• Archive for December, 2016

    Visit a winter garden

    by  • 30/12/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Love a National Trust GardenWith all the hustle and bustle of the festive season, it’s time to invigorate mind and body with a country walk. Where better to explore than the magnificent surroundings of a National Trust garden on a crisp winter’s morning to see magical frosty landscapes with splashes of colour and winter wildlife dashing by. Here are our favourites:

    Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire
    During the winter months Colby welcomes a surprisingly rosy colour palette. The woodlands are full of holly with bright berries while the edges of the meadow are lined with red dogwood, and in the walled garden you’ll find pink hellebores. White bark birch trees (pictured) sparkle in the winter sun and the aptly named rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ is in flower from late January. The paths are dog-friendly too, perfect for getting the whole family out for a winter stroll.

    Mottisfont, Hampshire
    Mottisfont’s winter garden has matured into a beautiful and unique landscape, full of horticultural treasures. Stroll along paths through winter-flowering shrubs and both late- and early-flowering perennials, rich in colour and scent. Brilliantly coloured dogwood bark and silvery ornamental bramble provide splashes of colour alongside berries and fruit even on the shortest days of the year. Gullies of foliage appear to wind through the banks of willow like water and spill into the stream. As winter continues, the garden becomes a refuge for other late flowering shrubs such as mahonia, sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle and daphne.

    Sizergh, Cumbria
    With winter comes the opportunity to discover Sizergh’s newly created stumpery and take in the seasonal planting in the garden, showcasing coloured and textured bark as well as winter berries and bulbs. The twisted trunks of the Acers in the rock garden are laid bare amongst the limestone and iced-over rock pools. After a bracing stroll around the gardens warm up with a hot drink and a tasty treat from the café.

    For more magnificent gardens to visit, see the National Trust’s recommended winter gardens to visit here.

    Do you have a favourite winter garden to visit? We would love to hear more…

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    Merry Christmas!

    by  • 25/12/2016 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    ready_shot-07Merry Christmas from the Country Days team, we hope your stocking this morning was as jam-packed as this one!

    Wishing you all a jolly holiday full of happy times, delicious food, and most of all, good cheer. We’ll be back on the 3rd January – see you in the New Year!

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    Celebrate Christmas Carols

    by  • 23/12/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Visit Salisbury cathedral

    With festive shopping complete, it’s time to enjoy family-time with Christmas carols in a beautiful setting. Here are three of our favourite places to visit:

    Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire
    Enjoy Carols by Candlelight in the magnificent setting of Salisbury Cathedral on Friday evening (23rd December) where the story of Christmas is recounted through stories, traditional readings and christmas carols by the choir. See the festive crib and more throughout the full Christmas season. Free admission, no booking needed.

    Watercress Line, Hampshire
    Hop aboard a Santa Special heritage train ride this season to get into festive mood. Santa and his helpers will visit with gifts and there’s wine and mince pies for grown-ups and soft drinks for children, plus Christmas songs and carols to enjoy. Book up to 24 December.

    Sing-a-long, Polesdon Lacey
    Join in Christmas carol singing in the dairy courtyard where Christmas spirits comes to life. Enjoy mulled wine from the Granary and follow in tune with local choirs. Indoors, there’s a 1930’s Christmas party theme with seasonal flowers bloom and scents of nutmeg and cinnamon, plus last minute festive shopping to enjoy.

    Have you enjoyed Christmas carols this season? We would love to hear more…

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    Raise a glass!

    by  • 21/12/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    ready_groupWhat better excuse than the festive season to enjoy a bubbly tipple or two? As well as producing their own collection of wittily etched glassware, Becky Broome and her husband and business partner, Kristian, engrave bespoke messages to lend a personal touch to special occasions. Cheers!

    Tell us how the business started.
    I knew from an early age that I wanted to run my own company. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so it must be in the blood. Kristian and I liked the idea of bringing something fun to important milestones and occasions, such as a glass of bubbly to remember for years to come.

    What’s your favourite design and why?
    It has to be our Hip Hip Hooray champagne glasses (£90 for four, Not On The High Street). They add meaning to any celebratory toast, from Christmas and birthdays to welcoming in the New Year.

    What inspires you?
    That magical moment between the recipient and giver when a present is opened. There’s a light-hearted happiness that runs through our collection, which never fails to please. We love making people chuckle, and our pithy phrases always seem to do just that.

    What makes your company special?
    Our customers often buy our pieces as gifts, and a lot of love and care go into choosing something they think their loved ones will like. We want them to know that love and care have gone into the making of their order, too. We’re also proud to say that all our glassware is hand-etched in our Cheshire studio, not mass-produced outside the UK.

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Simple, witty and fun.

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    Present festive bottles in pretty tea towels

    by  • 18/12/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Bottles are notoriously tricky to wrap. Rather than sticking them in a plain bottle bag, why not opt for this clever tea towel packaging tip? A two-for-one gift idea that’s just as easy to do and looks so stylish! Here’s how…

    Lay the tea towel face down and put the bottle centrally on top (choose heavier cotton or linen tea towels for a luxurious look; Jazz striped tea towel, £10:99 for 2, Linen Me, Jingle Bells tea towel, £10, Plum & Ashby). Draw the middle points of the side edges of the tea towel to the bottle and secure with sticky tape. Cut a length of string ready to use. Use both hands to draw the front and back of the tea towel up and around the bottle, carefully shaping any folds for neatness.

    Hold in place with one hand and wrap the piece of string around the bottle neck to keep the ends of the tea towel in place and tie off. Take your choice of decorative twine, ribbon or string and wrap around the bottle top, knotting off at the back. Finish with a label featuring printed wood decorations.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – cheerful Christmas cushions

    by  • 17/12/2016 • Country style, Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    ready_lornaCreate a festive tone and transform your home into a magical wonderland with our favourite selection of beautiful Christmas cushions to add warmth, colour and holiday humour…

    Introduce a touch of seasonal folklore into your living room with the most cheerful symbol of Christmas! We love these chirpy chappy Robin Redbreast cushions (above), £52 Square; £47.50 Rectangle, from Lorna Syson. Perfect for adding on your sofa during the festive season, these digitally printed characters on 100% cotton twill are generously feather filled and handmade in Norfolk – they’re definitely the most welcoming of holiday guests! 45 x 45cm.

    ready_nothsMake an extra special statement with this beautiful Personalised Mistletoe Christmas Cushion (above), £29.50, by Koko Blossom at Notonthehighstreet.com. Printed on a fresh white 100% cotton base, this affectionate lovely is smartly finished off with grey piping to compliment the delicate design – it’s the ultimate plump-up pick to add a pop of seasonal sentiment to your favourite chair. Each bespoke cushion is made to order, 45 x 45cm.

    ready_nextGet merry and bright and mix and match in novelty fashion with Next’s step-into-the-season range of Christmas cushions (above), from £10. Featuring a variety of warm and fuzzy designs with everything from a light up Jolly Holly cushion to an adventurous Dachshund dashing through the snow – there’s something to suit every scheme, style and personality – tis the season to be jolly after all!



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    Our favourite place: Farnham

    by  • 16/12/2016 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    Visit Farnham in SurreySet on the River Wey and among the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this pretty market town is the perfect place to visit this season for food and interiors shops plus plentiful green space in and around the town for country walks. We also love Farnham it for its:

    Historic Castle The former palace of the Bishops of Winchester, 12th Farnham Castle and its Norman Keep preside over the town where visitors can take the lofty walk to enjoy spectacular views over the streets and hills from the Keep.

    Markets Farnham has three! A weekly Friday country market offering arts and crafts, local food produce, cakes and bakes; the Farnham Maltings monthly market for antiques, crafts, jewellery, furniture, cards and local handmade produce,  and Farnham farmer’s market on the fourth Sunday of the month (except December), selling goods direct from the food producer.

    Nature See conservation in action or join a safari road train at Birdworld. Or head to the RSPB Farnham Heath to enjoy seasonal blooms, purple heather and yellow gorse which attracts a variety of wildlife, butterflies, plus sand lizards!

    Shops Locals and visitors are spoilt for choice between plentiful markets, independent shops and stylish designer brands in this bustling market town. Long-standing Elphicks department store sells everything from beds, linens and furnishings to china, glass and toys. India Jane is the place for gorgeous tableware and stylish lamps.  For modern country style, try Appassionato, and for gifts, head to the Maltings Stores for crafts and bespoke buys. Wrap up warm for a winter ramble with country clothing from Orvis, and get set for the racing season with a winning hat from Beverley Edmondson Millinery. Or cosy up with elegant nightwear from The Prial.

    Love the local food heroes The town markets provide a feast of local produce to source on weekends. You can also try Farnham’s independent shops: For fruit and veg visit G Hone and Sons for a variety of fresh produce on Downing Street. Source fresh meats and meat products from Smallbone and Sons, traditional family butchers, also on Downing Street. Pick up fresh rolls from French bread and rye to spelt and seeded flours at Loaf Bakery.  And party bags can be found at Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe. Take time out from your busy shopping day with a meal at The Wheatsheaf Pub & Grill, which offers tasty winter-warming British food featuring the best of local and seasonal produce.

    Where is your favourite market town to visit? We would love hear more about it…

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    Cheese, Chutney & Antipasti Tart

    by  • 15/12/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    With party season in full swing, make use of leftover cheese, chutney and antipasti with this simple but delicious tart. The perfect quick dish to whip up when some friends or family turn up unexpectedly!


    500g block puff pastry

    1tbsp milk
    4tbsp chutney or onion marmalade

    125g your favourite cheese (feta or strong cheddar work especially well), crumbled

    175g mixed antipasti, eg. olives, roasted red peppers and sun-blushed tomatoes

    Green salad, to serve


    1. Heat the oven to 200°C. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry to the thickness of two £1 coins. Trim the edges with a sharp knife to make a 27cm square and mark a border 1cm from the edge. Brush the border with milk. Prick the middle section with a fork and bake for 15 mins until golden.


    1. Press down the risen middle section with a fish slice and dot with chutney. Scatter over the cheese and antipasti, then season with pepper. Bake for a further 12 mins until the cheese has melted. Serve with a big green salad.


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    Meet Milly & Pip

    by  • 14/12/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    Milly & Pip was founded in 2008 by designer Ali Millard. From her studio in Derbyshire, she creates personalised gifts, cards and keepsakes using appliqué and recycled materials. These cute stockings (top, £37; bottom right, £19, both available from Not On The High Street) have a little pocket at the front to put letters to Santa, a lovely festive tradition for kids – and big kids, too!

    How did Milly & Pip come about?
    After 16 years working as a childrenswear designer I decided to take a career break, during which I began to make personalised gifts for friends. I was eventually approached by a local gift shop and also discovered Not On The High Street – an online ‘marketplace’ for creative small businesses. After a few months of selling, I realized I could really be successful.

    What’s your workspace like?
    I work in what was once an old wooden stable block. We knocked the original building down (before it fell down!) and built a workshop in its place, complete with stable doors as a nod to its past.

    What inspires you?
    I love the idea of tradition – our stockings are timeless and can be used year after year. I also take a lot of inspiration from life in the country.

    What makes your products special?
    Every single item is handmade to order using found and recycled materials, so no two products are the same. We’re also passionate about sourcing from the UK and as local as possible, mostly within 20 miles of our workshop!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Classic, modern keepsakes.

    What do you love about Christmas in the country?
    Getting cozy in front of an open fire and sharing drinks with friends, family and neighbours.

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    Winter wonderland

    by  • 13/12/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    country living room

    With Christmas less than two weeks away, it’s time to go to town with decorating. We were inspired by this festive country living room with a Scandi edge that Father Christmas himself would feel right at home in!

    This beautiful space maximises the cosy cabin backdrop by using a soft palette of  greys and off-whites to create an easy-on-the-eye scheme. The cream coffee table is the epitome of country style with its woven baskets providing handy storage beneath, while the table top ensures plenty of space for mince pies and glasses of mulled wine!

    Enhance the Scandi feel by layering the sofa with a sheepskin rug and cushions in opulent fabrics for sumptuous texture.  Then add a pebble-effect rug to scrubbed wooden floorboards for comfort underfoot.

    The beautiful woodburner is the focal point of the room and perfect for adding a cosy glow. Enhance the magical feel with candlelight – add in an array beautiful metal lanterns and tealight holders. Then introduce garlands, foliage and a tree (this is a faux one, and we love its snow-dusted finish) for a festive flourish.

    (Christmas tree and decorations, Sidmouth cream coffee table, Walton large sofa, Pebble rug, sheepskin rug, Aspen cushion, checked cushion, metal lanterns and flock deer, all from Dunelm.)



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