• Archive for February, 2016

    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – “Love Your Pet Day” buys

    by  • 20/02/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    pet2Celebrate your favourite furry friend this Love Your Pet Day (Saturday 20th February) with our adorable edit of pampered pooch treats!

    ‘Walkies’ ticked off the list, let your beloved tail-wagger rest tired paws in a super soft and comfortable dream bunk. This feather-filled stylish yet practical Small dog bed, £65, from Plum & Ashby (above), is designed in signature Bertie print with a smart ticking reverse. Cotton covers are fully removable and machine washable for when dirty prints get here, there and everywhere. Dimensions 80x60cm. (A larger size is available).

    pet4 pet3Step your four-legged friend into spring with a jaunty accessory to spruce up their collar. These Mist Ticking Bow Ties, £15.50 each, from Mutts & Hounds, will make an extra special and novel gift for your dog. For a relaxed country day look we also love this Sage Bone Linen Neckerchief, £17. Designed in M&H’s very own bone repeat linens – it’s just the thing to ensure that your pup is the best in show!

    pet1Let man’s best friend know how much they really mean to you by treating them to a pawfect tasty reward served-up in a quality dish. These charming Scottie Dog and Jack Russell Round Bowls, £28 each from Fenella Smith, are part of the Fenella’s Friend range – the perfect quality collectable ceramics for your pet. Dishwasher and microwave safe.

    With their unconditional loyalty and sloppy cuddles – it was always going to be love at first woof!

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    Our favourite place to visit: Tunbridge Wells

    by  • 19/02/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Tunbridge WellsThis prosperous spa town lies on the Kentish Weald in the Garden of England. We love it for its…

    Weekly markets With so much farmland close by, seasonal produce is in abundance for the farmers’ markets supplying meats, food, drink, hops for beer-making and (notably for this region) soft fruits and berries.

    Spring water Discovered more than 400 years ago by Dudley Lord North (a courtier to James I), the Chalybeate Spring led to the town’s development and prosperity. Today’s visitors can still taste the iron-rich water from Easter to September, served by a Victorian costumed Dipper.

    Stroll through history Walk in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, Samuel Pepys and Daniel Defoe along The Pantiles colonnaded walkway – a place to admire the elegant architecture or to meet friends and browse specialist shops, cafés and galleries.

    Seven Wonders of the Weald Tunbridge Wells is one of The Seven Wonders of the Weald, stay a little longer and see the full collection including Scotney Castle, Groombridge Place, The Kent & East Sussex Railway, Biddenden Vineyards, Marle Place, and Chiddingstone Castle.

    Tunbridge Wells offers a wonderful selection of shops with an abundance of home interiors style. Visit Jeremy’s Home Store, 26 Monson Road, for a great selection of baskets! For modern country style, source decorative pieces from Lots of Living, 48 Mount Pleasant Street, or De Hasse, 13 Nevill Street, for organic stone washed linen and hemp fabrics and cabinetry made from recycled timber flooring. A trip to Tunbridge Wells is not complete without a trip to Trevor Mottram’s cookware and kitchenware shop, 33-41 The Pantiles. Find Swedish Gustavian-style furniture at Georgia Lacey interiors,  53 St John’s Road, while the perfect armchair awaits at Wesley Barrell, 33 High Street. Find stylish garden gifts at Le Petit Jardin, 14 Chapel Place, and elegant lighting at Olive and The Fox, 10-12 Chapel Place. Or create a bespoke bathroom for your home with the help of C P Hart, 60-62 High Street.

    Foodie places
    The wait in line is worth it for locally sourced meat, pies, and game at Peter Speaight butchers, 15 Chapel Place. Further afield try Southborough Butchers for poultry, sausages and hog roasts, 60a London Road, Southborough. Source local farm fruits, veg, free range meats, cheese and specialty produce at Locality, 15 Camden Road. Enjoy authentic Italian food at Max & Molly’s deli and Osteria restaurant, 3b Monson Road, or step into Perk & Pearl, Tea & Coffee Merchants, 2 Grove Hill Road, which sells single origin coffees and loose leaf teas – try a hand-warming cuppa during your visit!

    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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    Spiced sweet potato stew

    by  • 18/02/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Ready_Spiced sweet potato stew © Clare Winfield

    This perfect winter dish comes to you courtesy of the brilliant new Deliciously Ella cookbook by Ella Woodwood. We’re big fans and weren’t disappointed with this hearty, creamy stew. Perfect for a lazy supper on the sofa in front of a film.

    Serves 8

    3 sweet potatoes (600g)
    1 red pepper (100g)
    2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    2 teaspoons chilli powder
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    2 teaspoons ground coriander
    1 tablespoon miso paste
    salt and pepper
    400g can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    200g bag of spinach
    250g coconut yogurt (optional but amazing!)

    1. Peel the sweet potatoes, then chop them into very small (about 2cm) pieces. Chop the red pepper into pieces of the same size, discarding its ribs and seeds.
    2. Place the sweet potatoes and red pepper into a large saucepan with the canned tomatoes and 600ml of boiling water, then bring it all to the boil.
    3. As it boils, add the garlic, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, miso paste, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer, put the lid on the pan and allow it to cook for about 1 hour, making sure to stir it about every 5 minutes.
    4. Now the sweet potatoes should be soft. Add the black beans to the stew with the spinach and coconut yogurt, if using, and stir well until the spinach has wilted totally. (Or serve the coconut yogurt on top, instead, as we did for the photograph.) Serve with brown rice, quinoa or mashed avocado.

    TIP If you don’t have coconut yogurt and you’re OK eating dairy, use Greek yogurt instead; make sure it’s full-fat though as it’s much creamier and thicker, which makes this more delicious.

    Recipe extracted from Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward, out now published by Yellow Kite, £20. © Ella Woodward 2016. Photography © Clare Winfield.



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    Meet Carola Van Dyke

    by  • 17/02/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_GroupCarola Van Dyke combines an eclectic mix of modern and vintage fabrics to create striking homewares, from cushions and rugs to statement taxidermy-style wall art.

    What’s your workspace like?
    I have a big studio in an old converted cow barn in a tiny village in the South of England. I share it with four other artists which is great, if you’re stuck for inspiration you can discuss ideas together. I’ve decorated my space with dark blue walls, an old bakery worktable and daylight bulbs. Everything I need is around me – plenty of fabrics, books and colour!

    What inspires you?
    I like to draw inspiration from my surroundings and how they make me feel. I live in beautiful countryside at the foot of the South Downs, East Sussex and my designs reflect that; colourful and carefree with a sense of adventure and fun!

     Describe the making process.
    I start by drawing animals in different poses until I have a good composition. I cut the fabrics into shapes spontaneously, as if I’m thinking through my hands, and the topstitching is all done on old industrial machines – I like to create a rough looking sketch, not perfect embroidery.

    How do you choose your materials?
    I usually know what colour and textures I have in mind for certain designs, so will be on the lookout for fabrics, blankets, throws and rugs that might work in advance. Tweed, wool, leather, suede, anything goes! I love using vintage fabrics that I’ve found at auctions and house clearances – the story behind them adds so much to the final piece.

    What’s been your proudest career moment?
    Realising that there is a demand for my work. It’s such a fulfilling feeling knowing that people appreciate what I do. Besides designing my own collections, I love collaborating with other brands like Anthropologie and Liberty. It opens different ways of thinking and designing.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Vivacious, exuberant and vibrant.

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    Love a colour contrast

    by  • 16/02/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    blue country kitchen

    Blue is definitely a firm favourite in interiors this year. Move over duck egg and pale powder blues… rich teals and deepest navy are the new kids on the block.

    It’s a look that can easily be introduced into a country kitchen to give it a sophisticated edge. But if you’re not brave enough to paint all your cabinets deep blue – this works best in a light-filled space – pop a splash of it in with a feature like an island, range cooker or worktable, such as in this country kitchen.

    An injection of blue is a great way of lifting a largely neutral kitchen and introducing a contrasting focal point. Rich blues work beautifully with warm creams or crisp white hues to create a warm and inviting family area. (This kitchen is the Artisan kitchen by John Lewis of Hungerford, priced from £25,000, cabinets painted in Earl Grey and Worktable and Easymaid Three Legged Stool painted in Antique Blue.)


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    Find a new home for old furniture

    by  • 15/02/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    FurnitureEtcThinking of having a Spring clear out? Then why not head over to FurnitureEtc, the curated online marketplace for preloved furniture, where you can buy and sell everything from stylish storage to farmhouse tables.

    Brought to you by the team at Country Homes & Interiors and some of your favourite homes and interiors magazines, this new website is the perfect place to list your unwanted pieces to help them find a new home (and give your bank balance a boost!).

    All you need to do is take a photo of your product, upload it to the site and watch the sale come rolling in..

    Here’s how it works:

    1. Head to our ‘How to sell page‘ and click ‘start selling today’ to fill in the short and simple form.

    2. Create your first listing. All you need is 3-8 quality pictures of your item – this sellers guide will help you make your item as attractive as possible. Add the product name, description, price and dimensions.

    3. Submit your listing for a quick quality check and once approved, the FurnitureEtc team will lovingly edit your pics to make sure your item is well presented.

    4. Your listing will be published on FurnitureEtc in 3-5 working days, where the team will promote it on your behalf.

    The details:

    It’s free to list as many items as you like and they take 20% commission (plus VAT) on each sale. All items must be preloved, with a minimum listing value of £200 per product.

    The online seller account system makes it easy to manage your listings, track your orders and add new items whenever you like. Payments for all sales are made 14 days after your item has been collected. Simple!

    Sound good? If you have any questions about the process, then get in touch at Furnitureetc.co.uk/contact-us.

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    Create a pretty birdcage planter

    by  • 14/02/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_CRAFT BLOGMake a statement with this vintage-inspired birdcage planter, spilling with blooms and plants including dainty violas, romantic roses and draping ivy. It works beautifully as a table centrepiece – perfect for a Valentine’s dinner or a country-style wedding perhaps…?

    To give the cage an aged look with a paint treatment, first make sure the surface is clean, dry and free from dust. Then, following manufacturer’s instructions, spray with a light coat of grey and matt white paint. Once dry, place pots of mini roses, violas and ivy inside – we’ve covered the pots with decorative covers made from hessian and ribbons that are attached with double-sided tape. Make pretty paper labels using a paper punch, then tape to wooden skewers and pop into the pots. Finally, add a garland made using a heart paper punch and twine or wreath wire.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – Valentine’s Day picks

    by  • 13/02/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Ready_apple_and_plum_crumble_cake_stoneware_vbg_le_creusetWoo your Valentine this sunday with an affectionate gesture that will leave them in no doubt of how much they mean to you.  We’ve rounded-up a doting (and non-too cheesy) trio of picks which promise to melt even the most un-romantic of hearts…

    They do say that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Take note and prepare your squeeze an unforgettable meal in a lovable shape. This Signature Cast Iron Heart Casserole, £145, from Le Creuset (above), is perfect for stewing, braising and simmering, and ideal for cake and bread making thanks to it’s non-stick nature – you’ll have a smitten kitten in no time!

    Ready_normal_roses-valentine-s-day-cardLet the stationery do the talking with a beautiful hand-written message. This Roses Valentine’s Day Card, £2.50, by Jade Fisher at Not On The High Street (above), is created from original gouache illustrations – it’s a natural beauty – simple, quirky and sweet.

    Ready_normal_personalised-hidden-message-valentines-chocolate-spoonMelt your lover’s heart with this Personalised Hidden Message Valentine’s Chocolate Spoon, £28, by The Cutlery Commission. This fabulous silver plated lovely can be inscribed with your choice of secret message – hidden in a block of luxurious chocolate… Watch as your other half stirs in hot milk to create a dreamy hot chocolate drink- with an added element of surprise.

    Spread the love all…





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    Baked Apple, Cinnamon and Walnut Cheesecake

    by  • 11/02/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Ready_IPCIMMGLPICT000001769804 copy

    Tart Bramley apples, cinnamon and walnuts make a perfect cheesecake, that’s all the more delicious with a drizzle of maple syrup. Always make sure that your biscuit base is chilled and firm before adding the cheesecake mixture so that no biscuit crumbs get into the filling.

    Serves 8-10

    For the base:
    175g Hobnobs, finely crushed
    50g (2oz) walnuts
    75g (3oz) butter, melted
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon

    For the filling:
    400g (14oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
    75g (3oz) light brown muscovado sugar
    2 eggs
    ½ tsp vanilla extract
    1 tbsp cornflour
    200g (7oz) unsweetened bramley apple puree, bought or home made
    100ml (3floz) sour cream

    For the topping:
    2 cox’s apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
    15g (½ oz) butter, melted
    1 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    25g (1oz) walnuts, roughly chopped
    Maple syrup to serve (optional)

    You will need:
    20cm (8in) spring-form tin, base lined with baking parchment and lightly buttered

    1. Heat oven to 180C, 160C fan, 350F, gas 4. Place the walnuts on a small baking tray and roast in the oven for about eight minutes or until golden brown. Remove, leave to cool, then chop finely. Place in a bowl along with the hobnobs, butter and cinnamon. Stir well, press into the base of the tin and set aside while you make the filling.

    2. Place the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and cornflour in a large bowl and beat until thick and creamy. Fold in the sour cream and finally the apple puree. Mix well until thoroughly combined, then pour over the biscuit base and smooth the top with a palette knife.

    3. For the topping, place the cox’s apples, butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss gently with your hands until all the apple slices are evenly coated. Lay slightly overlapping slices of apple in a circle, starting at the outside of the tin and gradually work towards the centre until the top is completely covered.

    4. Place the tin on a baking sheet and bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 150C, 130C fan, 300F gas 2. Scatter the remaining chopped walnuts over the surface of the cheesecake and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. The cheesecake should still have a slight wobble in the centre. Remove from the oven and run a round bladed knife around the outside of the cheesecake. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool, then refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight. To serve, run a knife around the outside of the tin, release the tin and serve sliced and drizzled with Maple syrup. The cheesecake will keep for 3 days, covered in the fridge.


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