Summer is well and truly here – having arrived in a blaze of sunshine and proper, shouldn’t-we-be-on-holiday? heat.
Think of our latest collection as a sartorial holiday on a tropical island. We’ve taken bold and beautiful prints in vividly fresh greens, and ocean blues. There’s a hint of ikat, a dash of leaf print, and even a smattering of leopard. This is a drop for the pattern lovers out there. We’ve tweaked the sell-out DDE Aubrielle dress for the summer (she’s a tiny bit more free-flowing for high summer) – choose between green leaves or a bright blue block print. How about a one-shoulder ruffle sundress in leopard print? Or – you asked, we designed – separates in a mix-and-match patchwork print. Felicity gets a seasonal update – and looks gorgeous in batik. Of course, there’s our usual attention to detail: contrast scalloped edges, ric rac trims, and ruffles galore.
Perfect sundress aside, our summer highlights include: long, cool drinks, picnics, festivals (see our festival collection here), weekends spent by the sea – or, failing that, in the garden, day trips, reading in a well-placed deckchair, and lazy dinners are eaten al fresco in the balmy evening air, candles flickering and conversation flowing. If this sounds up your street, we can help with several of the above – read on for more.
This month, you’ll mostly find us…
The Insider’s Guide to the Isle of Wight
Sustainable fashion champion Hannah Rochell blogs about “slow comfortable style” at En Brogue. and lives on the Isle of Wight. The snapshots of sun-soaked sea swims and island life that she shares on Instagram give us lifestyle envy. She’s opened her secret address book for us: read it and you’ll find yourself booking a trip immediately.
The meal with a view - True Food Kitchen at Castlehaven, Niton
Nestled at the bottom of a winding unmade road overlooking the English Channel, True Food Kitchen is well worth the trek for the view alone. But then the food - oh, the food! Freshly caught fish (it changes daily depending on what’s seasonal) comes served as seafood curries and even monk dogs, a fishy take on the traditional sausage. You’ll need to check the weather before you head here for a meal as there is only outdoor seating, but even a stiff wind is worth putting up with for the delicious food on offer. Plus, if it’s in the right direction, you might be able to watch a world-class windsurfer while you dine.
The vibesy cocktail bar - The Drunken Lobster, Ventnor
This little gem serves delicious cocktails, including an excellent selection of non-alcoholic tipples, and small plates of delicious pan asian dishes including prawn har gau dumplings, tempura avocado and goma seaweed, perfect for sharing. Painted a rich, dark green and adorned with chandeliers and candles, it’s a far cry from the ubiquitous beach-themed decor that’s so popular here (which I also love but you know, a change is nice). It’s owned by the same people who have the excellent Smoking Lobsters on Ventnor seafront and in Cowes, but this branch is by far my favourite because of the intimate decor and the fact that it’s dog friendly. If you have time, pop to the Ventnor Exchange around the corner for a coffee/pre dinner drink/vinyl purchase.
The all-round experience - Harvey Browns, Arreton
When some friends from London stayed with me last autumn, we spent an hour and a half at Harvey Browns, which markets itself as an Isle of Wight food experience (accurate). First we had breakfast (delicious), then we took some obligatory pictures with the pumpkin display (had to be done), before strolling around the lake and finally, actually buying some brilliant fresh produce from the well-stocked food hall, which is huge. During the summer months you can take advantage of the Sunset Sessions on selected Fridays, with Hotbox Pizzas (highly recommend) and great music. Check their Instagram for dates.
The vintage gems - Ryde
For vintage shopping, I am including the entire town of Ryde. Because it really has everything. You could start with off the best-stocked charity shops I’ve ever come across; we picked up a vintage G-Plan sideboard for £50 in the Earl Mountbatten Hospice Shop, for example, and the majority of my own donations go to the Cancer Research Shop (my Greek grandmother volunteered there for 20 years and I know she’d be pleased with me). Then there’s The Velvet Pig, a clothing store run by Zac and Connor who have the most incredible eye for flamboyant goodies and Gucci bamboo handbags, as well as Dig For Vintage (a selection of clothing and homewares), Antiek (homeware) and Jaks, which is great for mid-century furniture, vases and lighting.
The traditional pub - The Taveners, Godshill
Godshill is a chocolate box-pretty village, and while it’s true that its thatched cottages attract a lot of tourists, The Taverners has managed to avoid any cliches in spite of its 17th Century heritage, complete with oak beams and flagstone floors. The proprietors, Tim and Emma, are passionate about locally sourced food, so you’ll find dishes including braised beef and local ale pie, local butchers sausages and seasonal crumble on the menu; the pub also caters brilliantly for vegetarians and vegans. If you time it right on a summer evening, you might catch the local pétanque league playing in the garden.
Five of the Best Beach Reads
Packing essentials: a great dress (naturally), sunscreen, at least one brilliant book. Bookworm, writer and editor Natasha Poliszczuk (get her book recommendations on Instagram and her weekly newsletter, Book(ish) has rounded-up five of the best reads for this summer.
There’s such a glut of great books around this summer, it’s tricky to narrow it down to just five, but any one of these – or all of them if you’re anything like me… - would be a brilliant addition to your holiday. Note: they’re also perfect for reading in a deckchair in the garden.
Hello Beautiful – Ann Napolitano
A beautiful, tender and wise contemporary reimaging of Little Women, with a cast so vividly drawn in all their flaws and idiosyncrasies (and their love), that they feel entirely real. One of the most moving – and best – books you’ll read this year, let alone this summer.
Same Time Next Summer – Annabel Monaghan
Monaghan writes witty, charming, whip-smart, sun-drenched books with hugely likeable characters. Her latest outing captures the all-consuming headiness of first love and those teen summers which imprint themselves on your heart. Sam thinks she has her act together – but what if it’s just that: an act? The unexpected reappearance of her first love throws her life completely off-kilter.
The Housekeepers – Alex Hay
Quite possibly the most fun you can have with a book – think an Ocean’s 11-style heist caper transported to Edwardian London. The housekeeper of Park Lane’s grandest house has been dismissed in disgrace – but she has no intention of going quietly. She assembles a group of below-stairs women to help her with heist of the century. It’s already been optioned for TV and it’s easy to see why: it’s an absolute blast.
Pineapple Street – Jenny Jackson
If you’re fascinated by the lives and loves of the one-per-centers (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?) get your hands on this sparkling debut, which follows three women in a wealthy New York family (two sisters, one ‘interloper’ sister-in-law) as they grapple with inheritance guilt, class, love, and extreme privilege. Astute, clever, witty – the most delicious treat.
Homecoming – Kate Morton
When the beloved grandmother who raised Jess has a fall, Jess hastens from London to he native Australia. Back in the sprawling family home, Darling House, Jess stumbles across a connection between her grandmother and a 60-year-old mystery, in which a beautiful young mother and her children were found dead after a riverside picnic. What unfolds is part thriller, part study of the nature of home and belonging, part reflection on motherhood and family. Gorgeous, gripping stuff.
Open House Deli’s Spicy Black Rice Salad
Not only is Open House Deli our local (excellent) coffee and cake venue (it’s located directly below our studio), it’s a sustainable, eco-conscious hero, serving fresh, seasonal, completely delicious food. Their sell-out salads are a particular highlight, so we’ve persuaded them to share one of their favourite recipes. (Find them at 4a Middle Brook Street and on Instagram @openhousedeli)
This salad is the perfect BBQ accompaniment, and with corn on the cob coming into season it is an absolute crowd pleaser. Be warned: the dressing does add a bit of a kick!
For 4 - 6 people as a side salad
500g flat mushrooms, sliced
¼ savoy cabbage, thinly chopped
200g black rice
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
1 handful chopped coriander
For the dressing
1tsp chipotle flakes
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 garlic clove, minced
2 limes, juiced
100ml good quality olive oil
- Roast the flat mushrooms - either in the oven at 200 degrees/gas mark 6 or on the BBQ, for about 20 minutes.
- Whilst the mushrooms are roasting, boil the black rice according to packet instructions (or about 15 minutes until still slightly chewy).
- Either boil the sweetcorn or cook on the BBQ and then slice off the corn.
- Add the black rice, spring onions, coriander and rocket into a bowl with the sliced savoy cabbage.
- To make the dressing, put the chipotle flakes, harissa paste, and garlic clove into a bowl. Add the lime juice and then slowly add the oil from a little height to thicken. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour over the rice salad - and serve. Enjoy!
Cabinet Rooms Positive Drinking Margarita
Cabinet Rooms is a small, independent café-bar in Winchester, serving speciality coffee, homemade cakes and delicious, craft cocktails. Positioned opposite The Theatre Royal in the amazing De Lunn Buildings on Jewry Street, you will go past it if you get the train to WInchester and walk into town (or our studio).
Positive Drinking Margarita
Aqua Riva Tequila, Fresh Lime Juice, Agave Syrup
15ml Organic Agave Syrup
25ml Fresh Lime Juice (about 1 limes worth)
35ml Aqua Riva Tequila
Pop all of the above in a shaker with lots of ice- and SHAKE for 30 secs
Pour over ice and enjoy.