• Country moment

    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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    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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    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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    Our favourite place: Witney

    by  • 09/12/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Visit WitneyThis pretty Oxfordshire market town on the River Windrush has prospered and grown from its 300 year history in the blanket industry. We love it for its…

    Wool history Follow the Witney Wool & Blanket Trail and discover the town’s landmarks. Trail leaflets are available online or at the Witney Visitor Information centre on Welch Way.

    Architecture Admire the Georgian buildings along the High Street. There’s also the 17th century Buttercross and 13th century church with a 156-foot spire which can be seen from afar. The Corn Exchange, Blanket Hall and the towns three almshouses also carry a fascinating history.

    Open spaces Witney Lake & Country Park is a haven for wildlife and leads to the Lower Windrush valley walking trails while Standlake Common Nature Reserve (developed in the 1990’s) offers an easy way to watch wildlife with bird hides and leisurely pathways. In the town centre, Church Green is a lovely open space to sit and watch the world go by or to enjoy a good book.

    Museums Explore the town’s history further at The Witney & District Museum in Gloucester Court Mews, or, experience Victorian country life at Cogges Manor Farm Museum,  which may ring a bell as the setting of Yew Tree Farm in TV series Downton Abbey.

    Shops Everyday goods and high street brands can be found at shopping centres Marriotts Walk and Woolgate; or amble the High Street and its smaller side lanes for bespoke gifts and finds. Dove White, on the High Street, has the prettiest accessories to make a house a home while sister shop Decorus  displays room sets and sells larger pieces of furniture plus mirrors in a modern country style. The Old Pill Factory is a treasure trove of decorative antiques, while Wesley Barrell  is the place to source that perfect sofa. Redecorating? Then Relics of Witney is made for grand plans – source paints (Earthborn, Farrow & Ball, Little Greene), bespoke hardware and accessories. Bookworms will love the antiquarian selection at Church Green books, and third generation clock maker Steven Fletcher offers clock restoration and watch repairs at the Clock Workshop.

    Witney Sewing and Knitting Centre is packed with a huge variety of sewing machines plus fabrics, haberdashery, wool and threads and craft ideas.

    If you’re looking for gifts, teddies new and preloved, source Steiff, Merrythought and Dean’s brands at Teddy Bears of Witney. Or step in to the Sota Gallery for contemporary artworks and exhibitions including ceramics, glass, photography and textiles.

     Food Delicious local produce is easy to source in this ancient market town’s shops with additional variety to source at regular markets. Family business and traditional Densham’s butchers sells locally farmed meats and game from Cornbury Park estate in nearby Charlbury, weekend roasting joints and award-wining British pork and green goblin cider sausages – all prepared in the shop. For hampers or picnics, pick up a Best of British basket at The Solan Goose sandwich deli, which includes everything from carved Wiltshire ham, tangy Stilton and handmade piccalilli to summer berry trifle and gingerbeer. And visit the twice weekly charter market on Thursdays and Saturdays (the Thursday market dates to the Middle Ages)  Or try the monthly farmers market.

    Do you have a favourite market town to visit? We would love to hear more about it…

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    The Place to Eat…

    by  • 02/12/2016 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    The Place to EatIt’s time to visit a stylish and cosy winter pub… We love The Plough at Kelmscott which has been beautifully refurbished by owners Sebastian and Lana Snow – it’s the perfect place for friends and foodies to enjoy delicious food and fireside drinks this season.

    Location The Plough is set in a Grade II listed Cotswold stone house in the pretty village of Kelmscott in West Oxfordshire.

    Style It’s cool and rustic. Enjoy drinks at The Hideaway Bar, housed in a refurbished stable block, overlooking the beer garden. Love the quirky, vintage and antique finds which harmonise beautifully with recycled timbers, muted paint shades of sage, olive, grey and white, and original period features, to give a relaxed style and character.

    Rooms Stay over in one of 7 individually-styled rooms with king size beds from £90 a night B&B.

    Food Savour the delicious daily changing à la carte menu of modern British comfort cooking showcasing the best locally sourced Cotswolds produce available, including pork from Kelmscott, vegetables from Evesham and game from local estates. Seasonal dishes range from starters of crayfish, avocado and cucumber cocktail with melba toast, to ham hock and artichoke terrine with piccalilli and mains include leg of lamb hotpot, a mixed grill, skillet roast whole plaice, with desserts such as steamed marmalade pudding and custard. There’s an all-day bar menu too featuring hog’s pudding scotch egg, devilled whitebait, potted crab, buck rarebit, scampi in a basket and spam fritters with pineapple relish,

    Drinks There’s a selection of craft ales, lagers, ciders and juices, plus a wine list with French classics and the best of the New World.

    Nearby Enjoy easy walks from the doorstep as Kelmscott is along a stretch of the Thames path with countryside views all around. Or  take the short stroll to Kelmscott Manor, the former home of designer, William Morris.

    Where is your favourite foodie inn? We would love to hear more about it…

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    Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show opens today!

    by  • 25/11/2016 • Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

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    Today’s the day we’ve all been waiting for… the first ever Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show has officially opened it’s doors! Visitors can browse over 100 stands in beautifully styled marquees in the grounds of Stonor Park Manor House, near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire from today (25th Nov) until Sunday (27th Nov).

    There’s creative and crafted festive gifts on offer, plus home, decorating and lifestyle products from our favourite makers and brands. Not to mention demonstrations from new and exciting country businesses – it’s all going on!

    We’ll be posting regular updates on all the festive fun across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled for #countryhomeschristmas. See you there!

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    Follow a Christmas light trail…

    by  • 25/11/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    follow a christmas light trail

    Enjoy the magic of the festive season with a magical light trail. We’ve found three of the best illuminations to get that festive feeling in the most picturesque settings…

    Christmas at Kew, Surrey
    From 23 November to 2 January, Kew Gardens emerges into a magical trail of colour and light for the festive season. Walk a mile-long illuminated trail inspired by the gardens and see a breathtaking display of lights along this botanical wonderland, including a choir of trees, a Victorian carousel for younger visitors to enjoy, a reflective light and music on the Palm House Pond, plus Wolfgang Buttress’ spectacular Hive installation which glows in to the night. At the end of the trail, enjoy toasted marshmallows, hot chocolate and festive shopping. Book tickets here.

    Music & Lights, Yorkshire
    Head to Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water for that festive feeling on a cold winter’s afternoon. Enjoy mulled wine and savoury treats at the visitor centre, then wander through the magnificent estate and deer park where trees are all aglow and the Cistercian abbey is lit up with every colour in the rainbow! Be sure to visit the cellarium to join the harmony of a live music performance… Estate admission fee only, Music & Lights takes place on selected dates from 26 November to 31 December, no need to book.

    Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
    Amble into the stunning forest and follow the accessible trail which highlights the striking natural structures of Westonbirt’s trees as they’re beautifully illuminated against the dark night sky. Visit on Friday, Saturday or Sunday evenings from 25 November to 18 December. Advance booking essential with timed entries. Book tickets here.

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    See on-stand demonstrations at our Christmas show

    by  • 23/11/2016 • Country craft, Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

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    The Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show (25-27 Nov at Stonor Park, Oxfordshire) is only days away and we’re readying ourselves for a weekend of creativity, with on-stand demonstrations from the inspirational talent behind the UK’s finest boutique brands…

    Have a go at pheasant feather painting (above, top), a technique created and developed by artist Clare Brownlow, having stumbled across it at her parents’ kitchen table in Norfolk. She had forgotten to pack any art supplies so, in a quiet moment, decided to take up a pheasant feather from her father’s stash and, using his fountain pen ink, put ‘quill’ to paper!

    Enjoy quick-make wreath demonstrations with florist Kate Healy, founder of florist Rhubarb & Roses. She’ll be on hand with her team, demonstrating how to use dried fruits, foliage, cones and berries to create your own festive woodland foliage (above, bottom left).

    Mother and daughter duo Michelle and Stephanie of Witts Design use their hand-dyed and screen-printed textiles to create the most beautiful home accessories. Together they’ll show you how to make unique baubles and wreathes (above, bottom right) – the perfect gift for family and friends.

    Feeling inspired? There’s plenty more to see and do throughout the weekend, including block printing with Yateley Papers, needle felting with Mosney Mill and landscape painting with Cathy Mcclymont – phew!

    Not booked yet? Click here to buy your tickets online.

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    Love Christmas elegance by Neptune

    by  • 21/11/2016 • Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

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    This year, step into the most elegant of festive interiors at Neptune’s mini woodland cabin at our first-ever show! Country Homes & Interiors Christmas is taking place this weekend (Friday 25 to Sunday 27 November) at beautiful Stonor Park, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

    Christmas at Neptune is all about quiet seasonal references. Think muted colours, timeless decorations and cosseting warmth, all underpinned by nature’s touch – after all, nature is at the heart of everything this British interiors brand does.

    For our show, they’ll be creating a cosy living and dining room set for you to explore, relax in, and garner ideas for Christmas in your own home. Inside, find lots of exposed timber and stone to set the woodland scene, as well as a carefully considered arrangement of meticulously made furniture, lighting and home accessory collections – not to mention Christmassy accents, from wreaths and trees to candles and glistening baubles.

    And don’t forget, if you like what you find, Neptune’s Reading store is only a half-hour drive away from the show, where you can browse the brand’s entire collection – Christmas and beyond. What’s more, as a thank you for visiting the show, you’ll receive a gift worth £25 if you spend £100 or more!

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    The place to go… Henley-on-Thames

    by  • 19/11/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

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    If you’re visiting our show, Country Homes & Interiors Christmas at Stonor Park, Oxfordshire next weekend (25-27 Nov), be sure to explore nearby market town Henley-on-Thames – there’s plenty to see and do!

    Located in the Chiltern Valley, this pretty market town is a wonderful place to explore historic architecture including the 14th-century Old Bell building and 16th-century St Mary’s Church tower.

    Enjoy a scenic ramble along the towpath from Henley to Hambleden Lock where you can see the old bread mill building and look out for birdlife, including red kites.

    Eat at Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse serving modern British dishes with an incredible fusion of flavours.

    Stay at the Hotel Du Vin, a former brewery with an elegant Georgian facade and boutique-style rooms.

    Visit the Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show at nearby Stonor Park for gifts and seasonal food from over 100 stands! Buy tickets online here.

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