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All in the detail

3 May

The view from Calcot Manor’s ‘Trim Trail’

Just back from a couple of gorgeously relaxing and recharging days away in the Cotswolds. Feel utterly revived by a spell soaking up the Great Outdoors {in a steamy, rainswept hot tub, no less}. But also exhilarated by some great indoors inspiration too.

Highlights included a rather wet wander around the pretty antique-stacked town of Tetbury, spa treatments at the divine Calcot Manor, and a spot of chill time and pub grub at The Rectory hotel and The Potting Shed pub, near Malmesbury.

Don’t you just love the décor details that exclusive little hotels do effortlessly? Both our destinations excelled at the right kind of homely touch that succeeded in settling us in with a very contented sigh. Here are some snaps of my favourite features…

Unusual, but gorgeous French-style sofa / bench tucked in a corridor at Calcot Manor

Oriental-style birds painted on canvas. Stunning!

Lovely desk chair in the Gatcombe suite at Calcot Manor

Good hotel bedlinen – can’t beat it! This creamy monogrammed pillow is just so pretty.

Door handles and tassles at Calcot Manor

Couldn’t resist a pitstop in this comfy-looking armchair at our second destination, The Rectory at Crudwell.

Happy easter

5 Apr

I can sense Jubilee fever gaining momentum already. A quick trip to M&S this week in search of easter goodies revealed shelves all but empty of chicks and chocolate and replaced with a swathe of red, white and blue confections. I’m not complaining – the promise of some good nostalgic celebrations, and an extended weekend is alright by me. And, of course, it gives us an excuse to indulge in one of life’s pure, uncomplicated pleasures too – a proper afternoon tea.

I was lucky enough to stop in town for a spot of tea with a friend yesterday and was served up with this impressive spread….

Afternoon tea at The Tea Terrace, Guildford

Never mind the amply stuffed sandwiches, exceptional scones and impeccable Earl Grey, I fell head over heels for this adorable little teapot…

Elephant teapot - BIA for the DRH Collection, London

There will be celebrations of another kind in our house this weekend. Amidst the easter egg hunts and inevitable chocolate overload, our little bunny turns two. Here’s a preview of the card I’ve whipped up for her this morning.

Birthday Bunny birthday card by

 Happy Easter, have a wonderful weekend and see you soon!

Sweet shop

7 Mar

Paid a visit to see friend and fellow revamper Emma Webb last week. Unique Chique is her sweet little shop in Church Crookham devoted to all things shabby and chic.

Unique Chique, Church Crookham

Unique Chique, Church Crookham

Unique Chique, Church Crookham

Emma has taken her talent for breathing new life into old furniture and now runs her own furniture painting courses using Annie Sloan techniques {click here for more info}. If you’re tempted to give ‘upcycling’ a go, a day of learning some basic skills in a friendly setting will give you the confidence to tackle your own projects at home.

Without Emma’s encouragement Create Vintage may never have been born. In fact, I got my first taste of furniture painting when Emma and I went along to an Annie Sloan masterclass some time ago. As well as the essential brush skills, we tackled crackle glazing, decoupage, stencilling and gilding. All taught in a fantastically no-nonsense fashion by Annie Sloan herself at her namesake Oxford shop.

Annie is a great believer that almost anything can be improved with a well-placed coat of paint, and her chalk-based paints enable even the most inexperienced painter to achieve a vintage look. She’s not fussy about an item’s background {even though you’ll find some extraordinarily beautiful pieces in her shop}, it’s simply about spotting the potential for transformation.

As well as a lovely collection of home accessories and gifts, you can find the full Annie Sloan paint range at Unique Chique {it’s where I get mine}. I do hope you’ll pop in.

Unique Chique, 221 Aldershot Road, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU52 8EJ

Sneak preview

7 Feb

It’s back to the day job for me at the moment… Although ‘the day job’ is becoming somewhat harder to define! What I do know is that I’m loving my temporary pass to London, enjoying hanging out with a creative and talented team, and feeling fired up by some inspiring conversations.

For the past two weeks I’ve been working with food writer, photographer, cook, stylist {the list goes on…} Alastair Hendy. He’s just opened his first retail venture in his hometown of Hastings. I haven’t visited {yet}, but judging by the curious mix of objects and collectables that I have managed to sneak a look at in his Shoreditch studio, Home Store is going to be one of the most unique and intriguing retail destinations in the UK.

Check out this assortment – a window display waiting to happen – that sits casually on Alastair’s kitchen steps. As well as collected vintage treasures, Home Store stocks a hoard of nostalgic items such as household brushes, kitchen essentials and all manner of practical objects with a purpose. Make sure you put it on your list of places to visit.

A.G. Hendy & Co. Home Store

A.G. Hendy & Co. Home Store

A.G. Hendy & Co. Home Store, 36 High Street, Hastings Old Town, TN34 3ER

{website launching soon – check back soon for more details}

Pretty paper

14 Jan

Been having a trawl through the vast online world of bloggers, crafters and all-round creative people. It’s like a gigantic unexplored galaxy – you start in one place and light years {well, a couple of hours and a cup of tea} later you find yourself in a related, but random virtual world. I love it, but fear I may never get to properly appreciate the absolutely inspirational content that is out there.

One day soon I’m hoping to have my own list of most-coveted websites that I can direct you to, but in the meantime, check out the work of Rosemary Milner, a printed textile designer, and truly talented artist. Her wallpapers are simply gorgeous. So pretty in fact you just want to frame them.


Rosemary Milner wallpaper


Rosemary Milner wallpaper

vintage wallpaper

Rosemary Milner wallpaper

Tea and talent

15 Dec

China tea sets have become the unofficial symbol for everything ‘vintage’. Go to any antiques fair or fleamarket and you’ll see them in abundance. I’m still undecided about whether they have a whole lot of relevance in modern life and modern homes. Find a great one and it sure can be gorgeous, but when it comes to a good old cuppa, most people shun the ritual of tea making that a proper bone china set demands. And how much point is there really in having something that, in the end, will just gather dust.

There is, however, the odd exception, and I still can’t believe my luck that I came across this exceptionally pretty Royal Stafford bone china Bluebird set in my well-heeled local charity shop. It almost takes my breath away when I consider its delicacy and intricate detail. I do bring it out on special occasions {just like our grandmothers’ generation would have done} and there’s no denying that a humble cup of tea {barely a mouthful, but never mind} is elevated to a superior status. I’m not sure of the life it came from, but it has found a very treasured place in my home.

Royal Stafford bone china Blue Bird tea cup


Royal Stafford bone china Blue Bird tea set

And onto other things… There’s nothing vintage about this painting – well, apart from the chap in the funny hat I suppose, but I promised delightful discoveries and this fits the bill. As well as sheer beauty I also admire sheer brilliance, and Mr CV’s Great Aunt Penny Manners, Vice President of the Richmond Art Society and latecomer to portrait painting, has just emailed me this, her latest piece. Fabulous, don’t you think?

Penny Manners 2011