This is my first Country Living Fair after a years break to allow new traders to mix in to the exhibitors list and it was a pleasant return to a wonderful event. It was only a flying visit during their late night Thursday offering but it showed me another side to a merry & bustling event. The free wine trays moving around on the upper floor added to the more relaxed and chatty atmosphere between visitor & exhibitor.
I started in the Newcomers Market up in the Gallery Hall one of my favourite parts of the fair, there is always someone I have never come across before offering a vibrant new product. Someone who is just starting out and exploring their opportunities is my favourite conversation partners. Here are a couple lovely brands and why they deserved a second look.
Lily & Giraffe – Now I have two friends at the moment both with small children and both are adorable lets face it, so they get lots of gifts. Who could make better clothes for kids than fabric addict Helen a mum herself who makes every piece to order, very wearable, cute and with well matched pattern combinations. I mean who would say no to a mint & zebra covered skirt, not me thats for sure.
Matin Lapin – Vixie’s stand was set up like a mystical countryside right out of a story book her jewellery all part of the vibrant grass & puffy trees very imaginative. Her snazzy broaches were my favourite, tiny painted detailed wooden pieces arranged on gift tags, perfect gifts for any occasion. (I walked away with two!)
Susannnah’s Sauces – Something tasty is always a hit and this lovely ladies sauces from the Berkshire countryside come from a delightful kitchen producing all wholesome recipes. It’s all about the ingredients for Susannah and helping people choose healthy fresh food first, I chose the Flirty French Dressing. All I need now is a pack of bread sticks to make it slightly unhealthy again and I have a snack.
The Woodee – I have met this group of Hereford craftspeople before, when I bought a Woodee, a product of their own invention to help open hot wood burner doors. By preserving traditional practices the blacksmiths, tanners & joiners all make quality, useful items that are also unbelievable beautiful. With some new willow log baskets making it to the top of the pile. (Ha, joke).
Lucky Lobster Art – Original lino print artwork each made from a hand carved traditional process producing both originals & prints. With lots of quirky themes there is plenty of appeal in Jo’s lovely display.
Making my way around the balcony taking in the great view over the main floor you get to see a bit of everything including a few lambs and then take a right in to the Auditorium section. A bit more of the complimentary wine and well in to the wind down part of the day there was still plenty to see.
Phoebe Jewellery – There is always lots of jewellery choice so its takes that little bit extra to catch my attention, done very well by Phoebe a Sussex based designer who makes several nature themed collections. Her display was made up of interesting levels made from natural props that set off her silver,gold & wooden pieces perfectly. With plenty of awards & celebrity admirers, expect more from Phoebe.
The Arty Crafty Place – This lovely crafty collective of ladies really enjoy making! They were running a block printing workshop during the fair and their stall was an array of intricately carved printing blocks from the more traditional eastern designs to modern teapot & citrus varieties.
Nordic Fusion – If you are after anything Scandinavian this is your brand, their stall was rather more sedate with some selected pieces with great impact. I was particularly taken with the odour less oil lamps, similar in style to antique lamps but made new with modern sleek materials.
Rewined – I have seen these wonderful products popping up recently, these particular candles from Rewined are a great combination of the repurposed wine bottles as well as wine themed scents. A brain child from America this wonderful grass roots company has a beautiful brand story (I mean check out their website!) and the scents are beautiful & subtle. Added to my gift list!
Olive’s Larder – I don’t have a dog which is a constant woe, doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good pet stall when I see one. Primarily hand baked artisan dog treats but also creatively died rope collars & leashes this family run business. They are made with 100% human ingredients the treats are even safe for the whole family.
You can’t forget the lambs, they are only 11 days old but have come along way to try talk you in to a hands on farming holiday experience.
For the last few minutes before the event closed for the day, I took a stroll through the main gallery bays seeing lots of happy family faces. I merrily passed on my happy product reviews having bought many an item from said Country Living exhibitors. There was also plenty of good retail display to choose from, with similar sized stalls packed in closely together, its more of a challenge to stand out. To name just a few that I liked:
Radiance London – Garden Art & Design – La de Dah Living – Cornish Bright – Charlotte Macey – Amanda Ross – Lovely Jubbly Designs – Rustique Interiors – Greige – Parma Violet
On the way out the door I took a moment to look at the great display from Lucy Summers returning again this year, loved the pastel beach huts! It emits emotions of the seaside which makes me think of home, as I live by the coast. Which is where I returned to, tired out and pretty happy after the fair. Done for another year or at least until the Christmas fair comes around….