Monday, 11 July 2016

Timeless British home appeal

Summer is the time I invest in updating the home; whilst the days are long and light I get the paint brushes out and spruce up the rooms, start on the list of jobs and add a few accessories. I also tend to buy any furniture in the summer so I've got sunny days to redesign a room and match up any coordinating fabrics and paints. Next on my list is to smarten my snug room up where the wood burner is. The sofa desperately needs replacing, it was second hand anyway and the walls need repainting in my usual antique white. I'd like the room to show my love of the British Isles and have been looking for some inspiration.

There's always the one piece of furniture that is timeless in a room and The Original Sofa Co Ltd with their handcrafted Chesterfield sofas and chairs offer that perfect solution. As a lover of all things British, the Chesterfield is the ultimate iconic item for a relaxing room with a classic quality style. The Original Sofa Co craft their Chesterfields using traditional techniques, coil sprung seats, fully tacked and hand dyed. Their expertise produces an extensive range of sofas and I love the Signature Collection such as the Wilmington Chesterfield in light tan. This would really suit my homestyle and remind me of my childhood as my parents had a very similar sofa.

I'd team the sofa with some cosy cushions and a throw for a laid back look. The British theme would give me a lot of scope and I've just found these cushions from Asda Living that would go perfectly with the scheme. Tan leather is gorgeous and a flexible colour to work with though the seasons and the finish on this one with the gold studs and legs is a smart sofa to invest in.

Chesterfield sofas look stylish in both contemporary and more traditional looking homes and from those made by the The Original Sofa Co you will find the colour and the style that you require, whether you need a single chair, double sofa or suite. One element of the company that I particularly like is that they restore preloved sofas and in their own words these sofas are 'seeking a new home to write the next chapter of their story'.

Items such as this Chesterfield Club chair are restored, retaining their vintage character and patina of the leather so you have a unique piece of furniture for your home. I could imagine curling up in this chair with a stack of my travel books and a mug of tea.

For more information and to browse the beautiful sofas and chairs, look at The Original Sofa Co website and they also have showrooms in Newcastle and London, with a concession recently opened in Harrods. 

*Collaborative post

Friday, 1 July 2016

How to bring Summer into your home

Summer days are heavenly. There is something inexplicably uplifting about long, hazy afternoons and mild evenings, something that seems to refresh and reinvigorate. Few things provide such simple pleasure as sitting in your garden after a long day at work, a glass of wine in one hand and a good book in the other. Just picture the scene: bees buzz all around you, the air is heavy with the perfume of flowers, and the sun is warm on your cheeks.

Now imagine if you could bottle this feeling up and bring it inside? If you want to give it a go, then here’s how to do it…

1: Colours
Summer days have their own special colour palette: the soft yellow of sunshine, the fresh green of grass, the dusky pinks and purples of wild flowers, and the bright white of unsoiled clouds. Bringing these into your home is easy, and even if you’re working on a budget, you only need a little money to get you started. Simply cover your furniture with dust sheets, invest in a bucket or two of paint in your favourite summer-toned hue, and invite your friends around to help you out. Don’t forget to brighten up your windows and doors whilst you’re at it; just remember to use suitable products for these areas, such as those available from Mighton.

 painted garden furniture Image source: Shutterstock Garden Furniture 

2: Florals
Once your home has been treated to a fresh coat of paint, you need to add some summery accents, and floral patterns are ideal. Try choosing a new bedspread for your boudoir, some flowery curtains for your lounge, and a few delicately stitched cushions to complete the effect. Pale, diaphanous fabrics are best, as they provide a light, breezy aesthetic to go with your theme. Flower-shaped fairy lights can also be a nice extra touch, and you should be able to get hold of them without breaking the bank.

 floral furniture Image source: Shutterstock floral furniture 

3: Scents
Last but not least, try bringing the smell of summer into your home. Bouquets of flowers will help you to achieve this, and if you’re loathe to splash out, then spend a day on the hunt for wildflowers, or take a look through your garden to find some beautiful blooms. To complete the effect, treat yourself to a scented candle or two. Yankee retail the most deliciously scented and long-lasting choices, and they will make your home smell like a summer paradise.

 wild flower vase
Image source: Shutterstock wild flower vase

Follow these three simple tips today to create a home filled with all of the exquisite, uplifting splendour of summer.

*Collaborative post

Monday, 27 June 2016

#EnjoyMoreWater in the summer's garden

The summer may currently feel like a bit of a wash out with all the rainy days but a few weeks ago it was so hot and Little Bird was playing out in the garden pretty much all day long, not wanting to come back inside except for a dollop of sun cream. I'm very guilty of not drinking enough water but I like to make sure LB is well hydrated so when we received the great new Robinsons Squash'd range as part of the Enjoy More Water Challenge, we were keen to see if they would encourage us to drink more.

With spending so much time in the garden where LB helps me plant seeds and water the plants, I thought a good way to encourage him to drink more would be to collect some home grown garden goodies to add to our jug of water along with the Robinsons Squash'd.
So we added some lovely ripe strawberries from the hanging basket on the patio where the slugs can't get at them. LB is really into them at the moment so I don't get a look in.

Further down the garden is the huge red currant bush and LB equally eats these as he's skipping up and down. It's full of them dripping like jewels, so we added some of those too.
red currant

Then a squeeze of Summer Fruits Squash'd to turn it even more fruity and add a pink tinge, some sprigs of mint and this was left to infuse for a while. 

A tasty drink for the summer days that encouraged both my son and I to drink up and stay hydrated. We tried the other Squash'd flavours too - Orange & Peach and Lemon & Pink Grapefruit, adding extra fruit and herbs. There are cucumbers growing in the garden too and when they are ready we will also chop them up and create our own summer drink, maybe add some basil and other herbs or edible flowers that LB will enjoy collecting in the garden to make his own potions. 

This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge, sponsored by Robinsons.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

An evening walk

country path sign Whilst the evenings have been balmy, we've been making the most of it and exploring places local, finding new pathways through the countryside on our doorstep and discovering tucked away places. By fields and rivers and along canals as the sun started to dip behind the tree line. cow parsley pathwayGrass tickling legs and gnats trying to have a feast, successfully according to the backs of my knees today - aghhh! Little clouds of biting chaos above the water. evening river walk As the end of the day draws in, there is still plenty happening by the canal although at a slower pace. Boats moored for the evening are a light buzz of chatter and clattering dinner plates, folded chairs on the canal side with glasses of wine beside them and dozing dogs.Out on the still water the swan family are eagerly awaiting one of the boat ladies to start throwing some water fowl to them and soon there is a gathering of ducks loking for their share too. A damselfly flitted about but too quick for me and my camera. bulrushes Chirping amongst the bulrushes with cotton wound tails and gently movement, an ever so slight breeze to take away the languid stickiness of the day. gate to the field For me, the excitement of the canal network are the pathways and adventures that it opens up. You see a secret side of the countryside, passing bridges, farms and it's a whole new area to learn about. I've learnt the names of bridges, discovered goods train lines I didn't know existed, found babbling brooks through parted trees and old disused buildings. 
bridge 180a Trent and Mersey Canal evening at the canal flash canal walk Views across the river valley, rolling fields of greens and yellows. Places that are unknown when sticking to roads. Every so often a boat came chugging down the canal, people relaxing and waving to my little boy.across the valley little boat on the canal
I really hope we get many more of these sunny evenings to venture out and soak up the golden hour before bedtime, tread through soft grass and waft hands through flower spikes and dancing white umbellifer heads. There's the other direction to explore now into the town's industrial heritage, the remains of a salt industry intermingled with nature and another evening's canalside activity to peek at. June canal Cheshire sunset

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Getting the chills in the village of Chillingham, Northumberland

Chillingham Wild Cattle sign Back in the holiday cottage, on one of the picture maps of Northumberland, we had spotted a picture of some white cattle and as I'd also seen them mentioned in the local mythology book too I was intrigued to know more. Added to this, the local church looked a beauty and off we went to explore.......

There's a castle at Chillingham, an extremely haunted one with a torture chamber. The views into the estate are magnificent, bats on the gates and a vista with a bronze statue of Viscount Gough on horseback. Edward I used the castle as a fortress for his warring with the mighty William Wallace and then it became home to the Grey family. These days it's a privately owned attraction that you can visit. You can read more about the castle's history and ghosts here.

The white Chillingham cattle are an ancient herd and well hidden away, you can go on a tour to see them. Fierce in nature and not approachable, the herd of around 100 have no veterinary treatment and are left basically to their own devices. We saw no glimpse of them and with having the dogs couldn't go on the cattle walk or into the castle but nevermind for there was the church to have a look at and I was excited about the tomb in there.
Chillingham bat gates Chillingham drinking fountain Chillingham Castle and bronze statue St Peter's Parish church, founded in the 12th century has some interesting graves in the churchyard and inside has a medieval tomb that is glorious - the best I've ever seen. It's 15th Century and is for Sir Ralph Grey and his wife Elizabeth with their effigies on the top of the tomb chest. Walking through the churchyard through the lush grass I found some nice 17th century gravestones with angels and lots of moss and lichen on them. The church is right next door to a gatehouse of the castle. St Peter's Parish Church Chillingham 18th century gravestone Nice box pews but not so keen on the modern east window and altar, very jarring with the rest of the the nave of Chillingham St Peter's
A very early grave slab now in the foundations of the wall as often happens.foliate leaf tombstone church banner There are traces of paint on the tomb and all the saints around the sides are such a rare survivor, normally such iconoclastic symbols were destroyed in the Reformation or Puritan times. Such beautiful detail of saints in niches and angels. This is why I love to look around churches, you never know what you are going to find and learn about. 15th century decorated tomb saints and angels Northumberland map Sir Ralph Grey with his feet resting upon a lion.Sir Ralph Grey tomb Northumberland You can often find old photos on the walls of churches, invaluable if you are into the history of them. This one shows how the church used to have a gallery, extra seating space up high. Very few churches still have galleries so it was great to see this picture. old photographs St Peter's Church Chillingham Opposite is a gatehouse to the castle, I wonder how many many have passed this way over the centuries from there to the church. Maybe one of the ghost hunts at the castle would show us...St Peter's Chillingham gate