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.

Heavenly Hydrangea

While I adore fresh flowers, I’m also a huge fan of dried flowers too. My absolute favourite has to be the hydrangea and I have built up quite a collection over the years – in fact I’m drying some as I type. They are so useful as we head into the Autumn and Winter months…

The power of scent

One of the things I love about arranging flowers is their ability to be used to help set a scene or evoke a memory. For example, I always think of my mother in law whenever I smell geraniums, as she has them scattered throughout her house.  Also, a yellow rose with it’s lemony smell will always…

Protected: Easing into Autumn

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Marr House Farm

Their English Country Cottages The very moment the previous owner opened the large oak door, I know it would be ours. Lisa Johnson-Richards The main part of this beautiful cottage is Georgian, dating back to 1710. Originally owned by the Crown it was bought by Sir Henry Vane the Elder, (a Member of Parliament and…

It is still summer!

The weather is finally looking a little brighter,  so this week’s blog is a catch up on some of the jobs I’m getting on with in my garden. It is still Summer – honestly! I must admit, the garden did look a little Autumnal last week and whilst I love leaving dried alliums in the border, now is…

The Old Hall Cottage

Their English Country Cottages I loved the symmetry of the property with the large entrance vestibule in the middle. It was just as I had drawn houses as a child. Tanya Muller Tanya – a senior University lecturer in Childhood Studies and Special Educational Needs lives in this beautiful cottage with her husband ( an…

The Maltings

Their English Country Cottages After viewing 47 houses, The Maltings was the one and only house which we both left and said “this is the one!”. Benjamin Gibbons Benjamin Gibbons, his fiance Luke and their two dogs Darwin & Atlas live in this incredible ‘cottage’ – ok I am stretching the term but it is…

That floral feeling – A quick five minutes on flower crowns

They say you should never work with children or animals, and, having spent a morning trying to get a picture of Millie with this delicate flower crown on, I can definitely say this is the case! I love making flower crowns, and I have a tendency to usually go large as I think there’s something so nice…

A re-cap on Hydrangeas, in your garden and in arrangements

One of the things I love about gardening is the conveyor belt of blooms – as one flower dies back, another one quick to blossoms to replace it. One of the things that has started to bloom away in my garden are my hydrangeas. It’s been a good year for them so far, due to all…

Tablescaping

This week I was asked to write a blog about Tablescaping for the brilliant Rural Mums website (I am now officially a very important rural blogger …I live in the countryside and I write stuff…this is a fact) and I focused on the most amazing company who had one of those ideas that you actually…

Successful Sweetpeas

This is my first year of having a successful sweet pea crop and I can confirm they are growing, fast!  Having been away for a couple of weeks I was amazed at just how much they had grown. It was like a bush of sweet peas, and although I had plenty of flowers, they did…

Magazine worthy bedroom styling

The utterly gorgeous Naomi Jones and the ridiculously fabulous Robert Sanderson very sweetly allowed me to tag along on another magazine shoot in Suffolk (not that they had a lot of choice, I just sit in the car, waiting to yoohoo as they arrive at their next shoot). Naomi spotted my proudly shiny “Assistant Stylist”…

The Little Corner Cottage

Their English Country Cottages My favourite items are my Aga and my garden sauna! Tonja Barefield This fabulous quote from Tonja absolutely sums up her stunning cottage, it is an old traditional stone cottage set in the glorious countryside of Somerset but the stunning interiors have a wonderfully European flavour with white walls and a…

Gardening between the rain showers

The last couple of weeks in the garden have been a bit of a washout so I haven’t had as much time out there as I would like. However, I have still tried to squeeze in as much as I can in between the showers. Here are some great jobs to do for those times when its wet. Turn your compost. Don’t…

Pear Tree Cottage

Their English Country Cottages It was love at first sight! We could see a lot of the original character had been stripped out or covered up, but the very bones of her were beautiful. Catherine Cleaver Peartree Cottage was bought by Catherine and her family three years ago, they had been living in a new…

Appletree Cottage

Their English Country Cottages We actually talked ourselves out of buying it as we said it was too small and over budget, but by the next day we were back and making an offer Katie Sant Katie and her husband Paul fell completely in love with this over budget, way too small but utterly gorgeous…

Planting Cosmos – The cheats method

For me, cosmos is, the classic cut flower. They don’t take huge amounts of effort to grow and they always reward with lots of gorgeous flowers. As a result, cosmos is always on my shopping list for the Summer. It’s such a pretty flower, coming in a range of colours, and I challenge you not to find one that will work in your…

Waterlily Cottage

Their English Country Cottages I’m a big believer of a certain feeling you get when viewing houses, this one immediately felt like home, I could see through the work that needed to be done and the prospect of having something to call my own was incredibly exciting. Fiona Fiona and her partner Roger live in…

Darling Dahlias are in the ground!

The dahlias are in; I repeat the dahlias are in! I’m going to let you into a little secret; I’m a little behind on my cut flower garden.  I knew I was when my potted-up dahlias started to form flower buds!  At this point I decided that I really needed to get my act into gear, clear the Spring bulbs…

Yew Tree Cottage

Their English Country Cottages We fell in love instantly and only spent 5 mins inside the house on the viewing before we knew we wanted it. We spent so little time in the house on the viewing we didn’t even notice it had a cellar. Vanessa Price Vanessa and her firefighter husband Steve live in…

Valley Cottage

Their English Country Cottages We got married in the Hambleden Valley and whenever we used to drive by the farm my husband used to say he would love to live there one day, so when the cottage came onto the market we had to give it chance. Jenna Killington Jenna and her husband and 4…

Styling a room with flowers

 One of the best things about Instagram is all the wonderful people you meet through it. I met the lovely Rebecca from @myenglishcountrycottage very shortly after joining Instagram. To be honest, there’s nothing not to love about Rebecca’s account – her posts and pictures never fail to make me smile, and I love the daily…

Magazine Stardom

The insider take on shooting three houses in ‘summer’ and one at ‘Christmas’ in three days! Naomi Jones contacted me to say that the magazine article was go! She and her Photographer Rob Sanderson had magically transformed my home into a cosy Christmas cottage last year but sadly Dame La Aga was not playing ball,…

Forge Cottage

Their English Country Cottages Wincing a little as I walked though the kitchen I entered the heavily beamed sitting room with its huge open fireplace and instantly fell in love. A week later, having convinced my husband this was our next move, we took the children to see it. They charged around the large garden,…

Growing in pots

This year, I’m going to grow some salvias in pots. I’ve always planted them directly into borders but being drought tolerant, I’ve heard they do very well in pots, so thought I would give this a go.  I absolutely love Salvias and they are a flower I recommend growing.  Not only do they come in several colours,…

Celebrating Garden Day UK with the help of Gardenesque

Garden day is the time to “Reap the rewards of your labour. No matter how big or small your garden” (https://www.gardenday.co.uk/) so you will find me reclining here, reaping my rewards…actually if it wasn’t for Gardenesque coming to my rescue, there wouldn’t be many rewards to reap. I managed to kill off all my Geraniums…

Don’t forget to ‘cut’ your cut flowers!

First of all – Happy Garden Day, coming up on Sunday 9th May. This day is about celebrating our green spaces whether inside or outside and the hugely positive impact it has on our mental health. Now I maybe not donning a flower crown (I’ll give you Millie instead), but I am going to be spending some time…

Celeriac, Salmon and Potato Dauphinoise

This rich creamy dauphinoise is largely inspired by a Swedish dish called Laxpudding.  Please let me know if you have heard of this before-not many people have!  A simple dauphinoise made with potatoes, cream, butter, salt and pepper is one of my absolutely favourite dinner party side dishes as it goes perfectly with so much,…

This week in my garden – Adding to my Borders

Seven years ago, when we moved in, our garden looked very different. It was surrounded by huge and out of control conifers and it took us two years just to clear.  We literally had to ’empty’ the garden, level it and then add the borders back in. There have been a few plants that remained, but the…

Shakshuka

Serves 2-4 This is a dish that for years I kept meaning to try as a great friend of mine always talked about how delicious it was and she was so right! So when I cooked it for the first time I was absolutely not disappointed. Originally from North Africa, Shakshuka literally means “all mixed…

Cottage On The Corner

Their English Country Cottages It’s true what they say, old houses really do wrap their arms around you and seem to ooze appreciation for anyone that shows them love and respect Lizzie and her partner Steve had been renting for years when their last rental led them to a very pretty village on the Norfolk/Suffolk…

Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring

Did you know that April is one the busiest times in the garden? Why does ‘don’t panic Captain Mainwaring’ spring to mind?  I must admit, this week has been one of those weeks where I’ve got to Friday and my ‘to do’ list is still on Monday! My garden is also reflecting this. However, there was a light at the…

Rhubarb and Ginger Cake

When we first moved to Fruit Hill from London we inherited the most amazing amount of rhubarb plants.  In fact there were two huge vegetable beds, and one bed with berries galore.  It was quite something after living in London, and over the years since then we have condensed the beds into a manageable size.…

Hall Farm Cottage

Their English Country Cottages I instantly fell in love with the sash windows,  the long path to the front door, the enclosed garden and the seclusion of the cottage Eighteen months before Anna and her partner Andrew had sold their respective houses and started looking for a home together, Anna had spotted this gem of…

Cosmic Cosmos

This is one of my favourite Summer blooms and even better, it’s one of the easiest flowers to grow from seed.  Also, they grow densely and have a good vase life. It’s always the flower I recommend people giving a go, and now is the time to start thinking about growing them. I therefore thought it would…

Lucy Hoyle Cooks…Wild Garlic and Spinach Soup

When I told my daughter (aged 7…) what recipe I was doing this week for Rebecca, she looked at me with such disdain I thought I had some of the soup attractively dripping from my mouth-but no.  Apparently soup is reeeaaalllyy boring Mummy, why aren’t I doing a more exciting recipe like normal!?  Well, I…

The Old Forge Cottage

Their English Country Cottages A real labour of love and one we thought we understood when the 57 page survey came back on the house but looking back now I think we were blindsided by the beauty! Five years ago serial renovators Amanda and her husband Niall decided that they had one last project left…

Embracing Evergreens

One of the things I love about Instagram is the ability to be able to look back through my pictures and see what my garden looked like in previous years. While Spring and Summer is when the garden really bursts into activity, I love the slow decline and the stillness that Autumn and Winter brings.  Structural plants really…

Risotto with crispy chorizo, red pepper, spinach and feta

Risotto is an absolute favourite in our house.  One of my pantry staples is a bag of arborio rice.  Risotto is a dish that you can basically throw anything at, conjuring up a delicious bowl of creamy tasty rice from whatever is in the fridge, which is exactly how this recipe came about. These are…

Cherry Tree Cottage

Their English Country Cottages The moment I knew we’d made the right decision was when my lovely father-in-law arrived on moving day and as he wandered around the cottage, he said “this house wraps its arms around you” Jane & her husband Craig live in this glorious Kent cottage with their 23 yr old daughter…

Cheddar and Bacon Savoury Muffins

Lucy Hoyle cooks is back! Woo hoo! Starting her new catering business and homeschooling her three children during lockdown has not defeated her. She returns with the most delicious recipe, perfect to rustle up, stuff in a hamper and head over to the garden of your choice (preferably people you actually know)…over to the super…

Serendipity Cottage

Their English Country Cottages We didn’t fall in love with the cottage as it stood as it was a bit souless and neglected and needed a lot of care and love putting back into it but we could see the potential Emmy and her husband Martyn live in this gorgeous hideaway of nostalgic beauty sharing…

Bringing The Outside In

This week I brought a little of the outside in, in the form of some Hawthorn blossom, and it got me thinking about the wonders of foraging. Where I can, I always try to incorporate blooms into my bouquets from either my garden or from the hedgerows where I live, I think of it as my own little signature. However, I’m…

Bonnington ‘Cottage’

Their English Country Cottages As we walked out of the gate from our first viewing, we both looked back, looked at each other and in crazy unison, both said “this is the one”.  With 8 properties under their belts, Belle and her husband Dave were no strangers to renovation projects but when they looked at…

Potting up your Darling Dahlias

The Darling Dahlia (as I like to refer to them)  is one of my favourite flowers. They can bloom well into October and are rather beautiful, coming in all shapes, sizes and colours (so many in fact that there is one there for everyone). Even better, they are very low maintenance (my type of flower) and will thrive in most sunny spots and soils so…

Field View Cottage

Their English Country Cottages My dream house would be pretty simple, nothing big or fancy Christina and her husband Tony fell in love with this glorious cottage two years ago, their only problem was that the cottage had already sold. The couple loved the cottage so much that they still contacted the agent on the…

Asymmetrical Amazing Flower Arrangement

My mum was a great gardener and a very keen one. The borders in her garden were deep and full of large shrubs, offset against the prettiest English roses and flowers. As a result, I remember frequently being out in the garden with my mum – maybe, this is where my love for gardening stemmed…

The Cottage – Reloving My Home

Their English Country Cottages I love a house that has many stories to tell, and I’m sure our cottage does, I just wish it could share them all with me Drooling over this perfect thatched cottage with it’s quaint roof, beautiful old brickwork and frankly gorgeous windows of please peep inside, one wonders why Paula…

There will be nothing bare about these roses in a couple of months

This week I’ve been planting up some bare root roses, so I thought I would share with you a quick step by step guide as to how to do this. Any time between November and April is a good time to plant them, as this gives them enough time to establish before blooming over the Summer. However, if your ground is…

The White Cottage

Their English Country Cottages Time was ticking for Victoria and her family when they viewed this beautiful cottage. Their Victorian Villa had sold and after three months the buyers were getting a little impatient. White Cottage ticked some of their boxes with a village location and period characteristics but there were a few deal breakers:…

Let’s have a ‘socially distanced catch up in the garden’.

The latest announcements on COVID and next steps have definitely put a spring in my step. Isn’t it wonderful to think we’ll soon be able to have people in our gardens once again? I have provisionally pencilled in some dates but am slightly worried about catching up with all my gardening jobs first. I therefore thought it would be useful for this week’s blog…

Manor Farm Cottage

Their English Country Cottages Every corner I turned I fell in love a little bit more Leanne Chesterman had just laid down her paintbrush on her cottage refurbishment when she received the details for this beautiful cottage. She and her boyfriend were looking to buy a property together and from the details Manor Farm Cottage…

Preparing the spring garden

It’s been so nice to see the return of some sunshine and milder weather. I’ve managed to spend a couple of afternoons out in the garden, starting to get it organised for the Spring months. Here’s a quick update on what I’ve been up to. Mulching I know I’ve already talked about mulching but as…

Posterlounge

Bring spring inside and wave goodbye to the cold, grey winter This is a collaboration that has been months in the making. It marks my new foray into making a real life job of work from writing and it heralds the beginning of spring decorating. Posterlounge got in touch with me last year to ask…

Periwinkle Cottage

Their English Country Cottages I fell in love with the quaint of it Lisa, her husband and their Cocker Spaniel Ruby moved into this dreamy cottage 20 years ago (so that’s why these roses are so stunning). They were searching for the holy grail of a character cottage in a village location so when the…

Getting the best out of your flowers

There’s nothing quite like fresh flowers in the home.  In fact, they are probably my favourite ‘accessory’.  It is just unfortunate they don’t last forever.  However, there are a few things you can do that will help maximise the life of your blooms and, with Valentine’s day just around the corner, I thought it was good timing to share my tips – just in…

Starre Corner

Their English Country Cottages The minute I walked through the door I knew it was the one. Despite knowing that I shouldn’t show my hand to the estate agent I don’t think I kept a very good poker face Louisa and her husband Mark searched the length and breadth of the country to find the…

Encouraging Wildlife into your garden – Three things I’m doing

Did you do the RSPB birdwatch last weekend? I decided to do it after reading about it on Instagram. To be honest I wasn’t familiar with it but after doing some research I was amazed at how much information has been collated already and how it has helped our understanding of the challenges faced by wildlife. As a result, I thought…

Buttercup Cottage

Their English Country Cottages I walked into the main bedroom and fell in love – even with its leaky roof, peeling wallpaper and old tatty carpet, my sixth sense told me that this was right. The deeds to this whippersnapper of a cottage (1865!) mention numerous single women living in the cottage over the years…

The meaning behind flowers, and why I didn’t go down the traditional red rose route for my Valentine’s day bouquet

For those of you who have followed me on Instagram and via my blogs, you will have gathered that I have a thing for flowers, both in my garden and my home. My garden is taking a bit of a back seat this week as I focus on everything to do with Valentine’s day – one of the things COVID…

Oak Cottage

Their English Country Cottages There it was: in the bottom corner of the paper, a little cottage covered in Wisteria, in a village just outside Exeter and was exactly what we were looking for. Strap yourself to your chairs if , like me, you adore floral fabrics, mora clocks, wood clad walls and antique mirrors. Yup,…

A spotlight on Pampas

Pampas grass is native to south America, hailing from the Pampas region hence its name. It was planted in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand in the 1970’s primarily as an ornamental grass to be harvested and used for its decorative purposes once dried. However, it somewhat fell out of favour for a period of time when it…

Little Church Cottage

Their English Country Cottages The sleepy village was full of rustic charm and we knew we’d found somewhere pretty special. Clare and her husband live in this gorgeous cottage with their Dalmation Dexter who she calls the star of her account but as handsome as Dexter is, I suspect that it is this beautiful cottage…

Getting out in the garden

After a bit of a break from the garden, the time has come for me to get back out there. I had a good tidy up in November, clearing and pruning but there’s still plenty to do. Here’s a quick tour around my garden and some jobs I’m getting on with. Hydrangeas are one of my…

Vintage White Cottage

Their English Country Cottages I took a leap of faith because every time I left the property after a viewing I could imagine how it could be Vintage White Cottage is one of three workers cottages built in 1930 that were owned by the manor house which is still connected to the cottages by a…

Beating the January Blues

I must admit I often find the first week in January a little ‘sluggish’. It’s back to being woken by the alarm clock and with the Christmas decorations coming down everything can feel a little bleak. One thing I like to do to help ‘banish the blues’ is to give the house a post-Christmas spring clean and replace…

Rectory Cottage

Their English Country Cottages This is one of those beautiful cottages where I could simply show you a gazillion photos of the just the outside, it is so very beautiful but the inside is also ridiculously gorgeous. Be warned, you will want to move in! I fell in love with the cottage from the sales…

Rhubarb Cottage

Their English Country Cottages When we strolled past Rhubarb Cottage – there it was, looking beautiful in the spring sunshine with its windows open and I actually whispered “That’s a beautiful house” as we tried to subtly peek in through the windows. Ellen and her husband had viewed a nearby property but been deeply disappointed.…

My English Country Cottage at Christmas

Well it’s mainly about the magazine shoot but lots of Christmas photos – ok? Naturally I was over the moon when Interiors writer and Stylist Naomi Jones contacted me to ask if I was interested in a Christmas magazine shoot, I immediately had images of me reclining in red velvet, sipping probably a whisky to…

Christmas Table Garland

If you are hosting Christmas you may be thinking of creating a garland for your Christmas table so for this week’s blog I thought I would talk you through how I created mine. There are a couple of ways you can create your garland and for this blog I’m going to be showing you how…

The joys of making a wreath

If you’ve never made a wreath then I highly recommend it, there’s something so very therapeutic about it. Every year I do a refresher course on making them and I always go away learning something new. It’s also been great to see all the wonderful wreaths and top tips shared on Instagram, what a lovely…

Grove Cottage

Their English Country Cottages On first sight, before I had even gone in, my feelings were confirmed: I loved it. Naomi Stuart is the Marketing Director for Snowbility that provides snow sports coaching to people with additional needs and mental health challenges. She has also just launched Ambre Clothing, a sustainable and ethical casual wear…

Creating a Spring feel at Christmas

One of the things I love doing at Christmas is not only decorating my home with flowers and foliage but also creating arrangements with Spring bulbs. I always think there’s something so lovely about seeing them come to life in Spring, and just seeing the bulbs reminds me that my favourite season is just around the corner. There also…

Wibbly Wobbly Cottage

Their English Country Cottages We met when we were in our early twenties and spent years dreaming about one day owning a beautiful chocolate box cottage with a roll top bath, an aga and a fire. It’s not a thatch!! Welcome to the first non thatched cottage of the series! I am breaking my Christmas…

Getting the most out of your flowers and foliage

One of the things I talked about on my Instagram account this week was the different ways of getting the most out of my flowers and foliage. When you receive a bouquet or an arrangement, there will always be flowers that go past their best quicker than others and it can be tempting to just discard the full arrangement. However, this does…

Interview with Tori Murphy Textile Designer

As a child Tori Murphy wanted to be a fashion designer but as she grew up her dreams progressed to becoming an artist yet it wasn’t until her mid twenties that she realised she could have a career in textiles. Textiles is an area that allows me to be fluid as it is very creative…

Rose Cottage

Their English Country Cottages Before I even viewed it, I knew it was going to be ours – I think you get the house that you are meant to have. I knew Rose Cottage was going to be for us. Yes it’s ANOTHER thatch! I promise this new series won’t all be thatched cottages but…

Foliage Arrangements

The garden is very much going into hibernation mode and while some of my roses are still flowering, the majority of my Summer flowers have now died back. One of the things I love about Spring and Summer is the abundance of blooms you have to play with, both in your garden and in arrangements. However, never underestimate the…

White House Farm Cottage

Their English Country Cottages “The house chose me” Hurrah! Come in! Erm…actually this isn’t my house so that’s probably a bit rude. This beautiful cottage belongs to Jane Compton-Leese who lives in Suffolk in a very similar cottage to ours (sometimes I have to look twice at her kitchen before I realise that it’s not…

November Notes

I can’t quite believe we’re in November already but I’m so glad the month has started with some dry and bright weather! My last few weeks of October were a bit of a wash out so it’s been nice to get back out in the garden and start giving everything a much-needed tidy. I always think…

The wonderful world of Sweet Peas

If I was to get a report on my first year growing sweet peas then it would be – must do better! At the start of this year everything was going so well – they germinated, grew and looked strong.  However, then I made a rooky mistake. I didn’t provide enough time to gradually expose them to the…

Bringing the outside in

A bit of a different blog for me this week as I share with you how I go about bringing a little bit of my garden inside. If you’ve been following me for a while then you have most probably guessed I adore flowers, and as I spend more time out in my garden I’ve started to become intrigued…

Escape To The Country Necessities

When we first moved to this cottage we knew that there was a tick list of items that we would need to buy to achieve our country idyll. Aga – tick. Logburner – tick. Large scrubbed pine table – tick (would prefer French oak refectory table but my our kitchen table has stuck by us…

Digging up Dahlias and Planting Peonies

The garden is definitely going into hibernation mode,  as whilst I’m pruning, I’m not getting the bounce back of new growth like you do in the Summer months. This week, I’m focusing on starting to clear my cut flower garden and plant in preparation for Spring.  Out with the old and in with the new It’s getting close to…

Top 5 ways to Embrace Autumn with open hearts and joyous faces…

…I’m trying ok? I am a summer baby, this is not my metier but I am trying to move to the darkside. Get outside and gather We don’t have a dog (I am incapable of looking after anything else, I am just not up to the job), I have so far managed to stay firm…

Top 5 Autumnal gardening Answers

With the arrival of Autumn, it definitely feels like everything in the garden is going into hibernation. I tend to garden all year round and September through to November consists mostly of giving the garden a good tidy so it looks as good as possible for the Winter months. This week on Instagram I posted a picture…

Country Cottage Cosy

I BELIEVE!!!! Hallelujah! I am converted! I LOVE AUTUMN!!! What a glorious season, a time to run carefree through leaves (well – maybe watch out for hedgehogs and fox poo…), a time to gather and harvest. A time to pull on cosy jumpers and plodge through puddles in wellies, returning home to warm up by…

Darhling Dahlias

The darling dahlia (as I like to call them) is one of my favourite flowers.  They can bloom well into October, when I dig the tubers up to protect them from the first frost. Not only are they rather beautiful but they come in all shapes, sizes and colours so I challenge you to find one that you don’t like. Even better, they…

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…