Monthly Archives

May 2016

Top Five | Spring Bank Holiday

Posted in Top Five by
Top Five

It was another Bank Holiday weekend so we decided to make the most of it by visiting Calum’s goddaughter up in Yorkshire. We’ll share our thoughts on the North Yorkshire Coast in another post but in the meantime lets look at our top five!


National Trust

Whilst we were away we managed to fit in four National Trust properties (and three English Heritage ones). As fans of history, architecture, gardens and countryside, membership of the National Trust is a must for us. We are on a mission to visit 10% of their properties before the year is out. We are currently at 4.5%!



There is an old saying “When Gorse is out of bloom, Kissing is out of fashion” we often remark on this when we are out and about.  Luckily for us romantics out there Gorse flowers prolifically so one of the three native species of Gorse is always in flower somewhere. Pucker up!


Yorkshire Beer

Despite our Cocktail of the Week feature, we’re actually mostly beer drinkers. So whilst in Yorkshire we took the opportunity to sample some local brews, we opted for lighter or golden ales to go with a BBQ we were having.  All were very tasty and we can recommend any of them.


Glass Bottles

Whilst wandering around Whitby we found a shop selling vintage glass bottles and we bought a couple for home. We wish we knew more about collecting vintage bottles. One of us will read up on it at some point but in the meantime we’ll just enjoy them as beautiful and interesting objects!



This week we said goodbye to an old friend of ours after a very brave battle with cancer. She was an inspiration to us; accepting, kind, miscievious and lived her life to the full. We will miss her dearly but we will take her lead, we’ll make the most of life, and seek out adventures she’d be proud of!

30th May 2016

Cocktail of the Week | Strawberry Mojito

With the weather getting warmer we decided that it would be a good time to start putting the summer cocktails to the test.  Whilst a traditional mojito hails from Cuba, we thought we would try out a mojito with a summer fruit that is a British favourite, the strawberry.  I am not sure what Ernest Hemingway would make of this (a classic mojito was rumoured to be his favourite drink), I can only assume he would approve.

For this week’s cocktail, You will need;

  • The juice from one lime
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar syrup
  • 1/2 lime cut into quarters (the other half for garnish)
  • 6 strawberries (one for garnish)
  • Mint (plus a sprig for garnish)
  • 1 measure of rum
  • Soda water
  • Ice

The basics of this Strawberry Mojito is the same as a classic mojito, with a few strawberries thrown in during the muddling stage.  To start, you will need to mix the half lime, strawberries, mint and 2 teaspoons of sugar syrup.  Using a muddle, apply pressure to all the ingredients to mix them together.  You should be able to remove the lime juice and pulp, along with turning the strawberries into a mush.  If you don’t have a muddle, would can use the back of a spoon.

In a glass put some ice, add in a measure of white rum, the juice from a lime and pour in some of the muddled juice.  We used a sieve to remove the bits from the juice.  Fill the rest of the glass with soda water and garnish with the remaining lime, strawberry and mint.

You are now ready to sit back and enjoy the Cocktail of the Week.  You just need to pretend that you are enjoying the warm evening sunshine, sat on the beach in Havana, sipping a refreshing citrus flavoured Strawberry Mojito.  Not the easiest of things to do whilst sat in a Surrey garden on an average spring day, but worth a go!

Strawberry Mojito

Orchard Blog | Strawberry Mojito
26th May 2016

How to Throw a Tiki Party

Posted in Gather by
How to Throw a Tiki Party

For Calum’s Birthday in August 2015 we celebrated by hosting a Tiki party in Rich’s folks garden. Calum hasn’t had a proper birthday party since he was a kid so we decided to go all out and we set to planning our slice of Polynesia in Surrey, England. This is what we got up to:


Tiki Party - 01

First things first, you can’t have a party without guests so Rich quickly got on with designing some invites (we will seize on any excuse to do proper invites)! After a bit of research into Tiki design, he chose bright tropical colours, tiki god graphics and 1950s style typefaces to give a mid-century tiki bar vibe.  To match the invites, Rich designed a bar menu, food menu and a ‘tiki bar’ sign.  In for a penny……

Tiki Bar

Tiki Party - 13Tiki Party Pallet Bar

What would a tiki party be without a tiki bar? After a bit of searching we found a source of free used pallets (thanks to Rich’s Dad), we then spent an afternoon pulling them apart and reusing the wood to make our bar, the centrepiece for our garden decorations.  Not bad for the price of a few nails and a couple of hours?

Essentially the bar is made up of three pallets, one across the front, and two half pallets on either side, with the extra wood used where needed.  We made sure the bar was sturdy enough and even had the forethought to put in a shelf under the bar to hide all the extra bottle and juice cartons out of sight.


Tiki Party - 08

How do you turn an English country garden into a slice of Polynesia? Well Pineapples are a must, and we searched local charity shops for anything that was remotely tropical! We then added in some brightly coloured ceramics (including some awesome tiki mugs we found on amazon). We found some paper honeycomb pineapples, and some paper garlands from Tiger – a brilliant source for party supplies and low cost homewares – finally adding in some other bits and pieces we already had to complete the look.

One thing that can really add atmosphere in a evening party is the right lighting.  We found some cool Tiki Lanterns to place around the garden for that Luau feel, and hung some low cost paper lanterns with LED lights for the trees and around the bar.  For a tropical scent we placed a dozen of Yankee Candles’ Pineapple Cilantro scented tea lights around the garden in jam jars. We recently invested in some festoon lighting from Lights4Fun, and finished off with getting some Christmas lights out of storage and stringing these across the garden. Once the sun set the whole effect was something quite magical!


Tiki Party - 05

For us it isn’t a party if you don’t have a signature cocktails or two (or in this case 4). We had a couple of drinks dispensers to make life easier, who wants to spend the whole evening mixing cocktails? But we did get to use my cool mason jar style cocktail mixer for Hema (a bargain at just £3) to mix a couple of Blue Hawaiians just to get the party started!  Calum came up with a Polynesian Punch of his own invention, and we also found a recipe for an appropriately tiki sounding cocktail ‘The Voodoo” – Dark rum, red vermouth, fresh lime and apple juice. We severed Pineapple Lemonade as a non-alcoholic option.

Tiki Party - 07

As much as we love a cocktails or two, they are not for everyone.  To make sure the beer drinkers amongst our friends didn’t feel left out we got in some Kona Brewing Company beers all the way from Hawaii. We had Fire Rock Pale Ale, Big Wave Golden Ale and Longboard Island Lager to choose from.


Tiki Party - 22

The menu was Calum’s doing, and what a good job he did! We had plenty of Sushi (bought in, we’re not stupid!), Hawaiian sliders (mini burger with a pineapple on top), a prawn platter, cheese and pineapple and his pièce de résistance – 24 hour cooked Pulled Pork in a BBQ sauce.

Tiki Party - 23

Lastly it wouldn’t be a birthday party if there wasn’t cake, we are very grateful to our friend and Neighbour MJ for his Tiki cake extravaganza (there are no other words for it apart from extravaganza) The cake was ridiculously awesome and tasted delicious too! Thanks MJ!

We had an amazing evening and thank you to all our friends that came along, it was great to catch up.  A couple of sore heads the next day, but we are already planning our next party!

This tiki party blog originally appeared in Rich’s graphic design blog, but we though it is more in keeping here!

Orchard Blog | Tiki PartyHow to Throw a Tiki Party, great ideas!
25th May 2016

London’s Best Scandinavian Cafes

Posted in Explore by

If you speak to us for longer than five minutes you will soon realise we are complete Nordophiles, our love of anything nordic is strong! Luckily for us London has a sizeable Scandinavian diaspora and with that comes a good selection of Scandi food and drink establishments. In the name of research we set out to discover London’s Best Scandinavian Cafes. Coffee and a cinnamon bun anybody?

Scandinavian Kitchen

Scandinavian Kitchen

Centrally located, Scandi Kitchen is our go to place for meatballs, fika and seasonal goodies. They have very friendly staff, and is often full of expats making this a happy and lively place to visit. The cafe also has a grocery section at the rear. Make sure you sign up to their excellent weekly newsletter to keep you up to do date, and with plenty of insight into all things nordic! (hint: they love Eurovision)



A Swedish bakery located in Covent Garden, Bageriet is tiny but utterly charming. An excellent selection of baked goodies and some wonderful staff make this great little stop off if you are in town. We are just waiting for an excuse to buy one of their mouth watering Princess Cakes!

Nordic Bakery

Nordic Bakery

If you are looking for some Scandinavian cool, head no further than the Nordic Bakery. They have three beautifully designed locations in the West End. Open all day, they serve up both sweet and savoury dishes. As is to be expected their bakery selection is excellent, we are particularly fond to their butter buns.



If you find yourself in Bermondsey be sure to head to Hej.  They serve outstandingly good coffee, best enjoyed with one of their delicious cinnamon buns. And their coffee should be good they are self confessed coffee addicts and run a coffee school on the site! Hej has a nice community feel with welcoming staff, a flower stall outside and pets welcome.



Located on Brick Lane, Fika is a cafe, bar and restaurant. Great for weekend brunches, and Scandi inspired dinner throughout the week. It has a great little roof terrace if you want to dine al fresco. They have lovely staff, it really makes a difference when it gets busy!

Cooper & Wolf

Cooper & Wolf

If you find yourself way out east head to Cooper & Wolf.  Located in Clapton, just across from Millfield park, Cooper & Wolf is a bit of a hipster joint with a strong community feel.  The menu has a selection of Swedish favourites including the classic cinnamon buns and some excellent meatballs.

Orchard Blog | London's Best Scandinavian Cafes
24th May 2016

Top Five | A busy weekend

Posted in Top Five by
Top Five

We had a very busy weekend, time up in London and getting on with chores out at the cottage. Busy but happy, let’s see what this weeks top five includes:


Sutton House

On Saturday we were busy in London. Whilst we were on our travels we stopped to have a look round The National Trust’s property Sutton House. It is an interesting Tudor house with a long and varied history. Worth exploring if you ever find yourself in the area.


West Elm Plates

When we were out and about on Saturday we popped into West Elm This one of our favourite shops and we always make a point of having a look round whenever we are in town. We picked up a couple of cool plates for a display using some new and vintage pieces we’re planning. We will share more on that at a later date.


Annie the Cat

Although we are busy with the veg patch there is not much specific to report. We have planted most things out and everything seems to be coming along well. Like most gardeners we have an ongoing battle with slugs! Annie, the cat, has taken a fancy to sleeping on the straw we have put out to protect the strawberries. We’d get angry with her, but she is just so cute!


Candle by the fire

Life can get pretty busy sometimes, this weekend seemed to be particularly actioned packed. So come Sunday night we put on some candles, snuggled up on the sofa and watched Countryfile followed by Star Wars. Sunday nights don’t come much better!


Top 23053

Wild flowers are particularly lovely at this time of year. Cow Parsley (sometimes called Queen Anne’s Lace) is an absolute favourites of ours. It is brightening up the place no end.

23rd May 2016

Cocktail of the Week | Classic Gin & Tonic

Let’s be honest a G&T is only borderline a cocktail. Having said that we both have strong feelings about what makes the perfect gin and tonic so we thought we’d include it:

  • 1 measure Gin
  • 3 measure Tonic
  • Lemon to garnish
  • Ice

So let’s start with the basics. First things first, the gin. Gin has had a renaissance recently, and there are hundreds to choose from all with slightly different tastes depending on the botanicals they use. Everyone will have their favourite brand, ours is Tanquerey.  To our minds this is a most gin-y of the gins, the juniper flavour being suitable strong and it having a bit of citrus edge.

Secondly you need to have good tonic, there is nothing worse than a G&T with flat tonic water.  Our Tonic of choice is Fevertree, but failing that schweppes is fine. Buy your tonic in individual bottles or cans, that way you get the freshest, sparkliest tonic for your drink.

You need lots of ice, at least 4 ice cubes, and we opt of the classic lemon as a garnish as lime can be a bit overpowering in it’s flavour.

And there we have it, our perfect Gin & Tonic.

Cocktail of the Week | Gin & Tonic

Orchard Blog | Gin & Tonic
19th May 2016

Our Houseplants

Posted in Dwell by

We have been on a bit of a houseplant binge recently, adding some greenery about the place to brighten things up.  Whist we do not pretend to be experts we’ve rounded up what we are growing and added in a few tips to care for them.  Read on to find out more:

Mind your Own Business Soleirolia soleiroli

Houseplants | Mind Your Own Business | Soleirolia soleiroli

Fast growing mounds of tiny leaves that gently cascade over the pot as it grows. Available in various shades of green. A happy little plant that will brighten your home or office.

Light Medium, bright but not direct
Water Keep soil moist
Care Fertilise occasionally, and trim leaves with scissors to keep looking it’s best

String of Pearls Senecio rowleyanus

String of Pearls | Senecio rowleyanus

A curious succulent that grows ‘strings of pearls’ that trail over the side of the pot. Best placed in a hanging container or on a high shelf to get the full effect.

Light Medium  to bright and can tolerate some direct.
Water Allow to almost dry out between watering
Care if stems become straggly they can be cut back

Maidenhair Fern Adiantum fragrans

Maidenhair Fern | Adiantum fragrans

A delicate fern with leaves on wiry arching black fronds, well suited to growing in terrariums. Would work well in a bathroom.

Light Medium, bright but not direct
Water Keep soil moist, requires misting
Care Requires high humidity, keep out of drafts

Sword Fern Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Green Lady’ 

Sword Fern | Nephrolepis exaltata

A Victorian favourite, the Sword Fern has long arching fronds with many smaller leaflets. A great choice for more traditional interiors.

Light Medium, bright but not direct
Water Keep soil moist, requires misting
Care Requires high humidity, keep out of drafts

Jade Plant Crassula ovata

Houseplants | Jade Plant | Crassula ovata

A succulent with plum spoon shaped leaves that grow on woody branches. A South African native that is perfect for centrally heated houses.

Light Bright with some direct sunlight
Water Allow to almost dry out between watering
Care Very little

Asparagus Fern Asparagus densiflorus  

Houseplants | Asparagus Fern | Asparagus densiflorus

Another traditional choice, the asparagus fern has a cascading habit with long arching stems covered in needle like leaflets. Suited to a hanging container or on a high shelf.

Light Bright
Water Allow to almost dry out between watering
Care Trim back old stems in the spring to make space for new growth

Zebra Catus Haworthia attenuate

Zebra Catus | Haworthia attenuate

Succulent with a rosette of sharp pointed and striped leaves. Easy to grow, even if you occasionally neglect them.

Light Medium, keep out of direct sun
Water Allow to almost dry out between watering
Care Very little


We've been growing houseplants!
18th May 2016

Orchard Escapes | Mini Break in Bath

Posted in Explore by

This year for Rich’s Birthday we headed down the M4 for a couple of days in Bath. Calum had been previously but this was Rich’s first visit.  It is safe to say we loved the city, and seeing as it is only a couple of hours away I am sure we will be heading back soon. There is lots to do in the city, here are some of our highlights:

Things to do

Audio Walking Tour

Bath|Pulteney Bridge

The City of bath is a UNESCO world Heritage site. To get a sense of the city we downloaded the free audio guide and went on a walk around the sites. We really recommend this, it very interesting and helped us understand more about the history of what we were looking at. The tour takes about an hour, and you can stop off at many of the sites on the way round, or use it as a tool to get a sense of the city and then head back to your favourites later.  They also have a Jane Austin themed audio guide if that is your thing? Download here.

Roman Baths

Bath | Roman Baths

A trip to Bath wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the baths! We headed here later in the day, after the crowds have dispersed, and it was very enjoyable.  The main attraction is the great baths in the centre of the complex but the accompanying museum and audio guide really help you get a sense of the place Find out more.

Bath Abbey

Bath | Bath Abbey

Built as an abbey church rather than a cathedral, but no less impressive. Most of what you see was constructed in the 16th Century in the perpendicular style, making it one of the last flourishes of the medieval gothic style.  The Abbey bridges the gap between the Roman and the Georgian history of the city. Find out more.

The Circus & The Royal Crescent

Bath | Royal Crescent

The jewels in the crown of the Georgian city, and for good reason!  These two complexes were built for wealthy visitors to the city that came to take the waters at the baths. Well worth wandering up to. For a peek inside go to No1 Royal Crescent where they have decorated in a style from the late 18th century. Find out more.

Prior Park

Bath | Prior Park

A short walk to the south of the City is Prior Park Landscape Gardens. You may wish to take the bus out there as it is uphill and there is no parking at the site.  The gardens were developed for wealthy local businessman Ralph Allen in the 18th Century in the fashionable landscape style of the time.  The gardens are situated in a sweeping valley, with views of the city beyond. One of the highlights is the Palladian Bridge, which is one of only four remaining in the world. Find out more.

Food & Drink…

As we just had a couple of days in Bath we didn’t really get to explore as much of the bars and restaurants as we would have wanted.  There is a huge range to choose from, here are our thoughts.

Burger & Barrels

A short walk from the centre, over the river is Burger & Barrels. A tiny place that serves the best burgers in the city (officially they won the Bath Food Award!) and has a good range of beers. Suited us down to the ground!

Boston Tea Party

So it turns out that the Boston Tea Party is an independent chain of cafes originally from Bristol and now with branches all over the west country.  We went to their newly refurbished Alfred Street location for breakfast. Good atmosphere, good food, good start to the day!

The Griffin Inn

A small pub on Monmouth Street, The Griffin Inn has an excellent selection of craft beers, and very enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. Well worth stopping off for a pint.

Bath Brew House

A large craft beer pub with an excellent selection of beer including some they brew themselves. The Bath Brew House also has a brewery tour if that takes your fancy. It also has a large garden if the weather is nice.

Pierre Bistro

Another chain that I had never heard of before (mainly because they don’t have any locations in the South East),  Pierre Bistro is a light and airy French style bistro on George Street. Open from Breakfast to dinner, we headed here for lunch.  The food was fantastic, as was the service; it was very good value for what you get!


Bath | Shopping

We didn’t really have enough time for shopping, but on wandering around the city it is clear that Bath has lots to offer.  The High Street chains are clustered around Southgate, there are a good selection of high end interior shops on Milsom Street, and dozens of independent shops scattered around the place catering for every taste.  Might have to head back here for our Christmas shopping!

Have you been to Bath? What were your thoughts, do you have any tips? We’d love to hear them.

Bath | The Circus Bath | Roman Baths Orchard Escapes | Bath

Orchard Blog | Bath Minibreak
17th May 2016

Top Five | Birthday Week

Posted in Top Five by
Top Five

It’s was Richard’s Birthday this week, any excuse for a some celebrations is good with us!  Let’s see what this week’s top five includes:


Top Five 16051

On Tuesday it was Richard’s 34th Birthday. Where does the time go to? To celebrate we went out for a meal at The Sun Inn, Chobham with Richard’s folks.  An excellent meal and really good value!


Top Five 16052

Carrying on the celebration on Wednesday we both took the day off work and headed to Bristol Zoo. For the passed three years we have gone to a zoo as a birthday day out for Richard, so this year we carried on the tradition. It is a lovely little zoo, and well worth a visit if you are in the area.


Top Five 16055

It was also our good friend Lauren’s Birthday last week so on Saturday we had Lauren, Ben and our Godson Dexter round for a drinks and nibbles in the sunshine.  All very civilised!


Top Five 16054

Looking for something to do on Sunday we decided to head to Winchester, it is not far from us but we had never visited so we thought it would be good to explore. It is a gorgeous, historic city with plenty of attractions and shopping to keep us entertained.  We also headed to Molly’s Den, a vintage and antiques warehouse on the edge of the city, just our sort of place!


Top Five 16053

Whilst we’re staying at Richard’s folks we get the pleasure of living with Hettie, their one-eyed rescue dog. She is the most gentle and charming dog we’ve ever met. When Richard works from home she keeps him company!

16th May 2016

Cocktail of the Week | Rhubarb Fizz

In the back of our cocktail cabinet we found a bottle of Chase’s Rhubarb Vodka as it is Rhubarb season we thought we might try and use it in our Cocktail of the week – Rhubarb Fizz!

  • 1 tbsp Rhubarb Syrup (see recipe below)
  • ½ Measure Rhubarb Vodka
  • Sparking Wine

To make the Rhubarb Syrup you will need 4 stems of rhubarb, 300ml water and 250g of caster sugar. Slice the rhubarb into small chunks, place this in a heavy bottomed pan with the water and sugar. Bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring. Once the syrup has thickened you will need to sieve out the solids using a fine sieve or a muslin cloth and collect the very pretty liquid for use in the cocktail.

Put the rhubarb syrop and the vodka in the bottom of a champagne flute and then fill with cold sparking wine. Enjoy!

Cocktail of the Week | Rhubarb Fizz

A lovely cocktail using rhubarb syrup and rhubarb vodka. Enjoy!
12th May 2016