Cotswold Collections Journal

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Women Who Inspire Us

    Our new fragrance with Beefayre!

    “The beauty of fragrance is that it speaks to your heart and hopefully someone else’s.”
    Elizabeth Taylor

    We’re excited to introduce a new fragrance for our well-being collection this season! You can now treat yourself or a loved one to our beautiful range of Lavender and Geranium products including body lotion, room spray, hand cream, soap and body wash.

    Our Knitwear and Accessories Buyer Michelle said “I wanted to introduce a new fragrance to work alongside our Wildflower eau de toilette. Lavender fields mixed with heady Geranium is a wonderful combination of scents, and smells can evoke lovely memories while stimulating the senses. The fragrance also promotes relaxation and harmony which is something we should all have more of in our lives”.

    These products have been created in partnership with Beefayre, an English run family business passionate about bee conservation. These luxurious and pampering products have been sustainably sourced in the UK using premium quality essential oils.

     

    We spoke with the founder of Beefayre, Sharon, to understand more about her wonderful company, their delightful products and history:

    Sharon has always had a passion for British wildlife and conservation, having been an illustrator of wildlife for many years. The idea for Beefayre came to her, not in the UK, but while she was travelling to the foothills of Transylvania in Romania, in 2010. Sharon was there researching an MA in contemporary fine art and on meeting beekeepers and studying their ancient tradition of beekeeping, she discovered a wonderful, pristine environment, free from pesticides and intensive farming practices. She said it was like travelling back in time.

    The valleys and mountainsides were clothed in wildflowers supporting thriving colonies of healthy honeybees who were producing the purest honey, pollen and propolis.  Upon returning to England, Sharon began reading about the plight of our honeybees as they’re suffering from pesticide poisoning and the disappearance of wildflowers from the countryside. This inspired Sharon to create Beefayre, a company inspired by nature and set-up to highlight the modern struggle of the honeybee and help save them! Having had many years’ experience in the gift trade, it was a natural way to marry Sharon’s passion for bees and her commercial expertise.

    Our packaging, which has been created in partnership with Beefayre, while being beautiful, aims to educate people with the ethos behind the brand including their donations of 3% of the profits going to Bee conservation. While the glass bottles are made from recycled glass and can be recycled again once you’ve enjoyed the product!

    All of the products are made in the UK using natural, sustainably sourced ingredients, while also being vegan (no animal fats used) and do not contain petroleum ingredients, parabens or sulphates, artificial colouring or foaming agents.

    We’re starting to hear and learn more about the trouble our wildlife is facing due to human impact. Here at Cotswold Collections we’ve been taking steps to reduce our environmental effect, read more here >>

    Beefayre mirror our ethically sourced premium quality values and they create products that are low impact on our environment while also educating people about the steps they can take to support biodiversity.

    Have you tried our new Lavender and Geranium products? Let us know your thoughts in the comments...

    These Women Can: Activewear

    Being active and exercising over the winter can be tough. As the temperature drops it can be hard to motivate yourself but with so many benefits, such as improved mood, better balance, stability and strength, as well as a decrease in risk of diseases it would be foolish not to! So we've listed the most inspiring women who make us want to put on our gym clothes and get going!

    Discover the women who inspire us:

    1. Style Beyond Age's Sonia is an uber-stylish blogger and Instagram star who rocks great outfits, even at the gym!

    2. Sue from Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga Studio - you may remember her from our feature last year when we first launched our activewear collection. She started Pilates when she was 87 when recuperating from an illness and now practices three times a week! Our local hero, poster women and inspiration, proving that it's never too late to try a new form of exercise. Read our feature on Sue here >

    3. This Girl Can campaign's poster women: Sue & Catherine (top right and middle left). Catherine joined the British Military Fitness boot camps after seeing them practise in the park while she was walking her dog. Eight years on and she's never looked back!

    4. Sue took up cold water swimming after breaking her ankle and loves the rejuvenating feeling it gives her.

    5. Bodybuilder Ernestine Shepherd has arms to die for! Proving that strength is important at any age, she manages to look great in a crop top and sport some rather great nails while working out and at 81 years of age she is a true inspiration!

    6. Madonna Buder a.k.a the Iron Nun. She set a world record by completing the gruelling Ironman Triathlon aged 82!

     

    Doctor Catherine Walker from the Univerisity of Oxford started weight lifting at the impressive age of 65! Hear why she started below (press play):

    Feeling inspired to get fit? Meet our new range of activewear. In soft and durable fabrics, these pieces combine practicality with style, whether you are attending a session at the gym or taking a gentle stroll in the countryside.

    These are superb performance garments equipped with all the essential qualities for healthy exercise. The fabric wicks moisture away from the body, dries quickly and has odour control. Our raglan sleeve jacket has a warm collar with a zip front neckline, two zipped pockets and lightly padded stitched panels at the back and front. The matching pull-on leggings have a deep fully elasticated waistband with adjustable woven ties. The short-sleeve raglan top has a round neck, subtle printed side panels and an adjustable drawstring at the hem.

    Too cold? Knitted in Italy, this soft mohair-blend hat and wrist-warmers (which feature useful thumb holes) make the perfect accessories to keep you warm whilst you exercise this winter.

     

    For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up for our email newsletters here >

    Betty Bromage: The 89-Year-Old Wing-Walker Breaking Stereotypes

    What is wing walking, you ask? Not for the faint-hearted, wing walking is where you are strapped on top of a bi-plane from take-off to landing, whilst the pilot flies the plane and performs aerobatic stunts!

    So it was with great surprise that we read last year of Betty Bromage, a local woman who was undertaking her second wing walk for charity. Amazed by her achievements, we followed her activities over the next year and were thrilled to find out she was doing it again just after her 89th birthday. We got in touch and were delighted when she very kindly agreed to meet with us to model some of our clothes and discuss breaking the stereotypes that surround age.

    Betty is a retired nurse, having worked in Cheltenham Hospital's A&E department. Perhaps it is because of this, working under constant pressure in stressful situations, that she is incredibly modest about her achievements, brushing off our compliments as we sit down to chat, in awe of her bravery and fortitude.

    Before we got down to the more serious questions about wing-walking, we asked a couple of ice-breakers (more for us than for Betty, who was very at ease, having given several interviews for radio and television since her wing walking adventures began).

    What do you have for breakfast?

    "Layers of porridge, yoghurt and fruit. I leave them overnight to soak in and it’s ready by the morning."

    Where is your favourite place in the Cotswolds?

    "Cooper's Hill, Brockworth. I used to live in one of the cottages at the bottom of the cheese-rolling hill!"

    Aside from wing-walking what other hobbies do you have?

    "I walk for 2 hours a day. I’ll walk through the parks and take a look in the charity shops. I often walk up the Promenade to meet with friends and old colleagues. I use a stroller as I can become a bit wobbly at times. I did quite a lot of gardening in Abbeyfield House before they recently employed a gardener. I enjoy attending the Cheltenham Literature Festival with neighbours too."

    What’s your favourite piece from our summer collection?

    "The lavender unlined jacket and trousers. I really like the grey fleck in it. It’s perfect for a wedding I’ve been invited to!"

    Betty models our casual coat, soft textured trousers and leaf design necklace.

    What inspired you to start wing-walking?

    "I have no idea! I moved to Abbeyfield House and I thought about 'What would I like to do at 90?' and thought 'What have I got to lose?' It’s good to do something for charity and I always say 'let me not delay kindness.' Life’s too short, I don’t want to look back wishing I’d done something."

    "The first time I did a wing walk, I raised funds for the Midlands Air Ambulance, the second time was for Cobalt [a local charity supporting cancer and dementia patients] and this time was for Sue Ryder. Sue Ryder is a charity rather close to my heart, as my sister-in-law, Margaret Eccles, received care from the local hospice, Leckhampton Court. We were incredibly close, she was a bridesmaid at my wedding. When I told her I was wing-walking, she did not approve, she thought it was far too dangerous. She sadly passed away before I did the wing walk for Sue Ryder but I know she would have been pleased that I was raising funds for them."

    Watch the incredible footage from Sue Ryder of Betty's wing walk in the video above.

    Were you nervous? How did it feel?

    "I firstly went with my daughter-in-law to the airfield to see if I could do it and then after that, I had to get a doctor's note to say I was fit to do it. Climbing up is the hardest part, you have to climb through under guide wires to get up!

    "It was great up there! Biggles [her aptly named teddy bear] kept me company, tucked into my harness. During my first wing walk, the pilot did a half loop which was a bit tame but on the last wing walk, which was very good, he did a half loop and figure of eight. The crowd loved it and so did I!"

    What do you wear when you are wing-walking? Is it cold up there?

    "It was cold as I didn’t have a headband on. I had to wear earplugs and goggles, which kept slipping off! You are 500 feet in the air so you need lots of thermal layers. I wore a padded ski jumpsuit which I found in a charity shop and wore a Sue Ryder t-shirt over the top."

    On the right-hand side Betty also models our unlined jacket, trousers and jacquard wrap.

    Will you do it again next year?

    "I would like to do something but I don’t know yet..."

    "Abbeyfield is a charity, which manages lots of properties. I’d like to raise funds for a minibus for them, as when we all go out at the moment, we have to order taxis, which as you can imagine, becomes quite costly."

    Betty looks over the fantastic photos and articles from her wing walk.

    Would you encourage others to take up daring activities?

    "Try it! There is no disgrace in failing; not trying is failing. If you think you can, you are halfway there."

    "Whatever age you are, you look back and think I should have done that! I would love to do a zip wire but I’m worried about the landing."

    Betty’s adventurous spirit runs in the family as her grandson goes skydiving!

    What’s next on the horizon?

    Betty has been featured in a Los Angeles animation for 8-10 year-olds about proactive seniors and has also been featured on many TV and radio interviews, both local and national as well as international (she was featured in the Nigerian and Canadian press). Her inspiring wing walking has captured the world's imagination: "My son phoned me from Australia to say he’d read about me in the paper [Cheltenham Standard]. A neighbour had given him a copy and I had no idea I was in it!"

     

    If you would like to support Betty's fundraising efforts, please visit her JustGiving page >

    With enormous thanks to Betty Bromage, a fantastic model and incredible woman, as well as Kelly Rumble from Sue Ryder.

    For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up for our email newsletters here >

    Women Who Inspire Us: WI's Jan Turner

    The Women’s Institute (WI) is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the U.K. with 220,000 members. Founded in 1915, the WI’s original purpose was to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then it has grown and evolved, offering courses in everything from cookery to car maintenance with the aim of connecting women in the community.

    We love that the WI is an organisation that champions women and encourages them to achieve, whether that’s by attending a course, event organising, or just meeting for a cup of tea and a chat. Loneliness is endemic in modern society and we believe that anything offering a solution to this and creating opportunities for women to succeed plays an important role in our communities.

    To celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to feature a local woman who inspires us, and who better than the Chairman of the Gloucestershire WI, Jan Turner?

    What motivated you to join the WI?
    "I moved with my husband and two sons to Gloucestershire and spent so much of my time focussed solely on them. I realised I needed something for me and just up the road was the WI."

    How does the WI help women in their local community?
    "It offers friendship, support and a chance to influence local and national affairs."

    What does a typical day involve for you?
    "Impossible to say! Every day is different, which is what I love about my role."

    What is your proudest moment with the WI?
    "When I was in the Royal Albert Hall with other members of the Gloucestershire WI watching The Queen, Princess Anne and the Countess of Wessex cutting a cake to celebrate the centenary of the NFWI (National Federation of Women’s Institutes) and realising how much we had achieved."

    What’s your favourite place in the Cotswolds?
    "Cleeve Hill, the highest point in Gloucestershire, and its stunning views of the River Severn and surrounding countryside."

    What’s your favourite breakfast?
    "Grapefruit with Marmite on toast. On holiday, I treat myself to a Full English Breakfast."

    Tea or coffee?
    "It depends on the time of day. Tea and coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and coffee after dinner."

    What do you look for in a luxury garment?
    "I love the feel of fabrics and used to make most of my own clothes but it is harder to find good quality fabric nowadays."

    As it is International Women’s Day, do you have any advice you can give our female readers?
    "I don’t often give people advice… Join the WI!"

    How can people join the WI?
    "Visit the NFWI website and click on ‘Find a WI near you’ or telephone WI house in Gloucester on 01452 523966, who can help you find a WI in Gloucestershire. Any woman can join the WI, whether she is 18 or and 100 and however!"

    Click here to find a WI near you >

    Read more about International Women's Day here >

    Discover more women who inspire us here >

    For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up for our email newsletters here >

    Who's Inspiring Us: Our Art Director, Jan

    On a chilly winter's day, we headed to a picturesque Cotswold village at the edge of Blenheim Palace, where our Art Director and local artist, Janice Hume lives. Her quaint cottage, complete with cosy wood burner, studio space and original beams is filled with the paraphernalia of an artist. In this beautiful space, she creates wonderful pieces of art from block prints to watercolours. Jan is busy throughout the year: not only is she an artist but she also works on our photoshoots and catalogue. Inspired by her creativity and drive, we wanted to find out more about her and what motivates her.

    Where is your favourite place in the Cotswolds?

    "Blenheim Palace and walking around its beautiful grounds. Daylesford Farmshop is also on my list as they do a good Bakewell tart."

    What is your favourite item from our Christmas collection?

    "So many! The cashmere bed socks, the Lochcarron tote bag but especially the Fairisle cardigan. I really enjoyed creating the shot where the model is standing in front of a log pile."

    What does a typical day involve?

    "I get up and feed and brush my cat and then make myself a cup of tea and porridge. Then I go for a big long walk through the kissing gate into Blenheim Palace’s grounds, and hopefully, I’ll be inspired by something and draw it afterwards."

     

    What is the inspiration behind your pieces?

    "The local Cotswold countryside but apart from that, I do think colour is really important. When I am shooting in Europe, the colours that stand out are sun-bleached; peeling paint on the buildings is quite prevalent and interesting too. Here, in the UK, everything is a very vivid green from all the rain. Well, not at this time of year but on the whole the colours are very luscious. Further afield, on an undisclosed continent, the landscapes are very different – you can see for miles and miles. It’s almost like a cinemascope with these huge mountain ranges that create really epic scenes."

    "Despite all these glamorous shoot locations, the rolling Dorset hills are where I am happiest and most inspired. Thomas Hardy country."

    When are you happiest?

    "When I’ve just completed a piece of art and am out walking in the elements. Saturday at 3pm was also a happy time for me as I’d just enjoyed a lovely lunch with friends and was looking forward to looking around a Christmas market.

    What is your philosophy?

    "Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability and do something you really like. Make the best of what you are doing."

    What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

    "That’s a difficult question… Probably that I’m actually quite a good cook."

    Under or over-dressed?

    "Under-dressed. I like to be comfortable."

    What’s the best advice you’ve received?

    "Think before you speak."

    How do you unwind after a long day?

    "I unwind with a glass of red wine."

    What materials do you enjoy working with?

    "Acrylic, ink, watercolour, lino cutting, charcoal, chalk, pastels, coffee, tea and Ribena."

    Who is your favourite artist?

    "I have several. Gaughan, because of the colours, Dufy and my friend Shaun. But really it has to be Eric Gill. His work influenced me to work in lots of different mediums. He was a marvellous designer, printmaker and sculptor."

    When did you start painting?

    "I’ve always painted. I sold my first painting when I was 7 to my headmaster; I was in trouble for not doing well in geography, and he had come to find out why. I’d make homemade Christmas cards with my father and much later, when I had children of my own, helping them with their projects re-kindled my love of art. Then, once they grew up, I had all this free time, which I used to paint. It’s such a relaxing thing."

    Do you have any exhibitions coming up?

    "I have a permanent exhibition in the gallery at Waterperry Gardens, a lovely attraction with tea rooms, just outside Oxford. I also have my website www.thiswouldlookniceonyourwall.com

    "I create pleasing artwork because they are pleasing for me to do."

    Jan has designed these beautiful notecards exclusively for us, which make lovely gifts and can also be used to write out thank-you cards for Christmas presents. Take a look here >

     

    For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up for our email newsletters here >

    Pilates: One Woman's Journey to Recovery

    “At 87, Pilates transformed my life, and I never thought I’d be saying that!” 

    Meet Sue, the amazing woman who captured our imagination with her inspiring story of overcoming illness through exercise.

    This is Sue's incredible story, as told by Sallie at Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga Studio:

    Sue is the first to admit she is not a lover of exercise, in fact, she will tell you she has never done any at all. An ex-Wren, she brought up two children and worked for Whitbread for many years. Sue is an intelligent and determined woman. She has always been fun, vibrant and positive. Then two years ago, during a stressful time in her life, she fell ill. 'It was the most horrendous pain I’ve ever known. I was literally crying with the pain. I could barely move and was totally dependent on my daughter for several weeks. At my age you imagine 'that’s it' - you will never get better - and I have to admit it really got me down.'

    Sue’s daughter, Lesley, helped her to keep moving but Sue had lost some of her legendary tenacity. A friend of the family suggested trying Pilates to improve mobility and strength, and so Sue booked a couple of half-hour sessions.

    'It took a bit of bullying from my daughter and my friend and they more or less made me come along, but straight away it felt good to be doing something.'

    'It took me a few sessions, but then I started feeling stronger, my balance was better, and I felt confident enough to stand up without any support. Basically, I got my independence back.'

    'I really do feel fitter and stronger than I’ve felt for years. Now I’m determined to hang on to that new-found strength, which is why I’ve continued for nearly 18 months to come twice a week.'

    Sue's Pilates instructor, Jess, said: 'When I first met Sue she was walking with a stick and had very limited movement and constant pain. She seemed to pick up Pilates so quickly and we found a programme to suit her needs. It’s an absolute pleasure to see her amazing improvement. She still comes to us twice a week, and she is a joy to teach.'

    After reading Sue's amazing story, we were desperate to meet her! It also happened to coincide with the launch of our new activewear range, designed for optimum performance by our garment technologist, Emily, who is a keen sportswoman, frequently running half-marathons, cycling up the Malvern hills and walking her dog.

    Our new activewear range is made from a specially designed technical fabric which is durable, wicks away moisture, stays fresher for longer and is easy to wash and dry. With this in mind, we asked Sue if she'd like to try it out.

    Sue was delighted at the prospect so we met her at Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga Studio, where she practises twice weekly. Filled with natural light, beautiful wood interiors and plants that grace the corners of this open and welcoming space, it made an ideal location to shoot in.

    As we arrive, we notice that Sue happens to be wearing one of our yellow t-shirts, which she assured us is still going strong after countless washes over the years. Unbeknownst to us, she is a loyal customer, who recalls shopping in our Cirencester store, our Spirit of the Andes concessions and reports that she is very impressed with the quality of our clothing, which is one of the reasons she stopped shopping at the high street brands in the 1990s when they lowered their quality and she hasn't looked back.

    Sue quickly put our activewear to the test. She said the tops were made from a 'lovely, cool fabric' which was perfect for exercising in. She not only liked the softness of the trousers and jacket but also the stretch fabric which made them comfortable to wear and easy to move in. The grey hue also really brought out her tan, emphasising her healthy glow. She liked the lilac-grey performance top most of all, as it was 'just my colour'.

    Sue's vitality and enthusiasm are infectious. She happily chats with us about her hobbies and interests: alongside Pilates, she goes for lots of walks in the countryside with her daughter, takes herbal supplements and has her hands full looking after her daughter's Basset Fauve de Bretagne puppy, which we immediately fell in love when shown a photo. She is also working her way through the TV series Suits, on Netflix.

    We ask her if there are any other secrets to her success, as she still lives life to the full, enjoying her favourite breakfast of bacon and eggs but no bread and with her favourite tipple, tea. She says that the reformers (the machines she exercises on) are her favourite and 'actually quite easy' and since starting Pilates just 18 months ago she has lost a couple of stone!

    And of course, we had to ask her where her favourite place in the Cotswolds was! It is the small village of Daglingworth and its beautiful 11th-century church, which holds lots of special memories for Sue, as it is where her late husband is buried and where her daughter was married. She was a church warden there and recalls the beautiful windows and floral arrangements.

    It's incredible to think that only a year ago this wonderful lady couldn't get out of her chair without assistance!

    We're off to book our Pilates class...

    With enormous thanks to Sallie at Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga Studio for all her help and allowing us to use her story about Sue, to Jess and of course, to Sue herself, an amazing model and all round inspiring lady.

    Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga Studio hold classes for all ages and abilities - take a look here >

    Do you have a story of overcoming illness through exercise or has this story also inspired you to take up a new activity? We'd love to hear it! Let us know by leaving a comment using the box below.

    To view our full range of activewear click here >

    For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up for our email newsletters here >

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    OAPSchat & Cotswold Collections

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    Last month the founder and owner of OAPSchat, Jan Rosser, got in touch with us to ask if she could evaluate our clothes for her website. We were delighted and quickly agreed. Once she received our Summer Raincoat, Printed Jersey Top and Classic Trousers she took to the streets of Hereford, her local city, to test them out.

    OAPSchat Jan

    Jan loved our clothes and wrote a great review which you can read here >

    We really liked the ethos of OAPSchat, a website founded to bring people together and to provide helpful information on a variety of subjects.

    Its lovely founder, Jan, agreed to do an exclusive interview for us on all things OAPSchat and the intriguing life of a blogger.

    Why did you start OAPSchat?

    "One lunchtime, my family and I were talking about the lack of websites for over fifty-fives, so I decided to look into this more thoroughly. There are a few, but they are celebrity based or specific to grandparents, etc. I was a full-time carer for my mother for a few years before she died in September 2014 and caring, as I am sure many or your readers will agree, is a lonely occupation and one can become isolated. Loneliness is a scourge on our society and I wanted to try and reach out to people via an online magazine."

    "So I decided to launch the OAPSchat Facebook page to post and comment about the silver and golden years. A blog was set up and I started to write weekly columns on health, money, lifestyle issues, relationships memories and much more. The Facebook page grew slowly at first, but gradually I was having more and more likes. The Daily Mail mentioned me twice in 2013 and more likes followed (to date, there are over 1430 likes). It was in November 2013 that I decided I had enough material and confidence to launch the website."

    Jan on Hereford Bridge

    What does a typical day involve for you?

    "I start work at around 8am and look at the online papers for up-to-date news that is of interest to OAPSchatters. My main article of the day is published around 9am and shared on the OAPSchat social media platforms. The rest of the morning is spent writing up new articles or researching companies that may be of interest to the website. I try to have an hour’s walk after lunch and then answer any emails that have come in. I usually stop at 5pm and then maybe another walk after tea; weather permitting! Now I have my fabulous waterproof raincoat from Cotswold Collections; there is no excuse not to go outdoors if it is wet!"

    Jan at home and in her garden

    What is your favourite breakfast?

    "Bran flakes and a good quality muesli, plus two cups of tea!"

    Where do you like to visit?

    "I love Devon and have family living in Exeter. Exmouth is a super place with a fabulous beach. I used to like visiting a small fishing village in Almeria in southern Spain, but don’t like flying anymore, so I want to explore more of the UK."

    Favourite place in the Cotswolds?

    "That is a hard one! The most recent place I have visited is Tewkesbury with its glorious abbey and quaint streets. I used to like taking my children to Bourton-on-the-Water when they were younger too."

    Jan on a bridge wearing jersey top

    What do you do in your spare time?

    "I am part of a super, local choir: The Helen Vereker Singers. We practice on a Monday evening for 2 hours and we also perform in concerts at various venues. Music of all types is a love of mine and I often have some classical music on in the background when I am working. I also like walking and riding my electric bike. Reading is another hobby of mine, but I tend to do that when I go to bed."

    What is your favourite Cotswold Collections item?

    "That is a hard question to answer as there are so many super items to choose from. I would say my raincoat at the moment. I have had many compliments from people when I am wearing it!"

    What is the best thing about OAPSchat and becoming a blogger?

    "Becoming self-employed was the best thing I ever did. I launched OAPSchat in November 2013 as a way of alleviating loneliness and I think I have helped some members through the website by creating new friendships and introducing like-minded people to each other. The internet is 24/7 so anytime is ‘suitable’ to log-on and read some of the various articles I have published - 1370 to date and going up every day! I also love evaluating products for companies. It is amazing to think that I have thousands of visitors every day from all corners of the world!"

    "If your readers would like to join the website and like my OAPSchat Facebook page, I would love to welcome them on board."

    To visit the OAPSchat website click here >

    To like the OAPSchat Facebook page click here >

    For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up to our email newsletters here >

     

    The Style Edit: featuring our Copywriter, Annie

    Title

    Meet our fabulous copywriter, Annie! She kindly agreed to feature in our style edit and so we excitedly headed to her gorgeous period Cheltenham home for a photo shoot.

    Annie has worked in fashion throughout her life, starting with her degree in fashion, she then became a lecturer and went on to own her own clothes shop in Montpellier, Cheltenham. She started with Cotswold Collections in our Product Development department, working as a buyer, garment technologist and then as our copywriter. Her knowledge and passion for the products shine through in her informative and beautifully written copy.

    Main image blouse

    We wanted to find out the secrets to Annie's amazing figure, so when she told us of her healthy and delicious sounding breakfast ("tomatoes cooked in olive oil with a few herbs every morning"), we asked her what she liked to drink:

    "Wine (not for breakfast!)... and water."

    Close ups of styling

    Annie, who is in her 70s, is our in-house style icon; we've always admired her style - effortlessly pairing classics with more contemporary pieces, and this outfit is no exception: She is wearing our Chiffon Blouse, sleeves rolled up, with some blush pink jeans and matching trainers for a relaxed ensemble.
    Main image blouse with white t shirt

    We asked her where her favourite place in the Cotswolds was:

    "I like it all, really."

    After some deliberation, she mentioned a walk between Bibury and Coln St. Aldwin:

    "You go past this beautiful church, walking by the river. One day I happened upon a wedding party; we had stopped to eat a picnic by the river bank and saw all the guests arriving; it made for fabulous people-watching."

    Close ups of styling white trousers

    Wearing the Chiffon Blouse as an overshirt, Annie has teamed it with a simple white T-shirt and white skinny jeans, featuring zip detailing and some comfy wedges for an elevated look. This accentuates her slim legs and flows over her top half.

    Main image paisley paprika blouse

    We asked her what her copywriting process was:

    "Firstly, I see the clothes on the model so I can judge how they move and hang, as well as any special features. I then spend a long time looking at the qualities of our beautiful fabrics and finally I write the copy. I always bear in mind which other items are on the spread so I can tell a whole story."

    And what her favourite thing to write about was:

    "Crêpe. I love the way it hangs. It's such a beautiful fabric."

    Close ups of styling orange

    Embracing the overshirt style, Annie dons the Paisley Print Blouse with the orange Scoopneck Top and black jeans for striking contrasts. Finished with the Chunky Bead Necklace and some pretty sandals, this outfit really embodies the spirit of summer and highlights her gorgeous hair.

    Main image cardigan

    We asked her what she did when she was not copywriting:

    "I enjoy classical ballet classes, walking and life drawing."

    She also recently attended a drawing class at Central St. Martins, the prestigious fashion school, where she did up to 40 drawings a day.

    Close ups of styling black cardigan

    This chic outfit makes the most of the classic monochrome hues. Annie wears our Cotton Cardigan with the Pima Crewneck Top and black jeans, which are turned up at the cuff to highlight the strap detailing on the sandals. The cardigan looks great either loose or with just the top button fastened for a flowing silhouette. Annie also styled this outfit with white jeans and our Summer Hat to add a pop of colour.

     

    What is your favourite Cotswold Collections piece?

    "My real favourite are some natural freshwater pearls."

    A classic and elegant necklace - just what we'd expect from this wonderfully stylish lady.

     

    Read more of our styling articles:

    Dress for Your Shape

    The Scarf Style Guide

    The Scarf Style Guide: Part II

    For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up to our email newsletters here >

    The Chelsea Flower Show & Pat Albeck

    Title

    This week the RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place, as well as an exclusive exhibition featuring Pat Albeck's work. Read on to find why we are embracing all things floral.

    The Chelsea Flower Show attracts over 157,000 visitors every year, inspiring people with dramatic and beautiful flower and garden displays. It was originally named the Royal Horticultural Society Great Spring Show and was first held in 1862. It moved location to the Chelsea Hospital, where it has been since 1912, renamed to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

    The stunning displays of flora challenge our conceptions of nature and garden design and influence future trends. This celebration of spring, new life and the beauty of nature is enjoyed by millions, whether by those fortunate enough to attend or, like most of us, from the comfort of our homes on television.

    Embracing all things floral, we are re-introducing this beautiful floral print, exclusively designed by renowned artist, Pat Albeck.

    Pat Albeck Blouse GC309

    Back by popular demand, this cheerful blouse embodies summer and is a celebration of the Cotswold countryside. Made in collaboration with a family-run mill in Cheshire, the design was printed onto swathes of pure cotton and then cut and sewn into the beautiful pieces shown above, according to our in-house design specifications. Whether styled casually with jeans as an over-shirt or tucked into a chic skirt for a more refined look, this statement blouse is sure to turn heads this summer.

    Pat Albeck started out in her career designing for Horrockses in the 1950s, going onto to design for John Lewis (the 'Daisy Chain' print is one of her most famous), the National Trust and many other famous brands. With over six decades of design experience we were thrilled when she agreed to design a print for us.

    Prints

    Pat designed this exclusive print for us in her picturesque Cotswold cottage, where her studio is overflowing with fabulous prints that she is working on and overlooks her garden. She feels she is experiencing her own renaissance as vintage prints rise in popularity.

    Her Cotswold cottage and garden provide her with plenty of inspiration for new prints. She is devoted to her passion: going out everyday to pick a flower and draw it. When asked which was her favourite flower, she said that she likes "each flower as it comes", especially zinnias, sweet peas, lupins and waterlilies but her favourite flower is the rose, so we were not surprised that the print she designed for us featured an abundance of gorgeous roses.

    Pat Albeck's latest work will be on display at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler's latest exhibition, 'A CUT ABOVE', featuring 20 of her pieces.

    Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler was founded in the 1930s and is the longest established interior decorating firm in Great Britain, as well as one of the most respected. Founded in 1938 by Lady Colefax, a glamorous socialite and interior decorator, who drew upon her childhood in India and European travels for inspiration when decorating.

    Their impressive showrooms on Pimlico Road host Pat's intricately crafted paper flower collages from Monday, 22nd May to Saturday, 27th May 2017, during the Chelsea Flower Show.

    Pat's latest work is a result of experimenting with a number of different techniques and by doing so she has "discovered that cut paper is my very favourite technique.”

    Whether you are in Chelsea this week for the Flower Show or not, be sure to visit Pat Albeck's latest exhibition. For more details, click here >

    Did you know, we also created a beautiful skirt in the same print? Take a look here or read more about Pat's exclusive print >

    Heritage Partnerships: Beckford Silk

    Title

    To celebrate National Mills Weekend on the 13th and 14th May, we went behind-the-scenes at our local silk mill, Beckford Silk.

    The journey to Beckford is filled with picturesque Cotswold cottages and stunning scenery and as we pull up into the drive we are presented with the beautiful red brick building, surrounded by lush green fields, that is Beckford Silk.

    Michelle Beckford Silk Buyer

    Working with Beckford Silk for over two decades, our accessories buyer Michelle produces beautiful designs for our collections that you will treasure for years to come.

    Glass pane Beckford Silk

    Beckford Silk is a family-run company with nearly half a century of silk printing expertise behind them. Founded in 1975 by James and Marthe Gardner, who wanted to make things by hand in the Cotswold countryside, much the same as the Arts and Crafts Movement, from which we draw our heritage. Their first order was from the National Trust in 1978, which propelled them into the silk printing industry. They have been working with their silk supplier for over a decade, ensuring close ties and a great working relationship.

    Anne and Marthe Beckford Silk

    Marthe and James are still the figureheads of the business but have passed most of their knowledge onto their children Anne and Robbie. Marthe is pictured here with her daughter Anne, who now oversees the design and sales side of the business. It was a pleasure to meet this charming mother & daughter team and to hear how the company has progressed over the years. Surrounded by ledgers filled with accounts, Marthe relaid tales in her delightful French accent of her childhood and her current struggle with all things computer-based (something many of us can relate to), preferring instead to manage the accounts with pencil and paper, whilst liaising with her son. This meeting of the old and the new is a reflection of the business as a whole: Beckford Silk use both screen and digital methods to print, with old methods used side by side with new, as well as the knowledge being passed down the generations. It is this fusion of both that drives the business and leads it forward.

    Victoria Beckford Silk Designer

    Their in-house designer Victoria works with each client to produce the designs which are then printed. She is currently working with the V&A on over a dozen designs this year and also works with many other institutions, such as the National Trust, Highgrove, Westminster Abbey, the Tate and the Royal Academy, to create high-quality products that reflect the unique heritage of each client.

    Silk printing block Beckford silk

    Their building is filled with the trappings of a working mill, as well as historical artefacts, such as these intricately carved antique silk print blocks.

    Dye recipes Beckford Silk

    We are shown into the hub of production, where their exclusive dyes are formulated and recorded in recipe books that have taken years to refine. It is an on-going scientific process, involving a lot of time and experimentation. This room is crammed with intriguing pots that are filled with eye-catching colours, vaguely reminiscent of chemistry lessons. It is a visual feast that belies the hard work behind these amazingly colourful dye recipes.

    Silk dyeing Beckford Silk

    Here reams of cloth are spinning on machines that use steam to open up the silk fibres, which aids absorption of the dye molecules. They are used to dye their rolls of silk which they sell to designers and the general public.

    Hand Screen Printing Beckford Silk

    We are then shown upstairs to the screen printing room. This light and airy room houses the traditional printing process. Giant screens are used to impart the dye onto the silk. One screen is used for each colour. The silk is taped down onto the canvas-covered table and then the screen is placed on top and the dye pushed through. The screen is moved down the table as the fabric is printed. This is also the method used to produce devoré fabric. Once printed the length of silk is pegged up to dry above the table. It is a time-consuming but rewarding process that is keeping this traditional craft alive.

    Silk drying Beckford Silk

    One of the final stages of this complex process is steaming the silk, which ensures that the dye is fixed and any coating is removed. They use a Clip Stenter Finishing Machine, which feeds the fabric through an infra-red oven, drawing out the moisture leaving the fabric dry and crease-free. The silk is then cut into individual scarves, which are hand-rolled by a team of local women, who range from young mothers to experienced seamstresses, including one who has worked for them for over a decade.

    Shop Beckford Silk

    The finished items are then boxed and shipped to their clients or displayed in their well laid-out shop.

    Anne's knowledge and passion for her family's mill, combined with her easy manner and genuine interest in answering our many questions on the tour, makes it easy to see why Beckford Silk are so successful, adapting readily to the changing world of printing.

    We hope you have enjoyed discovering the complex processes involved in producing our scarves and the family behind the brand, as we did.

    Beckford Silk Scarf GB915

    Shop our classic spot Silk Neckerchief from Beckford Silk and look out for more of their stunning scarves in our upcoming collections.

    Visit a mill near you! Take a look at the National Mills Weekend website to find one near you >

    Do you own one of our Beckford Silk scarves? Let us know by leaving a comment using the box below.

    Buyers' Favourites from our Spring Collection & International Women's Day

    Our clothes are designed by women, for women. Read on to reveal the best pieces from the Spring Collection and the women who inspire us ahead of International Women's Day.

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    With brighter days and warmer weather on the horizon, we asked our buyers which pieces really stood out for them from our Spring Collection to help us decide which fabulous pieces to invest in.

    Women Designers

    Before we reveal their favourites, we thought we should shine a little light on to all the hard work our brilliant team of buyers do before a garment reaches your wardrobe: they spend every waking minute (well almost) creating new styles and considering carefully the fit and shape of each garment, so that the end result is a piece that looks wonderful, is incredibly comfortable and flatters your figure. Led by our managing director Jane, our all-women buying team are focussed on developing the best product for you. Being women themselves, they understand we all like a little give in our waistbands, more room in our sleeves and tailoring that flatters and know that our figure changes over time.  If you should ever return a Cotswold garment (we can't imagine you would), they read every bit of feedback on the returns form to ensure they are taking all viewpoints, comments and suggestions into consideration. They then tweak and update style favourites using your feedback, resulting in a garment that is perfect in every way and will continue to become better and better over time, using your invaluable feedback on fit, style and colour.

    So here they are, the favourite pieces:

    Lucy fave

    "This pima cotton outfit is perfect for those spring days out and about visiting places and would be amazing for any early holidays you have planned. It is complemented with the woven bag and gorgeous Italian dark azure scarf."

     

    Sarah fave

    "This beautiful floral print blouse makes you want to smile! It is uplifting in colour and print, as well as being light and easy to wear."

     

    Michelle fave

    "The navy, coral and snowdrop contrasts of colour in this floral silk neckerchief are great and I particularly love the print, which I had a lot of fun designing with our new artisan supplier near Lake Como."

     

    Emily fave

    "This is a new style bed jacket and is in the perfect length to worn in bed without too much fuss of extra fabric around your legs and it is great to wear around the house as an extra layer as well."

    So there you have it, our buyers' favourites from our Spring Collection.

    To celebrate International Women's Day on the 8th March we wanted to share with you the women who inspire us...

    If you read last week's journal then you'll know that Pat Albeck (top left) holds a very special place in our heart, having designed exclusive prints for our collections. Her career spanning six decades has shaped the world of textile design and she is still designing! Her Majesty the Queen (top centre) is an icon of female empowerment, being Britain's longest reigning monarch as well as a style icon. Tao Porchon-Lynch (top right) is a 98 year-old yogi master and reminds us that staying active and doing something you enjoy are the key to wellness. Katharine Hamnett (middle left) designed statement T-shirts that politicised the fashion world and proved that clothes were more than just a commodity. Joanna Lumley (middle right) is obviously very stylish but she inspires us because she uses her position to help others, campaigning for many worthy causes and is an advocate of clothes recycling. Iris Apfel (bottom left) is a fabulous 98 year-old who gives talks on the importance of maintaining traditional fashion trades, such as weaving, to students and regularly donates her amazing collection of clothes to museums. Vivienne Westwood (bottom centre) is a hugely influential designer and businesswoman. Lucinda Chambers (bottom right) is Vogue's fashion director, who started out with Vogue in the 1970s writing petty cash receipts and has worked her way up to one of the most influential positions in the fashion industry.

    Now we've heard theirs, we'd love to hear yours: do you have a favourite piece that you're eyeing up in our latest collection or have you already made a new addition to your wardrobe? If so we'd be thrilled to hear from you. We'd also like to know which women inspire you! Please let us know by leaving a comment in the box below.

    For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up to our email newsletters here.

    Heritage Partnerships: Pat Albeck

    Title

    We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Pat Albeck, the renowned fabric designer and local artist. She designed an exclusive print for us last year that is back by popular demand! Read on to find out more about Pat and her beautiful print.

    Pat Albeck has led a very interesting life and with a career in the textile design industry spanning over six decades, she is something of a national institution. She started out in her career designing for Horrockses in the 1950s, including beautifully feminine dresses like the one pictured below (perhaps you may remember them?), she designed the 'Daisy Chain' print for John Lewis and she is famously entitled 'The Tea Towel Queen' having designed over 300 for the National Trust (check your drawer, you may own one!), amongst other famous brands.

    It seems creativity runs in her family, her late husband was the famous stage designer Peter Rice, her son Matthew Rice is a designer & author and her daughter-in-law is the renowned ceramic designer Emma Bridgewater, whose pottery fills her home. She lives in a picturesque cottage in the Cotswolds (the extensions were designed by her son) where she does all her work.

    Prints

    Her studio is overflowing with fabulous prints that she is working on and overlooks her garden. She credits the longevity of her career to "never stopping" and maintains that “everybody should keep a creative space in their home.” When asked if she has ever designed something she did not approve of, she answers that she has not and sagely advises to “never do anything because you think it will sell. Do it because you like it and hope they’ll want to buy the things you do." She feels she is experiencing her own renaissance as vintage prints rise in popularity.

    Studio

    Her Cotswold cottage and garden provide her with plenty of inspiration for new prints. She is devoted to her passion: going out everyday to pick a flower and draw it, except at the age of 87, she "finds it harder to bend down and pick tiny flowers." She loves drawing vegetables, flowers and cats and says that "the more I learn about flowers, the better my drawings become.” When asked which was her favourite flower, she said that she likes "each flower as it comes", especially zinnias, sweet peas, lupins and waterlilies but her favourite flower is the rose, so we were not surprised that the print she designed for us featured an abundance of gorgeous roses.

    Factory

    In collaboration with a family-run mill in Cheshire, Pat's design was then printed onto swathes of pure cotton for the skirt and a silk & cotton blend for the scarf. The fabric was then cut and sewn into the beautiful pieces shown below, according to our in-house design specifications. So from the initial design right through to the final product, these pieces are true examples of British craftsmanship, supporting the British textile trade.

    Scarf

    Add a touch of timeless charm to your outfit with this versatile accessory featuring Pat Albeck's exclusive print. Printed on to a square of delicate fabric, this superb silk-blend scarf features a floral garland border and is finished with the artist's signature.

    Skirt

    Elevate your look with this feminine, figure-flattering cotton skirt. Showcasing Pat Albeck's gorgeous print to full effect, this striking print skirt features a full lining, pockets, side back waistband elastication and a mock-button-front.

    Do you have a favourite Pat Albeck print? Let us know by leaving a comment using the box below.

    For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up to our email newsletters here.

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