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Category: Favourite High Street stores (Page 1 of 6)

Vegetables Allotment

This week saw the delivery of my Vegetable Allotment lampshades. Two 20cm shades for the mantlepiece, and one 30cm for the sideboard.

Not only decorative but they provide a lovely soft light source for cosy nights in.

Having spotted these in the November edition of Country Living magazine I thought that they would be perfect for my sitting room.

They are manufactured in the UK by Cream Cornwall . Each shade features beautiful line drawings of vegetables paired with traditional Victorian garden tools.

To create the look I desired I bought two antique black Stork lamp bases from OKA for the smaller shades.

For the 30cm shade I sourced this gorgeous Shaftsbury base from Neptune in Weybridge.

Currently celebrating the launch of their new season’s colour, Saffron, it was a delight to attend this weekend’s event.

This joyous hue is the perfect antidote for the solemn times that are currently engulfing mankind.

Leaving the store with my new lamp base, a complimentary Saffron coloured shopper, and a bunch of daffs brightened my day.

The good news is that this Spring event now runs until April 14th.

Alresford, Hampshire

Alresford, home of the Watercress Steam Railway Line, is a small town which lies just north of Winchester in Hampshire.

In search of Susie Watson Designs I took a trip there after a morning spent in Farnham.

West Street

The shop is located at 16 West Street amidst a plethora of independent retailers much to my delight.

So many shops – so little time

The purpose of my visit was to buy some red and white hand painted candles to display in two brass holders which I had retrieved from our garage.

I also bought a beech and ivory fan edge trimming which had been reduced by 50%. It will provide a luxurious finish to a Neptune Emma Sage linen that I have for making some scatter cushions.

Broad Street

Just around the corner in Broad Street I came across another parade of specialist interior and gift shops.

The Alresford Linen Company housed an array of fashionable clothing and jewellery, interior accessories, and gifts, including a colourful selection of candles.

A couple of doors down Lavenders has an eclectic mix of greetings cards, gift wrap, and miscellany.

Having achieved my aim, and a lot more besides, I decided it was time to leave this gorgeous Georgian town for a tad more exploring…

The Long Barn

Having arrived at Alresford on the B3047 I had passed The Long Barn at The Old Sheep Fair, Bishops Sutton Road.

Curious to find out more I pulled off the road and into the extensive car park. With fairy lights twinkling in the late afternoon light I was immediately smitten.

To a newby it is an extremely glamorous garden centre with integral café and shopping. That said, the quality of the merchandise is of the highest standard and the café was absolutely buzzing.

The garden store itself is modest in size but has an interesting selection of trees, plants, shrubs, and rusted metalwork. There is even a little shop that sells vintage finds.

I have to own up to not realising at the time of my visit that lavender is grown on this site and that it is used to create the Long Barn’s own goods from its annual crop.

I was so pleased that I chose to drop by and would certainly recommend a visit to this favoured destination.

India Jane Opens New Store

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.

Come To Bed

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.

Ikea Bergpalm

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!

Bergpalm, green stripe

Ikea Vattenmynta

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.

Vattenmynta, blue/white

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.

LangdonHyde hacks

  • 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.


Searching for the light

Searching for a table lamp to brighten a gloomy hall has been quite a challenge.

A recent visit to the newly opened shop at RHS Garden Wisley provided the perfect solution.

Here on display was this lovely 100% recycled glass bottle lamp with its orange flex and Cherry Blossom shade.

Teamed with a ceramic jug and bowl from Toast and scented candle from Neptune the entrance hall has become a very welcoming space.

The finishing detail, a handful of freshly cut terracotta pom-pom dahlias from Sarah Raven.

Flowers by Design

OKA flower arrangement

Have you ever wondered how OKA create their fabulous faux floral displays?

OKA in-house flower shop

I was lucky enough to be invited to an in-store event hosted by Bunched by OKA which revealed some of their trade secrets.

Resident florist, Natalie, demonstrated how she creates these statement arrangements.

Using easy to follow steps she described how to achieve a flower based arrangement.


Here are some simple tips which she shared with the entranced audience:

  • Choose an odd number of stems; say 1, 3 or 5
  • Choose a foliage with a similar colour leaf to the flowers
  • Shake out foliage to separate leaves
  • Open up flower heads and bend forward
  • Bend stems for correct height; rule of thumb is 1.5 times the height of the vase
  • If the stems are too short then use paper or towels to pack the bottom of the vase
  • Build the height by creating “rings”

In the is example Natalie used Eucalyptus, Peonies, Roses, and Paniculatas, alternating them to create the first ring

  • For the second ring measure height of stems and bend to correct length before adding
  • Form triangles by adding a single stem between two of the same variety in the first ring
  • Spin the vase as you work rather than walk around it

The second and third rings add height to the display

  • Finally create the third ring by repeating the process
  • A single stem in the centre of the arrangement may be used to complete the process

The end result

  • Update faux arrangements with seasonal blooms (fresh of faux) to remain current
  • Add a scented reed stick to further add to the illusion

Inspired by OKA

Inspired by the realistic quality of OKA’s faux flower arrangement I couldn’t resist an investment of my own.

A Bank Holiday trip to Ikea opened my eyes to the variety of faux flowers that they stock.

I tend to have Eucalyptus in the house during the winter season as I love its aroma. Seeing a realistic faux version I realised that I could have it year round.

Another of my favourite plants is the Lupin which I grow in my herbaceous border. Again, seeing a silk version on sale inspired me to make a further purchase.

Once home I retrieved a favourite vase and set to work.

Following the general rule-of-thumb I used 5 eucalyptus stems and 3 lupins. I shook them out and teased the leaves and flowers until they looked more natural.

I then placed the foliage in the vase before alternating the flowers in a triangular shape.

Ikea lupins and eucalyptus

I’m the first to admit that it’s not quite OKA standard but in our cottage, I think, a simple, yet effective, arrangement is more in keeping.

“D” is for Mirror

M&S 50% off sale

I’m loving these alphabet cushions which are now half price in the Marks & Spencer sale; reduced from £12 to £6.

Alphabet cushion from M&S

Unable to resist a bargain, and imagining how the trio of colours would co-ordinate with my newly stylised room, I decided to buy “D” for Dining. Tenuous, I know, but as I said, “irresistible”!

Newly stylised dining room

Happy with my new purchase I positioned it on the seat of a single chair along with a plain pistachio velvet cushion.

It was only at this time that I realised by turning it through a 90 degree turn the “D” became an arc which beautifully echoed the profile of the mirror.

A little thing, but pleasing none the less.

Dash Of Orange

Step into spring with a flamboyant dash of orange.

My recent venture into town really demonstrated a massive head on collision between fashion and interiors.

This was particularly noticeable in Anthropologie where their footware and furnishings sat side by side.

Unable to resist a bright and cheerful colour I was seduced into trying on this wonderful selection of  tops and sweaters in Mint Velvet.

London Design Week at Chelsea Harbour didn’t miss a trick either as many of the showrooms were brought to life with this lovely colour in lively prints.

Even the horticulture followed the theme.

A more mystical Morrocan theme was on show in this particular window with its gorgeous bronze coloured wallpaper and lighting.

Loaf, in the newly opened Tunsgate Quarter in Guildford, had its fair share of paprika coloured cushions and couches.

Meanwhile this Clarins advert used the colour of the season to great effect to promote its bronze-lidded peach-coloured jars of exotic face creams.

Neptune also adopted a subtle tone in their range of home accessories. 

Candles, throws and artwork incorporated a pinky hue which worked beautifully with these light and dark greys.

A similar matching was found in this rug in Sofa.com.

And if grey isn’t to your liking then navy is a very smart alternative. The combination seen here at Sofa.com demonstrates how they have worked this season’s trend by teaming a navy sofa with orange scatter cushions and footstool.

Another collision between fashion and interiors was evident in Jigsaw where orange and navy clothes, shoes and bags, were displayed together in perfect harmony.

So whether your preference is for bright or subtle, home or fashion, there appears to be something for everyone in this season’s colour.

Tunsgate Quarter Guildford OPENED

The Tunsgate Quarter in Guildford opened its doors yesterday to reveal its brand new occupants.

To the sound of a 4-piece jazz band I manoeuvred my way around the bright, light, sunny, precinct.

The first retail outlets to take up space in the recently revamped centre are Bobbie Brown, Cath Kidston, Loaf, Lululemon, OKA, and The White Company.Cath Kidston’s jaunty shop front was a sea of patriotic red, white and baby blue bunting, celebrating their 25th anniversary.

Next on my list to visit was Loaf. Having only ever seen their products in a catalogue I was keen to see it in the flesh.

It didn’t disappoint. Greeted by a giant coir mat complimenting me on my shoes I couldn’t wait to get my feet inside the door, and get stuck in! 

I’m not sure that I would be offering tubs of ice-cream to visitors who were specifically here to look at sumptuous sofas but Loaf did and it was a welcome treat.

I carefully devoured by raspberry sorbet as I perched on this rather gorgeous squishy corner unit. It was certainly as comfortable as it looked and comes in a variety of combinations and colours.

With my appetite for sweet treats and first hand experience of Loaf’s lovely array of furnishings fully satisfied I made my way to OKA.

Again, another retailer who’s catalogue I receive regularly, was far better in real life.

Bold, lavish, and with exquisite detailing, this is a brand that would bring a sense of drama to any home. 

I took a particular fancy to their lamps, shades, and glassware, none of which I had paid particular attention to, before seeing it off the printed page.

My final port of call was The Ivy restaurant which is due to open its doors on Wednesday April 4. For an inside scoop go to Surrey Life’s website .

By Invitation

I had hoped to be writing a stunning account of the “by invitation” Neptune Warehouse Sale that I took time out to attend yesterday. Sadly, this isn’t going to be the case as, having arrived at the appointed time, the car park was full to overflowing and the queue for the event already stretched out beyond the warehouse gates.

Optimistic queue

My only optimism was that the queue did appear to be moving so my partner and I decided to join the already chilly masses. After fifteen minutes of remaining static we decided that one of us should go back to the car as it was parked on double yellow lines, and one of us remain in the queue to preserve our place. We both checked that we had a phone signal and agreed that we would update one another electronically as the queue progressed towards the building.

Within moments the queue surged forward and I quickly sent a text to that effect. Dutifully my partner returned and stood by my side as we came to a rapid standstill! He left – and returned to the car.

I made small talk with the other people in the queue. How had I heard about the event? Was it the first time I had been? Had I travelled far? It would seem that although the event was not publiscised on the Neptune website it was not the exclusive event that we had imagined.

Our hopes lifted as people started to appear leaving the warehouse laden with bargains. They quickly loaded their cars and drove away, leaving one or two parking spaces in the now very crowded car park. I sent a message – “there’s a space now – bring the car round”. The response came back “they’re stopping all the cars from entering – it’s manic out here”.

Another surge in the crowd, and suddenly I’m through the gates and almost entering the marquee which was obviously erected, to provide shelter, for the attendees. I sent a message “we’re on the move – come now”. This time, my now very bored partner, arrived with provisions – Kit Kats and water – and joined me in the queue. Not long now, I thought.

Forming an orderly queue inside the tent

Once inside the tent it became apparent that there was no comfy seating, hot drinks, or friendly welcome, just several aisles ensuring that everybody remained in an orderly line. A smartly dressed Neptune employee did arrive with an armful of brochures, I presume for anyone who needed to be reminded why they were stood in a queue on a cold January day looking at the backs of several hundred people who all thought they were there by “invitation”.

My spirits lifted as the queue moved forward quite quickly and we were now only about numbers 101 and 102. We circumnavigated a basket of “treats” that had been thoughtfully provided, but I passed on these as I had been lucky enough to have an even more thoughtful partner who provided the much needed chocolate fix.

Sweet ‘n’ treats

We continued to wait patiently – surely it would be our turn soon. Another surge – no, just a small handful of people are let out of the holding area and into the warehouse. We seemed so close, yet so far. My feet are starting to get cold, and those around me without coats are beginning to shiver. The clouds are gathering in more ways than one.

After two hours of queuing realisation is beginning to hit. Is there going to be anything left by the time we are admitted to the revered warehouse? Is the queue to pay for any purchases going to take as long as the time it has taken to get in?

At last, we start to move again. We are the very last ones that they allow through on this particular turn and we hurriedly make our way up the steps before they have a chance to turn us away.

On entering, we are greeted by the sight of a very normal warehouse. Floor to ceiling racking full of large brown boxes, each concealing their contents, but being tended by hi-vis clad staff. Another member of staff in a pink hi-vis jacket informs us that if there is anything in the way of furniture that takes our fancy we should ask for the help from one of the “pink” assistants.

We look around. The floor space in front of the racking is sparsely populated with around a dozen similar sofas, a handful of dining tables, quite a number of partially boxed dining chairs, and a few random stools. As we venture beyond this immediate collection we find that there is a bedroom section to one side and a kitchen section to the other.

My heart sinks. My carefully made notes of the items that I might like to acquire is useless as nothing here matches my aspirations. We wander into the “accessories” area where I had hoped to pick up a rug, and perhaps some ex-display curtains. There were none; rugs had all gone, and I didn’t have the heart to ask about window dressings.

On the bright side, there were numerous faux flowers, candles, and lampshades. There was however yet another queue to pay, and when we enquired as to why we had spent so long waiting outside, we were told that it was due to the fact that it was taking so long to process payments.

We left. Any enthusiasm I had had when I left home that morning had evaporated. We had driven for and hour and half to get there which is why I felt it imperative to at least see what was on offer. My partner, by now, was really relieved when I resisted temptation and didn’t pick up a token purchase just to make the trip worthwhile.

Neptune showroom

Instead we wandered into the adjacent showroom, admired all of the beautiful room settings, used their facilities and made our way back to the car. On inspection we noticed that we hadn’t received a parking ticket, so at least that was a bonus.

As we unlocked the car in readiness to leave a reporter from the local paper asked whether we had been to the Neptune sale? Had we bagged ourselves a bargain? We held out our hands wearily demonstrating that we had completely failed in our plight. He asked how far we had travelled and gave us a sympathetic look as he scribbled some shorthand on his reporter’s note pad. Word of the sale’s popularity had obviously provoked enough interest for the Press to become involved.

I’m not knocking the Neptune brand at all, nor the fact that they chose to hold a two day sale to clear the decks for new and exciting stock. What I am a little disappointed about was the lack of communication on the day with regards to wait times and expectation. In future, I will know, that if I receive another “invitation” I will make a phone call and seek clarification with regards to what it actually means. At least that way I will be able to make an informed decision as to whether it is worth my while attending, or not.

By the way, I did ask my partner, if we could stop at the Reading Ikea on the way home. I can’t actually print his reply!

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