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Garden Gin Tasting Bar

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Garden Gin Tasting Bar

When we moved into our house in January, a ‘selling’ point is the proximity to the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery.  This is something we learnt after we bought the house, and at a mile and a half down the road, it is great to be able to send people off to sample the local gin.  For some of our friends, we are not sure if they were coming to see the house or to get a sneaky trip in to the distillery!

A few weeks back we had a group of friends come and visit.  This group fit into the ‘nice house, where’s the gin?’ category and came to visit the distillery (as well as us!).  We thought it would be a good idea to carry on the gin when they returned and decided our garden also needed it’s own gin tasting bar, so we started getting creative.  Who doesn’t want a gin tasting bar in the garden?

Garden Gin Bar

Bar Basics

We recently bought a potting table from Clas Olsen that makes for a great decorative counter and a good start for a bar, along with its practical purpose of a potting table.  A few herbs, plenty of glasses and clear signage gave us the start of the bar.  For bar supplies try Ikea, H&M Home or TK Maxx.

Garden Gin Bar


To make the perfect gin, you do need a good tonic.  We tend to like the FeverTree tonic over the others as it has a more subtle flavour.  Plus it comes in glass bottles that look good and are easier to recycle.

Garden Gin Bar


We learnt about garnish for cocktails at the London Gin Club.  Garnished definitely help make a good G&T, bringing out the flavours in the gin.  For the gins we selected, we had a range of garnishes from ginger and thyme to strawberry and lime.  The herbs weren’t there just for decoration!

Tasting Notes

Each gin has its own history, botanicals and distillery method.  One of the great parts about tasting notes is learning the history.  The best part is tasting the gin and knowing what to look out for when you taste the gin are given to you in the notes.  It is important to taste the gin at its absolute best, the tasting notes give you the hints to ensure that!

Garden Gin Bar

The Gin

As Bombay Sapphire had already been sampled that day, we decided to go for a few other gins.  Some choices were made and we found – okay we raided our bar – a bottle of Ophir, Gin Mare and Bloom.  On a trip to Lidl we found their own gin – Hortus.  All great gins and a great selection of gin that is currently available.

Garden Gin Tasting Bar

We can say, with certainty, that every house should have a garden gin tasting bar.  We have had a number of bars in the past and they make for a great focal point.  What do you think? What else would you add to the gin bar?

Where to Buy


Garden Gin Bar


13th August 2017

Roses in Our Garden

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Roses in our Garden

If you follow Rich’s Instagram you have probably realised his love of gardening.  For the first time in many years we have a garden to potter about in so we are going to start doing a few gardening updates on the blog to share our successes and failures. To start off lets have a look at the Roses we have planted in our new garden.

We love roses, especially old fashioned and vintage style roses. Four out of the five roses we have chosen are English Roses from David Austin Roses. David Austin is the breeder most often associated with this style of rose.  He has bred hundreds of varieties dating all the way back to the introduction of ‘Constance Spry’ in 1961.  As we have a relatively small garden we have opted for repeat flowering varieties to get the most from our plants and in general we like our roses to have strong scents.

Pierre de Ronsard

Rose Pierre de Ronsard

We fell in love this rose when we went to the Loire Valley last summer, when we were thinking about roses for our garden we knew this was a must. Developed by the French breeders Meilland International, we found it everywhere in France but a bit trickier to find in the UK where it is sometimes sold as Eden ’88.

It is a modern climbing rose with big old fashioned flowers.  The buds are cream on the outside and pink on the inside, as the flowers open the pink gently fades to a very pale pink.. They are big flowers that sometimes droop under their own weight. It needs a hot and sunny position to get the most of this rose. We are growing this rose in a container with a support against a south facing wall, so far it is going very well but the flowers got a bit bruised by the recent rains.   The only downside of this variety is it has almost no fragrance but the gorgeous flowers really make up for that.


Rose Imogen

Our garden’s colour theme is mostly soft blues, purples and pinks but as a counterpoint we are using pale yellow flowers, we therefore wanted a pale yellow rose to continue this theme.  We chose David Austin’s 2016 introduction ‘Imogen’ to do this job.

Imogen has very pretty frilly flowers in a lemon yellow that fade to an almost cream colour. It has a lovely fresh scent that David Ausin suggests has hints of apple (we aren’t going to disagree).  It is a shrub rose that we have planted this in a mixed border and it is working very well.  This hasn’t flowered as much as the other roses in the garden but this is probably down to the poor soil where it is located, we have been feeding diligently and another flush of flowers are on the way

Queen of Sweden

Rose Queen of Sweden

We are prone to buying roses because we like their name, which at guess is why they are named so! Our love of Scandinavia has behind this buying choice. David Austin’s Queen of Sweden was named in honour of the 350th anniversary of a treaty of friendship between Great Britain and Sweden.

Queen of Sweden has lovely cupped flowers in an apricot pink colour that fade to soft dusty pink. It has an upright growing habitat which makes it an excellent rose for cutting for arrangements in the house. It has a very light myrrh scent. Queen of Sweden is definitely the most romantic rose in our collection.

Munstead Wood

Rose Munstead Wood

We wanted a darker rose to add to our collection and a bit of research led us to choosing ‘Munstead Wood’.  Another of David Austin’s English old rose hybrids, this rose is named after Gertrude Jekyll’s Surrey home.

This rose has been described as sultry and intense. It has burgundy red colour, halfway between red and purple. The flowers are large and cupped that become shallower over time.  Out of all our roses this has the headiest scent, it really hits you when we are out in the garden first thing in there morning. The scent is describe as having notes of blackberry, blueberry and damson.

Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll

Scent is important to us when choosing roses which is why we settled on ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ one of David Austin’s best selling varieties.  Names in honour of one of the most influential gardeners of the 20th century (and one of Rich’s gardening heroes!) this is a great all round rose that can be grown as a shrub or as a short climber.

Gertrude Jekyll has small dark pink buds that open into big mid pink rosettes with a very pretty spiral of petals. The scent is very strong and described as the quintessential rose perfume.  To make the most of the fragrance we have planted this near to our back door.

Adding to our collection

Cut Roses - Pierre de Ronald

We have very quickly become ‘Roseaholics’ and we are sure to be adding to our collection as the garden develops. We have our eye on ‘Winchester Cathedral’ a honey and almond scented white rose, and ‘Surrey’ a ground cover rose with pink frilly flowers. We are also on the hunt for the perfect rambling rose, and there will no doubt be even more added to our collection! Do you have any recommendations please let us know in the comments.


1st August 2017

How to Style an Autumn Porch

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Autumn Porch

Have you noticed our love of decorating with pumpkins yet? Big ones, small ones, blue ones, glass ones! It is turning into a bit of an autumn obsession.  But it makes us happy so we’re not going to apologise. So we have decided embrace autumn and pumpkins for all it’s worth!

Autumn Porch

Our Autumn Porch

We are currently staying at Rich’s folk’s cottage whilst we are midway through buying a new house. They live in a very cute 17th Century cottage. The front porch is a tiny little doorway that we both struggle to get through without banging our heads.  We have hit our head more times than is funny in this low ceiling-ed home!

Autumn Porch

Pumpkins and Chrysanthemums

To make the tiny front porch more autumnal we decorated with pumpkins and chrysanthemums.  We also used our lovely autumn wreath that we found in Homesense and used some heathers, some hardy herbs and some old garden boxes and terracotta pots.  Chrysanthemums were thought as criminally old fashioned for a very long time, but in recent years they have had a bit of a rehabilitation.  In terms of Autumn colour, there really is no competition to the masses of blooms on each plant.  Our local garden centre had a great selection of autumn shades to choose from, we opted for a soft purple and a golden yellow.


What do you think?

Do you decorate your outside for autumn, or just for Halloween? We love the colour and interest at the front door and have received many nice comments from our visitors and neighbours about our Autumn Porch. What do you think, let us know in the comment’s section?


Autumn Porch
19th October 2016

Day out | Hidcote Manor Garden

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There can’t be a much more quintessentially english garden than Hidcote Manor Garden in the Cotswolds? And is so often the way it took an outsider to distill the essence of English garden design, the garden was created in the early 20th Century by the American Major Lawrence Johnston. Johnston was an anglophile and moved to Britain with his mother around 1900, he took British citizenship and joined the British army, fighting in the Boer war and reaching the rank of Major. Johnston’s mother, Mrs. Winthrop purchased Hidcote Manor in 1907, and so started the process of creating the famous gardens.

Located in the north of the Cotswolds, not far from Chipping Campden, Hidcote Manor Garden is a perfect example of Arts and Crafts garden design. Johnston was inspired by the gardens of Gertrude Jekyll. The garden is designed around a succession of garden rooms, it mixes a formal layout with romantic planting that are characteristic of this of this style of garden (see also Sissinghurst Gardens).  Some of the garden rooms include a white garden, a maple garden, the red borders and the pillar garden. There are plenty more to explore including an excellent kitchen garden, a rose walk and a peaceful wilderness.

Johnston was a keen plant hunter, traversing the world to bring back the perfect plants for Hidcote.  Many plants have been named in Hidcote Manor Garden and Johnston’s honour, the most famous of which probably being Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ and Penstemon ‘Hidcote Pink’.

Although the garden can get very busy the garden room structure means the garden doesn’t feel overwhelmed. As with many National Trust properties they have an excellent cafe and a lovely little shop (we love a little shop!)  Also be sure to visit their plant centre to bring back a piece of Hidcote Manor Garden for your own patch at home.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the garden on a beautiful summer’s day, we love the Cotswolds in general and it is great to visit such an important and inspirational english garden.

Find out more at the National Trust Website.

Hidcote Manor Garden 15Hidcote Manor Garden 14Hidcote Manor Garden 12 Read more…

20th July 2016

Days Out | Sissinghurst Garden

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Last weekend we visited the beautiful Sissinghurst Garden in Kent. The garden was created in the 1930s by the writer Vita Sackville-West and her politician husband Sir Harold Nicholson and now is managed by the National Trust. As members of the Bloomsbury set, Vita and Harold were an unconventional couple for their times. There is currently an exhibition about their marriage in one of there barns, well worth visiting to get in an incite into their lives.

Sissinghurst was built from the 15th century onwards but by the 1930s the estate was practically in ruins. About this time the couple looking for a new home, despite some misgivings about the scale of the project they bought the estate and set about revitalising the house and gardens.  What visitors see now is testament tho their hard work and vision for the estate.  The Sissinghurst garden is an outstanding example of early 20th century english garden design.  There are lots of formal elements that Harold designed and then romantic and informal planting schemes devised by Vita.  The whole garden is beautiful and our particular highlights included the world famous white garden, the cottage garden and the nut walk.  Make sure you go up the old tower to get a bird’s eye view of the designs, it puts it all in perspective.

The garden is very popular and can get busy so time your trip accordinally. The Sissinghurst Estate has wonderful views of the Kentish Weald and their are signposted walks if you want to explore further. Being a National Trust property there is a lovely cafe and interesting shop.  They also have a good supply of plants for sale if you are feeling inspired by what you have seen.

Find out more…

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6th July 2016

Top Five | Midsummer

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Top Five

We have reached Midsummer and the year seems to be whizzing past too quickly! Lets have a look at this week’s top five:


Top five | International Giraffe Day

It was the International Giraffe Day on the 21st June. Interesting fact, the Swahili word for Giraffe is Twigga (pronounced Twee-ga), which Calum knows as he grew up calling them that! Giraffes are such graceful animals and to have a day that promotes and celebrates them is a great thing!


Top Five | National Garden Scheme

Each year, Rich’s parents open their garden for the National Garden Scheme.  This charity donates all the proceeds from people opening their gardens for visitors to various charities. There are three houses in Horsell that open their gardens and the local allotments open to visitors as well.  Tea and Cake is also served for people to enjoy in the surrounds of the garden.  The week before is usually a hive of activity whilst Rich’s parents prepared the garden for the day.  Thankfully, we had a good day (no rain) and a good number of people came to visit.


Top Five | Deck Chairs

As we are in-between our own property at the minute, we are trying not to buy anything that could change the type of property we buy.  However, we have been eyeing up some deck chairs in Sainsbury’s for a while and on Saturday bought a pair. We love the look of them and hope that the garden we get will do them justice.


Top Five | Nordicana

As you might have noticed, we like a bit of Scandinavian style!  For Rich’s birthday, Calum bought a copy of the Nordicana Book.  It is a great book to start understanding the Nordic culture, history and traditions.


Top Five | Midsommar

25th June was Midsommar in Sweden and we celebrated this as best we could (not being Swedish).  We will go more into this in a blog post later this week.  It is traditionally the start of the holiday period in Sweden and the Country effectively shuts to celebrate.  We invited our friends Ben and Lauren over to celebrate and enjoy some much needed fun and happiness.

27th June 2016

In the Garden | Planning our Veg Patch

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We are currently between houses so we find ourselves living with Richard’s Mum & Dad, and we are likely to be here over the summer. To help out whilst we are here we have offered to take on the veg patch.  Having lived in a flat with only a tiny balcony it is very exciting to have some outside space to get our hands dirty in.

We have both had veg patches previously but that has been quite a few years ago so we are taking it simple this year, but we are already planning what we would do in future years.

This year, in the veg patch we will be growing the following:

  • Lettuce ‘Little Gem’
  • Mangetout ‘Delikata’
  • French Beans ‘Sultana’
  • Courgette ‘Early Gem’
  • Carrots ‘St Valery’
  • Potato ‘Vivaldi’ and ‘Nicola’
  • Onions – Various Varieties
  • Pumpkin
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb

and in the greenhouse we will be giving the following a go:

  • Tomatoes ‘Tomatoberry’ and ‘Big Boy’
  • Cucumber ‘Telegraph improved’
  • Aubergine ‘F1 Scorpio’
  • Chilli Pepper ‘Cherry Bomb’
  • Sweet Peppers ‘Jingle Bells’ & ‘Italian Long Sweet’

In addition to the fruit and veg we are going to give a cut flower patch a go, we’ll update on the another time as it is still in the final planning stages.

I am sure there will be plenty of updates so check back and see how we are getting on, and if you have any questions or suggestions please let us know in the comments below.

Garden - Veg Patch Planning Garden - Veg Patch PlanningGarden - Veg Patch Planning

Planning our veg patch, let's see what works!


28th April 2016