• Archive for July, 2016

    Chilled Minted Pea Soup

    by  • 14/07/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Ready_Chilled Pea & Mint Soup 1

    This lovely refreshing summer soup can be made 2-3 days in advance and kept chilled in the fridge. For a smoother soup, sieve it before serving, then simply pour it in the glasses and garnish to serve.

    30g (1oz) butter
    3-4 shallots or 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
    500g (1lb) peas, fresh or frozen
    750ml (1½pt) vegetable stock
    2-3tbsp freshly chopped mint
    Pinch of sugar, optional
    Double cream and pea shoots, to serve

    Heat the butter in a pan and add the shallots, or onion, and cook for about 5-7 mins, until they have softened but not coloured.

    2 Add the peas to the pan and then the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 mins until the peas are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the soup to cool slightly.

    3 Add the chopped mint to the soup and purée in a blender or with a stick blender. Season to taste, and add the sugar, if needed.

    4 Chill the soup well before serving and if it’s too thick, thin it down with a little cold water or vegetable stock.

    5 Serve in small glasses with a little cream spooned on top and garnished with some pea shoots.

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    Meet Terri Peay

    by  • 13/07/2016 • Country business • 1 Comment


    Terri Peay draws inspiration from her serene surroundings in rural Dorset, capturing the quirky characteristics of wild animals through stunning watercolour illustrations. Commission your own design or choose from her classic collection, available on a range of homewares, accessories and stationery.

    How did your business come about?
    Ever since I was a young child I’ve had a passion for painting animals. I used to create my own card designs (complete with hand-drawn barcode on the back!) featuring my family’s beloved pets, as well as creatures I came across growing up in rural Dorset. Studying Textiles at university allowed me to develop my love of illustration and design, paving the way for me to set up my own business. I’ve been so lucky to have the support of friends and family throughout my journey, too.

    Describe your design process.
    All my illustrations are generally created in pen, watercolour and ink. I like to ensure everything is painted by hand as I feel this reflects my rustic country style. If the illustration is a commission it is mounted, framed and sent off to its new home. If it’s part of a new collection, I’ll scan it and prepare it digitally, ready to send off to print. My fabric products come back to me as a large length of fabric, which I then make into cushions and key rings. I make my coasters by hand as well.

    How would you describe your own interior style?
    I live next to the beautiful Jurassic coast, so my home features a modern country coastal theme. I’ve used nautical colours alongside furnishings and wallpaper inspired by my own illustrations.

    What’s your most prized piece in your home?
    It’s actually a room! My studio – everyday I walk in there I’m reminded of how lucky I am to do the job I do.

    What’s next for you?
    As well as expanding my ranges I’m working on a project for an animal charity, something I’d like to continue to do. I want to give something back to the animals that have inspired me so much over the years.

    What do you love most about the countryside?
    The views that Dorset’s coastal and country landscapes offer all year around are incredible.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Quirky, individual and fun.

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    Into the blue

    by  • 12/07/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Blue country living room

    Blue is the colour of the moment, and we’re loving the different tones that are used here in this gorgeous country living room. If you’re bored with neutrals and are looking to bring a little colour into your life, here’s a way to introduce different patterns in summery shades, while creating a soothing palette.

    The hero piece in the scheme is the classic sofa (the Snowdrop two and a half seater sofa in Blue Marl from Sofa.com), which is given a modern update in a bold shade. Keep the look graduated by varying the tones of blues around it. Here, cushions in coastal stripes and windowpane checks in a paler hue of blue, as well as white, soften the scheme and add interest. A stunning cowparsley design wallpaper in a sky blue makes an eyecatching backdrop while emphasising the country element.

    Occasional and coffee tables with an industrial edge bring the look bang up to date. Pop an artisan striped vase filled with pretty flowers into the room to link with the pattern on the cushion.

    Then finish off with a subtle blue grey rug to soften the wooden floorboards.


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    Win a break at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

    by  • 11/07/2016 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

    One lucky winner and a friend will have the chance to spend a day working with the team in the gardens at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Afterwards they will enjoy dinner and an overnight stay, including breakfast the following morning.

    Since opening in 1984, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons has achieved the highest awards and accolades of any restaurant and country house hotel in Great Britain and is regarded as one of the very best in Europe. One of the few restaurants in the world to retain 2 Michelin stars for over 30 years, it remains a mecca for gourmets the world over.

    The gardens are as much a part of the excellence of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons as the food, service and warm welcome extended to all guests. In the words of Raymond, the garden is ‘an integral part of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons’ culinary and aesthetic experience, supplying the restaurant with its daily needs for eight months of the year, as well as providing a sensual pleasure for our guests.

    The kitchen garden is a magnificent two-acre vegetable and herb garden that produces over 90 types of vegetables and 70 herbs. Head gardener Anne-Marie Owens has worked with Raymond for nearly 30 years and has a fantastic team who tend to the gardens daily.

    To enter this amazing prize draw, fill in your details here. The draw is open between 30 June and 10 August 2016

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    30 Country Style Icons: the slatback chair

    by  • 10/07/2016 • 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.

    The slatback chair

    12This design was first made my wheelwrights – the spindles turned on a pole lathe in the same way as spokes, and inserted into drilled holes in a solid seat. Manufacturing of the classic Windsor design took off in High Wycombe – the name refers to the shipping route from Windsor to London. It’s the solid seat that provides stability for the design with elm as the timber of choice; its strong interlocking grain means it can take holes drilled near the edge. Oak and ash are often used for the spindles. Go with the beauty of natural wood or look for painted designs such as this Classic English slatback chair, £125, An Angel at my Table.

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    Cut and tie scented smudge sticks

    by  • 10/07/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_SUN BLOGToday sees the first in our Cutting Garden Crafts series, where we show you how to make the most of summer blooms and heady herbs. Smudge sticks are a Pagan tradition; string-tied bundles of fragrant dried fauna believed to bring ‘good’ energy into the home…

    Pick herbs and flowers on a dry day and leave out by a sunny window for a few hours. We used dried lavender, roses and rosemary for colour and scent, plus sage for the outer layer. Cut and sort your plants to about the same length (8-10cm) for easy rolling – a little longer than the sage leaves is a good guide.

    Lay out a length of twine and place sage leaves along the top. Take a small bunch of foliage and flowers, place on the sage (as arranged on the picture above) and start to roll into bundles. When ready, wrap and tie bundles with the string. Place on a cake cooling rack to dry.

    Put sand in a fireproof bowl and place on a sturdy heatproof surface. Light the stick to create fragrant smoke, opening windows and doors to air the room (never leave lighted materials unattended).

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – hanging garden chairs

    by  • 09/07/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Ready_White CoStay cool and breezy this weekend and swing in style with this summer’s must-have statement piece – the hanging chair. We’ve rounded-up a gorgeous edit of suspended designs to help you take the weight off your feet and fly free…

    Add a delightful addition to your summer garden with this wonderful Hanging Chair, £325, by Fermob at The White Company. Created entirely from hand forged iron work on a solid steel frame, this matt powder coated lovely has been treated to protect against scratching and rust – it’s the perfect boutique garden furniture pick that will stand the test of time.

    Ready_CoxRelax with a favourite read and cheeky tipple in a beautiful woven statement piece. We love this Indoor Outdoor Hanging Egg Chair, £350, from Cox & Cox. This impressive design is made from durable materials woven around a strong metal frame and includes a sumptuous cream seat cushion and head rest for ultimate comfort – it’s the ideal hero pick to add Scandi style to any secluded space.

    Ready_Oak & RopeRe-purpose a branch and retreat under a tree with this delightful Large Swing, from £345, by The Oak & Rope Company. Generously proportioned, this comfortable perch can be engraved with your choice of happy sentiments – making it a gorgeous present for grandparents, anniversaries and weddings (and it’s great for playing too of course)!

    You’ll have a summer of floating on cloud nine with these hanging delights!





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    Visit a lavender farm

    by  • 08/07/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Mayfield lavender farmWith summer weather warming up, there’s no better time to visit a lavender farm and breathe in the heavenly aromatic hues. We’ve rounded up three of the best family-run farms for you to explore this season…

    Yorkshire Lavender, Terrington, North Yorkshire
    Head for the Howardian Hills where Yorkshire Lavender features a farm, gardens and a specialist plant nursery. Explore fields of herbs and varieties of lavender in calming shades of white, blue and purple. Meander the lavender maze and wild flower meadow or head to the tearoom for delicious food and panoramic views over the magnificent Vale of York. Open daily until 2 October.

    Mayfield Lavender, Banstead, Surrey
    This certified organic lavender farm (pictured) is set on the North Surrey Hills where lavender flowers from the end of June to September. Get mindful among acres upon acres of aromatic lavender rows. Or bring a camera and see if your snap up the winning prize in the farm’s annual photo competition! Open daily until 14 September, the farm also runs a gift shop in nearby Epsom.

    Shropshire Lavender, Pickstock, Shropshire
    Set in gentle rolling countryside, Wellbeck Farm showcases hardy lavender varieties, including dark indigo blues of Hidcote, slate blue of Grosso, and the intense lighter blue of Melissa Lilac. Enjoy an afternoon among plants, bees and butterflies from now until mid-August, then head to the gift shop for pretty lavender bunches, culinary lavender and artisan essential lavender oil. You can also meet the owners in The Lavender Garden at this week’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show!

    Do you have a favourite lavender farm to visit? 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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    Tasty Moroccan-style chicken salad

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

    Ready_THURS BLOGSmoky artichokes and exotic spices give plain griddled chicken a tasty kick in this recipe, inspired by the flavours of Morocco. If you’re not a fan of harissa, curry paste works just as well – the spicier the better in our opinion!

    SERVES 4

    2 chicken breasts, about 150g each
    4 teaspoons olive oil
    2 teaspoons harissa
    6 baby courgettes, each sliced into 3 pieces lengthways
    4 slices ciabatta
    2 handfuls watercress
    180g griddled artichokes in oil
    16 green olives
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    Handful of garlic chives, optional

    1 Put the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin until the meat is about 1cm (½in) thick.

    2 Rub 2 teaspoons of oil over the chicken, then the harissa paste. Heat a griddle pan until very hot. Rub the rest of the oil over the courgette slices and grill until tender.

    3 Wipe any excess paste off the chicken and grill the breasts for 3-4 minutes on each side. Take out of the pan and wrap in foil. Griddle the slices of ciabatta.

    4 Divide the watercress, chunks of ciabatta, courgettes, artichokes and olives between 4 plates. Slice the chicken and arrange on top. Whisk 3 tablespoons of oil from the pack of artichokes with the balsamic vinegar and drizzle over the salad. Scatter with garlic chives, if you like.

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    Meet Lottie Day

    by  • 06/07/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_WEDS groupNorfolk-based textile designer Lottie Day’s line-drawn illustrations are screen printed onto canvas and made up into a delightful range of country-inspired homewares, from mugs and napkins to double deck chairs. All available to buy at Not On The High Street.

    How did starting up your own business come about?
    I started my own gallery and shop after finishing university. It was really inspiring to interact with artists and makers but it also made me realise that I’d stopped being creative myself, so I bought a sketchbook and started drawing again. I taught myself to screen print. It gave me the power to adapt my illustrations into all kinds of exciting creations. Before I knew it I was getting orders all over the place.

    What’s your workspace like?
    My studio actually doubles up as a gallery so occasionally customers will come in and ask about what I’m doing. I’m based at The Assembly House, which is a beautiful Georgian mansion in the centre of Norwich. The staff always pop in with tea and cake, it’s a pretty good deal!

    Describe a typical working day.
    I always start with a black coffee and peanut butter on toast, before opening the studio to deal with the terrible mess I made the day before! I put on my apron and get down to screen printing. It’s an extremely satisfying and therapeutic process and can be very addictive.

    What inspires you?
    I grew up in the sticks so a lot of my work is based on the Norfolk countryside and its inhabiting wildlife. Outdoor experiences inspire me, whether it’s spotting a wild hare or helping my Dad on his allotment.

    What materials do you choose to work with and why?
    I love working with hard-wearing materials such as thick canvas, leather and rivets. I want my products to stand the test of time and cope with being used on a regular basis, otherwise what’s the point!

    What do you love about what you do?
    I love to see the design process through, from my sketch book all the way to meeting a customer face-to-face and showing them something new.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Different every time.

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