Blog Posts

Hi, welcome to My English Country Cottage, a blog inspired by my successful Instagram page. I have been writing about our family life in our 400 year old thatched cottage in the middle of nowhere (delivery drivers words) for just over a year and am now braving the world of ‘blog’. I have spent the past seven years making our house a home and have put my experiences into writing about cosy country interiors filled with florals, old books, roaring fires, oak beams and squashy sofas.

I will add my instagram posts daily to this site as well as writing a weekly blog and articles about gardening, crafts, book recommendations and interior design ideas.

September In My Garden

September is one of those months where we start to see dramatic changes as the seasons switch from Summer to Autumn. To help avoid you having to spend huge amounts of time out in the garden throughout the colder months, it’s a good idea to use this month to get on top of things. Here…

The perfect cutting flowers

A little snapshot of my cut flower garden in September My first year growing cut flowers has definitely been a steep learning curve but overall I’m really pleased with the result.  For those of you who have been following me, you’ll know that I’ve already started my outdoor Autumn planning, and this also applies to my cut flower garden.  I’ve already got an extensive shopping list which includes revamping a shaded border as well…

Weatherproofing your garden

If you’re anything like me, then you’re most probably very good at starting a ‘weather-related’ conversation.  I often wonder why it’s one of our go-to conversation topics, and personally I think it is to do with the fact that our weather is constantly changing. August, for example, has seen soaring temperatures, high winds and heavy…

Modern Day etiquette in an elderly 400 year old cottage

Ok, this seems like a massive squeeze – well it is! I am spending the day in a socially distanced way with friends so I wasn’t going to post today but then this amazing company got in contact and asked me to become an affiliate. I am very careful about affilliations so I was slow…

Starting to prepare for Autumn

This last week has been very much about tidying up following the recent rain we’ve had. One of the first thing I do after a period of rain is weed. It’s so much easier and quicker to remove weeds from the wet soil – it almost makes it a pleasant job! I’ve also started to do a light prune on my ivy and…

Florals

I realised with my last couple of blogs that they are both floral based. Years ago when we first moved into this shell of a cottage, I read Ros Byam Shaw’s brilliant book “English Cottage” and although our house has most of the elements of the styles listed in this beautiful book, Romance is the…

A close up on Lavender

One of my jobs this week has been pruning back the lavender. I absolutely adore this plant, not only because it is easy to grow and low maintenance, but also because it is so attractive to our very important bees. Oh, and it’s scent is a wonderful, calming presence in the garden.  Also, if you have a dog like our border terrier Millie, then it’s great entertainment, as she’s been known to…

Superfast Breakfast Pots

This is perfect for all those staycation trips we are all doing at the moment.  You can make these little breakfast pots up the night before and then just pop in the cool bag ready for breakfast on the road!  I started doing these a few years ago when breakfasts suddenly became boring (apparently) in my house.  Of course with…

Floral Paintings

Interview with artist Emma Perring Many people have commented upon the numerous paintings of florals and textile explorations that we have in our home. When you live in an old cottage that requires off white walls but when one is a secret lover of colour, paintings allow our walls to brighten our lives. We are…

A cut flower garden close up

I must admit that I did have some ‘moments’ earlier on this year as I wondered if I was ever going to get any blooms from my cut flower garden, but they are definitely coming thick and fast at last! While I still have so much to learn, I’m pleased with my first attempt and, whilst I’m already planning for next year, I thought I would share with you…

Country Cottage Garden Seating

This glorious weather turned my little country cottage mind to outdoor seating. We have a variety of seating arrangements (say it with a french accent “Arongemonts” and it sounds far more glamorous), ranging from elegant wicker chairs to a pallet seating area made by my very clever and desperate for me to stop spending our…

My Autumn shopping list

Last week I spoke about starting to plan for next year and one of areas I really want to focus on is the right-hand side of my garden. This part is in partial shade and if I’m being honest, it is a little neglected.  My ambition is to rectify this, and my action plan with a list…

Lunch In A Loaf

It is that time of year when everyday’s a picnic day in this house.  Largely due to the number of cricket matches the boys are playing…..I can hear my smallest sigh from here…..but also just because it is (supposedly) summer so trips to the beach, the river for kayaking or just heading to a friends’…

Cottage jugs and pitchers

Surely an absolute country interiors prerequisite? Dump some flowers you have pulled out of the garden into a jug. Alakazaaam! Magic: the house looks loved and cherished and very cottagey. Obviously I don’t do this, I forage, I curate, I spend hours carefully placing blooms into jugs dotted around my cottage to bring joy and…

Autumn Planning

Last week I spoke about sitting back and enjoying the garden and I must admit I have done this, this week. Since then I have also taken the opportunity to look back on old photographs of the garden, reflecting on how things were when we first moved in. It’s been a motivational thing to do and it has got me thinking of what projects I want to tackle next year.  Believe…

Kitchen Staple Table

“The love of old country furniture from the seventeenth Century is hardly an acquired taste. Old oak is at once a jarring note in a Sheraton drawing-room with delicate colour scheme of dainty wallpaper and satin coverings. But, as a general rule, when it is first seen in its proper environment, in an old-world farmhouse…

Enjoy your garden!

One of the most important jobs to do in July is to sit back, relax and enjoy your garden. I often forget to do this but I do try and take a step back every now and again to see how far the garden has come. If, like me, this period is a bit short-lived for you, here are some…

Painted Furniture

Ahem! Did I mention that little old me…little old my house…was featured in the extremely very prestigious I am dining out on this for years yet Period Living Magazine? This is the money shot of the kitchen which (hopefully) beautifully illustrates my topic for this week “Painted Furniture makes an English Country Cottage” I painted…

Chicken à la Rue Des Vignes

Now I bet you are dying to hear the story behind this little mid-week supper beauty with a name like that!! It should really be poulet but I can’t possibly change the name now after 20 odd years.  At university, some time ago now when the dinosaurs were roaming-my children’s favourite comment at the moment…I was on placement…

The necessity for mirrors

Mirrors are the windows into the soul..oh no..that’s the eyes. Well, they are certainly the windows into our house. I adore our 17th Century Thatched Cottage, but it wasn’t built with light in mind. It is super cosy and on sunny days with doors and windows flung open it is bliss but on dark dank…

The Glorious Salvia

This week’s blog focuses on one of my favourite plants, the Salvia.  I absolutely adore these flowers.  They are a fabulous border filler as well as one of the best flowers to attract bees into your garden as they are so rich in nectar. Wherever you plant them, the bees will be sure to find them.  Here are my top tips on growing and…

Not Your Normal Brownie

Time for something sweet.  Elevenses and teatime are, it has to be said two of my favourite times of day.  So I am always on the hunt for something to nibble at either or both times of the day. I’m not a natural baker, unlike lots of my friends but I’ve been intrigued about using…

Craftsmanship

Modern houses often make me extremely very jealous: “You have windows that OPEN?” “Your walls don’t let in the breeze?” “Your roof doesn’t house mice, squirrels, birds and spiders the size of your hand?” “What sort of miracle building do you live in? How do I get me one?”. But for all these modern quirks,…

Heavenly Hydrangeas

Heavenly hydrangeas –  one of my favourite shrubs and flowers and definitely a fabulous follow on to the peony. These are one of my favourite blooms and I adore them in bouquets, arrangements and in my garden. They can flower from April through to October and the foliage can be quite wonderful to in the…

Fresh Salmon Tartlets with a Dill Reduction

So something fishy for this weeks recipe.  This is a lovely, simple recipe I have done for years.  It was my first rather smart starter that I tested out on unassuming friends in the relatively early days of my cooking escapades.  And I thought as we are potentially able to start entertaining a little more from a…

Cushion Comforts

My love of my Kate Forman, Cabbages and Roses and Susie Watson cushions is not filed under my poker face folder. Cushions are the heart of the home…oh no, that’s kitchens, ok, cushions are the hug of the home. I almost defy you to find a photo of a country cottage that doesn’t have cushions…

Cutting Garden Progress and reflection

If you’ve been following my blogs, you will know that earlier on in the year I had four raised beds built for the purpose of growing cut flowers.  Towards the end of May, I started to plant these beds up so thought it would be useful to reflect on progress and what I’ve learnt so far. Dear Santa, please can I…

Candles make a home

Candles make an English Country Cottage…ok, fine, they make pretty much anywhere a home. Their fragrance, the ambience created by their flickering light as well as their original purpose to actually light a room. Our cottage can be rather dark (hence the variety of off white shades on every wall, I tried embracing the darkside…

For The Love Of Peonies

For the love of Peonies I adore Peonies – in fact, some may say I’m a little addicted to them. I am, however, rather new to growing these stunning blooms. I’m in my second year growing but I will certainly be growing more – in fact I’ve just pre- ordered next years beauties from Sarah Raven for an October delivery. If…

Pear, Apple and Chocolate Crumble

Good morning lovely lockdowners…here we are, the sun has decided it needs a break so to cheer everyone up I thought it was time for another pudding.  However it might not be the obvious choice for a June pudding, not a delicious, fruit soaked bready summery summer pud (its time will come though…) but a…

Interview with Amanda Banham – Essex Potter

“The Potter who lives here in this house makes houses and shops, trees and rainbows all from clay which she raku fires in her garden. She loves dogs and never leaves home without at least two. She loves her family and friends, mashed potato, reading magazines, the Suffolk coast, rose wine and roast dinners”. (Amanda…

June Roses

One of the things I love about June is seeing my roses in full bloom. I have a lot of roses in my main garden and next year I would like to dedicate a bed in the cutting garden to them.  They are definitely one of my favourite flowers and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them as happy as…

What makes an English Country Cottage?

The article in Period Living Magazine (May 2020 with ME in it…well, ok,the house…) has made me think about what makes “Effortless rural style” (Period Living May 2020 about MEEEEE…the house). I was quoted as saying: ” ‘I wanted (to create) an English country homewith lots of textures, fabrics, rugs, thick curtains and comfy, sink-insofas.’ …

Kale, kale everywhere!

Eat your greens! Well, kale to be more precise. My veg bed is bubbling over with greenliness (is that a word?! If not it should be) and the most delicious (and the only one ready more importantly) is the most nutritious of them all, curly kale. Kale is packed full of all sorts of nutrients, namely vitamins…

Watch, wait, water

It’s a strange feeling once you’ve planted up your cut flower bed and you begin watching and waiting for them to bloom. The work doesn’t stop here though, as there are a few things you can do to give them the best possible start. Keep your small plants or seeds watered and fed. I water every day, either with a hose on a…

How to plant up seeds and seedlings

The weather is looking up and there appears to be no chance of a frost (all being well) on the horizon, so the time has come to plant up!  Here’s my step by step guide on the all-important how-to. Preparing the soil – It’s so important that the soil is the right consistency. Make sure you dig, rake and…

Aubergine Parmigiana

These beautiful Antigua (oh to be there…) aubergines were in our weekly veg delivery this week.  I love them, but unfortunately I can’t seem to get these past the children (yet) in their natural form…the only way is if I cook them and put them in a ‘hide the veg’ pasta sauce all razzed up.…

Good gardening requires extreme patience

I imagine by now you are tempted to start planting things out into your cut flower bed but I would recommend giving it another week or maybe even two. As we’ve seen, the weather is still changeable and you don’t want all of your hard work to go to waste. In the meantime here are some other jobs you can be getting on with. Feeding I feed…

Post Roast Pie

Hurrah! I shrieked from the rooftops on Friday when I saw that the glorious weather we had been sooo incredibly lucky to be having was potentially going to break on Sunday.  And what better day to do it I ask you? Off I went to shop in the chest freezer to dig out a chicken…

Weather Watching

Weather plays an important role in the success of growing cut flowers and since ours can be changeable, it is important to keep an eye on the forecast and be ready to adapt your plans. At the moment I’m on the cusp of starting to plant up my cut flower bed and very tempted to just get on and do it…

Larder Raider Recipe – Chorizo, Chickpea and Spinach Stew.

This is one of those one-pot wonders that is bursting with smokey, spicy flavours that leaves you always wanting more.  Not wanting as in lacking you understand, but just wanting more…like Oliver.  It really can be done in one pot, I promise.  So for those of you who sometimes struggle with many pots on the…

New My English Country Cottage contributor – Lucy Hoyle Cooks

Lovely Lucy has agreed to help me with the cooking side of this website blog thing. You may well be acquainted with my primadonna La Aga who decides how and whether to cook the food I attempt to create for family and friends. It is definitely La Aga’s fault and not mine. However, Lucy is…

Essential tools for a Cutting Garden

I’m hoping to start planting up the cut flower beds this weekend. In a pre- COVID world I would have started a week ago as the weather is warming up, but perhaps unsurprisingly I’m still waiting to finish off the edging of the cut flower patch. The delivery of the edging has been promised for this weekend so I’m hoping…

Know Your Plants

My last blog covered the things to consider when selecting your cut flowers so hopefully you’ve started to think about what you want to plant up and how you are going to plant them.  For me, the first thought was to just put them all in together and hope for the best but following some further reading, there is a little more to…

CUTTING GARDEN PICKS – Flowers By Margot suggests what to consider when selecting your flowers

For me, flowers are my number one home accessory and I definitely have my ‘go-to’ flowers and foliage. Therefore, when it came to selecting what cut flowers to grow in my new beds I went with what I truly loved – the flowers I would want to cut and bring into my home.   While I would always encourage people to do the same and grow what they love,…

Oil Delivery

The lane has been ABUZZ with our oil saga, there has been high drama and much enjoyment..Gorgeous Charlie bless him came through for us and on Thursday we received the heavenly phone call: “this is your oil delivery driver, I can’t get to you because there is a Hyundai parked in the middle of the road, I…

The First Rule of Cutting Gardens by Flowers and Lifestyle Margot

I have to admit that when I first decided to grow cut flowers, I got rather carried away with the ‘deciding what to grow’ and ‘buying seeds and bulbs’ parts of the process. It took me until January to realise that I hadn’t actually decided where I should plant them! I knew roughly where I wanted it all to happen, but as I started to read up on it, I realised…

Susie Watson – bringing the inside out.

I had wonderful plans for this month, the very exciting Period Living magazine article and the launch of this website/blog (I really must decide what it is soon). I was also approached by Susie Watson Designs to work on a collaboration together and I thought that all my dreams had come true. Little did I…

Welcome To My English Country Cottage

In May 2020 our little thatched cottage was featured in Period Living Magazine. It was the culmination of 7 years of creating a family home with my “effortless rural style” – I have taken this as a positive comment on my interior design style rather than a reference to the lack of housekeeping, muddy wellies…

Period Living Magazine May 2020

I was lucky enough to be plucked from obscurity (Cambridgeshire specifically but I spend my days redirecting delivery drivers to our actual house so I feel pretty obscure) by Period Living Magazine who persuaded me to allow them to photograph our house last summer. I was ridiculously excited and gently terrified. What about the hole…

Our 17th Century Farmhouse

This is our utterly ridiculous cottage that would have made Phil and Kirsty weep. When we started our house search 7 years ago, we knew that we wanted a character property approximately twenty minutes from Cambridge, near a station but as remote as possible. That was it for the wish list which we thought was…

Our Garden

This is the front of the house (yup, ‘I love what you did with the front of it in the 1970’s darling’) however the glorious roses make up for the entombed timber frame. This is just outside the front door where I linger during the morning, a variety of gardening tools in my hands in…

The Stable Conversion

This was an old stable block that proved to be a wonderful storage unit for all our rubbish (bikes, scooters, things with wheels from when the children were toddlers that became indiscernible ‘objets’, boxes of old clothes, boxes of indeterminate ‘things’ and gardening equipment). My son has ridden since he was quite small but two…

How To Create a Raised Bed Cutting Garden

A weekly guide to growing your own flowers I have met many wonderful people in the magical world of Instagram and I shall be calling upon lots of them to help with this blog over the next few months. I thought I would start with Karen (@flowersandlifestylebymargot) who not only has a stunning garden but…