DECEMBER 2018 £4.40
DECORATING CRAFTS HOUSES GARDENS FOOD TRAVEL HEALTH
Celebrate CHRISTMAS Original presents for one and all Decorating schemes with a festive lourish Seasonal crat ideas to inspire
FLAVOURSOME FEASTS & EDIBLE GIFTS
plus AT HOME WITH EMMA BRIDGEWATER
Peace & joy FOLLOW A PILGRIM’S PATH WITH TWO WISE MEN
DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW The nostalgic charm of sledging 12 9 770951 028286 countryliving.co.uk
TEN OF THE BEST CHRISTMAS MARKETS TO VISIT
December 2018 issue 396
Houses & gardens 9 28
40 54 124 132
COUNTRY LIVING’S CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE Pick the perfect presents for everyone from our edit of beautiful things ’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS Vibrant emerald tones, glittering metallics and plenty of evergreen foliage make for a magical and memorable family celebration CRAFT IDEAS TO INSPIRE Elizabeth Harbour creates a collection of handmade festive decorative pieces ALL IS BRIGHT Ofer a sparkling seasonal setting with handcrated decorations in vintage-inspired designs A FESTIVE FLOURISH A sense of seasonal cheer is brought to a Regency-style villa in East Sussex each year A TIME FOR TRADITION Emma Bridgewater celebrates the season at home in Oxfordshire with family customs that inspire her designs
LESSONS FROM THE LASKETT Deined structure and textured topiary in winter
Features 27 51 68 74 78 86
FROM THE BLACKSMITH’S COTTAGE Columnist Octavia Lillywhite remembers her childhood home in Hampshire DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW A nostalgic look at sledging, a pastime for generations THE HOLLY AND THE IVY Florist Sarah Williamson weaves rustic wreaths for winter colour in her Wiltshire farmhouse AN ARTIST’S NATURE JOURNAL Kelly Hall illustrates the lora and fauna she sees each month BAKED IN THE OAST HOUSE On the edge of the Kent Downs, Claire Forster and Sally Black cook award-winning mince pies THE WHOLE HOG In the Cambrian Mountains, two career-change farmers produce the tastiest meat from their herd of woolly Mangalitza pigs
68 ON THE COVER Celebrate Christmas pages 9, 28, 40 and 54 Flavoursome feasts pages 146 and 160 Emma Bridgewater page 132 Peace & joy page 102 Dashing through the snow page 51 10 of the best page 117
COVER CREDITS Photograph by adamcarterphoto.com. All products from the Susie Watson Designs handmade home collection (susiewatsondesigns.co.uk) DECEMBER 2018
54 December 2018 issue 396 94 102 110
UNDER THE MISTLETOE Mark Adams has turned a waste product from apple orchards into a proitable form of diversiication TO BE A PILGRIM How two friends are reviving the ritual of spiritual journeys on foot THE MAGIC OF MARBLING Breathing new life into a centuries-old technique, Jemma Lewis creates beautifully intricate papers and ornaments from her paint-splashed studio 10 OF THE BEST CHRISTMAS MARKETS Wonderful festive places to visit in the UK
Health & beauty 167
21 49 66 99
121 122 159 172 194
ALL IS CALM Keep seasonal stress levels to a minimum with simple and efective techniques
News, views & events
Food & drink EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY A fabulous festive menu for Christmas lunch, the most anticipated meal of the year MADE WITH LOVE Delicious edible treats that are a pleasure to make and receive
A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY What to do, where to go and simple pleasures in December ORDER THE LATEST MODERN RUSTIC DECORATIVE CARD KIT OFFER with Create and Crat CLASSIC COUNTRY ESCAPES AND THE RHONE WITH PRUE LEITH Exclusive trips COME TO OUR CHRISTMAS FAIRS SUBSCRIBE TO COUNTRY LIVING BUY YOUR CL 2019 CALENDAR AND DIARY! WHERE TO BUY Stockist details LOVE OF THE LAND Michael Morpurgo
TAKE OUT A SUBSCRIPTION TO CL THIS MONTH See page 122 for details
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STYLING BY CHARLOTTE MURRAY. PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRENT DARBY. PAPERS (BACKGROUND); SMALL BAUBLES; CANDLES: ALL PAPERCHASE. PEGS, TALKING TABLES. CERAMIC BAUBLE; ACORN DECORATION: BOTH DOBBIES. STAR DECORATION, GISELA GRAHAM. BERRY PAPER, CAROLINE GARDNER. BIRCH STARS; WHITE TREE: ALL PIPII. METAL LEAF FAIRY LIGHTS, SARAH RAVEN. BAUBLE, BALSAM HILL. PAPER (ON PRESENT), ROGER LA BORDE. RIBBONS, JANE MEANS
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Celebrate Christmas… In this issue of Country Living, we have everything you need to create the perfect Christmas, from festive food (page 146) and a comprehensive git guide (page 9) to decorating ideas (page 28), great crat makes to give your home an original touch (pages 40 and 54) and a round-up of the best markets (page 117). Then, as you’d expect, there are a number of more unusual features that celebrate the season in all its guises: we follow in the footsteps of two pilgrims on their spiritual journey across southern England (page 102), enjoy the tradition of sledging (page 51) and meet a family who harvest mistletoe from their ancient apple trees (page 94). We also get an insight into other people’s Christmases – Michael Morpurgo talks about his love of the winter landscape (page 194), while Emma Bridgewater shows us how she decorates her tree and table (page 132). All in all, plenty to bring you seasonal cheer. On behalf of everyone at Country Living, may I wish you all a very merry Christmas.
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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 5 DECEMBER
Country Living’s Christmas
GIFT GUIDE Pick the perfect presents for everyone from our curated collection COMPILED BY ALAINA BINKS
RESEARCH BY KATE WOODCOCK
Handmade vintage-style pin cushion, £8.95, Dee Puddy
Contemporary embroidery kit, £16, by Jenny Blair – great for beginners
*RECEIVE TEN PER CENT OFF BY QUOTING ‘COUNTRYLIVING’ UNTIL 4 DECEMBER 2018
Nappa leather artist’s roll with pencils, £55, Not Another Bill
Felt needlecase kit with a Scandinavianinspired embroidered design by Corinne Lapierre, £9.60
Hare needle-felt kit (makes two), designed by Sophie Buckley of The Makerss, £20*
Quirky kits and decorative pieces for keen creatives and artists
Handmade notebooks, from £28, The Shop Floor Project
Calligraphy set with two penholders, 12 nibs and black, blue, red and sepia ink, £30, Hobbycraft
Charlestoninspired decorative paint set by Annie Sloan, £29.95
Linen union cushion cover from St Jude’s, screen-printed with Emily Sutton’s Curiosity Shop design*, £42
This book from Good Housekeeping has lots of festive recipes for canapés, desserts, edible gifts and more, £18.99, Harper Collins
Lightweight felt slippers made from merino wool, £49, Fire & Felt
Hand-turned honey dippers made in England from wood such as beech, pear and apple, £9 each, The Future Kept
Printed linen shade (15cm x 21cm) with embroidered detail by Cathy Emmott, £69, Dear Emma Designs
comforts Useful and beautiful items to inspire and delight
Cotton quilt featuring Molly Mahon’s Starry Skies handblocked print, available in three sizes, from £180 for a single
Stoneware by Leach Pottery in Cornwall – £68 for three nesting bowls
Potter Kate Garwood handthrows pieces in stoneware and porcelain, including part-glazed jugs, from £50-£80
*DUE TO THE PATTERN REPEAT, THE DESIGN MAY DIFFER TO THIS SHOWN
Handmade wool-tweed badger, £33, by Beth Foster of The Linen Cat
This gingerbread house is £30 from Fortnum & Mason
Traditionally handcrafted skittles game, £12, Hedgehog
Make this woodland cottage carry case with a felt kit, £8.95, Rex London
Colourful and charming toys and special surprises for children on Christmas morning Rainbow star cotton canvas teepee, £80, Great Little Trading Company
Harris tweed coin purse with appliqué and embroidered pufin by Katherine Pentney of The Canny Squirrel, £26
Personalise this charming appliquéd jute and cotton sack with a child’s name, £48, Susie Watson Designs Scooter suitable for ages seven to ten, £349, from Bobby Rabbit. Also available in other colours, including raspberry and yellow
Match the leaf to the tree, £14.99, available from Kew Gardens Shop
8 , £5 r hats e he l b d bob son an l o swo Maw trict lamb y Katie ake Dis d e t Knit made b in the L , is c a e h nd Chr a husb
outdoors Practical essentials for gardeners and nature-lovers Make the sound of a tawny owl with this handcrafted beech bird caller, £20, Labour and Wait
Thermos flask decorated with Emma Bridgewater’s game birds print, £25
Lin Lovekin weaves willow baskets, often with what is grown on her land in Cornwall. From £96, Midgley Green
A useful wool throw (130cm x 170cm) to keep at home or in the car for days out, £35, National Trust Shop
Leather and cotton gardening gloves, £15.95, Sarah Raven
Colourful powder-coated steel bird feeder, £23.95, Hus & Hem
GIFT GUIDE Give a loved one a Country Living Hotels voucher for the chance to visit either Bath or Harrogate. Go to countrylivinghotels.com/GIFTCL
Cowshed’s refreshing handwash and hand cream with a blend of grapefruit and lavender essential oils, £28
Women’s Fair Isle jumper in Scottishspun wool, £96, The Croft House
Harris tweed coin purse by Sally-Ann Provan, £30, Made By Hand Online
Handmade Harris tweed bag with cotton lining and adjustable body strap, from £106, Lisa Gibson
luxuries Natural beauty products, handmade jewellery and pretty accessories
Men’s handmade waistcoat, from £150, Melin Tregwynt
Rose butter gift tin containing hand conditioner and soap, £12, Bathing Beauty
Wren brooch, made to order from copper and silver, by Helen Shere, £149
GIFT GUIDE Wooden plant labels with gardeninginspired designs, £5 for five, English Heritage Shop
Eight A5 illustrated postcards by Emma EvansFreke, £12.50, Blackbird House
Enamel mug with a wild rose design, taken from an original lino-cut print by Lou Tonkin, £12
Cotton pencil case with Angela Harding’s robin and wagtail print, £12
Fun farmyard finger puppets, hand-knitted in pure cotton, £12, Rowen & Wren
treats Perfect stocking illers for £15 and under Quirky desk calendar illustrated by Emily Sutton, £6, Black Bough
These women’s lambswoolmix socks, £15 by Seasalt, are a winter essential
PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCKY IF SHARP. PRICES AND AVAILABILITY CORRECT AT TIME OF GOING TO PRESS. DELIVERY COSTS ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE
Organic base lip balm with Melissa oil and beeswax, £5, Beefayre
For stockists, see Where to Buy
W H AT T O S E E A N D D O I N D E C E M B E R IN THE FIELDS THIS MONTH
TAKE PART IN TREE DRESSING DAY
COMPILED BY LAURAN ELSDEN AND SARAH BARRATT
Look out for fascinating ferns Trees were focal points for celebrations long before the Victorians adopted the Germanic tradition of bringing a pine indoors and decorating it with candles. Ancient Celts, for example, would tie cloth dipped in holy well water to a ‘clootie tree’, while in Japan, blossomy boughs are still decorated with wishes written on paper. Reviving this tradition of celebrating our leafy companions, Tree Dressing Day takes place on the first weekend of December. Gather friends and family around a favourite oak, alder, buckthorn or beech and bedeck its branches with coloured cloth, yarn or paper. Visit commonground.org.uk for more details. countryliving.com/uk
IN AN OTHERWISE MONOCHROME LANDSCAPE, evergreen ferns (Dryopteris marginalis) ofer respite with splashes of vivid green. Having evolved more than 300 million years ago – when they grew to tree-like proportions – their decomposition and compaction helped create the coal we use today. Thriving under woodland canopies, these hardy perennials lourish all year round, producing spores rather than seeds. Ferns feature in folklore around the world, while Victorians were so enamoured they created the term ‘Pteridomania’ to describe the craze for collecting them. Spot diminutive spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes), the lush sot shield fern (Polystichum setiferum) or glossy hart’s-tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium), which grows among rocks or bracken.
As grass becomes more scarce, keep an eye out for farmers heading into frosty fields to give their livestock extra food. While many animals are brought indoors during winter, others, such as sheep expecting lambs, often remain outside, so they need their food supplies of hay, nuts or pellets to be topped up.
QUIRKY COUNTRYSIDE Hunt the Wren, Isle of Man Described as the ‘King of All Birds’ in Manx folklore, the wren has been celebrated for hundreds of years in a Boxing Day custom called Hunt the Wren. Taking to the streets in costume, revellers still mark the day with traditional singing and dancing around a decorated ‘wren pole’. DECEMBER 2018
A simple make...
ANGEL LANTERNS These creations evoke a sense of festive nostalgia
A WALK TO TAKE
LACOCK RIVERSIDE, WILTSHIRE
On frosty mornings, Lacock’s stone cottages and medieval barns look as if they should be on a Christmas card, which is probably why this Wiltshire village often appears in period dramas such as Downton Abbey and Cranford. This two-mile walk will take you past half-timbered houses – even more magical at Christmas. Beginning at Lacock Abbey’s National Trust car park, walk past the Red Lion pub before continuing towards the Tithe Barn and bakery. Spend time exploring St Cyriac’s Church before crossing the river via the Packhorse Bridge and ascending the hill towards the hamlet of Reybridge. Stick to the riverbank, then follow the well-trodden path through the fields for a glimpse of the 13th-century abbey. Pass Sharington’s Tower, before crossing the river and heading back to the pub for a drink by the fire (nationaltrust.org.uk).
the neck of a tapered glass bottle, making sure it overlaps at the back, and cut to size. It should form a cone shape. Roll out a piece of white air-drying modelling clay and cut to size using the brown paper as a template. Wrap the clay loosely around the bottle and gently smooth over the join. With the bottle on its side, use a crat knife to cut a zigzag pattern at the bottom edge of the clay. Use a paper straw to create the small circles. Leave to dry, checking every now and again as the clay may shrink as it dries. When dry, remove it from the bottle and push out any remaining clay from the holes. Draw on and cut a piece of gold crat foil, with the
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ELIZABETH WHITING
1 Wrap brown paper around
wings, arms, head and waist incorporated in one piece (bend the arms down). 8 Use a ballpoint pen empty of ink to add detail to the wings. 9 Attach the gold foil to the top of the clay using
strong tape or glue. 10 Place a battery-powered tea light underneath and display on a windowsill with a scatter of stars cut from the remaining gold foil at the base.
An ingredient to enjoy CRANBERRIES Designer, cook and author Sophie Conran shares her favourite seasonal flavour While cheery red cranberries mostly appear on the Christmas dinner table in the form of a delicious sauce to go with turkey, they can be enjoyed all year round and are increasingly being grown and farmed in the UK. Frozen, dried or juiced, they’re high in vitamins and antioxidants, and packed with phytonutrients – a diseasebusting component. Growing on a vine that thrives in marshy areas, fresh berries look wonderful threaded onto string with popcorn to make garlands. To eat, cranberries work well with orange – as in a Cosmopolitan cocktail – and are tasty when added to mufins, cheesecakes, biscotti and stollen. Other great partners are chocolate, ginger, walnuts and pecans. For more information, see sophieconran.com.
A BOOK TO READ
The Secret Network of Nature (Bodley Head, £14.99) Nature, says Peter Wohlleben, is much like a clock: everything, from wolves to red-headed flies, is connected within an intricate mechanism. In this book he explains these invisible partnerships and how they maintain the equilibrium of the natural world.
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STAY IN… A CHRISTMAS RETREAT
For traditionalists For the brave
Tyddyn Llan, Denbighshire Once you have indulged in a locally sourced lunch whipped up by Tyddyn Llan’s Michelinstarred chef – local delights include Welsh Black beef and Madgetts Farm goose – walk it of in the beautiful Berwyn Mountains. 24-26 December 2018; from £500 per person (tyddynllan.co.uk).
Old Swan and Minster Mill, Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire Is there anything as festive as Midnight Mass and a candlelit walk? Add canapés, champagne and a bufet featuring the best of Cotswold produce and you’re sure to have a very merry Christmas. 24-27 December 2018; from £440 per room per night (oldswanminstermill.co.uk).
White Lion Hotel, Aldeburgh, Suffolk Following a day of delicious decadence – accompanied by a seasonal soundtrack from the resident pianist – Boxing Day brings the chance for a quick dip in the North Sea. Don’t worry, though, you’ll soon warm up next to the roaring ire. 24-28 December 2018; from £560 per person (whitelion.co.uk).
NEWS YOU CAN USE APPLY FOR A POP-UP MARKET STALL At Country Living we are proud to champion creative small businesses. However, the more inspiring artisans and entrepreneurs we meet, the more we appreciate how much hard work is involved in turning a passion or hobby into a fully functioning business. That’s why in 2013 we ofered 30 COMPLETELY FREE stalls at the Country Living Spring Fair to fledgling businesses that reflected the CL brand. The Pop-Up Market was a hit and now, five years on, is one of the most popular parts of the Fair. If you would like to apply for a stall at the 2019 event (28-31 March), go to countryliving.com/uk to download an application form. Good luck! countryliving.com/uk
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALAMY; ALUN CALLENDER; CHARLIE COLMER; GETTY IMAGES. ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOANNA KERR. HAND LETTERING BY RUTH ROWLAND. MAKE AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY EWA
The Pebbles on the Beach (Faber & Faber, £9.99) What do you do at the seaside in winter? Discover pebbles, of course. Use this guide, first published in 1954, to discover the many diferent kinds, from chert and schist to onyx and agate.
C O LU M N
Tales from the Blacksmith’s Cottage Returning to help her ageing parents move out of her childhood home, OCTAVIA LILLYWHITE discovers that when it comes to life in an English village, some things never change here are so many people in the house for Christmas that my husband (the Lawyer) and I have been relegated to the granny annexe – The Barn, as my parents have taken to calling it. They can label it with whatever country-chic moniker they want – it will always be ‘Granny’s House’ to me. Some of the guests have come from America, so they need to be as near as possible to all the central heating outlets and not have to sufer the indignity of having to step out of their rooms in pyjamas. Others are coming from their hot London houses and, even though we’ve expressly said ‘bring your warms’, the message will be lost on them because they simply can’t comprehend how cold Georgian cottages can get. So they get the rooms closest to the Rayburn, the heart of the house – and source of all its heat. The Lawyer already knows the horror-thrill of waking up and being able to see your breath as you lie in bed, so he’s searched out his Icelandic sheep’s wool jumper and a thermal vest. Granny moved into the annexe in 1984 from her previous home, ‘The End Room’. My father converted the hay barn lovingly (or was it cunningly? As Lizzie Bennet pointed out, one can be too close to family) into what an estate agent would describe as ‘a studio with its own kitchen, bathroom and mezzanine bedroom’. Her own space, but right next to us. As she got older, Granny’s world got smaller, restricted irst to the house and her beloved garden of roses and somewhat incongruous heather (she’d dug in tonnes of peat to keep it alive in the Hampshire clay). Then it shrank to her house, then her downstairs. She clung on. When the doctors told her it was cancer, she blankly told them she wouldn’t go into
hospital, or ‘that Basingstoke’, she’d be staying here. And she did, helped by Macmillan nurses. That last Christmas lunch, my father carried her in, wrapped in her eiderdown, which weighed more than she did. She had a mouthful of turkey and my brother decked her out in a paper hat, then she fell asleep at the dining table before Mama had progressed to lighting the plum pudding. She saw in the New Year by hours, but Nigel the Undertaker didn’t come and take her until the morning of 2 January – as my Ma said, “No need to disturb anyone on a bank holiday.” “When they brought her back in here, she still had on her Christmas cashmere socks,” I tell the Lawyer, as we’re getting ready for bed. “It was the irst time she’d worn them. Nigel’s wife was thrilled – she said it was the most beautiful burial outit.” “Brought her back?” He’s horriied. “She died in here? I can’t sleep in a room someone died in.” He looks around for any sign of her. “Well, it’s a 400-year-old house – if you’re going to get squeamish, I’m sure there’s been a dead body in every room we’ve got. Except the new extension. But you can’t have that – one of the Americans only brought a pair of silk pyjamas and she looked like she was going to cry from cold.” Later, when he goes to brush his teeth, I take his mobile and change the name I’m stored under to Dead Granny. Around 2am, I wake and call him from my phone. Ater some fumbling and swearing about not being able to ind his glasses, he holds the phone very close to his face to see who’s calling: there’s a guttural howl; I’m worried he’s woken the Americans. Granny rests easy, though. I think she’d have appreciated it – she had a wicked sense of humour.
ILLUSTRATION BY CLARE MELINSKY
Granny fell asleep at the dining table before Mama had lit the plum pudding
Read next month’s issue of Country Living for more true-life village tales countryliving.com/uk
’Twas the night before
Vibrant emerald tones, glittering metallics and plenty of evergreen foliage make for a magical and memorable family celebration STYLING BY BEN KENDRICK
ASSISTED BY AND MAKES BY ALAINA BINKS AND CHARLOTTE MURRAY PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRENT DARBY
D E C O R AT I N G
Decorations with brass and gold finishes reflect candlelight to add twinkle to a windowsill
OPPOSITE Baskets, from £35, The Conran Shop. Throw (over vehicle door), £45, French Connection. Nordmann fir (on vehicle roof), from £29.99; potted firs, from £14.99 each; metal star light, from £39.99: all Dobbies. Lantern, £25.99, Blackleaf. Sledge, from
£58, RE. Wreath, from a selection, The Real Flower Company THIS PAGE Mini crackers, £14 (eight), Talking Tables. Brass candle tray, £32; candlesticks, £18 each; sherry glasses, £22 (two): all Rowen & Wren. Fairy light hoop, £32,
Melanie Porter. Brush trees, £5.99 (three), Pipii. Brass house, £78; gold bark tree, £15: both Petersham Nurseries. Partridge card, £3, Caroline Gardner. Ocelot wallpaper, £99/roll, Farrow & Ball. Dove paper chain cut from roll, from a selection, Paperchase
Wrap bottles by rolling them in decorative paper. Press the paper down underneath, bunch together at the top and tie with a ribbon
THIS PAGE, LEFT Printed paper chain garland kit, £14, The Shop Floor Project On windowsill, from left: owl, £19.99; ceramic decorations, £2.99 each: all Dobbies. Winter Mercury votive candles, £35 for two, The White Company. Aged zinc star wreath, £24.50, Petersham Nurseries. Vintage Eastern European milk bottles, £50 for four, Raj Tent Club. Frosted cone wreath, £18.99, Dobbies On chest, from left: belly basket, £35, Olli Ella. Red giftwrap and green giftwrap, £2.50/sheet, Cambridge Imprint. Gold box, from a selection, Paperchase. Houses giftwrap, £1.99/sheet, Roger la Borde. Berries giftwrap (on tiny present), £5.40 for three sheets, Caroline Gardner On presents in foreground: folk paper, £3/sheet, Rowen & Wren. Indian papers, £2.75/sheet, Paperchase. Ribbon and tags, all from a selection, Paperchase, Pipii and Jane Means. Similar Grand Tour temple jar, £525, India Jane. Basket, from a selection, The Conran Shop OPPOSITE Walls in Down Pipe estate emulsion, £45/2.5L, Farrow & Ball. LED allium ceiling light, from £45.95; silver candlesticks, £17.95 each; dinner candles, from £9.50 (set of assorted colours): all Sarah Raven.
Jackdaw unframed print by Denise Allan, £75, The Shop Floor Project. Dinner plates, £14 each; lustre champagne flutes, £9 each: all French Connection. Green glasses, £9 each, The Conran Shop. Brush tree crackers, £18 for 12, Paperchase. Ferns printed linen tablecloth, £350; green linen napkins, £22 each; brass cutlery, £78 (five pieces): all Petersham Nurseries. Leaves light string, £54.95, Sarah Raven. Pressed metal tubs, £32 each, Petersham Nurseries. Mini baubles, £8 for 100, Paperchase. Green glass fir cone baubles, £8 each, Raj Tent Club. Evergreen bouquet, from a selection, The Real Flower Company. Birch log place holders, £8 for five, Talking Tables. Circular gift tags, decorated with stamps and gold and green inks: all from a selection, The English Stamp Company. Grosgrain ribbon, £9.95/10m, Nancy & Betty Studio. Gold ribbon, from a selection, Paperchase. Green glass jug, £38, Raj Tent Club. Frosted cone garland, from a selection, Pipii On windowsill, from left: frosted faux mini tree, £6.75, Gisela Graham. Nightlights, from a selection, Petersham Nurseries. Frosted fir cone wreath, £24.95, VV Rouleaux
Add extra sparkle with gleaming centrepieces
D E C O R AT I N G
A branch of holly adds natural decoration to a large window, while winter foliage and fragrant herbs, including rosemary, make a simple yet efective display
D E C O R AT I N G Pentle Tigers Eye sisal flooring, £44.99/sq m, Country Living Collection at Carpetright. Nordmann fir, as before. Similar antique cupboard, Petersham Nurseries. Silver spray leaves, £9.95, VV Rouleaux. Gilded metal flower decorations, £7.50 each, RE. Beaded bird decoration, £25, Petersham Nurseries. String of 100 multicoloured LED lights, £8.99, Lights 4 Fun. Felt Merry Christmas garland, £25, The White Company. Tree topper, £14.25; marbled green glass baubles, £4.20 each: all Gisela Graham. Faux mistletoe, £39.95; velvet ribbon, from a selection: both VV Rouleaux On presents (from left): gold nesting boxes, from a selection; silver giftwrap, £3.25/roll; Classic tree gift tag, £1.50 for five; Classic tree giftwrap, £3.75/ roll: all Paperchase. Round gift tag made with stamp, from a selection, The English Stamp Company. Houses giftwrap, £1.99/sheet, Roger la Borde. Silver boxes and gift bag, from a selection, Paperchase. Ribbon, from a selection, Jane Means. Rustic stool, £140, Rowen & Wren. Cushion made in Peas & Pods fabric, £60/m, Sanderson at Style Library
D E C O R AT I N G
WOODLAND PLACE SETTINGS
Create this alternative to a traditional advent calendar using branches strung together with twine. Hide the gits inside envelopes made from gitwrap, sealed with numbered stickers.
Add rustic decoration to your table by writing guests’ names on git tags decorated with stamps, coloured inks and ribbon. Slide the tags into cut pieces of wood for an informal look.
Patterned giftwrap; green and gold mini baubles; white bird clips: all from a selection, Paperchase. 1-24 advent numbered stickers, £2.25; silver glitter star stickers, £3.99 for 60; twine, from a selection: all Pipii. Bottle-green grosgrain ribbon, £3/5m, Rowen & Wren. Rattan star, £4.99, Dobbies; sprayed white with art spray, from a selection, Paperchase
Birch log place holders, £8 for five, Talking Tables. Green glass fir cone bauble, as before. Gift tags decorated with stamps and green and gold inks: all The English Stamp Company. Green ribbon, from a selection, Nancy & Betty Studio. Mini baubles, £8 for 100, Paperchase. Scented candle in silver votive, £14, The White Company
NATURAL PRESENT DECORATIONS
DOVE PAPER CHAINS
Add sprigs of evergreen foliage, acorns, larch cones or seed heads, sprayed white, to small boxed presents wrapped in plain metallic papers and inished with ribbon.
You can make your own decorative chains and garlands quickly by drawing a simple bird shape onto a concertina of folded white paper. Make sure the design touches in several places on the folds. Cut out and unfold, and stick lengths together to make a longer chain. You can make these using other festive motifs, too: try Christmas trees or angels.
Pentle Tigers Eye sisal flooring, £44.99/sq m, Country Living Collection at Carpetright. White art spray (used on foliage), as before. Gold giftwrap and silver giftwrap: both £3.25/roll, Paperchase. Sheer green ribbon, from a selection, Jane Means. Grosgrain ribbon, from a selection, Nancy & Betty Studio and Rowen & Wren
White paper, as before. Glitter-efect ribbon, from a selection, Paperchase. Brass-handled scissors, from a selection, ebay countryliving.com/uk
D E C O R AT I N G
A piece of patterned paper makes a distinctive cover for the base of a potted tree
ABOVE Ocelot wallpaper and dove paper chains, as before. Wire basket, £40, Petersham Nurseries. Cushion made in Omega velvet in Grass, £46.70/m, Linwood. Woven basket (as side table), £45, The Conran Shop. Wooden platter, from a selection, Baileys. Scented candle and sherry glass, as before. Card, from a selection, Paperchase. Sir Walter Raleigh unframed print by Michaela Gall, £75, The Shop Floor Project. All items on shelf, see page 29. Potted spruce, from £14.99, Dobbies. Pot wrapped in folk paper, as before. Gold rabbit, bear, leaf and feather pressed metal decorations, from £5.50 each: all RE. Copper leaf fairy lights, £24, Melanie Porter. Wreath, from £85, The Real Flower Company ABOVE RIGHT German straw star, from £2.50, Raj Tent Club. Beaded bird decoration, as before. Beaded star decoration, £4, The White Company. Felt Merry Christmas garland, as before. Felt animals, from £5.95 each,
VV Rouleaux. Silver spray leaves, as before RIGHT Frosted bubble fairy lights, £20, The White Company. Star light, £28, Talking Tables. Queen Elizabeth unframed print by Michaela Gall, £75, The Shop Floor Project. Giftwrap, from a selection, Paperchase, Roger la Borde and Caroline Gardner. Ribbons, from a selection, Jane Means. Woodpecker unframed print by Denise Allan, £75, The Shop Floor Project. Bedcurtain made in quilted white cotton, from a selection, Sanderson at Style Library. Sack made in Omega velvet, as before, and Oakwood cotton in Green, £47/m, Sanderson at Style Library. Bear, from a selection, Steif. Quilt made in Whitby cotton in Apple/Ivory, £30/m, and Fenton Check wool in Caraway/Green, £89/m; Roman blind made in Bryndle Check wool in Chasm, £89/m: all Sanderson at Style Library. Pentle Tigers Eye sisal flooring, £44.99/sq m, the Country Living Collection at Carpetright
D E C O R AT I N G Roman blind, as before. Cushion in Oakwood fabric,as b efore. Cushion in Omega velvet, as before. Valance in printed linen, from a selection, Kathryn Ireland. White cotton bedlinen, from a selection, The White Company On windowsill, from left: brush tree, £7.50, Paperchase. Kraft paper trees, from £6.95 each, Pipii. Whitewashed willow wreath, £19.95, notonthehighstreet Above bedhead: glittered bark star wreath, £16.95, Pipii. Star light, as before. Sack (on left) in Omega velvet, as before and Oakwood fabric, as before. Sack (on right) in Bryndle Check wool and Omega velvet, as before. Bear and giftwrap, both as before
For stockists, see Where to Buy
Mix verdant greens with wood and willow for a festive look
to inspire THIS MON TH: THE FESTI VE SEASON
In her latest series, Elizabeth Harbour creates a collection of beautiful, handmade decorative pieces for seasonal celebrations DESIGNS AND PROJECTS BY ELIZABETH HARBOUR STYLING BY ALAINA BINKS AND BEN KENDRICK PHOTOGRAPHS BY RACHEL WHITING
SPONGE-STAMPED GIFT TAGS This is a simple and efective printing technique for making your own wrapping essentials and greetings cards.
*CUT CAREFULLY. AVOID CONTACT WITH YOUR EYES AND KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND ANIMALS. PLACE SMALL OFFCUTS DIRECTLY INTO A BIN
YOU WILL NEED Pencil Cream scalloped circle tags (available from hobbycraft.co.uk) Paper Scissors or craft knife and cutting mat Newspaper or magazine Acrylic paint â€“ I used red, green and turquoise, mixed with a little white Old plate for mixing paint Wide-area brush Felt tip pen Magic eraser sponge (such as Doktor Power) Acrylic gel retarder Bristle paintbrush Twine or ribbon
1 Draw simple bird shapes, including doves and robins, and other festive motifs to it the diameter of a tag (inside the scallop edge) onto paper. Draw and cut out several shapes, folding the paper to cut more than one at a time. 2 Cover the top of a lat surface with newspaper. Alternatively, use the pages of a magazine and simply turn to a clean page when necessary. 3 Mix a blob of turquoise and a little white acrylic paint with a few drops of water on an old plate. Then,
using a wide-area brush dipped lightly in the paint mixture, paint horizontal, loose brushstrokes onto a handful of tags. Do the same with the other colours, using a single colour on each tag, and allow to dry. Using a felt tip pen, draw three 7cm diameter circles on the magic eraser sponge and carefully cut* around each circle with a crat knife to remove the excess. One colour at a time, mix together an acrylic paint with a little white (if you have any letover from before, use this) and add a blob of gel retarder. This will help prevent the paint from drying out too soon while you are printing. You will ind that mixing the solid colour with white gives a sot, vintage feel. Apply this with a bristle paintbrush to a sponge circle, or press the sponge into the paint. Start with one colour, before mixing and using another on another sponge. Position one of the cut paper shapes on the centre of a tag, on the same side with the light brushstrokes painted before. Choose a tag with a diferent coloured background to ensure the shape will be seen clearly.
8 Place the sponge, paint side down, centrally on the tag. Firmly press down on top with the palm of your hand. Gently lit the sponge to reveal the print underneath. The paper shape should now adhere to the surface of the sponge, and you should be able to print with this twice more. 9 When the sponge runs out of paint, carefully remove the paper shape and re-apply the paint and gel retarder solution, and repeat as before using a new paper shape. 10 Once you have enough inished tags in one colour, use a clean sponge to print with another shade in the same way. Leave to dry. 11 Hand-write a message on the reverse and tie using twine or decorative ribbon to a beautifully wrapped present.
LACE-PRINTED PAPER CHAINS These are easy to make and a great way to bring a festive feel to the house at this time of year. They look pretty draped over a mirror or staircase, across a window or looped from the ceiling. Alternatively, use them to decorate a large tree. YOU WILL NEED Two metres of wide lace – I used 7cm-wide pieces attached together but one large piece will be easier to use Fabric scissors Fabric glue Magazine Acrylic gel retarder Acrylic paint – I used red and cerulean blue Old plate for mixing paint Large bristle paintbrush for mixing paint Sponge roller 25-30 sheets of paper (such as Xerox) Pencil and ruler Paper scissors Double-sided tape
1 Cut the lace into three 30cm lengths and glue together using fabric glue at the top edge to create a piece of lace roughly A4 in size. You will need to make two of these, one for each of the colours. Allow to dry.
2 Place the lace on the let-hand page of the magazine. 3 Starting with one colour, mix together a blob of gel retarder and a little water to the acrylic paint. Mix thoroughly. 4 Using a sponge roller, roll paint over the lace several times until it is evenly covered on one side. 5 Lit the lace and turn to a clean page in the magazine. Place an A4 sheet of paper on the let-hand side of the magazine with the lace and another sheet of paper on top. Hold the paper in place and apply pressure with the palm of your hand over the top sheet of paper. If you ind the paint seeps through, turn over the page of the magazine to cover and continue to apply pressure on top. 6 Carefully lit the papers away from the lace and leave to dry. 7 Repeat the printing process. As you continue, the lace will become more saturated with paint and you will ind the printing will improve. 8 Repeat with the second sheet of lace using the second colour of acrylic, mixing with gel retarder and water, and printing as before. 9 Once the papers are dry, fold each sheet – portrait shape – in half (retaining the height, so the fold is at the side). Divide into three 3.5cm strips and cut. I trimmed mine to 24cm lengths to make a smaller chain. 10 Assemble the chain, alternating the colours and securing in place using double-sided tape.
EMBOSSED FOIL DECORATIONS These unique metallic creations will catch your eye when they are hung on a tree, or you can attach several along a length of ribbon to make a garland.
YOU WILL NEED
*TAKE CARE WHEN CUTTING THE FOIL, AS IT CAN BE SHARP
Tracing paper Pencil Metal ruler Two packs of embossing silver foil (available from homecrafts.co.uk) Polystyrene disc from the back of a shop-bought pizza Ballpoint pen Double-sided tape Hole punch or bradawl Small scissors Craft knife and cutting mat Sheer ribbon, to hang
1 Download and print the templates from elizabethharbour.co.uk. Transfer onto tracing paper with pencil. 2 Cut a piece of foil, wide enough so that it will it your chosen motif when folded. 3 Fold the foil in half and place on top of the smooth side of the polystyrene disc. 4 Hold the tracing paper in place on the foil and draw over the design using a ballpoint pen, pressing gently. Remove the tracing paper and go back over the design and details with the pen. Press irmly but not so
hard that you risk piercing the foil. Once you have inished, you will see that the inverse of the design has transferred to the back of the folded foil. Carefully unfold the foil, place strips of double-sided tape to one side, remove the backing of the tape and re-fold the foil, sticking it together, in the same way you unfolded it. The decoration will therefore be stronger and have the design on both sides. Hold the design between your thumb and foreinger to see where the best balanced place to hang the decoration is from. Create a hole using a punch or bradawl. Cut out the design* using small scissors and a crat knife and cutting mat for the delicate parts. Repeat for as many decorations as you would like to make. Thread with twine or pretty sheer ribbon to hang.
STENCILLED RUNNER See instructions overleaf
STENCILLED RUNNER Create simple and stylish patterns using freezer paper. YOU WILL NEED 1m of 160cm-wide natural linen (find pre-made runners at theclever baggers.co.uk) Fabric scissors Matching thread Sewing machine Tracing paper Pencil Freezer paper Metal ruler Paper clips or bulldog clips Scalpel and cutting mat Iron and ironing board Paper (such as Xerox) Newspaper and masking tape Acrylic textile medium Red acrylic paint Old plate for mixing paint Sponge roller
1 Cut the linen – I cut this piece in half lengthwise to make two runners. 2 Hem the short ends by 1cm; hem the long sides by 1cm and then fold over again by 2.5cm. Sew in place.
3 Download the templates from elizabethharbour.co.uk and trace onto tracing paper with a pencil. 4 Transfer three large and four small stars onto the paper side of two 30cm lengths of freezer paper folded into four. Cut out the stars to create stencils. 5 Cut a length of freezer paper 2cm shorter than the length of the runner. Fold this in half and in half again, so the paper side is facing you. 6 Use the ruler and scalpel to cut the folded freezer paper in half lengthwise. 7 Position three paperclips or bulldog clips along the top edge of the fold of one piece to hold together. 8 Place the tracing paper with the tree and reindeer design 2.5cm from the bottom of the folded freezer paper and 1cm from the sides. Transfer the design to the right-hand side of the paper, then repeat the process on the let-hand side. The overall design should have a gap of 3cm between the middle trees. Using a crat knife and cutting mat, cut out the shapes from the folded freezer paper. Do the same with the second piece so you have two identical stencils. Remove the clips and unfold the stencil.
Printmaker, illustrator, designer and crater Elizabeth Harbour lives with her husband Llewellyn, daughter Esme and son Samuel in Wateringbury, Kent. Visit elizabethharbour.co.uk, where you will also ind a selection of her handmade
9 Iron runner then lay it on a large surface; lay one stencil on the lower edge, itting it evenly. Put the runner on the ironing board with the right-hand end of the freezer paper stencil, plastic side down, on top. Line the lower edge of the freezer paper with the linen’s bottom edge, 1cm away from the end. Place plain paper on top, over the irst stencil section and iron on medium heat to stick stencil in place. Work your way along. Place runner on a paper10 covered table, checking the edge isn’t exposed around the stencil. If it is, place the masking tape over it so the ink can’t print through. 11 Mix one-part textile medium with one-part red acrylic to make a printing ink. Cover the roller evenly, and roll over the stencil in one direction several times. Work your way down the runner, charging the roller with ink when necessary. Allow to dry, or dry with a hairdryer. 12 Pull back the stencil and repeat the process for the other side of the design. 13 When the inal design is dry, starting with a large star in the middle of the runner, alternate the large and small stars between the two trees (without deer) in the design. Iron the stencils in place, with plastic side of paper facing the linen as before, and print in the same way. 14 Follow ixing instructions for the textile medium when the ink is dry.
pieces available to buy. Elizabeth will be holding workshops at the Country Brocante Winter Fair at Cowdray Estate, Midhurst, Surrey. on 23-24 November 2018. For information, see thecountrybrocante.co.uk.
NEW ISSUE ON SALE 6 NOV
Inspiring interiors, innovative designers and makers, plus stylish pieces for the contemporary country home
Only £9.99 – order a copy at hearstmagazines.co.uk/cl-mr-12 or purchase your copy in selected retailers STOCKISTS INCLUDE WH SMITH, BOOTHS, SAINSBURY’S, WAITROSE, TESCO, MORRISONS AND ALL GOOD INDEPENDENT STORES
DASHING THROUGH THE
A much-loved part of festive proceedings, sledging has been a favourite pastime for generations He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ’ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” The Night Before Christmas, Clement Moore s immortalised in Christmas poems, ilms and songs, sleighs and sledges have long been synonymous with the festive season. And while St Nicholas might famously favour the countryliving.com/uk
reindeer-drawn variety, the rest of us take great delight in speeding through the snowy countryside on a simple tobogan, sledge or whatever makeshit variation on the theme we have to hand. It’s a childhood experience few can forget – the thrill of waking up to a world of white, puing our way to the top of the hill, crunching through untouched snow, and the scalp-tingling rush of whooshing our way down again. Sledging is as exciting for children (and adults) today as it was when it irst DECEMBER 2018
TRADITION became a recreational activity nearly 150 years ago, but its origins actually stretch back much further. The irst sledges and sleighs were made to transport people and goods over icy or snowy ground, and were either pulled by hand or drawn by dogs, horses or oxen. Some ancient examples were found in Norway with the Oseberg ship, a Viking vessel dating back to 800AD. Tobogans, meanwhile, which sit on the ground rather than on runners, have been used by the native Innu and Cree tribes in Canada for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Although there are records of kick-sled races in Norway and Sweden as early as the 15th century, sledging didn’t achieve its full status as a recreational pastime until 400 years later in the mid-1800s. There are a number of locations that claim to have started the trend, but the most commonly referred to is St Moritz in Switzerland, the birthplace of winter tourism in the Alps. Here, well-to-do guests began adapting delivery sleds for the purpose of fun. Shortly aterwards, the activity became more accessible thanks to the Yankee Clipper in the US, the irst sledge produced commercially for individual use. This was followed by the Flexible Flyer in 1889, which included a steering mechanism. These classic designs provided the inspiration for beautifully crated British versions, many of which were constructed at home using techniques passed from one generation to the next. Now, contemporary cratspeople, such as Ali and Dean of London's Pallet Furniture (palletfurniture.co.uk), have taken up the mantle, creating attractive sledges from reclaimed wood, and in doing so ensuring the pastime will be enjoyed for many more years to come.
OUR RECOMMENDED PLACES FOR TOBOGGANING AROUND THE UK Lyme Park, Disley, Cheshire A beautiful area on the edge of the Peak District with a variety of slopes to choose from. Abbey Fields, Kenilworth, Warwickshire This family-friendly park has views over the historic town of Kenilworth. The Hayfield, Glenmore Forest Park, near Aviemore, Scottish Highlands At the foot of Cairn Gorm mountain is a gentle incline that is ideal for sledging. Box Hill, Surrey A hillside steep enough to gather some serious speed. It's close to a National Trust café, too. Cold Fell, Cumbria Likely to get snow when more southern counties don’t, this aptly named spot has been a favourite for generations. Urra Moor, North York Moors Sledging is taken so seriously in this area that the hill has been divided into levels: beginner, intermediate and crazy. Capel Curig, Snowdonia This is just outside Betws-y-Coed and ofers spellbinding views of the National Park.
There are records of kick-sled races in Norway and Sweden as early as the 15th century WORDS BY ANNA JURY. PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALAMY; SUPPLIED BY TROUTBECK.ORG
THE BEST SLEDGING SPOTS
FROM TOP Victorian Christmas cards would often feature the pastime; children enjoying the slopes on Church Bridge, Westmorland, in 1938
S E A S O N A L I N S P I R AT I O N
A S E N S E O F N O STA L G I A Decorate a mantel with retro pieces made in tissue and paper. Pom poms (on door handle) in yarn, £2.25 (100g), Hobbycraft. Honeycomb garland, £14 (5m); honeycomb balls, £6 (three): all Talking Tables. Similar tall stool, £225, Pamono. Lampbase, £49,
Scumble Goosie, in Emperor’s Silk chalk paint, £19.95/L, Annie Sloan. Shade, £12, Wilko; trim, £1.79/m, Wool Warehouse. Similar basket, £6, Gadsby. Chair cover in Newbury Hopsack linen, £39.50/m, Ian Mankin. Throw, £65, Cox & Cox. Plaid blanket
and dog cushion in Lomond Tartan wool, £119/m, Osborne & Little. Cushion, £55, Pillo. Similar wooden chair, from £15; 1930s bowl, from £4: both Morgan’s Vintage. Tea towels, £18 each, Pillo. Tealights, £2.99 each; baubles, £24 (12); candlesticks,
£7.95 each: all Pipii. Spoons, £5 each; tumblers, £7.50 each: all Labour and Wait. Candelabra, from £13, ebay. Hurricane lamps, £14.99 each, Amazon. Star light, £23, Talking Tables, in Emperor’s Silk chalk paint, as before. Coffee pot, £55, Labour and Wait
S E A S O N A L I N S P I R AT I O N
A W I N T E R’ S TA L E Make a warm welcome at the front door with a few wellchosen pieces, such as an old sledge and a small potted tree decorated with jolly twinkling decorations. Similar red enamel bucket, from £15, ebay. Potted Norway spruce, £68, Real Christmas Trees On tree: pom pom tree topper made in red, pink, cream, yellow and green yarn, £2.25 (100g), Hobbycraft. Red stitched ribbon, £2 (3m), Jane Means. Red pom pom trim, £1.79/m, Wool Warehouse. Vintage Russian decorations, from £4.86 each, Etsy. Similar bell decorations, from £1.64 (set of eight), ebay On door: similar vintage tinsel, £3.24/5.4m, Etsy. Wreath base, £3.80 (30cm), Hobbycraft;
decorated in similar Petite Rose tissue paper, £1.95 (ten sheets), Rex London, and similar gold decorations, from £1.98 (pack of 50), ebay. Similar small wicker basket, £6, Gadsby. Yarn (in basket) in red and cream, £2.25 (100g), Hobbycraft. Traditional wooden sledge, from £45, Antiques Loft. Hepburn radio, £129.99, VQ. Plaid blankets in Lomond tartan and wool, £119/m, all Osborne & Little. Pink checked blanket, £110, Labour and Wait. Dimmable hurricane lantern, £14.99, Amazon. Wooden star light, £23, Talking Tables; painted in Emperor’s Silk chalk paint, £19.95/L, Annie Sloan. For all other items, see previous page and overleaf countryliving.com/uk
V I N TAG E C H A R M Decorate the dining room with striking retro honeycomb paper balls and glitter garlands for colourful impact and cheer. Similar antique farmhouse chairs, from £15, Morgan’s Vintage. Red vintage bag, £35, Wear Garson Clothing. Vanessa blue natural linen union (on chair back), £57/m, Sanderson at Style Library. Honeycomb garland, £14 (5m), Talking Tables. Gold glitter confetti garland decoration, £5.99 (5m), Pipii. Decorative blue copper tray, £36; Tiny Tim metal pots,
£4 each; 1940s print cushion, £45; vintage linen sack (hanging on right chair), £16; red embroidered cushion cover (under plates), £55: all Pillo. Vintage Russian decorations (in pots), from £4.86 each, Etsy. Isala baubles, from £14.94 (four), Nkuku. Chocolates, from £2.99; red check tea towels, £12.99 (set of two): all Lakeland. Vintage plates, from £4.50 each, Morgan’s Vintage. Balsam fir incense sticks, £7; red cedar incense sticks, £12, Labour and Wait
S E A S O N A L I N S P I R AT I O N A NATURAL DISPLAY For a tabletop alternative to a tree, show handmade decorations on twigs arranged in a large loral country-style jug. Japanese coffee pot, £55; red enamel tumbler, £7.50; enamel teapot, £22; spoons (in silver tealight), £5 each: all Labour and Wait. Meadow Bouquet Scattered cushion cover (on chair), £38; striped vintage tea towel, £18: both Pillo. Hepburn radio, £129.99, VQ. Silver ribbed tealight glasses, £3.25 each; glass candlestick, £7.95; antique silver tealight holder, £2.99; similar silver bud vase, £9.50 (set of three); cocktail napkins, £3.49 (30): all Pipii. Isala bauble (on napkins), from £14.94 (set of four), Nkuku. Fudges Luxury Mini Mince Tarts, £6.49, The Cheese and Wine Shop. Charbonnel et Walker Hot Chocolate Flakes, £5.99 (300g); 25cm cake base, £1.99: both Lakeland. Cake decorated in pom pom trim, £1.79/m, Wool Warehouse. Similar wooden breadboard, £5, Amazon. Similar Etruscan jug, £69, Burleigh. Twigs decorated with mini multi glass baubles, £12.50 (100), Paperchase. Paper decorations, see overleaf. Similar vintage milking stool, from £28, Etsy. Chocolates, from £7, Bettys. Tea towels, £12.99 (for two), Lakeland
S E A S O N A L I N S P I R AT I O N BRAIDED LAMP
Give a table lamp a new lease of life in a festive red and white shade and base, picking out details in a contrasting tone. Honeycomb garland, £14 (5m), Talking Tables. Similar vintage Josef Hofmann stool, £225, Pamono. Spindle lampbase, £49, Scumble Goosie; painted in Emperor’s Silk chalk paint,
£19.95/L, Annie Sloan. Pleated shade, £12, Wilko; trimmed in red pom pom trim, £1.79/m, Wool Warehouse. Antiqued silver and gold ribbed glass baubles, £2.50 each, Pipii. Throw made from Lomond Tartan wool, £119/m, Osborne & Little. Wool throw in mustard, £65, Cox & Cox
VWILDLIFE D E C O R AT I O N S Cut out images from insect, animal or bird-inspired wallpaper remnants, and use them as templates to cut pieces of card to the same size and shapes. Attach the motifs on one side of the card with a glue stick and paint the other in a colour from your chosen scheme. Finish by sticking a ribbon loop to the top of each motif. Mini multi-glass baubles, £12.50 (100), Paperchase. Handmade paper decorations made from Swan Lake wallpaper, £77/roll; Dragonfly Dance wallpaper, £77/roll; Butterfly Garden wallpaper, £186/roll: all Osborne & Little. Back of decorations painted in Shabby Chic chalk paint in duck egg, from £8.99/250ml, available from Amazon. Similar organic pink ribbon, £3.95 (3m), Pipii. Jacket, £100, Wear Garson Clothing
S E A S O N A L I N S P I R AT I O N FESTIVE PICTURE
Create a piece of art for Christmas with a wallpaper remnant and an old frame. Cut the paper to it the frame. Sew mini baubles in the shape of a Christmas tree onto the paper with red cotton, adding a red ribbon bow to inish.
Similar frame, from £4, Morgan’s Vintage. Swan Lake wallpaper, £77/roll, Osborne & Little. Mini glass baubles, £12.50 (100), Paperchase; DMC cotton yarn, £3.75 (50g), Hobbycraft. Bow made from Christmas glitter ribbon, £5 (4m), Amazon
PAT T E R N E D R I B B O N R E E L S V
Using an old card reel as a template, cut pieces of thick card to the same shape as the reel. Choose wallpaper remnants and wrapping paper, then trace around the card, cut out the shapes and, using a glue stick, attach the decorative papers onto each side of the thick card; wind the ribbons around to inish.
PA P E R D E C O R AT I O N S
Colourful vintage papers and beads can make cheerful tree decorations. Cut paper into strips 24cm in length, lying six on top of one another. Thread beads onto thick cotton, knot at the bottom and thread through the centre of the strips with a sharp needle. Fan out the strips into a circle and draw each piece to the centre to make a ball
Card reels covered in Swan Lake wallpaper, £77/roll, Osborne & Little; similar floral paper, from £3.75 (3m), Paperchase. Similar pink and white stitched ribbon, £3.49 (3m); similar organic ribbon in pink and green, £3.95 (3m): all Pipii. Meadow Bouquet scatter cushion cover, £38; red stripe tea towel, £18 each: both Pillo
shape, pushing the cotton under the strips up and out of the top. Tie in a knot to complete. Paper decorations made from assorted floral giftwrap set, £9.50 (12 sheets); dew drop glass baubles, £23.95 (12): all Pipii. Similar pink and yellow beads, from £1.20; threaded with DMC cotton yarn, £3.75 (50g): all Hobbycraft countryliving.com/uk
S E A S O N A L I N S P I R AT I O N PAT T E R N P L AY Use a jolly mixture of contrasting patterns to decorate your presents with sections of paper to create a decorative band. Door painted in James White Estate eggshell, £25/750ml, Farrow & Ball. Door panels edged in Shabby Chic Antique Gold furniture paint, from £8.99/250ml, available from Amazon. Similar Hepburn small sofa, £1,490, Old Boot. Pink checked blanket, £110, Labour and Wait. Yellow checked throw made from Lomond Tartan wool, £119/m, Osborne & Little. Redembroidered cushion cover,
£55; etched floral cushion, £38: all Pillo. Similar vintage tinsel, £3.24/5.4m, Etsy. Gift boxes made from square white cake boxes, from £1.39 each, Lakeland. Similar recycled geometric wrapping paper, £2.50/sheet, notonthehighstreet. Mistletoe giftwrap, £3.75 (5m roll); neon pink lace noodle boxes (on rush chair and floor), £5.50 (six): both Pipii. Pom poms (on boxes) made from yarn, £2.25 (100g), Hobbycraft. Similar rushseated chair, from £30, ebay. Similar Nova-NV12 antique multi rug, £159, Modern Rugs
For stockists, see Where to Buy
Handmake individual festive accessories including original Christmas cards*, distinctive trimmings or these simple cones to hang on the tree as a charming advent idea using a decorative card kit from Create and Crat. Each pack contains 30 A4 sheets of card featuring signature Christmas prints, many with foiled and glittered inishes, as well as die-cut motifs and embellishments such as paper lowers and gems to add jolly decoration*. To make these advent cones, simply cut out wedges from card, each one roughly the shape of a quarter of a large circle. Roll each one and use double-sided tape or strong paper glue to secure in place. You could also make a star-shaped garland from the excess of card for a inal lourish. COUNTRY LIVING READER OFFER
£12.99 PLUS £1 P&P RRP £34.99
*Blank envelopes are also included. Designs and embellishments may differ from these shown. Ribbons and tissue papers seen here are sold separately. Printed numbers are not included.
TO ORDER VISIT CREATEANDCRAFT.COM/COUNTRYLIVING CALL 0905 648 0408 QUOTING ITEM CODE 457656 LIMITED STOCK AVAILABLE TERMS & CONDITIONS All prices quoted are correct at the time of printing and are subject to change. This reader ofer is open to UK customers only and will expire on 1 January 2019 at 23:59 or until stocks last. Order line is open 6am-12.30am daily. Calls will cost 20p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. Ideal Shopping Direct Limited reserves the right at any time to cancel, discontinue, temporarily or permanently, or amend the promotion or these rules, with or without prior notice (including, without limitation, in the case of anticipated, suspected or actual fraud). For full terms and conditions, visit createandcraft.com
MAKES AND STYLING BY ALAINA BINKS. PHOTOGRAPHS BY NATO WELTON
Start the countdown to Christmas
The Holly & the Ivy 68
RU R A L B US I N ES S
To brighten dark days, lorist Sarah Williamson weaves rustic wreaths in her Wiltshire farmhouse, inviting others to learn the skill at winter workshops WORDS BY SARAH BARRATT
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALUN CALLENDER
RU R A L B US I N ES S
n deepest winter, when the cold wind whistles through bare branches, and day is quickly engulfed by night, the sight of a glossy wreath on a front door can warm the heart. Dressing our homes with greenery is an act of deiance against darkness – providing colour and cheer. Sarah Williamson has always appreciated the importance of plants, which is why, three years ago, she founded Pod & Pip – a loristry business that embraces each season in all its glory. Crunching across the frosty lawn of her Wiltshire home on a crisp December morning, she stops to pick up a russet pheasant feather, perfect for adding to a festive bouquet. Winter may not seem the most exciting time for lower enthusiasts, but there’s still lots on ofer. “I chose the name Pod & Pip because there’s more to loristry than lowers,” Sarah says, before delving into the hedge in search of berries and seed heads to incorporate into her designs. “I like my work to relect what’s happening in the natural world – seasonality is what makes lowers special.” Fir cones and ivy are far more likely to appear in Sarah’s festive work than a perfectly proportioned poinsettia. “If you want formal, static lowers,” she says, “I’m probably not the lorist for you – my displays look more wild and ruged.” Once her bucket is illed with foraged items, Sarah returns to the house, spilling her haul across the table, where it joins dried oranges and sprigs of holly collected from the lower market in Salisbury at ive o’clock this morning. “People think being a lorist is lovely, and it is. But they don’t see the 4am starts, or me standing in the pitch black and cold when it’s raining,” she laughs. But in the dining room of the farmhouse she shares with her husband David,
a surveyor, and daughters Tess, 12, and Georgia, nine, all seems merry and bright as she sets about trimming stalks, stripping leaves and preparing for today’s wreath-making workshop. No sooner has the kettle boiled, and hot mince pies have been taken from the AGA, than guests begin to arrive – to be greeted by the woody scent of pine mingled with winter spices. “I’ve met some lovely people,” Sarah says. “A few have been back seven or eight times to diferent workshops and have become friends.” Ater a mince pie and much animated chatter, the group of eight assemble around the table, peering at the assortment of lora on ofer. “Even if everyone has exactly the same materials, each wreath will look diferent,” Sarah explains. “So many people come here and say they’re not creative, and it’s lovely to prove them wrong. They walk out feeling so happy, saying, ‘Look what I’ve made!’” Demonstrating to her class, she uses twine to bind peat moss to a round copper frame, then selects an olive branch and a sprig of holly, bunching them together before gently pushing the miniature bouquet into the moss base. She repeats this action until a wreath begins to take shape. “I’m not into anything lufy or twee,” she says. “That’s not me at all.” Now it’s her students’ turn. Sarah sugests they try olive branches because they’re “robust and don’t wilt”, as well as peppercorns and pine – for PREVIOUS PAGES Sarah and her daughters, Tess and Georgia, collect all manner of greenery and foraged treasures, which will be used to create beautifully
wild wreaths ABOVE Stems, berries and winter flowers are selected from the bucketfuls Sarah collects, then trimmed, tied together and bound into a moss base on a copper frame countryliving.com/uk
“My work relects what’s happening in the natural world – seasonality is what makes lowers special”
RU R A L B US I N ES S Sarah runs her wreath-making workshops from the family’s Wiltshire farmhouse – its rustic appearance reflects her relaxed outlook on flower arrangements. She likes them
to be informal, seasonal and spontaneous, more likely to feature pine cones, feathers and berries than the more expected and conventional elements
that all-important Christmassy scent. Most of the group are irst-time hobbyists, but some are thinking about professional loristry, something Sarah encourages. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she says. “I don’t pretend to know everything. If there’s something I’m stuck on, I’ll ask someone who knows.” Having come from a farming background and undertaken a degree in crop science, plants had always appealed to Sarah. But it was at a class much like this one that she decided to leave her job of 14 years as a researcher at Vodafone to become a lorist: “My children’s school put on a Christmas workshop for the parents and I was hooked.” Three years on and her working life is transformed. The early mornings haven’t gone away but there’s no more sitting behind a desk. “I get up earlier than I used to but I work for myself now,” she says. “I’m glad I did the corporate thing – it taught me a lot and gave me conidence, because I was dealing with tricky situations and having to ind solutions to problems, but I was ready for a change.” Not only did Sarah teach herself the art of loristry from scratch, but also how to build a website and write a business plan. And, despite never having used social media, she now delights her near 6,000 Instagram followers with seasonal displays, oten
“Even with the same materials, each wreath will look diferent” with her daughters as models. “They never pull straight faces,” she laughs. “But I like that – I don’t want my business to look too serious.” Today’s class is anything but and the festive spirit is very much present as Let It Snow comes on the radio and a singalong ensues. But the chatter quickly dies down as focus takes over. “This happens every time,” Sarah whispers. “It’s really buzzy, then suddenly it will go quiet because everyone is in their zone.” Several Christmas tunes later and students note how therapeutic they’re inding the class – two hours dedicated entirely to crating something beautiful. “I still ind it relaxing, too,” Sarah says. “Even though it’s technically work, the making process is always a bit of ‘me time’.” Some calm within the festive storm is something we would all appreciate, but she found many customers couldn’t carve out the time from their busy December schedules to attend her workshops. This gave her the idea to put together wreath-making kits, available online. Now, people can enjoy a slice of Pod & Pip from the comfort of their own kitchen table. Still, there’s nothing quite like a shared creative experience and Sarah’s elves are adding the inishing lourishes – a cinnamon stick here, a red ribbon there and a wreath is born. “It’s lovely to see people’s faces light up when they look at what they’ve made,” she smiles. “Plants and lowers really do brighten up a room.” Sarah will be running wreath-making workshops during December. Visit podandpip.co.uk for more details.
An artistâ€™s nature journal December
Each month, Kelly Hall illustrates the lora and fauna she has spotted near her East Sussex home
For a 15 per cent discount on Kellyâ€™s prints, visit kellyhalldesigns.com and quote CL1218. Ofer valid until 28 December 2018.
What a year
Mark the most important moments with these thoughtful, unique gits for your favourite people
FOR EVERY MEMORABLE MOMENT
Personalised Solid Copper Photo Print by Oakdene Designs, £21.45
Gits that celebrate memories don’t just show how much you care, they’ll be kept and enjoyed for years to come. Whether it’s a new addition to the family or a hard-won sporting achievement, think about the important milestones your loved ones have experienced this year and create something really special to mark the occasion.
FOR THOSE WHO’VE GAINED A FURRY FRIEND
MAIN IMAGE: PERSONALISED HANGING PHOTO DECORATION, £10; CHRISTMAS SNOWFLAKE HOT CHOCOLATE STENCIL, £12.50; LITTLE STARS PERSONALISED ENAMEL MUG, £14.75: ALL BY SOPHIA VICTORIA JOY. CHRISTMAS BOTANICAL GREENERY GIFTWRAP, £2.50/SHEET; CHRISTMAS BOTANICAL MISTLETOE GIFTWRAP, £2.50/SHEET: BOTH BY CATHERINE LEWIS DESIGN
he best gits are the ones illed with thought and love. So for all those you care about this Christmas, ind something that relects the year they’ve had or times you’ve spent together. Whether Let’s face it, dogs are clearly the most they started their dream job, fought important family member. Their through some hard times or saw unconditional love and furry little their family grow by one (or more!), faces light up the entire home. Whether notonthehighstreet has thoughtful, someone’s favourite pooch is a brandone-of-a-kind gits for every occasion. new addition or already a irm favourite, The curated marketplace works with this bespoke, hand-crocheted version 5,000 small creative businesses of them is sure to be treasured. across the country to deliver handmade, bespoke and Personalised Crocheted lovingly sourced gits. Pet Plush Portrait
FOR THOSE WHO’VE MADE A BIG MOVE
by Lovingly Handmade Crochet, £140
Perfect for a sister who’s moved into a new place with more room for the kids, or newlyweds who inally own their own front door, this is a truly unique and special git. We all know that there’s more to a house than bricks and cement that turn it into a home. It’s exactly this that illustrator Rebecca McConnachie brings to life with each of her bespoke paintings (below). Specially created for your chosen recipient, each piece depicts not just the exact house they live in but all the family members who live there, too.
Personalised Handwriting Necklace by Minetta Jewellery, £50
FOR THOSE WHO’VE HAD A TOUGH TIME A git can mean so much more if it’s given to help someone get through a diicult time. Oten more appreciated than you will know, it can ofer a boost when it’s needed most. This bespoke necklace captures the precious words and exact handwriting of a loved one. So even if they can’t be there in person, their supportive message can be.
Personalised Solid Copper Wallet Photo Card by Oakdene Designs, £21.50
FOR THOSE WHO’VE HAD A BIG YEAR
Personalised House and Family Portrait by Rebecca McConnachie, £90
Personalised First Christmas Photograph Decorations Box by Clara And Macy, £40
FOR THOSE WITH A NEW LITTLE ONE Did Mum inally become Granny? Or perhaps your best friend had another boy? (They’ll be running out of names soon.) Whoever the lucky family is, these ornate, bespoke tree decorations are the perfect way to celebrate and immortalise the baby’s irst moments.
One of the best things about having special people in your life is that you get to share your important and special moments with them. Show them how much these memories mean to you, whether it’s a wedding, holiday or party, with this engraved stainless-steel or copper photo card (above). For more carefully crated, thoughtful and unique Christmas git ideas, to show your loved ones just how important they are, go to notonthehighstreet.com
BAKED IN THE OAST HOUSE
From her home on the edge of the Kent Downs, Claire Forster and her friend and business partner Sally Black bake award-winning mince pies so delicious that customers often don’t believe they’re gluten-free WORDS BY ANNA JURY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW MONTGOMERY
RU R A L B US I N ES S
RU R A L B US I N ES S t her kitchen table, in a converted 19th-century apple store, Claire Forster is placing carefully cut circles of pastry onto a muin tray. Topping them with spoonfuls of mincemeat, she adds the lids and seals the pies shut with a fork, giving them their characteristic luted edge. A sweep of beaten eg and a sprinkle of sugar and they’re ready for the oven. These are her prosecco mince pies, just one of the wheat- and gluten-free creations she and co-founder Sally Black make as part of their bakery business, Oast to Host, which has won nine awards to date, including several Great Taste, and is stocked in farm shops, independent stores and high-end cafés across the country. “Our goal was to create something that everyone – wheat eaters or not – could enjoy,” Claire says. “I’m wheat intolerant, and when I used to visit friends, they would buy something in specially, then give it to me to take home ‘because we’re not going to eat it’. It’s kindly meant but it can make you feel quite separate. We wanted to make something so good that there was no way it would be sent home with you.” As the name sugests, the business is based at Claire’s Kentish oast house, built in the late 1800s and surrounded by her garden, amid ields of grazing sheep. “Ours is one of the few round oast houses in the area,” she says. “For about ten years at the end of the FROM RIGHT Friends and business co-founders Claire (left) and Sally outside the early 19th-century Kentish oast
house. The Oast To Host kitchen, which once housed Claire’s family’s tractor, sits ten feet to the left of the house
RU R A L B US I N ES S
Oast to Host’s gluten-free pastry is glossy and a rich yellow colour thanks to the free-range eggs’ orangey yolks. The mix can be bought online so customers can use it in their own baking. Diferent variations of mince pies are on ofer, including boozy versions
1800s, they thought a round shape might draw the smoke better, but, when they realised it didn’t, reverted back to the square style.” The Oast to Host kitchen, in a converted outbuilding, once stored apples from the local orchards, but today it is bustling with activity as Claire and Sally work to ill their Christmas orders. With cups of tea steaming on a side table and the scent of spices wating through the air, the irst step is to create the pastry. Tipping their own meticulously created gluten-free pastry mix, which includes polenta and rice lour, into a giant mixing bowl with butter, sugar and freerange egs, they blend it until it achieves what they call the ‘three peaks’ appearance. “Creating the mix was so important to us,” Sally says. “We wanted good, gluten-free pastry to be accessible for everyone to bake. It’s a relatively simple recipe, but we spent years inding rice lour that was ine enough and polenta that wasn’t gritty.” Oast to Host irst came into being in 2012 ater Claire found herself going through a tricky time that many full-time parents of teenagers would be able to relate to. “I needed a reason to get out of bed,” she says simply. “I’d put all my enery into raising my two daughters and suddenly I wasn’t needed in the same day-to-day way.” She contemplated various options before coming across an ad in the local paper for a stall at nearby Tunbridge Wells Farmers’ Market. “I thought, ‘This is something I could really do.’ I’d worked as a confectioner making wedding cakes before having children, so I could see how it could work.” Sally, who at that point had been a friend of Claire’s for 17 years, became involved more by chance. “I was lucky because it was Claire who made the bold step – on a whim, I ofered to provide a pudding or two at the last minute.” Out of necessity, both Claire and Sally had become experts in wheat intolerance over the years. Sally’s youngest daughter Victoria, now 23, was diagnosed with coeliac disease at just two years old, while Claire’s eldest daughter Charlotte, 28, is allergic to wheat. “I wanted anything I made for the stall to be gluten-free,” Sally says, “then if it didn’t sell I could take it home.” It was a practical decision but one that would develop into Oast to Host’s USP: “The Farmers’ Market was great for customer research,” Claire says. “We developed a dot system – a blue dot for dairy free and an orange one for gluten-free. Week on week, as we created stock to meet demand, I saw the orange dots spreading across the table.” As their conidence grew, they sent some of their pies in to be judged for the Great Taste Awards. “We only did it to get some feedback,” Claire says. “We never for a moment thought we’d win.” But win they did, three times in 2013 for their walnut tart, sweet shortcrust pastry and pistachio, almond and cranberry biscotti and ive more times in the subsequent ive years, most notably being awarded a star for their mince pies, which they now make in classic, whisky and prosecco variations. They also asked
RU R A L B US I N ES S As well as festive treats, Claire and Sally bake an array of sweet tarts such as raspberry Bakewells, cherry frangipanes and chocolate and caramel ‘millionaires’. Oast to Host also
ofers a personalisation service, meaning that their tarts can be turned into wonderful gifts. Most recently, they have started to sell ‘Make a Millionaire’ kits to be completed at home
The mince pies grace festive tables up and down the country local shops to stock their products. “We were so surprised by people’s enthusiasm and support,” Sally says. Britain’s love of mince pies stretches back as far as the 13th century when European crusaders returning from the Holy Land brought back the cooking traditions of the Middle East, where meat was oten cooked with fruit and spices. They might have evolved from the original large, oblong pie, but their popularity has endured. In fact, each year in the UK, we buy about 370 million mince pies. However, what makes Oast to Host pies special is that, unlike the mass-produced versions, the handcrated pies taste and look homemade. “We avoid using additives,” Sally says. “One London food hall wanted to stock our pies if we extended their shelf life, but we declined as we didn’t want to compromise on quality.” Some of the bigest fans of Oast to Host mince pies are Sally and Claire’s ive daughters, all now in their twenties. “When the girls are at home, they’ll happily pitch in,” Claire says, sliding the inished tarts into the oven, “but, of course, their favourite job is chief taster.” Ater another pot of tea, the pies are ready to come out. The inished result is golden, glossy and glistening with sugar. When eaten, unlike other gluten-free pastry – which, as Sally says, is oten “stody or powdery and nearly always gritty” – this is light, crisp and sweet, with the mincemeat introducing a lovely rich tang. The last step is to place them into simple cardboard boxes, bound with twine and labelled in looping script. They’ll then be sent out to grace Christmas dinner tables up and down the country, where they will be enjoyed by everyone, whether they have gluten-free requirements or not. To order gluten-free products from Sally and Claire, visit oasttohost.com. To receive 50 per cent of online orders of pastry mix, quote ‘CountryLiving50’ until January 2019.
RU R A L P R O D U C E R
The WHOLE HOG
In the dramatic Cambrian Mountains, two career-change farmers, Angela and Stuart Mason, care for their herd of woolly Mangalitza pigs â€“ a breed slowly increasing in popularity for its uniquely lavoursome meat WORDS BY KITTY CORRIGAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW MONTGOMERY
RU R A L P R O D U C E R
londie is the star of the show. On a frosty morning, ater a fresh snowfall, she snifs the air, tosses her curly fair hair over her ears and stares straight ahead, hamming it up for the camera. As well she might. She is the matriarch of a herd of Mangalitza pigs on a smallholding amid the ruged beauty of the Cambrian Mountains in west Wales. Described by her keepers, Angela and Stuart Mason, as “arrogant but lovable”, Blondie has been known to furnish her own birthing shed by diging a large hollow in the ground and lining it with dock leaves, baler twine, twigs and feathers, before giving birth to 12 healthy piglets. As an eight-year-old sow, she will have many more ofspring, and, when her breeding days are over, will spend the rest of her natural life in woodland, perhaps literally in clover. Not quite pigs in blankets, but this is ive-star comfort in the porcine world. Many of us are familiar with the Gloucester Old Spot, British Saddleback and the Tamworth, but the Mangalitza is not yet a household name. With its sheep-like, woolly appearance, its most similar native breed was the now-extinct Lincolnshire Curly Coat. This was almost the fate of the Hungarian Mangalitza, too, a century ater it was specially created for the aristocracy of the Habsburg Empire in the 1880s. But it is now regaining popularity thanks to its intensely marbled meat, which is high in monounsaturates (healthy fats) and rich in lavour. Since 2010, Angela and Stuart have built up their stock to 200, only naming those that are kept for breeding or ‘farrowing’. Good animal husbandry is a priority. They mix their unique feed of ‘muesli’, containing no GM or soya, and, if your Christmas ham comes from TOP The pedigree herd of Mangalitza are able to roam freely on Stuart and Angela’s plot in the Cambrian Mountains
LEFT In the winter snow, the pigs can retreat into one of many wood and metal sheds dotted around the farmland countryliving.com/uk
Angela and Stuart create and mix the feed – free from soya and GM crops – allowing them to produce meat with a distinctive flavour. It takes them two hours each morning to do the rounds
The Hungarian Mangalitza was specially created for the aristocracy of the Habsburg Empire their hillside, the animal will have lived for at least 26 months, and possibly up to ive years. “Our feed bill is enormous,” Stuart says, but they believe the proof is in the (black) pudding, one of more than 30 products they sell at markets, and by mail order and overnight courier. With no extra help, the couple raise, breed, cure, package and sell everything themselves, oten working through the night, and making deliveries until late on Christmas Eve. So far, they have never been cut of by the weather, although they live up a narrow mountain track that no snow-plough could reach. Every year, Stuart grits the road that serves six households, and has never missed a market day. It is, however, easy for visitors to get lost on the way to their farm, because the sign for the village of Llanddewi Brei is regularly liberated by fans of Little Britain, which was ilmed there. “When it comes to despatching the animals, we use a small abattoir less than six miles away. That is the only part of the whole chain we don’t handle ourselves,” says Angela, who was previously vegetarian for 40 years. “I rationalised my switch to eating meat by the way we look ater our animals. And the abattoir team show great respect for the stock, ensuring the end is quick and trauma-free.” They are now processing one pig per week. “We pay the abattoir countryliving.com/uk
£60-£80 per animal, so for inancial and ethical reasons it makes sense to use every part of the carcass.” Their on-site butchery looks more like a summerhouse, with white interior walls and pitched ceiling, and windows overlooking the hills. When they have produced their pork pies – a favourite at Christmas, decorated with igs, cranberries, apricots and prunes – and black-treacle gammon studded with star anise, belly pork for roasting, bacon chops, and hock for stews and soups, they prepare ofal fagots made from the lungs, liver, kidney, spleen and heart; trotters are rendered into jelly; and the ears are a treat for Angela and Stuart’s dogs, Honey and Mr Tau. There are some ingenious uses, too. The ine ‘wool’ that gives the pigs their sheepish look is composted or bought for ly-ishing. Even the skin is roasted to make scratchings, sold on their market stall in pig-stamped paper bags. In their former lives, Stuart was a chef at a ive-star hotel in Sussex, while Angela was a retailer in high-end fashion and design. Like many smallholders, they started with a few chickens, and later rented four acres of land. The income from 100 laying hens enabled them to breed fancy fowl, but they dreamed of more animals and a life in the country. Their spare time was spent DECEMBER 2018
RU R A L P R O D U C E R driving up to look at properties in Wales (where Angela is from), until inally they found Brynheulog (Sunny Hill). Two months later, they were on the road – with a trailer full of chickens. “The farmhouse was an established B&B, so we continued to run that for four seasons, and the income, plus the poultry, inanced our new venture,” Angela says. “We reinvest 98 per cent of our income here – and would sell all our possessions to keep it going.” Their original Mangalitzas are descended from the irst breed lines imported into the UK in 2006: “They are the most versatile for the way we wanted to farm and for the meat we wanted. They are truly free range.” When Christmas Day inally arrives, and all orders have been fulilled, the couple allow themselves a two-week break from production, when they can spend more time caring for their characterful woolly pigs. “The rewards are simple,” Stuart explains. “We live a great life; the pigs live a great life and we create traditional produce with impeccable provenance.” Welsh Mangalitza and Butchery, Brynheulog Farm, Llanddewi Brei (ind them on Facebook and Twitter: @mynyddmawrherd). CL readers who order and mention the article will receive a free sample of Fresh Blood Black Pudding.
MORE RARE-BREED CHRISTMAS HAMS Pheasants’ Hill Farm in County Down, Northern Ireland, breeds free-range Tamworths, producing dry-cured hams with a traditional salt-and-sugar rub for natural preservation. They also have ‘Iron Age’ pigs – Tamworth crossed with wild boar (pheasantshillfarm.com). Riverford Organic Farmers in Devon sells Christmas hams using pork from Helen Browning’s Wiltshire farm; her 200 pigs are Saddleback sow crossed with Large White boar (riverford.co.uk). The Blue Pig Company in Skipton, Yorkshire, crosses Gloucester Old Spot (mainly white) with Saddleback (mainly black) to produce a blue-grey animal, which grazes and roots around outdoors in all weathers (bluepigcompany.com). Hyden Originals, a small family farm in Hampshire, breeds Oxford Sandy and Black, the traditional cottagers’ pig, oten called the ‘Plum Pudding’ (hydenoriginals.co.uk). Hugh Grierson Organic in Perthshire rears Berkshire pigs, which grow slowly and thrive in harsh weather (hughgrierson.co.uk).
“The rewards are simple – we live a great life and the pigs live a great life” CLOCKWISE FROM NEAR RIGHT Black pudding, ready for the pan; a slab of black treacle home-cured collar bacon, hung to dry; slowroasted Welsh Mangalitza rib-eye with onions and windfalls; rolling the lard crust to make pork pies
MISTLETOE Mark Adams has turned a waste product from the apple orchards on his family’s Worcestershire farm into a proitable – and supremely festive – form of diversiication WORDS BY KATE LANGRISH
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALUN CALLENDER
RU R A L B US I N ES S
t may be Christmas, but Meg the dog is looking decidedly glum. “At this time of year, there’s not much for her to do with the sheep, and watching us collect mistletoe isn’t half as much fun, apparently,” says farmer Mark Adams. During summer, Meg has more of a wag in her tail as she works the locks that graze among the 35 acres of apple trees on Mark’s 750-acre family farm. Like many of the trees that have stood in this part of Worcestershire – famed since the 19th century for its cider and perry production – they are part of a traditional orchard. Old varieties, such as Tom Putt and Brown Snout, stand tall in the ields, stretching out their gnarly branches. Traditional orchards like these have fallen out of favour in recent decades. Most have been grubbed up and replaced with trees grown on dwarf root stock. “The shorter trees mature more quickly, produce more fruit and are easier to harvest,” Mark explains. “But they don’t support the practicalities of a mixed farm. You can’t graze livestock among them because the branches are low enough for the sheep to reach.” The apples at his farm are grown to organic standards and sold to Westons, a local family business that’s been making premium cider since the 1800s. But it’s not just cider and grazing sheep these orchards are good for – they also provide the perfect conditions for mistletoe. Come December, the skeletal branches have lost their leaves, and are covered with dangling globes of glossy, dark-green foliage and pearly-white berries.
A D I F F E R E N T K I N D O F H A RV E S T Mistletoe is a parasitic plant, which drives its root system through the bark to live of a host tree. “It takes the nutrients from the tree, which means a lower yield of apples. A tree that’s covered in mistletoe is more likely to be blown down in winter winds or lose branches under the weight of snow,” explains Mark, who, like generations before him, removes the mistletoe each year, not just to sell but to help the trees. In years gone by, mistletoe from the farm, originally owned by Mark’s grandfather, was cut from the trees and sold at a dedicated auction in the neighbouring town of Tenbury Wells. “The auction is great, but it only allows a window of a few days to sell,” says Mark, who struck on the idea of selling online when he moved to Newcastle for university in 2008. “Mistletoe is ingrained in my concept of Christmas, so I was shocked to ind there was none up there. I came back for a weekend, loaded up the back of the car and proceeded to sell it all to businesses in the area. It made me realise that there are lots of places where mistletoe isn’t on every other tree, so I could sell it through a website.” And so KissMe Mistletoe was born. As well as supplying fresh foliage to order, Mark realised that the organic status of the orchards ofered another unique selling point, and started contacting businesses specialising in such produce: “The history and tradition of the orchards are important to me; I wanted to help preserve them. Farming is tough and inding ways to create new business from what you’ve got is even harder, but so rewarding.”
A G R OW I N G V E N T U R E Ater university, Mark moved back to help on the farm – lambing in the spring (“I do the nights – I think it’s my dad’s revenge for sending him up the ladders to get the mistletoe in winter”) and looking ater the beef cattle. Late summer is harvest time for the barley, wheat and apple orchards, but winter is quiet – or it used to be. “Every year, the mistletoe harvesting takes over a bit more,” Mark says. “When I started, it only took two weeks, but now it’s countryliving.com/uk
RU R A L B US I N ES S
OPPOSITE, FROM TOP Sprigs of mistletoe ready for the market; Mark heads out to the snow-covered orchards. Some of the trees were planted by his grandparents THIS PAGE Markâ€™s parents, Mike and Celia, help with the harvest DECEMBER 2018
FROM FAR LEFT Long poles with sickle blades are used to reach the higher branches; perfectly packaged produce; Christmas is a much quieter time for Meg the dog
WHY WE KISS UNDER THE MISTLETOE… There is no single story behind this festive tradition, but a number of myths and beliefs are thought to contribute to it. Its origins reach back as far as the 1st century AD, from the Celtic Druids who associated it with fertility and vivacity to the Norse myth of Frigg, the goddess of love. In its most current form, though, the custom probably dates back to Victorian servants who decreed that a man could request a kiss from a woman if she was standing under mistletoe (and that to refuse him was bad luck!). For each kiss that was given, a berry would be removed and once they were all gone, no more kisses could be given.
more like seven. We even get requests for it in September for television shows and magazine shoots, and people go on buying until New Year’s Eve. Our customers are loyal and we pretty much get the same people ordering every year, as well as new ones.” Mistletoe might have been overshadowed by holly in recent years, but Mark believes that, increasingly, people are seeing it as an integral part of their festive decorations: “I think it’s down to the romance of it. Obviously, there’s the kissing under the mistletoe element, but people like its long history at winter festivals – it goes back to pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.”
G AT H E R I N G I N T H E B E R R I E S In November, Mark and his dad Mike set of to the orchards early each morning with ladders and saws. Wet ground at this time of year means machinery is out of the question, so all the mistletoe is hand-picked. They use long poles with sickle blades to reach the plants on the uppermost branches (“The best stuf is always at the top!”) and cut it from the tree. The roots stay in place, so the mistletoe regrows, and the birds do the job of creating new patches by excreting the seeds onto branches. Mark then takes the harvest back to the barn of the 17th-century farmhouse and grades it. “First I check if it’s male or female – only the female plants have the berries,” he explains. “Then I check that the leaves are dark green. There’s a natural variation, which is gold in colour. It’s pretty and oten has the best berries, but people
tend to want green. Finally, I make sure the berries are ripening, turning from pale green to pearl white.” Ater selecting the best pieces, Mark packages together everything, from small bunches to huge globes, which are popular at winter weddings and parties. They are then carefully placed in logo-inscribed boxes and sent out that same evening.
LASTING CHRISTMAS CHEER A fast turnaround ensures customers can expect their mistletoe to look good throughout the festive period. “Small bunches are popular, but the biger branches last longer, for about three weeks. In a very hot room, it won’t do so well, but even when mistletoe dries out, it doesn’t go brown, it just looks less glossy,” Mark explains. For artiicial options, he has recently had moulds taken of his farm’s mistletoe: “Most synthetic types are the American variety; it’s a completely diferent plant. I prefer fresh, but if you need to have artiicial it might as well be the British one!” But now it’s time to harvest the real deal. The orchards are covered in a thick blanket of snow, but Mark and Mike put on their boots and head out to climb the ladders for tomorrow’s orders, with Meg the dog following, somewhat reluctantly, behind. For more information, visit kissmemistletoe.co.uk. Prices start at £6.95. CL readers can get 15 per cent of all online orders until 31 March 2019 by quoting countryliving15. countryliving.com/uk
C O U N T RY L I V I N G EXC LUS I V E O F F E R
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We’ve teamed up with Andrew Brownsword Hotels so you can save at least 20 per cent on a fabulous two-night stay at one of the UK’s most luxurious hotels. Sleep in a castle in Sussex, enjoy ine dining in Devon or cosy up in the Cotswolds with one of three exclusive breaks – including a three-course dinner, daily breakfast and a decadent afternoon tea GIDLEIGH PARK, DEVON
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Set within more than 100 acres of private woodland in the Dartmoor National Park, Gidleigh Park is one of the UK’s most luxurious country-house hotels. The Tudorstyle house features open ires, woodpanelled walls and wonderful antiques, while the Michelin-starred restaurant serves a locally sourced menu created by executive head chef Chris Simpson.
Dating back to the 12th century, Amberley Castle is surrounded by an 18-metre-high curtain wall, features medieval interiors, romantically lit bedrooms and a portcullis. There is a croquet lawn, tennis courts and an 18-hole putting course, and the restaurant, regarded as one of the best in Sussex, is in an atmospheric barrel-vaulted room and serves a superb ine-dining menu.
The Slaughters Manor House sits before sweeping lawns in one of the Cotswolds’ loveliest villages. An extensive refurb has created a stylish boutique bolthole ofering individually designed bedrooms, a contemporary cocktail bar and an atmospheric billiards room. The restaurant, overseen by chef Nik Chappell, serves delicious local produce.
THE PRICE Two nights from £325pp* THE DATES 11 January-31 March 2019 TO BOOK, CALL 01647 481574 QUOTING Country Living VISIT countryliving.co.uk/gidleigh
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COUNTRY LIVING EXCLUSIVE OFFER: WHAT’S INCLUDED Two nights’ luxury accommodation Three-course à la carte dinner on the first evening Daily full English and Continental breakfast A newspaper to your room each morning Afternoon tea on your first full day
C O U N T RY L I V I N G EXC LUS I V E T O U R
DISCOVER THE FLAVOURS OF THE RHÔNE with Prue Leith
Join the author and entrepreneur on this delightful river cruise through the gastronomic heart of France
or those with a taste for the iner things in life, the Rhône is a cultural and culinary feast: delicious food, a superb wine-making tradition, spellbinding scenery and a historical depth to match. A visit to the region is a treat at any time, but this superb river cruise, which sets sail from Lyon, is particularly special – as beits our special Country Living holiday. As well as all the sights, sounds and lavours of this magniicent part of the world, including wine-tasting in Burgundy and sightseeing in the Roman city of Arles, you’ll enjoy a guest appearance by Prue Leith – whose life has been dedicated to great food. Prue has worked as a restaurateur, businesswoman, caterer, broadcaster, journalist, cookery writer and novelist, not to forget as a judge on The Great British Bake Of. She will regale you with anecdotes from her career and join you for drinks and dinner, a book signing, and a wine-tasting trip to Beaune. This is a tantalising journey that is exclusive to our readers and promises to be one to remember.
TA L E S A N D T I P S FROM PRUE Hear stories from one of the most fascinating personalities of the culinary world, Prue Leith, who has recently launched her irst cookbook in 25 years. She says: “I can’t wait to join Country Living readers on this voyage through the culinary heart of France. I will share the tips and tricks I have learnt during my career, join you on a special wine-tasting and be on hand to answer your questions on all sorts of subjects, from starting a culinary school and becoming an author to my TV career.”
THE DELIGHTS O F B U R G U N DY AND THE RHÔNE This eight-day cruise sees you experience the best of Burgundy and the Rhône Valley in style. As well as visiting Lyon, one of the world’s great gourmet destinations, you will explore the Roman city of Vienne, the vineyards of Beaune, extraordinary limestone clifs of Ardèche, and Provence, the land of lavender and rosé. Historical highlights include the Popes’ Palace in Avignon, the Roman town of Arles
OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS Riviera Travel is one of the world’s leading holiday companies, providing perfectly planned land and cruise itineraries to destinations throughout Europe. Tripsmiths partners with the world’s leading tour operators and select media brands to deliver exclusive travel experiences.
Sail with Prue next year
– once home to Vincent van Gogh – and the awe-inspiring ancient aqueduct of Pont du Gard.
S A I L I N L U X U RY Your journey through France will take place on one of the world’s inest river cruise ships, the MS William Shakespeare – a sleek and stylish vessel in Riviera’s luxury leet. Furnished with sustainably sourced tropical hardwoods, it has polishedbrass and wrought-iron ittings, thick-pile carpets, deep armchairs and facilities that will delight you, including a sundeck, lounge bar with panoramic views, irst-class dining options, splash pool, putting green, wellness area with sauna and a hair salon. The ship’s layout, subtle lighting, elegant decor and opulent cabins are among the best you will ind on a river cruise. Carrying just 140 passengers, it has an excellent crew-to-guest ratio, ensuring high levels of service. countryliving.com/uk
Space for just 140 passengers
You will sail past the famous Pont d’Avignon
Your ship, the MS William Shakespeare
DAY 1 Travel to France DAY 2 Lyon DAY 3 Beaune and Burgundy DAY 4 Vienne/Tournon DAY 5 Ardèche Gorges DAY 6 Arles/Pont du Gard DAY 7 Avignon DAY 8 Return home
cookbook, Prue: My All-Time Travel to France from Favourite Recipes. a selection of regional All meals on board. airports or via Eurostar All activities and and TGV. excursions as listed (see Seven nights’ luxury full itinerary online). river cruise ship All transport and accommodation. Cooking demonstration entrance fees. English-speaking by Prue Leith. guides, plus the services A wine-tasting visit of a Riviera cruise alongside Prue. director and tour Book signing and a manager. copy of Prue’s new WHAT’S INCLUDED
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK BOURDILLON; GETTY IMAGES
W H AT YO U ’ L L L OV E Joining a private Q&A session with Prue Leith, when she will discuss her life and career. Watching a demonstration by Prue as she shares her tips, followed by a signing of her latest cookbook, Prue: My All-Time Favourite Recipes. Visiting beautiful spots around the Rhône, such as the Ardèche Gorges, the clifs around Condrieu, SaintRambert-d’Albon and Saint-Vallier, as well as the Roman city of Arles and historical Avignon. Sampling the region’s famed food and wine, with trips to Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, Vienne and Tournon. Travelling on the MS William Shakespeare, enjoying the elegance, style and luxury of this ive-star ship.
Enjoy the ﬂavours of France
THE PRICE From £1,699* per person THE DATES 29 July-5 August 2019
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 880266, quoting code RCRWF For more details and to see the full itinerary, go to countryliving.com/uk/prueleith
*Based on two people sharing a cabin and flying from London Gatwick. Regional flights may be available at a supplement. Single cabins are available on request at a supplement and subject to availability. Timings of Prue’s events subject to change and there may be slight alterations to the itinerary due to operational restrictions. This trip is ATOL protected. This tour is exclusive to Hearst UK and may be promoted by other Hearst UK brands. For full T&Cs, visit countryliving.com/uk/prueleith
F ES T I V E P I L G R I M AG E
TO BE A
For hundreds of years, embarking upon long, spiritual journeys on foot was a regular practice for all walks of society. Now, Will Parsons and Guy Hayward are reviving the ritual WORDS BY EMMA PRITCHARD
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW MONTGOMERY
ook closely at the ridge that cuts across the misty morning horizon and you might catch a glimpse of two walkers and their dogs silhouetted against the crisp winter sky. At irst glance, they could appear to be hikers, starting of early to enjoy the frosty dawn, but on further inspection you may spot small telltale signs – such as their sinewy hazel stafs and compact rucksacks, big enough for only the bare essentials – that sugest there’s more to them than irst meets the eye. “Historically, pilgrimage was once Britain’s most important expression of leisure and spirituality, and something everyone, of all religions and classes, did on at least an annual basis,” Will Parsons explains, pausing to look out across the valley. “That’s why we wanted to show that, whatever faith, or non-faith, you come from, pilgrimage is universal and open to all.” In today’s fast-paced, technoloy-orientated world, taking time out to focus on what really matters and reconnect with nature has never been more important. This is precisely why, in 2014, Will and like-minded friend Guy Hayward founded The British Pilgrimage Trust, to re-establish the tradition throughout the UK. “The word pilgrim comes from the Latin peregrinus, meaning stranger; and peregre from per agri, meaning
from ields,” Will explains. “It therefore carries the idea of being liberated from perceived identity and expectation through walking in nature.” As part of their work for the Trust, he and Guy publicise more than 60 routes, or pilgrimages, lasting between one day and three weeks, which can all be downloaded from the website. They also lead about 12 group walks a year – so popular that they’re consistently fully booked. All the routes retrace religious paths that would have been followed by ancient pilgrims, such as the Trust’s ‘lagship route’, The Old Way, stretching from Southampton to Canterbury, part of which the duo are walking today. Traversing the landscape is nothing new to Will, who, having inherited his father’s hiking boots aged 21, spent more than ten years walking and busking his way around the UK on a “never-ending journey”, gaining the nickname ‘the wandering minstrel’ and writing about his experiences. For his fellow pilgrim Guy, however, the joys of walking are newer. “I’ve only been actively enjoying this since 2012,” he says. The pair met at the dinner party of a mutual friend. It was a random encounter that would triger a change of direction for both of them. For Guy, it was the inspiration to explore the surroundings of Cambridge, where he was
PREVIOUS PAGES Pilgrims Guy and Will set out on The Old Way with their dogs, admiring the view of Summerhouse Hill and Folkestone in Kent ABOVE The wanderers journey to Saltwood Church, with its beautiful stained-glass windows
completing a PhD in group singing and community, while for Will it was an opportunity to instil a sense of purpose into his wanderings. Both paths led to the founding of the Trust. “Pilgrimage is far from an original concept – even in Britain,” Will says. “Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did it to ind better feeding sites, then there were the ancient spiritual pilgrimages to historic sites, including Stonehenge and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. You even see it in the seasonal migration patterns of wildlife. It’s just that, over time, the tradition has been forgotten.” One of the sources of inspiration for Will and Guy when they launched The British Pilgrimage Trust was the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route that runs across northern Spain to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great. Because of its established nature (the trail welcomed more than 300,000 visitors last year), it also has hostels, oten attached to churches, en route to provide weary pilgrims with a place to eat and sleep, something Will and Guy hope to establish one day, too. Like Spain, Britain is home to a rich array of historical, religious and spiritual sites. “The UK is a densely packed holy (which literally means wholesome) landscape,” Guy says. “We have wells, trees, river sources, churches and burial mounds – holy places are as much natural as they
are built.” As if on cue, the pair have reached one such sacred site, The Ancient Watchers, a line of 2,000-yearold yews in Kingley Vale, West Sussex. “In medieval times, pilgrimages were not only taken for religious reasons, but also provided people with a bit of a holiday,” Will says. “The shrine to the Virgin Mary in Walsingham, Norfolk, was one of Europe’s most popular pilgrimage sites, for example. But in 1538, Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell banned pilgrimages and instated vagrancy laws, meaning it was illegal to leave your parish of birth without a bishop’s permission. It marked the start of a new chapter in our history that involved a lot less free movement.” “You’re much closer to the weather when you’re walking in winter,” says Guy, pulling his woollen hat down over his ears as the pair pick up their rucksacks, call to their dogs and continue on the track. “The visual landscape seems much biger because there are no leaves on the trees – it expands the mind.” The Old Way provides the perfect opportunity to experience that. The route is illed with natural and ancient wonders, from the far-reaching views across the Channel, which can be enjoyed from the coastal path that leads out of Southampton where the route starts, to the ridge bearing the Long Man of Wilmington hill igure and the grounds of Saltwood Castle, where the four knights stayed on countryliving.com/uk
To ind out more about The British Pilgrimage Trust, explore recommended routes and view the upcoming events, visit britishpilgrimage.org. countryliving.com/uk
ILLUSTRATIONS BY ZOE MORE O’FERRALL
28 December 1170, the night before they murdered Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. “From a religious perspective, Christmas is all about pilgrimage,” Will says. “The Three Kings followed a star for many months to get to baby Jesus. There’s also no better time to take one, because we’re all removed from the normal structure of day-to-day life. The movement of the body through a landscape doesn’t require beliefs – nor does appreciating the beauty of a church.” The festive period is also the perfect time to reassess and reevaluate, as we move from one year to the next. As Will says, “In the West, Christmas has become focused on eating too much and stuf that we don’t need, but, as a pilgrim, you only have what you can carry and the less you carry, the greater your experience.” Another festive element, which Will and Guy explain has always been a part of pilgrimage, is the use of song
– something Guy already knew much about, because of his ield of study. Both trust founders are keen to bring this practice back to life. “When you sing as you walk – which used to be customary – you leave this invisible, but deeply meaningful, trail behind you,” Will says. “It’s also something you can pass onto other pilgrims and those of the next generation in a wonderful ripple efect.” As dusk approaches, Will and Guy enter the onceRoman settlement of Chichester and head towards the thousand-year-old cathedral. Stepping inside, they quietly take in the stained-glass windows illuminated in the late aternoon light, before moving into the nave where they break into song. They choose a folk tune once commonly sung by pilgrims but let forgotten in a musical archive. The sound reverberates around the solid walls, then hangs in the silence it leaves behind. And with that, these modern-day pilgrims continue on their way, as many have done before them – and, thanks to Will and Guy, will continue to do so for more years to come.
ABOVE, FROM LEFT Guy and Will continue along The Old Way, passing Saltwood Castle, the sprawling bows of The Ancient Watchers and the Longman of Wilmington
RU R A L B US I N ES S
magic of marbling Breathing new life into a centuries-old technique, Jemma Lewis creates beautifully intricate papers and ornaments from her colourful Wiltshire studio
WORDS BY LAURAN ELSDEN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALUN CALLENDER
ith a lick of her wrist, paper marbler Jemma Lewis sends a spatter of gouache out across a tray of ‘size’. Made from a variety of seaweed known as Irish moss or carrageen, this viscous liquid provides the perfect consistency on which to loat paint – tiny droplets ripple and expand across its smooth surface. Using the tip of her brush and a ine-tooth comb, Jemma sets to work swirling the substance, creating mesmerising patterns that take shape in moments. Thought to have originated in Japan in the 10th century, before being brought to Europe 700 years later, marbling has long been used to embellish and personalise important texts and documents. Today, however, the skill has been categorised as critically
endangered by the Heritage Crats Association, becoming so rare, in fact, that Jemma is now one of only a handful of people in the UK still practising it. Working from her garden studio in Melksham, Wiltshire, she creates standard, bespoke and custom-made papers as well as other items for customers through her business, Jemma Lewis Marbling & Design. The winter landscape may be all bare branches and muted tones, but step into Jemma’s workshop and you’ll be met with an abundance of colour and enery. Speckled paint pots crowd every available surface; red, green and gold papers hang glistening on a rack. “I’ve always liked doing a job that’s so hands-on,” she says, peeling back a sheet to reveal the characteristic whirls of the ‘French curl’ motif. With the festive period fast approaching, Jemma has spent much of the previous weeks working long into the evenings, marbling DECEMBER 2018
RU R A L B US I N ES S
ceramic stars and baubles to sell on her website. Unlike machine-made trinkets, shipped from overseas, Jemma wants her handcrated ornaments to be treasured; taken out year ater year with excitement. “I’ve always preferred decorations that tell a bit of a story,” she says. “My mum still has the ones that my brother, sister and I made at school when we were children. They’re far more meaningful to us than any we buy.” As well as these Christmas curios, Jemma’s marbled wrapping paper is a popular choice for customers who want to make their gits a little more special. “I like to think of it as giving someone a piece of artwork alongside their present,” she says. Following a textiles degree at Norwich School of Art and Design, Jemma started her irst job at Chivers Period Bookbinders in Trowbridge ten years ago. The company had just acquired a local paper-marbling business and she’d been given the chance to try her hand. “I was hooked instantly,” she says. “The fact that you could take this blank canvas and turn it into something so ornate and beautiful seemed like magic to me.” Under the tutelage of internationally renowned ‘master marbler’ Ann Muir and her assistant Julie, Jemma soon began to pick up the tricks of the trade. “I was deinitely thrown in at the deep end,” she says. “I remember having to do the same steps over and over. While that might sound monotonous, it was the best way to learn.” Jemma was just beginning to pick up the various nuances and intricacies of the job, getting a feel for the way paint moves and which colour combinations work best, when disaster struck: the bookbinders went into administration. Despite having studied the crat for only seven months, she then made the bold decision to set up her own enterprise, enlisting the help of her father, Dave, to build a studio in her garden before launching in 2009. “Luckily, Dad had recently retired, so he was able to help out in the early days,” she says. “It was certainly a challenge, but because there aren’t many commercial marblers around, I already had a ready-made client base. We were very fortunate, to be honest – we started up and have been busy ever since.” Jemma may put much of her success down to luck, but her achievements are all the more impressive when you consider
OPPOSITE AND THIS PAGE Jemma is often joined in her studio by her cat, Milo, as she works on her mesmerising marbled designs, which decorate Christmas baubles and ceramic
stars during the festive season, as well as the wrapping paper that’s popular with customers all year round. She creates her work by swirling paint on top of a viscous liquid called ‘size’
RU R A L B US I N ES S that professional paper marbling has long been an industry shrouded in secrecy. “Historically, when bookbinders were teaching their apprentices, they would only show them one or two parts of the process – perhaps because if the apprentice didn’t know every single step, they were less likely to set up a rival business,” she says. “All those years later, when I was learning, there was still that air of mystery – a sense that perhaps I wasn’t being given the whole picture.” With certain aspects of the trade proving somewhat enigmatic, and with so few people to consult, Jemma decided to delve a little deeper into the world of marbling. The Olga Hirsch Collection at The British Library in London can only be seen by appointment and when accompanied by a curator. Holding a vast variety of antique papers gathered from all over the world – many of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries – it proved an invaluable source of information. “We were lucky enough to spend a whole aternoon looking at hundreds of examples,” she recalls. “Even though many of them were very old, they were so rich – they somehow had a contemporary feel about them.” Although many of the patterns she works with are based on classic designs such as Stormont, Shell and Turkish Spot, Jemma’s brain is always whirring with new ideas – from a NASA image of outer space to the loating fronds of sea coral, inspiration can come from anywhere. “I don’t go out of my way to look for things,” she says, glancing down at her paint-splattered boots. “It’s more
likely that I’ll stumble upon something that piques my interest and think, ‘I wonder how I could recreate this?’” As well as the pieces she produces for bookbinders, publishers, restorers and retailers, Jemma also undertakes bespoke projects for clients including Jo Malone, Topshop, Barra Gin and The Folio Society. “While there is this wonderful traditional element to paper marbling, it’s also important to keep moving forward – to be current with colour and pattern and experiment in my work,” she says. “That’s how the crat has transformed and developed from those early days and why there’s such a diversity now.” With today’s papers rinsed and drying – a pre-application of a chemical compound called alum helps paint adhere to the surface – Jemma can add the inal lourishes to her ornaments. “As with any company, there’s a spike in orders in the run-up to Christmas,” she says, threading ribbon through the top of a glossy blue bauble. “It gets a bit hectic, but I love making something seasonal and unique that could go on to be part of someone else’s family tradition, and that might even become an heirloom one day.”
Many hours of marbling work have left their mark on Jemma’s boots and studio (above)
For more information about where to buy Jemma’s work, visit jemmamarbling.com. CL readers will receive a 10 per cent discount on online orders when entering the code COUNTRY10 until 31 December 2018.
T R AV E L
10 CHRISTMAS of the best
MARKETS The festive season provides the ideal opportunity to shop for unique and artisanal gifts in these inspiring historic locations
SOMERSET BATH CHRISTMAS MARKET 22 November-9 December Backdropped by Bath’s Georgian architecture, 200 stallholders come together for this festive event. More than 80 per cent are local artisans from the city and surrounding areas, and 99 per cent of the products sold are either handcrated by the stallholders themselves, made in Britain or produced abroad with a Fairtrade certiication. It’s the perfect place for picking up unique Christmas gits – try the famous rapeseed oil by Bath Harvest, made on a family farm in Wilmington, or ethical gold and silver jewellery by Frome-based maker Christina Oswin. Why not stay at the Country Living Lansdown Grove Hotel and make a weekend of it? bathchristmasmarket.co.uk; countrylivinghotels.com
T R AV E L CORNWALL PADSTOW CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL 6-9 December Set on the harbour’s edge, this event is a foodie’s paradise. It was created by Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth 11 years ago and features demonstrations from celebrated chefs – Mark Hix, Angela Hartnett and Nathan Outlaw are among those appearing this year – along with local artisan food and drink. Pick up a bottle of Cornish izz from the Knightor Winery and a pudding from Devon company Figgy’s. padstowchristmasfestival.co.uk
OXFORDSHIRE BLENHEIM PALACE CHRISTMAS MARKET & TRAIL 23 November-1 January A new, extended Christmas market launches this year at Oxfordshire’s iconic 18th-century country house. Stallholders will sell ceramics, jewellery and specialist food and drink, while a visual feast takes place in the grounds every evening in the form of The Illuminated Trail – the lake and gardens, designed by Capability Brown, will be lit up by tiny pea lights, lasers and light projections. The state rooms inside the house, meanwhile, will be decorated with a Cinderella theme – ideal for children. blenheimpalace.com/christmas
CHESHIRE CHESTER CHRISTMAS MARKET 16 November-22 December One of the best-preserved walled cities in Britain, Chester’s historic streets look all the more atmospheric when illuminated by fairy lights during the Christmas market. As well as browsing the stalls of 70 local cratspeople and food producers, who are positioned around a huge Christmas tree, you can enjoy a tipple at the Real Ale Bar, which serves locally brewed cask varieties and festive cocktails. Hog roast baps and pancakes will also be on ofer. visitcheshire.com
DERBYSHIRE CHATSWORTH HOUSE CHRISTMAS MARKET 16 November-4 December Set amid the hills of the Peak District, Chatsworth’s market comprises 100 stalls. Once you’ve sampled the likes of Hartington Cheese’s delicious Stilton (as featured in the November issue of Country Living) or the wares of Lincolnshire-based The Artisanal Honey Company, escape the crowds and explore the rest of the grounds. Pop into the garden centre, marvel at the house decorated with dozens of Christmas trees or head to the farmyard to see a Nativity scene featuring the estate’s own farm animals. chatsworth.org
T R AV E L HAMPSHIRE WINCHESTER CHRISTMAS MARKET 17 November-20 December
For a more cultural experience, head to Hay-on-Wye, famous for its summer literary festival. Hay’s Winter Weekend has a seasonal twist – so, in addition to a town crier, festive choirs, mulled wine and mince pies, a food market on Saturday and a vintage one on Sunday, you can also attend talks by Kate Humble, Mary Portas and authors including Mark Urban and Rose Tremain.
LONDON, GLASGOW & HARROGATE COUNTRY LIVING CHRISTMAS FAIRS London, 7-11 November, Glasgow, 15-18 November, Harrogate, 29 November-2 December To ind the perfect git for any Country Living reader and truly immerse yourself in the pages of the magazine, why not visit one of our three Christmas markets? In Glasgow, indulge in some luxury ice cream blended by Orkney Creamery; in Harrogate, you could pick up a beautiful cashmere blanket handcrated in Yorkshire by Jampot & Sunday; and in London, stock up on gorgeous therapeutic skincare handmade by Yellow Gorse on the Isle of Purbeck. There are also creative workshops, talks and demonstrations to provide all the inspiration you need for the festive season. countrylivingfair.com
KENT LEEDS CASTLE CHRISTMAS MARKET Weekends between 24 November-16 December With views across to the castle, this market features reindeer, birds of prey, live music and funfair rides. Sip on Anno Distillers gin or beverages produced by the Copper Rivet Distillery as you wander around the wooden chalets, browsing the vast range of artisanal products, from Christmas puddings and crumbly fudge to hand-poured candles and bone-china mugs. leeds-castle.com
LINCOLNSHIRE BURGHLEY CHRISTMAS FINE FOOD MARKET 6-9 December In the inner courtyard of an Elizabethan stately home, this little market features more than 30 local producers to sample. Start by choosing from one of Launde Farm’s hot lamb wraps or Persian street food by Stanley Street, then try a selection of cakes, pastries and buns, all handmade in Rutland by The Lotus Bakery. burghley.co.uk
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ©BLENHEIM PALACE; SIMON BROADHEAD; FRANCESCA ELSEY; GETTY IMAGES; LOTUSBAKERY.CO.UK; ADAM SARGENT. INFORMATION CORRECT AT TIME OF GOING TO PRESS
POWYS HAY FESTIVAL WINTER WEEKEND 22-25 November
Considered one of the best in Europe, Winchester’s market takes place in the close of its 1,000-year-old Gothic cathedral. Enjoy a tipple from Winchester Distillery, sugary treats from the Little Village Sweetshop or handcrated stoneware by Selborne Pottery. You can also take a Twilight Tower Tour and experience a bird’s-eye view of the market from the top of the cathedral. winchester-cathedral.org.uk
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British and Continental traditions are beautifully blended to bring a sense of seasonal cheer to a Regency-style villa in East Sussex WORDS AND STYLING BY GABI TUBBS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY RACHEL WHITING
OPPOSITE Gabi made the aromatic pine wreath with eucalyptus, sage, rosemary and thyme at the Christmas workshop in her local church â€“ the grey-green foliage complements the smoke-blue front door THIS PAGE Old white Limoges gold-edged porcelain plates, with an array of blossomprinted glasses and Swedish cutlery, reflect the candles and fairy lights
iteen years ago, Gabi Tubbs and her husband Pierre exchanged a hectic London life for a more relaxed existence by the sea when they moved to a picturesque Italianate villa in Brighton, East Sussex. Built in the 1840s, the house sits like a tiered wedding cake with ten other identical semi-detached properties in a tree-lined street in the Montpelier and Cliton conservation area. It is early Victorian, yet has all the classic embellishments of Regency architecture, with a swirly ironwork balcony and fretwork canopy. Designed by AH Wilds, the Grade II-listed villas are well known in the area because the residents display their beautifully decorated Christmas trees in the curved bay of their living rooms and light up the terrace. Adding to the seasonal ambience is the magniicent St Michael and All Angels church at the top of the hill. Described by the historian Sir Roy Strong as a Pre-Raphaelite jewel, the Victorian church is one of England’s grandest. During the Christmas period, residents and their guests congregate for the candlelit carol service and Midnight Mass, followed by mulled wine, mince pies and sausage rolls, which gets everyone in the festive spirit. The generous layout and light-illed rooms make entertaining a pleasure. However, when they bought the house, it was in a rather lacklustre state and, in part, badly conigured. Yet it was just the kind of project Gabi and Pierre were keen to take on. “We had spent many years in a Victorian red-brick family home and I’d always dreamed of living in a light and spacious place,” Gabi remembers. “So, when we moved here, we were determined to restore it to its original layout and add 21st-century decorative and functional touches.” By project-managing the build and working with a good architect, they created an elegant conversion. The studio, oice and washroom are on the lower ground loor, and the living rooms and kitchen
“I’d always dreamed of living in a light and spacious place” THIS PAGE, FROM TOP Presents are wrapped in decorative paper and tied with vintage ribbon, gold cord and braid; an original Venetian mirror hangs above the Regency-style marble mantelpiece, on which there is a traditional Polish Christmas ‘Szopka’ crib made out of foil sweet papers – a
modern ceramic vase holds a branch of mistletoe OPPOSITE The large Nordmann fir tree is decorated with frosted and sequinned baubles, snowbirds and mercury glass ornaments – it stands in the curved fulllength window of the classically proportioned sitting room with its elegant high ceilings countryliving.com/uk
INTERIORS The dining room is painted in a chalky Gustavian blue-grey, which works well with the pale oak floor and white paintwork. Gabiâ€™s collection of vintage and modern blueand-white plates and platters is arranged on the kitchen wall
“Christmas is a wonderful excuse to let one’s imagination unfold”
An antique copper colander and pewter baking tins look festive filled with nuts and tangerines
on the raised ground loor, with bedrooms and bathrooms on the levels above. The perfect proportions of the 19th-century design are seen throughout as each room lows gracefully into the next. In the Tubbs household, Christmas is celebrated in both the Continental and the English way, as Gabi was raised in Munich and husband Pierre is half-French. In accordance with German tradition, the festivities begin on Christmas Eve. Once their grownup children and excited grandchildren arrive, laden with presents and lugage, an informal supper of ish pie, green beans and winter salad is served with chilled white wine and fresh apple juice. Two weeks before, Gabi and Pierre will have walked to the nearby pop-up Christmas tree stall to choose a tall Nordmann ir to ill the entire bay of the living room. Crowned with a pretty frosted-glass decoration, the tree almost touches the ceiling. Next on the agenda is to get out the carefully labelled boxes that contain an array of baubles, some from childhood. This means climbing up into the lot, on a precarious wooden ladder, where they are tucked away. “I still love dressing the tree, and the house evokes happy memories of my childhood in Munich,” Gabi says. “There is something magical about beautiful decorations, whether they are bought or homemade. I can’t resist adding a few more to my collection whenever I see something special.” Every year, guests are treated to a slightly diferent look and colour scheme. This time, Gabi’s house has been decorated with variegated foliage from the garden – aromatic herbs, old man’s beard and myrtle are tied onto the wire advent wreath, which is anchored to the chandelier with gold cord to hang low over the dining table. Scented white hyacinths and red-veined trumpetshaped amaryllis in zinc pots are dotted throughout the house. The tall tree sparkles with frosted glass ornaments purchased on a trip to Krakow years ago, as well as sequinned white and frosted glass baubles from Liberty. “Christmas is such a wonderful excuse to let one’s imagination unfold,” Gabi says. Looking at her home, it is evident that her own festive creativity has been fulilled. Gabi is hosting a Christmas decorative antiques sale on 7 December 2018, 10am-4pm; crat workshops will also be held. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details. THIS PAGE, FROM TOP The antique French dresser in the hallway is painted in soft grey and white and holds favourite china, glassware and family heirlooms; Gabi loves the iridescent glaze of Victorian pink lustreware OPPOSITE Painted in a delicate shade of sea green, the master bedroom feels fresh in the morning and soothing in the
evening. The antique French bed has been upholstered in silk damask. A floral Indian vintage cotton quilt adds to the mix of textiles, and old French linen has been made into Roman blinds trimmed with vintage braid. The reeded bedside tables are Swedish, while the paintings have been given to the couple by friends or found at antiques fairs
“The house evokes happy memories of my childhood”
A time for TRADITION Emma Bridgewater celebrates the season at home in Oxfordshire with family customs that inspire her festive designs WORDS AND PRODUCTION BY CAROLYN BAILEY
ASSISTED BY JAMES CUNNINGHAM
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRENT DARBY
Memory lane I was born just before Christmas and, at the time, my mother received a dear little postcard from my grandfather. On the back in red ink, it says, ‘Blessed to Charlotte and her baby girl’. Every year we would bring it out and we still place it on our tree now. My earliest memories of Christmas are spending it at our home in Hertfordshire. I vividly remember decorating the tree with my mother, my sister Sophie and my brother Tom. Each year we longed for snow and as soon as it came we would go toboganing.
Getting ready For me, Christmas is about tradition – family, decorating the tree, lighting candles and bringing greenery indoors. We use ivy and holly from the garden to decorate our mantelpieces and drape over pictures. I love Advent and Advent hymns, and adore robins and carol singers. We are quite last-minute – as soon as my birthday is over, we focus on Christmas. I basically continue the traditions of my mother and grandmother, and each year we bring out platters that belonged to them – I enjoy having some special pieces from the past. We get a large tree and when the children were younger I would even let them have a tree each. On Christmas Eve, I always make my special Light Pudding. I use golden sultanas and dried fruit but leave out the treacle; I steam it for four hours and then again for two to three hours the next morning. I love heating up the brandy and lighting it.
The big day Christmas is almost always spent at home in Oxfordshire with my children [Elizabeth, Kitty, Margaret and Michael] and family. Some years, the numbers of guests grow and friends join us. First, we always open our stockings together, which is such fun. We have a big breakfast to keep us going and then a big dinner CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT The door wreath came from Daisies Flower Shop in Oxford; Emma’s love of robins has been used to great efect in her Robin in a Starry Night design on a
mug and tea towel; personalised pieces of crockery make popular festive gifts; an arrangement of foliage set against a roaring fire is a pleasing sight in a corner decorated with vintage artwork countryliving.com/uk
EMMA’S GUIDE TO A STRESSFREE CHRISTMAS
· · · · · 136
Take time out for yourself Go for walks, ideally by a river Watch at least one movie with your family Don’t do too many things – cancel a few Unplug and have a day of!
BAUBLES, GISELA GRAHAM (GISELAGRAHAM.CO.UK). GIFTWRAP, PAPERCHASE (PAPERCHASE.COM). RIBBON, JANE MEANS (JANEMEANS.COM)
THIS PAGE, FROM ABOVE Emma has collected Christmas decorations for years, and stylishly mixes old baubles with new ones on real trees that are
put on display throughout the house; candlesticks are polished until they gleam, then arranged pride of place on the table with sparkling glassware
late aternoon – it’s oten one of our own turkeys. Kitty makes devils on horseback and, as we have a vegetarian in the family, we always have a nut roast. Church is also a large part of our celebrations. Mikey was a chorister and I always delight in hearing him sing. We love Christmas music and oten enjoy carols around the piano. And for larger informal gatherings I get our miniature mugs made up with guests’ names on them, so that they have something to keep. This time of year ofers the opportunity for a fantastic break from work – I really appreciate a few days at home, although I can’t stop going over ideas and getting inspiration for new patterns. Other traditions include taking long river walks with our dogs.
My style I try to keep Christmas as simple as possible. I would say my signature style is mix and match – decorations from the 1960s with more recent purchases. This year I have a few Mexicaninspired designs and always use a few of my china decorations on the tree. For the table, the key is candles and more candles. I clean my brass candlesticks specially and use my Christmas pattern – I love the wreath design and use it each year. For more information on Emma Bridgewater and her products, visit emmabridgewater.co.uk.
STYLE A highly ornamented formal garden of rooms and vistas, where every feature tells a story SEASONS OF INTEREST All year round SIZE Four acres SOIL TYPE Neutral, inclined to acid
THE LASKETT Deined structure, textured topiary and colourful ornaments combine to create a garden that remains vivid and vibrant, even in the very depths of winter WORDS BY AMBRA EDWARDS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICHARD BLOOM
andering round The Laskett, the garden of Sir Roy Strong in Herefordshire, evokes the sensation of being lost in a maze. Despite the irm axes that deine the structure of the roughly triangular site, there is a sense of delicious disorientation. For it’s impossible to keep going in a straight line when so much beckons to right and let. It might be some beguiling statue – a fat-cheeked cherub or a snowballing bear – a gilded column glinting in the distance or a narrow path leading to an intriguing obelisk. The garden unfolds in a sequence of hedged enclosures, each ofering multiple possibilities. Turn one way to descend a light of steps, or another to pass through a loty archway, pausing to puzzle out the Latin inscription, or veer of to discover what might be hidden through a mysterious gap in the hedge. A blanket of snow adds further piquancy to the scene and seems to accentuate rather than obliterate the crisp lines and intricate patterning of this highly structured formal garden. Sir Roy Strong and his wife, Dr Julia Trevelyan Oman, came to The Laskett – then just a solid Victorian house sitting uncomfortably in a lat square of lawn – in 1973. But there was a noble cedar tree (recently deceased), and a ield that would one PREVIOUS PAGES The view across the Silver Jubilee Garden to the Rose Garden THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT One of two bear statues in the Glade; four dome-shaped beech trees lead to a triumphal arch in the Rose
Garden; apples on a tree add colour to the snowy scene; the stag statue, which stands in a corner of the Christmas Orchard; Sir Roy Strong in the Yew Garden OPPOSITE Powdery snow dusts each layer of this elegant yew topiary countryliving.com/uk
SIR ROY STRONG The writer, historian and Renaissance scholar (whose late wife, Dr Julia Trevelyan Oman, was a celebrated ilm, television and theatre designer) made his reputation as director of the National Portrait Gallery in the late 1960s, and became the youngestever director of the V&A in 1973. His inluential exhibition The Garden (1979) mourned the loss of the great formal gardens swept away by the Landscape Movement of the 18th century, and The Laskett is thought to be the largest formal garden made in Britain since 1945. In 2015, Sir Roy bequeathed the garden to Perennial (perennial.org.uk), a charity that offers support during times of crisis to those who work (or have worked) in horticulture.
“Hedges and trees are what make a garden – lowers are just embroidery” day become part of the garden – and, while funds might have been somewhat lacking, imagination was not. Neither Sir Roy or his wife had much clue about gardening, but Julia was a hugely successful designer, and Sir Roy had an innate sense of theatre, and so they set about making a garden very diferent from the chintzy country-house style that was in vogue at the time. Together, they created a garden of elaborate green architecture richly ornamented with topiary, inspired by Elizabethan portraits and Jacobean pattern books, as well as the green gardens of Renaissance Italy and the garden rooms of Hidcote Manor Garden in the Cotswolds. Unlike Hidcote, however, there are no lawns – Julia considered them a waste of a gardener’s time. And while Hidcote is famed for its planting, lowers play a secondary role at The Laskett: “Hedges and trees are what make a garden,” Sir Roy declares. “Flowers are just embroidery.” The area developed bit by bit over 30 years, and has continued to evolve since Julia’s death in 2003. It now extends over four acres, but because it is made up of multiple small elements, slotted together like a jigsaw puzzle, there is much to inspire gardeners working on a smaller scale. Almost any part of it, sugests Sir Roy, could be successfully replicated in an urban courtyard or small suburban space. Also, unlike many large gardens, The Laskett was made with limited means. “Julia was not the least bit snobby about materials, and would use whatever came to hand to create an efect – garden centre stonework,
FROM TOP The Colonnade Court, which ofers stunning views of the surrounding countryside, was laid out on the site of the former Kitchen
Garden and is often used to host events and performances; a crowned column celebrating Queens Elizabeth I and II on the Elizabeth Tudor Walk countryliving.com/uk
GARDENING STRONG ON DESIGN A structured geometric garden works just as well in a wild countryside setting as in a formal or urban one. At The Laskett, I derive ininite pleasure from the contrast between the clipped and ordered foreground and the harmonious countryside beyond: it feels as if the garden is held in the arms of the landscape of Herefordshire. Have a clear idea of the ground plan. You might not be able to achieve it all at once, and elements may need to be moved as the garden evolves, but if you can create good ‘bones’, you can’t go far wrong. Every garden needs to be remade every 20 years. Don’t be afraid to chop things down, just because you planted them. The axe is the gardener’s friend, letting in new light and new opportunity. Be adventurous in your choice of plants for topiary. We use golden privet, copper beech and lonicera as well as more traditional yew, and have found small-leaved euonymus varieties an excellent substitute for box in parterres. Instead of trying to age reconstituted stone, give it a wash of paint – terracotta, blues and grey-green all work well. In the past, garden ornaments were oten brightly painted – as they still are in much of Eastern Europe. While lowers fade, paint lasts all year – and you can use it to bring a unifying theme. Inscriptions add a rich extra dimension. These need not be costly, and they keep artists and cratsmen in work. Be patient! Ater all, beautiful gardens are not created overnight.
FROM TOP The view across the Yew Garden – one of the first that Sir Roy and Julia planted in 1974 – to the nymphaeum, built for Sir Roy’s 80th birthday; yew topiary on the Elizabeth Tudor Walk; the Shakespeare monument, which commemorates the Shakespeare Prize given to Sir Roy in 1980
engineering bricks, concrete pavers,” Sir Roy says. “She said we lived in the age of concrete and should embrace it.” Long before ‘upcycling’ became fashionable, the duo installed inexpensive pieces made from reconstituted stone, transforming them with paint, a little judicious gilding and carefully chosen inscriptions. These recall signiicant moments in the lives of the couple: birthdays, anniversaries and their proudest professional achievements are celebrated in garden buildings and ornaments, plaques and mosaics. Their initials, oten intertwined, decorate every available surface. There are also monuments to beloved cats, and plants that recall happy days with old friends. “This garden is a living scrapbook of our lives,” Sir Roy says. And that, he feels, is what every garden can – and should – be. The Laskett Gardens, Laskett Lane, Much Birch, Herefordshire. The gardens are open to pre-booked groups from May to September each year. For more information or to book a visit, see thelaskettgardens.co.uk or email email@example.com countryliving.com/uk
FOOD & DRINK
EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY The festive menu
Christmas lunch is surely the most anticipated meal of the year. These recipes, from the welcoming drink and canapÃ©s through to the main course with all the trimmings and a pudding with a modern twist, are sure to delight FOOD AND DRINK EDITOR ALISON WALKER
RECIPES BY HEARST FOOD NETWORK
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BILL KINGSTON, GARETH MORGANS AND KATE WHITAKER
FOOD & DRINK
SALMON BLINIS WITH TZATZIKI Preparation 8 minutes Serves 6 A new take on a classic canapé – with just four ingredients. 12 ready-made blinis 75g tzatziki 50g hot-smoked salmon ¼ cucumber, to garnish
1 Reheat the blinis according to the packet instructions or serve cold. 2 Top each blini with a heaped teaspoon of tzatziki, a small piece of laked salmon and a cucumber curl (using a citrus parer is easiest).
HAM AND CHEESE STRAWS WITH AIOLI Preparation 10 minutes Cooking about 3 minutes Serves 6 You can put this incredibly moreish canapé together in just a few minutes. 4 slices Parma ham or prosciutto 12 cheese straws 4 tbsp mayonnaise 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 Heat oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven) gas mark 6. Slice ham into thirds lengthways and wrap one piece around a cheese straw. Repeat with remaining straws and ham. Arrange in one layer on a baking tray and bake for 3-5 minutes. 2 Meanwhile, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and crushed garlic in a small serving bowl. Serve the straws warm or at room temperature with the dip.
APPLE AND ELDERFLOWER FIZZ Preparation 5 minutes Serves 6 Prepare the glasses with apple juice and elderlower ahead, and top up with chilled izz when you are ready to serve. 200ml elderlower liqueur 200ml cloudy apple juice 70cl bottle of champagne or sparkling wine apple and mint, to garnish
1 Add 25ml elderlower liqueur to each glass, followed by the apple. Top up with the champagne. Garnish with a slice of apple and a sprig of mint.
FOOD & DRINK CHICKEN AND PORK TERRINE Preparation 30 minutes, plus cooling and chilling Cooking 1 hour 40 minutes Serves 8 Use diced turkey breast or mince instead of chicken to make this recipe even more seasonal. 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing 1 onion, finely chopped 2 tbsp brandy 12 rashers smoked streaky bacon 2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1cm pieces 500g pork mince 50g pistachios, roughly chopped 50g dried cranberries ¾ tsp freshly grated nutmeg 2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
1 Heat the oil in a medium pan and gently cook the onion for 10 minutes until
sotened. Add the brandy and bubble for 30 seconds, then tip into a large bowl and set aside to cool. 2 Heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) gas mark 4. Use about 10 of the rashers to line the inside of a 900g loaf tin, leaving the excess hanging over the sides. To the cooled onion, add the chicken, pork, pistachios, cranberries, nutmeg, thyme leaves and plenty of seasoning. Mix together. (To check seasoning, fry a teaspoon of the mix in a small pan until cooked, then adjust if needed.)
3 Press the mixture into the loaf tin, packing it down well and levelling the surface – the meat will shrink as it cooks. Fold any overhanging bacon over the illing; cover with the remaining rashers. Press down again to ensure the surface is smooth. Lightly oil a small sheet of foil and press on top of the loaf tin. Wrap the tin well in a further double layer of foil, then put into a roasting tin. 4 Half-ill the roasting tin with boiling water and cook in the oven for 1½ hours until the terrine
feels solid when pressed. To check the terrine is cooked, pierce with a skewer and hold it there for 10 seconds – it should be piping hot to the touch. Remove the tin and unwrap the outer layers of foil (leaving the greased foil layer in place). Pour away any liquid from the terrine (otherwise it will set into a jelly). Leave to cool. 5 Put the loaf tin on a baking tray and sit tins or weights on top of the terrine to weigh it down. Chill overnight. 6 Unmould the terrine on to a serving plate. Serve sliced at room temperature with sourdough toast and chutney.
FOOD & DRINK BLACKCURRANTBRAISED RED CABBAGE Preparation 5 minutes Cooking about 2 hours 5 minutes Serves 8 Braising red cabbage in blackcurrant cordial adds a lovely sweetness that balances the cider vinegar. 75g butter 1½ tbsp brown sugar 2 red cabbages, about 1.6kg, shredded 130ml cider vinegar 375ml concentrated blackcurrant cordial
1 Melt the butter in a large, deep pan or casserole with a tight-itting lid. Add sugar and stir over a medium heat for 3 minutes until melted. Add cabbage, vinegar and cordial and toss to coat. 2 Bring to a gentle simmer, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 2 hours, stirring the cabbage oten. Transfer to a warm dish for serving.
SAUTÉED KALE AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS Preparation 15 minutes Cooking about 15 minutes Serves 8 This fresh-tasting side dish is a welcome addition to the richness of the meal, and it’s packed with nutrients, too. 550g Brussels sprouts, halved 25g butter 1 tbsp oil 3 garlic cloves, crushed 375g kale, shredded zest and juice 1 lemon
1 In a large pan of boiling water, blanch the Brussels sprouts for 3 minutes. Drain and tip the sprouts into a large bowl of cold water to refresh. Once cooled, drain immediately. 2 Add the butter and half of the oil, as well as the crushed garlic to a large frying pan. Over a low heat,
gently cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, but don’t allow it to burn. 3 Add the remaining oil. Increase the heat, add the sprouts and fry for 4 minutes. Add the kale, reduce the temperature and gently steam for 5 minutes until wilted. Season well. Turn of the heat and cover to keep warm. 4 Just before serving, toss through the lemon juice and scatter with the zest. Put in a warm dish and serve immediately.
GINGER-ROAST ROOTS Preparation 10 minutes Cooking 50 minutes Serves 8 Honey brings out the natural sweetness of carrots and parsnips while ground ginger gives a subtle warmth.
600g parsnips, peeled, halved lengthways and cut into 10cm lengths 600g carrots, halved lengthways or into quarters if large and cut into 10cm lengths 2 tbsp oil 2 tbsp honey 1 tbsp ground ginger 3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1 Heat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven) mark 6. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and season well. 2 Scatter the vegetables in a large roasting tray in a single layer and roast in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, turning the vegetables halfway through. Transfer to a warm dish to serve.
MINCEMEAT STUFFING PARCELS Preparation 15 minutes, plus cooling Cooking about 45 minutes Makes 16 Rolled in pancetta, these stuing parcels double up as pigs in blankets. 25g butter 1 onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 3 tbsp brandy or sweet sherry 150g mincemeat 450g sausagemeat 5 tbsp breadcrumbs small bunch of sage 16 rashers of pancetta, cut in half widthways
1 Heat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan oven) gas mark 5. In a frying pan, melt the butter; fry the onion until golden. Add the garlic for 1 minute, then the brandy or sherry; bubble until reduced. Stir in the mincemeat. Spread the mixture out on a plate to cool for 10 minutes. 2 When cooled, tip into a large bowl and combine
with the sausagemeat and breadcrumbs. Reserve 16 sage leaves, chop the remaining leaves and stir into the mixture. 3 Shape into 16 small balls. Lay a slice of pancetta on a board, put a sage leaf on top, then lay a second slice of pancetta on top to make a cross. Top with a ball of stuing and wrap the pancetta around it. Repeat with the remaining stuing. Put in a shallow roasting tin, with the sage leaves facing upwards. Bake for 25 minutes until cooked through. Serve with the turkey.
RAPESEED ROAST POTATOES Preparation 15 minutes Cooking about 1 hour 10 minutes Serves 8 Rapeseed oil gives a crispier texture than goose fat – and is suitable for vegetarians.
120ml rapeseed oil 1.8kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper or King Edward, peeled and cut into 5cm chunks 3 sprigs rosemary
1 Heat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven) gas mark 6. Put the oil in a large roasting tin and heat in the oven. Put the potatoes in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry in a colander for 2 minutes. Shake to luf the edges. 2 Add the potatoes to the tin with the rosemary and plenty of seasoning, basting them with the oil. Roast for 45-60 minutes, turning and basting occasionally, until golden and crispy. Transfer to a warm dish and serve.
CELERIAC AND CHESTNUT CHAMP Preparation 15 minutes Cooking 20 minutes Serves 8 This makes a delicious vegetarian alternative to the Mincemeat Stuing Parcels. 2 medium celeriac, peeled and cut into 5cm chunks 250g cooked chestnuts, chopped 3 tbsp single cream 3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked, plus extra for sprinkling juice 1 lemon 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Put the celeriac into a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 20 minutes until tender. Add the chestnuts for the inal 2 minutes of cooking. 2 Drain, then return to the pan. Mash with the cream, thyme and season with the lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve in a warm serving dish drizzled with oil.
FOOD & DRINK
CHRISTMAS BUTTER TURKEY WITH WHITE WINE GRAVY Preparation 30 minutes, plus resting Cooking about 3 hours Serves 8 For succulent breast meat, a ‘Christmas butter’ lavoured with spices, orange zest and herbs is spread under the skin of this bird. 5.5kg turkey, giblets removed 125g lightly salted butter, softened 2 oranges, zested and halved 3 tsp sage leaves, finely chopped 1 tsp thyme ½ tsp mixed spice ¼ tsp cinnamon pinch of freshly grated nutmeg 3 tbsp olive oil 2 large onions, peeled and cut into thick chunks 500ml white wine 3 tbsp flour 400ml chicken stock
1 Remove the bird from the fridge an hour before cooking. Heat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan oven) gas mark 5. Put the butter into a large mixing bowl with the orange zest, sage, thyme and spices. Season generously and mix well. 2 Pat the turkey dry with kitchen paper and put onto a chopping board. Open the neck-lap of the bird and gently loosen the skin all the way along the breast with your ingers, being careful not to tear it. Spread the butter under
the skin so the breasts are evenly covered. Rub the olive oil over the thighs and gently massage over the whole bird until it is evenly coated. Season inside and out with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 3 Scatter half of the onion chunks into a large roasting tin. Put the orange halves and remaining onion into the cavity of the bird. Tuck the legs under the neck and tie with kitchen string to secure. Weigh the bird, then put the turkey in the tin, along with 300ml wine.
4 Roast for about 30 minutes per 1kg, basting 3 times during cooking. Ater 30 minutes, cover with 2 large pieces of foil and roast for the remaining time. The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 74°C or when the juices run clear, not pink, when a skewer is inserted deep into the thigh. If the juices are still pink, return bird to the oven and retest every 10 minutes until cooked. Remove from the oven and rest on a lipped carving board covered in foil for at least 20 minutes or ideally up to an hour. You can use this time to make the gravy and roast the vegetables. 5 To make the gravy, pour the contents of the roasting tin into a bowl to let the juices and fat separate. Spoon 3 tbsp of fat back into the roasting tin and set it on the hob over a medium heat. Add the lour and cook for 2 minutes, scraping up any cooked-on brown bits where extra lavour lies. Add the remaining wine and bubble to reduce by half. Pour the roasting juices back along with the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Check the seasoning. Strain. 6 To serve, transfer the turkey to a warm platter. Serve with the gravy and other side dishes. countryliving.com/uk
FOOD & DRINK
BEETROOT AND SHALLOT TARTE TATIN Preparation 20 minutes, plus chilling Cooking about 55 minutes Serves 6 This makes an impressive vegetarian main course or serve in slices as a side dish everyone can enjoy. 320g sheet puf pastry 300g shallots 1 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp light brown soft sugar 300g pack cooked beetroot, halved FOR THE DRESSING 25g blanched hazelnuts Small bunch parsley Small bunch mint, leaves picked 1 tbsp capers, drained
1 tbsp red wine vinegar 5 tbsp olive oil
1 Heat oven to 220Â°C (200Â°C fan oven) gas mark 7. Roll out the pastry to a rough 30cm square, then trim to make a circle. Lay on a baking sheet and chill. 2 Put the shallots into a heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave for 10 minutes, then
drain and peel. Halve any larger shallots so they are all roughly the same size. 3 Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof non-stick frying pan (about 25cm) over a medium-high heat. Add the shallots and fry for 10 minutes, then add the vinegar and sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes until thick and syrupy. 4 Meanwhile, to make the
hazelnut and herb dressing, inely chop the hazelnuts and herbs, put into a bowl and stir in the capers, vinegar and oil. Set aside. 5 Nestle the beetroot into the pan among the shallots. Lay the pastry over the vegetables and tuck in the edges. Bake for 35-40 minutes until crisp and deep golden (it needs longer than you might think to cook through). Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate or board. Drizzle with the herb dressing to serve. countryliving.com/uk
FOOD & DRINK
VERY BERRY CHRISTMAS PUDDING Preparation 20 minutes, plus macerating Cooking 4½-5 hours Serves 12 If you prefer an alcohol-free pudding, leave out the raspberry liqueur and substitute the ginger wine with a non-alcoholic one such as Gran Stead’s Ginger (gransteadsginger.co.uk). 100g sultanas 50g each dried sour cherries, dried strawberries, dried cranberries and dried blueberries 50g each ready-to-eat dried prunes, apricots and figs, roughly chopped 2 tbsp raspberry liqueur, such as Bramley & Gage
raspberry liqueur 100ml ginger wine zest and juice of 1 lemon butter, for greasing 75g shredded suet 50g self-raising flour 125g fresh breadcrumbs ½ tsp each mixed spice and ground ginger 1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch each of salt and freshly grated nutmeg 75g soft dark brown sugar 2 tbsp black treacle 1 Cox’s apple, grated 2 medium eggs, beaten 50g pecans, chopped (optional)
1 Put the dried fruit, raspberry liqueur, ginger wine, lemon zest and juice into a non-metallic mixing bowl. Cover and leave to soak overnight. Lightly butter a 1 litre pudding basin and put in a cool place. Put a 35cm square of foil on top of a square of baking parchment the same size. Fold a 4cm pleat across the centre and set aside. 2 The next day, put the soaked fruit into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix together until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, pushing it down irmly, and level the surface. 3 Put the pleated foil and parchment square (foil side up) on top and smooth down to cover. Using a long piece of string, tie securely under the lip of the basin, then knot. Bring the excess string over the top of the bowl and knot to the string on the other side to make a handle. 4 To cook, put the pudding on an upturned heatproof saucer in a deep pan. Pour in water to reach halfway up the basin, cover with a tight-itting lid and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4½-5 hours, topping up water as necessary. Remove pudding from pan and cool. Leaving it covered and in the basin, wrap tightly in clingilm. Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month. 5 To serve, take of the clingilm wrapping. Cook for 2 hours, following the instructions in step 4, until the pudding is heated through. Serve with brandy butter or cream. countryliving.com/uk
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FOOD & DRINK
LOVE Share these delicious edible Christmas treats that are a pleasure to make as well as to receive FOOD AND DRINK EDITOR ALISON WALKER
RECIPES BY HEARST
FOOD NETWORK PHOTOGRAPHS BY MAJA SMEND
EGGNOG TRUFFLES Preparation 30 minutes, plus chilling Cooking 5 minutes Makes about 15 These delicately spiced chocolate trules are really simple to make. Flavour with your favourite tipple. 100ml double cream 250g white chocolate, broken into pieces 25g butter 2 tbsp brandy or spiced rum Â˝ tsp vanilla bean paste or extract a generous grating of nutmeg
1 Put the double cream, 200g of the chocolate and the butter into a large heatproof bowl, set over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat gently until melted, then remove from the heat and stir in the brandy or spiced rum, vanilla bean paste or extract and the nutmeg, to taste. Cool and chill overnight until irm. 2 Finely grate the remaining chocolate onto a plate. Scoop out teaspoons of the mixture and shape into balls. 3 Coat in the chocolate and pop into petit four cases if you like. Chill. Put in boxes or Cellophane bags tied with ribbon.
SPECULAAS COOKIE SANDWICHES Preparation 25 minutes, plus chilling Cooking about 18 minutes Makes about 15 These Dutch-inspired spiced cookies are sandwiched together with a rich orange, cinnamon and nutmeg-infused ganache. To create the pattern, all you need is a heavy glass with a cut-glass pattern on the base. 125g unsalted butter, softened 125g light muscovado sugar 2 tbsp milk 250g plain flour 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda 2 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp mixed spice ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg ¼ tsp ground cloves FOR THE GANACHE 200ml double cream 200g orange-flavoured dark chocolate, chopped
1 Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and lufy, then beat in the milk.
2 In a large bowl, mix the lour, baking powder and bicarbonate, spices and ½ tsp ine salt. Stir into the butter and sugar in stages until a dough forms. Divide into 2 equal pieces and shape into discs. Wrap in clingilm. Chill for at least an hour or up to 2 days. 3 Remove the dough from the fridge half an hour before rolling. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) gas mark 4. Roll out a disc of dough to the thickness of a £1 coin – about 5mm. Use a 6cm round biscuit cutter to stamp out about 15 rounds from each batch of dough, transferring to a baking sheet lined with baking paper and re-rolling
as you go. If you wish, stamp a pattern by dusting the base of a heavy glass lightly in lour, then pressing into each biscuit. Chill for 30 minutes until irm. Repeat with remaining dough. 4 Bake for 15-18 minutes until irm. Transfer on the baking paper to a wire rack to cool completely. 5 For the ganache, heat the cream until just steaming. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Set aside for a few minutes, then stir until smooth and glossy. Chill for 1 hour until thick. Spread or pipe on to biscuits and sandwich together. Pack into Cellophane bags, tie with ribbon and attach labels.
FOOD & DRINK PLUM AND CINNAMON CHEESE Preparation 10 minutes Cooking 1 hour 30 minutes Makes 750ml This isn’t a cheese at all, but a sot-set fruit jelly, which is perfect served with a festive cheeseboard. 2kg plums 1 cinnamon stick 650g-700g granulated sugar
STOLLEN BITES Preparation 30 minutes, plus macerating and proving Cooking about 40 minutes Makes 25 These spiced mini versions of the German Christmas classic are ideal for giting. 75g mixed dried fruit 25g mixed peel 25g dried sour cherries, chopped 2½ tbsp spiced rum 75ml milk 75g butter zest of 1 orange 1 tsp fast-action yeast 225g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting 1 tbsp caster sugar ½ tsp each ground cinnamon and mixed spice 2 green cardamom pods, split open, seeds removed and crushed 1 medium egg, plus 1 yolk, lightly beaten sunflower oil, for greasing 1 tsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting 200g golden marzipan
1 Mix the dried fruit, peel and cherries with 1 tbsp rum. Set aside for at least 2 hours. 2 In a small pan, gently heat the milk, 50g butter and orange zest until melted and beginning to steam. Remove from the heat, set aside to cool slightly until lukewarm, then stir through the yeast.
3 Tip the lour, sugar, spices and a pinch of salt into a large bowl and briely stir to mix. Pour in the milk mixture, eg and yolk, and stir with a wooden spoon to form a sot but not too sticky dough. Tip onto a lightly loured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springs back when lightly pressed. 4 Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingilm and set aside in a warm place for 1-2 hours until almost doubled in size. 5 Heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) gas mark 4. Meanwhile, sit 1 tsp icing sugar onto a clean surface and roll the marzipan into a 20cm square. 6 Tip the dough onto a lightly loured surface, spoon over the drained fruits and knead until distributed evenly through. Divide in two. Roll each piece out to a rough 20cm square and put one into a 20cm square tin lined with greaseproof paper. Top with marzipan and then the second piece of dough. Set aside in a warm place to prove for 20-30 minutes until doubled in size. 7 Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes; remove to a wire rack to cool completely. 8 Trim the edges to neaten and cut into 25 squares. Melt the remaining butter with the rest of the rum, then brush a little on each square. Toss in icing sugar. These are best enjoyed on the day, but will keep for up to 3 days in a container.
1 Halve the plums, leaving the stones in. Put the fruit and stones, the cinnamon stick and 300ml water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is completely broken down and very sot. 2 Pour the fruit into a sieve set over a large bowl and push through, using the back of a ladle to get as much purée as you can. Measure the amount by volume – you should have around 1 litre. Return to the rinsed-out pan. 3 For every 500ml of purée, add 350g sugar. Heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, turn up the heat and bring to the boil while stirring constantly. 4 Reduce the heat to medium-low and bubble steadily until thickened – this will take about 1 hour, until you can see the base of the pan when you draw a spoon across it. Skim any scum that comes to the surface throughout the cooking time. 5 Decant the mixture into hot, sterilised jars and seal. Label when cold. It keeps in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
Creative Christmas Add a personal touch to celebrations with a little help from Hobbycrat
12 MAKES OF CHRISTMAS For more creative inspiration and the chance to polish your crating skills or learn a new one, join Hobbycrat for the 12 Makes Of Christmas. Every week in the run-up to Christmas, Hobbycrat’s in-store experts will host workshops and demonstrations on projects ranging from advent calendars to handmade wreaths. Book at hobbycrat.co.uk/12makes.
xpress your creativity this Christmas with handcrated decorations and unique accents for the season. It’s surprisingly easy and fun with Hobbycrat’s festive crat products. Create a sense of anticipation with a clever advent calendar design you can customise to suit your style, or cards covered with stamps and handwritten messages. You’ll ind wooden and papier-mâché ornaments and accessories to paint and decorate, ceramic baubles you can adorn with script lettering, fabric stockings waiting to be embellished, and papercrat wreaths and garlands to enhance your theme. Whether you’re an experienced crater or or just want to give your Christmas a personal touch with a few simple makes, Hobbycrat has a wealth of creative products and projects to get you started.
Fill clear baubles with Christmas scenes
1 5 % D I S C O U N T AT H O B B YC R A F T Simply present this page in store at the time of purchase or visit hobbycrat.co.uk and enter the code COUNTRY15 at the checkout.*
*ONE USE PER CUSTOMER ONLINE OR IN STORE; PHOTOCOPIES NOT ACCEPTED; OFFER ENDS 11 DECEMBER 2018. CANNOT BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH ANY OTHER OFFERS OR DISCOUNTS, OR TO BUY SEWING MACHINES OR GIFT CARDS
Cast a warm glow with ceramic tealight holders and baubles that are ready to paint and decorate to match your scheme
H E A LT H & B E AU T Y
Don’t let the hustle and bustle raise your stress levels. These simple, effective techniques will help to restore your inner Christmas peace WORDS BY LISA BUCKINGHAM
B R AV E T H E C O L D Christmas and Boxing Day swims take place all around the coast, but if you’re not quite brave enough to submerge in December seas, you can get the stress-reducing beneits of cold water in your own bathroom. “Ater a shower, turn it to cold for 60 seconds,” says Chloe Brotheridge, hypnotherapist and author of The Anxiety Solution (Penguin, £12.99). “Cold showers can help lower stress levels, as the shock to the nervous system causes us to produce endorphins. Studies have found that cold water calms the brain’s frontal cortex, and has a sedative efect.”
U S E YO U R I M AG I NAT I O N Visualisation is a powerful relaxation tool. “It can be a real life-saver when everyone is making demands of you,” says meditation teacher Philip Storey. “Use this technique at any time of day, or for getting to sleep.” Find a quiet space to take ive minutes without being disturbed. Take a long, deep breath in through the nose, breathe out and close your eyes. Visualise yourself on the edge of a beautiful quiet lake at night, toes in the water. Breathe DECEMBER 2018
H E A LT H & B E AU T Y
slowly via your nose. Picture a little boat between your feet, then put all the things that make you feel tired and stressed onto it. Look at them. Now, visualise your feet pushing the boat gently into the water; watch it loat away slowly. Breathe in and out ten more times until the boat vanishes into the night.
INHALE THE AROMA The most festive of scents, frankincense is known for its deeply calming qualities and is oten used during meditation and prayer to focus and still the mind. “Mix two drops of essential oil into a large tablespoon of a carrier oil, such as grapeseed or almond, massage on the pulse points on your wrists for two minutes and breathe slowly,” says aromatherapist Danièle Ryman. “Or add a drop or two to a tissue, keep it in your pocket and inhale the aroma when needed.”
E N J OY C H R I S T M A S R E P E AT S Yes, you’ve seen it dozens of times, but if that classic television episode still makes you chuckle, now you’ve got the perfect excuse to watch it again. “Laughter is a great way of letting go,” says cognitive behavioural psychotherapist Jen Wood. “It increases blood circulation and relaxes muscles, as well as promoting a sense of connection with others. The efect works even when we don’t feel like laughing and have to fake it, as our brains can’t tell the diference. The same goes for smiling – if you put a pencil between your teeth, it activates facial muscles that triger the release of oxytocin (aka the love hormone).”
M OV E M O U N TA I N S Christmas can sometimes feel like you’re having to move mountains, but this technique may help. “My keep-calm stratey is a simple Chinese breathing exercise called ‘pushing mountains’,” says transformational teacher Kitty Waters. Stand upright with your hands by your sides. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth for two minutes. Then lit your hands to chest level, and slowly push them forward, palms facing outwards, until your arms are straight out in front of your body (as though you’re pushing a mountain), breathing out as
H E A LT H & B E AU T Y you do. As you pull your arms back into the chest, breathe in. This is one repetition – repeat 40 times. You should feel the enery build in your arms and body. When you reach the last one, hold your arms in front of your chest for 30 seconds, then drop them and let the enery you have built up wash over you.
G R O U N D YO U R S E L F Step out into your garden or a nearby green space to soothe your mind. Research shows that just being able to see greenery and birds can lower anxiety and stress levels. “Even better, stand barefoot on the grass,” says yoga teacher and nutritional therapist Ciara Jean Roberts. “Known more commonly as ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’, this technique helps you draw enery from the earth. It may even help to reduce blood pressure.”
AT T E N D A C A R O L S E RV I C E There’s nothing like a beautiful piece of music to promote a sense of calm. A study at the University of Oxford found slow pieces with a tensecond repetitive cycle are relaxing, as it syncs with blood pressure rhythm. Try the slower parts of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony or Verdi’s arias.
L A B E L YO U R F E E L I N G S
Step outside to soothe your mind – just seeing birds and greenery can lower anxiety 170
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CAMERA PRESS; GETTY IMAGES
Journalling is gaining in popularity as a way to help balance emotions. You don’t need to ill pages and it doesn’t have to be about anything deep and meaningful – just documenting what you’re experiencing during the festive season is enough. “Writing about our feelings can be incredibly therapeutic,” says Chloe Brotheridge. “Not only does it get things in perspective, but the act of putting our feelings into words helps to calm the ight-or-light response, which releases adrenalin and thus lowers anxiety.”
where to buy Stockists in this issue
A AMAZON amazon.co.uk ANGELA
HARDING angelaharding.co.uk ANNIE SLOAN anniesloan.com ANTIQUES LOFT 01629 826565; antiquesloft.co.uk BAILEYS baileyshome.com BALSAM HILL balsamhill.co.uk BATHING BEAUTY bathing-beauty.co.uk BEEFAYRE beefayre. com BETTYS 0800 456 1919; bettys.co.uk BLACKBIRD HOUSE blackbirdhouse.co. uk BLACK BOUGH blackbough.co.uk BLACKLEAF blackleaf.com BOBBY RABBIT bobbyrabbit.co.uk BURLEIGH burleigh.co.uk CAMBRIDGE IMPRINT cambridgeimprint. co.uk THE CANNY SQUIRREL thecannysquirrel.co.uk CAROLINE GARDNER carolinegardner.com CARPETRIGHT 0330 333 3444; carpetright.co.uk THE CHEESE AND WINE SHOP thecheeseandwineshop.co.uk THE CONRAN SHOP conranshop.co.uk CORINNE LAPIERRE corinnelapierre.com COUNTRY LIVING HOTELS 01942 615906; countrylivinghotels.com COX & COX coxandcox.co.uk COWSHED cowshed.com THE CROFT HOUSE thecrofthouse.com DEAR EMMA DESIGNS dear-emma.com DEE PUDDY deepuddy.co.uk DOBBIES dobbies.com EBAY ebay.co.uk EMMA BRIDGEWATER emmabridgewater.co.uk ENGLISH HERITAGE SHOP english-heritageshop. org.uk THE ENGLISH STAMP COMPANY englishstamp.com ETSY etsy.com/uk FARROW & BALL farrow-ball.com FIRE & FELT fireandfelt.com FORTNUM & MASON fortnumandmason.com FRENCH CONNECTION frenchconnection.com THE FUTURE KEPT thefuturekept.com GADSBY gadsby.co.uk GISELA GRAHAM giselagraham.co.uk GREAT LITTLE TRADING COMPANY gltc.co.uk HARPER COLLINS harpercollins.co.uk HEDGEHOG hedgehogshop.co.uk HELEN SHERE sheredesign.co.uk HOBBYCRAFT 0330 026 1400; hobbycraft.co.uk HUS & HEM 01531 631044; husandhem.co.uk IAN MANKIN 01282 423111; ianmankin. co.uk INDIA JANE 020 8799 7166; indiajane.co.uk JANE MEANS 01522 522544; janemeans. com JENNY BLAIR jennyblair.co.uk KATE GARWOOD ceramicsbykategarwood. co.uk KATHRYN IRELAND kathrynireland. com KATIE MAWSON katiemawson.com KEW GARDENS SHOP shop.kew.org
L LABOUR AND WAIT 020 7729 6253;
labourandwait.co.uk LAKELAND 015394 88100; lakeland.co.uk LEACH POTTERY leachpottery.com LIGHTS 4 FUN lights4fun.co.uk THE LINEN CAT thelinencat.com LINWOOD linwoodfabric. com LISA GIBSON lisagibson.co.uk LOU TONKIN loutonkin.com MADE BY HAND ONLINE 07866 894201 madebyhandonline.com THE MAKERSS 01453 839454; themakerss.co.uk MELIN TREGWYNT melintregwynt.co.uk MIDGLEY GREEN midgleygreen.com MOLLY MAHON 01342 825 700; mollymahon.com MELANIE PORTER melanieporter.co.uk MODERN RUGS modern-rugs.co.uk MORGAN’S VINTAGE 07891 955474 facebook@morgansvintage NANCY & BETTY STUDIO nancyandbetty. com NATIONAL TRUST SHOP shop. nationaltrust.org.uk NKUKU nkuku.com NOT ANOTHER BILL notanotherbill.com NOTONTHEHIGHSTREET notonthehighstreet.com OLD BOOT oldbootsofas.com OLLI ELLA 020 7713 8668; olliella.com OSBORNE & LITTLE osborneandlittle.com PAMONO pamono.com PAPERCHASE paperchase.co.uk PETERSHAM NURSERIES 020 8940 5230; petershamnurseries.com PIPII pipii.co.uk PILLO pillolondon.com RAJ TENT CLUB rajtentclub.com RE refoundobjects.com REAL CHRISTMAS TREES realchristmastrees.co.uk THE REAL FLOWER COMPANY realflowers. co.uk REX LONDON rexlondon.com ROGER LA BORDE rogerlaborde.com ROWEN & WREN rowenandwren.co.uk SARAH RAVEN sarahraven.com SCUMBLE GOOSIE scumblegoosie.co.uk SEASALT seasaltcornwall.co.uk THE SHOP FLOOR PROJECT shopfloorproject. com STEIFF steiff.com ST JUDE’S stjudesfabrics.co.uk SUSIE WATSON DESIGNS susiewatsondesigns.co.uk STYLE LIBRARY stylelibrary.com TALKING TABLES 020 7627 6767; talkingtables.co.uk VQ 01420 592 499; myvq.co.uk VV ROULEAUX 01225 618600; vvrouleaux.com WEAR GARSON CLOTHING weargarsonclothing.com THE WHITE COMPANY thewhitecompany.com WILKO 0800 0329 329; wilko.com WOOL WAREHOUSE woolwarehouse.co.uk countryliving.com/uk
next month in Our January issue is on sale from 5 December
Inspiring interiors SEASONAL FLAVOURS
For the new year
NEVER MISS AN ISSUE Turn to page 122 to see our latest subscription or renewal offer
FROM THE WORKSHOP Our Map Boxes are beautifully crated from birch plywood and feature an engraved map of your chosen place. A thoughtful, personalised git for a map owner to treasure. www.fromtheworkshop.co.uk Tel: 0114 4389239
POOKY creates spectacular lights that look like they cost a fortune, but don’t. Their range of beautiful lamps, colourful lampshades, pendants, wall-lights, mirrors, chandeliers and more is easily browsed at www.pooky.com and delivery and returns are free. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 020 7351 3003 and their customer services team will help however they can.
Stylish living For your dream home MOSNEY MILL
WHITEHOUSE DESIGN ‘Bringing the outdoors in’ is back in vogue, with a range of stylish structures available which do just that. Optimise space with a veranda, pergola or winter garden, allowing you to make the most of your garden in any weather. Solisysteme pergolas have adjustable louvres, whilst Erhardt’s glass rooms make the outdoors your backdrop all year round. www.whitehouse-design.co.uk 01392 927989
It’s time to get warm and cosy with a hint of Christmas to come. Create the perfect quintessentially British look in your own home by adding some new touches from our seasonal kitchen textiles or ine china ranges. Perfect presents or treat yourself and your kitchen to a stunning new winter look. Lovingly created in Britain by local artist Emma Sutton at Mosney Mill. Use exclusive code CL15 and get a special 15% at www.mosneymill.co.uk or call 01772 822525.
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Home comforts This month’s essentials
ON A WICK & A PRAYER
HANDMADE IN ENGLAND BY WHICHFORD POTTERY CLASSIC AND ELEGANT Inspired by the work of William Morris, this CUTLERY DESIGNED delightful terracotta lowerpot (27cm h x 38cm FOR MODERN LIVING
For over 20 years each Christmas our customers have come back to stock up with our seasonal home fragrance products. They tell us that nothing evokes the festive spirit better than On a Wick’s very own ‘Christmas Spice’ scent throughout their home. Our full Christmas fragrance range is available to purchase online at www.onawick.co.uk For further details about our products call Annie on 01335 390639.
w) is handmade by Whichford Pottery in Warwickshire and guaranteed frostproof for 10 years. The primrose motif is embellished with cream slip to highlight the delicate lowers. Free delivery ofer to mainland UK (saving £29.50). £59.95 each or special price of £99 for two (saving a further £20.90). T&Cs apply. Ofer ends 31/12/18. Phone 01608 684416 or visit www.whichfordpottery.com to order.
This delightful range is Old English mirror inish stainless steel with dishwasher safe cream handled knives. Exclusive price – Set for six people at £330, this includes six seven-piece place settings (as shown) and two table spoons. A set for four people costs £240. Prices include VAT and UK delivery. www.glazebrook.com Tel: 020 7731 7135
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The destination for real women, the Pink Rooster is an independent fashion retailer with a unique edit of collections sourced worldwide and delivered with ive-star boutique service. Established in 1998, the brand mix is always fresh, new and exciting, and includes iconic names such as Sahara, Masai and Oska. With a focus on individuality and personal style, the team seeks to help you look and feel your very best. Delivered with exceptional styling advice, the Pink Rooster can meet all your instore and online fashion needs with warmth and passion. Celebrating 20 years of individual style. Enjoy 20% of your irst order using code CLAW20 at the checkout. • Dulverton Pink Rooster, TA229HB • Taunton Pink Rooster, TA11JH • 01398 323919 www.thepinkrooster.co.uk
Fashion essentials Look your best
THE PERFECT PRESENT? ...For a loved one, or yourself ? This gorgeous range of nickel free silverplate jewellery is perfect for everyone. Necklaces are from £17.50 each and earrings £9.50 a pair (plus p&p). You will ind beautiful gits, including a stylish range of faux leather handbags, and lots more jewellery at www.cratworksgallery.co.uk or ring us on 01434 634500.
HOP TO IT THE TWISTER Natural Knitted A Line. 100% cotton. On promotion £59.00. Reduced from £89.00. Available from our store www.originalblues. co.uk or phone 01635 867165.
This delightful Bunny And Flower Necklace brings a playful youthfulness to your jewellery box. A beautiful detailed Silver addition for you or a gorgeous git this Christmas. Can also be engraved with a special message. RRP: £158 www.sylviakerrjewellery.com
JAMES BARTHOLOMEW See James Bartholomew’s vibrant and contemporary take on animals across his range of limited edition prints and originals by visiting his website: www.jamesbartholomew.co.uk Pictured: ‘Horse in blue halter’
DEBBIE J HARRIS SPORTING ART
Magical handcrated fairy dolls sewn with love in beautiful rural West Sussex. Made from tea-dyed calico, dressed with beautiful fabric and embellished with trinkets and trims vintage and new, our dolls make special gits for daughters, mothers and friends. www.buttondolls.com 01903 893266
Signed Limited Edition Prints and Original Paintings available (Commissions undertaken upon request). Debbie’s artwork has been described as “having a heart beat” and is collected worldwide. Do visit her website to see the stunning work available. www.debbieharris.co.uk email@example.com 07909 085123
Home sweet home Where the heart is
ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS BY WITHYCOMBE FAIR KENTCHURCH BUTLERS
A TOAST TO THE PAST
A perfect git that will last forever. Ideal for that birthday, wedding, anniversary or retirement present. Hand made and painted, these wooden side tables are fun pieces of furniture to rest your drinks etc on. To order: telephone 01803 732 933 or visit our website www.kentchurchbutlers.co.uk
A stupendously eclectic mix of antiques and curios from a bygone era. UK and International shipping. Peruse, come and say hi! Matthew John Cook Tel / Text: 07584 320401 www.etsy.com/shop/atoasttothepast
A diferent kind of Christmas arrangement or a bouquet for a Christmas bride to keep. Apart from the obvious red hydrangea, there is sorbus, tiny eucalyptus, mistletoe, holly, hellebore, ir and viburnum in this posy. We have a large variety of single stem faux lowers for any occasion. Shop online at www.withycombefair.co.uk or call us on 01643 706355. No minimum order.
advertisement feature FINE FASHION – MADE IN ENGLAND
TIMELESS JEWELLERY FOR ALL OCCASIONS
We all want to look and feel fabulous, and it’s never been easier to achieve, thanks to David Nieper’s new collection of elegant womenswear and luxury knitwear. Each piece is lovingly made in their Derbyshire studios from the inest quality fabrics and yarns. Expert designers and seamstresses create styles to it all sizes, each inished with the greatest of care for comfort, quality and style. Luxury Devoré Tunic £139, style 4433. Shop online at davidnieper.co.uk or call 01773 83 6000 for a catalogue. Quote code CL18.
Eternal Collection ofers beautiful costume jewellery and accessories at prices you will love. They have a fantastic selection of Swarovski crystal, enamel, metallic, exquisite pearl, semiprecious and Venetian glass jewellery to suit all tastes and a vast range of clip-on and pierced earrings. No quibble guarantee and free returns. For your FREE catalogue call 03453 707071 or visit www.eternalcollection.co.uk 10% OFF your irst order when you QUOTE CL38.
IN A NUTSHELL The Perfect Christmas Git. Bursting with symbolism, Christin Ranger’s beautiful silver acorn pendant opens to reveal a secret golden heart. Presented on a 24 inch silver chain and git boxed ready to place under the tree. £69. P&P included. Available online at Christinranger.com Order by telephone at 01424 773091. See website for stockists.
* Excluding Postage & Packing. Not valid with any other promotion.
Style essentials Treat yourself
TRULY PLUS SIZE LUXURY TIGHTS TROVER® DRYING COATS Simply Town and Country™ A premium handmade British product only available from trovercoats.com. Collar down or up. Our coats are very easy to wash/ dry, with 13 stock sizes. Let your dog snugle up and dry in comfort. Prices (UK), complete from £28.69 to £57.05. Contact 01481 823209 www.trovercoats.com FB page Trover Dog Coats Photographer Robert Belbin
The Big Bloomers Company are specialists in plus size hosiery, from UK14 to UK42. Made in Italy, their tights are comfortable, lattering and durable. They slide on with no efort – no coaxing each bit of fabric up the leg, these are just straight on. Ultrastretch technology means superior all-over quality and it, and a waistband that doesn’t dig in or roll down. Your search for truly plus size tights is over. Call 01326 373268 or order securely online at www.thebigbloomerscompany.co.uk
CRESTED AND COUNTRY A NEW BRITISH BRAND OF LUXURY LEATHER GOODS Individually designed and inspired by the cartridge bag, these accessories will bring country glamour to your outit this winter. All the bags have bespoke handmade brass or nickel ittings with an adjustable shoulder strap and stirrup buckles. 20% of exclusively to Country Living readers using code CLoffer18 Purchase online at www.crestedandcountry.co.uk Or contact 07976431714
DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL SKIN WITH REGENTIV (Retinol) TM
Minimise lines and wrinkles, crepey eyes and neck, sun and skin damage with The Specialist Serum’s advanced retinol, vitamin E and aloe vera. Look Younger LongerTM with the antiageing serum professionals are raving about. From £29.95 to £149 with FREE UK p&p. To receive exclusive 10% reader discount, apply code CL12 at checkout. www.regentiv.co.uk or Tel: 01923 212555 for advice or to order. See website for full range and special ofers.
MASON PEARSON Mason Pearson have been making hairbrushes for over 125 years. These come with tuts of either pure bristle, bristle and nylon, or all nylon, and are available from good department stores and chemists. For a free brochure and haircare lealet, write to Mason Pearson Brothers, Dept 48, 37 Old Bond Street, London W1S 4AB, or call 020 7491 2613. Visit www.masonpearson.com
DON’T WANT YOUR LOVED ONE TO GO IN A CARE HOME? There is an alternative. Do you want to stay in your own home with support from our live-in companions? If the answer is yes, Mayfair Live-In may be for you. Mayfair Live-in can ofer companionship, encourage stimulation and provide one-to-one support. For information or to become a live-in companion: email: info@mayfair-livein. co.uk or call 07896 575302.
Health & beauty Look good, feel great TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR STRESS INCONTINENCE WITH A PELVICTONERTM
KRILL OIL – THE NEW SUPER OMEGA 3 Research now shows that krill oil is superior to ish oil due to its unique phospholipid superstructure omega 3, antioxidants and brain nutrient choline. Krill oil is now seen as the gold standard in omega 3 supplements. Silvertown Health krill oil is eco-harvested to protect nature deep in the purest Antarctic seas to provide unparalleled omega 3 quality. RRP £24.95 – CL Ofer only £17.97 + p&p (60 capsules up to two months supply) plus Country Living readers also get two free home spa face masks with their irst order. Online order/more info www.silvertownhealth.co.uk or Tel Order Line 0345 0956 903
Embarrassing leaks are a symptom of a weak pelvic loor – the good news is they can be stopped with simple exercises. This is where the PelvicToner can help. It is clinically proven to help strengthen your pelvic loor, NHS approved and available on prescription. It can also be purchased without prescription for only £29.99 delivered. Designed to be used at home without supervision, it comes discreetly packaged with everything you need to start exercising straight away. So what’s stopping you? To ind out more, or to purchase a PelvicToner™, visit pelvictoner.co.uk or call 0117 974 3534 today.
CREATE BEAUTY FROM WITHIN TODAY – PURE HA NEW ENHANCED FORMULA Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is found naturally throughout the body but most abundantly in the skin where it helps create a smoother plumper appearance. As we age, our HA levels reduce. By taking PureHA liquid food Before supplement daily, you are naturally helping to top up your bodies HA levels. Join the ight against ageing today and create beauty from within with PureHA. 17mg of HA in every sachet and now with added Vitamin C. Simply add to water Ater and drink. As sold in Waitrose. Order online at pureha.co.uk, use coupon code CL25 and get 25% of your order or call us on 01480 869 456.
SCENTED SCILLY FLOWERS Churchtown Farm send beautifully simple, postal git boxes of Scilly grown scented narcissi direct from their family farm on the tiny island of St Martin’s. These gorgeous lowers are grown outdoors in traditional small sheltered ields and lourish in Scilly’s mild climate. The perfect way to send your Christmas greetings to family and friends. www.scillylowers.co.uk T: 01720 422169
THEATRE TOKENS Why not treat someone you love to a night at the theatre? But how do you pick a show, date and time without ruining the surprise? The answer is Theatre Tokens. Available as Git Cards and eGits (with no expiry date), Tokens can be used at more than 240 venues nationwide – including all of London’s West End. For a present they’ll love, and a memory they’ll cherish, Theatre Tokens can be purchased at TheatreTokens.com or in person at participating theatres.
Gift guide For family and friends YOUR FAMILY WILL LOVE THIS GIANT MAP JIGSAW PUZZLE!
THESE DOGS ARE FOR CHRISTMAS Here are some of the English Hound pack, a fun loving gang of beautifully knitted dogies. Each hound is crated with a real leather collar, individually engraved name tag and lovingly git boxed with an adoption certiicate. An adorable friend for dog crazy owners or anyone who hasn’t got time for the real thing. Meet the gang and send one to someone special at englishhound.co.uk £29 + free UK delivery.
20% OFF! Offer price £11.99 (QUOTE CODE CLV4A) This outstanding, high quality, 100-piece jigsaw builds into a stunning map, illustrating the United Kingdom and Ireland by counties. The bizarrely shaped pieces turn the puzzle into an ingenious challenge that is both great fun and highly educational too. Follow the picture to build the puzzle or use your own geographical knowledge to create this stunning full-colour map. The inished puzzle is approximately 50cm x 40cm. Box size approx. 18cm x 18cm. Suitable for ages 4 to adult. £11.99 each (usually £14.99) plus £3.95 P&P per order (UK orders over £50 have free delivery). Ofer code also reduces P&P by 20%. Regular P&P £4.95. You must quote CLV4A to receive the discount. Online: www.happypuzzle.co.uk/jigraphy, Phone: 0844 848 2823. By post: Jigraphy CL Ofer, c/o THPC, PO Box 586, Elstree, Herts, WD6 3XY. Cheques payable to: THPC
TAKE A MOMENT FOR YOU!
Join us at our art school in Oxfordshire for wonderful art and craft workshops run by experienced, renowned artists. Learn the basics or develop your art skills in a friendly, knowledgeable environment, where everyone is encouraged to be creative and original. Visit www.pureartworkstudio.co.uk or call us on 01295 812469.
Professionally hand thrown pottery made in Wales UK. Yarn bowls are the perfect gift for any knitter. No more chasing that ball of wool around. It stays in the yarn bowl while you knit or crochet. ebsworthpots.com
We specialise in dresses and complete outfits designed and made in the UK using fabrics of the highest quality including silks, linens, brocades and cotton. Many of our frocks give more than a nod to the spectacular and glamorous styling of the 1950s and 60s. Visit our boutiques in Holt and Harrogate. www.suzyhamilton.co.uk
POTTER AND MOOCH
JULIA T SMITH INTUITIVE CERAMICS
Ear Wings climbing earrings designed for a single piercing. Handmade in England on Sterling Silver, 14ct Rose or Yellow Gold wires with SWAROVSKI Elements. The perfect, unique gift. From £22 per pair. Hypo-allergenic. Nickel-free. Visit our website or call for a brochure. www.potterandmooch.co.uk 07703 785527
Inspired by nature’s architecture, these characterful and handmade strata vase-forms are intuitively constructed and carved. In monochromatic and multi-coloured themes, each are unique, making them ideal gifts. Bespoke orders available. Purchase via website. www.juliatsmithceramics.co.uk
CROWN COTTAGE SOMERSET
SMALL COOKERY BUSINESS FOR SALE
Keep toes toasty in 90% alpaca bed socks in pastel shades or bright purples and red. These make a wonderful present for any age group. Made in Britain. £18.00. Perilla.co.uk 01886 853 615.
We specialise in antique and vintage furniture, hand painted in the unique style best suited for each piece – Scandinavian, French, Country Chic, Rustic, Gustavian etc. Visit us on www.crowncottagesomerset.co.uk or call 07766 567065.
A new start for 2019 owning your own business? Have fun teaching children to cook. Mobile cookery classroom in a converted library truck. (6.7 ton C1 license). In South-East England. Everything you need to teach ages 3-18. Established in 2001. Full training and recipes included. www.kidscancook.co.uk
Whether you’re looking to replace a broken cup or extend your existing dinner set, Chinasearch specialises in discontinued china with over 300,000 items in stock. Search online or call 01926 512402. www.chinasearch.co.uk
FOR DETAILS OF CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING PLEASE TELEPHONE 020 3728 6260 OR VISIT WWW.HEARSTMAGAZINESDIRECT.CO.UK
MR BRINKLEY’S STUDIO
Ever popular ranges of ceramic buttons, brooches, pendant necklaces, earrings, cufflinks and hanging decorations. Handmade in Cornwall, UK. Choose from bright, heritage and festive designs. Unique gifts, floral ceramic wedding favours etc. www.stockwellceramics.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Suncatcher. A decorative piece of glass that is hung in a window to bring in and broadcast the sun’s rays. Handmade in the heart of Charnwood Forest and crafted using the traditional Tifany stained glass technique, these decorative and afordable gifts are delightfully diferent. www.mrbrinkleysstudio.co.uk
Based in the beautiful Orkney Islands, online retail store Orkney Storehouse has recently launched its Natural Orkney Collection. The collection features six delightful Orkney wildlife illustrations, across a range of quality British-made fine bone china and coordinating homeware accessories. See the full range at www.orkneystorehouse.com
INSPIRED BY DARCY
Brume window film replicates the look of etched glass and is perfect for windows where you need privacy but don’t want to sacrifice natural light. Easy to apply, made to measure or by the metre. www.brume.co.uk
Mary Macgregor works with the earliest Fair Isle patterns and and has replicated the old natural dyes. She produces her designs in a luxury modern 100% superfine merino yarn to create an exquisite warm, comfortable, collection of harmonious textiles. 01595 780087 email@example.com www.bakkaknitwear.com
Stunning Bone China Baubles are the musthave Christmas gift for every labrador and spaniel owner! Part of a unique collection of home accessories, fine bone china and stationery. To discover the complete range of labrador and spaniel gifts visit www.inspiredbydarcy.co.uk or call 01823 740004
DI FORD ILLUSTRATION
MARTHA HILL SOOTHING SKIN CARE
BLACK MOUNTAIN BEARS
Illustrated from her studio in South West Wales, Di creates quirky, characterful art work of your beloved pet. She specialises in illustrating custom pet portraits using a range of mediums including, watercolour, pen, ink and a digital drawing pad. www.diford.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07581 135865.
A highly efective range to address problems associated with skin prone to rosacea, dermatitis and redness. You can purchase this wonderful set for a special ofer price of £18.00 (saving over 50% of rrp £39.50) plus free delivery. Free phone 0800 980 6665 or order online at www.beautynaturals.com/cl
Beautiful hand knitted original collectable Artist Bears, with stories to tell, for you to treasure. Create your very own Black Mountain Bear, with our knitting kits and patterns. Beautifully presented, step by step, easy to follow instructions to knit and knit again! www.blackmountainbears.co.uk
FOR DETAILS OF CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING PLEASE TELEPHONE 020 3728 6260 OR VISIT WWW.HEARSTMAGAZINESDIRECT.CO.UK
THE ART OF GREAT HOSPITALITY Pride of Britain Hotels, Britain’s leading luxury & boutique hotel collection, have selected and approved 50 of the best independently owned hotels and spas around Britain for you to enjoy. To order gift vouchers or your free hotel directory call Freephone 0808 163 3764 or visit www.prideofbritainhotels.com
LUXURY COTTAGES NORTHUMBERLAND An outstanding selection of hand picked holiday cottages in prime locations along the beautiful Heritage Coast and amidst the majestic hills and National Park inland. www.luxury-cottages-northumberland.co.uk www.northumbria-cottages.co.uk 01665 830783
REFRESHING RURAL BREAK
Over 500 luxury self-catering holiday properties sleeping 2-24 in the UK and Ireland. A Rural Retreats property has been carefully chosen for its beautiful interior as well as idyllic setting. From cosy cottages to country houses and lighthouses to windmills, there’s sure to be a property that will be perfect for you and your family. Dogs welcome. Request your FREE 2019 Brochure now. www.ruralretreats.co.uk 01386 897 959
Why not enjoy a trip to the heart of Mid Wales with all the family, two 8 bedroom en-suite lodges; which can sleep up to 32. Including a large living/ dining area, a spacious kitchen, outdoor eating areas and a hot tub.
BRECON BEACONS HOLIDAY COTTAGES
WILDERNESS COTTAGES THROUGHOUT SCOTLAND
For that perfect break, we have over 350 great cottages in superb locations in and around the Brecon Beacons National Park, Black Mountains and Wye Valley. Romantic cottages for 2 people, rustic farmhouses and large country houses some sleeping 20, with oak beams and open fires. Pretty villages, good pubs, hill walking, pony trekking, mountain biking and fishing. Pets Welcome. www.breconcottages.com 01874 676446
Quality self catering cottages, houses and apartments, throughout Scotland. Countryside to seashore, rustic to 5 star luxury. Short breaks available & pets welcome. Brochure Available.
Contact Amy Horn for availability on +44 (0) 1686 650628 email@example.com www.bettwshall.com/accommodation
Tel: 01463 719219 www.wildernesscottages.co.uk
NORTHUMBERLAND SELF CATERING from the county’s first & only Visit England Quality Accredited Agency, www.staynorthumbria.co.uk. Choose & book with confidence from a selection of over 90 properties to suit all tastes and pockets, from: coastal fisherman’s retreats for 2, to a converted Mill for 36. Dogs & kids welcome too. For Winter, Spring & Summer breaks of 2 to 7 nights, a brisk walk on the beach, a castle or two to visit, and afternoon tea in front of the fire to return to. Visit our website or ring us on 01665 721380 – what could be simpler?
CHARMING TOWNHOUSE IN HONFLEUR Comfortable and centrally located townhouse well equipped for 8 people, with wifi, 4 bedrooms (2 twin and 2 double), 2 bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen with range cooker, dishwasher etc, washing machine, British/French TV, garden with garden furniture & BBQ and a garage. All towels and bedding are provided. www.honfleurhouse.com 07838255502
COUNTRY LIVING HOTELS Created by Coast & Country Hotels and the team behind Country Living magazine, the Country Living Hotels are located in the heart of Bath and Harrogate. ‘Bringing the country to the city’, they ofer an oasis of calm, yet are an easy walk from the centre of town, making them the perfect base from which to explore. www.countrylivinghotels.com 020 3883 5236
FOR DETAILS OF CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING PLEASE TELEPHONE 020 3728 6260 OR VISIT WWW.HEARSTMAGAZINESDIRECT.CO.UK
COUNTRY DIRECTORY House & Garden
GREAT BRITISH SOFAS DELIVERED DIRECT TO YOUR HOME AT FACTORY PRICES
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The finest of British Country Outbuildings
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What’s missing from an Albion bath? Excessive Weight. Our unique material is strong and durable, yet weighs around 1/3 of the cast iron equivalent. Request your brochure on: 01255 831605 or go to: www.albionbathco.com
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020 3174 2427
Thoughtfully made functional furniture
TRADITIONAL BRITISH UPHOLSTERY DIRECT FROM OUR UK WORKSHOP
21 day home trial 5 year hardwood frame warranty direct from the manufacturer
Whether its traditional or classic, fitted or freestanding, our kitchens and bathrooms are refreshingly different. Register online for a brochure and free no obligation design service. Commissions fulfilled throughout UK, Europe & worldwide. Hope House
www.kirkdale.co.uk Call for your free brochure 01495 243999
Makers of Fine Leather Furniture for Generations
CAMBRIDGE 3 SEATER SOFA WAS £1769 - NOW ONLY £1249 Great British Furniture
in our own UK factory ● Direct from the factory prices ● 21 day money-back promise ● 2 year guarantee ● British and European Standard
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tested and approved CLEARVIEW SHOWROOMS Ludlow, Stow-on-the-Wold & Whitchurch, plus stockists throughout the UK Manufactured at More Works, Bishops Castle, Shropshire SY9 5GB Brochure Line: 01588 650 123 www.clearviewstoves.com
Back from Black Beam Renovation Ltd
To view our entire range or to order your free colour brochure call 01443 771222
or visit www.thomaslloyd.com
Fireguards for stoves
RENOVATING BEAMS SINCE 1997
BEAMS RENOVATED WITHOUT MESS! A UNIQUE PROCESS - NO BLASTING
Tel: 01797 458508 WWW.BEAM-RENOVATION.CO.UK
COVELLI TENNANT Vintage Textiles & Bespoke Upholstery 07855 256 007 07971 043 916 www.covellitennant.com
Handmade in Britain
01225 851577 garden-requisites.co.uk
Removable, washable and now even more affordable
Madrid sofa now only £299
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Handcrafted for You in Nottinghamshire
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Christmas designs NOW AVAILABLE
Huge choice of stylish wipeable tablecloths custom cut to size
FREE SAMPLES AVAILABLE
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01606 833 886 FOR DETAILS OF CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING PLEASE TELEPHONE 020 3728 6260 OR VISIT WWW.HEARSTMAGAZINESDIRECT.CO.UK
www.ceramicsbybjork.com DECEMBER 2018
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Come and cook! www.indigoandrose.co.uk
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Stuck in a rut? Need a change? Residential courses in the heart of Wiltshire. Choose from upholstery, soft furnishing or loose covers. Individual tuition. Please telephone for details: 0797 925 1853 www.upholsteryworkshop.com
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Visiting this part of the world had always been on my wish list and I wasn’t disappointed. An amazing holiday in great company.
Armenia and Georgia 12 days from £2,249
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Includes 26 meals and 19 excursions
Includes 25 meals and 11 excursions
If you’re travelling on your own, take a look at our solo tours. Travel with like-minded people, and enjoy the peace of mind that everything’s taken care of. Request your brochure today.
0808 278 2832 | titantravel.co.uk Prices are per person, correct at time of print and are subject to availability
£39 (free p&p) Large Pure Silk Scarf various designs 01263 732643
LOOKING FOR A NEW STABLE
Rare FH Ayres Victorian horse on bow rockers 7ft long, 20” wide, 4ft high £3,500 Contact Caroline on 01643 831812 FOR DETAILS OF CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING PLEASE TELEPHONE 020 3728 6260 OR VISIT WWW.HEARSTMAGAZINESDIRECT.CO.UK
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L OV E O F T H E L A N D
MICHAEL MORPURGO The author, poet and playwright discusses the importance of imagination and a world beyond the classroom In any story I write, there are two key elements. One is people, the other place. I’ve been living in the countryside for the past 45 years – down the same deep Devon lane, on the same farm, next to the same river Tarka the otter swam in. It’s a landscape I’ve set novel ater novel in, from War Horse to Private Peaceful, because it’s my place and I know it intimately.
One of the greatest divisions, which isn’t oten spoken about, is that between towns and cities and rural spaces. My wife, Clare, and I set up Farms for City Children to try to make sure the next generation understands that the countryside belongs to us all and that we all have a responsibility to protect it. Youngsters won’t care about it if they’re not given the opportunity to experience the land and its beauty.
To get a sense of the world, kids need to go beyond the four walls of the classroom. Give them the chance to run, roam and explore and it’ll do wonderful things for their self-esteem, conidence and their connection to the wonders around them. To my mind it’s something every child in this country should have the option to do. We’ve had 100,000 children visit our farms in Devon, Gloucestershire and Wales in 40 years, which might sound like a lot, but it’s just a pinprick in how many should come.
“It’s a landscape I’ve set novel after novel in because it’s my place and I know it intimately” 194
start as a notion, a happening, something someone’s told me and then they start to shit and shape in my head. Before you know it, they’re under your skin, waking you up at night and you have to do more research, go to places, talk to people. Once you’ve gathered all the components, then you can start to weave together the story.
I was walking along the River Torridge one day, when Ted Hughes loomed out of the water, ishing rod in hand. Ater a while, I got to know my new neighbour and we became good friends. While I never had the knack for it, Ted was a very patient isherman – he’d come down 20 or 30 times and never catch a ish, but on the rare occasions he did, he’d always bring it by to show us. He was a great countryman and when you read one of his poems, you know it’s written by a man whose soul is in the countryside.
With the blessing of Raymond Briggs, I’ve written a novelisation of The Snowman. It’s been a sheer joy to tell again, in my own way, one of the most beloved books in the world. I have loved doing it and hope to goodness you love reading it. It’s diferent, but the same. Grandpa Christmas by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Jim Field (Egmont, £9.99). countryliving.com/uk
INTERVIEW BY LAURAN ELSDEN. PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALAMY; KEVIN NICHOLSON
Storytelling is about sharing your dreams. My stories
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HOMEMADE CHRISTMAS Welcome to Country Living’s Handmade Christmas – a festive guide to ensure your preparations go smoothly. There are inspiring ideas and projects that the whole family can get involved with – from decorating and wrapping to crafts and cards – plus delicious recipes for food gifts that are sure to delight. A handy calendar will also make your month both organised and fun. Merry Christmas from us all at Country Living! Editor-in-chief
Words Jo Leevers Co-ordinating editor Alaina Binks Creative director Lindsey Jordan Art editor Roger Browning Designed by Victoria Smith Food and drink editor Alison Walker Picture director Patricia Taylor Chief sub-editor Michele Jameson Photographs Alun Callender; Camera Press; Peter Cassidy; Charlie Colmer; Brent Darby; Getty Images; Catherine Gratwicke; Living4Media; Loupe Images; Myles New; Narratives/
Polly Eltes/Jody Stewart; Nassima Rothacker; Mark Scott; Debi Treloar; Pia Tryde; Rachel Whiting; Danielle Wood; Polly Wreford Cover styling by Alaina Binks. Photograph by Penny Wincer. Little star giftwrap (cambridgeimprint.co.uk). Glitter star tags; gold ribbon; pinwheels; baubles; glitter pine cones (pipii.co.uk) Ribbons and candy cane decoration (janemeans.com). Pompom trim (vvrouleaux.com). Papers used to make bauble and crackers (paperchase.com). Ceramic star (sarahjanehandmade. co.uk). Stamp and tree tag (englishstamp.com). Lino-cut card by Alaina Binks. Hare and feather decorations (re-foundobjects. com). Fir and mistletoe tags (talkingtables.com). Mini cracker, (talkingtables.co.uk). Notebook (lonetree.co.uk)
Published with the December 2018 issue of Country Living Magazine © The National Magazine Company Ltd trading as Hearst UK 2018. Published by Hearst UK, House of Hearst, 30 Panton Street, London SW1Y 4AJ (Reg no 112955). All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, without the prior written permission of the copyright holders. Printed and bound by Wyndeham Southernprint.
FIR & FAIRY LIGHT ADVENT CALENDAR For a twist on tradition, hang a variety of envelopes, boxes and sweet bags from a strong branch decorated with seasonal touches Fill each envelope and box with a gift, from sweets to small toys, then inish with a number from 1-24 and decorative labels. Hang in place using festive ribbon, twine and pegs (all available from talkingtables.com). Itâ€™s best to hang the decorated branch irst and then tie the wrapped gifts at varying heights. Add homemade gingerbread men as extra treats for children and adults who canâ€™t wait until the next day. You can then tie sparkly decorations to the ribbons once the biscuits have been eaten and the gifts opened. This will keep the display feeling festive right through to the end of the month.
A WELL-DRESSED DOOR A wreath made from seasonal foliage is a simple way to decorate the front door Fill out a loritâ€™s ring or twig base with moss, binding it in place with wire. Tie a ribbon at the top, then tart adding foliage at a diagonal angle and ix each sprig irmly with lorit wire. Alternating three types of foliage, such as blue spruce, conifer and holly, usually works well. Then add extras, including pine cones, dried hydrangea lowers, seed heads, red chillies and all-weather fairy lights. Mit every few days to help keep it fresh. Find the essentials to get started, from wreath bases, wire and ribbons to pine cones, dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks, at hobbycraft.co.uk.
A WARMING GLOW
Soft candlelight is an essential ingredient of a Christmas home, adding a magical warmth. Tapers, pillars and tea lights can all be grouped to make a small tableau For the best efect, place candles at a window, run in a line on top of a sideboard or arrange in a group on a side table. Itâ€™s best to stand them in soil or sand within sturdy vessels such as buckets, vintage glassware or vintage teacups (make sure the vessel is wider than the candle). Top the soil with moss (fresh or harvested from a renewable source) and inish with a sprig of berries, alder cones, spruce or mistletoe on top of the moss for an extra layer of decoration. Remember to never leave burning candles unattended.
SPICED PLUM AND FIG JAM
This seasonall preserve is perfect when served with cheese and makes an equally attractive present Preparation 20 minutes Cooking about 50 minutes, plus standing Makes about 1.8kg
2 Uncover, stir in the spices and sugar, then heat, stirring gently, until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Bubble for 25-30
8 large fresh figs (about 350g), trimmed and chopped
minutes until the setting
1kg plums, halved, destoned
thermometer registers 105Â°C.
To test, drop 1 tsp jam onto a
finely grated zest and
chilled saucer and leave to cool
juice of 1 orange
slightly. Push your finger on it
1 tsp each ground cloves
â€“ if the surface wrinkles, it is
ready. If not, return to the heat.
1.2kg caster sugar
Take the pan of, leave to stand
1 Put the figs, plums, orange zest and juice with 50ml water into a large preserving pan. Cover and cook gently for 20 minutes until soft, squashing the fruit with a wooden spoon.
point is reached or a sugar
for 15 minutes, then remove any surface scum. 3 Pot into hot sterilised jars, cover with wax discs, seal and label when cold. Store in a cool, dark place for up to six months; then in the fridge once opened.
GARLANDS TO DRAPE
Spruce, holly, ivy and eucalyptus can all be worked into evocatively lush displays, adding their heady scents to your home. You can also take a half-and-half approach, using a faux garland as a base and entwining it with fresh cuttings. If you have any leftover branches of spruce or pine (cut for the garland), place them in a tall vase or jug and decorate with spare baubles.
STYLING BY CAROLINE REEVES AND BEN KENDRICK
As well as the tree, continue the ancient midwinter tradition of bringing evergreens indoors by arranging pieces of foliage around windows, mantels and bannisters
This is delicious served on its own with ice or as a long drink mixed with tonic or champagne Preparation 10 minutes Cooking 20 minutes, plus infusing Makes 1 litre
cinnamon stick and pour in the gin. 2 Set aside in a cool, dark place for at least three weeks (but no longer than 3 months
or the flavour will become
fresh or frozen
woody), gently shaking every
300g granulated sugar 1 large cinnamon stick 1 litre gin
day to help the sugar dissolve. 3 Strain the liqueur through a muslin-lined sieve into sterilised bottles â€“ to keep
1 Wash the blackberries and
it clear, donâ€™t press the fruit
discard any bruised fruit. Put
when you do this. Discard
into a sterilised large lidded
the cinnamon. Label and
jar. Add the sugar and
store in a cool, dark place.
Start with a rattan, polystyrene or cardboard base (available from bakerross.co.uk or hobbycraft.co.uk). Cut leaf shapes from several types of fabric scraps in shades of green. Vary plain material with patterned and include a thicker layer, such as felt or wool, for the top leaves. Sew together in bunches of three. Then glue, pin, stitch or staple the leaves in place on the wreath base, alternating the angles as you go in a criss-cross pattern. Secure sprigs of faux berries, glossy beads or small baubles with strong thread as a inishing touch.
DESIGN AND MAKE BY SARAH MOORE
Add a splash of festive colour with a design that is guaranteed to last
CUSTOMISED GIFT TAGS
Old Christmas and d birthday bi hd cards, photocopies of childhood photographs and unused playing cards can all be cut out and stuck to plain card to make original tags Another idea is to do this with vintage cigarette and tea cards, which are sold on ebay. These are in themes such as dog breeds, lowers and wildlife, so you could match the picture on each tag to family membersâ€™ hobbies. Make and write in advance, saving you time when you start wrapping presents. Create wrapping paper by stamping or stencilling brown kraft paper. Stamps: The English Stamp Company (englishstamp.com); Noolibird (noolibird.com). Stencils: Annie Sloan (anniesloan.com); Nicolette Tabram (nicolettetabram.co.uk).
PAPER TREE DECORATIONS
If your decorations are looking a little tired – or won’t stretch to cover a large tree – papercrafted ones are an easy and quick way to make a few more This paper garland can be made from giftwrap or decorative card. Cut simple tree shapes from several patterned pieces, all the same size. Glue the trees to a length of ribbon with a loop at the top to hang. Add beads or faux berries to the tip of each one. Alternatively, simple paper chains are straightforward to make and can cover a Christmas tree with ease. When packing away decorations, wind fairy lights around pieces of cardboard to avoid tangles, and re-use large gift bags or sacks to keep bulky and delicate garlands neatly stored.
O’ CHRISTMAS TREE
Whether real or faux, f this hi iis always at the centre of the celebration
STYLING BY CAROLYN BAILEY
If you’ve opted for a real tree, keep it well-watered throughout the season. Choose an elegant pared-back and timeless theme, with red, white and gold or silver and green, or go for a full-on display of colourful baubles and homemade favourites for an eclectic feel. If there’s enough space, standing the tree in the hallway makes a warm welcome. As the days progress, hang stockings nearby and stack presents beneath to build festive excitement.
Buy a real tree from the Forestry Commission (forestry.gov.uk), which sells varieties from carefully managed plantations.
Seek out local craft events, Christmas fairs (such as the Country Living Fairs in London, Harrogate and Glasgow – see countrylivingfair.com) and independent shops for unique pieces made by artisans and artists. If your family make present lists, be sure to collate everyone’s in plenty of time. Also allow generous lead times for online purchases to arrive – it can be useful to have an informal agreement with a close neighbour to each take in parcels that arrive while the other is out.
STYLING BY PIA TRYDE
From stocking illers to larger purchases, give yourself a head start on inding gifts that feel special and perfectly paired to the recipient
DESIGN AND MAKE BY CHRIS MYERS. STYLING BY BEN KENDRICK
If you like to create your own cards, have a rummage in charity shops for old or damaged books and give them a new lease of life Set texts (a ragged copy of A Christmas Carol would be perfect), sheet music of jolly carols or even loose pages from children’s classics can be pasted to the front of folded plain card. Tie a strip of fabric or a length of ribbon along the ‘spine’ of the card. Use stamps to print a message – craft shops sell rubber stamps in pre-made designs and individual letters. Don’t forget to send letters to Father Christmas by 7 December: Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland XM4 5HQ (royalmail.com/santamail) – late letters can simply be put up the chimney!
CHRISTMAS CALENDAR Use this handy grid to help you plan to perfection â€“ write a list of things you need to do in each dayâ€™s space 26 Nov
Create or buy an advent calendar
Dec 01 Make a shopping and to-do list for the month ahead and decide on a budget for presents, food and so on
04 Stock up on long-lasting larder essentials ready for Christmas Day, including cranberry sauce, spices, dried fruits, nuts, pickles and chutneys
Handcraft simple decorations for the tree or to give as gifts
Decorate the tree
Write Christmas cards. Last posting dates are 18 December for 2nd class and 20 December for 1st class
Arrange a glowing window display to be admired from outside
Make crackers using kraft and decorative papers
Check crockery, cutlery and glassware is in good condition and you have enough in a set
Christmas Eve â€“ hang up stockings and leave out a mince pie and a carrot for Santa and Rudolph
Itâ€™s Christmas Day!
These look wonderful simply dusted with icing sugar, but you could decorate them with coloured royal icing if you prefer Cooking about 15 minutes Makes about 22 75g butter, softened 100g caster sugar 1 medium egg ½ tsp vanilla extract 250g plain flour, sifted, plus extra to dust ½ tsp baking powder icing sugar, to dust 1 Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour and baking powder to make a soft dough (you might need to use your hands). Shape into a disc and
wrap in clingfilm. Chill for 1 hour or until firm. 2 Heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) gas mark 4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick. Stamp out shapes using Christmas cookie cutters, rerolling trimmings if necessary. If the cookies are to be hung as decorations, use a skewer to make a 5mm hole in each one. Arrange on two nonstick baking trays. Bake for 10-15 minutes until pale golden. Allow to cool for 3 minutes on the trays to set, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. 3 When the cookies are cold, dust with icing sugar. Package in boxes or Cellophane bags tied with ribbon.
STYLING BY LAURA VINE
Preparation 20 minutes, plus chilling and cooling
Make your own iire-starters for a delightful seasonal aroma If you have an open ire or a stove, order in an ample store of seasoned logs, so thereâ€™s no danger of running out over the holiday period. To make your own natural irelighters, gather fallen pine cones on a winter walk and dry them out. Then melt wax lakes (plus any old candle stumps) in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of water (bain-marie). Pour the wax into metal or silicone muffin pans and press a pine cone into each mould. Add a sprinkling of cloves to lend a rich, spicy scent. Freeze the irelighters for good measure, then turn out and store in a lidded box or tin. Alternatively, buy them from The Recycled Candle Company, seen left (therecycledcandlecompany.co.uk).
A STOCK OF STANDBY GIFTS Set aside a store of ready-to-go presents, either to take along to impromptu drinks with neighbours, or in case extra people visit over the Christmas period Patterned boxes and tins, and small boxes beautifully wrapped in colourful pretty papers look great on show and are also a delight to receive. A strip of ribbon tied in a bow adds the inal lourish, making each one look special rather than last-minute. Perennial presents that should please the most include soaps, candles, a bottle of ine wine, seasonal biscuits, preserves and chocolates.
DARK CHOCOLATE MENDIANTS
These beautiful f l di discs look l k very festive, almost like baubles – but you will need a jam thermometer to get them just right Preparation 25 minutes Cooking about 10 minutes, plus chilling Makes about 50 450g 60% dark chocolate, finely chopped 140g candied fruit and nuts, such as dried fruit, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and candied ginger and orange
bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes. Stir until the temperature drops to 27°C. 3 Put the chocolate back onto the pan of simmering water. Stir; watch the temperature. Once the chocolate reaches 30-33°C, remove it from the heat. This process should keep the chocolate looking glossy. 4 Chop the fruit and nuts into small pieces. Line two trays with baking parchment and
1 Melt 300g of the chocolate
pour teaspoons of chocolate
in a heatproof bowl set over
onto the paper so it spreads
a pan of barely simmering
into even discs. Sprinkle
water. Stir with a wooden
each with fruit and nuts and
spoon until smooth and the
put in the fridge for at least
temperature reaches 55°C. 2 Remove from the heat and add the rest of the chocolate. Put the bowl into a larger
15 minutes. Store for up to a week in an airtight container or box, with a sheet of waxed paper between each layer.
A REAL MINI TREE
If you have limited space, consider a small potted tree that you can keep in the garden afterwards and re-use next year Look for UK-grown varieties, such as blue spruce or Nordmann ir, at garden centres, as they are particularly suited to our climate. Indoors, place the pot in an attractive container, or cover with fabric or paper, as the base will be more prominent. A pared-back decorating theme works best, so the young branches donâ€™t get overcrowded or weighed down.
After Christmas, gradually acclimatise your tree to life outdoors by bringing it back inside every other night for the first few weeks.
Certain aromas instantly i l evoke a sense of nostalgia, taking you back to Christmases of the past Give your home a fragrant scent by preparing some spice-laced goodies. Make a pomander by piercing holes into a fresh orange (a darning needle is good for this), then press cloves into the incisions. Leave to dry for a couple of weeks until it sounds hollow when you tap it. Pine cones can be infused with an essential oil, such as pine, ginger or nutmeg. Place clean cones in a sealable plastic bag, add three drops of oil per cone, shake well and set aside for up to a week. Then pour into a bowl, out of reach of young visitors who might mistake them for edible treats. You could also place a few bunches of cinnamon sticks on the tree to ill the room with the scent.
Choose a theme for your wrapping paper – this looks especially efective as a stack of packages begins to build up under the tree
Never underestimate how much sticky tape you’ll need – buy several rolls so that two (or more) of you can wrap at the same time.
STYLING BY CAROLINE REEVES
You could go for one or two particular colours, metallic papers or classic kraft paper livened up with ribbon and tags. What’s more, you can subtly colour-code presents destined for diferent places. For example, gifts for family who you’ll see on the day could be wrapped in reds, while presents to take to neighbours could be in greens, making them easier to spot as you head out of the door.
FESTIVE CARD DISPLAY As soon as Christmas i post starts arriving on your doormat, you can begin to think of how and where to display your cards Choose a handful of your favourite designs to create an interesting arrangement. Bend thick wire into a circle and wrap and glue strips of fabric around to cover it. Stick or clip the cards to the wreath. Alternatively, hang cards on the rungs of a vintage orchard ladder with fairy lights twisted around the legs.
Another simple idea is to use decorative string or ribbon and mini pegs (available from bakerross.co.uk) to make â€˜clothes linesâ€™ of cards to hang over a mirror, window or staircase.
THE BEST TABLE PLAN
A central runner works as a good visual anchor, to which you can add a row of candles or a trail of fresh foliage, berries and pine cones. Napkins can add a joyful dash of colour, while glassware and napkin rings bring sparkle. A jug of frosted twigs, eucalyptus or lowers is a great centrepiece, because you can simply remove it just before serving lunch to make room for dishes and sauces. Try out your lighting beforehand at the time you expect to sit down together. A later mealtime may need extra illumination from tall candlesticks or a lamp placed on a nearby sideboard.
NEVER LEAVE BURNING CANDLES UNATTENDED
Your dining room is the centre of the dayâ€™s celebrations, so think about your creative decorating ideas in advance
SIMPLE PLACE SETTINGS
Thoughtful additions ddi i to the Christmas table bring a sense of occasion to the day Names can be written in lowing script on simple luggage tags, then loosely tied to cutlery using coloured ribbon (available from paperchase. com), along with a napkin or a sprig of natural foliage. If youâ€™re short on time, a twist of spruce, piece of mistletoe or a sprig of fresh rosemary tied with a single ribbon makes a festive addition to each plate, even without a name tag.
A small present or treat such as a packet of seeds, homemade biscuits or bundle of chocolate coins makes each place setting extra special.
ORANGE GINGERBREAD CAKE This moist, gooey sponge is given a decadent twist by the rich chocolate Preparation 25 minutes, plus chilling Cooking 10 minutes Makes 12 squares 190g orange marmalade 190g honey 60g golden syrup 25g brown sugar 75g unsalted butter 2 medium eggs 35g plain flour 25g cornflour 125g rye flour 10g bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp each ground ginger and mixed spice FOR THE FILLING AND ICING 150g dark chocolate, melted 1 tbsp sunflower oil 300g orange marmalade 1 Heat the oven to 180Â°C (160Â°C fan) gas mark 4. Grease and
line a 30cm x 40cm baking tray with raised edges. Put the marmalade, honey, syrup, brown sugar, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and mix on full speed for five minutes. Add the eggs and mix for another 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Sieve in the flours, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then fold in. 2 Pour the mixture into the tray and level with the back of a spoon. Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool. 3 Make the icing by melting the chocolate and oil together. Spread the marmalade on top of the cake, then pour over the chocolate. Leave to set in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. 4 Cut into bite-sized squares and put in jars or airtight containers. Keep in the fridge until you give it as a gift.
Dusted with sugar and d tied i d with string, this looks like a deli-style salami but is full of nuts and chocolate Preparation 1 hour, plus chilling Cooking about 15 minutes Makes 16 slices
2 Divide in two. Place each half in the centre of a large piece of clingfilm. Fold it over the mixture and mould each into
100g unsalted butter, softened 300g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces 100g milk chocolate, broken into small pieces 3 tbsp brandy 50g flaked almonds 50g shelled pistachios 50g walnuts 2 shortbread fingers, broken into pea-size chunks 1 tbsp icing sugar 1 In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Stir in the brandy, nuts and shortbread. Cover and chill for 1 hour until firm and pliable.
a salami shape about 5cm in diameter. Roll up in the film, twisting the ends to seal. Roll to make an evenly round shape. Chill for 1 hour. 3 Sprinkle icing sugar on the worksurface, unwrap salami and roll to coat. Dust of any excess with a pastry brush. 4 Tie with string at 2cm intervals to create the look of a hung salami. Cut out two 25cm sq pieces of baking parchment and place a chocolate salami down the centre of each one. Roll up and wrap with ribbon to give as a gift. Store wrapped in the fridge for up to 4 days, and remove 30 minutes before serving to soften.
If any of your usual ones need an upgrade, or thereâ€™s a new member of the family, old clothing and bedlinen can be turned into individual stockings Use a template to cut out a generous sock shape, ideally placing a pocket or waistband (if recycling a shirt or pair of trousers or jeans) at the top. Alternatively, ofcuts can be hemmed together and inset with gingham or other remnants in jolly colours and prints. In fact, the more patches the better. Chunky stitching of a name in a contrasting thread, bells, buttons, braids and beads will all add to the character. Use a thick or denim needle for sewing heavyweight cloth on a machine, set the stitch length to 3.5-4 and take it slowly â€“ stitches will need to withstand lumpy, bumpy presents.
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