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 

 

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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?

 

 

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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. Stimulate your scalp with our restorative shampoo and leave you hair feeling nourished with our conditioner.  Then lather on our rich body lotion – 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!

 

 

 

Check out our 7 tempting Valentine’s Day offers  you’re going to LOVE.

 

Plus we’ve teamed up with the wonder Yeo Valley to offer the chance to win one of their Love Yeo cook books. Click here to enter.

 

 

 

 

 

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Boost your body this January with peppermint

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The Summerdown collection harnesses the power of peppermint for body, bath and home

 

Winter blues. Post-Christmas Seasonal slump. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s very normal to feel like you’ve lost your mojo at this time of year. Though there are many contributing factors, there’s a clear link between our mood, and the fact that January is the month with the least amount of natural light available to us.

 

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Miserable weather and lack of sunlight doesn’t help lift our mood

 

There are lots of things we can do to pick ourselves up; from light therapy, to taking more exercise, detoxing, reducing alcohol intake and dietary changes, but one simple and natural one is to embrace the restorative powers of peppermint, the key ingredient at the heart of all our products.

 

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Our peppermint in full bloom just before harvest – the leaves contain the oil

 

 

Peppermint has actually been used for medicinal purposes since Egyptian times and some say it’s the oldest medicine in the world. Here are some of its healing properties;

 

Mood-enhancing and energy boosting.

 

In April last year, researchers from the University of Northumbria’s Department of psychology published their findings that peppermint enhanced and aroused both mood and cognition, helping to improve long term memory, working memory and alertness. Whilst Studies at the Sense of Smell Institute confirm that peppermint oil has mood-elevating properties that make it useful for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression

 

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Research shows that peppermint can enhance mood, energy and alertness

 

Stimulating

Peppermint oil is a natural stimulant that can increase your ability to concentrate. Inhaling the aroma of peppermint oil will also trigger your senses and wake you up. Janice Cox, leading US Natural beauty and natural home expert, says in her book “Natural Beauty at Home” that peppermint oil can give you extra energy in the morning so suggests showering with it to give yourself a great start to the day

 

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Start your day on a positive note by showering with peppermint

 

Stress-relieving

 

Peppermint not only stimulates but can also help us to relax. So you can dab a few drops of the oil on your temples when you have a tension headache, or lie back and relax in the bath with a cup of our peppermint tea

 

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Inhale the peppermint in our lemongrass & mint bath soak and aromatic candle

Decongesting

If you’re suffering from a Winter cold or the Queen’s cough, the  menthol found in peppermint leaves is a natural decongestant that can help you breathe more easily. Try adding a drop of our oil to a tissue or get a bowl of very hot water, add the oil and put a towel over your head and breathe in deeply

 

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Ease congestion with peppermint oil

 

Enjoy the Summerdown collection in your home and discover the restorative powers of peppermint this January

Recommended products

 

 

Body wash for a morning pick-me-up and positive start to the day

Bath soak for a mood-boosting soak

Peppermint tea to keep you alert and improve concentration

Shop now for our January body boosters

 

 

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Do you know the history of your stocking?

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Our stocking filler gift set for £21 www.summerdownnaturally.com

 

For children and grown-ups alike, opening your stocking on Christmas Day morning can be one of the most magical moments of Christmas. But do you know where the tradition comes from? The Summerdown team thought we’d find out, and also look at some other interesting stocking factoids for you to share around the table on Christmas day!

 

The history of the Christmas stocking

 

There are numerous legends dating back as far as the 12th century, but our two favourites;

 

–  French nuns inspired by the legend of St Nicholas (who gave gold to the poor) began leaving stockings full of fruit, including tangerines, and nuts at the houses of poor people.

– An impoverished Dutch father had three very beautiful daughters but worried because he had no money for his daughters to marry. One day Saint Nicholas heard the villagers talking about the girls and decided to help in secret. After dark he threw three bags of gold through an open window, one landed in a stocking. The girls and their father awoke the next morning delighted to find the gold.

 

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It is most likely that the history of the Christmas stocking and Father Christmas in Britain is quite a new one, since the reign of Victoria began in 1837.  Father Christmas was originally part of an old English midwinter festival, normally dressed in green. The stories of St. Nicholas (Sinter Klaas in Holland) came via Dutch settlers to America in the 17th Century and only became known in Britain as Santa Claus in the 1870s. With him came story of the reindeer and the sleigh.

 

 

 

Stocking facts

 

 

For those with inquisitive children/Grandchildren, here’s an interesting fact in case you get asked the tricky question; US scientists calculated that Father Christmas would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.

 

 

 

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The largest ever stocking measured 56 m (106 ft 9 in) long and 14.97 m (49 ft 1 in) wide and was made by the Children’s Society (UK) in London, UK on 14 December 2007.

 

 

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The most expensive Christmas stockings produced are this pair  of limited edition FALKE Vicuna socks – at £726 a pair. They are so exclusive only 10 pairs were ever made!

 

Where to find a lovely stocking

 

For some more affordable lovely Christmas stockings, we love this fair isle one from White Stuff  for £27 which would be perfect for children and adults.  Or for that super stylish special someone in your life, this one from Liberty  for £29.95 is rather stunning. And for the little people, check out this ‘oh so on trend’ star one from John Lewis for only £12.

 

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Three of our favourite stockings

 

And what to put in it

 

Shopping for stocking fillers (especially when you’ve got more than one) can be rather daunting and time-consuming, so to make it a little easier, here is our checklist of the perfect mix;

  • Something lovely and smelly, like Summerdown’s luxury, natural lemongrass and mint bath soak 
  • Tangerine
  • A book  – Waterstones  has a great online guide to 2016’s best books
  • A DVD – the latest box set or stand-up comedian
  • Stationery – we love Paperchase and also Papier for the most exquisite personalised notecards
  • Underwear – you can’t go wrong with a pair of luxury socks
  • Hat, scarf or gloves
  • Jewellery
  • Calendar – we recommend BBC’s Countryfile 2017 calendar, with photography from the 12 finalists and sold in aid of Children in Need
  • Household or kitchen gadgets – Lakeland is always a winner for this
  • Chocolate (coins for kids, something a little more grown up for adults like Summerdown’s Peppermint creams)
  • Sweets

We hope Father Christmas brings you some nice surprises!

Shop now to save £10 from our stocking filler offer containing our award-winning chocolates, bath soak, soap and sweets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Six steps to creating the perfect bath time experience

As the night’s are getting darker, it’s easy to feel a little bit fed up and find yourself hankering after sunny Summer’s evenings. But why not embrace these cooler darker nights and see it as an opportunity to enjoy a cosy night in and re-discover the very British pastime of ‘having a bath’.

 

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Six steps to creating the perfect bath time experience

  1. Find 30 minutes to yourself – you can’t rush a bath. Either at the end of the day before your evening starts, or just before bed. If you’re not a great sleeper, a relaxing bath can really help
  2. Get the right temperature for you. Too hot and you’ll find yourself over-heating and feeling light-headed, too cool and you’ll be shivering within five minutes!
  3. Make sure you’ve got a drink to hand – either water, or, we find a cup of Summerdown peppermint tea is very refreshing and the peppermint de-stresses
  4. Get a towel or bath pillow ready so you’re comfortable
  5. Light a Summerdown lemongrass & mint soy wax candle. Poured in a glass jar, with a silver lid, our candle is made with soy for a longer burn time. Fill the bathroom with the refreshing, clean scent of the English countryside

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    6. Run a bath and pour in Summerdown lemongrass & mint bath soak.

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Formulated to be non-irritating, our bath soak is enriched with aloe vera to soothe and replenish your skin, leaving it soft and silky after a long, relaxing soak

And when you can’t feel any more relaxed, why not snuggle up on the sofa with a gorgeous throw and cushions?  You can win this stunning set perfect for Autumn from the Cotswold Company right now.

 

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Turn on the TV, treat yourself to a delicious, healthy snack like Portlebay popcorn in front of your favourite box set or the current batch of addictive TV programmes – are you a Victoria, Poldark, Cold Feet or Paranoid person?!

 

Bathe in the warm glow that you can only get from a FREE bottle of our bath soak

 

We’re embracing darker nights with a fantastic Autumn offer – free bath soak when you buy a candle for £22. Offer ends Sunday 2nd October.

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Behind the scenes with BBC Countryfile

BBC Countryfile presenter Anita Rani holds a basket full of natural beauty products.

Anita receives a ‘Thank you’ basket full of the Summerdown natural beauty range

 

Thursday 18th August would have been a normal busy day of harvesting and distilling at Summerdown Farms, had it not been the long-awaited day that had been selected by the BBC to come and film Countryfile. It had taken nearly two years from when we first contacted the programme researchers to tell them about the incredible Summerdown story.

 

We’d met three of the team the week before, when they came for a recce, checking out the best locations and meeting the key players here at Summerdown who would appear on camera. After this Eve the Producer had been working hard to craft the material that she wanted to film into the right sequence with a script guide for presenter Anita Rani (also of Strictly Come Dancing fame).

 

Anita Rani is shown how Summerdown's Peppermint Oil is made.

 

So back to last Thursday, our rendezvous was at 08.30 hours. Sir Michael was taking his dogs for an early morning walk and joined us to meet Emma and Eve, who’d been joined by Steph the cameraman and Ian the soundman. We headed off down to the Distillery to find Ian the Farm Manager, and start the filming off in the laboratory. Here Ian showed Anita the technical equipment and explained how for the quality and properties of the oil. Anita was able to smell the difference between a freshly distilled sample and one that has mellowed in storage for two years. Like wine, peppermint oil mellows and improves with age.

 

Next, it was onto the warehouse where Anita helped packer Cathy to make up the latest orders of body, bath and home products, chocolates and teas to be sent off to our stockists or direct to those customers who’ve ordered from our own website shop. Even though it was 10.00 o’clock in the morning it was too hard to resist sampling our award-winning peppermint creams. It didn’t take long for a box to vanish into thin air. The morning’s filming at the distillery was done, and it was high time to head out to one of the mint fields to see how it is harvested, as this film is to be screened as part of a seasonal Countryfile feature that focuses on the harvesting all kinds of crops. So Ian demonstrated to Anita how through years of experience he is now able to tell when the Black Mitcham peppermint plants have the right oil balance and are ready to harvest. At this point, the mint is then mown by tractor and is left to wilt on the ground. This will be for 24 to 48 hours depending on the weather. It is then picked up by another machine that loads it straight into the container behind, that will also act as a huge cooker later on.

 

Sir Michael shows Anita the farm where our famous Peppermint Oil is made.

Travelling in style – Sir Michael shows Anita the farm

 

Derek is the top tractor driver at Summerdown, and he jumped at the chance to teach Anita how to operate the machine for herself. Derek is also pretty keen on his dancing, so they had a lot to chat about in the cab. Anita proved to be a natural behind the wheel and jumped down with a huge grin on her face. After her impressive debut performance, there were 2 more neatly cut rows of mint on the ground. Next, she turned her hand to picking up mint that had been cut the day before using a John Deere Forager. She did this perfectly too, and Derek and Ian were so impressed that they offered her a job!

 

BBC Countryfile presenter Anita Rani climbs aboard the Summerdown Tractor.

In the driving seat – Anita is shown how to operate the tractors by Derek

 

It was at this stage in the proceedings that Sir Michael came down on his quad bike to see how everything was going. Anita interviewed him on camera to find out more about the passion and inspiration behind the Summerdown Mint story and discovered that he still has the driving force to realise his vision when many people would be happy to put their feet up during retirement.

 

At Summerdown Farms a wide range of crops are grown, and these include Camomile and Lavender from which Ian also distills high-quality oils. So Eve the producer was keen to film Anita in a field of Camomile flowers, that were just ready to cut for tea or oil production. The tea is made into Summerdown’s own Spearmint & Camomile or supplied to other tea companies. What could be better than relaxing in a bath, infused with Summerdown bath soak, the bathroom lit with an aromatic lemon grass and mint candle and sipping a cleansing relaxing cup of tea? This was the last section to film before we broke for a well-earned lunch back at the Marketing Suite, which had kindly been laid on by Judith from the Estate Office.

 

Anita Rani is being filmed for a documentary about our award winning Mint farm.

“And…Action” – The BBC Countryfile film crew get ready.

 

Jan Kern, who oversees the body, bath and home collection had invited her nine-year-old Granddaughter along as a Summer holiday treat. She had a great time sitting next to Anita during lunch and chatting about her time on Strictly. After lunch, Sir Michael presented Anita with a hamper full of every item in the Summerdown natural collection for body, bath and home, plus some award-winning peppermint tea. She was over the moon, as she is a great fan of natural beauty products that contain high quantities of essential oils and natural ingredients. We’ll be keeping a watchful eye on @itsanitarani to see whether she tweets about us as she tries them all at home.

 

Refreshed and revitalised, it was back out to the distillery to see the mint that Anita had cut being cooked up and distilled into our very own pure peppermint oil. Ian had been busy firing up the heat and explained how the equipment and distillation process worked, and Anita ran her fingers through the freshly produce stream of oil to inhale the magic that was growing in the fields a day before.

 

The closing sequence of the film features an amazing VW bus that has been converted into a mobile cocktail bar. Ollie the owner had been challenged by Sir Michael to make a range of cocktails using our peppermint oil and the fruits that have been identified as complimentary flavour pairings by an analyst in the United States. He whipped up a Raspberry Gin Cooler, a Peach Martini, a Blueberry Daiquiri and of course a Classic Mojito using fresh Black Mitcham mint picked straight from the field.

 

BBC Countryfile presenter Anita makes mojitos using our famous Peppermint leaves.

Mixing up mint cocktails at the VW Bus Bar

 

Anita was behind the bar working her magic with the shaker and earned the first taste of each drink which seemed to go down well after a hard day of presenting. Sir Michael soon joined them to try an alcohol-free mocktail and Farm Manager Ian was keen to sample the real thing. Everyone raised a glass to a fun day of filming, and we were all very relieved that the BBC weather forecast of mixed weather with some rain had not turned out to be true after all.

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Plus to celebrate the BBC broadcast this weekend we’re offering viewers the chance to SAVE 30% on body, bath & home products by entering the coupon code Countryfile30 when you view your basket in the shop.

 

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Ahhh……the Great British weather!

Short and sweet this week as the Summerdown Farm is busy busy busy!

 

It’s amazing how the weather can change so quickly in a fortnight.

 

Last time we wrote we were in the middle of that hot and balmy weather which was doing brilliant things for our crops. Since then Farm Manager Ian has kept smiling despite gloomy skies and rain and though not exactly in full swing, harvest has begun.

 

Here are a couple of pictures of the organic lavender on the farm being harvested and distilled.

 

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We’ve also started combining the oil seed rape but had to stop after half a day due to rain. The small combine is cutting Oil seed rape trials so that the seed can be tested.

 

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We’re all set to start harvesting and distilling our Black Mitcham mint next week –fingers crossed and lots of sun dances please! The mint’s looking good but will be even better with some lovely sunshine to generate more oil. We’ve got two brilliant photographers visiting to capture the harvest of mint on the farm and the Summerdown collection – we can’t wait to share the shots with you.

 

So as it stands we’re about seven days behind harvest schedule now. But as the ever-positive Ian says, the Great British weather, you’ve just got to work with it!

 

And finally….we have got some very exciting visitors to the farm next week….all hush hush for the time being but we hope to be able to share more soon…watch this space….

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It’s hotting up…notes from the Summerdown farm

It’s hotting up this week, in more ways than one!

Ian’s back from his well-earned break and his holiday probably feels like a distant memory as it’s been busy busy busy this week getting ready for the onslaught of harvest. This means cleIMG_0941aning down all the machinery and grain stores and checking everything is in first class working order. Here’s our new tractor that arrived earlier in the week –  it’s a general purpose tractor which will be used mostly for corn carting and rolling crops in the Autumn.

 

 

 

The sunshine in the past few days has been amazing for the crops. We all know that crops need sunshine and rain to grow, but did you know that sunshine can have such a significant effect on essential oil production that each hour of sunlight, right down to the day of harvest, can make a difference to the oil yield? That’s because the sun helps the oil capsules in the peppermint leaf develop.

 

 

Here’s a view of our peppermint field yesterday – isn’t it a beauty? We’re about 3-4 weeks away from harvest.

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And how stunning is this camomile? We’re only about 10 days from harvest, when there’ll be even more flowers and Ian says it will look like a “field of snow”.

 

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Ian has already done a bit of harvesting and distilling this week of the camomile over winter crop – it produced 3 kilos of camomile oil for our tea, so not at all bad.

 

What else has been going on around the farm? We’ve been desiccating the oilseed rape getting ready for harvest – evening out the crop makes it much easier for the combine to work its magic in two weeks time.

 

And we’re going to be planting more lavender tomorrow. Did you know it takes our lavender three years to look this good and be ready for harvest?

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Now this photo of the warehouse may look a little bit dull, but greatly satisfying. If you’re a bit of a tidier and like your house being in ship-shape order, you’ll appreciate having everything organised. We’ve been refitting the warehouse with extra racking to maximise space for our expanding range and Christmas stock.

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It was hot work stacking pallets but we do hope this sunshine continues for the next two weeks at least….

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The perfect match

The perfect match

It may be hard to believe it’s Summer, but we’ve teamed up with Hampshire neighbours, Caviste wine merchants to get customers in the mood for Summer, whatever the weather!

 

When you buy the 6 bottle ‘Summer Selection case’, a specially curated mixed case consisting of fine red, white and rose wines from France, Spain and Sicily, you will receive a Summerdown Reed Diffuser (worth £18) absolutely free.

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Be it with the Thomas Labile Sancerre L’Authentique 2014 vintage or perhaps a rich La Hoja, Rioja Crianza from 2012, discerning wine customers nationwide will be able to enjoy their Summer tipple perfectly paired with the lingering, gorgeous, distinctively English scent of Summerdown. Cheers!

 

And to further enhance the Summer mood, we asked Caviste in-house chef Steve, for a Summer recipe idea to pair with the Muret White label rose…..

 

Spaghetti vongole is a light, summery dish that should be kept as simple as possible – if you’re splashing out on fresh clams, then it’s a shame to lose them in a maelstrom of other flavours. Saying that, the bivalves I happened upon were so beautifully sweet that they called out for a spritz of lemon, which also cuts through the buttery richness of the River Café inspired sauce, keeping the whole thing spanking fresh.

 

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Serves 4

500g small clams (palourdes, or carpet shell are ideal)
350g spaghetti (dried)
30g butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ medium-hot red chilli, finely chopped
100ml dry white wine
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Zest of ½ a lemon and a spritz of juice

  1. Rinse the clams in cold running water, and scrub if necessary, then put them into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Salt generously and leave for a couple of hours, then drain and rinse well to remove any grit or sand.
  2. Put the spaghetti into a large pan of salted boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes under the recommended time, until nearly done.
  3. Meanwhile, put half the butter and all the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and soften the garlic and chilli.
  4. Add the drained clams, and turn up the heat. Pour in the wine, cover and leave for a couple of minutes until most of them have opened. Discard any that are still closed. Add the others to the sauce, picking a few out of their shells for variety.
  5. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan along with the remaining butter. Toss well and leave for a minute, then stir through the chopped parsley, lemon zest and juice, season to taste and serve.

 

To purchase the Summer Selection, visit a Caviste store or shop online at www.caviste.co.uk.

 

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