CF Loves: The Linen Works

HELLO. SUMMER.

Rainclouds included – how British!

How beautiful are these shots that landed in my inbox today from The Linen Works, of their new limited edition collection?

If you don’t know the brand they are firmly on my interiors holy grail, wish list. Effortless, timeless, crumpled natural linens for the bedroom, dining table and bathroom. They remind me of the linen closet at my husband’s family home on the Amalfi Coast. Some of the sheets are carefully monogrammed with his great grandparents’ initials. They have been washed and washed, then dried in the Southern Italian heat. In short, they are cashmere soft and contribute to the Best. Sleep. Ever.

If it turns out you don’t have access to a trousseau of antique linens – The Linen Works collection are the next best thing. Yes they are an expensive investment (keep an eye out for the sale though, bargains are there to be had), but these linens are true heirloom pieces in their own right, fit for my great grandchildren, I hope.

P.s. the beautiful summer collection was shot in Mudeford in Dorset – where the OH and I are off to next month to review Christchurch Harbour Hotel for countryfille.com!

www.thelinenworks.co.uk

 

30-second review: Bioderma Photoderm Autobronzant and Sebium H20 Micellar water cleanser

I picked these two up in Escentual.com’s current ‘French Pharmacy Brand Sale’ this week. I’ve been using Bioderma’s Crealine H20 micellar water (the original pink one, for sensitive skin) for aaaggges, picking up triple packs in bulk when across the channel. This time though, I took advantage of the generous 1/3 off discount (on till the end of June I think) to try out the ‘Sebium H20’ version – for combination/blemish-prone skin.

For those unfamiliar with the micellar texture/formula: it is a water solution, infused with teeny tiny oil droplets, that emulsify the dirt/grease/make-up on your skin and clean it away is a really light, non-clogging but super efficient way. There is nothing better after a day in the city: soak 2-3 cotton pads in micellar water straight from the fridge, thoroughly cleanse the face and throat and watch the daily dirt disappear. You face is left super soft, not squeaky or dry.

In general, the French pharmacy brands do this formula best – the Roche Posay one is great, as is the Caudalie one. The Sebium H2O one has been great for regulating my oily t-zone which seems to go haywire in the heat and isn’t astringent like other ‘oily skin’ cleansers seem to be.

I was running low on my beloved Invisible Zinc Jet Set spray tan, so picked up Bioderma’s Autobronzant with a 1/3 off, too.

I didn’t even know Bioderma did fake tan, but this formula is goooooood. The spray is a light mist that gives continual coverage even when held upside down, so you can spritz away and get an even coverage (I always use my trusty St. Tropez mitt though, to buff away any streaks/runs). Straight away you get a sheeny, glow and after 3-5 hours a super natural, non-orange colour develops. I would say a couple of consecutive day’s application would be needed to get some real colour, but that to me is a good thing, meaning you can layer it up when you want a deeper tan. The smell just reminds me of expensive sun cream, after the tan has developed there was zero whiff of DHA. My find of the summer I reckon.

www.escentual.com

 

CF Eats: Raw juice benefits and the Philips Whole Fruit Juicer

After my amazing, energy boosting, skin-clearing, mood-balancing Green Cleanse from Purifyne, it inspired me to keep juicing. I have been wary in the past about investing in a juicer. They are bulky things, a faff to clean and I thought, would end up in the utility room after an initial ‘honeymoon’ period.

Not so. Here is this morning’s carrot, orange and ginger beauty:

After A LOT of research, I plumped for the Philips HR1861 Whole Fruit Juicer. The general consensus is that you want one that you can fling everything in whole. If you have to start chopping and peeling stuff, that is when it becomes a faff and you will definitely give up. This little powerhouse (and it is more compact than I had imagined, about the same size as my food processor) can take whole apples, carrot, great lengths of cucumber and even fibrous ginger. The only thing I peel are oranges but lemon wedges and limes go in whole.

This book actually came free from Amazon with my order and it’s been a pretty good starting place for tasty (if a bit sweet for me) juice recipes:

That actually, would be my next tip when juicing. Make sure you don’t overload on fruit based juices, else the fructose will send your blood sugar levels haywire. I try to keep to a 80: 20, veg:fruit ratio. So a favourite is spinach, cucumber, celery, lemon and then an apple to help sweeten it:

My husband calls it my ‘hulk juice’.

Another great one from the book for a serious vitamin and antioxidant hit, which isn’t too sweet, is carrot, apple, celery, beetroot, lemon and ginger. I like to start the day with this one:

Now I’ve got more confident with my combos, I’m starting to go off-piste. Melon, mint, lettuce, broccoli, parsley (such a good cleanser)… it takes 15mins for the nutrients in raw juices to simulate into the bloodstream, as opposed to 3 hours (and a lot less benefits) from cooked veg.

There are a billion and one benefits to raw juices – my favourites being:

  • 3 raw vegetable juices a WEEK can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by 76%
  • You absorb up to 90% of the nutrients from raw juice, as opposed to 25-35% of the same veg/fruit if you were to eat it. Making juicing very cost vs. nutrition efficient!
  • It has been proven to eleviate health problems from asthma and skin conditions such as psoriasis (my skin is certainly at it’s best), to case studies showing a high beta-carotene juicing diet shrinking some cancerous masses.

This last one is obviously a biggie for me. Yes, I’m sure my recent health drive is a knee-jerk reaction to losing Daddy so rapidly to cancer. Yet after a reading a wealth of medical research (the cancer active page here is a really important read) into the health benefits of raw juicing, and particularly the link between cancer cells and betacarotene intake, it seems clear that upping your vitamin, mineral and antioxidant levels in this way is a VERY GOOD THING.

Bottoms up!

CF x

 

 

CF Travels: Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales

This is officially my out of office! The Countryfille brood are off for a long weekend overlooking the sandy beaches of Tenby, Pembrokeshire (the apartment is actually visible in the illustration above!). WOO HOO!

We are off on our travels with two friends and their son, who handily enough, happens to be Country Bebe’s best friend, too. Expect an Instagram feed full of small boys, sandcastles, lazy picnics and the odd glass of cider.

See you on Tuesday – in the meantime if you have any tips or places we should check out, please leave me your suggestions in the comments box. CF x

 

CF Eats: Nakd bars

God, I love these bars. I have managed to get my son, boss and best friend addicted to them, so I thought I’d move on to all of you next.

First I’ll run through their credentials:

Gluten, wheat and dairy free; no added sugars/syrups; cold pressed not baked (to preserve goodness); 100% vegan… blah blah blah. Basically, this independent British snack company is the beesknees. They have come up with a formula for yummy, sweet, sticky treats that are not full of crap, calories or refined sugar.

Here’s the ingredients list for my favourite, the cocoa orange one (think Terry’s chocolate orange but less sickly): Dates 40% (hence the sweetness), cashews 40% (hit of protein, so they really fill you up), raisins 14%, cocoa 5% and a hint of natural orange oil and chocolate flavouring. That’s it!

I usually have one or two of these about my person at any one time (in the car, handbag, swimming bag…) as Country Bebe is in love with the banana bread one (hence no photo above, he snaffled it this morning after his swimming lesson).

This is just the type of brand I love: honest, clever, British and offering a genuinely yummy alternative to CRAP food. I salute you Nakd!

www.eatnakd.com

CF Loves: Danish interiors brand, Bloomingville

So I have just fallen in love with the Danish Interiors company, Bloomingville. They are stocked at various independent boutiques across the country but somehow I’ve only just discovered their brand of modern Scandi interiors (read bleached woods, clean lines, organic shapes and mutes palettes with shots of colour).

If you don’t know their lovely stuff already, I’ve knocked up a little moodboard of my favourite pieces from the new catalogue to whet your whistle; you know, not as a sponsored post or anything, just for fun (I’m a photoshop geek, indulge me):

I like to think of it as a more refined, grown-up’s Ikea. Without the stress levels.

You can view the catalogue here: www.bloomingville.dk

CF Review: Bodyism Serenity supplement for some serious beauty sleep

I’ve written a couple of posts now about coping with grief, and while I don’t wish for that to become my focus for Countryfille.com, I thought a couple of practical, helpful ‘coping device’ style posts might help others going through the grieving process, or even those dealing with serious stress at the moment.

So, I’ve written a little about my bedtime routine, thanks to Aromatherapy Associates brilliant Inner Strength bath oil and the next step that has truly helped me combat stress-induced insomnia is Bodyism’s Serenity supplement.

I have a history of stress related insomnia – namely after a night-time car accident – so it was no surprise that in the last few months, sleep hasn’t come easily.

My main tip for anyone deal with grief is don’t try and stop yourself crying during the day. ‘Staying strong’ and ‘being brave’ are all very well but it’s got to come out sometime and if you put it off you will get into bed and howl. And I did. With a very bewildered toddler around, plus the practicalities of hospital visits, phone calls and juggling everyday life on top, I found myself getting into bed at night, turning off the light, and being flooded by a wave of tears. Learning to take some time alone during the day – a quiet 5 minutes sat in the garden, even a good 10-minute cry sat in the car in the hospital car park – it all helped to release some of that sorrow I was storing up for bedtime.

Another thing that really help, which I approached with a ‘well, it can’t hurt can it?’ skepticism is Bodyism’s Serenity supplement. While I truly love James Duigan’s brand and it’s ‘clean and lean’ ethos, I never thought something so natural could deliver such calm, restful sleep.

The chocolate drink (made with raw cacao powder for a huge hit of antioxidants) is a really cleverly balanced blend of herbs and minerals, each added for their specific snooze-inducing properties, for instance:

Hops, oats and chamomile – to help your body relax into a deep restful sleep.

The duo of calcium and magnesium are known to work on your nervous system to sustain deep and rejuvenating sleep.

Rosemary and liquorice for antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant properties (your immune system is the first thing to go when you are run-down and stressed).

L-Gutamine helps the body recover from periods of stress, while a whole host of herbs help combat the release of stress hormones and their effect on the body.

I have been making mine with warmed almond milk each night before I go up to bed. Yes it could be argued that the ‘warm drink’ in itself has a relaxing effect, or even the ‘placebo effect’ of taking something that purports to ‘help me sleep’ will put me in the right frame of mind but I can’t help but notice the difference in not only my stress levels but the deep, good quality, refreshing sleep that I have each evening I take this.

So many people self-medicate with sleeping pills to get them through difficult periods or sleeping patterns. This works out at just over £1.50 a night and for me, has been a lifesaver.

Bodyism Serenity supplement, £50* from bodyism.com or Space NK stores

*PR Sample

Meet the Countryfilles: Q&A with Lynnette Peck

I am *so* excited to be kicking off a new series, Meet the Countryfilles, with uber Editor (think of a glossy and she’s probably beauty edited it) and vintage fashion maven (her online vintage boutique, Lovely’s Vintage Emporium is a serious edit of on-trend vintage pieces) – Lynnette Peck. The new Q&A posts are going to be with inspiring, successful, brilliant women who embody the ‘Countryfille’ ethos. In short, they have led full, exciting, creative lives, working at the top of their chosen fields and have since decamped from the city to live equally glamorously in the country. I’m always inspired to read about women who have made that city-country leap – be it for family, careers or simply that they want a different pace of life – whilst still maintaining their identity and passions.

I’ll hand you over to Lynnette now, as the perfect embodiment of the Countryfille. I’ve asked her to regale us with stories of how she cracked the magazine industry, glamorous anecdotes of early Noughties excess and how life now on the Isle of Wight is shaping up…


Tell us your city story
I moved to London in 1992, after finishing university, with no clue about where I was going to live or how I was going to get a job. I just knew that I wanted to live in Chelsea (high expectations!) and that I wanted to work on a magazine (more high expectations!).
I started out on a sofa at a gay male friend’s mother’s house in East Sheen for three weeks and I took a bus into London on my first day and got off at Hammersmith roundabout thinking it was central London…
I signed on with a temp agency in Hammersmith and they offered me either a six-week typing job in the City or a two-week job as a receptionist for a magazine publishing company. I am sure you can guess which one I took?
Once I was at the magazine company I went straight to the boss (youthful bravado) and asked if he had any jobs. He said he had one as a Compiling Editor on a puzzle magazine but that 250 people had already applied. There was a recession back then, too. I applied, was interviewed and I got the job! I was Editor of Kriss Kross and Cross Reference magazines and stayed there for two and half years.
I managed to rent a room in a shared house on the Fulham Road in Chelsea too (wahoo!) and I lived with a model called Kia (she now lives in LA and is a yoga teacher) and a guy called Johnny who had a sandwich-making company (he now owns and runs a gastro pub near Oxford).
Bingo, I worked in magazines and lived in Chelsea. But, to be able to pay the rent and have a good time I also took a weekend job at a vintage clothes shop on the Kings Road in Chelsea called Steinberg & Tolkien. Working seven days a week was not brilliant but in order to make my way in a new city fresh from university it was the only way I financially survived.
Eventually I worked for magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Eve, Now, Marie Claire and many others and I bought my own flat in Fulham after nine long years of renting. I also put the vintage shop experience to good use as two years ago I launched my own vintage shop, albeit online only, called Lovely’s Vintage Emporium.
With determination and hard work city living can be fulfilling and you can make your dreams come true.

What made you fall in love with London?
I first came to London as a teenager on school trips to classical music concerts at The Royal Albert Hall and I thought it was just the most exciting place I had ever seen. I grew up in a small village near Cambridge, so London was just such a buzz. I then came to Chelsea on a shopping trip at 17 with my then-boyfriend and I vowed that one day I would live there. When I did finally live in London I fell in love with it even more as there was so much to see and do and so many people to look at and observe. It is the high energy that I loved and still love. You feel like anything could happen – and it often does.

Tell us your most glamorous city moment please:
What a hard question! There have been so many as working in magazines can be glamorous at times anyway. My top three are as follows:
1) I dated a famous TV presenter in the Nineties and we used to go to incredible parties and restaurant openings around Notting Hill, where he lived, and it was an up and coming place at the time so I mixed with lots of interesting and creative people.
2) Doing fashion and beauty photo shoots in various locations around London for different magazines was fun – such as shooting vintage cars with models in Hyde Park and summer dresses on models on Tower Bridge.
3) I was also the beauty presenter for LK Today for a couple of years (now called Lorraine) on ITV and we used to often film on the Southbank in summer which was magical. [Editor: you can watch the videos here]

At what point did you realise you needed an exit strategy?
The London bombings in 2005 were a turning point for me as it was obviously very frightening. I was on a tube train that morning and it was only a few tube trains behind the one that got blown up. I felt different about London after that. The city changed and so did I. I also knew someone who was seriously injured. Very unpleasant.
I still lived in London for another three years but I did have it on my mind that it was time to leave and have a different way of life. I was fed up of many things including not being able to park my car – I would spend hours driving around near my flat to find a space. I also started to want more green space and fresh air. I also wanted to live in a bigger space where I could have friends to stay and have dinner parties, plus I wanted a dog. They are all impossible in a one-bedroomed flat. There is only so long you can work hard and party hard before you start thinking that some calm and quiet would be good, too.

What three things did you initially miss most about city living?
Ironically I found it too quiet when I moved to a village in Kent! The only sound in the morning was birdsong which would wake me up. I also hated the fact that by 5pm all the shops would close. It was impossible to go and get a pint of milk or loaf of bread later in the evening, something I had taken for granted in London. I also missed my girlfriends as I knew no one when I moved.

What did you find the most brilliant thing about living in the country?
I loved living in a bigger house, having a drive to park my car and being able to go on the most amazing country walks…with my dog I now had. She is a rescue dog, called Miss Polar, from The Dogs Trust charity in Canterbury and is the best decision I ever made. Forget partying in Chelsea, walking her by a country stream or on a beach makes me feel the happiest.

Did you ever have any ‘what have I done moments’?
In the first 12 months I had many as I missed all the easy convenience of  ’24 hour living’ in London and I had to learn to slow down and be patient. People in the countryside like to chat when they are being served in shops for example, so I had to learn to stand and wait and not be in a rush. I also wasn’t used to neighbours being interested in my business, as in London it is so easy to be anonymous, in the village we moved to it seemed everyone wanted to know everything about us.

What ‘city living’ traits have you held on to?
Pretty much everything! I still get my hair blow-dried every now and then and get manicures and pedicures – although of course they are a quarter of the price here. I still go for coffee and subscribe to magazines and wear designer clothes (mixed with vintage and high street as well of course). I sometimes don’t wear make-up when I walk my dog, so that is a change. I have also learned to be much slower as I have had to.

Would you say, on balance you are a city or country girl?
I am now definitely a country girl. Although ideally I would like to be able to afford to live in homes in both and divide my time. Life is about a balance but for now I am living away from the city and is suits me just fine.

What would be your top tip to someone thinking of ditching the city?
Move somewhere in the countryside with shops and lots of people first…then buy somewhere in the middle of nowhere when you have got used to it.

Thank you Lynnette! Such an inspiring read!

CF x

Lovely’s Vintage Emporium is the ultimate online vintage boutique for trend-led vintage fashion and accessories and is the inspiration of UK magazine journalist and stylist Lynnette Peck – nicknamed ‘Lovely’ by her friends…she has a distinguished fashion pedigree working on magazines as a fashion & beauty director and editor for twenty-one years with key roles on successful magazines. The online boutique has pieces from the 1920s to the 1980s and in all sizes and to suit all budgets.

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