Monday, 22 December 2014

December's Wealden Wellbeing...

  All I want for Christmas  

WT's Helen has come up with a little list of of the health and beauty products she would love to see under her tree this Christmas...

1.  Peppermint foot balm and citrus nail balm by Gwdihw (Goody hoo)

These little pots of joy are a must have for soft cuticles and pampered tootsies. With natural ingredients including beeswax, sweet almond and coconut oil, they're ideal for all skin types and great stocking fillers. They come in a handy metal pot ideal for popping in a hand bag to make it easy to apply throughout a chilly day. They're a real hoot!

2. Ultimate face cream from BeeInspired

This rich and indulgent face cream is delicately perfumed with bergamot, sandalwood and pine, three of my favourite woody essential oils. They are also made in combinations of Jasmine and rose and geranium and orange, as well as fragrance free for really sensitive skin. One pump of this little pot is enough to moisturise and treat your whole face and neck to a DIY facial, leaving it feeling fresh, supple and peachy. The husband and wife team at Bee Inspired keep their own bees, use their own bees wax and make everything from scratch, truly embracing natural health. £12.50

3. Wool fat shampoo and shower gel by Romney Marsh Wools

This shampoo and shower gel is packed full of lanolin, a fat that naturally occurs in wool. The amazing team at Romney Marsh Wools have had their flocks of sheep for six generations and intend on utilising and demonstrating the variety of products and benefits that British wool can bring. This junk free shampoo and shower gel is guaranteed to keep skin soft and hydrated throughout winter and beyond. It feels foamy and luxurious on the hair and skin, leaving it feeling clean and nourished. It's preservative free and isn't tested on animals. Perfect! £6.00 each

4. Earl Grey Tea flavoured lip balm by Sweet Cecily

With totally natural  ingredients and fragrant bergamot oil, this lip balm is definitely on my list of Christmas treats! As a tea lover, it means I can have that spicy, floral smell all day long. A little goes a long way with this little pot of herbal goodness and it keeps my lips soft and moisturised for hours. The packageing is delightful and is an absolute necessity for any make up bag. At only £2.95 we have a bargain on our hands!

5. Blue Dachshund sleep pillow by Olio of Oxney

This scented sleep pillow uses lavender from Provence to create the perfect addition to a goodnight routine, especially during the busy festive season! The high essential oil content means a strong, long lasting aroma. Take a fewdeep breaths and relax into the best beauty sleep you'll ever have! £12.95

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

December's Great Outdoors...

  Mid Winter Garden  

Although December can be a seemingly bleak time for our gardens, it's the perfect opportunity to get some odd jobs done, maintain our plants and make the most of those bright and sparkly early mornings before the day draws to an early end. Here are a few ideas...

1. Preparation...

Buy this gorgeous hamper here

Now is the perfect time to sit down with a cup of tea and browse some seed catalogues! Deciding what you want to grow in advance means you can prepare any specific pots or compost, clear a new area in the garden and make sure the soil is in good condition. It is at this point of the year where all the odd jobs that have been neglected up until now can be done, like cleaning algae off the patio or fixing that broken fence panel!

2. Wind and Frost...

Prune away! Make sure to cut back any shrubs and get rid of dead or diseased twigs and branches. You should try and trim your rose bushes back by half to protect them from potential wind damage and try not to walk on the lawn when it's particularly frosty, as you may end up with big brown footprints where the frozen brittle stalks have broken. 

3. Wrap up...

 If you have a greenhouse, then insulate it to protect any cuttings or tender plants you have been looking after. Bubble wrap is perfect for this. If it gets really cold, then add a second layer to ensure the little shoots stay cosy. However, if that beautiful winter sun does decide to make an appearance, open the windows and ventilate the greenhouse to prevent stale air and damp. 

4. Colour Splash...

If the lack of colour in your garden is bothering you, then pop to your local garden centre and grab something that's in bloom or has a pretty bark or foliage. Jasminum Mudiflorum, or Winter Jasmine, is not scented, but has a wealth of beautiful yellow flowers and will grow in most soils. Hamamelis Mollis, or Chinese Witch Hazel, is another little gem that crops up in the cold, smelling lovely with red and yellow hues.

5. Little Critters...

Remember to look after wildlife this winter! Keep the bird baths stocked up with water and make sure they have plenty of food (easy on the bread though). If you have a big pile of leaves or chopped wood in a corner of the garden, then leave it to create the perfect habitat for any insects or animals passing by to hibernate in. If you're going to do any major clearing, just double check you're not disturbing anything!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

WIN a men's Barbour waxed jacket and lambswool scarf to the value of £250 from County Clothes, Reigate

December's Surrey Competition...

To celebrate the launch of their new Reigate branch, County Clothes Menswear are offering Wealden Times readers the opportunity to win a Barbour wax jacket and lambswool scarf. Having been established for nearly forty years in Kent, County Clothes Menswear are pleased to have opened their third store, at 6 High Street, Reigate, to offer the same high standards of quality and personal service.
Amongst the varied range of clothing and accessories stocked at County Clothes, you will find traditional English shoes by Cheaney, sports jackets by Bladen and Scottish tweeds, together with cotton twill shirts and super soft lambswool, cotton and cashmere blended knitwear. County Clothes are also able to offer, in both the Reigate and Canterbury stores, a very comprehensive range of classic and lifestyle wax jackets, quilts, knitwear, shirts and accessories. A smaller selection of these are available in the Tenterden store, too. Find County Clothes branches at Reigate 01737 249224,
Canterbury 01227 765294 and Tenterden 01580 765159, follow them on Twitter or see

For your chance to win a Barbour waxed jacket and lambswool scarf, to the value of £250, from County Clothes, Reigate, just answer this question: ‘Where in Reigate have County Clothes opened their new branch?’ Post your answer to: The County Clothes Menswear Competition, Wealden Times, 21 Stone Street, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 3HF, email it to, or comment on this blog post by 16 January 2015.

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

December's Take Five...

  Easy Christmas Canapes  

This selection of Christmas canapés can be prepared in advance, giving you one less thing to worry about on the day. They are designed to be simple, yet delicious, with a homemade touch...

1. Brie and Cranberry Bites

Recipe: Jo Arnell ● Image: David Merewether

Prep time: Cooking time: ● Total time: ● Serves: 4

You will need:

● 1 pack ready rolled puff pastry (don't make your own - it's Christmas)  150g Brie dash of milk for brushing onto pastry  sprinkle of thyme or oregano to garnish (optional)

1. Cut the pastry into small rectangles, approx. 3x4cm (bite sized). Lay on a greased baking sheet and brush with milk.
2. Bake for 10 minutes in a pre-heated oven (gas 6/200°C). These can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container.
3. Thinly slice the Brie into pieces just smaller than the pastry rectangles
4. Remove pastry from the oven and cool.
5. Top with Brie slices and place under a hot grill for 30-60 seconds until just melted - watch closely!
6. Top with half a teaspoon of cranberry sauce and serve warm.

For the Cranberry Sauce...
● 200g fresh cranberries ● grated zest and juice of an orange ● 100g muscovado sugar (or to taste, depending on how tart you like it) ● ½ tsp ginger ● ½ tsp cinnamon

1. Put all the ingredients into a pan and cook over a low heat, stirring gently until the berries begin to break up a little and the sugar is dissolved.
2. Let the sauce bubble for 5 minutes or so, then cool and use. This will keep in the fridge for a week, or longer in the freezer.

2. Butternut Squash and Chilli Chestnut Rolls

  • Recipe: Tony Boyle ● Image: David Merewether

  • Makes approximately 12 canapés

  • You will need:

  • ● Small Butternut Squash ● 500g Saxby's Puff Pastry ● ½ Red Chilli ● ½ tsp Five Spice ● 1 tsp Ground Ginger ● 50g Soft Brown Sugar ● 150g Chestnuts (roasted)● 1 Egg whisked for egg wash


1. Peel and cut butternut squash into cubes, then roast in a little oil together with the sugar and five spice mix, allow to cool.

2. Finely chop the chilli and the chestnuts, and mash together with the butternut squash and ginger.

3. Roll out the puff pastry into long thin strips and place a little of the mixture in the centre of the puff pastry, brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash and fold over to form a roll.

4. Brush lightly with egg wash before placing in the oven to cook, until golden brown.

3. Pheasant and Prune in Parma Ham

Recipe: Tony Boyle ● Image: David Merewether

  • ● Make approximately 12 canapés 

  • You will need:

  • ● 
     Pheasant Breast 
    1 tsp Redcurrant Jelly 
    2 Rashers Streaky Bacon diced 
    25g Chopped Prunes 
    ¼ Onion finely chopped 
    1 tsp Chopped Tarragon 
    1 Clove of Garlic crushed 
    6 Slices Parma Ham 
    150ml Red Wine


1. Using a little oil, cook onion and bacon in a saucepan until onion is soft.

2. Add red wine, redcurrant jelly, prunes, garlic, tarragon and pheasant breast, cover and poach gently for 20 minutes.

3. Remove pheasant and chop into small pieces while reducing the liquid until thick and sticky.

4. Return the pheasant to the saucepan, add seasoning to taste and leave to cool.

5. Slice the Parma ham in half lengthways, place a small amount of the cooled pheasant mixture onto each piece of Parma ham, then roll up to form a bite-sized canapé. 

6. Warm in the oven before serving.

4. Mini Meringues

Recipe: Caroline Cowan ● Image: David Merewether

● serves 20 ● preparation time 30 mins ● cooking time approx 25 mins

You will need:
  • ● 2 egg whites ● 125g caster sugar ● 1/2 tsp vanilla extract ● fruit of your choice


1. Preheat oven to 120C.

2. Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until the meringue holds soft peaks

3. Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until the whites are stiff and glossy. Fold in vanilla extract.

4. Using the tip of 2 teaspoons place small teaspoon-sized amounts of meringue on to a baking sheet about 2.5cm apart.

5. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Cool in the oven.

6. Decorate with whipped double cream and fruit of your choice. We opted for fresh figs and clementines.

5. Almond Nut Brittle with Orange Zest

Words: Nicki Trench ● Image: David Merewether

You will need:

  • ● 200 g (7 oz) whole almonds, blanched ● 450 g (14 oz) granulated sugar ● 2 tbsp golden syrup ● 100 g (3½ oz) flaked almonds ● finely grated zest of 1 orange

Method:1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.

2. Spread the whole almonds in a 23 cm (9 in) square baking tin, lined with baking parchment. Gently roast in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until they are light golden. Set aside.

3. Put the sugar and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan and heat over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved and reaches the soft-crack stage, 132°C (270°F) on a sugar thermometer, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and stir in the flaked almonds and orange zest.

4. Pour the sugar syrup into the baking tin and flatten slightly with a metal spoon. Leave to cool.

5. When the brittle is completely solid, turn it out onto a work surface or chopping board and break it up into shards using a small hammer or rolling pin. Store in an airtight container.

For more recipes and festive cooking inspiration, have a look here!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

December's Interior Inspiration

  Simple Paper Christmas Decorations  

Christmas is a busy and expensive time of year. We all want the perfectly decorated house, perfect food, perfect gifts, but it can be tricky to keep up with it all whilst staying level headed. So here are 3 simple, affordable and beautiful decoration tutorials to give you a helping hand...

1. Two Tone Origami Bauble

Start with two squares of paper, plain, patterned, coloured, whatever takes your fancy. We used pearled for a subtle festive feel. Fold the paper diagonally both ways and top to bottom both ways. Bring the corners into the centre. 

Fold the corners up to be in line with the centre crease. Do this to all the corners  and cut off the tops.

With the opening facing you, unfold one corner, open it up and flatten it out. Repeat this on the other sides.

With the opening still facing you, making sure there are an even amount of folds on either side of the triangle shape, fold up these little corners and repeat this all the way round, ensuring each fold is crisp.
Unfold it carefully and crease the corners so they end up facing inside. Repeat the whole process for your other piece of paper and glue them together.

2. Easy Peasy Pompom

Start with a few sheets of tissue paper. This can be as big or as small as you like. Go wild! Fold them together alternately, length ways to create a concertina, tie round the middle and trim off the edges into points or curves. 

Gently pull apart the layers of tissue paper and pop them on the tree!

3. Spiral Snowflake

With a square of card, a pencil and ruler, mark out lines, working towards the centre, about 1 cm apart. Using a craft knife, cut along your lines, leaving a gap at two opposing corners.

Gently curl the other two opposing corners to meet each other and fix with glue or tape. Repeat this process for each of the corners, alternating which side they meet. 


December's Competition!

WIN dinner and drinks for up to 8 people, to the value of £250, the The Bull Inn, Rolvenden

The Bull Inn, Rolvenden, is a family run pub located within 3 miles of Tenterden. Talented head chef Pavlos prides himself on a fresh, home cooked, traditional pub menu made using locally sourced produce that’s beautifully presented. Savour a selection of Kent real ales, lagers, fine wines and nonalcoholic drinks as well as teas and Italian ground coffee. The Bull can cater for all dietary requirements, so whether you are a strict vegetarian, gluten free or a coeliac, dishes can be adapted
accordingly. The Bull’s monthly food theme nights are bustling enjoyable events with a wonderful atmosphere, which means that prebooking is essential. A very popular venue for Christmas
Parties and functions, why not pay a visit for lunch in the cosy restaurant, book in for dinner or pop in and sit at the striking central bar to have a drink with friends? Children and dogs are welcome, so it’s an ideal destination for the whole family over the Christmas period.
For more information, and to book your table, call 01580 241212 or see

For your chance to win dinner & drinks for up to 8 people, to the value of £250, at The Bull Inn, Rolvenden, just answer this question: ‘What is the name of The Bull’s head chef?’ Enter your answer with your contact details* in the online form at, comment on this blog post or post to: The Bull Inn Rolvenden Competition, Wealden Times, 21 Stone Street, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 3HF by 16 January 2015.