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Month: August 2016

Autumn/Winter Seasonal Trends

As the summer holidays draw to a close the High Street is anticipating the autumn/winter season. Their brand new catalogues have been landing on doorsteps whilst their customers have been sunning themselves on sandy beaches in faraway destinations.IMG_7612

Marks & Spencer have gone a step further offering big savings on home accessories, and even bigger ones on furniture during their seasonal Home Event which is on in store and on-line at the moment. Laura Ashley are also offering 30% off everything until Monday, August 29th.

Common colour schemes are being promoted by many of the High Street retailers but each one using a different design concept. From the M&S contemporary loft collection, to Laura Ashley’s Arts & Crafts interpretation, to Next’s cosy Norway offering – pinks, mauves, and purples abound.


There is also a strong woodland theme being promoted by M&S, and also by design house, Designers Guild. Beautiful birds and cute creatures adorn crockery collections, home furnishing fabrics, and a whole host of cushions. These gorgeous illustrations below are part of the new season at M&S and more botanical illustrations can be found at Designers Guild in their AW2016 range.IMG_7552

To bring these seasonal colours and textures into my own home I filled storm lamps with autumn leaves as they have fallen from my apple tree. Varying hues of bright green/yellow through to the darkest green/brown fill these etched glass vestibules in my sitting room. IMG_7812

So for all of us enjoying our homes this weekend, rather than basking on a beach, there is no better time to shop the High Street for some seasonal bargains, or just to window shop the new season’s trends.

Raspberry Vinegar Marinade

One of my favourite BBQ dishes is lamb marinated in Raspberry Vinegar. This was something I chanced upon when I bought a bottle of Raspberry Vinegar with a recipe attached. Over the years I have modified the original to simplify it and make it my own.



  • 125ml raspberry wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red current jelly melted
  • 2 tablespoons red wine (optional)
  • 1/4 of one fresh orange
  • fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 lamb chops or leg fillets


  1. Melt red current jelly over a low heat, or in microwave, until soft and stir into raspberry wine vinegar
  2. Add red wine, hand-squeezed orange juice, salt and pepper, and whisk together
  3. Put meat in shallow dish and pour marinade over
  4. Tear orange peel in to small pieces and add with sprigs of fresh rosemary
  5. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 3 hours turning from time to time


To serve remove meat from marinade and cook on preheated BBQ. Serve with fresh green salad and boiled new potatoes with butter.


  • Source Raspberry Wine Vinegar from your local farm shop or make your own using white wine vinegar and a few fresh raspberries
  • Buy grass fed English lamb
  • As most marinades contain an acid they, together with the food to be marinated, should be put into a glass, stainless steel or enamel dish. Any turning or stirring should be done with a wooden spoon
  • Large joints of meat should be marinated overnight

Make a Footstool in a Day

Early Friday morning I rocked up at Ivory & Pitch in West Sussex with the requisite metre of fabric of my choice to make a footstool in a day.

Described on the Ivory&Pitch website as  “Our new Classic Footstool Workshop, in collaboration with The Ministry of Upholstery, (featured on BBC1’s Money for Nothing) is a one-day creative extravaganza combining upholstery with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ techniques to produce a beautiful footstool to take home.”

On arrival I was a little apprehensive, but having previously enjoyed an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ workshop at the same venue I knew that the tuition would be spot on and the atmosphere relaxed.

I shouldn’t have worried at all as on arrival I was provided with a sturdy hardwood frame and all of the component parts and tools to make a the footstool. After an essential health and safety talk concerning the use of the compressed-air stapling gun the fun began.

Firstly, I had to choose a finish to apply to the legs of the footstool. With the help of Caroline Ivory I opted to use the new  Annie Sloan black wax to complement my Loseley Park Lime linen. Once applied the legs were put on one side to cure.

Under the watchful eye of Caroline I worked through the step by step process to create my bespoke piece of furniture. From applying the webbing to gluing the foam cushion Caroline was on-hand to advise and assist whenever needed.

Intense concentration

Intense concentration

A little after midday we stopped for a delicious lunch of homemade soup, artisan bread and creamy brie. This was served in the shady courtyard adjacent to the workshop.

Refreshed and refuelled we returned to continue our work. Layer upon layer of differing materials were stretched, stroked, and stapled to the hardwood frame.

Mid-afternoon brought tea and cake and another brief break in the sunshine but there was no time to linger. The most critical stage was ahead of us – at last my chosen fabric would be applied to the footstool and it would be complete all bar the legs. Checking that the wax was dry, each leg was carefully positioned and tightly attached.

Barely able to contain my excitement the finished footstool was turned upright, and much to my delight it was perfect. Every single staple was perfectly aligned and each corner neatly finished. I was over the moon. My first venture into upholstery was a huge success thanks to the patience and direction of my teacher.

Finished footstool

Finished footstool

Back home the footstool was the last element to be added to my recently revamped living room, alongside my lovely John Sankey chair, upholstered in a combination of black velvet and Loseley Park linen.

John Sankey armchair and classic footstool

John Sankey armchair and bespoke footstool in matching Loseley Park linen

For details of forthcoming courses visit the website at ivoryandpitch.co.uk

Apricot & Raspberry Pots

I discovered this recipe for Apricot & Raspberry Pots in the August issue of Country Living Magazine and made this dessert for my extended family last week.  The combination of the raspberries and honey added a sweetness to the apricots and Greek yogurt which was thoroughly enjoyed by the youngsters as well as the adults.

To serve I chose to use my new M&S picnic wine glasses, rather than the Kilner jars suggested in the original version, as I was not planning to transport the desserts further than the garden table.



  • 10 fresh apricots, de-stoned and roughly chopped
  • 500g Greek-style yogurt
  • 1-2 tsp icing sugar
  • 2 tsp orange-blossom water
  • 6 tsp orange-blosom honey plus extra for drizzling
  • 250g fresh raspberries, plus extra to garnish
  • small handful of pistachios, roughly chopped


  1. Put the apricots in a food processor or blender and blitz to a purée. Add half the yogurt and 1 tsp icing sugar and whizz to combine. Taste for sweetness. Chill.
  2. Put the remaining yogurt into a bowl and stir in the orange-blossom water.
  3. To assemble the dessert, drop 1 tsp of honey into each wine glass, followed by a layer of raspberries. Cover with a layer of the orange-blossom yogurt, then a layer of the apricot yogurt. Chill overnight.
  4. Garnish with raspberries, nuts and a drizzle of honey.
Puréed fruit

Puréed fruit

Yogurt mixes

Yogurt mixes

First layers

Honey and raspberry layers

Ready to eat

Good enough to eat















Handy tips:

Allow more than the 15 minutes suggested to prepare this dessert as the number of different processes and ingredients makes it quite a time consuming process.

Make the day before as assembled dessert requires overnight chilling.

I found that Waitrose sells the the orange-blossom honey and orange-blossom water.

Serves 6.

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