A couple of weeks ago, on our return drive from our Weekend in Devon, we decided to stop at the majestic Stourhead house & gardens to break up the journey. Located in Wiltshire, Stourhead was bought by the Hoare family in 1714 and one of the first palladian style houses in the country was built in the 1720’s. The Hoare family owned the property until is was passed to the National Trust in 1946 after the sole heir to the estate died in World War I.
The estate has over 2,500 of gardens to wander through with temples, ornamental cottages and a tower adding to the many vistas and pathways. The ever changing view as you walk around the lake adds to the dramatic nature of the estate. It does feel that any path will open onto an unexplored treasure. The statues in the pantheon and the grotto are a good place to stop on your walk around the garden.
Over the centuries the house has been expanded and adapted to meet the decor of the time. The current interior of the house is as impressive as the garden. The mass space of the library would make any readers relaxed in the comfort of a stylish turn of the 20th century library. Many of the rooms do look recently lived in, but that is likely to be due to the Hoare’s family current resident who has access to them. Much of the original artwork that the family owned was sold in the late 1800’s due to a member of the family who found himself in some financial trouble. There is still some very impressive pieces of art and furniture including the Pope Cabinet that was built for Pope Sixtus V and was purchased during a grand tour by Henry Hoare in the 18th Century. The cabinet has over 150 drawers including one that can not be opened.
As the estate is so large, it never feels busy and is a great place to take a picnic, enjoy the grounds and house at your leisure
Find out more about Stourhead at the National Trust website
As we are now in mid September, our thoughts have started to turn to autumn. Our first cocktail of autumn is making the best of the plums that are now in season. For our Cocktail of the Week we decided to go for a change from the sweet, summer inspired cocktails. We wanted to try something that could be enjoyed in the last of the sun or next to an outdoor fire. We found this one from Difford’s Guide that fitted the bill, the Plum Sour.
The Plum Sour is originally a Japanese cocktail made with sake that has evolved over many years. It falls into the sours family of cocktails. Sours were the original cocktail and classic sours, such as the margarita, kamikaze and the daiquiri can be dated back to the 1860s. The Plum Sour made its leap across from the East some time during the early 20th Century as more Japanese people moved across the world, taking the mix with them and finding an alternative to the sake to create the drink.
For this week’s cocktail, you will need:
- 1 fresh plum
- 1 plum piece for garnish
- 2 measures of vodka
- 1 measure of fresh lemon juice
- ½ measure of sugar syrup
- ½ a fresh egg white
Take the plum and roughly chop it into small pieces. Use a muddler to crush the fruit into a mush. Add a good amount of ice to the shaker and add the remaining ingredients. Give the mix a good shake to cool it well. Take a glass and add some ice before pouring the cocktail in. Add the plum garnish and there you have our cocktail of the week, the Plum Sour.
If you like a sour drink, this is a good cocktail to enjoy. The egg white did make it a slightly unusual drink and something we would probably leave out if we made it again. We would also use sweeter plums to draw out a stronger plum taste.
We love a bit of Americana, and we are massive fans of American interior design. When we found Country Living American Style we knew it would be right up our street. We have friends in New England and every time we visit we fall in love with the spacious and relaxed homes we visit. We try and replicate this look back in Britain, it is not always so easy to scale down designs into smaller British home.
The book is compiled by the American version of Country Living magazine. It looks at country-style the length and breadth of the country ‘from Arkansas to Oregon, Maine, Texas and everywhere between’. They start by trying to define what makes up American Style, looking at various historical influences that have contributed to the nation’s style. The book also looks at different regional styles, the best in American furniture and the use of colour and textiles.
True to the book’s magazine heritage it is peppered with side notes, little features about American producers and manufacturers and styling tips. This makes it a great coffee table book, ready with little nuggets of information and inspiration whenever you flick through. We keep on returning and finding new ideas that we can try and replicate.
The last chapter of the book is dedicated to celebrating the great American holidays. These are always of constant fascination to us from this side of the Atlantic. It is great to get some ideas on how others go about their festivities. Due to the time of year, we are really inspired by the Halloween and thanksgiving. We also LOVE Christmas here, and therefore we love the Country Living take on the festivities.
We are glad we have this book in our collection. It is not the most academic study of American design, but what it lacks in text it more than makes up with hundreds of beautiful images. If like us you love American interior design Country Living American Style is a must for your bookshelf.
Country Living American Style buy here
American Country Living website
It is the season of mellow fruitfulness, well sort of! We’ve been busy tidying up the veg patch, and getting out and about a bit, so let’s see what is in this week’s top five:
At the weekend we went exploring a bit of North Wiltshire, we stopped in the little town on Calne. The town has a lovely heritage quarter, and the Church of St Mary is in the centre. A pleasant place to stop on on little adventure.
With an abundance of tomatoes ripening at once Calum decided to make some tomato chutney on Sunday. We love a good pickle or chutney, and luckily Calum enjoys making them. It is a win-win situation.
We are very excited about the apples ripening in the garden, perhaps we will need to make an apple and blackberry pie. A perfect late summer pudding.
We take Hettie for her walks on Horsell Common, It is famously the site of the first martian invasion in H.G.Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. We are yet to encounter any martians but we do bump into this cheery cow, part of a small herd kept on the common to help with managing the site.
Herb Lester’s A London Pub for Every Occasion is one of our favourite books. We are currently using this a resource to check out some of the most historic pubs in the city for a future blog post. Keep your eyes peeled later in the autumn.
The weeks are flying past so quickly at the moment. The kids are only just back to school and yet, in our household at least, the conversation has already turned to plans for Christmas. Before we get carried away with ourselves let’s put the brakes on for a while and have a cup of tea and catch up with what has been going on this week:
From Orchard Blog
- As the world gets back into the swing of things after the summer thoughts turn to going ‘Back to School’ we developed a home offices scheme based on this idea. read here
- We recently went on a tour of the Houses of Parliament. We are total history geeks so loved it. read here
- As the last of summer fade we thought we’d give one last summer cocktail a go, we sampled the classic margarita. read here
- We are in love with this simple garden shed given a scandi makeover by Jeska over at Lobster and Swan. we never thought we’d have so much shed envy. read here
- As the nights draw in we are starting to think about making the cottage cosier. Kayleigh from Hello Hygge (excellent blog by the way) has written a guide on how to hygge this autumn. read here
- To finish off our Nordic trio of posts, Brooke from World of Wanderlust has a run down of the best Norwegian coastal cities and towns to visit. read here
We hope you are feeling a little inspired by the posts? if you have any thoughts or ideas just let us know in the comments. Have a great Sunday and see you tomorrow for our top five.
Rich & Calum
We have been doing the cocktail of the week for a few months now and are just making a dent in the spirit collection! It seems Calum did spend much time buying spirits for no real reason! As it is now September and the last of the summer days are on us, we are squeezing the last out of them by wearing shorts and making typically summer cocktails. This week we went for a classic summer drink for Cocktail of the Week, the margarita!
The history of the margarita seems to hold many owners and no one theory or ownership sounds disputable. There are versions dating the cocktail back to 1938 and as recently as 1961 and appears to have been ‘inspired’ by many women, including Margarita Henkel, the daughter of a German Ambassador to Mexico or popularised by various people including the Hiltons (of the hotel fame). It is likely the drink comes from Mexico, although the Peggy Lee history myth has the drink coming from Texas. One thing for certain is that the drink under the name ‘margarita’ first appeared in Esquire magazine in December 1953. A cocktail called ‘Tequila Daisy’ appearing in 1930’s cocktail book, which could be an early contender for the drink as Daisy in Mexican is Margarita.
For this week’s cocktail, you will need;
- 2 measure tequila
- 1 measure triple sec
- 1 measure lime juice
To make the cocktail, pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Once you have done that, take a plate and pour some salt on to it. Take the glass and place the rim in a few millimeters of water before placing the glass in the salt to rim the glass. Carefully place some ice in the glass without knocking off the salt and pour in the mixed drink. Garnish with a lime and you have the cocktail of the week, a Margarita.
In recent years there has been a desire for frozen margarita’s and we can safely say this is a better version of the cocktail. The lime cuts through the tequila giving you a refreshing drink perfect to soak up the last of the sun!
For our birthdays we like to do something different and enjoy a day out with each other. For Rich’s birthday we tend to go to a zoo and for Calum’s we usually go visit a historic Palace or Building. This year, Rich chose to surprise Calum with a tour of the Houses of Parliament. To visit the Parliament, you need to book tickets in advance from the House of Parliament website. If you are a British citizen your MP can organise a tour of Parliament with a specialist guide for free.
The Houses of Parliament tour covers the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It is a Palace in its own right and more formally known as the Palace of Westminster. The tour starts at the Cromwell entrance and takes you straight into Westminster Hall. Many historic events have happened in Parliament and most happened here. This is the site of the impeachment of King Charles I in 1649 and where Churchill lay in state in 1965. The Palace is a working building and it is amazing to see how it has evolved over time from its start in St Stephens Hall.
Despite not having been in education for over a decade now, each September we definitely get the ‘back to school’ vibe. Most years we would just go out and buy armfuls of stationery to keep us content, but this year we’ve developed a Back to School office scheme. Grab you packed lunch, an apple for the teacher and head back to school! Details are bellow and don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments.
Back to School Office | Where to buy:
fig.1 British Isles Map John Lewis
fig.2 Wall Clock John Lewis
fig.3 Granville Shelf Unit One World Trading
fig.4 1227 Desk Lamp Anglepoise
fig.5 Macbook Pro Apple
fig.6 Mid-Century Desk West Elm
fig.7 Granze Rug Wayfair
fig.8 Eams Chair Nest
fig.9 Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style by Jeffery Banks
fig.10 Squared Notebook Moleskine
fig.11 Areca palm Ikea
fig.12 Storage Boxes Wayfair
fig.13 Mute Shadow Colour Courage
fig.14 Vieux Bordeaux Colour Courage
fig.15 Le Chat Gris Colour Courage
Hello September. We’re getting back into the swing of things after the summer. Autumn and Christmas are looking alarmingly imminent, mind you we have plenty to look forward to so we should complain. Let’s take a look at this week’s top five:
Over the weekend Woking held a Food Festival. Although we live nearby we don’t often go into Woking, preferring Guildford or Kingston. We are glad we went in on Sunday though, the town was buzzing, and there was so much delicious food and drink to choose from. It was much busier than we were expecting, and the event was much larger. It really was a great event. the organisers should be proud.
This week we took delivery of a large batch of logs to prepare for the colder weather. One of the advantages of temporary living at Rich’s Folks cottage is the ability to snuggle up on a cosy winter’s night in front of a log fire. It is very hygge, which neatly brings us to our next entry…
If you are not sure what Hygge is we’ll be writing more about it in the future. But for now, you just need to know it is it is one of our favourite things in the world! This week The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking was released, it is one of umpteen books on Hygge coming out this year. We are going to try and resist buying them all but we can’t promise anything. Miek’s book looks really interesting, we can’t wait to read it.
Although our heads are full of thoughts of autumn the weather is actually still pretty hot and humid. On these sweltering days we like nothing more than an ice cold drink, and this week we are loving classic coke from a glass bottle. Yes it is not the healthiest drink, but sometimes you can’t beat it!
Finally, this week our lovely little niece turned four. She celebrated with a party, a trip to the zoo and of course a lovely birthday cake. We joined her for the cake (obviously) it was wonderful to see the excitement of a four year old on her birthday. Oh to be young again!
So here we are, September already. We have lots of plans for the blog over the next couple of months, so keep your eyes peeled. But in the meantime grab a coffee and let’s catch up with what has been going on this week:
From Orchard Blog
- Read about our adventure down to North Devon. A beautiful part of the country that we are sure to be returning to next summer. read here
- This week’s cocktail was the rather delicious Bee’s Knees. A gin based cocktail with lemon, honey syrup and pink lemonade. Give it a go. read here
- We came over all patriotic and had a British-themed tea party. There was plenty of cake and bunting, what more could you want? read here
- As the slow slide into autumn continues we’re really inspired by these earthy tones showcased by Igor over at the Happy Interior Blog. read here
- Itchy feet? You don’t have to travel far for some dramatic landscapes. Check out these picturesque UK National Parks put together by Yala at Hand Luggage Only. read here
- Our love of all thing Scandi is well documented so we are loving this round up of Scandinavian Interior Design trends from Decor8. read here
That’s it for this week. If you have any thoughts or suggestions please let us know in the comments. We will be back with our top five tomorrow but in the meantime relax and enjoy your sunday.
Rich & Calum