• Archive for January, 2016

    Make a coconut bird feeder

    by  • 31/01/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_150902_CHI_BIRDFEEDING_SHOT02_016We’re rounding off our selection of decorative bird-feeding craft ideas with these cute coconut hangers. They look great in the garden and can be refilled with seed mix and berries as the birds peck away.

    Drain and halve the coconut and remove the flesh (or buy halved shells). Drill 2 holes through the top of the shell and thread with twine, leaving long lengths for tying later. Make up the food mix with 1 part dry bird food to 2 parts melted lard or suet. Mix well and, when cool enough to handle, pack into the shells, pressing down firmly. Cool completely. Taking some wreath wire, tie around filled shell, criss-cross at the bottom and tie off. Thread berries on leftover wire ends by using a darning needle on the end of the wire to pierce and push through the berries and tie off. Hang with more berries, if desired!

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – cosy blanket buys

    by  • 30/01/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_The British Blanket Company With the winter wind blowing a hoolie, take refuge this weekend and wrap yourself up with the perfect antidote to seasonal chills. In this week’s shortlist we’ve rounded up a trio of never-want-to-be-without blankets to provide the ultimate snug-as-a-bug hug.

    Wrap yourself in colour with a lovely woollen-wonder throw and add an accent burst of bright to your living room in the process… These Recycled Wool Blankets, £24 each, from The British Blanket Company (above), are re-spun from remnant yarns so that nothing goes to waste. Visit the website to discover a beautiful collection of luxurious woollen throws and blankets in a wide range of shades, showcasing the very best in home-grown design.

    Ready_UggSupersize statement-making style and yarny warmth with chunky needlework. We’ve fallen in love with this Oversized Knit Blanket, £275, from Ugg Australia (above). This handcrafted beauty, is available in natural or grey colourways and contains real sheep fur for extra toasty appeal. Measures 51 x 178cm.

    Ready_NordicThrow in (pun intended) a soft, tactile and utterly gorgeous addition to sofa lounging with a true comfort blanket. This Mohair Throw (above), £149.95, from Nordic House, is finished with lovely fur pom poms – one of this season’s key limited edition pieces. Measures 136 x 160cm. Matching cushion available.

    The weekend agenda calls for lazing and layering. Cup of tea in hand, it’s time to kick back and curl up… On that note – let’s call it a wrap!


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    Our favourite place to visit: Stow-on-the-Wold

    by  • 29/01/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Shop in Stowe-on-the-Wold

    Steeped in history and surrounded by picturesque countryside, this ancient market town is the perfect place to amble and shop. We love it for its…

    Medieval market square
    The Market Cross and the Stocks have stood in the town centre since the fifteenth century.

    Scenic Walks
    Find a route map at and follow one of the many scenic trails through the Stow countryside.

    Stow-on-the-Wold is dotted with independent boutiques and charming shops tucked behind historic Cotswold limestone facades. Visit Rosie B Home & Interiors, 3 Digbeth Court, for painted furniture, country-style crockery, vintage home-wares and pretty accessories. At Scotts of Stow, The Square, you’ll have the chance to browse items from well-priced kitchen ceramics and cookware to furniture and garden ornaments. Around at Bloom, The Square, pick up beautiful bouquets, posies or single stem silk flowers, that closely resemble the real thing. Or book a workshop at Vintage & Paint, where you can learn découpage, gilding or crackle-glazing; there is also a good selection of unusual industrial lighting and vintage furniture to choose. And don’t miss Fosse Gallery, The Square, which specialises in contemporary British art; representing many prestigious artists and hosting regular exhibitions in partnership with the Royal Academy.

    Foodie places
    This area is brimming with artisan food producers, so it’s well worth picking up local cheeses, free-range meat and other gourmet treats whilst here. We like Hamptons Fine Foods, 1 Digbeth Street, for Cotswold Brie, Single Gloucester and accompanying local honeys, handmade chutneys and more. Sweet tooths can indulge in handmade artisan chocolate, made with Cotswolds cream at The Cotswold Chocolate Company on Digbeth Street. Or stop for a warming bowl of homemade soup, or a freshly baked ‘Special Stow Cream Tea’ by the fireplace at Lucy’s Tearoom, located in a charming oak-beamed cottage.

    Where is your favourite town to shop this season? 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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    Lovely lemon curd cake

    by  • 28/01/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Ready_29 JAN

    Nothing beats homemade lemon curd. It only lasts for two weeks in the fridge, so use it up quickly in this teatime treat.

    Cuts into 10 slices

    175g lightly salted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
    175g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
    175g caster sugar
    Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
    3 medium organic eggs, beaten
    2 tbsps whole milk

    200ml double cream
    6 tbsps good quality bought or homemade lemon curd (see Cook’s tip, below)
    150g icing sugar
    Juice of 1 lemon

    1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease and base line two 18cm round sandwich tins. Dust the sides with a little flour, shaking out the excess.

    2 Beat together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour if the mixture starts to separate. Sift the flour into the bowl and gently stir the ingredients together, adding the milk once the mixture is almost combined.

    3 Turn into the tins and level the surface. Bake for about 25 minutes until just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

    4 Whip the cream until just peaking and spread over one cake. Spread the other cake with lemon curd. Sandwich the cakes together and put on to a serving plate.

    5 Beat the icing sugar with enough of the lemon juice to give a thick consistency that doesn’t quite hold its shape. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and serve.

    Cook’s tip
    To make 500g of lemon curd, put the finely grated zest and juice of 4 unwaxed lemons (about 150ml), 125g unsalted butter (cut into pieces), 3 medium eggs and 225g caster sugar into a heatproof bowl. Rest the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon. Press curd through a sieve and pour into sterilised jars.

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    Meet Charlotte Robinson

    by  • 27/01/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupTalented ceramic designer Charlotte Robinson, was one of four winners in last year’s Heal’s Discovers programme – an initiative offering the next generation of designers a platform to showcase their skills and creativity. Her stunning Pour collection consists of beautifully handmade earthenware jugs, bowls and spoons; she shares the inspiration behind her subtle surface design with us…

    How did you get into ceramics?
    A neighbour first introduced me to ceramics; they taught me the basics of working with clay. I was lucky enough to do a three-month project in my second year at Kingston University, specialising in ceramics. I enjoyed experimenting with different materials and not being too precious about the results!

    Describe the making process.
    I use slip casting to create the items in the Pour collection. It involves pouring liquid clay into a plaster mould. The plaster absorbs the moisture, forming a skin of clay inside the mould. Once hardened, it can be popped out, then sanded glazed and fired. It’s a lengthy process but the results at the end make the hard work worthwhile.

    What was the inspiration behind the Pour collection?
    The idea stemmed from working closely with earthenware slip. I became fascinated with how I could control a liquid and direct its movement into different forms. My aim was to capture this movement of the liquid in a solid object. The colours reflect the many shades of the sea. Each pattern is slightly different, highlighting the unpredictability of tides and showing the sea for what it is: an uncontrollable force that’s beautiful in appearance.

    What do you love about what you do?
    I love the tactile nature of ceramics. The different stages of working fascinate me, how it can be a liquid or a solid, leather hard or completely dry – it’s truly amazing. I love shutting the kiln lid on muted pieces of pottery and opening it the next day to find them completely transformed. It’s a magical process.

    What’s been your proudest career moment to date?
    It would have to be seeing my products sold in the Heal’s store on Tottenham Court Road and online too. The pride in having my work associated with such a reputable company is a feeling I’ll never forget. I was able to share this moment with my family who have continually supported me.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Organic, minimalistic and practical.

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    In the pink?

    by  • 26/01/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Country living room

    Ring the changes by giving a lift to a neutral scheme. Here at Country Days, we couldn’t resist this gorgeous country living room where a muted grey palette is transformed with just a few touches of palest pink and cosy copper so that it’s awash with the wow factor. Wouldn’t you just love to pull up a chair beside this fire?

    Soft and soothing blush pinks and the warm metal tones of rose gold and copper are huge this season, and pastels are perfect for paving the way for a spring scheme

    Texture plays a key role in this look with opulent fabrics introduced, such as velvet on the statement chair and the irresistible wool of the Mongolian cushion, to create a comfy mood with a luxe edge.  Combine with characterful woods like the reclaimed pine coffee table, washed lampbases and worn floorboards for a modern twist on vintage style.

    This is a large space that calls for dramatic furniture and a sumptuous oversized sofa, piled high with beautiful cushions, provides flexible seating when teamed with classic statement armchairs, while a chunky coffee table takes pride of place.

    A copper angled floor lamp adds a contemporary touch, as well as providing cool task lighting. (Sofa, chairs, coffee table, lamps, rug, mirror, round and Mongolian cushion,  all Barker and Stonehouse).


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    Learn the art of interior design

    by  • 25/01/2016 • Country craft, Country style • 0 Comments

    Larn the art of interior designFancy learning the style secrets of the interior design world? Country Homes & Interiors is working with My Design School at KLC to offer a fun and innovative way to learn all the skills you need to create a beautiful country home!

    Focusing on your own home project, course tutors and guest experts will guide you through the creative process, giving you the know-how, confidence and inspiration to expand your ideas and develop your own design style.

    Presented entirely online, you can participate any time of the day or night, at home or on the move! Plus, the interactive online community allows you to chat with like-minded people, share sources and discuss trends.

    My Design School: Design your own home runs from 15 February-18 March 2016. To receive an EXCLUSIVE 50% DISCOUNT, enrol for just £199 at klc.co.uk/mds and quote BL0116.

    Happy styling!

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    Make a pine cone pot

    by  • 24/01/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_150902_CHI_BIRDFEEDING_SHOT03_009Keep feathered friends happy with these mini tree-like bird seed arrangements, made from cones lined up in decorative pots. Not only do they add a rustic touch to window ledges, they provide hours of bird-watching fun for all the family!

    Place the cones in a warm place to open up the ‘leaves’. Secure a doubled piece of floral wire at the base of each cone and twist together, leaving a stem for use later. Prepare a tray of scattered seeds, chopped nuts and cereals. Warm lard or suet in a pan to loosen. Dunk the cone into the melted fat or butter, pushing the mixture into the opened pine cone ‘leaves’ with the tip of a knife, if necessary. Roll the pine cones into the seed mix, shaking off any excess, then allow to cool. Push some florists’ foam into a decorate pot (we used hessian and ribbon from a selection at Hobbycraft), then push the wired cone into the foam.


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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – creature comfort buys

    by  • 23/01/2016 • Country style, Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    Ready_Sophie conran

    Brrr… it’s chilly out there! Spurred on by January’s affair with frost, we’ve rounded-up a soul-happy edit of buys to help you warm up in cosy country style…

    Nothing beats a steaming bowl of fresh-off-the-aga homemade soup to help you thaw out after a crisp morning stroll. Ensure superb cooking results by the batch load with this lovely White Large Casserole, £83.50, from Sophie Conran (above). Complete with heat resistant glass lid, this excellent pan has a cast aluminium body coated in a non-stick ceramic layer making it light but strong and heat conduction savvy. Serve-up your delicious efforts (and prevent burnt fingers) with a mix-and-match selection of Sophie’s pretty kitchen textiles (above) – the perfect choice to add a ladle of winter sunshine to the table. Single Oven Mitt, £14; Love Cotton Placemat, £10; Linen Napkin, from £14.

    Ready_CoxBanish seasonal blues and cuddle up with a real hottie! This extra snuggly Cosy Sheepskin Hot Water Bottle Cover, £50, from Cox & Cox (above), is made from sumptuous 100% natural shearling sheepskin – the ideal partner for weekend hibernating. If you’re feeling indulgent, add an extra layer of luxury with this Short Haired Curly Grey Sheepskin (above), £165. Warm, soft and stylish – what more could a lady ask for?!

    Ready_hot chocRelax your virtuous intentions (it’s the weekend after all) as undeniably there’s something about this time of year that brings out our sweet-tooth craving with a vengeance. Blame it on the unrealistic resolutions and hit the spot with a HOT chocoholic hit slurped from a favourite cup. This Enamel Personalised Hot Chocolate Mug, £14.75, by Sophia Victoria Joy at Not On The High Street (above,top), is engraved by hand and finished with distinctive blue paint around the rim – it’s full of unique charm. Opt for the full works (we couldn’t resist), with these Hot Chocolate Spoons, £9 for four, by Madame Oiseau Fine Chocolates, also at Not On The High Street (above, bottom). These little bites of heaven are made with a thick layer of milk and dark chocolate and designed for melting… Utterly scrumptious!

    Whether you’re fireside-retreating or venturing out-and-about to face the elements this weekend, we hope these positive pick-me-ups will help you stay as warm-as-toast!



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    Relax at a me-time retreat . . .

    by  • 22/01/2016 • Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

    Haybarn Spa | Bamford |DaylesfordIt’s time to get away from the cold of winter to unwind and indulge at a stylish spa… We’ve discovered three country-style retreats where you can rebalance body and soul with some mindfulness, yoga or pampering treatments! Our favourites include an elegant haybarn in Gloucestershire, a bijoux potting shed in Hampshire and a rustic roundhouse in Herefordshire –  just the kickstart you need for a happy and healthy new year…

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