Outdoor entertaining recipes

Loving the warmer weather, we caught up with Hampshire chef and cookery demonstrator Gee Cartwright and the Cocktail Car’s Oliver Gray for some outdoor entertaining inspiration. Here they share some of their favourite al fresco recipes…

 

Gee’s Chicken, Fennel and Orange Traybake
Serves 6

Ingredients

3-4 large bulbs fennel (approx. 1kg)
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 eating orange and juice of 1 lemon (about 100ml of juice)
2 tsp. sea salt
4 tsp. fennel seeds
4 tsp. Dijon mustard
12 chicken thighs with skin and bone still in
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 medium red onions, peeled, cut into thin wedges
12 unpeeled garlic cloves
200ml marsala, madeira or sherry

 

Method

• Remove the fronds from the fennel and cut out the core. Cut the bulb into quarters
and then each quarter into three.
• To make the marinade, place a large freezer bag inside a wide-necked measuring jug
or similar, pour in the oil, add the orange zest, juice and lemon juice and spoon in the
salt, fennel seeds and mustard. Stir briefly to mix.
• Add a quarter of the chicken pieces, followed by a quarter of the fennel pieces, and so
on until everything’s been used up. Seal the bag tightly at the top and lie the bag in a
big dish. Squelch it about so that you make the small amount of marinade cover
everything. It might look like there is very little, but it will be enough. Leave in the
fridge overnight or up to 1 day.
• Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for 10-12 minutes
until they are beginning to soften. Transfer them to a roasting pan (which will fit
everything in snugly) and add the unpeeled garlic cloves. Place on a medium heat and
add the Marsala. Bring to a simmer, bubble for a few minutes.
• Remove the marinating chicken and fennel from the fridge and tip the contents into
the roasting tin with the onions. Arrange the chicken pieces so that they are sitting,
skin-side up, on top of the fennel. Leave it for 30 minutes or so, to come up to room
temperature while you preheat the oven to 200ºC / 400ºF / gas 6.
• Drizzle some more olive oil onto the chicken and cook in the roasting oven of the Aga
for 50 mins or in the preheated oven for 1 hour, by which time the fennel will be soft,
and the chicken cooked through and brown on top.
• Put the chicken, fennel, onion and garlic onto a warmed serving plate and put the pan
over a medium heat and boil the juices, stirring until it turns syrupy.
• Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Top Tip

• The chicken can be marinated 1 day ahead. Store in fridge until needed.

 

Gee’s Summerdown Mint and Pistachio Chocolate Fridge Cake
Makes 24 Bars

Ingredients

300g dark chocolate (72% cocoa) roughly chopped
2 drops Summerdown peppermint oil
100g golden syrup
120g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Pinch of salt
100g dried cranberries or cherries, soaked in 2 tbsp of rum for 30 minutes
170g digestive biscuits, roughly broken into small pieces
100g pistachios roughly chopped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Method

• Line a 28cm x 18cm baking tray with greaseproof paper.
• Put the chocolate, peppermint oil, golden syrup, the butter and a pinch of salt in a
large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water (without the bowl
touching the water) and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and all is
combined.
• Stir the cranberries / cherries and their soaking liquid, the biscuits and about half of
the pistachios into the chocolate mixture. Use the bigger bits of the nuts and keep the
powdery bits for later.
• Stir so that everything is covered in chocolate and pour into the prepared tray.
Smooth out the surface and top with the remaining chopped pistachios.
• Allow to cool slightly and then cover tightly with cling fil and pop in the fridge for
two / three hours until set. Cut into the bars and you should get 24 small bars. Serve
cold from the fridge.

Top tip
Make well ahead, cut up and keep in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve really cold
and they will keep well in the fridge for a week and a month in the freezer if they last! I
actually love serving them straight from the freezer.

Cocktail Car’s Raspberry Cooler

25ml raspberry & peppermint syrup
25ml fresh lime juice
50ml gin
Topped with soda
To make the raspberry & mint syrup,  blend 300ml boiling water with 300ml sugar and added 1 punnet raspberries and mint leaves. Leave to cool and strain.

Cocktail Car’s classic mojito

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fresh lime juice
2 heaped teaspoons superfine sugar.
1 cup crushed ice
8 peppermint leaves, plus 5 small sprigs for garnish.
1/4 cup (2 ounces) white rum.
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) club soda.

 

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Rosy Hardy’s guide to Chelsea

We’ve got flower fever! After the beauty of Philippa Craddock’s arch at the Royal Wedding, we’re now a little bit Chelsea obsessed. Rosy Hardy, widely recognised as Chelsea’s most successful female exhibitor with 22 golds to her name, runs her plant nursery just down the road from our farm.  So when she was having a five minute break from setting up her stand, she very kindly shared her insider info on ‘How to do the RHS Chelsea Flower Show‘ for those who are lucky enough to be visiting this year.

“Get to the gate early and go straight into the grand pavilion –  it will be almost empty as everyone else is out looking at the gardens. Do about 2 hours then go for a drink and sit down  –  Ranelagh gardens is probably the best option. Then go around the wonderful artisan gardens. It’s then time for lunch. Take your time and pace yourself. Now it’s time to hit the main show gardens as it quietens slightly at 3pm.

After that, do a bit of shopping. Sit down and think about what else you would like to revisit.

The floral Pavilion is quieter again from 6pm so go and have another look and make the most of your day and enjoy.”

 

Rosy’s must-sees:

 

The amazing Hellebores from Ashworth Nursery which won the RHS President’s Award

The Hardys stand of course!

Outside gardens  – Yorkshire Garden (below), The Pearl Fisher, Viking Cruises Artisan garden

The amazing floristry

The pavilion has incredible displays both large and small for all tastes

Remember –  there are fabulous trade stands too so you can find anything and everything for your garden at Chelsea Flower Show

 

And finally, after a long day walking around, make sure you get home and reward yourself with a long soak in the bath with our luxury bath soak and massage some refreshing body lotion into your tired feet.

Don’t forget to visit our friends on the English Garden magazine stand – where new subscribers will receive a luxury gift bag including our luxury pure soap.

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Plantlife’s top 7 wildflowers to grow in the garden at home

The weather may still be playing havoc with our gardens, but this month, to celebrate the start of National Gardening week, we’re filling you with gardening inspiration.There’s our fantastic offer in association with our favourite gardening magazine ‘The English Garden’. Claim your FREE copy of their gardening annual when you buy our hand wash and lotion together. We’ve also managed to catch up with our charity partner Plantlife’s botanical specialist, Dr Trevor Dines. Plantlife, the wild plant conservation charity have just launched the Great British Wildflower Hunt, so here’s Trevor with some insider tips on growing wildflowers in your garden.

I inherited the gardening bug from my grandparents; one of my clearest childhood memories is of my grandma finding snake’s-head fritillaries in the water meadows on the farm where we grew up. Back in her own garden she showed me the same flowers she’d planted in her lawn and the connection between garden and the wild has fascinated me ever since.

 

For many of us, wildlife gardening is all about attracting birds, butterflies, bees and other animals into our gardens by providing them with a haven in which to thrive. As any visit to the garden centre will show, a wide range of plants and flowers can be grown to do this. But – like my grandmas’ snake’s-head fritillaries – many of these plants have origins in our own countryside. In fact, more species than you might realise have British roots.

 

Trevor says, “In the garden, most wild flowers are very easy to grow. They’re hardy, resilient and well adapted to our climate and soils. They’re also incredibly beautiful. At Plantlife, the wild-plant conservation charity, our Wildflower Garden website profiles over 100 of the best wild flowers to grow in our gardens, along with tips and advice on buying, planting and propagating them. There are many to choose from, but here are my top 7 favourite wild flowers for the garden. This is a purely personal list drawn from the memories and connections that I have with certain plants, but I think no garden should be without at least one or two of them.

 

Sea Kale (Crambe maritima)

If there is one unsung star of the wildflower garden it’s sea kale. It was once much more popular, a staple of the Victorian kitchen garden that was highly valued for its early leaves which were often forced rather like rhubarb. It’s seeing a resurgence now – a trendy vegetable prized by top restaurants for its flavour somewhere between asparagus and celery, perfect when steamed and served with hollandaise sauce. But it’s not just as a vegetable that this plant should be grown. The leaves emerge deep purple and expand into the most incredible sculptural forms: large lobes and undulations in steel and slate grey. And as if this isn’t enough, mature plants produce huge domes of creamy white flowers that waft their strongly honey scent around the garden. Once established, clumps can live for decades and get bigger and better every year.

 

Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)

Nothing quite beats the elegance of pasqueflowers as they emerge from their downy nest of leaves in early spring. The flowers – a chalice of royal purple with that flamboyant boss of gold stamens at the centre – look too exotic to be a British native wildflower. They are rare – growing at a scattering of sites in southern and eastern England – but visit an ancient earthwork at Easter and you might spot one, springing up from the soil where the blood of Vikings has been spilt. At least, that’s the legend. In reality, such earthworks tend to have escaped ploughing and disturbance, so are often home rare and delicate flowers. Cultivated pasqueflowers are readily available from garden centres and make wonderful garden plants. Individual clumps can live for years in well-drained, lime-rich soil and forms with red and white flowers are available too.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)

I’m an absolute sucker for scent. It adds a magical element to a garden – ephemeral, sensual and alluring. And honeysuckle is probably the most elegantly scented of all garden plants (I find lilies too pungent and roses too nebulous, unless you get your nose right into them). Its sweet scent is breathed generously into the air to attract pollinators (and passing gardeners). We grew up with a large honeysuckle in the corner of the garden and every year mum would take a few cuttings, laying the long stems into trays of soil or pegging them down into the earth. They’d always take root so all our relatives had pieces of the original plant. Later, I learnt this plant came from my Uncle Bill in Suffolk; it was an especially fragrant form he found in a local woodland. So it’s now a firm family tradition and, when we moved house a few years ago, mum struck a few more cuttings for us. Some plants just work their way into our lives.

 

Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala)

When I was young, making troughs from old sinks was all the rage. Spurred on by Geoff Hamilton on Gardener’s World, I covered an old Belfast sink in hypertufa, a mixture of compost, sand and cement, and made a wonderful miniature world of alpine plants. By far my favourite was mountain avens, a small creeping shrub that bears beautiful little oak-like leaves that are glossy green above and whitish below. But it was the flowers in spring that really captivated me, large white chalices with a central boss of yellow stamens. Even better, they tracked the path of the sun through the day, maximising the warmth on their petals. Years later, I saw carpets of these jewels in the Burren in Ireland, a remarkable place for a remarkable plant.

 

Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

I’m a big fan of ferns and this is by far the best of our native ferns for the garden. Mature plants can grow into magnificent clumps with huge, arching fronds several metres long; they might not sit atop a trunk but will give any tree fern a run for its money, and are far more reliable in our climate. If you have a pond or bog garden, royal fern will provide many years of annual entertainment, from the curled-up croziers emerging and slowly unfurling in spring to the fronds turning butter-yellow in autumn before they fall. Unlike many ferns it can take quite a bit of sunshine provided its feet are kept wet and, if you don’t have a pond or bog garden, you can grow it in a large pot standing in a tub of water.

 

Aquilegia or Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)

A staple of the cottage garden, this delightful flower is so familiar it can be surprising to find it growing in the wild. The native form always has a single (rather than double) flower and is a beautiful bright, clear blue. I remember seeing it for the first time while walking the Offa’s Dyke path in the Wye Valley, where flanked the path as it snaked through lightly shaded woodland. In the wild, it prefers to grow on lime-rich soil (it even grows on steep, rocky limestone banks) but is more relaxed about soil type in the garden. Many garden forms have been developed in all sorts of colours, often with double flowers. Just as columbine pops up gently all around the garden, these forms readily become naturalised in the wild too, popping up along roadsides, railways and waysides and in old quarries. But none match the simple purity of the wild form.

 

Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

This is probably the first wildflower I ever grew from seed, so it holds a special place in my heart. I was probably about 13 years old and had seen harebells growing on the chalk downland around where I lived (there is a note in my copy of my Fitter, Fitter & Blamey wildflower book that reads ‘Stockbridge Down – 1982’). As well as the beautiful flowers, I was strangely fascinated by their ‘round-leaves’ as suggested by the Latin name rotundifolia. As the tiny seedlings grew I was delighted that the leaves were indeed perfectly round, but was a bit disappointed when they rather quickly elongated as the plants grew. As a consolation, though, the beautiful flowers followed soon after. This is a lovely little perennial for the front of the border, a rockery or a pot. It loves poor soil, sun and an open spot, so make sure it’s never overshadowed by its neighbours.

 If you’d like to find out more, you can join the Great British Wildflower hunt here 

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Stress Awareness Month – our top tips for looking after yourself

With April being official ‘Stress Awareness Month’ there has been lots of advice in the press about recognising the signs of stress and learning how to cope with and manage your own stress levels. Whilst at Summerdown we can’t profess to be experts in stress management, we do believe in wellbeing and feel passionately that peppermint has many natural benefits for the mind.  We caught up with Clinical Aromatherapist Shelley Baker who shares our passion for peppermint essential oil. She strongly believes that sleep and relaxation are key to wellbeing. She is a big advocate of doing little things consistently to get great results and shares her top tips for keeping your stress at bay.

How can peppermint help with stress?

Peppermint can be an excellent choice of essential oil for stress. It helps a sense of focus and clarity enabling you to make decisions and get through your daily tasks/ to-do list more easily. It also has some wonderful pain relieving properties and is great to help tension headaches, especially when it’s combined with lavender essential oil.

 

 

Why is sleep so important?

Sleep is essential to let the mind and body repair each night and lack of sleep has a real impact on our health. Make sure you wind down and relax each evening, with a bedtime routine. Try a screen amnesty for at least an hour before going to bed. Stay off social media.  Instead, read a good book or pour yourself a warm bath with our lemongrass & mint bath soak – sure to relax your muscles and take away the strains of a busy day.

Prioritise self – care

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated and it definitely isn’t selfish or a luxury – it’s essential. Even just 10 minutes, with your favourite cup of tea can set you up for a productive day ahead. In these modern times we’re so busy at work or looking after young children or relatives, we often forget about making sure we’re healthy and have enough energy. Remember the saying ‘serve from a full cup’! Take some time out, even if it’s only mindfully applying your body lotion after a shower. Really feel your skin being nourished by the shea butter and macadamia oil in our body lotion and notice the unique uplifting scent of the lemongrass and peppermint as you breathe in. Peppermint is a fantastic essential oil to inhale for clearing your mind and giving you space to focus.

 

Get Active

You don’t need to be a gym bunny or in training for the marathon, research has shown time and time again the benefits of exercising for mind and body as it releases endorphins – good mood hormones. It can be as simple as getting outside for a walk in the fresh air or joining a dance class with a friend.  Keep a bottle of indulgent and invigorating shower gel in your gym bag and appreciate that post workout shower all the more!

 

 

Learn to say No

Do you ever have the feeling that you’re just too busy and on a bit of a rollercoaster? I read once that the cure to overwhelm is action, sometimes the best course of action is to look in your diary and say no. There’s something very empowering about freeing up some time and having a date with yourself.

 

Think about what you’re eating and drinking

We’ve heard it all before, but we really are what we eat and it’s important to eat a balanced diet, with everything in moderation. Caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar are all natural stimulants so can’t calm us down. Avoid them when you’re feeling stressed and definitely after 2pm to ensure a good night’s sleep. The benefits of mint for digestion are well known, switch to a cup of spearmint and chamomile tea after a meal, both digestive herbs rather than coffee*. We like the idea of eating a rainbow coloured plate of food; this ensures that you’re getting a good balance of nutrients. B vitamins, zinc and magnesium in particular are good for keeping stress at bay.

*Please do not swallow essential oils, they do not mix with water. The safest way to enjoy their huge benefits for digestion is by drinking good quality herbal teas.

 

 

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Refresh your home for Spring

With thoughts turning to Spring days, we’ve collaborated with British paint manufacturer, Little Greene to provide you with some interior design tips to refresh your home for the upcoming Spring months.

We spoke to their Marketing Director, Ruth Mottershead about the latest colour trends for your home.

“We are really seeing the popularity of green shades increase at the moment. Green is so evocative of Spring, it is of course the colour of nature hence why it’s a shade that people feel secure and comfortable with in their home. Our ‘Aquamarine’ Colour Scales Family, four varying strengths of the same pigment, provides a classic green (left) which is produced using umber, this creates a subtlety which brings a gentle coolness and tranquillity to a room.’

A change to your home fragrance is a really easy way to freshen up your home. Our best-selling reed diffuser just won a coveted Beauty Shortlist award for ‘Best Home Fragrance’.

 

If you prefer bolder schemes, Ruth suggests you “try a deeper green tone like ‘Mid Azure Green.’ This is a rich, luxurious green, perfect for using on both walls and woodwork for a coordinated, sumptuous scheme. It was once one of the most expensive colours to produce due to the large amounts of pigment used to create it.”

We think this room just oozes luxury and ambiance and makes you want to sit back with a good book and cup of peppermint tea. Add to the atmosphere with our aromatic lemongrass and mint candle, – also a winner of a Beauty Shortlist best candle award.

 

For an instantly soothing environment, Ruth suggests ‘A natural combination of blue and green shades (below) exudes a fresh vibrancy providing the perfect backdrop for planting greenery. Combine Green Verditer and Pale Lupin” (Below). If Summerdown did paint, we’d create a scheme just like this. Add an instant burst of Spring to your home with our room spray.

All photos Credit Little Greene

If these ideas make you want to pick up a paint brush, then you’re in luck! To celebrate this collaboration, Little Greene are giving one  budding interior design the chance to win 3 rolls of their stunning wallpaper and a 5 litre tin of paint, for your very own room makeover. To enter, simply click here.

 

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Our love affair with the United States

It’s not just the marriage of Harry and Meghan bringing together England and the United States in a perfect union, the US has always held a special place in our hearts and the unique Black Mitcham peppermint crop growing on our Hampshire farm today owes much to our friends in the States.

In the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries, England was renowned for growing the best peppermint in the world (Menthe anglaise), but the expertise to grow it was lost during the war. Meanwhile over the pond, mentha piperita (Black Mitcham peppermint) was successfully being grown in Oregon, Montana and Washington State.

In the early 90s, Summerdown Farm Manager Ian brought back a bag of mint sweets from a trip to the States – something akin to mint humbugs, which reminded Sir Michael of a sweet called a bullseye from his childhood. This sparked Sir Michael’s passion to revive the taste and scent that had been lost for generations. Ian travelled to the US to spend time honing his mint farming skills and brought back the latest technology and distillation equipment. It then took over ten years to successfully grow and distil this rare, single estate peppermint oil.

From the inspiration from that first American sweet, we now produce over twenty products which are centred around our pure, single estate BM peppermint oil, grown and distilled on our family farm. And Americans can’t get enough of the Summerdown Mint brand. We’re stocked in a variety of stores including Dean & Deluca and Whole Foods.  

And this month, Jo Colman, Grandson of our founder Sir Michael Colman has been back there, kicking up a storm sampling our chocolates in a variety of stores across Texas and in New York City, spreading the Summerdown love.

Here’s a pic of Libby sampling at a Central Market store in Texas

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In conversation with….Jo Saunders

We’re all feeling a little sluggish after the last few weeks of over-indulgence. With new year’s resolutions front of mind, we caught up with Nutritional Therapist Jo Saunders over a cup of peppermint tea to share some of the natural benefits of peppermint and gain some useful tips and quick wins to get 2018 off to a flying start.

Please tell us a little about what your work as Nutritional Therapist involves

I am fortunate to work as part of the NatureDoc team of Nutritional Therapists, in private practice and remotely. I work to address a clients health needs using a Functional Medicine perspective, which means looking at the body as a whole. After a full consultation and health history, we identify the triggers and root cause to their symptoms/health condition. Sometimes we carry out functional testing which enables me to underpin my recommendations with science and help identify the root cause of any health challenge. I will then create a completely personalised dietary, supplement & lifestyle protocol to help that individual optimise their health.

 

Do you recommend natural herbs as part of your nutritional plans to your Clients?

Yes absolutely, and in fact I feel they are greatly undersold for their therapeutic benefits. I use herbs to help with everything from digestive function, hormones, mood and sleep. They have wonderful therapeutic properties that are hugely effective for supporting health, and also taste fantastic which helps!

 

When would you promote the use of peppermint and its benefits to your Clients?

Peppermint is traditionally used internally to ease digestive upsets. Peppermint contains volatile oils, including menthol and menthone, which are known for their carminative, antispasmodic and nervine properties. It also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

I also recommend it to breastfeeding mothers as the oils will pass into the breast milk easing digestive discomfort in infants.

 

You’ve recently discovered Summerdown’ range of award-winning peppermint teas. What did you think?

The Summerdown peppermint teas are some of the purest and freshest I have come across, they are both delicious and therapeutic. The second you open the box you are aware of the beneficial essential oils and potential health benefits of the teas.

I particularly like Summerdown’s clever combination of spearmint and camomile tea, a herb renowned for its nervine properties to help calm and relax. I find this blend particularly effective for those who struggle with digestive discomfort triggered by anxiety or stress.

 

Do you choose natural body bath and home products? If so, why, and what are the benefits of using natural products on your skin?

 

I am a huge advocate for using natural products, both on our skin and in the home and I am passionate about encouraging clients to reduce their toxic burden by swapping to natural products where possible. This can have a negative impact on our health and impact on our detoxification pathways.  I would always recommend choosing natural products for everyone, but it is particularly important for anyone struggling with problem skin, sensitive & dry skin, eczema etc.

Do you feel that a fragrance has the power to influence your mood?

I am a huge fan of essential oils and find the impact their properties can have on both mood and energy levels quite amazing. Whilst I am working, seeing clients or writing articles, I love the uplifting combined fragrance of Summerdown’s signature lemongrass and mint to help energise, stimulate clear thinking and help improve my concentration on a busy day. I often use Summerdown’s candle or reed diffuser in my practice room.

…and finally…. do you have any tips you could share on other uses of our pure peppermint and lavender oils?

Peppermint oil (mixed with a carrier oil) can also be used as a topical analgesic (pain reliever) for muscle pain, neuraliga & headaches and also used as an effective inhalation for sinus congestion, coughs and colds, particularly in combination with thyme and eucalyptus.

A few drops of lavender in a warm bath or on your pillow is a wonderful relaxing sleep aid for occasional insomnia. Lavender also possesses antidepressant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties so it can be helpful for boosting mood.

 

We asked Jo for her top nutrition and lifestyle tips. Read more here…

 

Jo Saunders is an experienced Nutritional Therapist and co-author of popular healthy family recipe website, www.cookingthemhealthy.com. Jo juggles family life with her 3 children with seeing clients in her practice,  writes regular articles relating to health & nutrition and runs Cooking them Healthy workshops with her chef partner Georgie.

 

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Prepare your home for entertaining this Christmas

The big day is getting closer and if, like the Summerdown team, you’ve been busy focusing on Christmas shopping (or haven’t even started in some cases!), your thoughts may not have yet turned to entertaining. Whether you’re hosting family and friends on the big day, or having a Christmas party at home, we’ve got a few tips to help prepare your home and make sure it all goes as smoothly as possible.

 

Hosting the big day? Stay sane with these tips

Choose one chef and follow them. You may be lucky enough to have age-old family traditions and know exactly how long your turkey needs cooking and at what temperature and which stuffing everyone likes. But if like us you need to follow a recipe or Christmas guide, we’ve found that every chef offers different conflicting advice. So whether it’s Delia, Nigella, Mary or Heston – choose one chef’s guide to Christmas dinner and stick with it.

Keep everyone out of the kitchen. Enlist help from someone else in the family to keep everyone else entertained (a walk, games, play with new presents) whilst you’re in the kitchen – stress levels rise when you’ve got little Johnny playing with his new football under your feet and Great Aunt Deidre hovering around looking to fill up her sherry!

Accept help. You’re not wonder woman and superman. If family and friends offer to make a dish, gratefully accept it.

Do as much in advance as possible. It’s amazing what you can freeze ahead, from bread sauce to par-boiled roast potatoes!

 

 

Getting the home ready

When it comes to decorations, at Summerdown we’re naturally inclined to favour home-made wreaths, holly picked from around the farm hung over pictures, twigs and sprigs picked from the garden and sprayed. But if you haven’t got time to channel your inner Kirstie-Allsopp, some of our favourite decorations come from Cox and Cox

Create an ambiance with candle-light – our aromatic candle not only smells delicious but looks beautiful too. Why not place this at the centre of your table decoration?

If you’ve got overnight guests, make their rooms really special with our best-selling diffuser and update your bath linen – our favourites are our friends at Draper London.

Hannah in our team creates a gorgeous table centrepiece by filling a glass bowl or jar with our individually-wrapped Heritage mint creams and crisps.

 

You’re being entertained… you lucky thing! Surprise someone with Summerdown

Perhaps its not your turn this year and you can sit back and relax. You’ll want to say thank you to your hosts. Our customers are always stocking up on soaps and Chocolates for just this reason – starting at £5, they make the perfect little thank you presents.

 

Alternatively, we’ve been taking peppermint tea to dinner parties recently. Entertaining is changing with the trend for far more casual dining and less formality all around. Gone are the days when everyone has a coffee after dinner – many people opting for a peppermint tea. Well what better way to end a meal than with the gift of Summerdown peppermint tea.

If you’re looking for something extra special, why not take our new truffles along? They are pure Christmas indulgence. Or our best-selling diffuser makes a lovely gift.

 

 

 

And finally, look after yourself

With all the entertaining it’s easy to forget about number one. But you’re only going to enjoy the festivities if you’re in mint (sorry!) condition.

 

That means taking time out for yourself. Take advantage of one of our special offers on body, bath and home or  treat yourself to a bath soak so you can steal 30 minutes to enjoy a relaxing, de-stressing bath with the power of peppermint.

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Autumn is well and truly here

It’s funny how it never seems to be a gradual season change from Summer to Autumn, you just suddenly notice the leaves on the ground, feel the chill of the air and your internal body clock kicks in – telling you to eat comforting food and cosy up indoors. At Summerdown we love Autumn;  the Estate is looking absolutely stunning and there’s a pre-Christmas excitement and sense of anticipation in the air. 

We thought we’d share some tips from the Summerdown team on getting ready for Autumn………

 

Your home

As we start to spend more time inside and the days get shorter, Autumn is about creating warmth and cosiness in your home, somewhere inviting to come back to. It’s time to turn on the heating, and turn the Aga back on – if you’re lucky enough to own one. If you haven’t got an open fire or woodburner, you can still add warmth through candle-light. Our newly formulated and award-winning candle has a longer burn time and stronger throw.

Adding new throws and cushions also help – some of our favourites are from Susie Watson 

 

Image Susie Watson Designs

 

What’s cooking?

Autumn’s about comfort food; roasts, casseroles, soups and crumbles.  Sir Michael’s Grandson Jo Colman who has recently joined the family business enjoys cooking and shares some of his twists on Autumn favourites here.

First up,  Nigel Slater’s twist on Roast Chicken  – Spatchcock chicken with rocket cous cous

If you’re looking for a soup with a bit of a kick and one with natural health benefits (just like our mint), try this Turkey and turmeric broth 

For Autumn entertaining, try Jo’s favourite Black garlic and lamb – it looks impressive and tastes divine. Don’t forget to finish off your meal with our award winning chocolates and teas. Peppermint team is a natural way to aid digestion.

And finally, for a crumble that’s worthy of a place on Masterchef, you can’t beat Raymond Blanc’s apple and blackberry version – he cooks the topping separately to get that extra crunch

 

 

 

Enjoying the outdoors

There’s something about wrapping up and getting outside on sunny and chilly Autumn days, taking a bracing walk and feeling the crunch of leaves beneath your feet. Fed up of your usual walk? Why not visit  The National Trust’s website for a list of UK-wide Autumn walks to lift your spirits. If none of them are close by, you can also just simply enter your postcode on their home page and it will provide you with local walks and places to visit. If you’re looking for ways to keep the children occupied on a walk, log on to our Charity Partner Plantlife and join the Great British Wildflower hunt. The children can hunt as they walk, and everyone’s happy.

 

 

 

 

Bath-time (yours, not the kids!)

And when you’re back home from that walk or day at work, Autumn nights give you the green light to relax in the bath. Find half an hour to yourself to fully unwind. Our Beauty Shortlist award-winning bath soak is gentle enough not to dry your skin and the pure peppermint oil fragrance relaxes the mind naturally and de-stresses. Light a candle at the same time for some real indulgence.

 

 

 

Our new and improved candle is currently available online at an introductory price of £20 (normal price £25). 

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In conversation with….Annabelle Holland Design

 

 

We were lucky enough to have a coffee with Hampshire-based interior designer Annabelle Everard of Annabelle Holland Design and steal some hints and tips on Home Fragrance in between visits to current projects and suppliers across the country.

 

Describe your style

 

A seamless blend of modern and classic design.

 

Where do you get your design inspiration from?

 

Inspiration comes from so many different places. It could be anything from a piece of Art, to a trip abroad or a unique find at an Antiques Market. Perhaps most importantly though, I think every residential design should reflect the character of the owner.

 

What are your favourite scents/scent memories?

 

My strongest scent memories come from my childhood in Jamaica. There is a fragrance that transports me right back to chatting to my granny on her four poster bed. I think the actual scent is a mixture of cedar and mahogany, but the fact that some of my fondest memories are linked to a scent, just shows how important home fragrance is.

 

 

Why do you use Home Fragrance personally and in your schemes for Clients?

 

Interior design often focuses on the visual and tactile, but the olfactory sense is just as important. It can alter emotions, lift a mood and enhance surroundings. Personally I use fragrance everywhere at home. Hallway tables are a great spot for diffusers, they create a lovely welcome home and provide a wonderful aroma every time you walk past them. I generally use room sprays in lower traffic areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms and I like to have candles everywhere! I don’t light candles as much as I used to due to having little ones running around the house, but I do light one or two in the evening, particularly if we have guests. Both the candle light and the scent help to add atmosphere.

 

Do you believe in fragrance zoning – e.g. placing different fragrances in different rooms? If so where do you think the Summerdown lemongrass & mint fragrance works best?

 

I actually prefer to have the same scent throughout the house, which doesn’t work with every fragrance. I think the freshness of the Summerdown Lemongrass and Mint fragrance works perfectly throughout the house, particularly in the Summer months or in early Spring as a welcome end to Winter!

 

Do you have any hints and tips on how to position candles and diffusers?

 

I like to place candles and diffusers amongst a cluster of things. On a coffee table, for example, a candle would sit well on a beautiful tray with some coasters, a decorative match holder and a bunch of flowers. I tend to hide diffusers a bit more, making sure they aren’t the only item on show, such as behind a collection of items on a side table.

 

…and finally…. If you were going to design a sitting or bathroom for Summerdown Mint, what would it look like?

 

Off the top of my head for a bathroom, I would probably take inspiration from the scent and suggest a light and fresh theme with a mix of modern and traditional elements. It could feature a restored free standing bath painted in minty tones and modern brass taps. Botanical Fern paintings could hang above it alongside reclaimed wooden floors and simple white walls.

 

Annabelle Holland is an interior design studio specialising in residential projects.

For information visit www.annabelleholland.com email info@annabelleholland.com  

Or follow @annabellehollanddesign on Instagram

 

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Lavender harvest at Summerdown Farms

It doesn’t seem nearly a year ago that we were harvesting the mint on our Hampshire farm and welcoming Anita Rani and the crew from BBC Countryfile to film for their Harvest 2016 special.

But #harvest17 is now in full swing with the unpredictable British weather keeping Farm  Manager Ian on his toes!

 

 

 

Our organic lavender fields before harvest

 

Though the mint harvest is still a fortnight away, this week has been all about the lavender harvest. Many people think Summerdown Farm is just about Black Mitcham peppermint as this is the public face of the Summerdown brand. However behind the scenes the 2,500 acre farm in the foothills of the Hampshire Downs also provides the perfect conditions for growing cereal crops, oilseed rape, organic lavender and camomile. On a sunny Summer’s day, Summerdown Farm really is a magical place with all your senses on full alert.

 

 

 

Harvest has started

 

Our lavender is harvested and distilled in a very similar way to the mint, using the same equipment. As it’s cut, it goes into the cooker tub, (full name mobile distillation unit).

 

 

 

 

An empty cooker tub

 

The tub is filled up with the lavender, and then this same machine is backed into the distillery and steam- distilled over several hours according to Ian’s rigorous process.   An ‘elephant trunk’ on top lets the resulting steam out via a condenser into a pyramid-shape separator that divides it into water and oil.

 

Ian being filmed  getting the steamer ready

 

 

The end result is our organic lavender oil, sold in our online shop and so good that the vast majority is sold to French perfume houses who love the superior quality of our product, and to another well-known luxury British body and bath retailer.

 

Our Organic lavender oil

 

As Farm Manager Ian always has the sustainability of the farm and the distillery front of mind, even the waste water from the distillation process goes off to a local commercial laundry business who uses it to make the pressed laundry smell gorgeous.

 

There’s no place we’d rather be on a Summer’s day, breathing in the heady aromas of Summerdown’s natural herbs.

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Our Valentine’s Survival guide

Yikes it’s that time of year again. Whether you’re a romantic or not (did you know 59% of men don’t believe there’s a point to Valentine’s Day!?),  there’s no getting away from red roses and over-priced restaurants on 14th February!  So here’s our survival guide…

 

Be my Valentine?

 

Do you remember receiving a blank card and guessing who the sender was? This tradition came from our Victorian friends who felt it was ‘bad luck’ to sign their name. We weren’t  surprised to discover a growing number of people now send Valentine’s Day messages via social media and text – totally removing the romance behind the day. But still, us British aren’t a totally cold bunch –  65% of the UK still exchange Valentine’s Day cards. If you’re looking for something a bit different, try personalising yours at www.moonpig.com or www.notonthehighstreet.com

 

Presents

 

 

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The next best thing to a Spa break – using Summerdown at home

 

 

It’s no surprise, that women started thinking about Valentine’s Day on the 1st February whilst most men leave it to the last minute and panic buy on 14th February. Which may explain why men spend on average £40 on presents, and women less at £25 – that old adage of ‘throwing money at the problem’. Now we all love receiving flowers, but perhaps it’s time to think about something a bit more original and lasting.

 

 

When surveyed, women still like to be ‘spoiled’ on Valentines, with 27% wishing for a holiday, 17% for a car (strange?!) and 15% for a spa treatment. Jewellery follows closely behind at 13% and contrary to what many men think, lingerie only making it in at 3%.  Sadly we’re not all luckily enough to be whisked away on a Mr & Mrs Smith romantic break for two, and the Summerdown team can’t quite get our heads around the car statistic, but we CAN help with the Spa treatment – in the comfort of your own home.

 

 

Just drop a couple of hints to your partner that Summerdown has all the ingredients for an at-home spa experience; aromatic candle, indulging and relaxing bath soak, rich moisturising body lotion and a refreshing cup of peppermint tea.  And if they needed any further persuasion that Summerdown is the PERFECT Valentine’s Day gift…..according to the ancient Greeks, peppermint is an aphrodisiac! Medically confirmed or not, it is widely known that peppermint is a potent stimulant for both mind and body.

 

 

How to celebrate –  in or out?

 

 

Couple having drinks in bar

 

Uhhhh….this is a little bit awkward

 

 

Though Valentine’s Day remains one of the most popular eating-out occasions in the UK, many people prefer to avoid the awkward ‘sitting next to a couple who don’t utter a word to each other whilst a guy is trying to sell you a single rose for £10 in a ridiculously over-priced restaurant’  moments and opt to enjoy a relaxing night in with a special meal in the comfort of their own home.

 

 

If you’re going down this route, make sure you set the tone of the evening. Run a hot bath with our bath soak, and finish by lathering our rich body lotion all over to smell gorgeous. Turn off the television, light our aromatic candle and lay a beautiful table.

 

 

Now what to eat? If you really want to spoil your partner (or be spoiled yourself)  then Delicious magazine has a prepare ahead Valentine’s Day menu.

 

Alternatively, if like us you want to truly relax on Valentine’s night,  then look for a delicious ready meal. Waitrose and M&S have their ‘Dine in’ special menus for £10-£15. Otherwise the Summerdown team love a bit of Charlie Bighams when we can’t be bothered to cook, and they feel special enough for an occasion like this. Don’t forget to end your meal with some scrummy Summerdown chocolates

 

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Check out Supermarket ‘Dine in for two’ offers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going out

If you have decided to eat out (or are being taken out) make sure that you’ve booked ahead – there is nothing worse than traipsing around looking for somewhere and finding yourself eating outside in February under an outdoor heater with a blanket in the only available ‘al fresco’ space, or sitting in a Fast food joint under strip lighting. You may not be too late to book an extra special restaurant – here’s a guide to the UK’s most romantic restaurants

 

 

Strapped for time getting ready? Need an instant pick-me-up to get you in the mood? Jump into the shower and feel invigorated with our body wash.  Then lather on our rich body lotion containing shea butter to leave your skin feeling oh so soft- and voila- you’re ready to go….

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Shower  with Summerdown to banish the days stresses and prepare yourself for an evening out 

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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