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A Christmas Wreath

How many lists have you got lying around the house/in your bag/on your phone at the moment? One for the presents; one for the food; another one because you’ve run out of space on the first ones? Not to mention what’s going on in the diary…

There’s so much going on in the run up to Christmas alongside keeping everything else ticking over. So in between the endless lists; shopping expeditions and Google searches for the best deals, it is a real tonic to have a breather and step away from the commercial side of the festive season and get creative.

I always enjoy making a Christmas wreath to put on our front door – it’s the original door from when the house was a school and it lends itself to some kind of decoration. In the past I’ve used dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks and pine cones for my wreaths, but this year I wanted to see if I could make the wreath entirely from foraged finds from my garden or on walks. And here’s what I came up with…feathers included!



Last Sunday was a bright, crisp winter’s day so I got wrapped up and headed out into the garden with a steaming mug of tea. First up was gathering the moss to wrap around the copper wreath base (apologies to any worms or bugs who have ended up as part of my Christmas decorations – I think I managed to remove you all).


Next is the fun bit – deciding on the look you want and finding the decorations. I must say that my wreaths always seem to evolve and end up looking completely different from the design I had in my head – but not in a bad way. This is the lovely thing about making your own wreath as each year it will look different according to what you have found on your foraging forays.


After attaching various pine and conifer foliage to the moss wreath for my backdrop, I got stuck into the finer details. I love the idea of using hydrangea heads but as I didn’t have any in my garden I used these gorgeous pink sedum heads as my main flower instead.



Then I added sprigs of Viburnum Tinus which has such glossy, green leaves. For a bit of extra detail I slotted in some rose hips and tiny larch cones. I scooped up the pheasant feathers on a walk a couple of months ago knowing they would come in handy for some creative project. In the end I didn’t feel the wreath needed a ribbon as the feathers kind of do the job, looking like ribbon ends. I also made an extra wreath for my parents as an early Christmas offering.

The wreath is such a Christmas tradition, originally created from fresh evergreens symbolising strength as evergreens survive the harshest of winters. In Christianity the circular shape with no beginning or end was supposed to symbolise eternity or life never ending.

Two years ago we went to a wonderful celebration for Sankta Lucia, an atmospheric, candlelit Swedish carol service, held at York Minster where a girl dressed as St Lucy wears a wreath of candles on her head. This beautiful event takes place this Friday, December 8th at York Minster.

You can read more about it on my post here. Until next time…


Style and Story is on the move


Hi there. I am on the move – well Style and Story is – and I would love you to come with me. I’ve been busy over the past few weeks creating a new website which you can find here at

So if you previously subscribed to Style and Story you can click onto the new site and do the same. This means you’ll get new posts directly into your inbox.

If you don’t subscribe but like to have an occasional dip into Style and Story, that’s no problem. My posts will still be linked to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so you’ll be able to follow them there.

Style and Story is the place where I share lovely places, special finds and family adventures. I hope you find somewhere that inspires you on the site whether it’s a fantastic walk, a beautiful garden or a lovely café.

I would like to thank everyone who has read and commented on the original site over the past two years and I really look forward to keeping in touch over on the new website.

Sarah x


Do you know your cumulus from your altostratus or your cirrus from your nimbostratus? IMG_4739

Sort of? Not sure? Those geography lessons ringing a bell now? They did for us on a recent trip to the Lincolnshire coast where we got a crash course in cloud formations and their meanings.

The Cloud Bar at Anderby Creek is the UK’s first permanent cloud watching outpost. It’s situated at the entrance to the beach where you can read fascinating facts about clouds (like the fact that some clouds weigh as much as 200 tonnes – as my youngest son asked “why don’t they drop out of the sky then if they are so heavy?”) You can lie back on the stone seats and gaze up at the sky or swivel the cloud mirrors around to take a closer look at those big fluffy cotton wool balls in the sky…

The skies in this part of the world are huge with beaches to match. The Lincolnshire coast stretches for miles and miles with wide, sandy beaches…

… which are great for dog walking. We spent the best part of a day walking from Anderby Creek, past some pretty beach huts, to Sutton on Sea to have lunch at a lovely café and bistro called The Fat Seagull.

At the risk of being a beach-bore, here’s a photo of the place we stayed in – a little cabin set around a lake just behind the dunes. From the decking at the front of the cabin, as well as through the huge picture window, you get quite absorbed in the antics of the migrating birds that inhabit the middle of the lake.

Twenty Six is featured on the Sawday’s website, one of my favourite places to look when I am searching for somewhere unique to stay. This small village of cabins are Modernist classics built in the 1950s. Although bijou in size, Twenty Six, is actually quite tardis-like inside, with an open plan living area and kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms including a bunk room sleeping three for our trio of boys.

The decor is 50s-inspired with pieces of mid-century furniture and accessories adding character to the place which is decorated in a subtle palette of greys, aqua and yellow.

As a child of the 70s Anderby Creek felt like a step back in time – to bucket and spade holidays, sandcastle building, hiding in the dunes and collecting sea shells. The bright lights of Skegness are about eight miles south of here and the family seaside resort of Mablethorpe a few miles north. Anderby is definitely the hidden gem in the middle.

If you’re in search of an antidote to the fast pace of modern life you’ll love this place (there is WiFi by the way, which my own kids of the millennium managed to hook up to pretty soon after crossing the threshold!) Meanwhile I was quite content with the magazines, books, CDs and best of all, the view.

A Good Read

Last weekend I hosted one of the author events at the Ryedale Book Festival in Malton. My task was to interview best-selling authors Susie Steiner and Gail Honeyman about their female protagonists.


I have hosted similar events with Lauren Child, now Children’s Laureate, and also with Susie at the Book Festival three years ago talking about her book, Homecoming ,which is set in the North York Moors. Since then Susie has written two more novels, Missing Presumed and Persons Unknown.

If you are looking for a good read then I can highly recommend Susie’s books. The crime thrillers Missing Presumed and Persons Unknown have been optioned for TV so do keep a look out for them. Susie has got such a talent for creating real-life characters and relatable characters.


Gail Honeyman is the author of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a wonderful book that I loved from start to finish. This is Gail’s debut novel and it has already been optioned for film by Reese Witherspoon’s new company Hello Sunshine. Keep an eye out for this one…


Unfortunately due to illness, Gail was unable to come which was so disappointing so the panel was just Susie and myself – Yikes! We are looking quite relaxed in the photo but there was a lot of thinking on our feet as several prepared questions and discussion got the chop…our audience were great though and had plenty of questions at the end…


Whilst we are on the subject of book recommendations, here’s a throwback to our holiday earlier this year where I read and really enjoyed Jessie Burton’s The Muse. I loved her debut novel The Miniaturist and this one had me gripped too.


So, if you do have the chance to curl up with a good book, I hope you might dip into one of the books I’ve shared. Happy reading!


England’s Big Picture


I was thrilled to receive an email today telling me one of my photos had been chosen by BBC News for their England’s Big Picture gallery. You can check out the page here

The photo was one I included in my blog post yesterday about the pleasures of Autumn days. This suspension footbridge holds many memories for me – I’ve wheeled three young babies and toddlers across this in pushchairs over the years to paddle in the beck or to play pooh sticks in the little hamlet of Menethorpe. More recently it’s me and the pooch using it for one of our walks.

The bridge itself is a beautiful and eye-catching piece of Victorian ironwork. It was constructed in 1885 and links the North Riding of Yorkshire to the East Riding of Menethorpe. It also takes you onto the Centenary Way which runs across the Howardian Hills and Yorkshire Wolds via Castle Howard and Wharram Percy.

If you enjoy photography why not submit a photo to the England’s Big Picture gallery by emailing or posting it on Facebook or Twitter @BBCEngland. I use Instagram with the hashtag #englandsbigpicture. Happy snapping!


Autumn Days

Much as I love summer, there is something to welcome about the shift in seasons as we head towards Autumn; russet, red and gold leaves; pinecones, conkers and acorns to collect; low sun filtering through the trees and long country walks on crisp, bright days.


We’re lucky to have some beautiful walks on our doorstep and since getting a dog we’ve certainly got out more than ever. I’m rarely without my camera on my wanderings – and because I’ve become a fan of Instagram, I’m always on the look out for the perfect composition. If you use IG you’ll know that as well as the perfect composition you’re also looking for the perfect square shot to fit into IG’s little boxes.

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For a small village ours has an impressive number of bridges – three in total. There are two railway bridges and one footbridge built in 1885 which links the North Riding of Yorkshire to the East Riding. This ‘bouncy’ bridge as we’ve always called it always slightly terrified me with toddlers in tow – and more recently with the dog as I really don’t fancy diving into the murky waters of the Derwent to fish her out. I’m presuming all dogs can swim so hopefully it wouldn’t come to this.

Back home, I’m planning to tidy it up for winter. Some plants are still looking vibrant even if the rest are in their twilight days. I’ve been snipping away at some of the flowers to display in jugs and vases – Japanese anemones, crocosmia and sweet peas which are still producing plenty of blooms.

Autumn is such a lovely time of year for getting outdoors; wrapping up warm; misty mornings; dazzling copper shades; beautiful sunsets and fruits to harvest. Having said all this, the skies can sometimes look like this…so remember to take your coat!


I hope you enjoy your own Autumn ramblings…

Helmsley Walled Garden

A walled garden must be every gardener’s dream – sheltered from the elements that often take their toll on our own patches – especially after a heavy downfall – whose delphiniums aren’t looking a little sorry for themselves after the recent soaking?

A couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine, who happens to be a professional gardener, suggested a trip to Helmsley Walled Garden. We often meet up and do a walk together but it was looking like quite a hot day so a lovely garden with some shade – and nice café beckoned.

This idyllic five-acre site sits beneath the ruins of Helmsley Castle and is just a stone’s throw away from the pretty market town of Helmsley.


The garden originally provided fruit and vegetables for the Feversham household at Duncombe Park until just after World War One when it got leased out as a market garden. Sadly, it fell derelict over the years and it wasn’t until 1994 that its restoration started thanks to the vision and sheer hard work of a local lady, Alison Ticehurst. Alison wanted the garden not only to be a beautiful site once again but also to be a place for horticultural therapy. Today supported volunteers learn horticultural skills here whilst at the same time benefiting from new skills and gaining confidence.


The garden now contains a spectacular long double herbaceous border planted with vibrant reds, yellow and oranges; a white garden; a clematis garden and orchards. Wherever you are the castle is always a looming presence – whether behind formal layouts….


…or as a backdrop to pretty wildflower meadows. Doesn’t this look quintessentially English with its daisies and bright red poppies peering out from the long grass?


Even the cow parsley looks gorgeous rather than unruly especially when it’s set off with a mowed path down the centre with an orchard either side.


The bright yellow laburnum arch and purple alliums dancing at either side look stunning at this time of year…it was an irresistible photograph to take.


Did you ever read The Secret Garden as a child? Well, this door really reminded me of this book. Wouldn’t you have loved to find a hidden garden like Mary Lennox did in the story? I wonder what is behind this lovely old door.


As well as the gardens, the glasshouses have all been restored and house a fantastic array of plants including succulents and this impressive display of gourds.



Alongside the floral attractions and not forgetting some rather cute looking resident hens, there is also a wonderful cafe here. The Vine House Café is in a restored Victorian vinery where you can eat beneath the vines or in the courtyard.


The café serves mouth-watering cakes and gorgeous lunches including delicious salads. Mine contained strawberries and blueberries which I wouldn’t have thought of adding. I did try this at home afterwards, serving up a mixed salad with grapes and blueberries – it took a bit of convincing my brood that the fruit hadn’t got in there by accident – I have now moved over to the ‘anything goes’ mindset when putting together a salad thanks to my fruity salad encounter.


If you get a chance to visit, the garden is looking stunning at the moment with a blaze of colour in the borders; lovely wildflower meadows sprawling out beneath orchards of apple and pear trees as well as a plant centre offering plenty of inspiration to take home with you.