Tag Archives: vintage

Tales from the Forest

I have to admit to having rather a soft spot for the New Forest.  Rugged heaths, ancient woodland, sea and countryside entwined, grazing cows who amble across the road and wild ponies walking amongst hues of gorse and heather.  Pure untamed romance – the countryside embodiment of Byron.  I’m always trying to persuade Jerry to move there.  So when Rachel from New Forest Escapes asked if I’d like to come and see some wonderfully unique properties she lets for short breaks and holidays, I jumped at the chance to explore.  Some invitations are just too good to turn down, dear Reader.

They say that location is everything and New Forest Escapes certainly know how to open the door to explore some of the New Forest’s best kept secrets. Handpicked and unique, their properties encompass so much from luxury coastal chic to vintage quirkiness – far more than your average rental or Air BnB.  Unusual requests?  Big birthday to organise?  Hen party? Want your dogs to join you for the weekend or fancy bringing your pony?  Honestly, it seems that there is nothing Rachel and her team can’t organise for your stay.  In fact, their properties are so marvellous, I wasn’t entirely keen on sharing them with you, dear Reader…..

With plenty to choose from, New Forest Escapes offer everything from bohemian style, a veritable Swallows and Amazons’ paradise, luxury weekend boltholes by the sea, a smugglers’ inn with its own private beach, countryside elegance to rival The Pig Hotel to a Tithe barn with an interior to die to for, complete with its own private jetty and many more lets for weekend retreats or staycations.  Now can you see why I didn’t want to share….?

Staying at the beautiful Ploughman’s Cottage which is a stone’s throw from the excellent East End Arms pub, owned by John Illsley, bass guitarist of Dire Straits, we lost the girls immediately to the stunning garden.  I very nearly lost Jerry to the pub too, if I’m honest.  I think he was hoping that Dire Straits might want to recruit an additional band member.

The dogs were in their element bombing round the garden and Poppy and Primrose were determined to leave home and move into the gypsy caravan.  Inside was all the comfort of home from home but oh so much better.  Books galore too.  All Jerry and I had to do was to find the corkscrew and decide what to do about supper, dear Reader.

Eventually when we managed to tear our gypsy girls away, we snuck down to have fish and chips on the beach at Pitts Deep (pictured below).  Lymington Pier station was a short hop away and a great place to get the train down from London to – Jerry said that the coastal route was brilliant with the last train stop ending feet away from the sea.

Pitts Deep Cottage offers a dose of pure coastal glamour. Sumptuous interiors, uninterrupted sea views and bags of charm, its past as an inn “Famous for Selling Good Brandy” tells tales of 18th century smugglers.  With Pitts Deep as our backdrop and the sea before us,  it was the most wonderful fish and chips we’ve ever had. We sat on our picnic rug on the sand, watching the waves with a cold glass of rose as the children made dens on the beach.

If magical adventures with your children are what you’re looking for, then I can’t think of a more perfect stay than Eat me Drink me Cottage.

Taking a trip down the rabbit hole in this Alice in Wonderland inspired hideaway, you’ll find a treasure trove of vintage toys in this higgledy piggedly cottage – ideal for free range children and grown ups.  Eat me Drink me Cottage is the ultimate place for a bit of rewilding and is a beautiful reflection of its eclectic owners, Peter, a concert pianist and Victoria who runs vintage children’s clothing delight Elfie London who decamp here with their children when the cottage is free.  The dressing up box had Poppy and Primrose in raptures!  Unsurprisingly, Eat me Drink me won our hearts straight away and its magical location on the Pylewell estate (which hosts Curious Arts Festival in the summer), is just close enough to Tanners Lane Beach to organise expeditions to hunt for pirates or invite a few fairies back for tea in the meadow beyond the garden gate.  A top tip – do read Rachel’s marvellous blog before your stay.  We loved her wonderful ideas, handpicked offers and suggestions for adventures with the children during our stay including going on our very own Unicorn Trail .

Reluctantly leaving our weekend bolthole, we returned home feeling as though we’d completely switched off and recharged our batteries.  No need for phones or telly – time to play, relax and just….well…be.  Now if that’s not a reason to book a stay in one of New Forest Escapes‘ properties, I don’t know how else I could tempt you, dear Reader.  I’m already thinking about the next time I can enjoy this view again!  With a nice long gin and tonic of course.





A case of a stitch in time….

This week I dusted off the ‘old’ sewing machine and tried to turn my hand to a bit of clothes making.  I say dusted off…what I really mean is I took off the brand new cover and trawled through the manual of a birthday gift received years ago and never used.  Whilst on maternity leave with Primrose some four years ago now, I decided in a moment of ‘Barbara-ness’ to ask my dear Mamma for a sewing machine.  I had grandiose ideas of becoming a ‘mumpreneur’ and making vintage children’s clothes on an old-fashioned Singer machine in a shepherd’s hut in the garden.  A fad which lasted all of five minutes and resulted in one lavender bag being made.  The sewing machine has been in the cupboard under the stairs ever since.  The only reason I had to remove it from its comfortable home this week was because Jerry bought some wine and insisted upon using the cupboard as his new wine cellar.  Of course, Jerry promptly found the wretched machine and dragged it out demanding that it was a waste and that I had to put it to good use.  I could curse Berry Bros. for their Burgundy sale!

With the advent of the dreaded ‘Woodland fairy’ birthday party, I had intended to buy a new outfit for Primrose to wear from a dear little shop famed for its frothy tutus.  However, with the emergence of the sewing machine, I did feel a little guilty that I hadn’t managed to master the art of sewing and I do hate to let things beat me.  I decided to make my own tutu and having no idea where to start, trawled the internet for ideas and quite frankly, a step by step guide.  I found only a couple of You Tube videos and I couldn’t even follow the nifty fingered seamstresses on those.  Oh dear I thought.  Then I had the brilliant idea of reworking one of Primrose’s old dressing up skirts.  I say ‘rework’ but you know me a little by now and actually ‘rework’ is more trash than transform.  Well where does one start when one hasn’t sewed since one’s school days and embroidery isn’t really the same thing as making an outfit is it?

I had already had a disaster, trying to hand dye the skirt olive green before I began reading the instructions on how to set up the sewing machine.  I persevered in a painstaking fashion, trying to make sense of what Kirstie Allsop had made look so bloody easy on ‘Homemade Home’.  Put thread onto bobbin, pass bobbin into bottom of machine, thread this, pull here, use pedal (somewhat tricky as it would happen).  Some hours later, I was hitting my head against the kitchen table, there were only 24 hours until the party and the Flower fairy outfit was more trashy Tinkerbell than little pixie from Tumbledown Wood.

It turns out that when all is said and done, I am NO Kirstie Allsop or Barbara come to mention it.  A stitch in time on a sewing machine would have saved nine BUT that old idiom clearly didn’t take a novice seamstress into account.  However, sew it I did.  All sewn by hand in the end after I broke two needles on the machine and I had tangled up all the thread.  The finished article was wearable at least and Primrose did tell all (and with some pride I might add) that her Mummy had made her outfit.  YES it did look homemade and YES you could see the stitching close up but for a first attempt, it stayed on and that’s what counts!!!!  Sadly, the sewing machine sits forlornly in a forgotten corner for now but you know, just watch this space as I may just use it to make another lavender bag….