England

The Weekend - Cornwall

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Here at Lodestars Anthology we love a beautiful travel journal as much as the next person (a lot more so, probably).  So imagine how happy we were when we chanced across Cornwall by Weekend Journals, a definitive guide to exploring the fairest English county which features unique and special venues, from verdant gardens to visionary galleries, independent shops and exceptional restaurants. The book is written by Milly Kenny-Ryder and produced by Simon Lovell, who both have strong links to Cornwall, and have been visiting with their families since they were young.  Using these connections they have gone off the beaten track to discover the venues that the locals love, while also showcasing some of Cornwall's most iconic sites and stories.  For a hint of what this edition of The Weekend is all about, read on, and be inspired by all that Cornwall has to offer (or click here to order a copy).

The dining area at the St. Tudy Inn

St. Tudy Inn

Emily Scott is an ambitious and optimistic chef who took over the St. Tudy Inn, determined to offer locals and visitors great food in a delightful setting. This charming Cornish pub is situated in St. Tudy, a quaint village in North Cornwall. After extensive redecoration the pub feels cosy and welcoming, with Nicole Heidaripour prints on the walls and vintage furniture.

All Emily’s cheffing experience has been put to good use in the kitchen, where seasonality and local produce reign. The menu is full of comforting classics with a twist, such as the fish and chips, upgraded to the irresistibly tasty Monkfish tails in rosemary focaccia crumb with fries and citrus mayo. The St. Tudy Inn also runs regular events, including Pig and Cider nights with a hog roast and regional ales, so there's many an enticing reason to visit.

St. Tudy Inn, St. Tudy, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 3NN

01208 850 656

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A spin on the classic fish and chips - monkfish tails in rosemary crumb

Beautifully Cornish floral arrangement at the St. Tudy Inn

Surfside

Surfside is an exciting venture from London-based mixologist Tristan Stephenson, author of The Curious Bartender and part of the drinks company Fluid Movement who founded Purl and The Whistling Shop bars in London. Surfside has become a local hit, serving fresh food and cocktails at the water’s edge in Polzeath. Located on a corner of the beach, the restaurant is only accessible via the sand which adds to the experience.

Lobster crackers at Surfside Restaurant

Although the venue appears casual from the exterior, inside the offerings are for serious foodies with surf and turf platters and inventive cocktails. Thanks to the isolated location Surfside feels intimate and exclusive, with panoramic sea views adding something special to the meal.

Surfside Restaurant, On the Beach, Polzeath, Cornwall, PL27 6TB

01208 862 931

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The choice is yours: drinks at Surfside Restaurant

Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard

Situated on the slopes of the Issey brook near Padstow, Trevibban Mill is one of the newer Cornish wineries but is already producing award-winning wines. Liz and Engin began planting in 2008 with an ambition to produce top quality Cornish wines and ciders. Native sheep graze on the land and their wool is for sale in the vineyard shop. Tours and tastings can be arranged to sample a range of the different wine and cider varieties.

Trevibban Mill and Appleton's at the Vineyard

Also on site is Appleton’s at the Vineyard, where ex-Fifteen head chef Andy Appleton is managing the kitchen, feeding hungry visitors with fine Italian dishes showcasing the local produce. Choose from a beautiful piece of sustainable fish, or a bowl of comforting pasta. The dishes provide the ideal accompaniment to a glass of Trevibban Mill wine.

Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard, Dark Lane, near Padstow, PL27 7SE

01841 541 413

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Pasta and Wine at Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard

Trevibban Mill's Wine and Yarn

Hidden Kitchen

Hidden Kitchen is a supper club and culinary concierge serving unique food to its St Ives clientele. Located on the corner of St. Andrews Street, in the centre of the historic town, it is easy to miss this understated dining room. Chef James Watson and his wife Georgina worked together in the catering business before opening their first venue. The intimate dining experience in the boutique restaurant makes it feel like a dinner party at a friend’s house.

Hidden Kitchen

Reading material at the Hidden Kitchen

James regularly plays host to visiting chefs who provide diners with constantly changing, exciting international cuisines. Guest chefs have included Gordon Ramsay student Lee Skeet and Japanese cook Naoko Kashiwagi. After the meal leave a message to show your appreciation on the blackboard tables.

Hidden Kitchen, The Masonic Lodge, St. Andrews Street, St Ives, TR26 1AH

07792 639 755

hiddenkitchenstives.co.uk

Hidden Kitchen - a feast for the senses

Drinks at the Hidden Kitchen

Espressini

There are more and more promising independent coffee shops in Cornwall; Espressini on Killigrew Street in Falmouth is one of the best. This characterful venue serves a bespoke blend of beans sourced and roasted by Yallah Coffee, selected specially for them from growers around the world. Inside, the café is cosy and familiar with mismatched antique furniture, and the chatter accompanied by a thoughtful playlist. The coffee is bold in flavour and served to your preference. Brunch is particularly popular with a menu of tempting and indulgent dishes displaying a wide range of influences from world cuisines.

Coffee at Espressini

Nearby, on Falmouth harbour, is Dulce, the smaller sibling of Espressini which, as well as offering freshly brewed coffee, sells equipment to help you make the perfect cup at home.

39 Killigrew St, Falmouth, TR11 3PW

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Sweet treats at Espressini

Fabulous interior design at Espressini

ODE TO THE ENGLISH PUB

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With our England magazine now sold out we thought it was only right to share one of its stories - a celebration of the country's best pubs. To avoid missing any other back issues, pay a visit to our store by clicking here.

Words by Tom Goble & Illustrations by Emily Fernando

With their ghostly inhabitants, unexpected pasts, famous patrons and general eccentricity, English pubs are decidedly brilliant.

The English pub is a marvellous thing, in fact I’m writing this introduction from one (The White Hart in Sevenoaks since you ask). Come rain, shine or old-fashioned drizzle, a good English pub will restore you. It’ll warm your cockles, quench your thirst and satisfy your need for quirkiness.

Maybe it’s because I’m an Englishman, maybe it’s because I like a drink, maybe it’s because I speak the unquestionable truth, but to me it seems the English do pubs like no other nation. Very few countries have drinking establishments so tied in with their national identity; meaning any number of fascinating pubs could have found their way into this article. On that note, apologies if your particular favourite has been omitted. I’ve attempted to offer a snapshot of the great and the good of English drinking dens. For every interesting story I describe, there are thousands of others from pubs and inns up and down the length and breadth of the country that I might have chosen. The Philharmonic in Liverpool that inspired a young John Lennon, The Eagle and Child in Oxford that counted J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis among its clientele and The Haunch of Venison in Salisbury, which was used by Churchill and Eisenhower during the D-Day landings, are just some of the many I could have picked.

So if you take anything from these ramblings, I’d like it not to be that these are England’s best eight pubs, but rather that England is blessed with some magnificent places to have a drink; and so I’d encourage you to get out and explore them all (sensible drinking is advised, but by no means compulsory).

Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar & Emporium

I’ll tell you the problem with pubs – they’re not a lot of good if you don’t like drinking. Sure they’ll serve you an orange juice and packet of crisps, but any publican worth his salt (and vinegar) will be thinking “Uh-oh! We’ve got another weirdo teetotaller Mildred (his frumpy fictional wife)”. But wait, there is a solution.

Mr. Fitzpatrick’s Bar is the UK’s last and only remaining original temperance bar. Serving a heady selection of herbal drinks, cordials and mocktails to the alcohol-intolerant inhabitants of Rawtenstall in Lancashire, Mr. Fitzpatrick’s has proved quite a draw, with visitors coming from across the globe to sample this quaint snapshot of Victorian Britain.

The temperance movement (one foot in front of the other please sir) began in 1835 in Preston amid concerns about the Industrial Revolution’s equally industrial levels of alcoholism. And although prohibition was never formalised in the UK in the same way it was by our supposedly sober cousins in 1920’s America, a wave of non-alcoholic bars began popping up in most towns to guard against the dangers of heavy drinking.

Although their reach was nationwide, temperance bars found their strongest foothold in the Northern industrial towns, some of the most famous of which carried the Fitzpatrick family name. Originally a family of herbalist Dubliners, the Fitzpatricks established themselves as one of England’s foremost purveyors of Dandelion and Burdock, Blood Tonic and Cream Soda and their empire grew to include more than 40 bars.

The final remaining bar retains many of its original fixtures and fittings, including the ceramic tap barrels and shelves lined with jars of medicinal herbs, and might well be credited with a bit of a revival in ‘dry’ drinking venues. Alcohol-free bars have been turning up with increasing popularly, particularly in London with Redemption and Sobar serving only soft drinks and proving very popular with the after-work set and health- conscious alike.

So popular has the dry drinking culture become in the UK that the proprietors of the Rawtenstall temperance bar have opened a new sister establishment in nearby Chorley, Lancashire. The simply named Temperance Bar serves many of the same cordials and mocktails and its owners hope that temperance bars might once again be a regular feature on most English high streets. Mr. Fitzpatrick would be proud.

Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar Bank St, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, BB4 6QS

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Jamaica Inn

“I took the missus to the Inn” ‘Jamaica?’ “No, she went of her own accord!”

Theoldonesarethebest,aren’tthey? And the Jamaica Inn, sitting between Launceston and Bodmin in Cornwall, is pretty old indeed. It’s also got a fair bit of history attached to it.

Built in the mid 18th Century, Jamaica Inn was originally a coaching inn, the equivalent of Little Chef/ Premier Inn combo on the side of a motorway today. Very much like our motorway services,theJamaicaInn, in bygone days, occasionally played host to some less than desirable clientele, and the inn was often used by smugglers to hide the contraband they’d brought ashore - at this time, half of the brandy and a quarter of the tea arriving into the UK was being smuggled in through the Devon and Cornwall coastline. In fact, it is thought that the inn got its name due to the amount of smuggled rum that passed through it.

The smuggling heritage and history of Jamaica Inn can be relived in the attached Museum of Smuggling, which is open daily and costs around £4 for adults. It is found in what was originally The Stable Bar, a space that (along with The Smuggler’s Bar and an upstairs bedroom) has been of particular interest to curious (or should that be foolhardy) ghost hunters.

It was this atmosphere, thick with history and dubious intrigue, that must have so struck Daphne Du Maurier when she stayed at the inn on a “cold and eerie” night in 1930. Du Maurier’s fictionalised version of Jamaica Inn remains one of her best-selling and most-loved novels and was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock on the eve of the Second World War. The novel Jamaica Inn continues to inspire and the recently broadcast BBC retelling of the tale ought to keep the bar of Jamaica Inn busy with Du Maurier enthusiasts and introduce Cornwall’s murky past to new generations of little smugglers.

Jamaica Inn Bolventor, Launceston, Cornwall PL15 7TS

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The Spaniards Inn

This is not a trendy gastro-tapas- drinking den, as the name might suggest, but rather one of London’s most historic literary pubs. Found on the edge of Hampstead, North London, The Spaniards Inn was originally built as a tollgate inn on the Finchley boundary marking the entrance to the Bishop of London’s estate (the 1755 boundary stone is still in the front garden).

Legend insists that infamous highwayman Dick Turpin was once a regular, and that his father was once landlord, and although neither of these facts can be substantiated, it was known that highwaymen used the inn to watch for approaching traffic.

But highwaymen were not the only inventive professionals drawn to The Spaniards Inn; many of our great literary figures made it their watering hole too. The inn is mentioned by Dickens in The Pickwick Papers and by Bram Stoker in Dracula, and Romantic poets John Keats and Lord Byron were also said to be regulars.

The inn retains much of its historic décor and is often said to have one of the most impressive beer gardens in London – it has been landscaped so that from one artificial mound there is a view of Windsor Castle. It is reported that Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale from this sunny hideaway.

So if you too are longing “for a draught of vintage” in a pub garden, then you may like to pop down to The Spaniards Inn. But make sure you bring your notebook, you might be struck by inspiration.

The Spaniards Inn Spaniards Rd, Hampstead, London , NW3 7JJ

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Tan Hill Inn

What’s that?! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s the Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in the UK. At a whopping 1732 feet above sea level it’s a good 500 feet taller than the Empire State Building and North Yorkshire Dales enthusiasts would insist it has a better view too.

The current inn dates from the 17th Century and for much of its life was a valued part of the area’s coal mining community, serving the inhabitants of the many nearby mining cottages who in turn served the Tan Hill mines.

With the world still reeling from the Wall Street Crash, it was dealt another blow in 1929 when the last of the Tan Hill mines closed its doors (do mines have doors?) for good, leading to a period of belt tightening for the Tan Hill Inn. The fact that it survived the loss of its sooty patrons at all was in part thanks to local farmers who continued to tread their muddy boot prints into the shag, and also the development of the motorcar.

1951 was a big year for the UK. The Archers was first broadcast, Dennis the Menace appeared in The Beano for the first time, Zebra Crossings were introduced to UK roads, and to top it all the first ever Tan Hill Sheep Show was held. The Sheep Show, now a regular feature on the Tan Hill social events calendar, has been held almost every year since its inception.

Due to the somewhat isolated hilltop setting, Tan Hill Inn might also hold the joint honour of being the most inaccessible pub during winter – one particularly snow-enforced lock-in lasted four days with 60 punters. And in another of the peculiar quirks that makes Britain’s pubs the world’s best, after a mobile phone advert was filmed in the pub, it was forced to invoke a strict no-phone policy. A jar stands behind the bar, full of Nokia 3310s (et al.) as the price of failing to pay the 50p just-turn-the-damn-thing-off fine results in the loss of your phone. Now that’s the sort of rule I like!

If you prefer your inn with a double portion of quirkiness at altitude then do check out the Tan Hill Inn. It’s a warm and cosy free house with a good atmosphere and a non-ringtone- interrupted ambience – and it’s bloody high up.

Tan Hill Inn Richmond, Swaledale, North Yorkshire DL11 6ED

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The Bat & Ball

Erroneously known as ‘the cradle of English cricket’, The Bat & Ball in the sleepy Hampshire village of Hambledon certainly has a place within the history books of the most quintessentially English of sports.

Due to its close association with the Hambledon Cricket Club, many have assumed (incorrectly) that infant cricket let go of his mother’s apron strings and took his first steps on Broadhalfpenny Down (opposite The Bat & Ball). In truth however, the evocative thwack of leather on willow had been heard across the South Downs for hundreds of years previous. Nevertheless, The Bat & Ball and the Hambledon Cricket Club (who used The Bat & Ball as clubhouse and changing room) continue to remain inextricably linked with cricketing folklore; the modern rules of the game were drawn up from the Hambledon Club’s original.

The Bat & Ball itself, as you might expect, is a bit of a Mecca for cricketing enthusiasts, and its walls are bedecked (as all good cricketing Meccas are) with bats and balls and other cricketing flotsam and jetsam. The bar has a white line painted through the middle of it, which apocryphally is said to mark the position of the original Hambledon Club boundary rope.

Cricket is still played opposite The Bat & Ball and I might be so bold as to venture that there’s no finer way to spend a sunny afternoon than sipping cider and watching an innings or two. One cautionary word of warning however, the car park of The Bat & Ball is certainly in range of any decent batsman and a dented roof or smashed windscreen is only a hefty slog away.

Here’s another titbit for you, Britain’s third favourite ale HSB was originally made just down the road - the ‘H’ standing for nearby hamlet Horndean. So if you like to know the provenance of your pint at The Bat & Ball you’re only a cricket ball throw from the origin of what locals would call a pretty ‘Special Bitter’ indeed.

Go on then, press a crease into your trousers, pop on your whites and get down to Hambledon on a sunny afternoon. I promise it’ll be exquisitely lazy, and you’ll love every minute. Howzat!

The Bat & Ball Hyden Farm Lane, Waterlooville, Hampshire, PO8 0UB

The Nutshell

How many people can you fit in England’s smallest pub? Answer: 102 and a dog!

The pride and PR opportunities that accompany being England’s oldest/ biggest/tallest/dustiest/coldest pub are significant, and the crown belonging to England’s smallest pub is a very keenly contested one. Many have thrown their teeny hat into the tiny ring, but only one has emerged victorious. The compact but perfectly formed Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds is generally acknowledged (certainly by The Guinness Book of Records) as the smallest, seemingly by virtue of the fact that it has no outside drinking space/beer garden, unlike many of its puny rivals.

Measuring only 15ft by 7ft the record of 102 people and a dog seems a little far-fetched, but for a local radio feature in 1984 The Nutshell achieved just that. Pretty impressive for pub with just about enough room for 10 patrons ordinarily. In fact, The Nutshell is so small, that it hit the headlines in 2013 for banning one of its taller (he was 6’7 if you were wondering) patrons during peak times as there simply wasn’t room to accommodate him.

Assuming you’re small enough to be allowed inside, aside from getting up close and personal with the locals, you’ll be able to come face to face (literally) with The Nutshell’s famously interesting décor. Having started life as a museum of art and curiosities in the late 19th Century, the current ownership have kept up the tradition and the walls and ceiling display a range of particularly weird and wonderful objets d’art. In keeping with the diminutive theme, The Nutshell boasts the smallest copy of The Times and the smallest dartboard. And when a desiccated cat was found by builders behind the brickwork of the fireplace it was decided it was exactly what the pub needed and they stuck it on the wall.

Whether you simply like invading the space of boozy men, or just fancy a little (normal sized) drink in a tiny (tiny) pub then check out The Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds. If you can find it.

The Nutshell, The Traverse, Town Centre, Bury St Edmunds IP33 1BJ

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Warren House Inn

So you’ve been on a brisk winter’s walk across the wilds of Dartmoor. The biting Devonshire wind has chilled you to the core and, fearing hypothermia, you’re on the verge of calling Mountain (Moor) Rescue when you spot a white dot of hope on the horizon; an inn, with its plume of smoke billowing from a chimney hinting at the cosiness within.

With its address of No. 1, Middle of Nowhere, Warren House Inn has offered respite to weary travellers since the mid 19th Century. Like the Tan Hill Inn, this particular establishment originally served the thriving but now non-existent tin mining industry. It’s also quite isolated come winter. During heavy snows in 1963 Warren House was cut off for 12 weeks, meaning provisions had to be brought in by helicopter.

Now over the years many of England’s great pubs have had equally illustrious landlords (Sir Ian Mckellen - Magneto to his friends - co-owns The Grapes in Limehouse, Guy Ritchie owns the Punch Bowl in Mayfair, and chat-show host extraordinaire Michael Parkinson owns The Royal Oak in Maidenhead) and Warren House Inn is no exception, sitting slap-bang in the middle of the estate of the Duchy of Cornwall. By rights it’s Prince Charles’s name above the door.

It says something about a pub when the fact that the landlord is heir to the throne is not the most interesting thing about it, and so I’ll bring you back to the plume of smoke mentioned at the top. The fire that burns in the hearth of Warren House Inn has been doing so continuously since 1845. It’s outlived Dartmoor’s tin industry, survived countless freezing winters and warmed the cockles of who knows how many wide-eyed travellers. Warren House Inn really does keep the home fires burning.

Warren House Inn Postbridge, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6TA

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Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem

One of the many pretenders to the wrinkled crown of Britain’s oldest pub is Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, which purports (according to the pub sign at least) to date from 1189 AD.

Though the current building is only about three hundred years old, The Trip, as it is known to the Nottinghamites, is built on a series of man-made caves, which date to about the same time as the Norman conquest and link up to the castle on the hill above.

The pub supposedly takes its name from the fact that crusade-bound knights used the watering hole as a stop-off point on their way to Israel (the modern equivalent would be needing a wee before you reach the end of the road). Indeed Richard I himself apparently slept at the inn on one of his very infrequent visits to England, though this obviously can’t be verified as he didn’t post a review on TripAdvisor. What is beyond doubt however is that over the years some pretty strange and eerie things have occurred at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.

In The Rock Lounge (one of The Trip’s three bars) a model galleon hangs from the ceiling gathering dust as the last three people to have cleaned it are said to have died under mysterious circumstances within 12 months of doing so. The galleon is now encased in glass, as the centuries of dust covering it occasionally became dislodged and would fall into an unsuspecting drinker’s pint. Other peculiar highlights include an antique chair in the corner of the bar, which is said to improve the fertility and chances of conception of any woman who sits in it. The chair has even been used by local politicians to stress the importance of contraception to bemused teenage residents.

If you like your pubs ancient, and with a healthy serving of haunted spookiness on the side, then stop in to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. Perhaps on your way to the Holy Land? Or at least somewhere else suitably sunny.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Brewhouse Yard, Castle Rd, Nottingham, NG1 6AD

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Petersham Nurseries

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Petersham Nurseries Words & Photographs by Angela Terrell

Down by the river, a leisurely amble from Richmond, is a somewhat unconventional garden centre. Donning the wellingtons and wandering up narrow, stone walled laneways feels decidedly earthy. And a little bizarre, as despite passing Thames-side water meadows and seemingly forgotten royal palaces, you’re technically stillintheconfinesofLondon.Yet these sometimes muddy laneways are worth the wading, leading you to a thoroughly English horticultural and gastronomic gem.

Petersham Nurseries is a haven of inspiration and a feast for the senses. Found by the grounds of the ever- tranquil Petersham House, you quickly become the proverbial kid in a candy store, wandering around and falling for the plethora of antiques, art, homewares and plants dotted around this Victorian working nursery.

Yet it’s the culinary offerings that really lure in the visitors. Petersham Nurseries has two star foodie attractions; their award winning café and teahouse, both open for lunch from Tuesday to Sunday. The former, nestled inside a light- catching greenhouse, is all about fusing exceptional, naturally sourced produce with English gastronomic traditions and Italian flavours. Alternatively, the teahouse, which also boasts a rather disarming dirt floor, is ideal for patrons hankering after something a little lighter.

Petersham Nurseries

In both epicurean settings seasonal ingredients are always used and edible herbs from the Petersham House Walled Kitchen Garden enhance the experience. Each dish is lovingly presented using a range of garden-fresh flora that even the less green thumbed of us would love to grow. While these may act as humble garnishes to the inventive and sometimes unexpected fare they are capable of completely halting conversation. These are the type of dishes you have to stop and admire before you can even think of tucking in.

It’s not just the food that people flock here for. The relaxed, stately setting is pretty spectacular too. During my late summer visit the sight of freshly made strawberry Bellinis, sitting pretty on a marble topped wrought iron table by the café’s entrance, really got me in the culinary mood. Their bubbly, rosy hue blended seamlessly with the vines running up the artfully aged arch behind. The glass roof with its ornate metal framework suggestively reflects the colour and textures of the food below, and the eclectic mix of tables,chairs and antique collectibles filling the greenhouse make the café a space to unwind in.

Petersham Nurseries

After a stunning meal of goat’s milk cheese, truffle oil, luscious figs and marigolds (the menu here is the epitome of seasonal, so whenever you visit you’re sure to be in for something different), there is a natural urge to wander through to the shop where a wonderful array of international goods greet you. Girandole chandeliers hang from the roof and urns overflowing with orchids and blooms sit majestically on the console tables below. Large antique French mirrors open up the furniture filled space, making use of the natural light that pours in on even the most overcast of days. The effortless mix of flora and homewares (and stoneware for that matter) leads to drastic thoughts of redecorating,causing you to ponder just how easy it would be to ship an antique wardrobe back across the seas.

And then there’s the nursery – as if your senses hadn’t been sated enough already! Here you can see how the earthy food you so recently gorged on came to be. There are seeds and herbs ripe for planting so you too can make your own flavoursome creations, or at least grow something pretty. Dahlias, foxgloves, cuckooflowers and primroses mix with the quirky willow herb and catchfly, each resplendent in the afternoon sun that sends low shadows over their playful sway.

Petersham Nurseries is an enchanting place where brilliant fare and the beauty of nature join to create a floral, food and art-filled experience to savour.

Taken from issue 1 of Lodestars Anthology, which you can purchase by clicking here.

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Maison Talbooth

Maison Talbooth It's rather grand to remember than in order to escape, your really don't have to travel very far.

Just a short drive from the buzzing heart of London is a country getaway that feels decades away. Here Old World elegance mixes with foodie flourishes and literary overtones, and its the resulting sense of charm and wonder that Masion Talbooth, in the heart of soon-to-be-sunny Dedham Vale, is all about.

The hotel is made up of 12 suite-like bedrooms named for the famed English poets whose work adorns the walls and rooms are equipped with baths you can swim in, neutral furnishings you covet and a bed you positively sink into. I'm a sucker for Egyptian cotton. This homely, welcoming space makes you feel at ease the moment you arrive with smiling staff and a light-filled sitting room where you can indulge in a spot of afternoon tea served with what may be the airiest scones around - the not-so-secret ingredient is buttermilk. Breakfast is also served on the ground floor and bringing along an appetite is thoroughly recommended. Masion Talbooth does the classics incredibly well.

What struck me though was not the hot tub, pool house, tennis court or treatment rooms (this is where you venture to indulge, especially when summer is in full bloom) but the view from my room. Rolling fields, distant church towers and trees awaiting the return of their leaves all bathed beneath a soft winter light. This was the countryside of Constable and you can see how the landscape inspired his work.

Having said that, our evening meal at Le Talbooth was sublime. A flavour sensation that showed just how far farm fresh ingredients can take a dish. Found right beside the river, the thoroughly English dishes match this thoroughly English setting, which is charming and swan-framed even by night. I can vouch for the brilliance of the Thetford Forest venison saddle - rich in flavour and beautifully presented on the plate - and the flat mushroom and goats cheese cadeau for its bold freshness. It's the attention to detail that really sets this restaurant apart - original selections of fresh made bread, artistic arrangements, exposed beams and coffees served alongside chocolate in an old cigar box. Who said fine dining couldn't be fun!

To learn more or make a reservation click here.

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Bath

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England brims with charming escapes, historic communities and townships famed for their iconic residents. However, only the truly magical locations - cities rich in literary history, Georgian charm and architecture built to delight - become icons. Bath is one such regal destination. And it has been for quite a while. This place is old, really old. Founded by a King with a questionable skin condition back in 863 BC, this city has hosted the Celts, Romans, Saxons and contemporary Brits; all looking to take the water (and presumably a pot of tea). It is this water, which can be spied from the Roman Baths and suitably decadent Pump Room Restaurant where afternoon tea is highly recommended, that gives you a real sense of Bath's majesty. It takes around 10,000 years for the soft rain that blesses England to seep through the earth, be heated by high temperature rocks and return, warm and mineral-rich, to the surface. No one knows exactly where the water's source lies (which makes you hope that the picturesque rural communities encasing Bath never develop the desire to expand), yet I do know that you can take advantage of its undeniably soothing properties at Thermae Bath Spa. This decidedly modern, ever-popular venue is dedicated to helping visitors take in easy, breath deeply and bask in the brilliance of floating in 40 degree rooftop pool as snow falls and the sunset illuminates the surrounding stone structures. That said, the experience is just as pleasant when experienced on a faultlessly clear day.

There are more modern attractions too, which tend to take the form of food and shopping. Bath is a Mecca for farm shops and design stores and while there are some wonderful High Street gems (Hay and Found spring to mind), my favourite discovery was The Foodie Bugle, the newest addition to Margaret's Buildings. Full of fresh local produce, homewares, cookbooks and vintage treasures, this is a delightful spot to stop at and savour a pot of tea ... or a charcuterie and cheeses plate for that matter. On the subject of cheese, a pilgrimage to Paxton and Whitfield is essential, your inner foodie will thank you indefinitely. Savouring your purchases within Victoria Park while looking up at the Royal Crescent or the flourishing Botanical Gardens is also highly advised. Other culinary attractions include the quirky Sam's Kitchen Deli, where all of Bath's creatives go to work, and Bea's Vintage Tearoom where time is utterly irrelevant.

For a really remarkable gastronomic encounter book a table at the Olive Tree Restaurant, where even the bread (made with treacle) and butter proves to be a taste sensation. In honour of its West Country setting, the fare is farm fresh and locally sourced with the focus clearly on bringing the very best out of individual ingredients - while getting a little playful with flavours - my passionfruit parfait enchased in chocolate and dotted with popping candy springs to mind here. The restaurant is attached to the relaxed yet refreshingly opulent Queensberry Hotel. Overlooking the Assembly Rooms (lovers of Austen and fashion rejoice) and a leisurely amble from The Circus, this luxury, boutique retreat is the ideal Bath base. Beds are the love child of a cloud and hug, rooms are spacious and homely, details are refreshingly Old World and the service is delightful. However, vagabonds be warned, it is forbidden to duel or ride horses through the lobby - and presumably the atmospheric Old Q Bar. Fanciful and fun, I don't recommend ever checking out. Of either the hotel or the city for that matter ...

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The Lake District

For issue 1 we had the absolute pleasure of venturing north to discover the literary and glen filled wonderland that is the Lake District. A magical, time-forgotten English corner that brims with romance, wonder and old world allure. It’s basically just a bit of a babe, capable of being rather phenomenal in any season. Here are a few of our early-Spring photos that we hope shine a light on this gorgeous British treasure. Fingers crossed Peter Rabbit would approve.

For the full story, words and all, check out issue 1 here.

The Lake District

The Lake District

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The Lake District

The Lake District

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The Lake District

The Lake District

The Lake District

The Lake District

The Lake District

The Lake District

The Lake District

English Wish List

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England A few out of the way treasures and foodie finds we wouldn’t mind trying out ...

Kielder Observatory

If you’re in search of dark skies and bright stars venture up to Northumberland where, in the heart of the Kielder Forest, you’ll be rewarded with the beautifully angular Kielder Observatory. Manned by the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society, it hosts regular stargazing odysseys, allowing curious visitors to have dramatic encounters with the ever-dynamic night sky.

Putting the world into perspective and reminding you just how phenomenal that mysterious space beyond our own atmosphere can be, the observatory will humble and inspire in equal measure. For those who prefer to explore Northumberland by the light of day, the observatory isn’t far from Kielder Forest Drive, a blissfully remote route that winds its way through moorland and forest. The road is single track, unsurfaced and sure to make drivers feel that they’re getting their adventure on.

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Electric Cinema

Birmingham dwellers and international film fans will immediately recognise the Art Deco façade of the historic Electric Cinema, England’s oldest working cinema. In this two-screen venue the film experience is all-important and quirks abound. There’s comfy sofa seating, homemade cakes, themed cocktails and a mix of art house offerings and mainstream hits. And a little chequered history too.

Electric showed silent films through the 1910’s and 20’s, but by the 30’s the space became an amusement arcade as people escaped the worries of the Depression. The basement was used as a morgue during WWII, while newsreels were filmed and edited upstairs. Baby boomers still remember the cartoons of the family-oriented 50’s, but the reactionary 60’s favoured art house, while the sexually liberated 70’s saw mainly porn screenings.

Despite the ups and downs in the cinema’s past, film remains at its heart. “It can take teams of people years of their lives to make a film, and we ensure that the correct care and attention is afforded to their cinematic endeavours,” says David Baldwin, Assistant Manager at the Electric. “Films can be anything. They can be happy, sad, weird, vibrant, challenging, and everything in between ... There's just nothing like it.”

Hever Castle

Henry VIII was arguably the most unconventional of English kings, what with the string of wives and religious upheaval he left in his velvet-hemmed wake. Yet most intriguing is the debacle surrounding the execution of his second wife, the beguiling and provocative Anne Boleyn, a story that authors and historians have fervidly endeavored to unravel but which still remains tinged with mystery. A visit to Hever Castle, the queen’s childhood home, fuels our fascination with the Tudor’s ultimate femme fatale.

Nestled in the Kent countryside, the original castle of 1270 still stands, its stone walls smothered with climbing ivy and edged in by a languid moat. Within, visitors are captivated by Boleyn history, evoked by artefacts and portraits. Enveloping the castle are the superb, extensive gardens; a horticultural delight, perfect for whiling away the hours. Wandering through the fragrant rose garden, Italian garden and Rhododendron Walk arouses contemplative moods and provides an idyllic picnic setting. Rest assured, if the weather is misbehaving, Hever’s tea rooms are a delightful substitute.

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Rococo Chocolate

Chantal Coady is the Founder and Creative Director of Rococo Chocolate and her cocoa revolution began back in 1983 on the forever-iconic King’s Road, where she opened her first shop – partly fueled by her childhood dream of being a shopkeeper. Putting her art school training to good use, Chantal imbued the space with a dash of love and a little ornamentation, as the Rococo name would imply. Bringing emotion into the equation (after all, isn’t chocolate the most evocative of foods) allowed Coady’s business to grow, eventually spreading quite far out of London. With a focus on ethics, sustainability and taste, her creative flavour combinations have seen her win the Oscars of chocolate awards, the Rococo name has become as recognisable as Chantal’s uber pretty packaging.

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Black Cow

This is an inventive little Isle. Not content to let Russians (or potatoes) have all the fun Jason Barber, on his West Dorset farm, decided to make vodka from, well, the whole milk of grass grazed cows. And it’s kind of fantastic.

Black Cow vodka is the perfect tipple or morning after the night before anecdote and has a pretty simple creation process - on paper at least. The cow’s milk is separated into curds and whey with the former turned into super creamy 1833 cheddar and the whey made into a milk beer that is diligently triple distilled into vodka.

Milky vodka is not an entirely new concept. The idea was actually inspired by nomadic Siberian Tuva tribe who for centuries has been fermenting yaks milk into vodka, the ideal sub-zero defense. However, this clean, crystal clear modern drop comes with a smooth yet creamy texture and just the faintest whiff of dairy. It’s no wonder it’s made appearances in restaurants owned by Heston Blumenthal and Mark Hix.

Granary Square

Over the centuries London has had a knack for completely reinventing itself. Areas that only the foolhardy would dare to brave have become the stomping ground of artists and entrepreneurs while Thames-side warehouses have grown into a architectural wonderlands. One space to go through a thoroughly modern reinvention is Granary Square in King’s Cross. Drenched in aquatic history, it was here that early barges unloaded their industrial loads. It’s now home Central St Martins, a leading centre of art and design that has produced the likes of Bruce Oldfield and Jenny Packham, and stripped backed restaurants built to be savoured.

Found within the converted Victorian granary, Caravan and The Grain Store offer up ingenious menus that come with plenty of London flavour. While Caravan’s pizza is not to be missed the brunch offerings at The Grain Store, which borrow tastes from Australia and America (chef Bruno Loubet is a bit of a traveller), are worth planning your weekend around.

c John Sturrock