We have been privileged to have been asked to host an exhibition of Tessa Newcomb’s latest work. Tessa’s unique paintings have a fascinating charm and the exhibition inspired by ‘Animals Great and Small opened today to a wide circle of collectors, artists and admirers in The Gallery. The exhibition is open daily until the 4th July and most certainly worth viewing, the paintings will captivate you and I am certain you will leave appreciating you took the time to visit.
We have been so fortunate to have seen the weather return and to see folk sitting out around the site either nibbling into an eccles or a lunch bag from the Teashop soaking up the sunshine. One of my favourite elements with the Fresh Food Pantry is the selection of cheeses we now have and today we have a tasting of the Norfolk dapple, which I must say is delicious! What did take me by surprise was how delicious the Earl Grey and Pear biscuits are… no wonder I have had to join the staff running club as everytime I go into the food hall there is yet another tasty find…
Tomorrow we have the opening of Tessa Newcomb’s Exhibition in The Gallery – Tessa is one of our favourite artists and The Gallery exudes tranquility.
Whilst visiting do take the chance to view the SNAP 2013 collection, art inspired by Britten which is peppered through the Maltings.
The scaffolding is starting to come down off the frontage of the Maltings, it feels a little like having braces removed! From June you will have the first opportunity to walk through the 150 year old cottages and see the renovation and innovations which have been taking place over the last six months behind the scenes. My particular favourite is seeing the completion of the Clock Tower and the careful renovation by hand to the clock face with gold gilt.
Amidst all the media attention to those who are not paying taxes there are many small businesses in the UK just getting on with business. It would be understandable to let there behaviour get you down. But we can do something about it, we can simply choose not to shop with them anymore and from a business perspective keep looking forward with new ideas and concepts.
This is what I love about Snape Maltings…. yesterday we received our delivery of our first ever Snape Maltings candle collection. YOU WILL LOVE THEM! Made by an English company, the packaging is made by a local business, the illustrations are hand drawn by local artist Emily Rae Manning, who has developed our Snape Maltings collection so far. We have five fragrances in the collection and this is where we set ourselves apart from any high street. Unique products, made in England, at a fair price (£12.50) and with a burning time of 35 hours. We have done our research and know this is good value for a clean candle with a low melting point and excellent fragrance retention.
So next time you are looking for a gift for a friend or simply an affordable treat for yourself – do give them a look.
The evenings have been so gorgeous it feels criminal not to go out and enjoy the final evening light. So after supper we went out along the path to Iken, where there you will find trees just inviting your children to climb and then we returned to the Maltings. The prolonged winter makes us truly appreciate days like these and the more time spent outdoors the better!
The opportunity of sitting outdoors with the winds easing the chance of being able to sit outside and soak up the sunshine should not be missed! We had such a fantastic day on Sunday with a bike ride to Iken, (I had to run alongside the family as the impact of Pump Street Bakery within metres of my doorstep is starting to show….)
On our return we swooped into the Fresh Food Pantry for some baguettes, cheese and ham and our favourite Piccalilli by Simply Delicious (of Leiston) and rustled up a picnic and sat on the lawn. Before long Johnny had us all in the greenhouse preparing pots and hanging baskets for the Teashop and our spicy leaves would make the Newbourne Farm team proud!
We had all earnt a break and Meggie volunteered to prepare tray of tea and biscuits! Just to sit and enjoy the moment was wonderful and it reminded me of us photographing our outdoor furniture collections last week (pictured left). It was ever so tempting and how we wished we could have just sat down and soaked up the sunshine. But here we were doing just that!
Living and working at Snape Maltings there is every chance that you have just passed or are sitting next to someone incredibly talented. Often a giveaway sign is an instrument box they are holding however I was reminded today about two young craftsmen who work only a few miles from the Maltings.
Mark and Paul have built all the kitchens in the Iken View properties and most recently installed a kitchen into House & Garden shop for us. We loved their work, dedication and ability to adapt to a building (let’s be honest there are no two buildings the same at the Maltings) that we asked if we could showcase one of their kitchen. They are a small team but they are immense on talent at their craft. Then you walk along further and see the trees from Botanica outside our Tea Shop, another great business on our doorstep and then the scent of bread wafting out of the Pantry as Pump Street Bakery delivery is unloaded. So whilst there is no doubt the music is world class, we are also incredibly lucky with all the other talents nestled in our neighbourhood. Speaking of which, Maggi Hambling has been in The Gallery – need I say more!
I have a tendency to want to get things done straight away when a good idea strikes. The attached photo is a good example. I met up with photographer Keiron Tovell on Friday morning as we were looking for a location to photograph our collection of sofas without having to remove them all from the shop. We wanted a location which clearly identified with the Maltings not simply a plain white background.
Whilst we looked at the heritage wall in House & Garden and studying how it might work, Kieron suggested “what about up there on the Heritage platform”. A brilliant idea. Within minutes we were lifting the sofa up and I overheard a couple say, “she can’t climb up there, they really cannot lift a whole sofa that high.” And we did. They turned and gave us a thumbs up and here is the picture of our first attempt. With a little shifting to the left to capture both pattress plates, the collection will look superb in this position. We on the other hand all looked far rosier in the cheeks than when we started.
Where has the time gone since I have written… Easter has been and gone and here we are almost half way through April and still waiting on Spring. Let’s just hope it does forget about us altogether, knowing Spring is coming is what gets us through those early monochrome months.
I have chosen a picture of homemade sausage rolls simply because since the arrival of our Fresh Food Pantry I am struggling to keep up with my girls requests for Revetts sausages and sausagemeat to turn into rolls. The thought of driving over to Wickham Market, struggling to find a park, then with Pay & Display and having to queue has all been overcome and the simplicity of purchasing fresh local food is now a doddle.
If you have seen children in their pyjamas in our shops over the holiday I have to confess they are mine! They throw coats and boots over their pj’s on a weekend and dash down for pastries. I think my eldest has doubled the sale of apple turnovers alone… she has found her food match in life.
I am using the excuse of still trying all the pastries in the vein that I have not found my favourite as yet – oh well I will just have to go and eat a Pump Street Portuguese tart!
Today was our first day for our Fresh Food Pantry and as the last delivery arrived the first customer arrived. There was a moment today when I recalled the first time we discussed the idea last year and over the Christmas holidays Johnny and I were busy visiting food outlets collecting ideas to build our picture for the area. We have been incredibly fortunate to have such a positive and open dialogue with Jo and Chris from Pump Street Bakery throughout the process, they have been brilliant to share ideas and build the concept.
Over the recent months our own team at the Maltings have been outstanding, attending bakery training sessions at 6am, taking on board all the changes and being so flexible as we navigated the best way forward. Matt and Floyd have built and installed it all so it would be fair to say it has been ‘handmade’. It really has been a tremendous team effort and if you asked me last Friday will we be ready, it was touch and go and yet I am lucky enough to say we had a great opening day – challenges and all! Everything in the Pantry is TRULY local, made and grown by local families that truly care about what they produce. I hope the positive response today is just the first step for a truly successful venture…
We have just taken delivery of our first Harris tweed sofa in House & Garden. The rare character and beauty of Harris Tweed is attributable to the fact that it is the only fabric produced in commercial quantities by truly traditional methods anywhere in the world. With hundreds of distinctive patterns developed over the centuries, each pattern is unique but unmistakably Harris Tweed with its characteristic subtle designs in complex natural shades.
Soft, tactile, breathable, warm, colourful, sustainable, adaptable, the old image of coarse, scratchy, dour tweed simply does not exist these days. Every part of the process to produce Harris Tweed is carried out in the Outer Hebrides; it retains its heritage of practicality and longevity and all the qualities and virtues of a truly luxury 21st century fabric.
My photo just doesn’t do credit so it worth a visit!
On the food front it is all go for the opening of our Fresh Food Pantry within the Food Hall. The team, particularly Matt and Floyd have done the most fantastic job. It is very exciting and I keep finding customers having a peak in anticipation of our opening tomorrow.
I have just spent the last two hours looking through the cottages which are currently undergoing a re-build and renovation. To the outside world so little will change but the internal work is going to make a world of difference. When we were first married Johnny and I lived in Kiln Cottage, so as walked through we both gave the odd smile remembering our life together there. Puppies which were born, suppers which were shared (and burnt) and the view from the top floor gives a unique perspective of the Maltings roofscape. Whilst they form part of our personal history they hold a deep history of the Maltings. These were the homes of the men that made the Maltings, who turned the barley and made malt.
From the cottages we stepped back next door to the warmth of the shops and in the spirit of wishing to feel snug I noticed these new throws which had just arrived. They seem to have annual appeal, toss one over a bed , on the back of arm chair or in my case over my lap at the end of the evening. They are all made in Britain so it is right for each of us to have one in our home – stylish, snug and homemade!
Kay, who works with us in our office and a talented craftswoman herself, told me about the company and its rich history from the late 1940s and 1950s. By gaining a reputation for the successful combination of practicality, glamour and easy-care, Horrockses Fashions became sought after by women everywhere. However, it wasn’t just the general public that coveted the dresses, celebrities of the era and members of the Royal Family, including HRH The Queen, were huge fans and the brand eventually was granted a royal warrant in the 1960s.
The original designs are now in a range of textiles including shoulder bags, aprons and tea towels, all made beautifully. You know when you see a design which is fresh to the eye and not everywhere on the high street or in every magazine.
These grey days are really becoming quite challenging on the eye and the spirit! So I went in search for some colour and was delighted to see this beautifully bright collection in House & Garden. I instantly felt better just have a wander through and to be inspired by some interesting designs and quirky collections now in store.Not many sleeps until Valentine’s day so I am off to buy my girls a card each and fill it with a chocolate heart – the trick is getting someone else to write the message for fear of being detected.
It is going to be a good week – Rococo Chocolate delivery is due tomorrow! We were fortunate enough to host a workshop with their exceptionally talented owner and creator Chantal Coady in House & Garden in September. If you love chocolate, look out for Chantal’s book “Rococo – mastering the art of chocolate”. This is a delicious read whilst her work in supporting ethical trade for cocoa farmers is equally important.
My girls have started to talk about Valentine’s day and at their age it is more about making a card for their dad but they have asked me what we have in stock as a gift for him. Whilst we have an array of hearts throughout our shops, from button hearts, wicker wreath hearts, heart shaped chopping boards I will be steering the girls in the direction of Rococo Chocolates. A little Rococo chocolate bar slipped in with their card will do just the trick.
In this day of e-cards, I just hope people remember to pop a card in the post – there is nothing quite like receiving a red envelope!
January has been put to good use doing all the jobs that need renovation and alterations and then often finding more than planned. One of the shop renovations I am most happy with is The Gallery. It has improved dramatically and whilst there is some further ‘fine tuning’ the art hangs beautifully in this renovated space. Definitely well worth a visit and with the eclectic mix of paintings, illustrations, ceramics and handcrafted jewellery there seems to be so much to engage with.
You may have noticed the compound being erected on the frontage of the Maltings. We have just embarked upon the project of the five original Maltings cottages which are nestled into the frontage of the Maltings. Johnny and I have a particular interest in these cottages as we lived in one of the Maltsters Cottages for the early years of our marriage. Whilst there are a number of images of the frontage of the Maltings I thought you would particularly enjoy this one. It was taken on the wedding day of Newson Garrett. I often find myself studying this image carefully and realising how little and yet how much has really changed.
We are delighted to welcome the arrival of a new face to House & Garden thanks to the talented Jelly Green. I was just getting settled for an Invest in Suffolk filming session in House & Garden when I was called to the installation. It is simply stunning from wherever you stand so do come, stop and stare.
The joys of country life. Labradors are known, like many other dogs, for their love of shoes. Not the old ones that you don’t need but the school shoes you need the day your daughter is on a school trip to London. Following an exhaustive search of the house when you find all manner of other things but no missing shoe, I sent Lily off in her sisters pair so at least she looked respectable. Then it snows and any chance of finding the missing shoe on your lawn is long gone under the white veil. It is then time to say farewell to any chance of finding the missing shoe and move on. Saturday arrives and we set out to our favourite Children’s shoe shop in Framlingham.
Returning home and with the lanes covered in snow I am travelling slowly and we are both quietly admiring the snow covered woods around Campsea Ashe in a rather tranquil state of mind. Then in a split second it all changes. Across our car bonnet (not literally but it certainly felt like it) a pack of deer. I don’t know who was more frightened, them or us. They bounded in front of us and Lily’s eyes grew to the size of saucers and the window came whizzing down and cold air filled the car as we tried to capture the sight of them hurtling away. What a sight -Snow covered fields and a herd of deer – beautiful.
So when describing the event to Johnny it reminded me of the simply exquisite linocuts and woodcuts collection by Celia Hart in our Gallery at the Maltings. However Celia names the piece ‘winter walk deer 2012’ but for Lily and I it might be more aptly named ‘the leaping deer’.
The chill is certainly here and the warm sunshine of Australia seems a distant but fond memory. I seem to have returned with a bloated feeling but it had not stopped me eating! However on Sunday afternoon I read an article in The Times about the fasting for 2 days a week, fortunately for me they don’t have to be consecutive days so I woke up on Monday morning and decided to just go for it.
All was going well until early afternoon when I started to feel like a change from a cup of English tea. Fortunately I share an office with our Food Buyer, Lydia, who wisely suggested the range of Tea Pigs teas. I know all about this wonderful tea as they are one of our best sellers both in House & Garden and in The Teashop but overlooked them a helpful means to get through the 24 hour fast. What a difference they made, I sailed through and decided I had a particular fondness for super fruit and lemon and ginger….
What I did overlook was the Game demonstration and tasting event which took place in Café 1885 on Monday afternoon. A perk of the job is that I would be allowed to try some of the game canapés and tasters they prepared but instead I looked on and simply imagined they tasted as good as they looked! It was one of our best events to date in the Café and our thanks to Ray from The Wild Meat Company. Ray has a wonderfully warm rapport and is incredibly knowledgeable so the demonstration is one of the best you will ever experience. Now to plan what we will do next….
After spending Christmas in Australia we were fortunate to return to relatively mild weather albeit a swing of 20 degrees. Fortunately living at the Maltings helps overcome jetlag thanks to a walk along the river wall.. The first walk around the Maltings on our return is always my favourite, I seem to see so much more than I do throughout the rest of the year.
A great welcome back was to discover that the Samphire Clothing sale had just begun. With some amazing reduced prices on our favourite lines including Avoca, Great Plains, Saltwater and Uttam – a particular favourite is a stunning Forrest coat in a timeless classic cut from Saltwater which has been reduced to £87 and then there’s an embroidered edge coat in Navy by Uttam Boutique from now only £65, oh so tempting… well worth visiting.
In House & Garden we have some brilliant sales lines from the remaining pieces of our best sellers but new for 2013 is the home office pieces which includes this amazing new leather swing chair, which is such a refreshing leap from the from the mass produced pieces.
So here we go 2013 – if I can steal a phrase that adorns my daughter’s door – Do more of what makes you happy!
I can truly stand by the saying that there is ‘something for everyone at Snape Maltings’…. As we are heading home to see family in Australia this year I have had to be incredibly organised, all in the space of a few hours(!) and have all my presents bought one month ahead of Christmas Day! The first moment of relief comes knowing there is no hideous pay and display to grabble with on arrival.
Then it comes to the shopping list – especially as we are all needing to select for an incredibly broad spectrum of ages, likes and lifestyles.
What I relief it has been then to have managed to do it all in one place – hooray! My favourites this year have been the stationery collections that Beth has chosen for Books & Cards, the arts and craft pieces in Shop on The Quay and the new Burleigh china in red – gorgeous! I full recommend a visit to the Gallery- I took a sneak peak at the individual baubles and the new art work which is being hung on Thursday 29th…. You will be glad you went to see it too! The Food department always comes up trumps with hand selected delights you only see at Christmas and I snapped up a Home Brewing kit for a certain male member of the family.
At our BBQ Christmas lunch the Maltings will be putting in an appearance with the new Snape Maltings apron with its iconic reeds.
So when I see headlines in The Telegraph lifestyle pages of ‘how to survive Christmas shopping’ – I have proven you don’t need to sit behind a computer you can meander around the shops and feel, touch and hand select the gifts and stress doesn’t need to play a part.
We have just enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining, heart-warming and fun filled launch of the ‘Friday Afternoons’ initiative which is the brainchild of the Aldeburgh Music team as part of the Britten Centenary Celebrations. After a wonderful performance they had us up on our feet singing harmoniously and I was incredibly appreciative of the gentleman behind me who sung in perfect tune!
Returning to the office we finished our events plan for December. The to do list is lengthy with two December farmers markets, carol singers, Martlesham Brass Band, Father Christmas and elves all need co-ordinating in the spirit of the season.
In House & Garden I was incredibly pleased to see how well our own collection has been received. This is great credit to Emily-Rae Manning, our commissioned artist and Heather Fortmann for the product development. I arrive with a long wish list of Snape Maltings products and Heather sources the English makers and turns it into a reality! This apron works for both men and women and I particularly like the length of the waist tie so the option to tie at the front or the back works with your waistline.
Speaking of waistlines I have just had a Pump Street eccles cake for my late lunch! Truly scrumptious and the evidence can be seen all around me….
The sky may be leaky and grey but there is plenty that is keeping our spirits up at the Maltings. I do recommend that visiting the Jason Avery photographic exhibition which is taking place in The Workshop on the Quay this week. The photography reminds me of the internationally acclaimed photographer in Australia called Peter Lik.
On Saturday The Workshop turns into a haven for Chocolate lovers with the Family Chocolate workshop. I always prefer the gifts the children have made or ‘created’ and especially if it contains chocolate! A few places remain and it is the perfect way to spend two hours on a Saturday, as well as an enjoyable experience to enjoy together. (bookings on 01728 688 303)
The mulled wine goes on the menu this Sunday in Café 1885 as they make up enough batches for our stall at the Cool Yule Christmas market which takes place across the frontage of the Maltings. Starting at 10am you will find me wandering around the stalls with interest as I am always curious to find what people bring along.
Today started with the alarm and shortly followed by a delightful text from a good friend after she had just read the EADT with the news of our Suffolk Food and Drink Award for Café 1885. This is great news for the entire team in the Café and a reflection of their work and personal contributions. I gain immense pleasure working with them as we continually fine tune our offer, always striving to reflect the delicious food and drink produced in our region. It was lovely to hear many customers complimenting Victoria and her team today.
In our shops it continues to be a changing landscape. I struggle to travel through the shops swiftly at the moment. In Books & Cards Beth’s collection of Christmas cards is one of our best to date and I particularly like the high quality of the designs of the Charity cards, in the past they sometimes felt second best to the main card designers, well this is certainly not the case this year.
The stationery collection is excellent and I am definitely a handwritten note scribbler at heart!
This week we have two sleepovers in our house for birthdays and my girls are often invited for sleepovers so I am accustomed to packing up sleeping bags, pillows, teddies and toiletries and more. They leave home looking like they will be gone a month and so often leave something behind.
Today Heather showed us a new product she has found for Little Rascals which I think is fantastic! It is a machine washable sleeping bag which is designed for you to put your own pillow into. How simple yet how superb! No random pillows left lying around and ideal for school camping trips.
They come in this great fabric which suits both boys and girls and two colour ways. This will make a perfect Christmas present for a youngster or an easy solution for family staying over during Christmas. At £79.95 they are really good value and can be shared around the family! Look out for them in Little Rascals.
The half term has flown by and this is the first chance to catch breath and look back over what a week it has been.
We started the week with the vision of over 10kg of melting chocolate for the Chocolate workshops. The joy in children’s faces as you pour warm smooth milky chocolate for them to create their own flavoured chocolate bars brought out their Willy Wonka spirits! Meggie worked with me over the two days and witnessed plenty of mouths circled in milk chocolate and broad smiles.… The storytelling sessions were met with plenty of laughter thanks to the masterful team from the Roald Dahl Museum and Storytelling Centre, famed at the Edinburgh Festival.
As we closed the activities from Roald Dahl we received the good news that our Café 1885 was named a finalist (nominated by the public) for ‘Eat the View’ Award. This award looks for a business which contributes to the diversity and sustainable economic fortunes of the local area – in particular through the generation of revenue which remains largely within the region from visitors outside of the area. So now we wait as the winner is announced on Monday 12th November.
The Maltings welcomed the Poetry Festival this weekend and our Farmers Market returned with a full house of over 30 producers so we had a wonderful vibe across the site. Unfortunately time didn’t allow a visit to the any of the performances but I enjoyed catching up on the rave reviews!