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Quintessentially English accessories

Sam Bertram

4 August 2017

Picture it – the breakfast table laid with stunning plates & cups with the smell of fresh coffee & bacon wafting through the air. A scene where Dragonfly & Blossom’s beautiful illustrated fine bone china and fabric home accessories would feel right at home. We talked to founder Sarah Holton from her home in Malmesbury to find out more about her gorgeous range of products for the home. Tell us briefly about the inspiration behind your range of home accessories ‘With a background in arts, graphic design and brand management I always wanted to make a quality product that’s not only made locally but the best it can be.  Originally from Gloucestershire, the countryside has always been a major part of my life. My illustrations are inspired by nature – whether it’s the insect range featuring bees, dragonflies, ladybirds or butterflies or the countryside collection including hares, stags, chickens & pheasants.  I wanted to create a distinct understated quality brand, with broad appeal, so all my illustrations are black on white.  I’ve always enjoyed pencil drawing which is perfect for my products. I started with fine bone china (mugs, teacups, bowls, plates, jugs & jam pots) but have since added candles, fabric accessories (lampshades, cushions & noticeboards) and more recently notebooks & box files.’ You mention some new products – tell us about those  ‘The most recent addition to my range is a bigger farmyard mug where I’m donating 10% of all product sales to Jamie’s Farm, a charity enabling disadvantaged young people to thrive academically, socially and emotionally. The mug is not only bigger than previous mugs, but is the first design to deviate from the black illustration on white. It’s on a grey background, features pigs, cows and geese, is fun and perfect for morning coffee! I’ve introduced the grey background to other products too. It’s on the new notebooks and box files which are hand finished, and on the aprons, tea towels, book bags and gift wrap. All our new products have been launched in the most popular design – the bee & hare. With the aprons and tea towels it’s not always practical to have a clean white design so the grey background offers a more user-friendly solution. We’ve also introduced a range of greeting cards & doorstops. There are new additions to our fine bone china range too with tea bag tidies and spoon rests. We launched them at the Cotswold Show recently and they went down a storm.’ What’s next for Dragonfly & Blossom ‘The exciting part is the brand is starting to get recognised and known. At the Cotswold Show so many people came in to give us some wonderful feedback on our products. I love shows as that’s when you get to meet your customers and see people’s reactions. We’re always looking to introduce new products & ideas. Our next stop is Christmas when we’re going to launch some gift collections. If you’ve got any ideas of what you’d like to see please let us know.’  http://www.dragonflyandblossom.co.uk

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Summer Cocktails

Sam Bertram

7 July 2017

Tiffinie Pride from Wiltshire Liqueur Company loves a cocktail so we asked her for her favourite summer recipes.   Sloe Gin Negroni Ingredients  1 part Sloe Gin 1 part gin 1 part sweet Vermouth  1 part Campari  Method  Combine all the ingredients and serve over ice garnished with a slice of orange   Wild Strawberry Daiquiri  Celebrate the best of British Summer. Ingredients 1 part Wild Strawberry Liqueur 1 part white rum 2 teaspoons of white sugar Juice of 1 lime Method Mix all the ingredients together and serve in a martini glass garnished with half a strawberry.      Maiden’s Prayer A beautifully coloured and refreshingly cooling cocktail. Ingredients 2 parts Sloe Gin 2 parts Blood Orange Liqueur 1 part orange juice Method Shake all ingredients together and strain into a chilled martini glass.      Strawberry Crush A lusciously long and cooling cocktail.  Ingredients 1 part Wild Strawberry Liqueur 2 lime wedges Chilled champagne to top up 2 strawberries plus extra to decorate  Method Muddle the strawberries and lime wedges at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the Wild Strawberry Liqueur and some ice cubes. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute, top up with champagne and decorate the glass with a slice of strawberry.    For more inspiring cocktails recipes visit https://www.wiltshireliqueur.com/recipes    

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Beach days out

Sam Bertram

7 July 2017

Here’s hoping the sun shines and we get some good weather for beach trips. We asked some locals for their recommendations on favourite beaches for a day out from Wiltshire.    (travel time is taken from Devizes as the approximate centre of Wiltshire, with extra time for people further north)   1. Southbourne near Bournemouth – 1 ½ to 2 hours.   There are fabulous views and a walk down to the huge beach. Not only can you park close by, but there’s a lovely bistro style cliff top café called Café Riva when you’ve had enough of the sand. Less hectic than Bournemouth with a great playground at the top. Dogs allowed.   2. Hengistybury heads – 1 ½ to 2 hours   Part of the Jurassic World Heritage coastline – a beautiful site with sweeping views of the bay. Beach isn’t the only attraction though - it has a wide variety of wildlife habitats and is of archaeological importance. Swim at the beach near the car park or walk to Mudeford Spit. The flora is beautiful and dogs are welcome – so walk or scoot one way and take the little train back. There are cafes at Mudeford and the car park so plenty of opportunities for ice cream.   3. Highcliffe – 1 ½ to 2 hours   Backed by grassy dunes and a nature reserve this is a clean beach with a mixture of sand and stones.  It’s not far from Christchurch and has good views of the Isle of Wight. Lots of footpaths to enjoy a walk with your dog and plenty of pubs and restaurants can be found in the town centre a few meters away.   4. Sandbanks – 1 ½ to 2 hours   Sandbanks has held the highly coveted International Blue Flag for over 20 years and is naturally beautiful with its golden sand. There’s a café, crazy golf and play area and if you like house watching it’s one of the most expensive areas in the world to live so there’s plenty of house eye candy! Take the boat over from Poole quay and enjoy the views out to Studland Bay. Dogs allowed on a small section of the beach on the Western end.   5. Weymouth – 1 ½  to 2 hours   Weymouth beach is right in town so plenty of opportunity to get a coffee, drink or bite to eat.  It has lovely golden sand and there are plenty of activities happening on the beach like donkey rides and other fun activity.  Take a wander to the harbour to see all the yachts. The shallow water makes it perfect for children. Dogs not permitted in summer.    6. West Bay – 2 to 2 ½ hours   Backed by majestic cliffs it’s a beautiful beach that’s dog friendly. Not far from Bridport it has a lovely harbour and walks and lots of independent places to eat. No dogs.   7. Lulworth cove - 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours   A picturesque sheltered pebble beach in a lovely horse-shoe shaped curve. You can picture the pirates here! While you’re there take a walk along a path with magnificent views to see the lovely Durdle Door. Dog friendly and plenty of places to eat and opportunity for ice cream.   8. Swanage Beach - 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours   A sandy beach with clean water that’s ideal for families. Deck chairs, pedaloes , kayaks and sun beds are available for hire. Backed by a promenade you won’t be short of entertainment. No dogs allowed in summer.     Got more suggestions? We'd love to hear about them. Email us on hello@localuncovered.com and we’ll add them in.    

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Effortless Flowers

Sam Bertram

30 June 2017

There’s nothing better than a bunch of flowers to brighten up your home. Pod & Pip’s Sarah Williamson-Jones delivers ‘Friday flowers’ by courier. Her popular arrangements use seasonal flowers and are rustic and natural. We spoke to Sarah about all things flowers and the workshops she runs from her home in Odstock near Salisbury. What are your favourites Flowers? ‘It really depends on the season, so in summer I love peonies which are nearly over, but Sweet Peas follow shortly after. They add bounce and texture and you can’t help but love their scent and colours. Roses are a classic - my favourites are the real country garden roses with big full blooms. For colour Hydrangeas are also fantastic. In Autumn I use Dahlias and all the pods and pips. With Christmas comes the amaryllis and white roses – I steer clear of the traditional arrangements. Spring is about ranunculus and tulips. What can I say? I love them all!’ Where do you source your flowers? ‘I go to a wholesaler in Twyford and when I can I source from local Wiltshire growers. The advantage with sourcing from a local grower is you can often find fabulous grasses and Knautica (the lovely purple and pink wild flowers you see at the moment) that add interest to bouquets.’ Alongside ‘Friday Flowers’ you also do workshops. Tell us about those.. ‘My workshops cover range of things from bouquets to Christmas wreaths and table decorations for celebratory times of the year. This Sunday I’m doing a DIY Wedding workshop – showing people how to do bridal bouquets, table decorations and button holes. For 4 to 6 people they’re really personal and lots of fun. We start off having a cup of tea and cake so everyone meets and feels more relaxed.  I do a demonstration of what we’re going to do and then everyone else has a go. We start from scratch. I show them how to condition the plants – remove leaves, thorns and how best to cut the stems through to the final bouquet. People are really surprised they can do it.  It’s really therapeutic and gives them the confidence to do it when they get home. Most people underestimate the important of foliage and how it can have a huge impact on look and feel. I encourage most to go home and see what they can find in their gardens. As well as feeling like they’ve achieved something it’s very social and most of the feedback says how lovely it was meeting new people. I run workshops from my home but also run them at other local venues. After Sunday my next workshop is on 5th July at Jigsaw in Salisbury. If you want to learn how to do a bouquet then I’d love to see you.’   https://www.podandpip.co.uk/  

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