Artisan

Handmade Oxford- The International Contemporary Arts Festival

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With summer in full bloom, we think it’s the perfect time of the year to be outside basking in the sun.  At The Amazing Blog we try to enjoy any good weather and get out of London. So when we heard about Handmade Oxford- The International Contemporary Arts Festival we knew this was a perfect event to join our love for art and the sun for a weekend.

Also the Bison - Leopard face & tail prints on velvet slinky cat cushions

Also the Bison - Leopard face & tail prints on velvet slinky cat cushions

For over 40 years, Waterperry Gardens was the proud host of the renowned Art in Action event and has now continued to build on that legacy with a new four-day event. From Thursday 27th June to Sunday 30 June, the Ashmolean Museum alongside Waterperry Gardens will host the Handmade Oxford- International Contemporary Arts Festival to celebrate all things art, design, slow living and artisanal food.

Morag Macpherson Silk Kimono Trio

Morag Macpherson Silk Kimono Trio

In addition to 250 exhibitors demonstrating their artisan work, the weekend will include a variety of workshops, demonstrations and talks from invited speakers. Attendees will be able to meet and shop while roaming around the gardens beautiful greenery and flora. To join us that weekend with other fellow art connoisseurs you can purchase an adult Single Day (£18.70), an adult Two-Day (£28.60) or a Full Festival (£38.50) entry ticket for the festival here.

Fruits Of The Forage

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At The Amazing Blog, we love writing about brands that have adopted sustainable practices, especially food brands that have joined the fight against our current consumer-driven society. Fruits of the Forage, is one that has made it their mission to capture the ‘sustainable taste of the British landscape’ with their range of chutneys, jams, cordials, wines and beers which are made using less than conventional ingredients. Recently, they kindly sent us five of their amazing chutneys and chilli jams to try – and trust us, we were not disappointed!

Based in founder Freddie Throrneycroft’s hometown of Cheshire, Fruits of the Forage uses neglected fruits from abandoned British orchards and other wild British native plants in all their products. Chutneys, are widely used in South Asian cuisine, are made up mainly with a mix of vegetables, fruits and spices. Their tastes, spice-levels and textures can range as well depending on the concoctions of ingredients used. What we like about Fruit of the Forage’s products is that they have elevated jams and chutneys contain less-known ingredients such as Cheshire Damsons, heritage plums and even Hogweed seeds.

After trying their Hogweed Curry Chutney, Hot Crabby Chilli Jam, Perfect Pair Chutney, Damsloe Chutney and Hot Rhuby Chilli Jam, we can see why Fruits of the Forage has won not one BUT 10 Great Taste Awards in the last three years! Each of the jams and chutneys have a delicious and very individual taste which will suit all sorts of different taste palates. The Hot Rhuby, is made out of rhubarb, garlic and ghost peppers, is a good mixture of warm and spicy and, like Fruits of the Forage and is indeed very moreish. If you’re craving a more fresh and fruity spread, the Hot Crabby Chilli Jam, made with crab apples, adds a sweetness to cured meats, lamb or game. Or perhaps you want to add a savoury kick to your cheeses and meat? Fruits of the Forage’s trio of chutneys (Hogweed Curry, Perfect Pair and Damsloe) are a great mix of fruits, vegetables and pickling spices and add a great piquante to any food. For our vegan readers, don’t worry, all of their products are entirely animal-product free. We particularly liked spreading some of the Hogweed Curry Chutney on our veggies to give them that perfect little kick – Yum!

If you want to try Fruits of the Forage’s chutneys and jams for yourself, purchase a jar on their website here for £4.

Eightpointnine

As a self confessed caffeine addict I am rarely without a cup of coffee at my side. Making a cup is the first thing I do when I wake up and I depend on several more cups to get me through the work day. Although I am no coffee aficionado – the stronger the better is usually my preference – I’m often disappointed by the coffee I purchase and wish I could tweak it to my own personal taste. While the coffee available in the supermarkets may claim to be ‘hand-roasted’ and ‘artisan’ it is still mass produced and designed for a long shelf life meaning that it will often be months old before it reaches your cup. That’s why I was extremely intrigued when a colleague of mine introduced me to the newest addition to the UK coffee scene - London based personalised coffee service Eight Point Nine.

Eight Point Nine believe that fresh coffee tastes better and wanted to provide a service where people could design a coffee made specially for them and have it delivered fresh and straight to their door every week. At the click of a mouse they offer tailor-made, hand-blended, freshly ground coffee delivered weekly to your door. All their coffee is fair trade and small-batch roasted in the UK by roast-masters with over 20 years experience and long-term relationships with coffee growing communities around the world. They offer two subscription options: You can either subscribe to the grandCRU service to receive a surprise coffee delivered to your door every week (Eightpointnine will select and hand-blend a world-class roast every week to showcase the best coffees from around the world) or for a truely personal recipe you can design your very own blend. Simply use the online flavour profiling tool on the website to create your own unique blend which can be given a name of your choice and is then sent to you in a postbox-friendly parcel. Whether you like your coffee fresh, sweet, spicy, light, mellow or rich use the flavour mapping tool to describe your perfect cup. Once you’ve chosen the flavour and body you can then choose your preferred grind (espresso, filter, cafetiere or just beans) and how many deliveries you need a week (to give you an idea each bag contains over 16 cups). You can then tweak your personal blend whenever you like to suit your mood or preference.

Order your Eightpointnine coffee blend from their website here.

Made By Hands Of Britain

Much has been made, in recent years, of the benefits of shopping local. Not only are you supporting home grown trade, but generally you’ll find products are higher in quality and as they’re not mass produced, purchases are far more unique, and thus perfect for treating either yourself or a loved one to something extra-special.

If however, you don’t have the time (or indeed the inclination) to spend your Saturday mornings trawling round craft fairs, or seeking out a nearby independent boutique, then Made By Hands Of Britain is the perfect solution. Founded by Gillian Montegrande just over a year ago, this beautiful website has on offer some of the finest items of British craftsmanship available exclusively online. Inspired by a love and appreciation of local skill and artistry, Gillian spotted a niche in the market that was yet to be filled. And so saw the birth of Made By Hands Of Britain which showcases over 190 of Britain’s finest craftsmen, all under one virtual roof. With an array of unique and inspiring items from confectionary to handwoven scarves and 18ct gold jewellery, there’s something to suit everyone, whatever your style or budget.

And while buying handmade gifts from this fabulous website supports local artisan communities, it also means you will be investing in pieces that will endure the test of time, unlike much of what is available on our high streets. One’s carbon footprint is drastically reduced and the seller’s eco-credentials are increasingly higher than large chains, due largely to the way in which they craft their items – by hand rather than by machine.

I particularly liked the Gift part of the website, which had a huge spectrum of offerings available. With sellers including Alexandra Abraham: Artist and Jewellery Designer, who sources her materials from the Thames Foreshore and forgotten rubbish tips, Lucy Alexandra Batt – whose handmade glass pieces are intricately carved and embellished with intimate floral or abstract patterns and Geoffrey Fisher – a Buckinghamshire-based designer who works exclusively in wood, there are some truly fabulous ideas for anyone who needs help with present buying.

So if, like us at The Amazing Blog, you're sick of Britain's copycat high streets, and want to support local trade, check out Made By Hands Of Britain and indulge in the very best of British craftmanship.

Your Perfect Perfume

Every year since I turned 15, my family always gives the women a bottle of their favourite fragrance for their birthday. Year after year I would see my family get the same fragrance and I never understood why. I would always want new fragrances each year because as the saying goes, the more the merrier! I never thought I would find that one scent that I wanted to claim as my own, that was until I smelt the sublime fragrance of Askett & English Absolute.

Artisan perfumer Askett & English developed two classic unisex colognes while located amongst the beautiful rolling landscapes, high beech woods and green fields of Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire. Both fragrances, Absolute and Essential, use the finest ingredients to give off a subtle and understated message of quality and taste.

Askett Essential is a light yet invigorating scent that is fit for any circumstance. It has a light lemon scent mixed with a bright sunny morning with the hint of cedars.

Askett Absolute is a complex and intriguing scent that can fit for an outdoors activity or in the office. It has a heady scent of neroli which develops into old wood, moss and musk that creates a quite sensual yet professional fragrance.

Priced at £60 - for 100ml, you can find the product at Les Senteurs, Havie & Hudson, William Evans Ltd, and Roullier White in London. For other stockists click here.