    by  • 19/11/2014 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Country living room Country Days Country Homes & Interiors

    We can’t resist a toasty fire here at Country Days. And here’s a country living room with a cosy woodburner from Morso at its heart that’s perfect for curling up in an armchair and warming yourself.

    For a classic look, make the focal point a traditional stove, set in a decorative period fireplace for best effect – you can even add in an antique cast-iron kettle for days-gone-by charm. Then pick a comfy, classic armchair so there’s plenty of room to curl up with a good read. A chair upholstered in an oversized bloom pattern that mirrors the shades of the last flowers of the summer and mellow autumnal foliage injects an authentic seasonal touch.

    Keep the look rustic with a natural floorcovering, and keep logs close to hand so that you can keep the home fire burning.

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    Meet print designer Sam Pickard

    by  • 18/11/2014 • Country business, Country style • 0 Comments

    Ready_Style setter Sam Pickard | Country Days | Country Homes & Interiors group

    Sam Pickard set up her business in 1996, screen-printing beautiful nature-inspired designs onto  interior fabrics and accessories. She also runs a series of Masterclass Workshops from her little studio, situated on North Devon’s rugged coastline.

    What made you want to become a designer? 
    My family have a history of working as artisans and I am continuing in that tradition. The textile course I completed at Camberwell Art College was an inspiration. We learnt everything from the absolute basics of how to stretch a silk screen to block-printing and flocking.

    What inspires you? 
    I always have my best ideas for new designs when I’m drawing. My sketchbooks are a store of ideas and I keep a record of any samples, materials and techniques that interest me, however scrappy or fragmented.

    What makes your products special?
    In this era of mass production and disposability, every one of my products is handmade with care, completely unique and made to last.

    What do you love about the countryside?
    I love the detail, particularly in plants. I’m inspired by the intricacy of structure and the subtlety of colour, whether it’s the delicate flower of the Bell Heather, the Golden Ratio of the bracts of a pinecone or a fragile Heart Urchin skeleton. I examine hundreds of plants and document them in my blog.

    Describe your creative style in three words. 
    Graphic, natural and unique.

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    Grow pretty paperwhites

    by  • 17/11/2014 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Country Days, Country Homes and Interiors, paperwhitesHere at Country Days, we love to grow scented seasonal bulbs indoors at this time of year. Paperwhites have proved to be our favourite for their beautiful flowers and fragrance. Narcissus papyraceus ‘Ziza’ is said to have the strongest scent of all and doesn’t disappoint.

    Here’s how to grow them in a really simple way… Find a wide glass hurricane lamp or vase and fill the bottom with a deep layer of pebbles. Position the paperwhite bulbs on top of the pebbles about 20cm apart. Add water up to the the base of the bulb (not covering it) then just place on your vase on a windowsill and let the magic happen. Within a few days, you’ll start to see the roots snaking downwards curling around the pebbles, then green shoots and finally the blooms.

    It’s a simple, stunning and really cheap way to make a showstopping seasonal arrangement – why not have a go?

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    Craft a stocking

    by  • 16/11/2014 • Country craft • 1 Comment

    Make this delightful Christmas stocking following Country Homes and Interiors instructions

    What a find on Christmas morning. A stocking full of presents at the end of the bed and, even better, it’s a homemade stocking too! This one is featured in our December issue and combines  a jolly tartan fabric (Achray F6254-05, £102 a metre, Osborne & Little) finished with a cheery red cuff (Linara Post Box, 2494/16, £34.50 a metre, Romo).

    To make draw a stocking pattern onto paper to your chosen size, adding 2.5cm seam allowances all round. Cut out two pieces from the tartan. For the trim measure along the top of the stocking cut a 10cm strip of red fabric to twice this measurement minus 5cm. Cut berry and leaf shapes from fabric remnants and using fabric bonding tape, iron onto one right side of a stocking section, embroidering stems and details if desired with contrasting thread. Right sides facing, pin and machine stitch the main stocking together, taking a 2.5cm seam, leaving the top edge open. Trim seams and snip into the seam allowances around the curved edges to ease the fit. Press open seam allowances and turn through. Fold the trim in half widthways and stitch a 2.5cm seam along the short edges to form a ring. Press seam open and turn through. Fold the cuff ring in half along the length and press. Pin the two raw edges around the top of the cuff lining up with the wrong side of the stocking top and matching the trim seam with one of the stocking seams. Stitch in place and turn the trim down to cover the joining seam.  To finish, add a fabric or string loop inside for hanging.

    If you like this idea we have lots more easy country craft projects  for you to try. Happy crafting!

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    Autumn shades

    by  • 15/11/2014 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Ready_moodboard_2

    Now that autumn has well and truly arrived, here at Country Days we’ve started to think about cosy nights in front of the fire and warming up interiors in preparation for chilly evenings ahead.

    Whether you are looking to spruce up your entire colour scheme with autumn colours or just add some subtle touches, nature has a great colour palette and it’s easy to replicate this in your home.

    Why not be inspired by our autumnal moodboard.

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    Enjoy a foraging break

    by  • 14/11/2014 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    14Nov14 Country Post | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors

    Despite winter closing in, wild foods can still be found growing throughout our beautiful countryside. Edible field mushrooms are ripe for the picking and natural festive fare is at its best, with sweet chestnuts and sloes in fruitful abundance. We’ve shortlisted our favourite foraging breaks to get first-time food gatherers started; spend a weekend exploring forests, fields and shores with expert guides, enjoying fresh seasonal dinners, and experiencing all that nature’s bountiful larder has to offer.

    Fat Hen, Cornwall
    This wild cookery school in Penzance offers all sorts of exciting courses, from ‘forage, cook and feast days’ to lessons in seaweed foraging. Couples and families will love staying in its rustic cottage, The Old Wash House, and big groups can also be catered for, with comfortable on-site bell tents, as well as exclusive use of the cookery school and home cinema. For more information, call 01736 810156.

    Tudor Farmhouse, Gloucestershire
    With the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley right on its doorstep, this farmhouse hotel is in the perfect position to offer plentiful foraging trips with expert Raoul Van Den Broucke. The crop depends on the season, but can range from wild garlic and mushrooms to wimberries and edible flowers. Head chef Martin Adams will whip up a three-course lunch using your foraged finds, before you head back to your cosy room situated in either the Cider House, Farm House or Barn. For more information, call 01594 833046.

    Penrhiw Hotel, Pembrokeshire
    Enjoy a night in a luxury room, followed by a locally sourced breakfast before joining local expert Julia Horton-Powdrill on a foraging day. You’ll be taken along the seashore and hedgerows in search of edible morsels, before heading back to this country hotel for a delicious dinner made from your foraged ingredients. For more information, call 01437 729900.

    Looking for more weekend ideas and inspiration? Sign up to Country Post, a weekly newsletter from us to you every Friday.

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    Pumpkin soup with roasted ceps

    by  • 13/11/2014 • Country food • 0 Comments

    pumpkin soup

    A comforting autumn soup that’s perfect for serving on a cold day with fresh crusty rolls. It’s beautiful to look at too. We love this recipe as it combines two of our seasonal favourites – sweet pumpkin and roasted ceps.

    Serves 4
    For the soup

    50g butter
    1 onion, chopped
    1kg pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and reserved, then diced
    800ml vegetable stock
    110g Parmesan rind and cheese, roughly chopped
    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the garnish

    25g pumpkin seeds
    4 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to serve
    25g pumpkin, cut into 5mm dice
    110g fresh ceps, cut into 1.5cm dice
    2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
    25g Parmesan, cut into 5mm dice

    1 Heat a large frying pan over a low-medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the butter and onion and fry gently for 8–10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. Increase the heat to medium, add the pumpkin and continue to fry, stirring well, for 2–3 minutes. Pour the vegetable stock over the pumpkin mixture and bring to the boil. Stir in the Parmesan rind and cheese, then return the mixture to a simmer and continue to simmer for a further 8–10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    2 Transfer batches of the mixture to a food processor and blend to a smooth purée. Repeat the process until all of the mixture has been blended to a purée. Strain the soup mixture through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan and heat until warmed through.

    3 Meanwhile, for the garnish, heat a frying pan over a high heat until hot. Add the pumpkin seeds and dry fry until toasted. Add the vegetable oil and continue to fry the seeds for 4–5 minutes, shaking the pan regularly, until golden-brown.

    4 Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a separate frying pan over a medium heat. Add the diced pumpkin (for the garnish) and fry for 1–2 minutes, or until just softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.

    5 Return the frying pan used to cook the pumpkin to the heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the ceps and fry for 2–3 minutes, or until golden-brown. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the chives until well combined.

    6 To serve, ladle the warm soup into 4 bowls. Sprinkle over a pinch each of the cooked pumpkin, diced Parmesan and ceps. Finish with the toasted pumpkin seeds, then drizzle over a little olive oil.

    Recipe: Bryn Williams. Photograph: Andrew Hayes-Watkins. Taken from Saturday Kitchen Suppers (£20,  Weidenfeld &  Nicolson)

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