Sunday, 15 June 2014

Of Cabbages and Roses

Well, haven't we been enjoying some glorious weather of late?  It's most welcome, I must say.  It reminded me of a fabulous day out I had a couple of weeks ago which combined all the best elements of life in England: the countryside, perfect weather and vintage and textile goodies!

I've long been interested in the very English brand, Cabbages and Roses.  The brainchild of one Christina Strutt, they produce beautiful, vintage inspired clothing and homewares.  A new book was recently published, Living Life Beautifully,  which focusses on Christina's life at her infamous home deep in the Somerset countryside, Brook Cottage.  As I had devoured every last word and picture, when I heard that there was to be a brocante in the grounds of her very home, wild horses would not have kept me away.

So it was that rather early one Friday morning, armed with my map, off I set from London for the outskirts of Bath.  It's fair to say Christina's home really is nestled deep deep in the countryside but it was a beautiful day and a pretty idyllic setting.  I am used to country lanes because of our own cottage so did not find it too hairy, though I think a 4x4 would have been advantageous for parking on the field!  All these issues were insignificant as in my sun hat and rose printed frock, I found myself within the heart of the Cabbages and Roses' homeland.  What a glorious sight.

So, let's have a look around, shall we?  A large and rather stylish marquee had been erected on the top lawn.  This held Cabbages and Roses fabrics at much discounted prices (such that there was any left when I arrived an hour after opening time!), ODD rockers (the lady who runs ODD, which sells old-fashioned garden swinging hammocks, was Christina's original business partner in the Cabbages' empire) and various other delightful vintage stalls, including that of Caroline Zoob.

In front of the marquee, as the lawn rolled langorously down to the stream at the very bottom, was a tantalising display of stalls all groaning with vintage goodies.

Right down near Brook Cottage itself, was Christina's infamous gazebo, home to so many photo shoots.  This was where the Cabbages and Roses' clothing sale was taking place.  The clothing is not really what I was there for but I heard reports that it had been something of a bun fight at opening time!

Beyond the gazebo, a few more stalls had been set up around the willow tree and on the stream's edge.  There was a cute little coffee van and a stall serving delicious wraps, their contents cooked on the barbecue (unfortunately, the queues were rather long, I think the attendance at the event was beyond what had been expected).

Now we need to see what was on offer in more detail.  I knew a few of the ladies who had stalls at the event, either from past fairs or through the wonderful world that is Instagram.  So, I was pleased to catch up and the very first stall I came across belonged to Clara and Clare of "Found and Favour" fame.  They always keep me entertained with the gorgeous photos they post on IG.  They offered a lovely mix of enamelware, chippy painted furniture and all the accessories you could need to go with them.

Next door were Chalk and Paisley (new to me) and Emma of Velvet Ribbon, from whom I can never resist buying a few treats.

Chalk and Paisley had some lovely simple cushions and stuffed lavender hearts fashioned from vintage cutter quilts to which I decided to treat myself.  Emma had some gorgeous bundles of vintage fabrics.  One of those might have been popped in the shopping bag, too.

Another stall across the lawn offered a huge variety of gorgeous wool blankets.  I love these, with their beautiful soft stripes and checks, and they do keep you fabulously warm.  My cats absolutely love them (when they are allowed near)!

All around, you were spoiled for choice and all the stallholders had gone to a lot of effort to make sure their displays were eye catching and beautiful.  The setting was rather magical, it has to be said.

More temptations...

Down in the far corner of the garden, nestled high amongst the trees and overlooking the babbling brook, was this rather interesting-looking shed.  Its exterior did not belie the delights inside. 

I am not sure what Christina usually uses this for but it had been transformed into a showcase for maker Gill Fox's hats and vintage floral corsages.  I was rather entranced by the interior.

Hello!  The perfect vantage point to show you my vintage hat on its first outing.

I wandered back up the grassy slope and had to stop to admire Christina's kitchen garden.

One more stroll back through the stalls on my way out; yes, I did need to buy one of those gorgeous Swedish rag rugs.

I loved these cushions too, in my very favourite shades, but I had bought enough for one day.  

Caroline Zoob had some pretty items on her stall including a cute embroidered tea cosy in the form of a cottage.  Hmm, I might have a few of these in my vintage collection already.

Onwards then, through the extremely narrow and windy lanes around Brook Cottage to another decidedly cute cottage in the country, luckily one that we can call our own.

It was a beautiful afternoon and as I walked up the path, I was delighted to see the cottage garden coming into its own.

It was also a welcome delight to step inside those thick old hamstone walls and be enveloped by a delicious coolness.

Ah, it really was the very best sort of weekend.  

Back home in the city the following Monday, the 1940's felt Bambi I had bought from Cowboys and Custard at the brocante, was looking forward to meeting my motley collection of critters in her new home.

I felt fired up to get creating.  Using fabrics from stash, with the addition of some beautiful ones I picked up at the brocante, a spot more bag making went on in advance of my bag making workshop which took place at Tikki Patchwork in Kew yesterday.

This one was going to be a keeper until a lovely lady at the workshop yesterday twisted my arm and took it home with her!  Ah well, I can always make another.  The others will be listed in my Etsy shop shortly so if you are interested, do pop on over.  As they say, once they're gone, they're gone!

I hope you enjoyed reading this little post.  For me, it has been a treat to relive a wonderful time. Xxx


  1. Oh my, beautiful as always. I so wish that one day I will be able to wander the english countryside. Until then, I will dream through your lovely blog

  2. Lovely post. I saw lots of photo's of the brocante on IG and it truly did look brilliant! Sarah xo

  3. wow a perfect weekend what beautiful steeting both cottages are in

  4. What a fantastic day out and how fabulous do you look in your hat and dress. x

  5. Beautiful post....wonderful photos! Love the bag and your country cottage is to die for!

  6. Lovely day - and you look so pretty! The cottages and gardens are just amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Looks lovely Helen. Next time in England...


  8. It looks like a perfect day out, Hen. I would have enjoyed it too. Good for you, the bags are beautiful and it's good to hear they're in such high demand.

  9. Absolutely fantastic. I love living through you for a short while looking at all this wonderful stuff.

  10. Hen, I'm another Cabbages and Roses fan, and knew of the brocante. Thank you so much for allowing me this vicarious view of that marvelous event. I know that the weather might not have been favorable, but your photographs seem to indicate that it did stay dry.

    Aren't their fabrics wonderful? I'd gladly wear any of their clothes, too.

    May I also tell you that your very own cottage is so pretty, particularly at this time of the year. While reading this post, I have turned a delicate shade of just looks grand around your place, city or country.


  11. thank you so much for sharing your photos--i'm a big fan of Cabbages & Roses' fabric--and that is such a beautiful setting. (cute hat too!)

  12. What a lovely day you had you looked really lovely in your gorgeous dress! The setting was fantstic & your cottage garden looks blooming lovely too. The bag is absolutely to die for, I'm heading over to IG to have a look at more photos! Regards Claire x

  13. Looks like you had a most wonderful day. Then I saw the penultimate picture with Bambo (Well that's what I called it - I couldn't say Bambi) my mum made one like that for me when I was born. It has wired body inside and I loved playing with him (no health and safety when I was little!) and I still have it a bit moth eaten but it is still with me and in the exact same colours too!
    Julie xxxxxxxxxx

  14. This look like it was an amazing event! Love the little wooden shed hidden away.
    Miss Tulip x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

  15. What a fabulous day out! Beautiful photos too and how wonderful to go to your own little cottage after.
    Love your cottage garden! x

  16. I enjoyed this post so very much! You look astonishing in your hat and pretty pretty dress! I felt like you walked us through the event, stopping at the best booths! I have one of those Dundee marmalade crocks! The kitchen garden was pure inspiration and I will be referring to it in my blog shortly.
    Thank you for a lovely walk!

  17. Looks like a fantastic day out, so much to see and buy!!!
    You look fab in your gorgeous dress and hat.
    Love your bag, just perfect and your cottage garden is looking so pretty.
    Have a great week.
    Love to all

  18. That looks like a great day out. Of course the beautiful weather makes all the difference to such an event. Thank you for sharing the day with us.

  19. Beautiful post hen, everything! and you did look pretty in your photo, I'm surprised you passed by the little black hat with violets, I think it would have suited you. Not surprised the bag was sold out from under you though. x

  20. What wonderful photos of the day and those bountiful stalls must have been wonderful to behold. I adore your hat you certainly look very beautiful and glamourous.

  21. Gosh, as much as I Love the USA, I swear I would do just about anything to live in your Country!!! Everywhere is so pretty and historical. Abundant green as far as the eye can see, so lovely. The fair looked like a fun time :) Thank you SO much for sharing :) Hugs, Rhea


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