Category Archives: Escapes

Canopy & Stars – plan your next unique escape for 2019

January 9, 2019

cosy cabins, UK breaks, fire pit, campfire, UK escapes, treehouse breaks, hot tub breaks

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas break. Mine seemed to fly by in a flash but was exactly what I needed. Lots of time was spent relaxing (and eating!) and I’m now feeling fresh and rejuvenated ready to take on 2019. 

January is a funny old month. The dark, often dreary days, and Summer seeming like a lifetime away, often gets us all a little down. However, January is the ideal time to start planning a break or holiday. We all feel better when we have something to look forward to. 

Most of us gravitate to breaks abroad, somewhere with plenty of sun and sea views. But you don’t have to get on an aeroplane to enjoy a fantastic and unique escape. The UK is home to secluded coves, dramatic mountains, villages and towns seeped in history and quirky places you can call home for the weekend. And you don’t have to spend a fortune either, which quite frankly is very welcome in January!

Canopy & Stars is the place to go if you are looking for something a little different. Their collection of unique, creative places to stay in the great outdoors gives you a genuine experience of a life more wild. From Shepherd’s huts to Safari tents, there is something for everyone. For the wild souls, there are tents and huts in the woodlands and meadows, with campfires and hikes on your doorstep. For those who like a little more luxury, choose from fairytale treehouses perfect for stargazing or secluded cabins within the unspoilt beauty of woodlands or parks.

The demands of modern day life often have us staring at a screen for a large part of the day, whether that’s a computer, iPad or phone, I’m guessing a day doesn’t go by without several checks of that screen. Sometimes we need to switch off, but to really do that you need to switch off from everything, yes this means the digital world as well! Treat yourself to a digital detox break and book somewhere with no Wi-Fi. I can hear most of you screaming “what? Are you actually crazy?” but trust me, it will do you wonders. Leave it all behind and embrace nature and be uncontactable for a few days. Choose one of Canopy & Stars Digital detox stays and go back to a time when life was simpler.

Here are my top picks from their extensive collection:

For a Cosy Cabin break:

The Saltbox – Elmley, Kent

With windows for walls, wake up to glorious sunrises and views across Elmley’s wild meadows.

“The Saltbox is modern with vintage touches like the copper piping in the beautiful dark blue bathroom and industrial splashbacks in the kitchenette. The star of the show is the fully glazed wall at one end, with the luxurious king-sized bed looking out from the huge window – it even opens fully to really bring the outside in! Or if you want to bring the inside out, you can opt to shower under the stars. Extra comfort comes in the form of cosy wool throws and bespoke textiles, whose prints were inspired by Elmley’s saltmarshes. And what better way to admire these beautiful marshes than with marshmallows toasted over the firebowl!”

UK breaks, Kent breaks, cabin breaks, UK holidays, cosy cabins, unique breaks UK

UK breaks, Kent breaks, cabin breaks, UK holidays, cosy cabins, unique breaks UK
UK breaks, Kent breaks, cabin breaks, UK holidays, cosy cabins, unique breaks UK, canopy and stars

For a Digital Detox:

Laverstock’s Everdene hut – Dorset

Go to the top of the Jurassic Coast’s loftiest cliff, then return to your cosy shepherd’s hut for a campfire supper in the woodlands.

“Laverstock Farm is a family estate where Everdene and Herdwick Hut have found quiet stretches of the Woodland Walk to settle down. You are perfectly positioned for day trips to Lyme Regis and the Jurassic Coast, long hikes up Dorset’s highest hills, Lewesden and Pilsdon and days of gentle meandering through the quiet countryside.”

UK breaks, unique stays, shepherds hut, unique breaks, UK stays, Canopy and Stars
UK breaks, unique stays, shepherds hut, unique breaks, UK stays, Canopy and Stars
UK breaks, unique stays, shepherds hut, unique breaks, UK stays, Canopy and Stars

On a budget:

Shaggy Sheep – Drover’s Rest, Herefordshire

Only five minutes from Hay-on-Wye, you can shop for books, canoe the river, then finish off with a cocktail back at the farm.

“Through a tunnel of trees and past the pretty stone farmhouse, you’ll find your meadow-dwelling safari tents – African in looks, but Welsh in spirit. Far enough away from each other to be private, but neighbourly enough that you can handily borrow a box of matches for the campfire. Your first tell-tale sign of the comfort and luxury is the chimney of a log burner popping out of the top of each tent and the rattan sofa with huge cushions on the porch. Beyond the farmhouse-worthy kitchen and living area padded out with sheepskins and cushions, there are two bedrooms; a twin and a double each with cast iron beds, welsh blankets and black sheepskin rugs. Unzip a flap in the twin room wall to go out onto the deck where you can sit at a bistro table and enjoy the sun all day long. All tents have their own hot monsoon shower and flushing loo in a fully-heated, no-expense-spared stable block, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the tents and torches are provided for night time trips.”

UK breaks, unique breaks, weekend breaks, glamping, clamping breaks, Wales escapes
UK breaks, unique breaks, weekend breaks, glamping, clamping breaks, Wales escapes

With a Hot Tub:

Prothero – Herefordshire

A romantic couples’ retreat in a starlit woodland – explore the nearby Black Mountains then seek out the cosy hot tub.

“A stay at Prothero starts with the sound of birds in the morning, ringing out from the trees that surround the beautifully furnished shepherd’s hut in the 4 acres of the owners’ garden. There are woodpeckers and pheasants, the occasional owl, and the resident chickens, although they tend to hang out next to the outdoor washroom 100m from the hut, where you’ll find the loo and shower. You can get some feed from Reuben and Martha if you want to charm them and their fresh eggs are usually on sale. A breakfast hamper of fabulous local produce can be arranged and evening meals can be delivered too, but there are a host of great places to eat, from the classic local of The Yew Tree, a family favourite just a half hour walk away, to the magical riverside setting of The Bridge Inn in Michaelchurch Escley.”

hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes
hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes
hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes

For some Luxury:

Black Wolf Treehouse – Devon

Step off the path and over the bridge to a secluded place of relaxed, woodland elegance with views of the Devon woods from the bathtub.

“Listening to the stream, the wind in the trees and the hooting owls at Black Wolf Treehouse is a wonderful way to relax, but doing it from the outdoor jacuzzi bath on the deck, or the wood-fired sauna, adds an irresistible layer of decadence. Every care has been taken over comfort, but only to allow you to fully appreciate the wilderness. The bed faces the huge folding doors, meaning woodland views without even getting up. The wood-burner makes for a cosy stay whilst keeping environmental impact down with a plentiful supply of wood from the forest on your doorstep. There’s even a bunk room for the kids to crash in, so when you’ve tired them out in the countryside, the peace of Black Wolf Treehouse is all yours again.”

hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes, unique escapes, treehouse breaks
hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes, unique escapes, treehouse breaks
hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes, unique escapes, treehouse breaks

Inspired? You can find more information on the Canopy & Stars website here.

Read more

Finisterre – Sustainable clothing for those who love the outdoors

December 12, 2018

The outdoor enthusiasts and adventure loving folk among you have probably already heard of Finisterre, but for those who haven’t or even the people happier at home, I’ve found the perfect brand that I just have to share with you all. 

Founded in 2003, Finisterre set out to provide British cold-water surfers with product that was fit for purpose, sustainably sourced and built to last. Since those early days, the brand has grown far beyond those original beginnings and have expanded their offerings to outdoor clothing and accessories, which stay true to their founding commitments: Product, Environment and People. 

Image: Lucia Griggi

I’ve never really been a girly girl, I’d much rather be wrapped up in a chunky merino wool jumper and bobble hat than a glittery dress, so obviously I was instantly attracted to the clothing, however the icing on the cake is the fact that I can shop knowing the product I am buying is from a company with such admirable commitments. This is key for me.

So many gift ideas for Christmas from Finisterre

Finisterre’s commitments:

Product: Designed with innovation and sustainability.

“Our design ethos has always been to build the best and most sustainable product we can. We create product that is fit for purpose, built to last and, wherever possible, that encompasses innovation to deliver a sustainability agenda. Through a long standing commitment to this outlook we have created product suitable for any adventure that includes recycled insulation jackets, pioneering FC-Free waterproofs, our own 100% natural blend of Merino, the ground breaking Bowmont wool project and an innovative and responsibly made denim range.

Well designed product becomes part of you; it shares your adventures and journeys, with every scuff mark telling a story”.

Environment: Informed decisions around our impact.

“A love of the sea and a respect of the environment is central to Finisterre; it is our inspiration and our playground.

We are a growing brand in the business of making product, so what we do, and all of our decisions inevitably have an impact on the environment. As a business, we strive to keep this footprint and impact to a minimum. We believe durability is the key to creating the best possible product. Our goal is long-lasting products which are sustainably sourced, using minimal water and manufactured in a responsible manner. This is our commitment and a start in reducing our effect on the planet. Whether it’s the non- mulesed wool in our base layers, the organic cotton in our t-shirts, or the recycled polyester insulation in our jackets, it’s our approach, and one we’ve been refining since 2003 and continue to deliver every day.

With our workshop being situated on the coast, and much of our free time spent in the sea, ocean plastics are always at front of mind, and a growing concern for us. As such, we have made a commitment to eradicating single-use plastic from our supply chain and workspaces by the end of 2018″.

People: Relationships that we believe in

“The attention to detail behind all our products is what drives us forward, as well as the relationships we build along the way, whether it’s with our manufacturers, employees or customers.

We will always make the effort to get out of the workshop to meet and learn from the people who make our product. Developing innovative product starts with an idea born from the workshop, but we rely on the skill and integrity of our suppliers, their support and energy to make things happen. This open-minded approach to innovation and manufacturing has led us to work with leaders in the field”.

Choosing organic cotton means choosing not to use pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms that are used in the growth of conventional cotton.

“Sustainability is at the heart of Finisterre; from championing and pioneering the innovation of recycled materials right through to the way we run our workshop.

The Finisterre Fabric Use-Up Project was founded on this basis, solving the problem of unused quality fabric left over from our recycled insulation, and most recently our waterproof jackets”.

Econyl: Turning plastic problems into swimwear solutions

“Currently, the oceans of the world are the unhappy home to around 640,000 tons of discarded nylon fishing nets. Not only is nylon non-biodegradable, the process of manufacturing it is also highly polluting. Both big problems.

This is one of the reasons we’re passionate about continuing our work with ECONYL®. They have invented a way of converting discarded fishing nets and other waste material into a high-performance swimwear fabric”.

Popped this on the Crimbo list!

Pretty impressive I’d say.

I’ve got a few things coming in time for Christmas, the hard part was choosing what to buy! And as is always the case with me, I couldn’t resist a cosy scarf for myself – no guilt though after reading all of the above!! Happy Christmas me!

(Images from Finisterre.com)

Read more

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road”

November 16, 2018

road trip, USA road trip, mustang, Utah, on the road,

Planning a Road Trip

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than the secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” Jon Krakauer

I love this quote because it sums up my life perfectly.  I suffer from what my fiancé calls ‘itchy feet’. I am perfectly happy living my day-to-day routine for about 2-3 months and then something takes over and I have this incredible yearning for adventure. A yearning for new scenery, new experiences and rich possibilities. It’s usually at this point that I insist we start planning our next escape. This consists of packing our bags, hopping on a plane and picking up our new ‘horse’ for the week, otherwise known as a Mustang. (James’ one insistence for a USA drive!)

Mustang, black mustang, USA road trip, drive the USA, Colorado, Utah,

I love a road trip.  Just the open road, vast sky above and unknown adventures to come, they are just exhilarating.  I will save all year for this two-week adventure. Some people save for a new car or new clothes, but I’m perfectly happy with my beat up old Kia Picanto (yes I really do have a granny car and I don’t care) and my charity shop and eBay purchases, because it affords me this two week adventure every year. 

map, road trip map, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, road trip planning,

Our first road trip saw us driving through France, Switzerland and Austria with two friends, finally ending up at our friend’s wedding in stunning Lake Garda, Italy. 

The next year we crossed the pond to California, driving a loop from San Francisco to Los Angeles taking in some jaw-dropping scenery in Yosemite, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon along the way. 

Yosemite, Yosemite National Park, USA, Road trip, California, landscapes, travel blogger,
Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA, Road trip, road trip planning, drive the USA, open road

The third trip took us to Canada’s Rocky Mountains. We braced the cold to be rewarded with spectacular mountain views, pristine glacier lakes and gigantic forests. We even saw the odd bear. 

Canada road trip, mountain biking, Whistler, Rocky Mountains, road trips

Last year, we exhausted ourselves with outdoor pursuits in the breathtaking mountains of Colorado and hot and vast deserts of Utah. 

Telluride, Colorado, road trip, hiking, USA road trip, Colorado hiking trails
Bryce Canyon, road trip, travel, USA road trip

So you could say I’ve become a bit of an expert at this planning malarkey. Here are my top tips for planning a road trip to remember.

Do your research

If you already have a rough idea of where your road trip will take you, then it’s a good idea to read up on the locations before you start planning. Don’t just stick to factual books though, I find classic literature great for getting you inspired. In preparation for our USA road trips, I read ‘Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck and “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. A classic will gear up your imagination.

Decide the duration and locations

After a bit of research, you should hopefully now have an idea of the country or countries you are planning on driving through, so now it is time to identify how many days you will go for. There’s no point packing five locations into a week-long trip, as you won’t see each place properly. 

For a two-week trip, I’d recommend 4-5 locations to maximize your time in each place and not feel too rushed. I will usually start with a night at the arrival airport to refresh before the first days drive. I then mix up the number of nights we stay at each place depending on what is on offer there. Some drives between two main points in the USA can take a few days, so I will split these up with a night in a hotel along the way. Once you reach the intended place, then stay for 2/3 nights to ensure you have time for those adventures!

Mustang, white mustang, USA road trip, California road trip, open road, on the road


Define your budget

Once you have your duration and location decided, now’s the time to determine your budget. This is important because it will influence where you will stay and what activities you can do. Once your budget is set, factor in each of the following:

Accommodation type – Will you be camping, staying in budget hotels or can you splurge for a night or two? Personally, we like to save our money for the experiences – white water rafting, hiring bikes, horse-riding etc. so we always opt for basic but clean budget hotels. Camping is always a great option too. I usually just book one night at a slightly nicer hotel as a treat and something to look forward to either mid way through or at the end. 

Food – What will you set aside each day for this? I tend to budget for one meal out a day and then buy supermarket snacks to create homemade packed lunches! And if breakfast is included at your hotel, always make the most of this and eat as much as you can. I will take fruit and muffins away as well which act as an ideal mid morning snack.

Fuel – Work out the distance your route will cover, research the fuel price and do the calculations. 

Activities – This is where I’m happy to pay a bit more because I love adventure. Identify what you want to do during your trip and how much it will cost. Set this aside. Remember there are so many free activities you can do as well. I’m a huge fan of hiking which is not only free but great exercise too. 

Chamonix, mountain biking, road trips, outdoor adventures, cycling
horse riding, our, USA road trip, explore USA, mustang, cowboys

Book the hotels in advance

Now that you have your itinerary planned out, I advise booking the hotels. It gives you peace of mind that you will have somewhere to stay every night. Of course, you may be the type who would rather ‘go with the flow’ and have no idea where you will stay. That’s fine too, but being a worrier, I prefer to have a back-up plan! I use booking.com to secure each reservation, but then a month before your trip, contact each hotel directly and ask to book directly with them. The reason I do this is because booking.com allows free cancellation, so if anything happened to prevent you going on the trip (god forbid), you won’t have spent a penny on this. However, hotels will always give a better rate for direct bookings, so once I know that the trip is on 100%, I’ll contact them and switch the booking.

‘Moon’s Road Trip’ by Jamie Jensen is a good place to start researching your trip and accommodation.

Book your flights wisely

I like to get my flights booked as soon as possible because rates tend to be cheaper the earlier you do. Also, if you can try to fly out and back on either a Tuesday or Thursday and early morning or late at night it’s always cheaper! Great comparison flight sites are skyscanner and Kayak. Always shop around.

Don’t always book your activities beforehand

Leave a bit of spontaneity to the trip, you want to keep that excitement going and not knowing what you will be doing each day adds an element of adventure. Sure, if you know you want to go kayaking, then research the best places to go on your route, but there’s no need to get this booked. Weather and unexpected events can throw a curveball at pre-made plans, so just rock up and book as you go!

I’m looking forward to sharing with you a more in-depth review of each of my trips, as there is so much to share! Hopefully I’ll inspire YOU to stop spending on unnecessary things and put a bit back away each month towards an adventure. Til the next time!

wing mirror, reflections, mustang, black mustang, road trips

Read more

Bruton: Cool, creative, in the countryside. Five reasons why you should visit Somerset’s ‘Little London’

October 10, 2018

Bruton, Somerset restaurants, Hauser and Wirth Bruton, At the Chapel, Scandinavian shops

If you are a creative soul, have a fondness for unique bistros or are lucky enough to live in Somerset (biased here!), then you are probably already familiar with the town of Bruton. For those who are not, let me give you five reasons why you should drop in on your next jaunt to the South West.

If exceptional design shops, quirky lunch options and world-renowned art galleries are your thing, then it’s not to be missed!

  1. World Renowned art gallery ‘Hauser and Wirth’ have a base here.
Hauser and wirth, Bruton art gallery, Creatives, art galleries in Somerset, Roff bar

With bases in London, New York, Los Angeles and Zuric, Bruton in Somerset may seem like an odd choice for this famous art gallery to choose as a home, but with Bruton’s artistic and hip crowd, it makes perfect sense. 

Hauser & Wirth Somerset is a pioneering world-class gallery and multi-purpose arts center which acts as a destination for experiencing art, architecture, and the remarkable Somerset landscape through new and innovative exhibitions of contemporary art.”

 Hauser and wirth, art gallery Bruton, Somerset arts, artist residence, Roth bar and grill, visit Bruton

It also hosts an on-site restaurant ‘Roth Bar and Grill’, serving seasonal, locally sourced produce and event nights. This is where the famous and cool come to party!

2. The dining rivals that of Notting Hill

Staying in the countryside doesn’t mean you are limited to fine dining. Bruton houses a number of superior restaurants and quirky bistros to choose from. If well-mixed cocktails and a Mediterranean approach to British food is your thing, then head to At the Chapel. This Grade II listed former chapel is an all-day restaurant and also offers B&B accommodation in eight contemporary and luxury bedrooms. Locals head here for stone-baked pizzas, film screenings and author talks.

At the Chapel Bruton, restaurant Bruton, fine dining Bruton, mediterranean food Bruton,
At the Chapel Bruton, restaurant Bruton, fine dining Bruton, mediterranean food Bruton,

Fancy something a bit more alternative? Then head over to Matt’s Kitchen. Amazing chef Matthew Watson has made the most of Bruton’s foodie scene and turned his high street space into his very own public dining room. Open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, he offers a set menu which varies daily and offers a variety of fabulous and fresh three course meals. The ‘Bring your own booze’ idea makes Matt’s Kitchen stand out from some other venues (and is a cheaper option too!).

If you fancy bumping into a celeb, head to the Roth Bar and Grill at Hauser and Wirth. Celeb’s spotted here include Rhys Ifans, fashion designer Phoebe Philo and Alice Temperley (both who own houses in Bruton).

3. Shop fashion and help raise funds for charity

The FMLY store, brought to you by Selfish Mother, aka Molly Gunn, also calls Bruton home. Selfish Mother started life as a blogzine & morphed into The FMLY Store when Molly launched her signature MOTHER tee back in 2014, to raise funds for female survivors of war. 

Selfish mother tees, Bruton fashion store, FMLY store, goodtees, charity tees,

Here you’ll find #GoodTees by Selfish Mother alongside other cool brands.

Our ethos is that style shouldn’t just look good, but do good, too. Our #GoodTees raise money for GOOD causes (we’ve raised nearly £1 million, since we launched in 2014). They are also produced with a GOOD ethos – fair wear certified, organic cotton & sweatshop free! We lovingly package each order in plastic-free packaging & send from our awesome Somerset HQ.

Selfish mother, FMLY store Bruton, charity tees, sustainable fashion, slow living

4. There is a Scandinavian design shop that promotes slow living.

Caro is a lifestyle shop offering objects for life and home, sourced from around the globe. Caro’s ethos is to share with others the moments we all covet in life: sharing a cuppa and cake with a friend, writing dreams and memories in a beautifully bound book or snuggling down in a warm, cosy blanket. Created by Natalie Jones, a former trend forecaster and Londoner, Caro sells Danish designs including HAY and Aesop and also offers an interior design service if you wish to recreate her style in your own home. Caro is a far cry from the countryside corner shops found in most West Country towns. It screams style and is Green too!

Caro Bruton, Scandinavian design shop, Hay, Bruton design, home decor Bruton

5. Independent makers and designers call Bruton home

This mix of art crowd, celebs, hipsters and foodies has put Bruton on the map, which can only be a good thing for us creative country types!

Independent makers and designers now call Bruton home, which means us country folk can shop locally and source highly crafted and unique design pieces without travelling miles. 

Independent makers, Designers Bruton, shop fashion Bruton, Rag of Colts

One of my favourite Bruton based designers is Rag of Colts, also known as Caroline Strecker. These beautiful bags are entirely hand-made and hand stitched with vintage saddlery and repurposed English bridle leather pieces. Caroline recycles old leather and turns it into a beautiful object which will last a lifetime.

Rag of colts, independent maker, Bruton designer, leather bags, vintage bags

“For me, the recycling element is crucial. The patina, character and story being told in the old leather is far more precious and appealing than new leather. It’s a process that cannot be rushed. Despite it being more time consuming to source and repurpose vintage pieces, the results speak for themselves. Each bag I create has its own distinct look and no two are ever exactly alike.” Caroline Strecker

On top of all this, there’s cheese, wine, beer and the stunning Somerset countryside all around. What’s not to love…?

Like this? Why not check out my review of Pythouse Kitchen Gardens in Wiltshire and Artist Residence hotels.

Read more

Artist Residence – A quirky place to stay

September 22, 2018

Oxford B&B, Oxfordshire hotels, Artist residence, unique hotels, art hotels, quirky stays
Oxfordshire

For those who have not heard of Artist Residence yet, I beg you to read on.

I first came across the Cornwall based Artist Residence, whilst looking for somewhere for our group to stay for a Light and Land tour to Penzance. This quirky and unique hotel instantly stood out to me due to its eccentric style and arty feel.

Interior design, design, homedecor, artist residence, interior, interior styling, interior décor, quirky b&b, interior inspo, London stays, boutique hotels, unique hotels, Oxford hotels,

Who is Artist Residence?

Artist Residence is an eccentric bunch of fun and friendly places to eat, drink and sleep, inspired and styled by Artists and creatives. Currently they are located in Brighton, London, Oxfordshire and Penzance, and another opening in Bristol very soon. Clearly popular and loved by anyone who has stayed with them, their style is fun, imaginative and inspiring.

Interior design, design, Oxford stays, artist residence, interior, interior styling, interior décor, quirky b&b, interior inspo, boutique hotels, unique hotels
Image credit @thecambridgest

Where it all began…

“When co-founder Justin dropped out of Uni to help out with the family B&B on Brighton seafront, he unexpectedly caught the hospitality bug, and set out to improve the business with very little budget. Inspired by the Brighton art scene, he sent out an ad for artists to decorate rooms in return for board. Hundreds of artists soon descended on the place decorating the walls, floors & ceilings with unique murals…and so, Artist Residence was born.”

This is so incredibly inspiring and shows that if you have the talent and passion for something, you really can make your dream a reality.

I love the way that limited edition art is mixed with vintage and found items to create a really unique style. Each location has an individual charm which sits in harmony with the surroundings. Their Oxfordshire retreat has a natural and rustic feel, in keeping with the surrounding countryside, whereas the Brighton retreat is more bohemian and creative, which fits in perfectly with the character of this quirky seaside town.

Interior design, design, homedecor, artist residence, interior, interior styling, interior décor, quirky b&b, interior inspo, London stays, boutique hotels, unique hotels
Image credit @mallyandthemoon

Don’t take my word for it though. Check out their website and my review below and start planning your next mini break!

Will it be Brighton, London, Oxfordshire or Cornwall? I’ve been a bit greedy and have planned both a trip to Oxfordshire and Penzance! Looking forward to sharing with you all soon.

Interior design, design, homedecor, artist residence, interior, interior styling, interior décor, quirky b&b, interior inspo, London stays, boutique hotels, unique hotels

Locations

Brighton

“The original Artist Residence, located on Brighton seafront and overlooking the iconic West Pier. With renowned restaurant, The Set, the fun and casual Set Bar with tapas, cocktails and draught beers, and a secret drinking den tucked away in the basement, this is a lively Brighton hangout with something for everyone”.


Interior design, design, homedecor, artist residence, interior, interior styling, interior décor, quirky b&b, interior inspo, Brighton stays, boutique hotels, unique hotels, Brighton hotels
Brighton

London

“Nestled in the quiet side streets of Pimlico, just minutes from the bustle of Victoria station, this is a home away from home for the city traveller. Neighbourhood restaurant, The Cambridge Street Kitchen, is an all day space for both locals & guests, whilst the moody Clarendon Cocktail Cellar comes alive at night…”

Interior design, design, homedecor, artist residence, interior, interior styling, interior décor, quirky b&b, interior inspo, Oxford stays, boutique hotels, unique hotels, Oxford hotels, Oxford B&Bs,
London

Oxfordshire

“The most recent addition to the family, this is our take on the traditional English inn. The eccentric Mr Hanbury’s Mason Arms serves a creative menu of seasonal British produce downstairs, with 5 comfy bedrooms tucked away in the eaves and the grand Barn suite in the farm outbuildings – the perfect retreat after a night of indulging.”

Interior design, design, homedecor, artist residence, interior, interior styling, interior décor, quirky b&b, interior inspo, London stays, boutique hotels, unique hotels
Oxfordshire

Penzance

“A Georgian manor house in the old quarter of Penzance, a seaside town perfectly located for exploring wild West Cornwall. Our rustic smokehouse restaurant, The Cornish Barn, serves up hearty portions of local meat and fish in an intimate and relaxed setting, with a log burner for chilly days and a sun-trapped garden for those glorious Cornish summers”.

Interior design, design, homedecor, artist residence, interior, interior styling, interior décor, quirky b&b, interior inspo, Cornwall stays, boutique hotels, unique hotels, Cornwall hotels, Cornwall B&Bs
Penzance

Maybe see you there!

If you are looking for limited edition Art or are just interested in Artists and designers, you might like to check out my review of Artist Laura Rich here.

Read more

An enchanting walled garden escape in the stunning South Wiltshire countryside

September 1, 2018

Walled garden at Pythouse gardens, Wiltshire

When you think of the deep dark countryside, what immediately springs to mind when it comes to eating out? Maybe an old traditional pub or coaching inn, with rustic beams, roaring fires and a few old men propping up the bar. Of course, there are plenty of these to be found (and I adore an old cosy pub!), but it’s also surprising what other enthralling options are just on your doorstep if you explore the neighbouring villages and towns. I live in a small town in North Dorset with little character and a lack of choices for a lovely evening out with good food and good wine. However, if I venture five or ten miles away, the surrounding villages offer plenty of unique and inviting options for that relaxing evening out or cosy Sunday lunch.

Interior at Pythouse walled gardens in south Wiltshire

Pythouse Kitchen Garden is an enchanting 18th Century walled garden, restaurant, bar and venue set in the stunning landscape of South Wiltshire. Driven by the delightful way the seasons can play on our senses, Pythouse delivers plates which are entirely coupled with the seasonality of the garden

Delicious food shot at Pythouse Gardens

“We have a simple approach to cooking our dishes. We start with produce we have grown ourselves and then look to our immediate neighbours for accompanying ingredients. The microclimate within the old brick walls of PKG treats us to wonderful bounty, from kiwis, apricots and pears to artichokes, elephant garlic and squashes.”

Homegrown green beans and basket

Each new season brings a change in the produce grown in the garden and in turn a different menu to the table. They specialise in cooking outdoors over the fire which is a pure, simple and healthy way to enjoy homegrown fruit and veg and locally reared produce.

Cake and food shot in a Wiltshire cafe
Homemade drink from the Kitchen Garden Co

It’s not only the incredibly flavoursome food that brings me back time and time again though. The chance to celebrate warm summer evenings under canvas, embracing winter with a delicious Sunday roast, high tea with the girls for a catch up, ‘the get down’ party nights or their new open mic night for an evening of dazzling local talent. The options are endless!

Wildflowers grown at Pythouse Kitchen gardens
Detail image at Pythouse kitchen gardens
Books and flowers at Pythouse walled gardens cafe

The interiors have been inspired by the surrounding gardens and nature. Freshly cut flowers adorn every table and the décor has that rustic, country feel to it which sits in perfect harmony with the outside and brings the tranquillity of nature into the venue.

Wildflowers at the walled gardens in Wiltshire
Autumn morning mist at Pythouse Walled Gardens in Wiltshire

If glamping is your thing, a new magical glamping village is tucked away in the beautiful and secluded orchard at the bottom of the walled garden. This is ideal for families, larger groups and wedding parties, offering a romantic, secluded venue.

Glamping at Pythouse walled gardens Wiltshire

There’s no mistaking that I am a country girl through and through. I love the outdoors, being surrounded by nature and a good old-fashioned pub, yet I also appreciate creativity and being surrounded by original and inspired spaces. A space where love and care has gone into every aspect of the design, the ethos and the atmosphere. The minute you walk under the archway to enter Pythouse gardens, you are taken into an enchanted place. It is peaceful, individual and inviting, yet is not pretentious in any way.

Pythouse Walled Gardens proves that you don’t have to travel miles for that perfect evening out or lunch date. Investigate your neighbouring towns or villages, better still, hop on your bike or in the car and ‘get lost’ exploring new places, you never know what you might come across!

(Some images taken from Pythouse Walled Garden website and Instagram page. Do visit their website here to be inspired and find out more!) 

Pythouse kitchen garden restaurant, bar and venue

Read more

New escapes & beautiful design

August 21, 2018

Hi, I’m Emily and this is the launch of my new blog ‘green and the great’ which will document my discoveries and interests in the worlds of interiors, art, green living and travel. This is also my very first blog entry and it is a wee bit scary, so please be gentle with me!

I’ve been toying with the idea of a blog for several years now, but until now the only blogging that’s been done has been in a notepad by my bed where I write down all the ideas that swim through my mind and stop me from getting my full 8 hours every night. So, for the sake of my dearly beloved fiancé, who will tell you that I don’t do too well on little sleep, I have decided to bite the bullet and make ‘green and the great’ a reality!

So here goes…

A little about me. Since a very young age I have always yearned to be ‘doing’. Whilst my sisters would be happy watching a film during the summer holidays, I yearned to be outside. It felt criminal to be indoors when the beautiful Wiltshire countryside was calling. We’d play Fox and Hound, build dens and camp in the garden (the tent being created by mum’s blanket hung over the washing line!).

At school my passions were for art and design, which led me to arts college and then on to completing a degree in photography. After university, I spent 7 years working and travelling, working any job available to fund my travels taking me to new countries and some great adventures. My yearning to explore took me to New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Iceland and more. I would however always come back home after a trip and delight in being back in the countryside and home.

Travelling opened up my eyes to the world. It was also a great outlet for my love of photography.

It was on my return home in my late twenties that I met my now fiancé James. At the same time, I got my dream job working for distinguished landscape photographer Charlie Waite, running his company Light and Land, where I arrange landscape photography tours around the world. During the past seven years, myself and James have added a new member to our family – our lovely moggy Django, the most spoilt cat in the world, who also has many names including Tronics, Scooter and Jangs! He may appear in this blog a few times, for that I apologise!

During this time, I have continued to travel. James and I take a road trip every year to a new destination. (More to come on these adventures in later blog posts). A big turning point came when we bought our house and I took on the job of redesigning and decorating it for resale. I used my creative experience and James’ DIY enthusiasm to completely alter the house, and in turn we sold it for a lot more than we paid. This enabled us to buy our dream home, a beautiful 1800’s cottage in the Dorset countryside, where I can retreat from the noise of the world and focus on my creativity.

Doing up a house on a very small budget made me rethink the way we had been spending money. I realised that although I loved designing our rooms with pieces from high street stores, I also became more conscious of the bigger issues in our world at present. Inspired by the Scandinavian ethos of Lagom and Lykke, I realised being content and happy is nothing to do with what you own or how much money you have, it’s about enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Now I was not a thrifty student nor was I a wise spender in my twenties. I have a wardrobe full of Topshop jumpers, shoes I have worn only once and too many handbags to admit to. But the happiness they brought me was fleeting at best. This throwaway nature is something I probably didn’t realise I was doing. If I look back at how much of my hard-earned money I probably spent on meaningless and unneeded items, I actually cringe inside. With that money I could have visited a new place, taken a friend or family member on a trip or treated someone who had very little.

So, in January this year, I decided to live a more sustainable life by abiding by a few homemade rules.

  • Only buy something new if it is really needed (example of my inner mind “do I REALLY need another white woollen jumper??”)
  • If I do need another white woollen jumper, then buy second-hand. Visit a charity shop, browse sites like eBay or have a swap session with friends.
  • I do allow myself to spend money on new experiences and travel. My new moto “Don’t buy things, by moments”.
  • When buying for the house or myself, then buy better. Don’t buy throw away items anymore, but invest in quality pieces which are well designed and durable. Ideally these will be from independent designers, makers and artisans. (My love of the arts is still going strong!)

I want to inspire in people a curiosity and desire to make more sustainable and ethical choices in their day to day lives.

Let’s all care about the future of the world we live in, but at the same time enjoy it.

I will be posting about inspiring places to visit, ideas for getting outdoors, spending less, introducing you to talented artists, designers and makers, and eventually I hope to be able to sell their quality pieces via my website Green and the Great (coming soon!).

Green and the Great is about making the most of the opportunities this world gives us – be Green but explore, there are amazing places right outside the front door if we just find the time to appreciate them. It’s about buying better and buying the Great – from independent designers whose designs will not only last a lifetime but look amazing too

I hope to stimulate conversation about design, interiors, sustainable living and travel and would love to hear about your projects and experiments too! Let the journey begin!