Friday, 14 November 2008

Country Living Fair

Hello bloggers.  What a fab day I had on Wednesday!  After a little mooch in the knitting/wool section of John Lewis (I was purely killing time, you understand), I met my sister and partner-in-crime at Euston and off we set for Islington, to the Design Centre and for this week, home to the Country Living Fair, yes of the fabby Country Living magazine fame.  We also stopped in at Loop in Islington, a rather nice yarn shop.  So, if you are going to the CL fair and you like knitting or crochet, you might want to pop in as it is only a five minute walk.

I had a double whammy on the ticket front.  Firstly, for my birthday, my super other half had bought me an entrance ticket to the fair and then my fellow blogger Kathy had also ultra kindly sent me some complimentary tickets so all in all, that was very good news for me and my sister (and equalled extra spends)!  Kathy makes stunningly gorgeous jewellery, "Kathy Jobson Jewellery", and had a stand of her own at the CL fair.  So, first stop was to see Kathy at her stand to ogle her lovely jewellery.  This was my first "blogger meet" and it was lovely to have a chat with a like minded soul.

Kathy was also selling the work of another talented lady from the West Country, Willemien Stevens, who makes beautiful appliques.  Kathy has mentioned Willemien on her blog before and I was very interested to read about it because a shop in Briport which I often visit sells cards and prints of Willemien's work and my sister has long loved the "Princess and the Pea" applique so it was interesting to link up the two things when I read Kathy's blog.  As Kathy mentioned on her blog, Willemien's house was recently in The English Home magazine.

The stand was looking great with all the yummy jewellery, appliques (and prints and cards of the appliques) along with some delicious vintagey goodies.  I couldn't help but treat myself to a divine necklace.

I hope you had a successful time at the fair, Kathy, your stand certainly seemed popular and I also hope you get a good, relaxing break next week as I imagine it must be very hard work being on that stand (and miles away from home in unfriendly old London) for nearly a week.

One of the first things you see at the fair is a rather gorgeous roomset which is inside what I would call a posh garden shed/room, actually I think the word is gazebo.  I am a bit sketchy on the details of this, I imagine it was probably advertising the manufacturer of the "shed" but I was more interested in all the Cath K and other goodies inside!  (Sorry about that, Mr Manufacturer.)

At this point, I have to confess that I do not have any further photos of the fair to show you, sorry about that.  To be honest, it was rather busy with lots of people looking at the stands so taking photos was difficult, I was busy shopping (oops) and I am increasingly finding that some people do not want you to take photos, in particular a certain Jan Constantine.  I asked why she did not want us to take photos (having politely asked if I might) and something was said about copying designs???  She then gave me a brochure showing all her products instead.  Well, thank you for the brochure, it's very nice, but am I missing something here?  Surely if I had it in mind to become a Jan Constantine products impersonator, I could do that much better from the perfect pictures in the brochure than my fuzzy amateur shots?  I don't understand this reluctance to allow people to take photos, perhaps someone shall explain it to me?  Anyway, (mini rant over), here are some piccies from Jan's brochure instead!  You see Jan, I don't bear a grudge, I'm even doing a bit of advertising for you!

One stall I really loved was that of the "Made in Hastings" gang, a group of ladies who have got together and opened a shop selling their handmade items. I have seen articles on this group in Country Living magazine before and have always fancied visiting their shop in, funnily enough, Hastings, and I shall definitely be going down there now. The people on the stand were very friendly and are obviously very talented too. Most of the products were vintage inspired. I came away with this modest little haul (I did reluctantly leave behind a gorgeous oil painting of a cute doggie on the beach, my purse lacking as it was, the £105 I would have needed to buy it. How about it, Santa Baby?)

I love the work of the artist who painted the picture on the card you can see above (also the painter of the doggy oil), Claire Fletcher.  I had a chat with her and she showed us a book she has just illustrated which turns out to be Jools Oliver's new book (yes, wife of chef Jamie Oliver).  The illustrations were gorgeous.  I also spotted some more of her cards in Liberty today.

It is fair to say that some of the stalls were not up my street at all but then we've all got differet tastes, haven't we?  The majority of the things sold at the fair are new but there were several stalls specialising in vintage items.  I had a nice chat with a lady selling her vintage/repurposed items who lives near my beloved Totnes.  I thought you might like to see her postcard/business card because I think it is just lovely.

One fabulous stall had an array of gorgeous vintage things, flowery and paisley eiderdowns, cushions made from embroidered tablecloths (beautiful but out of my price range at £55), some of those very cute and covetable furry doggies on wheels and some divine oil paintings of groups of flowers (sadly a tad more than my £2 car boot sale find)! I didn't take any photos, I'm sorry, I was too busy ogling everything and chatting to the owner!

Lastly, there was a stall of vintage goodies belonging to some folks who provide all the necessary items to stage sets (or whatever) in vintage style. Their prices were very reasonable and I came away with...

I might not love all of these buttons but I certainly do like a lot of them!  

Here are some of my faves...

So, we had a lovely time but I was absolutely shattered afterwards!  We just about managed to limp to a local restaurant where we sat back and chatted away and had a glass of rose, or two with dinner...

On a different note, thanks so much to you all for showing such enthusiasm for my giveaway, I'm overwhelmed and it's been lovely to have some comments from some new folks as well as old blogging friends.  I haven't got round to visiting everyone's blogs yet and replying to you all, I will do my best.  It's so frustrating that you don't get people's emails so that you can respond direct.  Anyway, life should get back to normal a bit next week and I'll be announcing the winner on Tuesday so if you haven't done so already, you still have time to enter.  Watch this space!  I am very excited tonight as tomorrow, I pick up my new Bernina sewing machine, what a lucky girl I am.  I imagine lots of sewing shall ensue...

Have a lovely weekend everyone.
Hen x


  1. Sounds like you had a fab time... I've only been to one years ago, the Christmas one is always the best. I love the photo of the card & badges, is that the ladies from Hastings?? Do they have a web site?? Have to check that out. Enjoy a relaxing weekend with your new sewing machine :)

  2. Oooooh you had a lovely time! It was great to see Kathy on her stall and to hear that you met Louise from Totnes. Made in Hastings was my favourite stall last year. It was really different and exciting. I spent a lot of my pennies there including an item made by my friend Wendy from fabrics she had bought from me!!!

  3. sounds like you had fun,
    really loved your pictures,ive never been but i would really love to go!


  4. Evening Hen...really enjoyed your post, some fab finds!
    Love the buttons and the vintage cards!

    I must remember to email more, Olly hogs the upstairs computer, the laptop is not set up to send...
    Job for him this weekend i think....I'm going to a thrifty mrs tomorrow!

  5. oh i just emailed to say i hope you enjoyed it then noticed your post!! looks like it was a good time all round I so wish I could go but I am going to plan a "norther bloggers" trip down to it next year even if its just me on a train on my own......... :-)
    lovely purchases as well ! enjoy the new sewing machine!
    Lesley x

  6. oh Hen thankyou for this lovely often I have wanted to go to this fair. The lovely kathy had offered me a ticket too and I had to politely decline (it's so nice to put a face to the name..Kathy has purchased a few bits and pieces from me in the past!)
    I adore those doggy badges and the illustrations, I'll definately be looking out Claire Fletcher again what a lovely old fashioned painting style she has. JC sounds a bit of an old moo..oops that must be a dig at people like me who couldn't afford her designs and made up their own version. I dont understand the photos thing either, some shops are very off about that kind of thing but I think she's now established enough to allow a photo or 2! anyway thanks again for the tour for all of us girlies that couldnt go x

  7. looks like yu had a waonderful day out Hen! Love the photos of the stalls and I love the buttons you picked out to show us. I'd love top visit that shop in Hastings too! I have cousins who live in Battle so next time I'm over I'll visit! Let's hope they are still there in a few years time when I can manage that!!

  8. How wonderful to visit the Country Living Fair. Love the bits and pieces you found there. It sounds like you had a great day out.

  9. Thanks for the lovely post! I'm so with you on the photos Designers who put everything on their website and in a catalogue just come away looking like crazy ladies if they then say 'no photos' at markets!

    Allison x

  10. I wish I could go... Such lovely things. You had a good time!


  11. oh wow look's like you had a great time. I bet your broke now lol.
    I'd love to go, Maybe next year.

  12. I do love your blog - loads of pics and great reviews of everything...bliss! have a lovely weekend xx

  13. Thankyou so much for brightening up my day here in dreary rainy Cardiff (not always like that of coure), I love your post , I feel like I have been to the fair now, Kathy does beautiful jewelery doesnt she? Her stand looks fab so did the gorgeous looking gazebo/hut! you can awlays email me if you wnat to chat via my Patsi Bea site on my blog.
    Have fun with your new sewing machine and great weekend....Claire xx

  14. Looks like another wonderful day was had by all - I wish I lived nearer to London sp I could have joined you - I like the stuf from "Made in Hastings". Julie xxxx

  15. Great post. Looks like a terrific day. I am really hoping to go to the spring one.
    Lurrrrrve the buttons.

  16. The Country Living Fair looked amazing - I saw it advertised and really wanted to go! Love Claire Fletcher's work - will have to investigate further.

  17. Hi Hen What a fantastic post - I feel as if I've wandered around the fair myself. It sounds as if it was a good day, and I'm rather sorry I didn't go now. Ah well, next year! I love your buttons! x

  18. Looks like you had a wonderful day. I'm always embarrassed about taking photos so I'd have been mortified if someone had told me not to in case I was pinching their designs. Weird that they gave you a booklet with them all in afterwards.....

  19. What wonderful treasures you found! Thank you for the interesting post!

  20. I am really jealous, it looks like you had a fab time and some wonderful buys!! Yes, I see that we are partners in the Christmas swop...Girls Night IN theme!! I will have to get my thinking head on!! And fast!! Tescos isnt my most favouite place and I do try and avoid it like the plague, hence sending my hubby! Let me know if you want the bag and I will see if our store still has it in stock! x

  21. Love your blog and the photos. I am about to pack up my car with stock to take to the Scottish Country Living Fair which starts on Thursday. I am feeling rather shattered now I see all the boxes piled up & ready to move, so it is lovely to see such inspirational photos.
    People are very welcome to take photos of my stall (as long as I'm not in them)


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