• Archive for October, 2016

    Pick a pretty place setting

    by  • 30/10/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Looking for an original place setting idea? Make the most of in-season apples and carve them into pretty miniature vases to display place-name cards for guests. We used typewriter-style alphabet stamps (£10 for 64, Hobbycraft) for a retro, rustic look.

    Start by using a metal fruit corer to create a small hole in the top of each apple – position the corer above the stem area and gently carve out the centre to create a circular hole. Take a small brush and wipe around the inside with a little lemon juice to avoid the flesh going brown. Push in a small piece of aluminium foil to line the hole (be sure to avoid making any holes in the foil), pressing it into the sides before trimming in line with the top of the apple. Fill with a little water, then arrange flowers and berries inside. Finally, add a stamped place-name card held on fine-gauge wire twisted into a circle using pliers.


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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – spooktacular Halloween buys

    by  • 29/10/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    ready_rockettFeeling devilish..? With the shiver of Halloween lurking on Monday, it’s a ripe opportunity to bring Autumnal colours and spirit indoors… We’ve rounded up a dangerously fun edit of Halloween-inspired buys to fright and delight all night..!

    Resurrect party spirit with an eye-popping seasonal display that screams fun! We absolutely love these quirky Pumpkin Decorations (shown above), from £11.50, at Rockett St George… Featuring a variety of metallic patterns and colours in different sizes, they’re the patch-perfect pick to place at staggered heights for details of humorous style!

    ready_besselink-jonesAdd a ghostly touch of Gothic to your home by grouping lanterns to create a fright night of flickering flames. These simple but oh so effective Storm Lamps (shown above), from £89, at Besselink & Jones, are just the thing to illuminate and alarm party guests! We recommend using dark pillar candles for added dramatic effect. Shown above: Large Square Storm Light, Distressed Brass; Mini Storm Light, Silver; Simple Storm Light, Distressed Brass.

    ready_sainsTransform your home into a haunted house of horrors with Sainsbury’s largest ever selection of ghoulish and spooky room decorations. To be enjoyed by all ages, this vast collection of spine-tinglers promises to set the ultimate party back drop/crime scene with an antiquated twist. Shown above: Skull Goblet, £3; Silver Stud Skull Large, £15; Skull Mug, £3; Buried Alive Skeleton, £10; Hanging Skeleton Mummy, £3.50; Black Spider, £1; Cobweb Black, £3; Tombstone, £5; Black Candelabra, £15; Black Tinsel Cat, £5; Light Up Bucket, £6.



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    Go wild for autumn colour!

    by  • 28/10/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Love autumn hues

    Killiecrankie, Perthshire
    One of the most magnificent views at this time of year can be seen at the Pass of Killiecrankie in Perthshire. This wooded gorge (pictured) on the River Garry is associated with an historic Jacobite battle, but today it is a peaceful place where visitors have the chance to spot birds, red squirrels, leaping salmon and, in autumn, a variety of trees turn spectacular shades of burgundy, amber, russet and gold.

    Grizedale Forest, Cumbria
    Or go wild in Grizedale Forest, Cumbria, where the Ridding Wood trail offers stunning views of the valley, and a hike to the top of Carron Crag reveals panoramic vistas of this unspoilt landscape with its heady mix of autumn colours.

    The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
    Formerly used as a royal hunting forest and a site of industry in  Victorian times, the evidence can still be found amongst the maze of trees. From Symons Yat Rock, spot the River Wye, concealed by crunchy leaves and towering trees this season.

    Where is your favourite place to see Autumn colour? 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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    Rye grain & barley porridge with spiced apples & bee pollen

    by  • 27/10/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    This week is honey week and we have so much to thank our bees for – not least an incredible range of honeys infused with a host of floral fragrances. As a guide, the lighter varieties, such as acacia, clover or orange blossom, combine well with similarly delicate and aromatic flavours, such as vanilla, mild dairy and hints of citrus. This warming, wholesome porridge is dairy-free, but it can be made with cow’s milk and butter, if preferred.

    Serves 4
    125 g rye grains
    125 g barley flakes
    50 g jumbo rolled oats
    600 ml unsweetened almond milk Generous pinch sea salt
    15 g coconut butter
    2 firm eating apples, such as a Cox or Orange Pippin, cored and sliced
    1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
    2 tbsp honey, plus extra to serve
    2 tsp bee pollen

    1. Put the rye grains in a large mixing bowl and cover well with cool water. Leave to soak overnight, or for at least a couple of hours if time is short.
    2. Drain the rye grains and transfer to a large saucepan with the barley flakes, rolled oats, half the almond milk, the salt and 750ml fresh water. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring often, until the rye grains are just tender.
    3. When the porridge is almost cooked, melt the coconut butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the apple slices and the cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the honey and cook for a few minutes, until caramelised. Set aside.
    4. Add the remaining almond milk to the porridge and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, until thickened to the consistency you like.
    5. Divide the porridge between bowls and top each with a quarter of the spiced apple, half a teaspoon of bee pollen and extra honey, to taste.
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    Meet the winners of the My Country Business Awards 2016: Petra Hall

    by  • 26/10/2016 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    ready_groupIn May, we launched our seventh My Country Business Awards in association with Not On The High Street, a leading supporter of small businesses. Meet the amazing people who won…

    Category: Fabric, furniture and wallpaper designers
    Petronella Hall

    Petra Hall lives with her husband Greg and children Isaac, 19, and Ellana, 16, plus snow Bengal cat in a village in Kent. She is passionate about interiors and produces original fabrics and wallpapers featuring her beautiful hand-drawn designs inspired by the beauty of nature.

    Petra’s background was in fashion – designing and making wedding and party dresses, then creating designer children’s coats. In 2010 she began a degree in illustration with the aim of illustrating children’s books, but found she missed working on fabrics. While studying, she screen-printed her own designs on linen from her home.

    ‘A friend saw my work and said I should be in business designing fabrics,’ says Petra, so in 2014 she started Petronella Hall. ‘Through a friend, I had a meeting with Stephen Lewis of Lewis & Wood who suggested I put the designs on wallpaper too. I took my designs to a wallpaper manufacturer who happens to be only 15 minutes away and they asked me to do some bespoke designs for them. They are now printing my wallpapers for me.

    ‘Living in the countryside gives me a feeling of freedom and I hope my designs reflect a sense of that. I am also now offering cushions and a bespoke wallpaper service. I’m a supported of all things British, so I use local companies as suppliers.

    I was shocked and delighted to win this award, I had to reread the email. I was over the moon and it was such a lovely surprise.

    What the judges said…
    I see so much design on wallpaper and fabric, but this collection is fresh, detailed and different. Petronella Hall is definitely a talent for the future. The calibre of all the entries was excellent. It’s refreshing to see that there is so much talent and originality in our country.
    Melanie Adams, Founder and Buyer, Wallpaper Direct

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    Rustic revival

    by  • 25/10/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    country bedroom barker and stonehouse

    Make a bedroom extra cosy for chilly days ahead with the texture of beautiful wood. Here at Country Days, we couldn’t help but fall for this gorgeous modern country bedroom with its rustic, washed wooden furniture that makes a statement, yet creates a lovely, relaxed look.

    The furniture is from the Austen range by Barker & Stonehouse and works beautifully against earthy green-based neutral walls. Crafted from reclaimed timber, the chunky designs evoke a contemporary feel.

    ‘Working with wood is a great way of creating interest in a neutral scheme,’ says Claire Hornby, creative stylist at Barker & Stonehouse. ‘The rustic nature of the furniture adds depth to the look and allows the rest of the palette to remain soft and sophisticated. The beauty of this material is in its uniqueness. By adding subtle injections of colour and pattern into the layout, this charming look can be interpreted in many ways to suit the natural architectural features of your property.’

    Team with sumptuous faux fur throws and cushions, and fabulous antler-inspired lighting for a scheme that will pave the way for winter.


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    Create a seasonal table arrangement

    by  • 23/10/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Planning a bonfire night get-together? Let seasonal fruit take centre stage on an outdoor table with a beautiful display that also incorporates flowers and berried foliage.

    Begin by washing the apples you are going to use with warm soapy water, rinse, then place them in a large glass vase. Fill the vase with cold water to the desired level before carefully adding in a selection of flowers and foliage. The aim is to create an abundant seasonal display so include a colourful mix of fruit, flowers and berries. Remember to use firm stems as these will hold their shape better and last longer. Top up and refresh with water as necessary to extend the life of the display.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – layers of loveliness

    by  • 22/10/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    ready_linen-storeBrrr it’s chilly! It’s definitely time to delve into the armoire and bring out the heavy tog duvet. This week, we’ve rounded-up the most dreamy (pun intended) of new season bedlinen layers to ensure you have the cosiest, cuddliest and loveliest of hibernating weekends…

    Mix and match autumnal tones in beautiful textures to ensure the ultimate night’s rest and relaxation. This 100% Washed Cotton Percale Aubergine/Duck Egg Bedding, £65 for a double duvet, from Secret Linen Store, is woven and dyed with a 200 thread count, and tumbled and laundered to create the softest feather like finish – it’s the perfect set for early nights and lazy Sunday snoozing…

    ready_cloth-clayAdd a touch of Danish ‘hyggelig’ ambience in the bedroom with premium quality bedlinen in calming tones. This new Nordic Nights Sayen Cotton Digital Printed Bedding Set, from £120 for a double set, from Cloth & Clay, is inspired by the serene and beauty of the Nordic landscape in deep winter. Each 100% cotton, 300 thread count set comes complete with a duvet cover and pillowcases – it’s just the thing to make the pleasure of a simple lie-in feel extra special and guilt-free.

    ready_bedeckDress your head-down-feet-up haven in timeless charm. Composed of 100% cotton percale and boasting a 300 thread count, this gorgeous Tile Blush Pink Bedding, £85 for a double duvet cover, by Murmur at Bedeck, features a dusky geometric design on a crisp white background. Inspired by the simplicity of Scandi decor – the soft neutral tones and nod to a more intricate texture, promise to bring a calming and stylish edge to your bedroom.

    Layering up is the key philosophy – so pile on the cushions and throws in abundance and create the toastiest retreat from cold evenings. Sweet dreams all…


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    Unwind in a hot tub retreat . . .

    by  • 21/10/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Love a hot tub holidayNothing beats lounging in a warm bubbling tub on a chilly day, surrounded by beautiful scenery. We’ve found three of the best hot tub hideaways to rejuvenate the mind and spirit this season…

    The High Cabin, Tyn Y Groes, Conwy
    This beautiful bolthole offers the best of both worlds – the tranquillity of the log cabin and its views of meadows and ancient woodlands, with great food and banter close by at The Groes Inn. On arrival pick up a map from the inn and follow the short drive through scenic countryside to the pretty log cabin. Complete with a king size bed, stylish bathroom with Temple Spa toiletries, a modern kitchen and outdoor hot tub on a heated veranda (pictured) with lofty views of Snowdonia and the Conwy Valley by day, or enjoy mellow nightcaps by evening.

    The Raft at Chigborough, Maldon, Essex
    This is the place for dreamers… Hop aboard the floating cabin and take time out with a good book on teak recliners. On warmer days, go rowing and look out for splashing trout and abundant wildlife among the surrounding reeds, woods and fields. Indoors, spacious rooms include a sofabed on the main deck and a mezzanine double. Eco-friendly guests will love the solar power which charges the gas shower and high tech loo; and the kitchen is complete with fridge and gas hobs. On the banks of the lake there’s a fire pit, log store, hot tub and bicycles. Enjoy a welcome hamper on arrival or head to The Cart Lodge Tearoom (on site) for lunch and cream teas. Head to nearby Goldhanger village for pub roasts, or fish and chips.

    Ivy Cottage, Brinsop, Herefordshire
    Set on Brinsop Court manor estate, this 18th century gamekeeper’s cottage is made for romantics with views of rolling countryside towards mountains and woodland, and a half-timbered rustic exterior which harmonises with stylish interiors. Enjoy garden walks or tennis before a soak in the hot tub under the stars. Curl up on squishy sofas in the cosy sitting room with its warming wood burner and venture out to the private tub on the terrace. Upstairs there’s a double bedroom with a super kingsized bed, Egyptian cotton sheets, bathrobes and a bathroom with a free-standing bath and walk in shower. Make a homely meal with the kitchen’s Aga, or cook up a barbecue on the fire pit.

     Have you stayed in a fabulous hot tub hideaway? 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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    Chicken Katsu curry

    by  • 20/10/2016 • Country food, Uncategorized • 0 Comments


    Originally a Japanese meal, chicken katsu curries have become very popular everywhere – and this recipe even has a gluten-free twist. We found it in the lovely Coconut Oil: Recipes for Real Life book by Lucy Bee (Quadrille £15).

    SERVES 2

    1 tsp plus 1 tbsp curry powder
    50g chickpea (gram) flour
    Pinch salt and ground black pepper
    1 egg, beaten
    60g gluten-free breadcrumbs
    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    30g coconut oil

    30g coconut oil
    150g onions, chopped
    50g fresh ginger, peeled and grated or blitzed
    2 medium carrots, diced
    3 garlic cloves, crushed
    1 tbsp chickpea (gram) flour
    375ml chicken stock
    2 tsp honey
    1 bay leaf
    1 tbsp tamari sauce

    150g brown rice
    Chopped coriander (cilantro)

    1. For the chicken, mix 1 tsp curry powder and chickpea (gram) flour together in a bowl and add the salt and pepper. Put the beaten egg into a separate bowl and the breadcrumbs into a third bowl.Dust each chicken breast first in the seasoned flour, then the egg, followed by the breadcrumbs to coat. Set aside while you make the sauce.
    2. Melt the coconut oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, add the onions, ginger and carrots and cook for a few minutes until the onions begin to soften, stirring to make sure they don’t burn. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, adding a little more coconut oil if necessary.
    3. Stir in 1 tbsp curry powder and chickpea flour and mix everything together thoroughly. Add the stock gradually, stirring continuously. Add the honey, bay leaf and tamari, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft (which may take a little longer). Use a hand-held blender or food processor to blend into a smooth sauce.
    4. While the sauce is simmering, cook the rice according to the packet instructions and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
    5. To cook the chicken, heat the coconut oil in an ovenproof frying pan. When hot, place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, then transfer the pan to the oven for about 10 minutes until cooked through.
    6. Remove the chicken from the pan, cut the breasts into slices, place the slices on a plate with the rice and pour over the sauce. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander (cilantro) to serve.

    Photography Dan Jones


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