Sunday, 31 July 2011

Afternoon tea in Hampshire

Well I could have spent the afternoon being creative or doing housework, or Dean and I could go out for a drive, so off we went to Newbury. Whenever I drive through it I see the pretty canal area with all the barges and loads of swans and it looks so lovely. We had a wander around part of the the town (much bigger than I expected with a variety of shops, but nothing to make me want to go back) and down by the canal which was lovely, all fishermen actually catching fish and locks, but we didn't stay too long.
So on the way home we decided to stop for afternoon tea at somewhere I'd often wanted to visit, The Audleys Wood Hotel just outside Basingstoke
After driving up a long tree lined drive we found a beautiful, large, historic country house hotel.
Inside was very welcoming and despite us not being 'properly dressed' the staff were lovely and we were allowed to stay.
We sat in the bar area which is a gorgeous room, but a word of warning - not the comfiest sofa opposite the fireplace. Out came the crisp white tablecloth and perfectly folded napkins along with a leather case containing small jars of tea to open and smell so we could select our perfect brew for the afternoon. All to often I resort to English breakfast which I was determined not to do today. After much smelling and re-smelling Dean and I opted for a pot of the Russian Caravan and a second pot of High Mountain Oolong. Both were gorgeous and served in lovely glass teapots similar to cafetieres in that they brewed the tea for the required time and then you could stop them brewing at the flick of the lid handle. But how long do you brew the perfect cup of tea for? No problem, they provide timers for the different types of tea so everything is perfect as long as you can remember which tea pot is which, so you don't put milk in the wrong tea.
The sandwiches were nice, but nothing truly exciting, so much so that we forgot to take a picture.
Of course, well for me anyway, the highlight of afternoon tea is the plate stand with cakes and scones. These were lovely, although in all honesty, the cakes weren't as good as the scones and especially the tarts (that chef sure knows how to make pastry), I'm afraid by the time we took the picture we'd eaten the 2 chocolate tarts which were superb.
I'll definitely be going back, the staff were really friendly and helpful and the food and tea were gorgeous. I would add in a photo of the beautiful dining room but Alex needs a lift into town so got to go.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Bags and Bunting

I've just been hunting on line for some decorations and of course got distracted by 'pretty things'. So here are a couple of links to what distracted me this morning:
I know bunting is everywhere but this is different and so lovely

Then there was this site too
have a scarf, bag, purse and cushion made in your choice of Lucy's digitally printed textiles
 Clutch Bag and Scarf

Saturday, 16 July 2011

They're back

No I'm not talking Harry Potter and friends, although yes I will be going to see the final film next week. I'm talking about Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law.
The trailer for the 2nd Sherlock Holmes film, A Game of Shadows, looks just as exciting as the 1st did and really how can it fail to be fabulous.
Take a look for yourself

Monday, 4 July 2011

New Designers - some of my favourite things.

Liz and I survived a trip with 25 A level students, who were extremely well behaved and lovely, except for giving me the sourest of sour sweets I've ever tasted just to see how I'd react!
Of course it was as packed with talent as ever but I'm posting a few of my favourites. To start I spoke briefly to Serena O'Neill in the 'One Year On' section who produces beautiful, delicate textiles including scarves, hangings, pouches, etc inspired by 2nd World War imagery.See her work on 
I was very taken by a jewellery designer who is working with a fashion designer. She's making jewellery from rusty metal which leaves an imprint of the jewellery behind after it has been worn. Unfortunately I can't remember her name, but here's a photo of some of her work.
Ashleigh Williams creates delicate sculptural crocheted sea creatures which were hanging in a corner as though they were floating in mid air.
A body of work I loved was this drawer of cotton reels interspersed with ceramic reels decorated with transfers of old photos. She will make any object and decorate it with your favourite old photos. That could be a wonderful present. 
Another lovely lady I spoke to was Claire Kalvis who had the most gorgeous and inspirational sketchbooks. She had used heat transfer techniques to decorate an old sewing box and then filled it with lovely things she had made including shrinkies made to look like vintage buttons which she had attached to cards and pretty notebooks. I'm hoping she'll be setting up her website soon.

The final designer we spoke to on the day was Khadijah Kholwadia who has produced some stunningly rich textiles using velvets which she hand dyes and decorates with screen printing in rich colours and foils. As well as hanging her lengths of fabrics she had had a beautiful piece of furniture professionally covered in one of her fabrics.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Hat Fair

Lucky for me that on the way to New Designers this morning my friend Jackie also caught the same train as she reminded me it's The Hat Fair this weekend. It's always fun and mad, especially if the weather's good, so that's where I may go tomorrow. I wonder if Alex is up for that too?