Tag Archives: Featured

Wheel-free weekends

I love the idea of leaving the car behind for a weekend – not only is it less stressful, it also feels eco and carefree to be car-free. Sawday’s has also spotted the trend for travelling by train to escape the Big Smoke and has just launched a collection of properties dedicated to ditching the wheels – here are a few of my favourites.

The Potting Shed
The Potting Shed

A potting shed in Kent
There’s something about a potting shed and this one is exceptional. In the prettiest part of Kent, it stands in the former kitchen garden of Benenden Grange where plantsman Collingwood Ingram once lived. Largely open plan, on three floors, you’ve a sitting room, a natty little kitchen and a double bed up on the mezzanine. Tour the topiary garden, stroll to the idyllic village pub, visit sweet villages and gardens; Sissinghurst and Great Dixter (two of my absolute favourites) are close. Take the train to Headcorn and bus or taxi to Benenden.

The Potting Shed , Benenden, Kent, from £264 for a 4 night stay (sleeps 2), www.sawdays.co.uk / 01580 240 308



Step out onto the beach in Sussex 
Miles of white sand and shoreline are yours. Rooms are sprinkled with wrought-iron candlesticks, portholes and shells. Awe inspiring to be so close to the sea, as dramatic views encircle the driftwood bed.


The beach is an extension of the living room and the neutral palette does not compete with those views. Indulge in a spot of pampering: book a massage or reiki session. Take a train to Rye and a bus or taxi to Camber.

Seascape, Camber, Sussex, from £125 per night (sleeps 3), www.sawdays.co.uk / 01797 224754


The Treehouse
The Treehouse

Sleep at tree level in Hertfordshire
While looking out at lofty pines, imagine Henry VIII thundering by… This whole area was part of the hunting estate of nearby Hatfield House. An attractive, white-tiled, living area awaits through the stable door and there’s a small pitch-ceilinged sitting area with Velux window, L-shaped sofa, faux fur throw and magazines to relax with. Look into birds’ nests, and watch deer forage below! Take the train to Ware and hop on the bus to Essendon.

The Treehouse, Essendon, Hertfordshire, from £495 per week (sleeps 2), www.sawdays.co.uk / 01707271794


The Dundas Arms
The Dundas Arms

Canalside in the North Wessex Downs 
This classic inn sits in a stunning spot at the junction of the Kennet river and Kennet & Avon Canal. Check out the papers by the log fire in the Library, a civilised space with leather wing chairs, or have a drink in the modern-traditional bar before tucking into a pork sharing-board, local game pie or whole baked sea bass. Comfortable bedrooms open to gorgeous riverside terraces.Take the train direct to Kintbury and you’re just a stroll away.
The Dundas Arms, Kintbury, Berkshire, from £110 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01488 658263


The Barn at Roundhurst
The Barn at Roundhurst

Beautiful barn stay on the South Downs
This 17th-century barn is contemporary with leather sofas, beautiful sculpture and cow hide rugs. Upstairs, there’s an honesty bar, then a library for books and maps, playing cards and poker chips!

20131011-_dsc9694.jpg_gallery_previewChic rooms spiral around a pretty courtyard with boarded floors, blond wood furniture, smart fabrics and the odd exposed beam. Great walks from the door and Petworth and Goodwood are close. Take the train to Haselmere and bus to Lurgashall.

_dsc1910.jpg_gallery_previewThe Barn at Roundhurst, Lurgashall, Sussex, from £130 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01428 642535


Fox House
Fox House

Cotswolds country idyll
In this big stylish house, guests can relax in one of two super sitting rooms and take their pick from three immaculate, sunny bedrooms. Wake up to local produce, homemade bread, jams and juices from the orchard. The garden leads to pasture and horses, the countryside is dreamy in every season and footpaths radiate from the door. Take a train to Kingham and bus / taxi to Holwell.



Fox House, Burford, Oxfordshire, from £100 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01993 823409


The coach house at Colchester Hill House
The coach house at Colchester Hill House

Listed wooden coach house
This listed brick Coach House is rather special: light and airy with pale beams, oatmeal carpets and merry gingham blinds. Downstairs is a private entrance hall; upstairs a generous open-plan bedroom/living area with a queen-sized bed and en suite bathroom. Find two cream sofas that open into double beds and a balcony with stunning views across the Colne Valley. Take the train to Chappel and Wakes Colne, changing at Marks Tey.

Colchester Hill House, Colchester, Essex, from £95 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01787221561


Waterlock House
Waterlock House

Kent village meets Provencal style 
A stylish Georgian town house with an airy loft apartment on two floors.

hallway-kitchen-sawdays-013_gallery_previewThe vast bedroom/sitting room has French antique quirky pieces (owner, Sophie, has an antique shop next door), a painted black and white diamond floor, a sink-into sofa and a very comfortable big bed with a colourful cover.

garden-shots-009_gallery_previewTake some time in the fantastic, authentic Provençal-style walled garden behind. Take a train to Canterbury and bus or taxi to Wingham.

Waterlock House, Wingham, Canterbury, Kent, £120 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01227 721792


Blue Door Barns
Blue Door Barns

If you must have wheels, borrow better ones
Four charming flint barns hug a candle-lit courtyard, each has been stylishly restored for a relaxed, pampering stay; two have kitchens and living rooms; all are decorated in warm whites, with splashes of colour and vintage pieces.

bluedoor014.jpg_gallery_preview Al-fresco heaven with a rustic table under a rose-covered pergola, and a twinkling outdoor fireplace in the evenings. If you simply must have wheels, hire the stunning 1966 Triumph Spitfire MK1 to cruise the country lanes. Take a train direct to Lewes and walk / taxi to the barns.

Blue Door Barns, Lewes, Sussex, from £110 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01273 858893



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How to… create a gallery wall

Don’t leave your photos languishing on your phone or laptop, create a fab focus wall of framed images and art that you can treasure – it only takes a couple of hours, perfect for a Bank Holiday weekend project!

Personal photos, favourite artwork and memorable treasures, from children’s drawings to concert tickets or a nostalgic football programme, can say so much about your personality and will breathe life into your home, when framed and hung on the walls.

A gallery wall of frames looks really effective and is easier to do than you might think. All you need is some paper and a pencil, a tape measure, hammer and spirit level, and an hour or two to get it right. 

One of the most common questions I get asked about gallery walls is ‘should all of my picture frames match?’,” says Kim Findlay, Frames and Wall Art Buyer for Habitat.

“Ultimately it is down to individual taste. Artwork in matching frames looks clean but for a more eclectic look, experimenting with mixing and matching styles and colours can be fun. If you’re unsure about which look to go for, consider the content of the frames. If the artwork or photography shares a similar style, matching frames work well. If you’re displaying different styles and mediums of artwork together, individual frames can be chosen based on what you’re putting inside them. This leads quite naturally to a mix-and-match style.”

The White Company: Fine memories frame, 15 aperture £150; Fine Wooden frames: 5x7 £25, 4x6 £20, 8x10 £35; Wide wooden frames: 6 aperture £75, 12 aperture £100
The White Company: Fine memories frame, 15 aperture £150; Fine Wooden frames: 5×7 £25, 4×6 £20, 8×10 £35; Wide wooden frames: 6 aperture £75, 12 aperture £100


How to create a picture wall 

1 – Don’t be afraid to mix things up: choose mismatching sizes and colours of frames for an eclectic feel, for instance, and don’t just create a geometric square pattern – a collage of frames can look much more interesting.

2 – Do think about making your pictures work as a group, still. Try theming the images – perhaps all family or holiday shots – or choosing all black and white shots to create a harmonious look. Or perhaps choose lots of shapes of frame but all in one colour.

3 – Don’t just start banging holes in the walls. Instead, lay the frames out on the floor in the arrangement that you are planning, spacing them around 10cm apart from one another. Keep moving things around until you are happy with the way it looks, then draw around each of the frames on paper and cut out paper templates, marking an “x” on each one where the nail should go.

4 – Do take time to get it right. Stick your paper templates on to the wall, following your design, making sure the centre of your arrangement sits at eye level. Use a spirit level and plumb line to check that they are all straight. Tweak your design if necessary. When you’re completely satisfied, nail into the crosses on the templates and then remove the paper. Hang your frames.

Ben de Lisi frame from Debenhams
Ben de Lisi frame from Debenhams

5 – Do cheat. If you’re really struggling, you can now buy frames that create an instant picture wall. Try the 10-frame arrangement by Ben de Lisi from Debenhams (£45), The White Company’s Fine Memories wooden frame (£150) that holds 15 photos or buy Habitat’s 20-aperture mount (£15) in black or white that fits into a 60x80cm frame.


TIP: Photographs and prints tend to wrinkle if directly in contact with glass, so place them behind a mount to prevent them touching it. Tape them to the top of the back of the mount (using masking tape) so that the print then ‘hangs’ in the frame and it can expand and contract with humidity.



Ikea art and frames
Artwork and frames from Ikea

A gallery wall

Make a group of frames to create a focal point, above a sofa, fireplace or in a hallway. Choose a collage of mixed frames, a square or rectangle of equally-sized frames, or a row of frames – you can use different sizes here but keep them all centred so that there’s an imaginary equator running through the middle.

The White Company: Lacquer frame, 4 aperture 5x7 £50; Fine Wooden frames: 5x7 £25, 4x6 £20, 8x10 £35; Slim wooden photo frame, 9 aperture £70; Triple white wooden frame 5x7 £50
The White Company: Lacquer frame, 4 aperture 5×7 £50; Fine Wooden frames: 5×7 £25, 4×6 £20, 8×10 £35; Slim wooden photo frame, 9 aperture £70; Triple white wooden frame 5×7 £50

Table and picture rail groups

Here, all of your frames sit on the same base level, so it is really important to mix of up the sizes and shapes of the frames to keep things interesting. Layer them up in front of one another to create a textured, 3D, look, like this one above, from The White Company.


A picture wall going up stairs can look really effective – the key to nailing the look is to start from the middle frame and work outwards, using the top and bottom of the central frame as a guide to work up/down the wall.


This article first appeared in Metro on 28 April 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 18.20.58

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My date with Deliciously Ella

Today I interviewed the gorgeous and utterly charming Ella Woodward, aka Deliciously Ella, whose blog has taken the internet – and the food world – by storm.

Incredibly, this proponent of clean living and eating is just 23 years old, and she’s no fad dieter either. Although she espouses the benefits of going wheat, dairy, refined sugar, meat and caffeine free, she discovered her strain of healthy eating after a debilitating illness.

Determined to make a difference, Ella decided to try and eat herself well after reading the inspirational story of Kris Carr, a stage four cancer sufferer who took matters into her own hands by radically changing what she put into her body. Ten years on she has kickstarted an eating revolution.


Ella’s journey began three-and-a-half years ago when she binned her Haribo and crisp habit to embark on eating herself back to health. She literally chopped, blended and cooked her way to good health, vibrant energy, glowing skin, shiny hair and a fitter body.

She didn’t count calories or try to deprive herself of anything natural, she found natural sugars to sweeten dishes so that she could still enjoy brownies (sweet potato brownies) and chocolate cake (with raw cacao powder and beetroot), and she calms cravings with homemade date and almond bites.

An hour in her company was inspiring – I immediately headed to Sainsbury’s and spent £95 on nut milks, agave nectar, dates and brown rice.


Her book Deliciously Ella is released this week and is set to transform the way we eat. You only have to look at the supermarket “free from” aisle to see how the food industry is responding to our desire to eat cleaner, healthier food that is free from gluten and dairy.

I, for one,  can’t wait to try some of her sugar-busting ideas! I’ll let you know how I get on…


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