Christmas for Beginners – Carole Matthews

Christmas for Beginners - Carole MatthewsSPEND THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR AT HOPE FARM…

Description: Christmas is fast approaching at the new Hope Farm. Owner Molly Baker has been convinced to organise an open day to raise some much-needed funds ahead of the New Year, but the nativity tableau is proving challenging. With anti-social sheep, awkward alpacas and a seriously sequined Santa Claus to assemble, Molly is feeling overwhelmed, and in desperate need of some Christmas spirit . . .

Despite the chaos of the farm getting in the way of her event planning, Molly is looking forward to spending the holidays with Shelby and Lucas, hopeful that a happy family Christmas is exactly what they need to draw them all together. But while she is busy making plans on the farm, Shelby, it seems, has ideas of his own.

As the nativity draws near, the team are working hard to pull off a spectacular festive fete – and make sure the animals and humans remain on their best behaviour. Will this Christmas be merry and bright, or is there more than one surprise in store for Hope Farm?

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
We loved the opportunity to return to Hope Farm, which we first discovered in Happiness for Beginners, when Carole took her inspiration from a real farm that offers alternative education. For readers familiar with Happiness for Beginners there is a lovely feeling of recognition as we remember the antics of the animals and the different human characters, but Christmas For Beginners works equally well in its own right. Carole’s gentle humour and magical storytelling ensures that even when dealing with difficult issues, this delightful book is another Christmas must-read! Highly Recommended!

I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day – Milly Johnson

I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day - Milly JohnsonDescription: It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard. Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there…

Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?

Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?

Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find – and much more besides?

A story of knowing when to hold on and when to let go, of pushing limits and acceptance, of friendship, love, laughter, mince pies and the magic of Christmas.

Gorgeous, warm and full of heartfelt emotion, I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day is the perfect read this winter!

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day is such an exquisite and clever read, Milly has perfectly captured the spirit of Christmas in the style of a traditional fairytale, full of emotion and poignancy, but with lessons for life and relationships crafted into the most uplifting and magical read. Highly Recommended!

Finding Love at the Christmas Market – Jo Thomas

Finding Love at the Christmas Market - Jo ThomasDescription: Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her…

Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.

Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
This delightful book is such joy for the senses, we love the way Jo always transports the reader to different locations and in Finding Love at The Christmas Market, you really feel you have travelled on a journey from when you first buckle up in the mini-bus to the arrival at the most atmospheric Christmas market.

The description of the making of gingerbread is so realistic that this gorgeous book should really be read curled up with a hot drink and your own supply of gingerbread! Highly Recommended!

All I want for Christmas – Joanna Bolouri

All I want for Christmas - Joanna BolouriDescription: What if the love of your life was your best friend’s girlfriend, and you were the one that set them up?

When Nick loses his job and is dumped by his glamorous but demanding girlfriend, he is forced to grudgingly accept work as a Santa at a local Christmas grotto. As his friends are getting married or promoted, Nick spends his days being terrorised by unfriendly elves and cried on by snotty, spoiled children.

Then he meets 4-year-old Alfie. All Alfie wants for Christmas is for his mum, Sarah, to be happy again. Moved by the boy’s selfless wish, Nick arranges a date between Sarah and his best friend, Matt. But as Sarah and Alfie become part of all their lives, Nick realises that happiness for Sarah and Matt might mean heartbreak for himself.

Hot Brands Cool Places Review

Both funny and heartwarming this delightful book is built on a slow-burning romance when the reader knows what should be happening, in the classic, ‘will they – won’t they’ relationship. Add in laugh-out loud moments, and a very charming 4-year-old, and a grumpy grown-up elf and you have the perfect Christmas read! Highly Recommended!

The Six Tales of Christmas – Anne Marie Ryan

The Six Tales of Christmas - Anne Marie RyanDescription: It’s almost Christmas and snow is falling in the Cotswolds. Simon and Nora are gearing up for the festive season – but their bookshop is in trouble.

Nora is delighted when a customer buys a book that’s been on the shelves for years, but that won’t be enough to keep the bailiffs away.

Fuelled by mulled wine and mince pies, Nora and Simon hatch a plan to rouse community spirit, sending out six books to lonely villagers. The books change the recipients’ lives, but is it too late to change the bookshop’s fate?

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
The Six Tales of Christmas is a delightful Christmas read, set in Cotswold village, it creates a village atmosphere, and also shares some of the realities of the issues found in village communities, but running through this gentle story is a spirit of kindness, the power of books and the love of two people. Highly Recommended!

Quite – Claudia Winkleman

Quite - Claudia WinklemanDescription: Funny, moving and truthful … Quite

Claudia Winkleman’s warmth, humour, no-holds-barred attitude and smoky eye have made her the favourite broadcaster of millions and a much-loved household name.

In this, her first ever book, Claudia invites us all into her world. This is a memoir with a difference (owing to its lack of a plot – genuinely, how do people do that?), and Claudia shares her observations on topics such as the importance of melted cheese, why black coats are vital, how it’s never okay to have sex with someone who has an opinion on your date outfit, how nurses are our most precious national treasure, and why colourful clothing is only for the under 10s (if you’re reading this sporting a bright red jumper and you’re 9, great! If you’re older, sorry).

This is a love letter to life – the real, sometimes messy kind. Quite celebrates friendship, the power of Art, the highs and lows of parenting, and of course, how a good eyeliner can really save your life.

Heartfelt, wry and unmistakeably Claudia, this book gets to the heart of what really matters.

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
We absolutely love Quite by Claudia Winkleman. As we wait for the full return of BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, this is the perfect accompaniment to your Saturday afternoon preparation.

Curl up with a duvet, a selection of snacks, essential refreshments, the perfect eyeliner and a copy of Quite. Ideally with a best friend so that you can share the best of the laugh-out loud moments; of which there are many, the memory of which will stay with you for days after to brighten those dark moments in your day.

Quite is a like a conversation with Claudia as she shares her thoughts, observations and wisdom on all aspects of life.  Honest and at times moving, particularly when she talks about nurses and her children leaving home, but also hilariously funny with her descriptions of picnics, sports day, holidays, skiing, decorating, fitting rooms, and so much more!

This delightful book is funny, wise and uplifting. Highly Recommended!

Homes & Antiques – October 2020

Homes & Antiques – October 2020The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us and, with it, our minds turn to hibernation and making our homes as cosy as possible. An easy addition is a new rug or runner and our colourful selection hits the right note perfectly. Our houses this month, from an exuberant Victorian B&B to a chic Parisian apartment, are brimming with individual style, and stylist Selina Lake suggest ways to add interest and warmth with natural textures. Elsewhere, we tell the story of tortoiseshell and reveal surprises about the humble breadboard. Plus, enjoy 48 hours in antiques hotspot Hastings.


In Praise of Victoriana
This flamboyant B&B is a homage to all things Victorian, from the wallpaper to the furniture.

Sophistication on a Shoestring
Keenly Fawcus has an eye for a bargain, and she’s revived her Victorian villa with thrifty touches.

Creating Cohesion
Camille Hermand’s Parisian apartment is cool, considered and packed with character.

Naturally Dramatic
The coastal landscape has inspired the interior design of this Hastings townhouse.

How to buy and collect antique breadboards

Meet the Maker
See Miriam Hanid’s shimmering silver designs.

Embracing Autumn
Stylist Selina Lake on creating a cosy interior

Grace and Flavour
A lavish Robert Kime interior under the hammer

Just Desserts
Delicious home cooking – autumnal fruit puddings

Fairs & Auctions
We welcome the return of live antiques events.

All this and much, much more!!

The October issue of Homes & Antiques is on sale now :

The Return – Nicholas Sparks

The Return - Nicholas SparksDescription: Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, North Carolina. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he’d inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.

Tending to his grandfather’s beloved bee hives while preparing for a second stint in medical school, Trevor isn’t prepared to fall in love with a local . . . yet, from their very first encounter, Trevor feels a connection with deputy sheriff Natalie Masterson that he can’t ignore. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she’s hiding.

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road. Claiming to be 17, she works at the local sundries store and keeps to herself. Discovering that she was once befriended by his grandfather, Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather’s death, but she offers few clues—until a crisis triggers a race that will uncover the true nature of Callie’s past, one more intertwined with the elderly man’s passing than Trevor could have ever anticipated.

In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie’s secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
The Return by Nicholas Sparks is a very gentle, yet compelling story, beautifully written.

We loved the way the story unfolds, and the pace that keeps the reader intrigued until the very end.

This is a deeply satisfying weekend read! We loved it.

Highly Recommended!

Mary Berry Simple Comforts – Mary Berry

Mary Berry's Simple Comforts - Mary BerryDescription: Find comfort with Mary’s easy home cooking.

In this brand new tie-in to a new BBC Two series, Mary Berry shares over 120 of her ultimate food recipes, all made simply and guaranteed to get smiles around your kitchen table.

Mary’s utterly reliable recipes are perfect for days when you want tasty and dependable food. Come home to the delicious simplicity of a Whole Roasted Squash with Garlic and Chilli Butter, or a warming Spicy Sausage and Red Pepper Hot Pot. Treat your family to Slow Roast French Lamb with Ratatouille, and spoil everyone with a decadent Frangipane Apple and Brioche Pudding.

Featuring all the recipes from Mary’s new series, plus many more fresh from Mary’s kitchen, every single dish is accompanied by a photography of the finished food, so you know exactly what you’re making. Each recipe includes Mary’s trademark no-nonsense tips and techniques for getting ahead, and has been rigorously tested to make your cooking stress-free.

Hot Brands Cool Places Review

If ever there was a time that we needed Mary Berry Simple Comforts it’s now; as the temperature starts dropping, the days are getting shorter, and we are faced with the current uncertainty in our lives.  So to bring us all comfort, Mary has created this delicious book full of the most gorgeous and mouth-watering recipes.

As Mary describes in her introduction,

’The very words, ‘comfort food’ are like a big warm hug for most of us. Comfort food means different things to different people. For many, it will be a roast Sunday dinner that says family and togetherness. For others it may be a perfect tomato salad that gives you the feeling of being in a sunlit Mediterranean cafe, or a home-made cake that fills the house with tempting aromas as it bakes in the oven’

This book is everything we have grown to love and expect from Mary, stunning photography of each dish, clear and concise details in the recipes and reassuringly helpful hints from Mary.

We particularly love Mary’s Recipe Finder, which takes every recipe and organises them into different categories e.g Soups, Simple Starters, Light Lunches & Sharing Plates, Salads, Make-Ahead Meals, Speedy Suppers, One-Pot Dishes, Pasta, Pastry, Weekend Specials, Feeding a Crowd, Accompaniments, Cold Puddings, Hot Puddings, Small Cakes & Biscuits, Large Cakes, Bread. So whatever your mood, or occasion, you can easily find the perfect recipe.

Featuring all the recipes from Mary’s new BBC Two series, plus many more fresh from Mary’s kitchen, this book is an absolute joy.

We absolutely adore it and that is why we are delighted to choose Mary Berry Simple Comforts by Mary Berry, published by Ebury Publishing as our as our Cookery Book of the Month.

Highly Recommended!

Homes & Antiques – September 2020

Homes & Antiques – September 2020Live fairs and auctions are back, and antiques dealers around the country are welcoming the public into their shops once more: our listings will lead you to your nearest antiques fix! Explore five unique homes, each one filled with beautiful antiques and charming vintage pieces, and find out what life is like for people whose homes are places of historic interest. Discover the fascinating story of chintz and the curious history of jelly moulds. Plus, Antiques Roadshow expert Lennox Cato reflects on his career and his continuing love of the trade.

This month’s homes are as varied as ever, include a loft apartment in New York, a live-work space in London and a rambling Italian mansion. In each case antiques and vintage finds take centre stage – meaningful reminders of family and friends, holidays and past events.

Meet the Custodians
Discover what daily life is really like for the people who live and work in a heritage property.

Collecting ceramic and copper jelly moulds.

The Edit: Beds
Update your bedroom with these sumptuous beds.

Material Matters
Embrace maximalism with return of chinz.

The Antiques Roadshow expert reflects on his fascinating career and love of the trade.

Meet the Maker
Molesworth & Bird’s hand-pressed seaweeds

Fairs & Auctions
We welcome the return of live antiques events.

All this and much, much more!!

The September issue of Homes & Antiques is on sale now :

If I Could Say Goodbye – Emma Cooper

What are Friends For? - Lizzie O’ HaganDescription: A heart-warming and uplifting story about love, loss and finding the strength to say goodbye, from the author of The First Time I Saw You.

Jennifer Jones’ life began when her little sister, Kerry, was born. So when her sister dies in a tragic accident, nothing seems to make sense any more.

Despite the support of her husband, Ed, and their wonderful children, Jen can’t comprehend why she is still here, while bright, spirited Kerry is not.

When Jen starts to lose herself in her memories of her sister, she doesn’t realise that the closer she feels to Kerry, the further she gets from her family.

Jen was never able to say goodbye to her sister. But what if she could?

Would you risk everything if you had the chance to say goodbye?

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
Emma Cooper’s books are always beautifully written and emotionally charged, and If I Could Say Goodbye is another powerful example.

It’s impossible not to be moved by this beautiful book about loss and love, as Emma takes you through every emotion experienced by all the characters, especially Jen, Ed, and their children.

Achingly poignant, heartbreaking and yet also with moments of real humour, you will be holding your breath until the very end.

Highly Recommended!

What are Friends For? – Lizzie O’ Hagan

What are Friends For? - Lizzie O’ HaganDescription: Everyone gives their friends advice when it comes to dating, but what happens when it all goes wrong?

Eve doesn’t have time for dating, but having watched her best friend and flatmate have her heart broken one too many times, she reluctantly volunteers to play her Cupid.

Max is too much of a hopeless romantic to find the algorithms of online dating anything other than clinical, but he lives with his romantically-challenged best friend who desperately needs his advice.

And after all, what are friends for?

As Eve and Max become more involved in their best friends’ relationship, they quickly realise there is a fine line between instruction and imitation, especially when they find they can’t stop thinking about their best friend’s date…

Hot Brands Cool Places Review

There is a real pace to this delightful book, it would transfer so well to the screen, the characters are well drawn and there is real depth.

With humour and poignancy, this is such a clever book, a beautifully written modern story of ‘will they, won’t they’, but so much more.

A perfect weekend read!

Highly Recommended!

Our Story- Miranda Dickinson

Description: Otty has just landed her dream job. She’s about to join the writing team of one of the most respected showrunners in TV. And then the night before her first day, she’s evicted from her flat.

Joe has been working with Russell for years. He’s the best writer on his team, but lately something has been off. He’s trying to get his mojo back, but when his flatmate moves out without warning he has other things to worry about.

Otty moving into Joe’s house seems like the perfect solution to both their problems, but neither is prepared for what happens next. Paired together in the writing room, their obvious chemistry sparks from the page and they are the writing duo to beat. But their relationship off the page is an entirely different story, and neither of them can figure out why.

And suddenly the question isn’t, will they, or won’t they? It’s why won’t they?

An epic and modern love story for our times, we will all see ourselves reflected in Otty and Joe. We are our own biggest barriers and this novel explores what happens when we get out of our own way. And it is glorious.

Hot Brands Cool Places Review

Miranda is one of our favourite authors and we always look forward to her latest book. We love the way she pours her heart and soul into her writing particularly when she weaves music into her inspiration.The attention to detail in her descriptions of locations makes them particularly realistic.

Our Story is one of Miranda’s best novels, an utterly delightful and heartwarming exploration of life and relationships with a beautiful and tender love story at its centre.

This is the perfect weekend read, settle back and escape with this gorgeous book.

We absolutely loved it, one of our favourite fiction reads of 2020!

Highly Recommended!

The Little Cottage in Lantern Square – Helen Rolfe

The Little Cottage in Lantern Square - Helen Rolfe
Step into the magic of Lantern Square…

Hannah went from high flyer in the city to business owner and has never looked back. In the cosy Cotswold village of Butterbury she runs Tied up with String, sending handmade gifts and care packages across the miles, as well as delivering them to people she thinks need them the most.

But when her ex best-friend Georgia turns up and wants in on the action, will Hannah be willing to forgive and forget? With her business in jeopardy she needs to maintain the reputation she’s established, and discover who she can trust…

Meanwhile, a mysterious care package lands on her own doorstep at Lantern Cottage. Who is trying to win her heart – and will she ever be willing to give it away?

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
The Little Cottage in Lantern Square is a charming book, Helen captures the heart-warming atmosphere of Lantern Square and the village of Butterbury to perfection. An uplifting and optimistic story, perfect for holiday reading. Highly Recommended!

A Paris Secret – Caroline Montague

A Paris Secret - Caroline MontagueA powerful promise. A terrible sacrifice. A second chance…

1952. In the fragile atmosphere of post-war Paris, Sophie Bernot is training as a heart surgeon. A young woman in a man’s world, Sophie is determined to bury her past and forge her medical career, whatever the costs.

Across the channel, Sebastian Ogilvie is burning with ambition for his first architectural project. As his schemes lead him to France, and to a chance encounter with Sophie, his future seems full of promise.

But when Sophie and Sebastian find themselves entangled in a brief, passionate affair, they each face a choice that will change their lives irrevocably, and a secret that will take years to be uncovered…

Sweeping from Paris to London, to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps, this is an unforgettable story of passion, heartache and forgiveness.

Hot Brands Cool Places Review

A Paris Secret is utterly compelling, full of romance and heartache, Caroline Montague has crafted a beautiful and clever book with unexpected twists and turns, it captures the reader from the very first page and keeps you there until the very end.

A perfect weekend read.

Highly Recommended!

Dear Emmie Blue – Lia Louis

Dear Emmie Blue - Lia LouisDescription: Emmie Blue has a secret…

A long time ago, Emmie Blue released a red balloon with a secret message hidden inside – and against all odds, across hundreds of miles of ocean, it was found on a beach in France by a boy called Lucas.

Fourteen years later, on the eve of her thirtieth birthday, Emmie hopes that Lucas is finally about to kiss her. She never expected him to announce that he was marrying someone else!

Suddenly Emmie’s dreams are shattered and the one person in her life she can rely on is slipping through her fingers. But what if Lucas isn’t her forever? What if her love story is only just beginning…

Hot Brands Cool Places Review

In Dear Emmie Blue, Lia Louis has created a book that will take you and keep you completely absorbed until you reach the very last page.

Poignant, and sensitively written, expect to experience every emotion in this touching and uplifting story of love, friendship and relationships.

A very special book.

Highly Recommended!

Homes & Antiques – August 2020

Homes & Antiques – August 2020As lockdown begins to ease a little for many of us, we look forward to welcoming back live fairs and auctions so you can get your antiques and vintage fix, while helping dealers get their businesses back on track. Take a tour of five colourful homes, which beautifully reflect their owners’ characters, and hear three devotees of Piero Fornasetti tell us what they love about the designer’s unique style. Find out what leads some collectors to leave a lifetime’s work to cultural institutions and discover Prue Leith’s favourite culinary antique!

From a Cornish cottage to an East London Terrace, each one successfully demonstrates the art of mixing styles from diverse and surprising sources.

Collecting Paperweights
The fascinating history of collecting these glass orbs.

Collecting Embroidered Table Linen
The simple beauty of crinoline ladies.

A Living Archive
Inside Barnaba Fornasetti’s Milan townhouse.

Material Matters: Bakelite
The ‘material of 1000 uses’ proved revolutionary in the early 20th century, and many Bakelite designs have retained an irresistible aesthetic appeal.

Meet the Maker
Jo Sweeting’s hand-carved creations.

Left to the Nation
Key bequests and why they are made.

Travel: Great Escapes
Outstanding formal gardens open to the public.

Fairs and Auctions
We welcome the return of live antiques events.

All this and much, much more!!

The August issue of Homes & Antiques is on sale now :

Kate and Clara’s Curious Cornish Craft Shop – Ali McNamara

Kate and Clara’s Curious Cornish Craft Shop - Ali McNamaraDescription: Welcome to the glorious little Cornish town of St Felix – where romance and magic sparkle in the summer air

Kate thinks all her wishes have come true when she opens her own little craft shop in the idyllic harbour town of St Felix.

But she soon finds a mystery lingers in her new shop – a sixty-year-old love story told through beautiful paintings and intricate embroideries.

Jack, the owner of the nearby art shop, volunteers to help Kate unravel the mystery, but in doing so they realise their own lives share some uncanny similarities with Clara and Arty, their 1950s counterparts . . .

Can Kate and Jack put right a decades-old wrong, and maybe find their own happy ending on the way?

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
In Kate and Clara’s Curious Cornish Craft Shop Ali McNamara takes us back to our favourite harbour town of St Felix.

This is an exquisite book with all the elements that we love in Ali’s writing; glorious location, believable and lovable characters, a wonderful escapist story, plus a sprinkle of magic dust, all wrapped up inside a beautiful cover!

We absolutely loved it, one of our favourite summer reads! Highly Recommended!

The Women Who Ran Away – Sheila O’Flanagan

The Women who Ran Away - Sheila O'FlanaganDescription: Deira isn’t the kind of woman to steal a car. Or drive to France alone with no plan. But then, Deira didn’t expect to be single. Or to suddenly realise that the only way she can get the one thing she wants most is to start breaking every rule she lives by.

Grace has been sent on a journey by her late husband, Ken. She doesn’t really want to be on it but she’s following his instructions, as always. She can only hope that the trip will help her to forgive him. And then – finally – she’ll be able to let him go.

Brought together by unexpected circumstances, Grace and Deira find that it’s easier to share secrets with a stranger, especially in the shimmering sunny countryside of Spain and France. But they soon find that there’s no escaping the truth, whether you’re running away from it or racing towards it . . .


Hot Brands Cool Places Review

There are so many reasons to read a book by Sheila O’ Flanagan – her sublime storytelling, her wonderful ability to create realistic and honest characters, the evocative ways she describes her locations and that wonderful ability to weave it all together in a book that you will find irresistible.

From the beautiful cover to the very last page, The Women Who Ran Away is a gorgeous escapist summer read!

Highly Recommended!

A Table for Friends – Skye McAlpine

A Table for Friends - Skye McAlpineThe Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty


A Table for Friends celebrates the joy of eating with friends and family, with over 100 simple and wonderfully inviting recipes that allow you to relax with your loved ones whilst the cooking takes care of itself.

Drawing on years of cooking for more people than it ever seemed possible to squeeze into her kitchen, Sunday Times columnist and cookery author Skye McAlpine shares the secrets to her stylish and relaxed way of hosting, setting you up for success whether you’re cooking for two or twenty.

A Table for Friends has recipes for every occasion, from last-minute weeknight dinners to large celebratory gatherings. Skye’s recipes fall into four chapters, Stars, Sides, Sweets and Extras, which allow you to intuitively plan a simple and impressive menu, and, because juggling oven space is one of the biggest challenges when cooking for a crowd, each chapter is ingeniously organised into Throw Together, On The Hob and In The Oven so your menu works best for your mood, your kitchen and your time.

Alongside these beautiful, deliciously do-able recipes comes Skye’s practical, fuss-free guidance for hosting a stress-free gathering, from what to cook in advance to how to lay the table beautifully, allowing you to step out of the kitchen and relax with your guests.

For a super-easy roast why not try her Honey-roast poussins, Butter-&-sage roast pumpkin, Saffron fennel, A really good chicory salad with creamy mustard dressing and Winter fruit & mascarpone tart? Or for a wonderfully soothing pasta supper, Tagliatelle with gorgonzola, pear & walnut and Chocolate chestnut meringue cake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

This is a cookbook to cook from: a helpful, approachable, down-to-earth kitchen companion that will give you the confidence to gather friends around your table and the inspiration to do so more often.

Hot Brands Cool Places Review
Skye’s previous book, A Table in Venice has been one of our all time favourite books, and A Table for Friends is destined to join it in our collection of inspiring cookery books.

Skye writes in such a lyrical way and the photography that accompanies her writing throughout the book is outstanding!

We love the way that the book is created, Skye says that she wants the contents of this book to feel intuitive;

So I wrote it just as I cook.The recipes fall into chapters that take you, step by step, through my thought process in the kitchen: stars, sides and sweets. And then, should you need them, extras.’

It really is written in such an inclusive way:

‘Imagine we are sitting at the kitchen table together, planning a meal, choosing what to cook and scribbling down what we need to buy as we go. First we start with the main dish, what I like to call the ‘star’.This is the centrepiece of lunch or dinner, the main event. It might be a plump roast chicken, a decadently cheesy frittata, or macaroni baked into a flaky pastry pie crust – you choose – but this is what sets the feel and mood of the meal. Then we think about side dishes; as a rule of thumb, we’ll need two of these (three, if feeling extravagant). One should be a simple, fresh salad and perhaps you might want some potatoes (I always want potatoes).The rest is very much up to you. And pudding. Of course, we’ll need pudding. Then, should were in the mood for going that extra mile, we might consider baking a loaf of bread or making our own mayonnaise, say, or salsa verde, to complement the rest of the meal. A little something ‘extra’.

This paragraph sums up Skye’s approach throughout the book. However what sets it apart is the detail; each recipe comes with full details of its origin, the best way to prepare it and the wonderfully helpful timing details, e.g. ‘Hands on 15 minutes’, ‘Hands off 20 minutes, simmering’ Plus full details of the ingredients, preparation and the method, supported by gorgeously inspiring photographs of the finished dish.

The recipes are mostly Italian, many are Skye’s own, but she also includes recipes from her friends’ kitchens, from their family archives, as well as from her own childhood, plus some from her husband’s family. Above all what is collected here are recipes designed to be successful, so that you can concentrate on creating that wonderful table of food to share with friends.

But this book is so much more than delicious recipes, there are delightful details on how to set the scene for the meal, the way that Skye describes this is utterly charming, from the actual table, the tablecloth, the napkins, the mismatched tableware and cutlery, the flowers, candles, even the pans!

She has a rule ‘I own nothing that is too precious to be broken’, and has a caveat ‘that all plates should all be dishwasher-friendly: life is too short to wash things up by hand.’

After taking us through the most sublime meals, Skye completes the book with comprehensive details, including a summary of all her dishes arranged through the seasons, plus sample menus for cooking for different groups of people, and suggestions for meals to cook when you have different amounts of time available.

This is a magical book, we absolutely adore it and that is why we are delighted to choose A Table for Friends  as our as our Cookery Book of the Month. Highly Recommended!

Under a Starry Sky – Laura Kemp

Under a Starry Sky - Laura KempDescription:
It’s never too late to follow your heart
Wanda Williams has always dreamed of leaving her wellies behind her and travelling the world! Yet every time she comes close to following her heart, life always seems to get in the way.

So, when her mother ends up in hospital and her sister finds out she’s pregnant with twins, Wanda knows that only she can save the crumbling campsite at the family farm.
Together with her friends in the village, she sets about sprucing up the site, mowing the fields, replanting the allotment and baking homemade goodies for the campers.
But when a long-lost face from her past turns up, Wanda’s world is turned upside-down. And under a starry sky, anything can happen…

Hot Brands Cool Places Review

We loved Laura’s previous books; The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness and Bring Me Sunshine, and Under a Starry Sky is another example of how Laura always creates communities full of delightful characters, realism, humour and warmth.

There are many storylines in Under a Starry Sky, with moments of drama, poignancy and raw emotion yet Laura weaves them all together in a wonderfully uplifting summer read!

Highly recommended!

The Footstool Workshop

The Footstool Workshop are an experienced team of skilled craftsmen, designers and upholsterers, having been in the furniture business for over 20 years.
Whether you want something to sit on, to rest your weary feet on, to stack your magazines on, to use as storage or just to look beautiful to fill a large space, TFW have loads of gorgeous products to choose from. Continue reading

Homes & Antiques – July 2020

Homes & Antiques – July 2020The world may still be in flux but that doesn’t mean the antiques trade is standing still. Across the country, dealers and fair organisers are shifting their operations online to ensure they can still buy and sell the unique pieces we crave to make our homes stylish and intriguing. As ever, our houses all exude personality and charm through their owners’ thoughtful choices in decoration and decorative antiques, and we also hear from six aficionados who reveal the shopping hotspots they can’t wait to visit. We’re also excited to be launching a brand new section dedicated to food, recipes and collectable antique kitchenalia. Step this way for tantalising cakes and ices from sun-soaked Sardinia…

Wish I was Here!
From sun-soaked Sicily to an Oxfordshire reclamation yard, six antique dealers share their favourite destinations they cannot wait to visit again.

Natural Beauty
Turn your garden into a tranquil oasis with the use of weathered and patinated antique furniture, tools and statuary.

Jewel Purpose
Tracing the intricate story of enamel

Design Icon
Why versatile Lloyd Loom still appeals today.

A Taste of Summer
Sweet treats from Sardinia that make the most of local olive oil and the citrus fruits that are grown in abundance.

Meet the Maker
Textile artist Emily Jo Gibbs reveals her processes and inspirations.

Living with antiques
We visit four inspiring homes.

All this and much much more!!
The July issue of Homes & Antiques is on sale now :


Sunny Days and Sea Breezes – Carole Matthews

Description: Jodie Jackson is all at sea, in every sense.

On a ferry bound for the Isle of Wight, she’s leaving her London life, her career, and her husband behind. She’d like a chance to turn back the clocks, but she’ll settle for some peace and quiet on her brother Bill’s beautifully renovated houseboat, Sunny Days.

But from the moment Jodie steps aboard her new home, it’s clear she’ll struggle to keep herself to herself. If it isn’t Marilyn, who cleans for Bill and is under strict instructions to look after Jodie, then it’s Ned, the noisy sculptor on the next-door houseboat. Ned’s wood carving is hard on the ears, but it’s made up for by the fact that he’s rather easy on the eyes.

Bustled out of the boat by Marilyn and encouraged to explore with Ned, Jodie soon delights in her newfound freedom. But out of mind isn’t out of sight, and when her old life comes knocking Jodie is forced to face reality. Will she answer the call or choose a life filled with Sunny Days and Sea Breezes?

Hot Brands Cool Places Review

We have loved Carole’s books for many years, every time one of her new books arrives, it comes with a guarantee that from the first to the very last page the reader will be taken to another enchanted place.

Sunny Days and Sea Breezes is another wonderful example of her writing and particularly poignant this year as we all long for an escape. With her usual magical storytelling, this is a delightful escapist read.

An absolute joy, uplifting, warm-hearted, feel-good summer reading!. Highly Recommended!




Ilsington Hotel










gone crabbing





Frontpage Travel Jan 2020