Although we've had an incredibly mild winter this year the temperatures have dipped a little lately and the colder weather always takes its toll on my skin. I've been testing out some new hand and body balms from the Version Originale range by Compagnie de Provence. The fragrances are so lovely that I've become slightly obsessed with applying the hand balm just so that I can inhale a delicate waft of it while I'm sat at my desk! Enriched with organic olive oil it's nourishing and non greasy and there are three captivating fragrances to choose from - Black Jasmine, Incense Lavender and Anise Patchouli, which combines the sensuality of Patchouli with the fresher notes of Anise and is the one I seem to have developed something of an addiction to. The range also includes soaps and 100% vegetable wax scented candles.
February is always a month when a short break in the countryside seems particularly appealing. Yes, the weather can be unpredictable, but there's nothing quite like the welcome of a cosy country inn with good food and roaring log fires at this time of year. And of course you get to avoid the crowds that often flock to the more scenic parts of the UK during the warmer summer months.
It's been some years since I last stayed in the Lake District, so last week we packed our walking boots, some precautionary wet weather gear and the whippet into the back of the car and headed north to Cumbria.
The Eltermere Inn is located in the pretty village of Elterwater in the Langdale Valley, one of the most beautiful parts of the Lake District and a haven for walkers, as well as those in search of somewhere scenic to stay for a romantic short break. We arrived early and were blessed with fine weather, so there was plenty of time for an easy low level jaunt around the lake before checking in. The hotel is surrounded by some of the finest walking country in the Lake District and there are excellent clearly signposted, well drained routes all around Elterwater. For those who prefer something a little more challenging then the Langdale Pikes are quite literally right on your doorstep.
The Eltermere is an attractive and characterful old house with many interesting Georgian features. A plaque next to the front door indicates that the main house in its present form dates back to 1756, but parts of it appear to be even older. Large windows allow light in and there are several pretty window seats in the rooms at the front of the house from which you can quietly sit and enjoy the tranquility and uninterrupted views out over Elterwater.
The interiors are elegant and thoughtfully designed, evoking the feeling of a tasteful, well-appointed family home, and the colour palettes draw inspiration from the Lakeland landscape outside - warm coppery shades of bracken, country tweeds and sludgy neutrals. There are soft woollen carpets, comfortable fireside chairs, individually chosen artworks and sculptures and generous swathes of curtain.
Soon after checking in we found ourselves next to the cosy inglenook in the bar being welcomed with a pot of tea and a slice of homemade Victoria Sponge. Later on in the evening we returned to the same spot for dinner, lured back by the comforting crackle of the fire. The food at The Eltermere is excellent - hearty, tasty and exactly what we were craving after our walk earlier in the day. The beetroot and apple soup was warming and vibrant - the perfect comfort dish for a cold February evening - and the sausage and mash, always a favourite of mine, was equally enjoyable.
We were travelling with Albert, our dog, on this occasion, something we don't always do as it can obviously be quite restrictive, and so the Eltermere very kindly accommodated us in Stone Arthur - a room located in an old stone cottage adjacent to the main house. This was ideal as it had direct access to the outside, so we were able to easily pop in and out with the dog without disturbing the other guests (or worrying about leaving a trail of muddy paw prints throughout the hotel).
All of the rooms are individually designed and furnished with luxurious fabrics and carefully chosen pieces of furniture - I particularly loved the elegant oak dressing table in ours. Some have roll top baths and many have lake views.
The following morning, set up for the day with an excellent breakfast, we ventured further into the Langdale Pikes. Despite the ominous clouds the rain again held off and we were rewarded with stunningly moody views and magical slivers of light.
The Eltermere is a lovely place to stay in an idyllic and romantic location. In addition to the great food, welcoming fires, elegant interiors and stunning Lakeland views, guests can also enjoy a private jetty for fishing on the lake and the pool and spa facilities at The Langdale nearby. Sadly we didn't manage to fit in a spa session on this occasion, but we left already planning our next visit.
The Eltermere Inn, Elterwater, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9HY
Photography: Design Hunter
Design Hunter was a guest of The Eltermere.
It really is almost Spring now isn't it? The weather has been so unseasonably mild this year that the bulbs have been poking their heads up here for a few weeks now, and there is even blossom on the trees. One of the projects on my to-do list this Spring is tackling our utility room - of all the rooms in our house it is definitely the most neglected.
Utility rooms need to be designed to accommodate a wide range of objects and activities. Ours houses the washing machine and tumble drier plus an assortment of mismatched laundry bins and baskets, the ironing board, Albert whippet's bed (despite his persistent attempts to be allowed to sleep in the bedroom with us) and Mr P's bike and various other items of cycling apparel and accessories.
So it doesn't currently bear any resemblance to the beautifully clean, calm and orderly laundry room spaces from the latest Brabantia collection in today's post.
Picking out some colour coordinated storage sounds like a good place to start. I particularly like this grey foldable laundry basket, a versatile piece which you could also easily use for storing magazines or toys, or for transporting things up and down the stairs when tidying up. It has a clean, minimal Scandi look, can be used for either wet or dry laundry and folds flat, so that it takes up hardly any space when you're not using it.
Also on my shopping list is a drying rack. There are lots of things that I don't like to put in the tumble drier and finding somewhere to dry knitwear is always a problem as it has to be laid flat, so I'm thinking of a neat hanging drying rack that will fit over the door like this one.
Our laundry room is currently a fairly lifeless space, so I'd like to introduce some plants. I don't have a great track record with houseplants so I'm not sure how successful this will be in a room that experiences quite a lot of variation in temperature and conditions. If you have any suggestions for easy-to-care-for plants that would do well in a warm, humid environment I'd love to hear them.
I can't wait to invest in a new ironing board as the rickety old contraption we've owned for years is long overdue for an upgrade. Yes, I know it's hard to get excited about something as functional as an ironing board, but everyday tasks do become just that little bit easier when you invest in good quality, stylish practical design. Ironing isn't nearly so much of a chore since I splashed out on a decent steam generator iron a few months ago and, whilst I'm clearly never going to love ironing, I am persuaded that a new ironing board might be a further step towards learning not to loathe it quite so much.
Posted in collaboration with Brabantia.