• Archive for July, 2016

    30 Country Style Icons: the butcher’s block

    by  • 31/07/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Country Homes & Interiors is 30 this year! In celebration, we’ve picked 30 of our all-time favourite design classics that have stood the test of time, thanks to their real sense of history, craftsmanship and purpose, to share with you over the coming weeks.

    8The butcher’s block
    The heavy duty butcher’s block made a direct jump from the butcher’s shop into our homes and now offers an extra  workstation, either freestanding or as a fixed area of worktop. Both are topped with a super-tough cutting board made up of blocks of end-grain timber – usually teak, maple or walnut – that don’t blunt your knives. In the style stakes, it has easy country charm. Mobile units such as the one shown here (Padstow in Putty, £549, Marks & Spencer) work well in small or large kitchens, bringing extra workspace with additional storage when you need it, and tucking neatly away when out of use. Be sure to take care of the wooden top by refreshing it with a new coat of oil every few months.

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    Make fragrant swags

    by  • 31/07/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_CHI_AUG_CRAFT_LAVENDER _019One for country cooks, this hanging arrangement is a delightful way to enjoy, dry and store garden herbs. Hang it up in your kitchen and pick from it as and when you need. You can also add colour with edible flowers or scent with gathered spice bundles.

    We used thyme, sage, fresh and dried lavender, roses, rosemary and bay. Section each herb or flower grouping into small bundles of about 20cm long and tie with florist’s wire.

    Lay about 1m of rope flat on a table. Start with a sturdy-stalked herb or flower and lay the bunch at what will be the base of the swag, near one end of the rope. Tie onto the rope with florist’s twine. Gradually work along and up the rope, laying and tying herbs and flowers in alternate colour and variety.

    Cover any exposed stems with a bunch of herbs or flowers to keep the swag full. Finally, tie loose stems with twine and use the remaining rope to hang the arrangement.

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    The Country Decorator’s Shopping Shortlist – delightful deckchairs

    by  • 30/07/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Whether you’ve opted for a beachside break or a garden staycation, it wouldn’t be a British summer holiday without a snazzy deckchair to recline in. Sit pretty on warm sunny days with our handpicked edit of the best designs…


    Create an outdoor living space to picnic in luxury with these pretty spotted deckchairs, £165 each from Amara. Available in two subtle shades, they compliment bold and bright floor cushions beautifully, adding a pop of colour to dull decking. An easy flat-folding design makes them easily transportable, too.


    Dream of carefree seaside holidays wherever you are with this quirky deckchair, £69 from More By Design at Not On The Highstreet, featuring a stunning underwater view to rival that of any deep-sea diver! The sling is detachable, allowing you to swap and select from the range of funky designs from this Hampshire-based company.

    Ready_www.coxandcox.co.uk Double Deck Chair G-DBLDECK £220.00

    No need to fight over who gets the comfy seat, this gorgeous double deckchair, £220 from Cox & Cox, has plenty of room for two – ideal for snuggling up together in when the weather turns. We love the classic seaside stripes in ice-cream shades!

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    Stay in a tree-top hideaway

    by  • 29/07/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Love a treetop hideaway

    It’s time to get closer to nature with a relaxed stay in a lofty timber retreat. No need to rough it though! See our top picks for the most comfortable of stays – sleeping under the stars has never been so glamorous…

    Six ancient oak trees cocoon this cosy treehouse which, at 35 feet, provides an uber-chic stay. Designed with comfort in mind, there’s a woodburning stove, steaming hot shower, and a compost loo. It nests with a series of five treehouses (the Living Room collection) built in to a 200-acre woodland overlooking the Snowdonia mountains and accessed by a beautifully carved winding stairway. It’s the perfect base for exploring beautiful Welsh countryside. Sleeps five.

    This quirky bolthole is spherical and sustainable,  suspended by cables three metres above ground with a ceiling window for stargazing. Clad in cedar shingles, the lightweight structure has been built with minimal impact on the trees and sturdy design inspiration from early Zeppelin engineering! Scale the sturdy staircase to reach your room in the trees where you’ll find a woodburner, a kitchen hut with a fire circle below the tent and a ground-level hammock for lazy hazy days. There’s even a riverside ‘room’ in a suntrap nearby. Sleeps two.

    It’s the perfect place for romantics and adventurers! Set in a secluded woodland space with uninterrupted views across the tree canopy, this brand new treetop hideaway is made for grown-ups. A stylish combination of sustainable wood craftsmanship using local materials, and bright interiors with a playful touch. Highlights include a sauna and hot tub on the upper spa deck, a revolving woodburner, an open air tree-shower on a second deck and a stainless steel slide. If you want to try other activities, there’s a woodland workshop with craft activities close by, and easy ambles to the spectacular Jurassic Coast. Sleeps two.

    Have you stayed in a treehouse? 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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    Summer sherry trifle

    by  • 28/07/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    For summer parties or big family meals, go retro with this thoroughly British summer trifle. This fruity classic not only looks amazing but tastes sensational and will keep guests coming back for more.

    Serves 12 to 16

    185 g (6½ oz) trifle sponge fingers
    3 tbsp raspberry jam
    3 tbsp sweet sherry
    300 g (10 oz) raspberries
    25 g (1 oz) gelatine leaves
    1 litre (1 ¾pt) cranberry juice for the custard
    1 x 284 ml pot double cream
    3 large, free-range egg yolks
    25 g (1 oz) caster sugar
    1 dsp cornflour

    For the topping

    600 ml (1 pt) double cream
    3 tbsp sweet sherry
    3 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra to dust berries, to top

    You will need
    4-litre (7 pt) trifle dish

    1 To make the base, place the sponge fingers in the base of the trifle dish, mix the raspberry jam with the sherry, warm slightly in the microwave and pour over the fingers. Scatter the raspberries on top.

    2 To make the jelly, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft, wring the water out, then heat the leaves very gently until just melted (don’t allow to steam or bubble), stir into the cranberry juice and pour over the raspberries. Place in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.

    3 To make the custard, heat the cream to steaming, then pour it over the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour, stir until smooth, then return to a clean pan, place back on the heat and stir constantly until thick – it should be steaming but not bubbling. Let the custard cool completely, then pour over the set jelly.

    4 To top, whip the cream with the sherry and icing sugar until you have soft peaks, then smooth over the top of the set custard. Add the berries and dust with icing sugar. It will sit undecorated in the fridge overnight, just add the berries and sugar before serving.

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    Meet Hannah Turner

    by  • 27/07/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupFrom sketchbook to final design, there’s a delightful humour running through Hannah Turner’s illustration style. Her colourful fifties-inspired ceramics and kitchen textiles offer a quirky take on rustic style, perfect for modern country homes – we love her new sunflower collection!

    What made you want to become a designer?
    I’ve always been interested in art and get a lot of pleasure from making things. I grew up in the countryside surrounded by animals, which then became my subject matter. I chose to do a degree in ceramics and sold pretty much all of my show pieces, which spurred me on to set up my own business. I found a studio space and got started!

    Describe your work space.
    I work from a studio in the garden of my Bristol home. We built it three years ago and it’s a very rustic wooden building. I love the commute to work down by wobbly brick path!

    What’s a typical working day like for you?
    I’m usually at my desk by 8:30, where I deal with a lot of the admin side of things. After that, my day is very varied, which I love. Today I’ve been making moulds for some new fish designs and have been decorating salt and pepper prototypes for my next collection.

    What inspires your designs?
    Old ceramic shapes and patterns, retro textiles, comic book illustrations from the 50s and 60s… all sorts really! I love going to antique fairs to pick up inspiration – the latest was a very kitsch oil painting of some grumpy looking cats!

    What do you love about what you do?
    The variety, it never gets dull. I also get a real thrill from seeing my ceramics in lovely shops around the UK. Being stocked in Liberty was a real career high for me.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Stylised, fun and colourful.

    Where do you see yourself in five years time?
    I have a little fantasy about a restoration project in Italy somewhere… spending time in a warmer climate would be good! I would still like to work on my ceramics, but with a little more time off to feel creatively inspired and recharged.

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    Wow factor in white

    by  • 26/07/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    country kitchen

    White has to be one of the most popular colour choices for a country kitchen and here’s a gorgeous scheme that keeps the look light and bright and is perfect for country living.

    We love the elegant hand-finished cabinets that are the epitome of traditional English style with their simple design and classic lines, finished off with a distinctive cockbead detailing (this is the Chichester kitchen from Neptune).

    The light palette creates a fresh and clean feel (the cabinets can be painted in a colour of your choice) but we love white for a cool summer look.

    A kitchen island is a must-have as it provides extra worksurface space to prepare food and also doubles as a breakfast bar. Gleaming chrome industrial pendant lights make a statement and finish off the island with a flourish.

    Walls in a warm grey make the perfect backdrop for the cabinets, adding definition, while the cosy tones of wood and wicker introduce a homely touch.


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    Making strawberry jam?

    by  • 25/07/2016 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    Feeling jam happyWe’ve been feeling jam happy here at Country Days this weekend. Picking strawberries at this time of year from the local pick-your-own farm is lovely in itself, but coming home to make your own strawberry jam is even better!

    A tried and tested favourite is Jamie Oliver’s Incredible Homemade Strawberry Jam recipe. It makes just enough to last a week or so in the fridge and is perfect with scones and cream or as a filling in a Victoria sponge!

    Have you been making any jam? What’s your favourite?

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    30 County Style Icons: the rocking chair

    by  • 24/07/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Country Homes & Interiors is 30 this year! In celebration, we’ve picked 30 of our all-time favourite design classics that have stood the test of time, thanks to their real sense of history, craftsmanship and purpose, to share with you over the coming weeks.

    13The rocking chair
    Created to help lull infants to sleep, the rocking chair can be traced back to America, making its debut in England in the early 18th century. Early designs were in cane, but the advent of steam-bending saw more models in timber. The Originals Chairmakers rocking chair (above), £845, is a classic design from iconic British furniture brand, Ercol. Based in the historic furniture heartland of High Wycombe, the company made its name with great design and clever manufacturing processes using English elm. Not just for the nursery, rockers make a stylish addition to open-plan spaces and big kitchen-diners.


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    Make sweet-smelling potpourri

    by  • 24/07/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_SUN CRAFTA seasonal reminder of what’s been grown in your garden, potpourri can be created to feature favourite scents, colourful flowers, or both!

    Cut flowers and herbs on a dry day; we used petals and small flower heads including lavender, rose, cornflower, marigold and chamomile. You can dry the plants in one of two ways; either space them out on a drying rack and store away from moisture or sunlight or place them in a microwave on a paper towel and ‘cook’ for just under a minute. Decant into a favourite bowl and scatter fresh lavender heads and rose petals on top to enjoy the scent straight away.

    Decant into little muslin bags to hang up in wardrobes or if giving as a gift, store in a sealed opaque jar to retain the colour and scent.

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