• Archive for October, 2016

    Meet the winners of the My Country Business Awards 2016: Lauren Aston

    by  • 19/10/2016 • Country business • 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: Home Accessory Crafters and Makers
    Lauren Aston Designs

    Lauren lives with her fiancé Alex Pierson and cockapoo puppy Harry in Devon. She has had a passion for knitting since childhood. ‘My grandmother taught me to knit when I was 11 and I then did a fashion and textile degree at Winchester School of Art where I specialised in knitwear’.

    A visit to the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey, Devon, provided the spark for her business. ‘I saw the passion of the artists and makers and knew it was what I wanted to do. I love hand-knitting and wanted to create as quickly as possible, so I decided to knit super-chunky home accessories on giant knitting needles using lovely unspun merino wool.’

    Lauren Aston Designs launched in February 2015. ‘My work is statement pieces for interiors – cushions, blankets, footstools and lampshades. I had a store-front on Not On The High Street and it took off from there. People hadn’t seen anything like it before – it’s knitting on a different scale! I was thrilled when I heard I’d won. I feel humbled.’

    What the judges said…
    Lauren’s work is original – I hadn’t seen anything like it before and that’s what you need to stand out from the crowd these days. She’s passionate about what she does and seems to have so much fun making her products.
    Sophie Allport, Founder and Owner, Sophie Allport.

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    Chalet-style chic

    by  • 18/10/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Anthropologie living room

    Cooler autumn days make us want to embrace hygge – the Danish art of living cosily – and here’s a gorgeous country living room that’s really inspiring us here at Country Days to hunker down.

    This beautiful room has the feel of a ski chalet with features such as the dark timbered walls, wooden beams and flooring and the amazing exposed stone chimney breast.

    Here, light and bright pieces of furniture really sing out. Cream clean-lined sofas introduce a modern edge while a statement chair, the Moresque from Anthropologie, adds drama to the scheme with its modern, armless shape and kaleidoscopic colours. Its luxe velvet upholstery is inspired by traditional Turkish rugs. And that ethnic feel is continued with the Heradia cushions and embroidered throw, also from Anthropologie.

    We love the eclectic accessories, such as the stunning tiered tapers chandelier and golden mirror, that add extra textural detail.

    And, if you haven’t got a roaring fire as a focal point, create a similar effect with a cluster of candles in lanterns, as shown here.



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    Craft an apple candle holder

    by  • 16/10/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Perfectly proportioned for tealights, these seasonal candle holders are easily made by carving out the top of an apple.

    To make your candle holder, first place a tealight on top of the apple and draw around it. Remove the apple and carefully score around the circle shape with a craft knife, then press down and follow this cut line around to slice into the apple. Carve and remove the apple pulp with a corer or small spoon until the depth of the tealight is reached.

    Take a small brush and wipe around the inside of the cut area with a little lemon juice to prevent the apple from going brown, then push the tealight into the hole until the sides are completely concealed. Ensure that the base of the apple is stable before lighting the tealight.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – creature comfort treats

    by  • 15/10/2016 • Country style, Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    cosy_cuddly-2As the nights draw in and temperatures begin to plummet we’re suddenly craving all things cuddly and homely. Hibernating silver linings on cue, in this week’s shortlist we’ve rounded up a trio of creature comfort items inspired to help us all relax and be happy – because when it comes down to the boil, it’s the little things that make us smile…

    For indulgent pleasure, turn a corner of your snug into a blissful haven with a super squishy and cosy cushion-come-chair. This 100% Sheepskin Beanbag, £785, from Celtic & Co, is generously sized making it the ultimate soft landing pad to sink into after a tiring day clucking around here there and everywhere. Made in Great Britain and filled with fire-retardant beans in an internal net lining – the only danger is that you’ll never want to get back up! D109 x H55cm approx.

    cosy_cuddly-1Hit the sweet-tooth spot and warm up from the inside out with a cuddle-in-a-cup hot chocolate served up in a must-have cup. This Natural Canvas Textured Large Mug, £14, from Denby, features a warm, neutral hue and subtle Chevron pattern inspired by the brand’s iconic seventies range of the same name. Handcrafted in England from high quality, locally sourced clay and expertly glazed to prevent chipping and enhance durability – it’s the loveliest addition to any teatime break, with a capacity of 300ml to allow for the full works toppings! D9 x H9.5cm.

    cosy_cuddly-3Go on and spoil yourself rotten with a real hottie on your arm! We think this Cashmere Hug A Hottie Hot Water Bottle, £89, by Plum & Ivory at Notonthehighstreet.com, is pure genius. Luxuriously snuggable on a cold day, this extra thoughtful little number includes a pocket for you to put your hands in – it’s the essential improved design on the conventional that promises to get you through any down and gloomy day. 33 x 21cm, available in dark melange grey, dove, winter white/cream and amethyst pink.

    With such soul warming delights to help us retreat and rest in style – the short days and long nights are looking ever more appealing and blissful…

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    Our favourite place: Godalming

    by  • 14/10/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    our favourite place to visitSet in an idyllic  location by the River Wey and the magnificent Surrey Hills, this market town is perfect for a family day out. We also love it for its…

    Markets The weekly Friday market dates back as far as 1300! Source everything from furniture and household items to art, jewellery, flowers and food. There’s also a farmer’s market every fifth Sunday of the month at Crown Court, High Street.

    Godalming Museum Step inside for one of the friendliest welcomes to visitors and advice on everything from popular attractions and exhibitions to local history. Discover the town’s roots in the woollen cloth, papermaking and leatherwork industries, plus its notable historic residents including designer Gertrude Jekyll and architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. And don’t miss the 19th century Old Town Hall and former medieval market site ‘The Pepperpot’ which stands proudly in the town centre.

    Riverboats Hop aboard a narrowboat with the Godalming Packetboat Company and take a trip back to Victorian times as heavy horses draw the load by canal locks along the tranquil River Wey.

    Dining  Set in a lofty 17th-century church in the town centre, The Bel & Dragon is a great place for brunch, dinner or evening cocktail masterclasses this season! Or head to nearby Eashing, where The Stag on the River offers modern British dishes using fresh seasonal produce.

    Shops Godalming has a wonderful selection of independent shops with plentiful country-style shops along the High Street and Church street. The Little Shed sells furniture, homewares, antiques and gifts with brands including Flamant, Blanc d’Ivoire and Annie Sloan Paint. Browsing is relaxed and expert advice is available. Katherine Letts Interiors fabrics, 103 High Street, 01483 860106, sells home accessories, decorative items and gifts including Emma Bridgewater Pottery, Bombay Duck and Gisela Graham. And Heart of the Home, 10 church street, 07515 284288, offers modern country style homewares and gifts. For wallpaper, fabrics (Morris & Co, Sanderson), paints (Berger, Little Green), blinds (Luxaflex) and invaluable decorating advice, head to Cornmeter. And, for contemporary fine art by leading and emerging British artists, visit McAllister Thomas who also hold regular exhibitions.

    Food produce Delicious local ingredients from the region are easy to source here. At the Godalming Food Company, there’s an array of products to tempt foodies from freshly baked artisan breads and cakes to cheese, meats, pâté and handmade pies in addition to fine oils, chutneys, preserves, sauces, coffee, ales and wines. For meats, try The Godalming Butchers who offer free range meats from slow-growing breeds with a healthy outdoor lifestyle. Fancy something sweet? Then The Crumby Bakery is the place to be for coffee, scones and delicious treats.

    Where is your favourite market town? 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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    Orange and pumpkin curd sponge

    by  • 13/10/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    As well as making a fabulous cake filling with a difference, this orange and pumpkin curd, with its hint of orange blossom, is excellent spooned on to yoghurt for breakfast or even spread on toast!

    Serves 10-12

    For the curd
    Zest and 100ml juice from 1 large orange
    Zest and 30ml juice from 1 lemon
    100g pumpkin purée (tinned is fne)
    125g unsalted butter, cubed
    50g golden caster sugar
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    Few drops orange blossom water

    For the cakes
    225g soft salted butter
    225g golden caster sugar
    4 large eggs
    200g pumpkin purée (tinned is fine)
    200g self-raising flour
    30g ground almonds
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp finely grated orange zest

    For the cream
    150g fromage frais
    200ml double cream
    1 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra to dust
    Few drops orange blossom water
    Fresh raspberries and pomegranate seeds, to decorate

    1. To make the curd, put the orange and lemon zest and juice in a heatproof bowl with the pumpkin purée, butter and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of boiling water, ensuring the base is not touching the water, and stir until the butter and sugar have melted.
    2. Lower the heat slightly, whisk in the eggs and continue to stir for 20-25 minutes until the curd has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the orange blossom water and strain through a sieve into a warm sterilised jar. This will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.
    3. To make the sponge, pre-heat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease two 20cm sandwich tins with a little butter then line the base of each tin with non-stick baking parchment.
    4. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, pumpkin purée, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and orange zest in a large bowl until thoroughly blended. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins.
    5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes, until well risen and the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
    6. Whip the fromage frais and cream together with the icing sugar and orange blossom water until just billowy and thick. Spread the top of one cake with the curd and the bottom of the other with the cream mix, then sandwich together so that the cream sits above the curd and the base is fat. Sift a little icing sugar over the top and decorate with fresh raspberries and pomegranate seeds.
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    Meet the winners of the My Country Business Awards 2016: Jasmine Linington

    by  • 12/10/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    In 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: Not On The High Street’s Emerging Creative Talent Award
    Jasmine Linington Bespoke Textiles

    Jasmine divides her time between London, where she works for an interiors company, and her family home in a village in Kent where she dyes the fibre for her business making beautiful cushions, scarves, shawls and blankets.

    Jasmine finished her degee in textiles at Edinburgh College of Art in 2015. ‘In my final year at university I was inspired by the lovely colours and textures of the seashore. I discovered a wonderful environmentally friendly fibre called Seacell, which contains seaweed, and fell in love with it because of its ability to capture colour and its luxurious touch. I’m now incorporating it into my hand-dyed and embroidered pieces.

    A friend messaged me on winning the award – I hadn’t seen the email so I was very excited! It’s wonderful to think that someone has seen my potential.’

    What the judges said…
    Jasmine Linington is an extremely creative individual with a compelling story and connection to nature, which is artfully reflected in her beautiful work.
    Sally Bendelow, Creative Product Director, Not On The High Street

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    Prints charming

    by  • 11/10/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    country dining room
    Bring some quirky character to a neutral, cottagey scheme with charming country-inspired prints that inject pops of colour. This delightful beamed country dining room shows exactly how it’s done.

    A trestle table at the heart of the room really comes to life dressed with a tablecloth featuring whimsical chickens – a must for anyone who keeps hens. The cotton print fabric, from the Fresh collection by Prestigious Textiles, is called Harriet and is also available in a PVC finish, a super practical option for a dining room or kitchen diner.

    A modern twist is then introduced with a simple geometric called Millions, also from the Fresh collection by Prestigious Textiles, which is used on the curtains and cushions, and complements the tablecloth beautifully, as well as adding a fun element.

    Give the look a modern country edge with retro chairs and hang industrial-style pendants above the table for an on-trend feel.

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    Celebrate wool week with a visit to the first-ever Wool BnB!

    by  • 10/10/2016 • Country business, Country style • 0 Comments


    The Campaign for Wool marks its seventh successful year with its annual Wool Week (from today until 16 October), uniting leading interiors and fashion brands for seven days of wool-based activities across the country. We celebrated in style this morning with a visit to the first-ever Wool BnB! Situated in the heart of De Beauvoir Town, London, this fully functioning home brings to life the beauty and benefits of living with our favourite natural fibre, and is well worth a visit.

    From this Wednesday (12 October) until the 16 October, guests will be welcomed into a wonderful world of all things woolly. Every room, from kitchen and bedroom to cosy outdoor shepherd’s hut, is kitted out with wool products designed and made by some of the country’s most talented designer makers – think carpets to cardigans, not to mention cereal boxes and newspapers!

    Particular highlights for us included Melanie Porter’s patchwork-inspired vintage lampshades and fabulous Liberty print carpets by Alternative Flooring throughout – colourful enough to brighten up any room.


    We also had time for a quick lie-down on Vispring’s wool-filled mattress in the master bedroom. Surrounded by super-soft blankets throws and cushions from the likes of Melin Tregwynt, Art of the Loom and Mourne Textiles, it was a struggle not to nod off!


    The maker’s room is a craft-lover’s delight. Specially hosted events (bookable via EventBrite) will be taking place throughout this week, including a woolly hat knitting workshop with Innocent on Woolly Hat Day (14 October), a customised patchwork crochet class with London fashion designer Katie Jones and tailoring master-classes with Savile Row’s finest, to name just a few!


    For more information on the Wool BnB as well as other wool-based events and activities taking place this week, visit campaignforwool.org.

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    Craft an apple wreath

    by  • 09/10/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    Our favourite orchard fruit takes centre stage in this homemade hanging arrangement. Display them at their very best by wiping clean and polishing with a lint-free cloth – be sure to use the smallest apples to avoid it being too heavy.

    Take a metal wreath-making hoop (ours measured 25cm in diameter) and cut a length of medium-gauge wire to about 20cm longer than the circumference of the hoop. Push the apples into the wire and shape into a circle of a similar circumference to the hoop. Twist the ends of the wire around the hoop to secure.

    Add lengths of ivy by attaching long stems around the hoop with fine-gauge florist’s wire, then attach apple leaves and berries for additional interest – twist the wire around individual stems before winding around the wreath between the apples. Finally, add a hessian ribbon bow at the top for a simple finishing touch.

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