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CHRISTMAS www.thesimplethings.com ISSUE 03 | DECEMBER | £4.99

HANDMADE GIFTS AND SIMPLE DECORATIONS

PERFECT

D AY BREAKFAST BRIOCHE WINTER WALKS EXPLORING MARKETS BAKING PLUM CAKE COSY PATCHWORK

Gather your friends DRINKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS?

FEEL AT HOME WITH PATTERN

SPRING FLOWERS IN THE WINTER

CATCH UP OVER FANCY COCKTAILS

SHARE HOLLY BECKER’S DECORATING PASSION

BRINGING BOWLS OF BULBS INDOORS

contents ISSUE 03

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cover PhotograPhy: mowie kay, maniPulation James wooton

Chatting with a New Yorker

Shopping at the market

Meeting at the pub

DAWN

DAY

11 a Breakfast reciPe

46 wish list

Glorious brioche – and berries – for brekkie

Best buys for staying in or going out

12 wish list

50 simPle Pleasures

Our edit of things to wake up and want

Give in to an irresistible Spanish custom

16 things to Plan anD Do

52 escaPe

Foraging, upcycling and more

A pub, a pint and a good walk

19 interview

62 oBsession

Meet Cassandra Ellis for a patchwork lesson

The man who collects Do Not Disturb signs

22 my city

66 in the garDen

The excitement of living in New York City

Bringing spring bulbs indoors

28 market lunch

72 how we live

Shopping for pâté and cooking simple relishes

Holly Becker’s passion for pattern

34 notes on PÂtÉ

82 thoughtful giving

Gourmet guide no.3: the ultimate toast topper

Sharing the love of handmade gifts

36 the eXPert

88 the minDful garDener

A chance to question a pâté maker

Ark Redwood’s guide to getting more from everyday outdoor tasks

Wake up slowly and make plans for your morning

speCial introDuCtory suBsCription oFFer 3 ISSUES FOR £5 26 Subscribe in the UK 71 Digital subscription 118 Subscribe overseas

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42 urBan garDen Our favourite community gardener encourages us to make friends with fungi

Get the day going with good old weekend escapades

Contents

93

Stopping for tea and a chat

72

Getting confident with pattern

62

Sharing an obsession

88

Trying a new tea blend

DUSK

Home for the evening – gather, cook, read and relax 93 simPle Pleasures A fashion blogger describes her day in cups of tea

98

Inviting friends round

119

WIN!

December ENHANCING THE SIMPLE LIFE WITH THE PRACTICAL AND THE PLAYFUL

Bake a plum cake for tomorrow’s treat

95 eXPloring the senses Susannah Conway reconnects us with everyday pleasures

96 reflecting Travel writer Jeremy Seal reflects on the need to respect our rivers

98 gathering Catch up with friends at a cocktail party A rose-tinted look back at something lost

110 the craft hour Simple, stylish Christmas decorations

130 anD so to BeD A bedtime story and a late-night snack with author Christian Kiefer

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FOR A CHANCE TO ENTER, FILL IN OUR READER SURVEY PAGE 126 * vouchers to be selected from voucher express

94 cake in the house

108 what i miss

£300 voucher*

making Perfect slushies • cutting your own hair • knotting a Bow tie • reaDing tea leaves • iDentifying garDen BirDs • cleaning garDen tools

dawn

Paint your place Mini Moderns – purveyors of beautiful prints, including our end papers – have just launched their own 12-colour range of environmentally-responsible paints. The idea took shape when founders, Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire, came across the eco paint brand, Newlife, on Twitter. Newlife salvages discarded paint from landfill and revives, treats and repackages it. The midcentury heavy colours have names such as British Lichen (“inspired by the colour of vintage bus tickets”), Lido (“reminiscent of art deco outdoor swimming pools”) and Concrete (“an homage to the 1951 Festival of Britain”). 250ml tester pots available if you’re only at the dreaming stage. www.minimoderns.com

things to plan and do Compiled by Kate Burt

Photography: Samuel Hills Comoyoko. Kim Lightbody www.kimlightbody.net

Try a spot of foraging London’s excellent Orchard Café is all about fresh, delicious British vegetarian food, sourced as close to home as possible. As such, chef Andrew Dargue, employs a forager to gather local wild food for his menus. Let Andrew’s seasonal foraged recipe tips inspire you to make more of a weekend walk: Wilt sea beet is like spinach. The Orchard Café makes it into cheddar scones served with apple chutney. Scurvy grass is so named as it’s full of vitamin C – sailors once made ale with it. It’s great in potato soup. Sea purslane, similar to eucalyptus, works well blanched in a salad. Rowanberries, good scattered over a bowl of muesli. Sea asters, delicious simmered in cream and served as a side dish. Wild fennel seeds. Crush and add to boiling water to make a tea, or dry-fry and add to carrots. Learn where and how to forage safely at: www.wildfoodschool.co.uk

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learn something new

Taste something different for Christmas Vacherin Mont d’Or is the ultimate Christmas cheese across continental Europe. Use a spoon to break through the undulating skin into the unctuous golden sauce beneath. Watch it drape itself languorously over a nub of crusty baguette. Alternatively, pop the box in a hot oven to make an instant fondue. Either way, “just stick it in your mouth and think beautiful thoughts,” suggests AnnMarie Dyas of The Fine Cheese Co. www.finecheese.co.uk

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Adult ballet

Photography: © Getty images

A 60-second insight into a new personal challenge

Photography: © Plain Picture

Photography by © Jason Lowe

Transform a pallet The pallet: perfect raw material for rookie recyclers – tune in and discarded ones are everywhere, ripe for transformation. But if that sounds daunting, meet the designer Nina Tolstrup, who strives to “see the potential in the overlooked and unloved”. And now, to help others do just that, she has produced a set of downloadable, illustrated instruction booklets for making your own pallet chair, lamp, bench, stool and, for the bold, an outdoor kitchen. www.studiomama.com

Let’s say you’re a thwarted ballerina. A grown-up girl whose leotard and ambitions have been in mothballs since adolescence. Or maybe you’re craving a break from the pilates ball or yoga mat? Beginners’ ballet will do wonders for your strength, flexibility, posture and even social life while feeding the residual daydreams of any Margot Fonteyn manqués. Many dance schools, leisure centres and private teachers run courses. Taking your place at the barre in your first class, you’ll notice an age range that embraces everyone from students to the over-60s. It’s often the latter who display the superior grace, skill and footwear. With a good teacher – check Twitter feeds or Facebook pages for their students’ feedback – you’ll feel like a ‘proper’ ballet student from the get-go. No childish skipping about, acorn-to-oak-tree shenanigans, or pandering to overarching ambition. Instead expect a firm grounding in the basics – pliés, demi-pliés and foot positions, set to piano music (played live, if you’re a jammy so-and-so). Shoulders will be coaxed patiently down, and bums in. It will soon become clear what a tough, precise discipline ballet is – not only must every muscle, joint and tendon be alert but you can’t lose concentration for a second. At times it’s akin to playing a musical instrument, or calculating a really hard sum. As the weeks glide past, you’ll bring in arm and head movements, until you – yes, you! – are performing pretty complicated drills. It is immensely satisfying. Soon you’ll be unable to move from the fridge to the cooker without involving the fifth position, get dressed without developpéing (unfurling) your leg or cross the sitting room without a grand battement (high kick) or two. It’s at this point you may buy yourself some pink satin shoes. Want to give it a go? Find out about courses near you www.danceweb.co.uk

★Rk M y c i t y * : n e w yo photographer nicole franzen shares why she loves america’s most sensational city

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*Share the simple things in your city. Leave a comment at www.thesimplethings.com or email thesimplethings@futurenet.com

WHEREVER yOU MAy BE

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NICOLE FRANZEN Nicole is a lifestyle and food photographer, who – with an 11-year background working in restaurants – also loves to cook her own dishes. She has lived all over the world but now resides in Brooklyn.

Most of us live in cities. Even if a tiny part of us yearns for the country, it’s hard to deny the excitement of town. Every issue we ask one person – clearly in love with their city – to tell us what makes it so special. Through their eyes, we can take a fresh look at where we live too. 5

How long have you lived in the city?

I have been in New York for six years, now. It was the endless opportunities that drew me here. Even though I consider Taos, New Mexico my home, I am a nomad. What keeps you in the city now?

New York City is a place where dreams can come true. You can create any niche market here. I also adore the food scene, always changing and evolving – you can get whatever you want to eat, whenever. While there may be a lot of competition it’s good for me to focus and work hard. I appreciate that about this city. I love having everything at my fingertips. Which season makes your city feel most alive?

Everyone gets really excited for the springtime here. After being cooped up all winter long, the city really wakes up. We finally start to see colour again in the streets, the trees wake up from their sleep and flowers bloom everywhere. You can spend more time outdoors, open the windows and breathe in the fresh spring air. Subscribe at www.thesimplethings.com

What does it feel like in December?

December is really lovely, the holidays are particularly festive here, with plenty of ice skating, decorations on Fifth Avenue and the Rockefeller Center, and outdoor holiday markets. It’s not too cold yet and you can go out shopping at the markets bundled up, sipping hot cocoa. The city goes into overdrive, the streets busy with holiday shoppers. At night you go enjoy a glass of wine in a cosy restaurant with something warm to eat. What time of day do you most enjoy?

Morning. I wake up relatively early and I love having a cup of tea, checking emails and going out early before the rest of the city wakes up. I love the morning air and light. Does your city have lots of flowers or trees or many green spaces?

We have a great choice of outdoor areas, Central Park and Prospect Park being the biggest parks. I get to the »

1 The iconic skyline rises behind lush greenery. 2 The cool and calm interior of Nicole’s regular hang-out Gasoline Alley Coffee. 3 The action in New York radiates out from Manhattan’s famous Columbus Circle. 4 Another favourite of Nicole’s, Toby’s Estate Coffee has its roots in Australia but is definitely very much part of New York. 5 Nicole’s love for cafés continues with a perfect flat white at La Colombe Coffee.

ORKNEY L U X U RY R R IN E E T CR AB CR ABS ORKNE Y IG A N D G R OW B TH E TA S T Y IN O F TH E S R E T A W RE AM G U LF ST

ARD ENN ES PÂTÉ A MEATY MOU THFU L, FABU LOU S WITH FIGS OR A SWE ET ONIO N CHU TNE Y

NOTES ON PÂTÉ GOURMET GUIDE NO.3 POP THE TOASTER ON TO PREPARE THE PERFECT PLATFORM FOR THIS TREAT

CHICKEN LIVER PÂTÉ A CLASSIC , BAKED IN AN EARTHE NWARE POT AND CAPPED WITH BUTTER

ON THE BOARD

CH IC KE N FR EE RA NG E BY ON IO NS FO RE STIER BA MU SH RO OM S AN D PO RC IN I TE XT UR E LE ND AD DE D

OVEN ROASTE D MUSHRO OM PÂTÉ AN EARTHY, CREAMY, ALTOGE THER HEARTY MEAT-FR EE OPTION

Make it a simple starter or just a treat on warm toast. Brush up on these basic types of pâté then get ready to meet ‘Le Charcutier Anglais’, Marc-Frederic Berry, our expert waiting on page 36.

DUCK AND ORANGE PÂTÉ 1970’S MARRIAG E OF FLAVOU RS, STILL GOING STRONG TODAY

Marc, a self-confessed “charcutier anorak” also lectures, writes and researches on the topic of pâté.

THE EXPERT: PÂTé Meet ‘Le Charcutier Anglais’, aka Marc-Frederic Berry, the lancashire-born artisan butcher. He’s here to help us get the best from our pâté Words: Sue Bradley Photography: James Lampard

Taste adventures

D

elicious pâté spread over hot toast is just as delectable as a starter at a dinner party as it is savoured after a day’s Christmas shopping. Either way, select your pâté carefully and every mouthful will be an explosion of flavour. With so many different types to choose from, it can be hard to decide what to buy. One person who knows pâté inside out is Marc-Frederic Berry: the man described by the French as ‘Le Charcutier Anglais’. Marc’s skill with meat is such that he holds the rare distinction of being an Englishman registered as an artisan butcher and charcutier with the exacting Le Chambre de Metiers de la Charente. His love of pâté dates back to his childhood, when he used to visit his local market in Lancashire in search of unusual varieties. “My sisters used to go to town to buy the latest records, while I would go in search of delicious things to eat,” he laughs. According to Marc, the words pâté, rillettes and terrine may sound far more glamorous than paste or potted meat, but essentially they describe similar processes used on either side of the English Channel. The difference often lies in the exquisite flavours achieved in Europe; particularly by the French, whose expertise in making pâté has long been regarded as being the best in the world. In recent years, however, food lovers elsewhere have increasingly recognised just how delicious good pâté can be, which this in turn has led to a fresh interest in creating these products in the UK. “Pâté makes excellent use of every part of an animal; it’s real nose-to-tail eating,” says Marc. Subscribe at www.thesimplethings.com

“It is an especially good way of turning offal into something that’s sublime. “To give the French their due, pâté is something they have always done very well but it’s something the British, especially farmers looking to add value to their produce, are starting to excel at.” What is pâté?

The simple definition of pâté is a spreadable paste usually made from meat, offal and fat. In France, pâté was traditionally cooked within pastry: over there a pork pie is known as pâté en croute. Pâtés can also be cooked in an alternative casing or in a terrine: a loaf-shaped ceramic baking dish. Pig meat is commonly used for making pâté, along with duck, chicken and oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel. I am sure there are some really good vegetarian pâtés, such as mushroom, but I haven’t ever tried them. What are the qualities of a good pâté?

All pâtés need to be made with a certain amount of fat to help blend the meat together and give it a superb taste. I always look for pâtés that are vibrantly coloured and have a sheen or a gloss, without being too shiny. I like to see a thick layer of fat used to help seal the pâté once it has been made. Another good sign is a layer of jelly: this is made from gelatine, which has to be added to the pâté once it’s finished. If someone is going to take time to add this protective ‘skin’ to their pâté, and, in some cases even decorate it, there’s a fair chance they will have put a lot of time and love into making the pâté itself. If liver and meat have been used in a coarse pâté, the liver should stand out like little nuggets. »

It’s worth getting to know the lingo. Here ‘campagne’ refers to the French for ‘countryside’, meaning this is the equivalent of Farmhouse pâté.

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day

Seize the daylight while you can.

Pub first, then a walk in ancient (and

slightly squiffy) footsteps. Hide

behind a Do Not Disturb sign, or help the garden rediscover its figure.... Photography: jana rona keller

A pub, a pint & a good walk

The country pub has for centuries been a magnet for the hungry, thirst y and footsore of all walks of life. open that old oak door* Words: Kate Hodgins and Anna Britton Photography: james lampard

* Landlord Michael Hughes made us most welcome at The Tunnel House Inn and Barn, Nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire www.tunnelhouse.com

Birch Hall Inn, Whitby, a pub for those with a sweet tooth.

Traditional ales and good home cooking in the famous Falcon.

Pubs and walks LOCATE A PUB IN YOUR WALKING AREA WWW.REALALEHUNTER.CO.UK

The Gurnard’s Head

The George and Dragon

Nr Zennor, St Ives

Rowde, Devizes

Set on top of a cliff between St Ives and St Just, you’d be hard pressed to find a more remote pub. The walk along the coastal path from St Ives is about 6 miles away or start a little closer at Zennor Head for a 2.5 mile meander that is, in places, only wide enough to go single file. The Gurnard’s Head serves up incredible Cornish dishes and it is muttfriendly with towels at the door to dry off damp people and dogs alike. www.gurnardshead.co.uk

The Kennet and Avon canal is beautiful at any time of year. Take in the dramatic Caen Hill Locks that head into Devizes and squeeze a flight of 29 locks into 2 miles. For a bite to eat and a warming tipple, head off cross country at lock 23 and stop at the George and Dragon, a 16th-century coaching inn that serves real ales from around the country. www.thegeorgeand dragonrowde.co.uk

The Sloop Inn

Kirkstile Inn

Porthgain, Pembrokshire

Loweswater, Lake District

The walk from Porthgain Harbour to St David’s Head and back is a hearty 16 miles with some steep sections, so this isn’t advisable for young children or walking novices. However, if you do give it a go you’ll be rewarded with views of fishermen’s cottages, the dramatic Pembrokeshire coastline, a bird sanctuary and, in autumn, possible seal sightings! And to greet you on your return to Porthgain is The Sloop Inn, a small pub serving local ales and bitters that are filled with the flavour of this small Welsh village. www.sloop.co.uk

The Lake District offers a wealth of beautiful walks around its spectacular lakes with the scenic walk around Buttermere taking two to three hours. For those up for a long day hiking, follow the lakes and turn across meandering meadows to the Kirkstile Inn tucked away between Loweswater and Crummock Water. This old Tudor Inn offers a range of ‘Cumbrian Legendary Ales’ including Loweswater Gold, Esthwaite Bitter, Langdale and Grasmoor. They also feature a variety of guest ales a menu of home-cooked comfort foods. www.kirkstile.com

ESCAPE

“The Simple Things in Life Done Well” is the Gurnard’s Head motto.

Legendary Cumbrian ales at the Kirkstile Inn.

Falcon Inn

Birch Hall Inn Flying Childers Ship Inn

Arncliffe, Littondale

Beck Hole, Whitby

Stanton in Peak, Derbyshire

Low Newton by the Sea

Discover this beautiful unspoilt pub with beer served straight from the barrel. Littondale is the least changed of any of the Yorkshire Dales, a beautiful U-shaped valley with ancient woodland and haymeadows in spring. The walk along the valley to neighbouring Litton is superb, as the path heads through the Scoska Wood nature reserve. As well as real ales you’ll get solid home cooking. The Falcon was the original Woolpack in Emmerdale, although the film crews have long since left this Yorkshire haven alone. www.thefalconinn.com

One of England’s classic pubs, believed to date back to the 1600s, Birch Hall Inn has a small lounge/bar and even smaller bar with a sweet shop sandwiched in between. The pub is surrounded by walking routes, including one that follows the path of George Stephenson’s original railway through the valley in the North York Moors. Once you’ve worked up a thirst, head back to the Hall for its local speciality – beer cake! www.beckhole.info/bhi.htm

An authentic Peakland pub situated below the mysterious Stanton Moor, with its stone circles and prehistoric remains. A wonderful, albeit slightly eerie, place to explore in the depths of winter, the 6km walk from Birchover takes in the land that inspired stories of wizards and witches. Pass by the grit stone blocks at Rowtor Rocks and the wooded ridge behind Birchover village and imagine how the druid tales began. Refuel at the inn voted ‘Derbyshire Pub of the Year 2012’ by CAMRA. www.flyingchilders.com

Northumberland has a plentiful tradition of pubs, but a particular gem is the Ship Inn at Low Newton by the Sea, a beautiful pub tucked away in the corner of a square in a small fishing hamlet right on the dramatic Northumberland coastline. The small brewery next door supplies the pub with its beer. Start your walk to the pub from the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle in Caster and, if you’re feeling up to it after a pint of ale and a locally sourced crab sandwich, carry on afterwards over the headland to the beautiful Beadnell Beach and on towards Budle Bay with the varied birdlife who reside there. www.shipinnnewton.co.uk

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AST SLIP-C ES L CAND

UN TEA IQUE BLE NDS

“Their wares are made with LOVE and EXPERTISE, and are guaranteed to raise the oxytocin levels of anybody unwrapping them on CHRISTMAS morning”

THOUGHTFUL GIVING

HAND MADE TA L E

SPECIALI TY SWEETS

POP SOMETHING FROM A LOCAL CRAFTSPERSON UNDER THE TREE AND MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE. A GROUP OF BROOKLYN MAKERS TELL US HOW

Words: ANNA BRITTEN

B

lighted by queues, looped Slade and tat, the high street can be disappointingly low on festive cheer when it comes to Christmas shopping. More ho-ho-ho by far are the little markets, the secret alleyways packed with independent craftsmen and women, the pop-up shops, the craft fairs, the open studios, the Etsy gang. Better, that is, in more ways than one. First, for you – independent artisans are, on the whole, friendly, eager to help and may even be up for a haggle. Their wares are rarely as pricey as you might expect, and are worth every penny, being made with practically parental levels of love and expertise, and guaranteed to raise the oxytocin levels of anybody unwrapping them on Christmas morning. And then, of course, shopping ‘small’ is much better for the makers themselves. Every sale made direct to the public helps them to make a living from their skills and talents, and enter 2013 more able than ever to take on big business and its long-haul, sweatshop-produced, flimsy quality fare. Here we take inspiration from a group of craftspeople in Brooklyn, New York and look closer at the types of original gift you won’t find on the high street. Unless you live somewhere really cool. »

FINE ANCE F R AG R

WHERE TO FIND YOUR LOCAL MAKERS

BROOKLYN MAKERS by Jennifer Causey shares the lives of the area’s finest creatives. www.papress.com www.themakersproject.com

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www.craftanddesign. net/craft-guilds One-stop shop for creative resources and inspiration, with links to regional crafts guilds and their events near you.

www.ukhandmade. co.uk Directory of bricksand-mortar shops selling handmade items from artists and designer-makers across the country.

www.etsy.com Online marketplace for designer-makers as well as vintage items. www.folksy.com British handmade gifts and craft supplies.

photography: Š living4media/christine bauer

SIMPLE Christmas Gather ordinary items and share Mother Nature’s colour scheme to decor ate your home this year

THE CRAFT HOUR

T

he weeks leading up to Christmas are the time to start a collection of ordinary things you love; nothing special, just the little objects that catch your eye. Pinecones and lichen-clad twigs on a weekend walk, biscuit cutters from your baking cupboard, a tarnished silver spoon at the Saturday flea market. There are no strict rules, just pick out a few favourite colours and reach out for what attracts you; you’ll naturally edit the elements without even trying. Add in some evergreens, and a few basics like string, ribbon and brown paper and you’ll have more than enough to turn the ordinary into extraordinary decorations. Make a date with yourself. A relaxed day when there’s time to really enjoy bringing Christmas into the house. Delve into your collection, stack, layer, style and arrange. You can make decorations out of anything; it’s what you collect and how you display things that makes them feel special.

snowy scenes Arrange painted pebbles with old-style cake decorations to make your own little icing sugar snow scene. A dome or upturned glass bowl will protect your mini world.

Stylish stacks Oddments of china are too pretty to be left on the shelf. Pick out plates and saucers with interesting edges to make layered displays of varying heights. Hide designs you’re less fond of at the bottom of the pile!

old FAVOURITES Rope in favourite ornaments to be part of your Christmas scheme. Impromptu displays like this can move into any spare spaces.

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