Monday, 23 April 2012

Love This! The Grazing Goat, London

When I first started working on the idea that eventually became West Egg, I quickly got into the habit of writing down notes on different things I found inspiring, interesting or just fun. I'm sure you know the kind of thing - favourite places, great tips, beautiful stationery, great interior ideas, and making notes on some great finds. This weekend just gone I ran a Furniture Painting workshop in Suffolk on Saturday and Sunday was my day off. With my husband away, I ear-marked the afternoon for some hard-core organisation. I was probably a bit optimistic with what I could achieve in just one afternoon, in fact of the 8 things I wrote down, I did 2. But one of those two things was that I sorted out all the bits of paper, postcards, post-its and what not, and ended up with a pretty nice collection of things I absolutely love. 

Sharing these notes on this blog and also on the Nest Egg blog seemed to be the natural solution to cataloguing them. So, here goes - my first post in the Love This! series. 

Tucked away on New Quebec Street in London's Portman Village is the Grazing Goat. Billed as a country house style pub and hotel in town, the GG is run by the same team behind The Thomas Cubitt, The Pantechnicon and the Orange. Their winning formula is simple enough: bustling (some say heaving) downstairs bar, beautifully lit and airy first floor dining rooms with private dining available, and at the Orange and the Grazing Goat there are also hotel rooms upstairs. As with the other venues, the Grazing Goat quickly established itself as a must-visit neighbourhood haunt.

The interior design and styling of the Grazing Goat pretty much encapsulates classic British heritage. The oak panelling and muted tones create such a laid-back, rustic feel that the first time I visited, I temporarily forgot I was in London altogether. In terms of simplicity and charm, it is right up my street. I love this look because it's classic, comfortable and relaxing. I love the decorative accessories they have used in such a clever way making the rooms feel cosy but uncluttered.

I first visited the Grazing Goat with a group of friends for Sunday lunch. We were a fairly large group of 10, with some annoying requests - no dairy (me), place to store a suitcase (me) and various late arrivals (not me). The waiting staff were so accommodating and nothing was too much trouble. Our waitress was cheerful and attentive, the food and wine arrived at just the right times, and all in, it was a really relaxed and fun Sunday lunch. The British menu is simple and excellent, we chose from a set menu because of the size of the table but there was a great choice and all the food arrived perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious. 

I guess the only real downside of the Grazing Goat is that it does get super busy. Their winning formula is, well, winning, so do book ahead if you want to visit. 

Oh, and if you're wondering why it's called the Grazing Goat, it takes its name from the original usage of the land. In 1532 Sir William Portman acquired the land which was used for pig farming but also as grazing land for goats. The reason? Lady Portman was allergic to cow's milk so she kept goats to provide her with an alternative. Feeling so much better about my dairy intolerance now. 

All images courtesy of The Grazing Goat.
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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Guest Blog || 7 Great Discoveries

Hi everyone, I'm Debbie Blott and I run The Decor Cafe in Putney, South West London. Louisa and I hosted another hugely successful Painted Furniture Workshop on Saturday which I took part in for the first time, so I thought it would be fun to share the 7 great discoveries I made.

I have a significant birthday coming up in a few weeks and I really can’t believe that I am saying this but “I met Louisa through twitter.” Yay! And I am so glad that I did. 

I have a different kind of interiors business - it is a new collaborative approach to interior design and home-making and when Louisa mentioned she was looking for a venue to hold her Painted Furniture Workshops it was a perfect match. We jointly host the workshops at The Decor Cafe's global headquarters (aka my house) once a month and they are incredible (yes I am enthusiastic by nature, but believe me they really are).

So, here are my 7 great discoveries:

1. It’s all about the people

You might think that a painted furniture workshop is about painting furniture. Wrong. It is really about the energy and connection that flows between the presenter and the people attending.  I only work with presenters that I love and as a result I don’t think that we have ever had a workshop or event where everyone hasn’t had a great time sharing, learning and creating.

2. It is possible to totally transform a piece of furniture in a short day

Take a look for yourself –  5 pieces of neglected furniture were transformed into 5 stunning creations with Louisa’s experienced and encouraging coaching. Below is my "Before & After" makeover. 

3. The fun bit isn’t what you paint on – it is what you take off

If you had asked me before Saturday what I was looking forward to I would have said the painting. And it was fun choosing the colours and slapping on some paint (yup I am hideously slapdash – don’t bore me with preparation, cutting in and leading edges, it is just never going to happen) but the creativity really starts when you start the distressing – deciding just how shabby you want your chic etc.

4. Painting furniture unleashes creativity you never knew existed

There is always a certain amount of nervousness amongst some of the people that come who wouldn’t describe themselves as “creative” or even very hands-on when it come to interiors. But there needn’t be – it isn’t difficult and you get to take endless creative decisions throughout the process.  Which colours to use? One or two? Fine or coarse sanding? Light or dark wax? Plain or crackled effect etc etc. It is a surprisingly absorbing process.

5. It is a very special thing to do with your mother or daughter

I am a bit obsessed with the traditions and skills that used to be handed down through families for generations and have been lost – I think we are really missing something. Not that I don’t love Britain’s got Talent but painting furniture is a creative activity that it is very special to share. It brings you close whilst you are doing it and you are left with something lovely in your home that is a great reminder of that special day and relationship.

6. You don’t need to have a piece of furniture to take part

A lot of people have a small table, cupboard or mirror at home that could do with a revamp, but if you don’t it doesn’t matter. You can pick up a piece of furniture incredibly inexpensively in charity shops (Trinity Hospice is a great source in Putney) or you can do picture frames, some small boxes...anything really – it doesn’t even have to be wood.

7. Be warned it is addictive! 

There is going to be no sitting on the sidelines for me any more – I am going to be getting involved on a regular basis, so if you have a piece of furniture that needs transforming, come along to one of our workshops to learn the skills and then apply them to any piece in your home! 

Our next workshop dates are Tuesday 15th May, Saturday 16th June and Friday 22nd June. Click here to learn more and book your place!

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