Family run lifestyle business, India Jane, has opened a new store in Guildford. Located in what was until recently, the Steamer Trading Company, the new shop is conveniently located at 168 High Street.
Spread over four floors in this super modern building it has an enormous range of home furnishings and accessories.
Here you can find luxurious sofas, elegant dining, well appointed studies, and beautiful bedrooms.
The arrival of India Jane to Guildford has added another good quality lifestyle store to those already in this market town. With Neptune just across the road, OKA and Loaf in the Tunsgate Centre, and Sofa.Com and Neville Johnson a short walk away, everything is close at hand.
Whether you are looking to buy a new piece of furniture or searching for a quality Christmas gift these stores have it covered.
Whilst browsing I took the opportunity to sign up to the India Jane Club so that I would hear about new products, in-store events, and exclusive member offers.
Sitting on the floor in my studio, surrounded by magazines from over ten years ago, I decided it was time for a serious clear out.
With the recycling bin to the ready I started to thumb through Country Living magazines circa 2002!
I was neither diligent, nor meticulous, but as an article snagged my attention I removed it from the journal and put it to one side.
Very soon I had numerous piles covering my favourite topics; interiors (of course), gardening, recipes, and travel.
“Exuberant” was a 2002 description that caught my eye, as the current trend for pared back style couldn’t be more different.
Warm, rich colour schemes, championing florals, nature, and cosy blankets, were at the heart of the featured homes.
I was immediately inspired to add some seasonal charm to our cottage. Putting on one side the pale greys and pinks of the summer I quickly uncovered a red, nature inspired, tablecloth with matching napkins.
Add to this heavy, interlined, Andrew Martin curtains, and suddenly the room felt warm and cosy and ready for the shorter days ahead.
My nod to current trends was the addition of my recently acquired cushion from ALSO Home. With its slogan, “LOVED At First Sight” I thought it added a little 21st century pizazz to the room.
Looking at photographs of prairie planting schemes with ornamental grasses interspersed with the fading colours of autumn perennials are an inspiration for next year’s planting scheme.
Currently I am allowing our garden to die back so that the seed heads will provide additional food for the visiting birds.
I also like to collect pine cones so that I can paint them with subtle metallic colours and display them in glass vessels with fairy lights and faux candles. Oh so seasonal!
A lot of the recipes that caught my eye were based on seasonal garden produce, such as pumpkins, carrots, onions, pears, and apples.
It reminded me that there were pumpkins in the allotment ready to harvest with which I could make a delicious, heart warming soup.
It is also time to collect seeds from the runner beans and pumpkins to dry and store for planting next spring.
I will leave the orange and purple carrots in the ground as a means of storage and harvest as required.
Not everyone wants to escape the UK for a dose of winter sunshine. People like me who enjoy the changing seasons will wish to stay firmly in this country and enjoy what it has to offer at this time of year.
Harsh frosts temporarily change the garden landscape into winter wonderlands whilst recent strong winds have removed many of the remaining leaves from trees to reveal skeletal formations.
I love to embrace this time of year.
The excitement of the winter celebrations that start in October and run through to the New Year are reason enough to stay here, at home, and enjoy them while they last.
Happy with the Farrow & Ball Manor House Grey emulsion, and the dado height white ceramic tiles, I chose to update the artwork and to get creative with the dark wood cabinet that has long since been home to the spare loo rolls.
I chose eight of the Mediterranean inspired tiles, each in a soft blue or green, with highlights of pale pink and chocolate brown. They were to be a new top for the old cabinet thereby giving it the look and feel of a washstand.
I laid the tiles out and arranged them in a suitable pattern prior to having them cut to size. I also sealed them to protect their porous surfaces.
In the meantime I revisited some of the framed prints that had been relegated to the loft. One of my favourites, “To Pastures New”, is an image of a young girl herding a flock of geese. Sadly, the frame and the mount, for which I had paid a fortune at the time, no longer looked very appealing.
With this in mind I took it to a local framer to have it brought up to date. I had in mind a wooden frame that could be hand painted. With a little help and advice I chose the frame and asked for it to be finished in Neptune’s Walnut emulsion.
I was delighted with the end result as the colours complimented the tiles perfectly.
The next task was to reinstate the dark wood mirrors and to review my stock of prints to fill the last remaining corner.
I was delighted when I found some images of Winnie the Pooh as they seemed to gel perfectly with the young girl and her geese. Again, I chose new frames to bring them bang up to date.
Creating this nostalgic feel to the cloakroom reminded me of an image I had seen recently in a Country Living magazine.
In a simple cottage kitchen a fabric curtain had been used in place of a cupboard door.
Without hesitation I decided to make a similar “skirtain” for the cabinet thus concealing its contents. I ummed and ahhed about my choice of fabric as I did not want it to detract from the patterned tiles.
I finally chose a soft grey linen for the main curtains and edged these with some remnants of a contrasting fabric. A piece of stretchy wire was used to hang them inside the shelf unit.
The end result is a charming room inspired with childhood memories and thoughts of warm mediterranean sunshine.
It made me laugh when I had to use a wheelbarrow to unload the brochures, free magazines and show guides, on returning from my visit to Focus/19 at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour.
In fairness I had stopped off at our local garden centre to pick up some bulb fibre and potting grit in readiness for the planting out of my spring bulbs. (Watch this space).
On arrival at the harbour I was greeted at reception with a cheery message that the first Discovery Tour was about to begin. My timing was perfect as I quickly made my way to the North Dome to pick up the tour.
With a welcoming glass of fizz in one hand and my show guide in the other I enjoyed a whistle stop tour of half a dozen showrooms spread across the North and South Domes, and Design Centre East.
Enthusiasm radiated from the presenters as they introduced their new collections to a captive audience.
Stunning bathrooms, exquisite furnishings, Italian furniture, highly decorative wall coverings, and classic textiles were all on show.
New to Focus/19 was the avenue of pop-up room sets. Ligne Roset, Kit Kemp and Paint & Paper Library were the ones that caught my eye.
After a busy start to the show I took a breath and wandered the Design Centre for an hour or so pausing at the sights that caught my attention. These ranged from stunning window dressings, to pop-up ping-pong, to a live demonstration of a William Morris printing “machine”.
A treasure chest of trimmings was another spectacle that I could not resist…
To calm my senses I had earmarked a couple of events that I wished to attend in the afternoon.
The first was a design workshop hosted by KLC School of Design. Rebecca Weir, creative director of light.iQ, gave an enthralling talk abut illuminating one’s way to a happier and healthier life.
My final destination for the day was to the TALK Lecture Theatre where Ben Spriggs talked with artist and designer Luke Edward Hall. Here we learned about the early life of this young man and how this has led to collaborations with the likes of Habitat and Burberry.
As I left the theatre I couldn’t help be struck by the Pooky pop-up which featured their new lighting collection.
Who doesn’t adore the feeling of snuggling down into freshly laundered bedding?
Now that the nights are drawing in, and the oh so recent sweltering temperatures are being replaced with a distinct autumnal chill, hunkering down in a cosy bed is a real treat.
A recent trip to Ikea had me splashing out on two new sets of bedding just for the pure joy of revamping bedrooms for the new season.
Relatively inexpensive, and failingly good quality, I embraced these two sets with a view to mixing and matching with each other, and with existing sets.
The subtle green and white stripes of Bergpalm, (also available in pale pink/white and soft grey/white), is incredibly versatile; a bedroom staple.
In the room below it is layered with a green/cream woollen throw from Habitat, and teamed with a small gingham check green/white LangdonHyde cushion (reversed), and two deep aubergine Next linen cushions (reversed).
The finishing touch, a small aubergine coloured faux Auricula in a terracotta pot, bought in a charity shop for £2.70p!
Less subtle, but no less versatile, this blue/white Vattenmynta bedding set adds a vintage feel to the guest room below.
Again, teamed with scatter cushions and a super-soft Ikea Trattviva bedspread, a cosy, layered, “come to bed” feeling is created.
In this room two cream/duck-egg blue floral cushions, and two blue/cream check cushions from Laura Ashley, and a LangdonHyde “House” cushion, demonstrate how different patterns can be used side by side to great effect.
As well as good looks, comfort is key to creating the ultimate bedtime experience.
Underpinning these looks are fitted, easy care, white cotton sheets from M&S, and feather and down pillows, also from M&S, along with luxurious mattress toppers from The White Company
To ensure a perfect fit for the Ikea bedding I invested in Grusblad King size duvets (240 x 220 cm) 7.5 tog quilt at a cost of £19 each.
don’t be afraid to use the reverse side of patterned cushions to tie in with your scheme
tumble dry fitted sheets and put onto mattress whilst still warm to smooth out creases
One word of warning – Ikea sizes differ ever so slightly from conventional UK sizing.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a huge difference and I was thrilled when I succeeded at dying a very tired candlewick bedspread.
Sadly I did not take a “before” shot so I can only describe to you the state of this item prior to its revival. It was a lacklustre shade of peach which, I suspect in reality, was a very washed out orange.
The reason I chose to regenerate it was because it was the ideal fit for the double bed in the attic room above the garage. I had bought a new cover from Ikea but it was not as voluminous as the candlewick “hand-me-down” and therefore never quite lived up to expectation.
Acting on the spur of the moment I headed to our local hardware store and rummaged through their rather untidy selection of DYLON products. I decided to buy two “pods” to ensure a dense and even coverage. I chose Navy Blue, confident that it would reform the counterpane.
Before embarking on the process of dying I machine-washed the item to ensure that it was free of dust and dirt.
The DYLON instructions read:
Put damp fabric into the drum. Remove sleeve, peel off lid and put the DYLON colour pod on top of the fabric.
Run full cycle (30° or 40°C).
Run another cycle (30° or 40°C) – with detergent.
What could be more simple! At the end of the process I had a beautiful navy blue throw that looked brand new.
It now acts as a protective cover to my exotic Joules bed linen, as well as adding an extra layer of warmth if required.
The new welcome building at Wisley Gardens was opened on June 10th by RHS Director General, Sue Biggs.
I visited a few weeks later when Wisley Gardens hosted one of their Wisley “lates” on the evening of July 26th.
Sadly, the weather was not great on either occasion but it did not spoil my enjoyment and I’m sure it did not deter the crowd that had gathered for the formal opening.
As I arrived early evening the first spots of rain could be felt as I made my way across the beautifully landscaped entrance. Making my way through the avenues of white cherry trees I headed straight for the café to grab a cuppa whilst allowing the rain to pass over.
Here I not only encountered this beautiful airy space with both indoor and outdoor covered seating but I also set eyes on the surrounding retail space.
Divided into various different “rooms” a closer peek was irresistible.
Naturally, Homeware was my first port of call, rapidly followed by the Bookshop which claims to be the largest Horticultural bookshop in this country, possibly in the world.
A vast array of gifts, fragrances, accessories, and original works of art, could also be found in the shop and in the Wisley Gallery.
Once the rain had subsided I ventured into the gardens. Here a string quartet played gently on the lawn to the strangest audience…
Little Girl, Little Girl II, Little Girl III, a sculpture by Lynn Chadwick was just one of the works that made up the exhibition curated by Suzy Bacon which is on display at Wisley Gardens until the end of the year.
Three works by renowned artist Henry Moore were also on display.
The first I encountered was Locking Piece. Gargartuan in size it could not be ignored.
Sheep Piece, was positioned beyond the Glasshouse. Again huge in scale its influence, was apparently, that of a ewe and her lamb.
As I completed the sculpture trail the last Henry Moore work I encountered was Draped Reclining Figure supremely mounted on a stone plinth.
Later works by more contemporary artists were included in the trail but the ones I found most striking were those by Henry Moore.
Walking back to the exit I wandered alongside the lily pond and through the viewing shelter. As I turned I noticed how these tree trunks were framed by its walls and roof and couldn’t help but capture the image.
I’m sure this was no accident but it just struck me how enchanting the gardens at Wisley are and I shall be sure to visit again soon.
This is my take on a recipe featured in the August 2019 Country Living magazine. I have chosen to make my own “quiche” pastry rather than use a “ready-rolled puff pastry” and have used my own method for making the white sauce.
I would also suggest using a flan dish rather than a deep pie dish as I found that the filling did not fill the dish I used completely. As a consequence the crust was rather large.
225g plain flour
Half a teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
40g plain flour
2 medium eggs, beaten
60g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 small aubergine
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground salt & black pepper
First make a white sauce by melting the butter in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add flour and cook over low heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Do not allow mixture to brown. Remove from heat and gradually blend in the milk. Return to heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce comes to the boil and thickens. Simmer very gently for 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, covering the surface with a circle of baking parchment to stop a skin forming.
Make pastry by sifting flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub in flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix to a dough with the egg and water. Roll out and line a 23cm fluted flan dish. Chill.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) gas mark 4.
Cut the vegetables lengthways, as thinly as possible, with a mandolin if you have one. (I used a potato peeler as a suitable alternative to produce ribbons of courgette and carrot.) Halve the aubergine lengthways, if necessary, so that it is similar in width. Cut into strips using a sharp knife.
Mix the eggs and Parmesan together in a bowl, then stir into the now cool white sauce.
Pour the sauce into the flan dish.
Starting from the edge of the dish arrange the vegetables around in a spiral pattern. Alternate between the courgette, carrot and aubergine. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt.
Put flan dish on pre-heated baking tray and cook for 50-60 minutes until golden, and vegetables are tender.
Allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.
Serve alone, or as an accompaniment to a selection of cold cooked meats and warm crusty bread. Serves around 6-8.
Before I commenced the reinvention of my “grandfather clock” its claim to fame was that it had been featured in one of the Sunday newspaper supplements back in the mid-nineties.
I bought it from an antique shop in Gerrard’s Cross where it stood out from the more traditional items of furniture. At the time I had been searching for a slim tallboy to stand in my then entrance hall but this brightly colour timepiece appealed to my sense of humour.
Engineered from scrap it would have been the forerunner to the current trend for upcyclying.
I’m sad to say that in more recent times it had been relegated to my studio as its infantile demeanour no longer suited my “grown up” home.
Transforming it to a more conventional piece of furniture enabled me to reintroduce it.
The first step was to paint its exterior with Neptune’s eggshell in Walnut.
Once that step was complete I painted the interior with Annie Sloan Antibes Green chalk paint™.
The final step was to paint the clock face. As a contrast to the dark brown door I used Farrow & Ball Old White eggshell. Lastly, I reinstalled the hands and timepiece mechanism.
At last my “grandfather” clock was welcomed back into our home adding a little storage and a lot of character.