Monthly Archives

May 2016

Upcycling Furniture

Posted in Dwell by

When we moved into Richard’s parents house, we were also in the position of not having any drawers to store our things in.  We debated buying something easy to use whilst we were staying in the house, but also thought about our future home and decided it would be good to get some furniture now, so we set of to find furniture to upcycle.

The flat we rented had some Stag furniture in it and we really liked the structure and sturdiness of this and wanted to find some.  We had been looking on eBay for them and bid on a few, but never seemed to get close.  On a trip to Southampton early one Saturday, where we had planned to scour a few charity shops, we found a three over two set of Stag drawers, at the first store we went to.  A few weeks later, after many failed attempts to pick up another set of drawers, we found a four over two set in a bric-a-brac store just outside of High Wycombe.  It seems our furniture is fairly well travelled!

Upcycling Project

With our newly acquired furniture, we set about turning them, and a bedframe we found on eBay, into what we hope will be our guest bedroom set.  A light sand of the surfaces took off the varnish and gave the paint somethng to adhere to.  We then wiped the surfaces with a damp cleaning cloth to remove the dust.   Two coats of Annie Sloane chalk paint later and we left it to dry.  Fortunately, the day we did it, we had fantastic weather and, after an hour in the sun, we were ready for the next step.  Applying the wax using the brush and giving it a once over with a cloth, we turned it from a fairly light grey colour to almost black.  By the time the second coat of wax was on and drying, we were done for the day and made a start enjoying a drink!

Upcycling Project

The following day we set about putting the handles on the drawers.  We found a few cupped handles on eBay that give the drawers a good look.  First, we buffed up the wood using cloths to smooth out the wax and remove any excess.  Then after careful measuring, set the handles on the drawers.

The drawers are now in situ in our room and look great.  We look forward to setting it up in our future guest room.  The cat, Annie also seems to have taken a great liking to them, but that is more likely to be the fact we keep the pet treats in the second drawer from the left!!

Upcycling Project Upcycling Project

Our first attempt at an up cycling project, we were pleased how it turned out!
11th May 2016

Days Out | Petworth House

Posted in Explore by

The weather was so lovely on Sunday we decided to head out for the day.  Making the most of our National Trust membership we fired up their rather useful app and started browsing where to go.  We settled on Petworth House, it had been on out ‘to visit’ list and was only about 45 minutes away. So off we set!

Petworth House is a rather grand seventeenth century mansion set in the beautiful South Downs. The house was built in 1688 by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset. It contains some amazing works of art, including works by JMW Turner who was a frequent visitor to the house. There are many highlights to a tour around the house, but our favourites were The Marble Hall, The North Gallery and The Chapel, which is a remnant of the previous house on the site.

The parkland was created by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in his typical English Landscape style. As it is the 300th anniversary of Brown’s birth Petworth has a series of events and exhibitions to celebrate. There are mapped walks around the park, and plenty of picturesque places to stop and have a picnic. We did just that, sat in the Pleasure Gardens near the Doric Temple, amongst a carpet of bluebells.

After the house and gardens we had a look around the servants quarters, housed in a separate block. It is fascinating to see the scale of the ‘downstairs’ that was required to keep a house such as Petworth functioning. In the servants quarters is the ‘back door’ of the house into Petworth Town. Well worth a little wander around.  There are plenty of cafes and antiques shops to keep us happy!

Find out more on the National Trust website

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Day out | Petworth House
10th May 2016

Top Five | Summer’s on its way!

Posted in Top Five by
Top Five

Summer has come early this week, so time to enjoy the weather. This is our Top Five things over the last week:


Top Five | BBQ

BBQing! When the sun shines we do what every self respecting British person does and we fire up the BBQ! Calum is the chef in our household, and he is getting quite the expert on the old BBQ. Although don’t get him started on Gas vs Charcoal!


Top Five | White Hart, Chobham

Richard along with his folks went the The White Hart, Chobham. Richard’s folks used to live over the road from this pub, and were great friends with the Landlords. That was about 25 years ago now, and the pub has been through various changes since. Most recently the pub has had a lovely refurbishment, and makes a great village pub!


Top Five | Picnic Spot

Besides BBQing, the other great British summer tradition is a Picnic.  Whilst we were out and about on Sunday we found a lovely spot for a picnic lunch. Hopefully the 1st of many this summer!


Top Five | Banana

Whilst we are busy  sorting out our veg patch there have been lots of trips to the garden centre for supplies. Lurking in the clearance section Richard found a ornamental banana plant that was just asking to be taken home an looked after. For a couple of quid it seemed like a wise investment!


Top Five | Annie Cat

In our temporary abode we are sharing with a couple of pets. This is Annie, a characterful cat that is adding a little joy into our lives.  She also likes boxes.

9th May 2016

Cocktail of the Week | Perfect Pimm’s

Our cocktail of the week is a good old fashioned Pimm’s No1 Cup. The first Pimm’s of the season is a sure sigh Summer is on it’s way. It is a pretty simple recipe:

  • 1 measure Pimm’s Nº1
  • 3 measures lemonade (Americans that is what you’d call Lemon soda or Sprite)
  • Orange, Cucumber, Apple, Strawberries and Mint to garnish.

Mix ingredients and serve with plenty of ice and sunshine! Or to really get the party started add in some extra gin!

Enjoy Pimm’s o’clock!

Cocktail of the Week | Perfect Pimm's

How to make the Perfect Pimm's, the ultimate summer cocktail!
5th May 2016

Orchard Escapes | Weekend in Stockholm

Posted in Explore by

In 2015 for Richard’s Birthday we headed to Stockholm for a long weekend. We are both massive Nordiphiles and this trip just cemented our love for the north. Stockholm manages to be charming and historic, but also exceptionally cool and fashionable. A winning combination that makes it a perfect destination to spend a long weekend.

We stayed in the Östermalm district, close to some of the most upmarket shops and restaurants and only a short walk from Gamla Stan (the Old Town) and Djurgården. We had an amazing time, here are some of our highlights.

Things to do…


Stockholm | Skansen

Probably one of our Highlights or the trip! Situated on Djurgården, Skansen is part zoo, part outdoor museum. It has about 150 preserved houses and building moved from all over Sweden, many of the museum staff are in period attire and help give a great insight of how Swedes used to live. It is huge and you could easily spend all day here. We learnt about Swedish wildlife, folk traditions and sampled local food. Find out more.


Stockholm | Vassmuseet

On Djurgården is a museum dedicated to a massive fail! The Vassmuseet is the home of the 17th century warship the Vasa. The Vasa was the flagship of the Swedish navy, but within minutes of setting off on its maiden voyage in 1682 the top heavy ship sank. Preseverd by the cold Baltic waters the ship was salvaged in the 1950s and moved to the custom designed Vassmuseet in the 1980s and is brilliantly exhibited. Well worth a visit. Find out more.

Nordiska Museet

Stockholm | Nordiska Museet

Also on Djurgården, not far from the Vassmuseet, is the Nordiska Museet a large cultural history museum.  It is housed in an impressive building, a pastiche of a Scandinavian castle, and has huge collection of things Swedish.  We love a museum anyway, but this really helps you understand the country’s culture.  We loved finding out all about Swedish traditions, and the exhibition about Sami life in Sweden.  Find out more.

Royal Palace

Stockholm |Royal Palace

You’d be hard pressed to miss the Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet) on Gamla Stan, it is one of the largest royal palaces in world. Although it is no longer the King’s actual residence it is still the official home of the Swedish monarchy, and hosts most of the official functions and court department. A wander around is very interesting. Also make sure you check out the royal regalia in The Treasury and Armoury.  Find out more.

Drottningholm Palace

Stockholm | Drottningholm Palace

We loved Drottningholm! This is 17th Centaury palace on the outskirts of Stockholm is the royal family’s residence. It is UNESCO protected and well worth the boat trip out to have a look around. The boat takes about an hour and leaves from near the City hall. It is a gorgeous trip in itself but when the palace comes into view it is something else.  As well as looking around the beautiful rooms in the palace we has a tour around the Court Theatre, built in 1766 it has remained almost untouched since 1792, making it the Oldest theatre in the world still in its original state.  The palace grounds are particularly lovely to walk around, and the Chinese Pavilion, an 18th Century ‘summer palace’ in the ground is gorgeous highlight with its rococo interiors with chinoiserie. Find out more.

Boat Trips

Stockholm is built on 14 island, so water is everywhere! This makes a boat trip one of the best ways to see the city.  There are plenty of tours to choose from, we did the Royal Canal tour.  Find out more. 

Food & Drink…

It is clear that the Swedes love their food, and there is a brilliant selection of places to choose from. Here is a few of the places we discovered:

Meatballs for the People

When in Sweden eh? Situated on the southern island of Södermalm (cool area, worth a visit) Meatballs for the People was a great find! A casual place for meatballs and a beer, we were very happy travellers!


A large bar on a terrace overlooking Gamla Stan and Djurgården. Mossebacke is a bit run down, but the views more than make up it! Head here for a beer at sunset.

Taverna Brillo

Near out hotel we found Taverna Brillo, it bills itself as ‘an Italian brasserie in a Swedish form’. In Östermalm there are lots of lovely restaurants to choose from, but we chose here as it was the Dining Room right combination of formal and casual for Richard’s Birthday meal. It also has a food market and a separate bar.

Flippin’ Burgers

Burgers are probably the hipster’s food of choice, so in a city as cool as Stockholm it seemed a good idea to join the locals and head to a burger joint. Flippin’ Burgers has some of the best in the city, and it is well worth the queue to get in.

There were lots of other cool things about Stockholm. The fashionable shops, the great food, the cafes, the Princess Cake (delicious!), the cool locals – this list could go on and on. We loved our 4 days in Stockholm and will definitely be heading back!

Have you been to Stockholm, what were your highlights we’d love to know?

Stockholm | Gamla Stan Stockholm | Gamla Stan

Orchard Blog | Stockholm Weekend
4th May 2016

Days Out | Ightham Mote

Posted in Explore by

Last October we signed up the The National Trust; Perhaps a sign of our impending middle age, but more likely dues to our love of old houses and the countryside. Since we signed up we have been exploring a raft of properties, we are going to share some out our photos and thoughts here.

Day out - Ightham Mote

On Sunday 1st May we made the most of the Sunny weather and headed to Ightham Mote (pronounced Item Moat) in Kent.  The House is a fourteenth century moated manor house, and eludes all the period charm you would expect of a 700 year old house.   The historian David Starkey describes the house as ‘one of the most beautiful and interesting of English country houses’ and who are we to disagree?

The House is sounded by a moat consists of about 70 rooms around a very beautiful central courtyard. Highlights include the great hall, the old and new chapels, a tudor painted ceiling and the only listed dog house in the country. There are introductory talks to help you get a sense of the place, and you can do a tour of the tower to learn even more.

The gardens are very pleasant to walk around, and there are 3 guided walks around the estate. As it is bluebell time of year we opted for the Scathes Wood route.  This being a National Trust property there is a lovely little shop and a cafe for lunch or tea.

Find out more at the National Trust website
Day out - Ightham MoteDay out - Ightham MoteDay out - Ightham MoteDay out - Ightham Mote

A great day out at a 14th Century Manor House./div>


3rd May 2016

Top Five | Bank Holiday Weekend

Posted in Top Five by
Top Five

May Day Bank Holiday weekend, as sure sign that spring is in full swing and time some new adventures. This is our top five for the Bank Holiday weekend.


Top Five | Gardening

One of the joys of gardening is taking time to admire your handiwork. We have been going great guns on our veg patch, so it was lovely to enjoy a beer and take stock. Plenty more to do, but we’re feeling confident!


Top Five | Columbia Road

On Sunday morning we got up early and headed into town to go to the Columbia Road Flower Market. We bought a few plants and some flowers for the cottage. Columbia Road flower market is one of the delights of London on a Sunday, and if you of be sure to stop by Cafe Columbia for a bagel and a coffee – a pretty simple place but it is one of our favourites!


Top Five| Quebec House

We are currently making the most of our National Trust membership, we headed to Quebec House in Westerham, Kent.  This eighteenth century house was the childhood home of General James Wolfe.  It is a charming smaller property, very interesting to look around.


Top Five | Pancakes

As is tradition in our house we always have pancakes on Bank Holidays. Neither of us are quite sure why or when we started this tradition, but we carry on regardless!


Top Five | Chobham Carnival

Richard grew up in Chobham, Surrey.  Every May Day bank holiday the village turns out for it’s annual carnival. As a child Richard took part in the carnival; it is great to go back, see old friends and enjoy the fact that in the 2o years since not much has changed!

2nd May 2016