Forget about the big things. You can keep the necessities. Don't tell us about the must-haves. In the first of a new series, Country Life's Alexandra Fraser takes a look at a few little luxuries which, in a world too full of strife and woe, will help ease your way through life with a smile on your face.
The great thinkers through the ages have always known how important it is for all of us to think beyond our everyday needs and examine other beauties. ‘The superfluous, a very necessary thing,’ was how Voltaire put it.
Oscar Wilde, of course, tried to out-do him. ‘Let me be surrounded by luxury,’ he once declared. ‘I can do without the necessities!’
We’re not sure we’d go that far – especially not at a time of year when it’s getting colder, and necessities like paying the gas bill to ensure we can keep the central heating going seem pretty sound.
But so often it’s the little things in life that make the difference, so each week we’ll be collecting a few things which make us laugh, coo with pleasure and, yes, reach for the credit card. Enjoy.
I’m ready for my closeup
Phone cameras are fine. Great, even – not least because, as the old saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. But there are times when an iPhone camera just wont cut it, perhaps because you’re going somewhere incredible for an overseas adventure, desperately need the absolute best-possible quality for snaps of your kids playing with Lego, or are dealing with a failing battery that shuts off despite being 98% charged. (Ah, the wonders of technology. Probably my fault for excessive use in the name of online shopping.)
Thankfully, Leica are taking a step back in time with their limited edition Leica Q Globe-Trotter camera, contrived with the high-end luggage makers themselves.
The camera is encased in specially chosen Globe-Trotter leather – either navy blue or baby pink – and this case is in turn encased in a Globe-Trotter case (say case one more time, I dare you) designed specifically for the project, based off the old nine-inch Mini Trotter. As you’d expect with Leica, the astounding craftsmanship and quality comes at a price £4,500 from leicastore-mayfair.co.uk so if you are going adventuring overseas, best be careful you don’t drop this down a canyon. Leica has only produced 50 pieces in each colour, so if this captures your interest then head to one of the Leica stores as soon as you can.
Well(ies), I guess we were due some rain…
There’s no point in denying it any longer as the Halloween party invitations come pouring in and some sorry fellow in the corner of the office prematurely hums along to Jingle Bells: we’re well and truly into autumn. With this sad acknowledgement comes one single, solitary ray of hope – it just might be time to update your wellingtons.
If the monumental task of finding a new pair of walking companions has fallen to you this year, then your first stop must be our genuinely brilliant Top 10 wellies guide. But if you’re in such a hurry you can’t even bear to follow that link, you can instead find this gorgeously, dare I say joyously, lined boot for an absolute steal at just under £70 from Barbour.
I’m not going to say that they are the most budget friendly wellingtons you can buy (because, let’s face it, I would be blatantly lying), but out of the latest releases from the top five brands at the moment, Barbour does seam to be the most reasonable. An added bonus: they’ll probably match your old wax jacket, even if you are considering changing it for a trusty quilted one as the weather continues to turn.
Barbour Cleadon Wellington Boot, £69.95 from www.barbour.com.
Cheese-maker Phillip Rainbow has produced a product with a flavour as colourful as his name. Pennard Ridge (£39/per kg from www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk) is a pale cream goats’ cheese made to a Caerphilly recipe that is so good that, at a recent tasting, I personally saw it reduce a grown man to tears.
I jest, of course. It wasn’t just the cheese, but the combination of the cheese with Berry Bros Grüner Veltliner (2016 Berry Bros. & Rudd Grüner Veltliner Weingeberge, Federspiel, Nikolaihof – £17.75 from www.bbr.com). It’s a match made in heaven, a perfect pairing guaranteed to impress at any dinner party… and maybe elicit a few tears from your more emotional guests. There’s an added bonus, too: with a wine from Austria, you can be sure to sound like a true connoisseur (‘Ah yes, a federspiel, don’t you enjoy the clarity of the Wachau classification method? Delightful!’).
Word of warning: be carefully when artistically swirling your wine in your glass while telling your guests about your trip to the Jugged Hare, I’m told an overly enthusiastic swirl can cause a large amount of spillage and not a little embarrassment, depending on the company. No personal experience in the matter, of course.
A gentleman’s tea like no other
The Jugged Hare is essentially a bustling City of London gastropub with something of a meat obsession – think mahogany tables and antlers on the walls. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not exactly the sort of place that you’d expect to start serving afternoon tea – a fine British institution intimately associated with the light-filled sitting rooms of central and west London.
Then again, this is anything but a normal afternoon tea: it’s all about meet and beer. And thus it feels like the perfect settling to enjoy this game tea, packed full of the delights of the Yorkshire countryside. Elements of our country’s favourite pastime remain – the cake stand is present and correct, for example, although it’s one that looks like it’s been made by a Glaswegian welder in order to properly support its weighty bounty. Cucumber sandwiches are still very much in residence too, but have also been filled with beautifully cooked pheasant – because who would want a sandwich that didn’t come without meat? Jam and scones are jettisoned in favour of meat fruit and hare sliders (mini-hamburgers, to the uninitiated) while the pièce de résistance has to be a delightful game consommé served in teacups. Actually, no, it’s probably the ‘wine flight’ of sublime cask ales that accompany the entire affair to quench your thirst.
See the full menu and book for the tea at thejuggedhare.com.
Take a walk in the name of charity… and fashion
Seven & Sole are producing these Athena mules in collaboration with MIND, meaning 10% of all sales profits will be donated to the mental health charity. The rather gorgeous petrol velvet is softened by the embroidered silhouette of a bird, making these shoes useable as everything from dinner party wear to house slippers – although we wouldn’t recommend running outside to grab the newspaper when it’s raining.
A gin tasting getaway
I could make a decent case for this being on Country Life’s (so-far-nonexistent) essential shopping list, but the wider, more rational office past my desk tells me I may be fighting an uphill battle. You gin some you lose some. The De Vere Wokefield Estate on the outskirts of Reading– which boasts a drop-dead gorgeous country house fit for the pages of our magazine – has teamed up with Bombay Sapphire to produce something of even great beauty than the estate itself: a gin-fuelled mini break.
The price seems very reasonable at £154 (use the code GINLOVERS on the website): it covers a night’s stay for two in one of the hotel’s luxury rooms, a three-course dinner at the brand new restaurant, two tickets to Self-Discovery Experience at the nearby Bombay Sapphire distillery and a hearty breakfast the next morning (after all that self discovery, you may need it). Early Christmas present, anyone?
Our Luxury editor’s latest find – straight from the pages of Country Life.
‘The newly revamped Fox & Pheasant in Chelsea (www.thefoxandpheasant.com), now owned by James Blunt, feels as if your favourite country boozer has been picked up and plonked in a quaint mews street in SW10. Sample some of the pub’s own cucumber-infused gin in the bar, then step through to the new conservatory restaurant (right), jaw-droppingly pretty with twinkly lit trees, cosy booths and a retractable roof, weather permitting. Never fear, staunch regulars, the pub is just as charming and old-fashioned as ever, ideal for both a raucous celebration (there’s a private room for hire) or an intimate evening for two – the perfect first-date spot, in fact.
‘Every mouthful of our food was a delight: Cornish crab, cured salmon, avocado and seaweed cracker, then juicy pork fillet and belly with apple and hispi cabbage. For pudding, try the buttermilk panna cotta and pistachio cake. Two courses with wine cost from about £80 for two.’
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London's leading game restaurant releases a rustic take on a very British classic with pheasant sandwiches and hare scones aplenty