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The Talisman showroom in Gillingham is the kind of place that makes you, briefly, wish you were a Russian Oligarch. And if I was, right now, I’d be snapping up Geoffrey Dashwood’s extraodinarily beautiful and lifelike bird sculptures (on show until end of May).
I’d have snaffled the aluminium 3 drawer commode chest by Christian Maas (£16,000), the French 18th century walnut armoir (£9000), a pair of teal coloured 1960s table lamps and any number of the outsize garden statues and spray painted aluminium chairs. read more
Walking into Robert Bradley’s beautiful antiques showroom near Salisbury is about as far from the Lovejoy experience as you can get. For a start here is a man with a lifelong passion for antique furniture which he has been collecting and dealing since the 1970s. The pieces in his collection are exquisite, stand out works of art in immaculate condition and, surprisingly, not all of them are inaffordable. read more
“Wear this” said Gavin Turk, handing me a tiny plastic pouch and a bulldog clip. Inside, after endless unfolding, was a foil cape. Sheepishly I wrapped it around my shoulders and instantly my temperature rocketed.
I was at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery helping Turk set up an installation for Culture24’s “Museums at Night 2013” – an inspiring festival which celebrates art, history and heritage in Britain; encouraging the public into museums and galleries by opening after-hours for rare and exclusive experiences. read more
Pic credit Suzy Bennett
High art comes to the sleepy, picturesque corner of Hatch in July for the 4th season of Hatch House 2013 (12-14 July).
This is always one of the cultural highlights of our year – breathtaking ballet with world-renowned artists centred around a 3 course supper in the exquisite 17th century Dutch walled garden of Hatch House.
The event brings cultural urbanity to a perfectly rural setting and this was always the plan according to Covent Garden Dance director Matt Brady. read more
Potticks House, Wiltshire £1.85m Knight Frank
Bit of a showstopper, this one. Utterly, utterly beautiful, perfectly, classically English, the kind of gaffe that would give most Americans an identity crisis. This stunning Grade 11 listed Georgian house comes with 7 bedrooms, a large swimming pool and 10 acres of grounds including orchard, woodland and paddock. It’s just outside pretty Bradford on Avon and only 7 miles from the Georgian city of Bath (trains to London 90 mins). Other perks include large open fires in the 3 downstairs reception rooms and a stylish renovation, a spectacular 18th century conservatory and that all-important walk-in larder.
Bittescombe Manor, Somerset £5.25m Knight Frank
A house like this, a total bombshell of a house, in fact, calls for a lottery win so please may those 6 lucky balls come in. Bittescombe Manor, on the edge of Exmoor, is utterly beautiful without being listed which means you get cool contemporary living within a classic frame. Let’s start with the trappings – 9 bedrooms, 9 reception rooms, 6 bathrooms, a 2 bedroomed lodge, a shooting lodge, outdoor pool, lakes and astonishingly pretty landscaped gardens (63 acres in all). Check out this open plan kitchen/sitting room/conservatory to understand just how brilliantly Bittescombe has been refurbished – cook, eat and relax within one highly organised space where the living is easy. And the parties one could throw – Jay Gatsby eat your heart out.
The location is pretty wonderful too, near the pretty village of Wiveliscombe, a 20 minute hop to Taunton station – fast trains to London 1 hr 40. Flying time to Battersea heliport is under 1 hour (just so you know).
Fantasy price tag for most of us – lottery winners and hedge funders this one is for you.
Bored of the rat race? Then read on, for this beautiful old farmhouse (dates from 1760), immaculately decorated inside, is a bit of a bargain, we think, considering its location and the life changing opportunity it presents. Ballaminers House in Little Petherick and just 2 miles from Padstow, is set in 4 acres of grounds and comes with two cottages (valued at £225,000 each). Owner Amanda (who is relocating to Wiltshire) has been successfully letting out the holiday cottages for 11 years. Here’s your chance to snap up a gorgeous, beautifully renovated family house with 4 beds and a proven rental business in the most popular area of Cornwall. Paddocks for ponies, Rick Stein and Nathan Outlaw for uber eating, the wonderful surf of Polzeath close by. This one’s for halcyon days.
Ashwick Court, Somerset, £3.250,000 Knight Frank
Grade 11* listed Ashwick Court sits on top of Somerset’s rolling green hills, a stunning Georgian house in the village of Ashwick. Aside from this 5 bed beauty, there’s a courtyard annexe with 3 bedrooms, a Grade 11 listed stable block and a guest cottage with another 3 bedrooms. Just think of the parties. 31 acres of secluded land including swathes of lawn, a ha-ha, walled garden with tennis court, vegetable garden, a folly, terraced garden with fountains, woodland and rolling parkland. A country gent’s dream (and ours too, for that matter). Castle Cary, Wells and Bath are all within easy reach (as is Babington House), Bristol airport is only 17 miles.
Heatherdale House, Somerset £1.75m Fine and Country
Eco houses have taken over from old rectories as the properties du jour and they don’t come better than this very contemporary pad where the living is easy. Let’s kick off with space – 5 beds, 5 baths, 5 reception rooms, 2 dressing rooms, gargantuan kitchen – you could lose yourself (or your annoying other half) no problem. Space and light are the benchmarks of modern living and here you have floor to ceiling windows, underfloor hearing and an entirely energy efficient home. The house is set in green parkland at the foot of the wonderful Quantock Hills (the best bird spotting in the country). Taunton station is within reach.
Cosmore Farmhouse, Dorset £695,000 Knight Frank
This cute as a boot Grade 11 listed farmhouse has 5 bedrooms, outbuildings including 4 stables, an outdoor pool and pool room, paddocks and more than 4 acres of land. Show this to most Londoners and they’ll weep, especially at the price. A bargain, no? Beams, window seats and inglenook fireplaces have preserved the character of this very pretty house in the village of Middlemarsh and just 7 miles from chi-chi Sherborne (home of Farrow & Ball, a 16th century castle and famous public school). Move in to live the rural dream.
The Old Farmhouse, Dorset £795,000 Knight Frank
Perhaps it’s the hollyhocks there’s a reassuring Miss Marple vibe with this very pretty Grade 11 listed farmhouse in Compton Dundon. Honey sandwiches on the lawn? I think so. Just a few miles from Glastonbury and Castle Cary, location is perfect here. 5 beds, 2 bathrooms, a stone barn with garage/workspace, 2 stables – with plenty of space for home working this feels like somewhere to retreat from urban life. The house dates from 1700 and has plenty of period details of course including inglenook fireplace with Bressemer beams and flagstone floors. Gorgeous views of neighbouring farmland.
North Park, Devon £750,00 Stags
This pretty 18th century farmhouse is set amidst rolling countryside, in a completely secluded position at the end of a long drive. 3 beds and a 1 bedroomed annexe, plenty of outbuildings including 2 barns, 13 acres, orchard and fishing rights for Huntacott Water. It’s the place for Tom and Barbara self sufficiency dreams – comes complete vegetable plots, chicken houses and runs and fruit trees. Ship in some pigs, hook up some trout and let the new life commence.
South Buckham Farm, Dorset £1.995 m Knight Frank
Love this pretty Grade 11 listed thatched farmhouse, close to desirable Beaminster, which sits in 62 acres of farmland. There are 5 bedrooms in the main house as well as a cottage with a further 3 bedrooms. Extensive stables and paddocks for ponies, woodland, 3 lakes, a gym and games room. You are close to Bridport here, arguably the trendiest spot in Dorset with its own seaside Groucho club set to open in Burton Bradstock next year. The stunning Jurassic coast is close by, the area is full of incredible restaurants. Relocate from town and you won’t look back.
Dairy House, Wiltshire £675,00 Roderick Thomas
Loving the bang on location of this Grade 11 listed farmhouse in Norton Ferris, between Mere and Frome and the fact that it comes with a huge office/barn. 3 bedrooms in main house plus a one bedroomed guest annexe. 1 acre of pretty landscaped garden but the real draw here is the huge, converted barn which could house up to 20 workstations for a fully fledged business or be converted into rental accommodation. Stunning walking at nearby Whitesheet Downs and a cool gastro pub in next door Maiden Bradley.
To me The Anonymous Travelling Market perfectly embodies the best things about Dorset – colourful, a little crazy, with a streak of pure artisan at its heart.
It was set up by Emma House and Rae Stormonth Darling 4 years ago as an antidote to the recession. read more
Pictured above: textiles designer Caroline Ritchie
Walking into the Corita Rose studio in Shaftesbury is like a massive assault on the senses- heartstopping colour everywhere against a background of starkest white. Colours you would never think to put together yet are so totally right – plum splashed with lime and brown and turquoise, delicious, addictive combinations on every turn. read more
When the Seaside Boarding House Restaurant & Bar opens next Spring you can be sure the Bridport massive will be beating its doors down. A new venture for Mary-Lou Sturridge and Tony Mackintosh, the duo who set up the legendary Groucho Club in 1985 changing the face of club culture for ever, the Boarding House is a dream come true for West Dorset’s arty, media crowd. read more
Am starting to get the hang of this B&B lark. Which is always dangerous because when I start to relax around something it generally means I am going to balls it up. Less than 3 months in, the profit and loss spreadsheet is lost and the warning signs are there. Over generous with the ‘treats’ because it is someone’s birthday/wedding anniversary/Saturday so let’s make a cake, take a couple of gins over, pop a bottle of prosecco in their fridge, offer them our last born as fire pit stoker. read more
Silver Needle: a delicious white tea at Comins Tea House
Don’t you love it when you stumble across a brilliant new local find? My latest – the Comins Tea House in Sturminster Newton – is a real gem of a place. Just 3 weeks old this venture feels very zeitgeisty to me tapping into our growing obsession with healthy living and loose leaf tea.
Started up by Rob and Michelle Comins who also sell specialist imported teas through their Comins Tea House website, the look and feel of the shop/café is minimal Japanese. The real joy, though, is in the amazing quality of tea and the ritual that goes with it. read more