Great Pubs of England  

The Fox and Pheasant, Chelsea

Last year I spotted a new book on Instagram – Great Pubs of England by Horst A. Friedrichs and Stuart Husband. The books photographs looked amazing, and I knew its content would appeal to my husband who, like me, appreciates a good British pub. When therefore Mark, my husband received it as an orchestrated Christmas present, it was more than just a gift, it was the start of a new adventure. Let’s visit each and every one of the pubs! 

I love a good English pub. Not just for a drink but for the inspiration and experience. If a pub has all the right elements and designed well, it can feel like home from home– comfortable, welcoming, warm and cosy. Although my home interiors don’t look like a pub, I often take inspiration from them. If I walk into a pub and I get that warm, fuzzy feeling, I look for inspiration of how to create the same feeling at home. It can be attributed to design, paint colour, lighting, accessories or all the above. Sometimes it simply down the buzz and vibe of the people in it. I wish I’d become a pub interior designer. It’s something I feel quite passionate about. Who knows, one day….

London, a good place to start

Fourteen of the pubs in Great Pubs of England are in London so this felt like a good place to start. We were staying in Kensington so a quick walk through Bromsgrove cemetery and into Chelsea lead us to The Fox and Pheasant, accurately described as a country pub in town kind of vibe. It looked appealing from the outside and didn’t disappoint on the inside. 

James Blunt is the proud owner of the Fox and Pheasant in Chelsea

Quite eager to experience The Fox and Pheasant, we arrived on the dot of midday. As the first ones in we got a good opportunity to take it all in. The owner, James Blunt – yes, the James Blunt says in the book that ‘his main job was to make this place beautiful’.  Well, he succeeded. James and his team have done an amazing job, considering this seventeenth century coaching inn previously had a reputation for being insalubrious and know amongst locals as the Fox and Unpleasant.  

Our thoughts on The Fox and Pheasant

We loved The Fox and Pheasant. It felt traditional and welcoming but with a modern twist. It was well curated but not in a contrived way. The pub has a traditional colour palette, not dissimilar to my own home. It has a relaxed and homely vibe, creating a welcoming atmosphere. Discreetly tucked down a quaint and quiet Chelsea street, it was easy to forget the busy, bustling London streets just around the corner.  

If the Great Pubs of England book is to be believed, Blunt himself threw himself into renovating his pub, rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty. I would love to sit down with him, and chat about his renovation journey and pub design decisions. Over a glass of wine of course. I’d love to compare notes and pore over colour charts. Looking at the walls and accessories, I can see someone’s been busy collecting art, accessories, and ephemera. I feel we’d have a lot in common. 

Finally, the food. It would be remiss not to mention the food. Like the pub, the food menu is traditional with modern pub classics. My family ordered fish and chips, burger and cheese and ham pie which scored 10 out of 10 all-round. As the first pub on our great pubs of England tour, it set the bar high.  

So, to conclude, this is my kind of pub. Traditional but not remotely seedy with friendly welcoming staff, a welcoming and inviting interior with good honest, quality pub grub. The next time I am in London I will be popping in again for a bar meal and a glass of wine. 

Other info:

If you love atmospheric photography, and love pubs too, you’ll want to get your hands on a copy of this book – Great Pubs of England by Horst A. Friedrichs and Stuart

You will also love this pub tour video by Tatler – Watch this tour of The Fox and Pheasant with James Blunt

You will also love my other pub tour posts – click here

I’ve always wanted a sociable home

I have always wanted my home to be a sociable place. A home where the front door (or back door, if you live in Norfolk – everyone goes around the back) is always open, the kettle is always on, and visitors are always welcome. Even in my first starter home, at the start of my career and when I didn’t have two pennies to rub together, I still managed to open the door and welcome in visitors. 

Nothing beats a house full of life

After moving to Norfolk, for the first few Christmases, I would throw open my doors to neighbours and throw a party. I have always loved to absorb the buzz of a house full of life. It felt like a fantastic way to thank my neighbours for all their support and to kick start Christmas. 

Covid-19 has a lot to answer for

I’m blaming Covid-19 lockdowns and hardcore renovation work for the front door closing and guests becoming less welcome. Both lockdowns and renovation work contributed to a change in mindset about how I felt about opening the doors to guests.

I love my husband dearly but….

I love my husband dearly, and I have nothing but praise for him, however he is not a tidy renovator. It’s impossible to keep on top of the mess (what I really mean is his mess). As the renovation years have passed, the mess has mounted. Keeping a couple of rooms tidy has been doable but I’ve found it impossible to keep on top of his working practices. Mark is a doer, not a planner or a tidy-upper. He doesn’t see peripheral jobs, such as tidying up, as the job in hand. I have learnt to work with his ways, but it is not easy.

As my garden transformed into a rubbish tip and rooms filled with tools, dust and building paraphernalia, my willingness to welcome people into my home subsided. In my husband’s defence, he does get a lot done and periodically the mess will become too much for even him to bare, at which point a skip arrives and a big tidy-up happens. 

With the unnerving mental residue of lockdowns and a foreboding feeling about home I closed my doors to physical and virtual visitors. You may have noticed that most of my social media photos are from the archives? Last year I just couldn’t bring myself to take photos. I struggled to see the beauty. 

Time to throw a party

This week I celebrated my fiftieth birthday, and I decided it was time. Time to open the front door and welcome visitors once more. Starre Corner isn’t finished, I still have an outside bathroom accessed by a hole in the wall, my garden looks like a rubbish tip and the garden path still isn’t finished. Most rooms still have stacks of work to do in them, but it is home. 

I have always wanted a sociable home and here it is

It was an amazing party. Starre Corner was once more filled with the loud chatter of friends. It was more than just a birthday party. It was a celebration of how far I’d come and how many friends I have made since moving to Norfolk. This was a major milestone in both my life and my home.  

I lost the love for Starre Corner

Welcoming friends back to Starre Corner has revived my appreciation of how nice Starre Corner already is. There were many oohs and ahs of appreciation which took me by surprise. My friends even loved my half-finished kitchen. I think last year, amid renovating, I’d fallen out of love with Starre Corner. Or, at least, I’d certainly lost my love for it.  

I can do this

So, here we are. It’s February 2023 and I have a renovation to finish and a home to complete. With rekindled passion and a burst of energy, I can do this! 

Please follow me on Instagram to follow my renovation journey.

If you enjoyed this, you would enjoy my other renovation blog posts.

Plum Cottage Deans Court

Plum Cottage has been on my wish list 

Plum Cottage, within the Deans Court estate in Wimborne Minster. has been on my ‘places to stay’ wish list for many years. Deans Court has been on my Instagram radar for even longer. Some of you may already be familiar with Deans Court, as one of the venues to previously host the Dorset Brocante. My plans to stay at Plum Cottage was last time thwarted by Covid-19 lockdowns, so it didn’t take much persuasion when I was asked if I’d like to stay in Plum Cottage, for a week in January.  

It was a long drive, but the reward was worth it 

It was a long drive from Norfolk to Dorset, not aided by driving rain, heavy Friday afternoon traffic and a few detours. The reward was worth it though. Anticipation stared rising as a drove along Dorset’s winding country roads and through the pretty market town of Wimborne Mister. Amazingly, Deans Court is only a short walk from the centre of Wimborne. As the big, heavy gates opened and I drove down a track to Plum Cottage, I knew I was in for a treat. 

Plum and Apple Cottage have both had a Farrow and Ball Interior Makeover 

Plum Cottage and Apple Cottage are a pair of 18th Century worker’s cottages which have both had a recent Farrow and Ball colour consultancy and makeover. As an aside, Farrow and Ball’s head office is just outside of Wimborne. If anyone knows which colours would suit these Dorset cottages, it must be Farrow and Ball.  

Farrow and Ball, Preference Red – a bold but successful interior design statement 

As I opened the door and entered the kitchen, I was instantly delighted to see a dark, rich coloured red kitchen. It was incredible – the entire kitchen was red, a bold but successful design statement. I recognised the colour as Preference Red. It’s a colour I’m considering for my own glazed pantry. Moving through to the living room the colours changed to the lighter hues of Pigeon and School House White. Throughout, Plum Cottage is warm and cosy, with a log burner and blankets to hunker down with on chilly winter days. The views from the cottage window were equally as pleasing. I was greeted each morning with the sight of sheep, right outside my bedroom window. The setting is idyllic.  

Where’s my daughter?

Plum Cottage has a surprise treat in the garden. There is a shepherd’s hut, complete with a double bed and log burner. For Imogen, my 16-year daughter, this was a fabulous opportunity to experience a bit of freedom. Immie didn’t even make it to the front door of the cottage when we first arrived. She rushed to the shepherd’s hut and declared it hers for the duration. Needless to say, I cannot report back on the hut’s interior style – I didn’t make it past a knock at the door.

Plum Cottage, Deans Court, is a stone’s throw away from the heart of Wimborne Minster 

Although I was not blessed with nice weather during my stay, I can image throwing the doors open on a warm spring or summer day and listening to nothing but the sound of birds singing in the many surrounding trees. Or an occasional baa from sheep, which enjoyed grazing on the other side of the cottage fence. I would love to return and enjoy the beautiful setting in which this pretty worker’s cottage is situated. Whilst nestled in Plum Cottage, it was easy to forget that Wimborne Minster was only a stone’s throw away. Despite the rain, I strolled into Wimborne on most days and enjoyed a few evening champagne tipples in The Ten Bottles Wine Bar. If you do go to stay in Wimborne, I implore you to visit the delightful Tivoli theatre, a charming little 1930’s venue. I was fortunate enough to catch a live performance, but it also doubles up as a cinema too. 

Deans Court is a thriving business with a hive of activity.

Deans Court is the ancestral home of Ali and William Hanham. Since taking on Deans Court they have gradually developed a thriving business with a hive activity, including a wedding venue, several holiday cottages, a homewares store, and café. It was quite easy not to venture too far. Next time, I will explore the grounds and garden more. This time I only got as far as the walled garden. Even in January it was a joy to walk around the walled garden, admiring the serpentine brick wall, and imagining how the sleepy beds will soon burst into colour. 

Did someone say Parsnip cake? 

I must confess I visited the café most days. Using fresh, chemical free produce from the walled garden as well as offering gluten free and dairy free options was just too much of a temptation. Worthy of a mention is the delicious parsnip cake. Yes, that is what I said – parsnip cake. It sounds very strange but has taken pole position as my favourite gluten and dairy free cake. Ali has kindly passed on the parsnip cake recipe which I have tweaked a little. Here is my own version of the Deans Court cafe parsnip cake.

I was content with a daily wander into Wimborne

Due to the time of year, I was in favour of mostly staying in and enjoying the warmth and comfort of Plim cottage. Content with a daily wander into Wimborne. If I return however, in a different season, there is a lot to do in surrounding area. Poole, Bruton, Salisbury, Frome and the Jurassic coastline are all within an easy drive. 

On a very wet day I took a trip to Cabbages and Roses

On a very wet day I took a trip out to Bruton to visit Cabbages and Roses. Bruton looked delightful but regrettably it was too wet to explore. I will be going back again on a drier day. I spotted The Newt in Somerset on my way so when I return, I will be booking an afternoon tea there too.  

If you would like to stay at Plum Cottage, Deans Court please click on this link. There is also Apple Cottage or The Gate House to stay in too. All of which are fabulous stays. I think you will enjoy my house tour of the Gate House.

Below are a few of the local Wimborne shops, cafes, and bars I experienced whilst staying at Plum Cottage: 

Deans Court Café – a must visit for handmade deliciousness, made with fresh local ingredients from the walled garden.  

Ten Bottles Wine Bar – nice for an evening tipple with tapas

The Wimborne Pig – wonderful ambience and food. You will need to book. 

Le Petit Prince Patisserie – artisan bakery and café – delicious 

Minster Greens – old fashioned style green grocers with fresh produce 

Tivoli Theatre – fabulous 1930’s theatre and cinema 

If you would like to read about more luxurious holiday cottage, click here.

Home Renovation

Living in a home

renovation project

Living in a house renovation project
Always in a dress, even living in a renovation project
How can you cope living in a house renovation project?

Home renovation: ‘How can you cope living in a house renovation project?’ That is the most asked question. Admittedly it’s not easy but with grit, determination and focus on the end game I muddle through. In a previous life, pre-Norfolk, and pre-Starre Corner, I was an IT Project Manager. Nothing however prepares you for managing and physically renovating your own home.

Living in a house renovation project
Mark building the kitchen extension

On the seventh anniversary of moving to Starre Corner, I want to write about my renovation journey, focussing on last year, 2022. Can I be honest with you? Last year was tough. Really tough.

7 years ago

Today is not at all like it was, 7 years ago when it heavily rained all day, and the skies were dark and gloomy. Today thankfully, 7 years on, it is sunny. It’s amazing the affect a sunny day can make, especially whilst living in a house renovation project. Dark, wet, chilly days are simply not conducive with renovation life.

The second most asked question is, why is it taking so long to renovate?

The second most asked question is, why is it taking so long to renovate? This is easy to explain away. When moving to Norfolk with my family, we moved with nothing. We travelled light. Most of our belongings were sold before embarking on this new adventure – furniture, knickknacks, the lot. The move was away from grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins to start a new life in Norfolk. It’s an adventure I was ready to embrace but I recall sobbing for most of the journey to Starre Corner. For the first few years I wanted to explore and make Norfolk feel like an exciting adventure for my children to enjoy. Secondly, I wanted to get to know the house before making any major decisions. If I’d gone all in, like a bull in a china shop, major design mistakes would have ensued.

extension building.
The day the steels went in
Up until 2021, the renovation was going at a snail’s pace

Up until 2021, the renovation was going at a snail’s pace. Taking the work slowly, whilst juggling work and family life worked well. Thoughts and decisions were considered and although progress was slow, it was possible to keep Starre Corner feeling homely with a modicum of comfort. Starre Corner is a family home and should feel like one, no matter what the situation.

It has always been important to me, to make sure that my family feels warm, safe, and cosy. Not an easy feat, living in a renovation.

I will never forget the fear, attempting to sleep during a storm

I will never forget, the fear of attempting to sleep during a storm, only weeks after we had moved in. My husband and I were convinced that the old chimneys were going to come crashing through the roof. We repositioned the beds in the end, so at least they wouldn’t fall on us. On the morning after the storm, for obvious reasons. we set about making sure that we had new chimney stacks built before the next Norfolk storm.

Within the first few years, serious jobs were tackled, including a new roof, rebuilding two chimney stack, and new electrics. Better night’s sleep followed.

Living in a house renovation project
Another day onsite, another dress.
After the initial couple of years of tackling renovation priorities and exploring Norfolk, the mundane task of stripping Starre Corner down to her bare bones took place

After the initial couple of years of tackling renovation priorities and exploring Norfolk, the mundane task of stripping Starre Corner down to her bare bones took place. She needed to be stripped bare to fully assess the scope of the renovation project. This is when living in a renovation project starts to get challenging. Unlike decorating, it can’t be attacked one room at a time. Now that is not easy, let me tell you. It’s at this point that all the unknown issues also come to the fore. There were many! So, there’s the answer. That is what’s been happening. Starre Corner has been sympathetically fixed, using traditional materials and methods. There is not a lot to be seen for the effort, but she now has good bones and soul.

Towards the end of 2021 the pace picked up

Towards the end of 2021 the pace picked up. After a slow start it suddenly felt imperative to pick up pace and sprint to the finishing line. It was time to build an extension. With finances in place and a determination to succeed, the time had come. Just to confirm, hubby and I have no prior knowledge about extension building, just like we have no previous renovation experience. There’s nothing quite like learning on the job with You Tube and Google as support. A previous doer upper was far more decorating focussed than renovating. Starre Corner is at a whole new level.

Building the roof
2022 was a tough year of home renovation

2022 was a tough year. It felt like the year I had taken on more than I could cope with. With the back of the house knocked down, and a new extension rising from the ashes, Starre Corner was open to the elements and there was no going back. Every task, from digging out the foundation to laying breeze blocks, to constructing the roof, took far longer than anticipated. The tasks felt never-ending and tedious, and I must admit, I thought the challenge might beat both hubby and me. Mark was looking thin and stressed and I was attempting to keep family life as normal as possible.

Taking on the challenges of 2022 really made me appreciate home comforts

Taking on the challenges of 2022 really made me appreciate home comforts. or lack of them. Starre Corner was without a cooker for 18 months and as the breeze block walls went up, the doorway to the only bathroom facility was blocked up too. On the day the bathroom door ceased to be accessible I asked Mark how we were meant to get into the bathroom? Next thing, a sledgehammer was being wielded and a hole in the wall appeared in the side of the house. From that point on, no matter what the weather the only bathroom facilities have been accessed from outside, through the hole in the wall. It’s cold, it’s damp, it’s mouldy.

stove cooker
The day the stove was installed
Physical exhaustion and decision fatigue

Physical exhaustion and decision fatigue set in last year, and the tedious task of getting to a point of being watertight and secure felt like massive hurdles. But we did it! We finished and wow, what an achievement. It wasn’t until I sat down, drinking tea in the part-finished kitchen, that I realised how much of a strain we’d been under. As I expressed to my husband how proud I was of his achievements, I burst into uncontrollable tears. Maybe stress tears. Maybe tears of joy. Or both. What a year!

Home renovation; So, what’s next?

So, what next? You may well ask. This is where the fun part really starts. All the paint charts are out. Fabric samples are strewn. and evenings are spent browsing the internet for light fittings, switches, sockets, showers, toilets etc. Reclamation yards are my weekly stomping grounds, along with antique and reclamation fairs. 2023 is the year where visible progress will definitely be seen. It is going to be a good year.

living in a house renovation project - new stove
Party ready in the kitchen extension

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below about my home renovation. If you enjoyed reading this and aren’t already following me on social media, please pop over to instagram and give me a follow,

Look at other home Renovation posts

How to make preserved lemons

How to preserve lemons Preparing preserve lemons

How to make preserved lemons? If, like me you regularly have a glut of lemons, you’ll love this recipe. Overzealous lemon buying appears to be one of my downfalls but on the plus side, I now know how to preserve them. Preserved lemons make a such a handy pantry food – they are useful in many dishes, especially Mediterranean, Moroccan, or Middle Eastern recipes.

Preserving lemons is quick and easy to do and can be scale up or down. The list of ingredients needed to preserve lemons is short. Simply lemons, salt, sugar, and bay leaves. Once preserved the lemons will last for months in a sterilised Kilner Jar. My preference is a 2L Kilner Jar. 

Keeping a jar of preserved lemons in your pantry is like owning a valid culinary passport. Crack the lid, scoop out a segment and get ready to travel. Intensely flavoured, tender and syrupy in their own brine, salted lemons steer a dish magically to North Africa and the Middle East ”

What lemons can I preserve? 

Using unwaxed, chemical free lemons are the best lemons to preserve. Although lemons can be bought purposefully for this recipe, I usually use leftover lemons from my fruit bowl. Always wash lemons thoroughly before preserving. Obviously, all lemons must be fresh and mold free before preserving. 

How to sterilise a Kilner Jar? 

Using sterilised jars is imperative when preserving lemons. Unsterilised jars can cause mold and bad bacteria and severely reduce the shelf life of your preserved lemons. 

Kilner have produce a very handy video on how to sterilise Kilner Jars therefore I recommend you take a look

How to preserve lemons at home

How long do preserved lemons last? 

Preserved lemons can be stored in a fridge for up to a year. Ensuring that the lemons are always covered in lemon juice. 


Large mixing bowl 

Sterilised 2L Kilner jar 

Sharp knife 

Adding bay leaves and peppercorns to the lemons


How to preserve lemons


  • Thoroughly wash 6-8 lemons and pat dry with a clean cloth  
  • Slice the lemons onto quarters  
  • Please lemons in mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons sea salt  
  • Toss lemons in sugar and salt  
  • Cover with a clean dry cloth and place in fridge overnight, for up to 24  
  • The following day add peppercorns and bay leaves to the lemons and at once transfer the lemons from the mixing bowl into a sterilised Kilner jar, including any juices.  
  • Press down lemons to fill the jar and top up with lemon juice. The tightly fitted lemons should be totally submerged in lemon juice.  
  • Close the Kilner jar lid and make sure the jar us totally sealed
  • Wait 3 weeks before using. 

vintage mixing bowl

If you would like to make more items for your pantry, take a look at my other recipes.

The Nook Norfolk

Romantic Holiday Cottage Interiors

Let me tell you about The Nook Norfolk, a gorgeous pint-sized romantic holiday cottage in beautiful Norfolk.

I have been styling and photographing holiday cottage interiors for a few years, creating aspiration lifestyle imagery. My photographs display just how wonderful a stay away, in a fabulous cottage can be. No previous holiday shoot has made me feel as emotionally attached as this one. The Nook Norfolk is in Sedgeford belongs to my closest friends, Jo, and Damien. I met both Jo and Damien at separate workplaces and then played cupid to bring them together.

cosy fire, fireside, logburner, living room decor, cottage living room, cottage core, north norfolk holiday cottage,

Jo and Damien waited 7 years for me to provide them with a comfortable guest room at Starre Corner. Eventually they decided they could wait no longer and took the plunge. They bought a North Norfolk bolthole and holiday cottage of their own. Although I cannot claim credit for the overall interior design, I did enjoy the process. I happily joined in many conversations about how it would look and feel. Jo and Damien have done a cracking job. Creating a small and cosy Norfolk holiday cottage with some lovely luxury touches – linen bedding, Roberts radios, wool blanket, and Grind coffee machine to name but a few. Everything is provided for a romantic, stay-in and stay cosy break away, or equally a good base for exploring all the wonders that North Norfolk has to offer. 

antique bed, romantic cottage, romantic holiday cottage, holiday cottage style, holiday cottage interior.

The Nook Norfolk is in Sedgeford in Norfolk. It’s a mere 5 miles to the coast and near to both Doking and Snettisham. Also within easy reach are the beautiful villages of Hunstanton, Thornham, Brancaster and Burnham Market. Sedgeford itself is a pretty village with a pub and conveniently situated just a short walk from The Nook. If a café is more your cup of tea, The Old Store in Snettisham is a must-visit during a Norfolk stay. The Old Store interior decor and vibe would be just as at home in the centre of Shoreditch as it is in the centre of Snettisham. 

book, floor cushion, reading corner, linen curtains, romantic cottage, romantic holiday cottage, norfolk holiday cottage

The minute I walked into The Nook Norfolk, even before the interior was redesigned, I could see its appeal. It’s a small Norfolk cottage with both charm and character. Jo, as a serial decorator has added her magic touch, using earthy colours to reflect the colours of the surrounding Norfolk countryside. The Nook is furnished with vintage pieces and modern appliances. As a couple, Jo and Damien enjoy modern-day luxuries and are both well-versed in staying away in beautiful well-equipped places, so they knew exactly what needed to be done. With care and attention, they have transformed The Nook’s interior into a romantic, comforting retreat for both themselves and their guests. Jo has used her signature style wallpaper mural in the bedroom and industrial touches throughout the cottage. They’ve created a cottage with a modern country industrial vibe.

Roberts radio, linen bedding, velvet, cushions, wool blanket, bedroom decor, bedroom interior decor, bedroom style, bedroom styling, holiday cottage

I styled and photographed the Nook on a cold, albeit sunny day in November. I stoked up the log burner and felt toasty within minutes. The low afternoon sun shone through the kitchen window all the way through into the living room. It was an unexpected surprise but one that I should expect from the beautiful county, which is Norfolk. 

roberts radio, interiors, shelf styling, kitchen shelf styling, shelfie, vintage bowls

Please contact me if you would like to find out more about my interior styling and photography service.

shower, shower room interior, bathroom interior, cottage decor. holiday cottage interior decor, romantic holiday cottage

If you would like to book The Nook Norfolk, please contact Jo through Instagram @thenooknorfolk or on Airbnb.

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