Wind Catchers

wind turb

The difference between these two wind catchers is not really that great yet lots of people detest the new wind turbines castigating them as blots on the landscape but love the older type with their massive sails. Time moves on regardless. Did people object to the rather hideous telegraph poles that connect millions of telephones in millions of homes. Now with mobile phones and The Cloud, we communicate wirelessly and instantly. Time moves on.  mill 208571 480

It is the same with furniture. Some people moan about the use of staples instead of small tacks to do upholstery works and talk about the ‘good old days’. I am sure, though, that traditional old-school upholsterers would have been quite happy to use the new electric-driven tools, especially as homes and workshops got lighting that was electricity- rather than candle-powered. We adapt, move on and are really quite grateful for modern ‘inventions’.  

UK retailers are having to become more lateral thinking in the furniture they sell. There are a lot of new retailers out there offering innovative pieces at a fair price. A lot of this is imported and that has progressed a long way itself. Some retailers used to buy containers full of furniture from the Far East, ship it across the high seas and then sell it into warm, centrally-heated houses, and wonder why wood shrank, doors no longer fitted, and panels fell apart. Thankfully too, the popularity of shiny bi-cast leather on sofas and chairs is declining. The problem with imported furniture is that, should you have an accident and need some restoration work carried out, it is hard to match what you have. Vietnamese, for example, lacquering skills and products are different to those used in the UK, and Chinese-made upholstery fabrics will be hard to source.

There is much more throw-away furniture now and with it becoming relatively more affordable, I don’t think we really intend to keep a piece for ever. It should do the job at the time of purchase but most of us, I think, opt for an occasional change. Yes, tables, whether solid or veneered, can be refinished; sofas and armchairs can be recovered. It is not the cheaper option and you must (really) like the furniture to go that route. Traditional, solid furniture is still, of course, available and you do pay the extra price for the additional labour required.

Trends change as do our preferences. Not like the wind, but more like the wind catchers - slowly, over time, and like a nice red wine.

Henry VIII

Henry MaryRose... was the original Brand Image Maintenance icon if ever there was one.  If you saw the recent documentary on Hampton Court Palace, you might have thought that it was the start of a Tudor Grand Designs series. Henry VIII had over 50 palaces by the end of his reign during which he embarked on a never-seen-before campaign of courtly magnificence and splendour.

Hampton Court chimneys 6Henry VIII's palaces made bold statements. Go to Hampton Court and be in awe of the intricate designs of the many chimeys that dominate the palace roof tops. Yet these chimneys were functional and all connected to heated rooms. Henry was anxious that his guests - whom he was no doubt trying to impress as being at the cutting edge of fashion - should have the luxuries of the day.

Braking rules was also one of this monarch's characteristics. His volatile relationship with his wives and the Church blew like the wind, and his palace design preferences were no less ecletic. They were a melting pot of his love of gothic, classical, medieval and Italian Renaissance and bearing in mind that each palace would have taken years to build, their individual design would have echoed the trends of the day.  Non the less impressive in that visitors to the royal court would have updated the king on what was in vogue elsewhere in the world, which he would, of course, feel the need to copy. No harm in that; that's what makes the world go round. We do it to this day.

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Land of Tweed and Gin

Gin bottleBorn from a love of the island’s natural assets, a desire to improve its economy and a campaign to promote the Isle to a wider international audience, the Isle of Harris ‘Social Distillery’ came into being, no doubt helped by a healthy community spirit and a love to party. In 2015 the Isle of Harris Gin was developed and became so successful that there was a temporary lull in availability last summer.

Harvested by local divers, sugar kelp is key to defining the taste of their gin and reflects the influence of the surrounding seas. Hand-harvested by a local diver, this natural & sustainable ingredient complements the wider botanical aspects of the gin's profile. One suggestion is to drink it neat... maybe with ice! Sugar kelp

Also in the offing, a single malt whisky The Hearach is being developed - distilled, matured and bottled on the island. Watch this space I think!



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The Hospitality Show 2017

Fresssh Image visited the Great Hospitality Show at the NEC last week. Lots of modern non-white table crockery, glassware and catering equipment on show. Particularly impressive was the Rational's new SelfCookingCentre – only because we got to taste big lamb bites straight out of the oven.

raw dishAlmost next door and in aroma distance was @FairmontMainLtd with their new tableware studio pottery RAW design.

Interesting to see only one table linen offering there – clearly showing a move away from starched white linen covered tables to the barer and more casual trend. Less expensive to maintain with no laundry but more expensive up-front as you must buy a reasonably good looking table and not just a round of mdf that you have to cover up.

Also at the show a couple of micro salad/leaf companies. This is a growth market; one notch on from Rooftop to Salad Plate menus and showcasing subtle food plate finishing touches. Westlands in the Vale of Evesham have a great website with fine mini leaves, sea herbs and edible flower heads. Koppert Cress, producers of a hugh range of cresses from around the world, have set up in the UK and are launching free Academy ‘Cressperience’ days. These micro leaves and cresses are becoming more and more available to the general public but you still need to search.

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Fressshening up with Wool

IlkleyThe owners of these (originally) great looking chairs have decided that it's high time they improved their seating if they wish to maintain their upmarket pub's brand image.  Can't say I disagree.

They have been covered in 100% wool fabric - tartan check and herringbone designs. They are by nature fairly fine fabrics which, in itself, make them more easily worn. Spills and stains show up more readily on plainer fabrics and the paler the colour the more the stains will show.  

So we have to source some suitable replacement fabrics to match or compliment the backs which are in good condition and don't need to be replaced. The leather corners on the tartan chair have probably been placed there as front edges and arms on chairs are areas of high rub. This, however, has left the middle front exposed to become a weak spot.  The gold studs have a mainly decorative purpose but may hide some stapling.

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