Designer Desire: George Cook

Mosaic of George Cook pottery items for Ambleside Pottery

Earlier this week, we wrote about a piece of Ambleside pottery we bought. Today we’re going to show you a few more examples of work by its maker, George Cook. Cook was the founder and main designer-maker of Ambleside Pottery based in the southern Lake District, Cumbria. He ran the pottery from 1948 until he retired in 1968, when he sold the premises to Brian Jackson. Between 1959 & 1966, he trained Gordon Fox who currently owns & runs Kentmere Pottery.

George Cook pieces regularly come up for sale at auctions across the UK and occasionally appear on eBay. They’re very reasonably priced… for the time being!

The 1954 Rydal Women’s Institute programme reveals how the group held their April meeting at George Cook’s studio. A pottery demonstration formed part of the event. The studio was located in North Road, in an abandoned corn mill (see bottom photo taken in April 1886) by Stock Ghyll, Ambleside.  The pottery remained in existence until the 1980s. At present, it operates as the Giggling Goose Café. Apparently, examples of the pottery can still be found on the roof above the kitchen window.

George Cook, founder of Ambleside Potterycredit

Stock Ghyll Mill, North Road, Amblesidecredit

Additional image credits: Worthpoint

Price Points: Jungle style

Jungle style interior ideas | H is for Home

A theme that’s gaining in popularity at the moment is jungle style. Sometimes you just want to open your front door and step into a fantasy world – at least some of us that live in a cold, rainy Pennine valley do!

I really like a rainforest vibe; it’s relaxing, exotic and fun. You can easily set the mood with sound – a recording of soft rain falling on to broad-leaved trees, fast-moving waterfalls and the shrill of cicadas… We sometimes play soothing rainforest soundscapes via Spotify through our Sonos speakers to help us fall asleep.

A feature wall papered with a bold jungle print helps bring a tropical vibe to a room. Dot a few big architectural houseplants such as palms, ferns and rubber plants around the room and it’s almost like being in the Amazon!

I just love these playful lights – available in black or white – of monkeys striking different poses. A group of these simian pranksters would make a brilliant talking point!

  1. Authentic Natural Sounds – Rainforest (1 track on 1 CD): £2.19, musicMagpie
  2. Savuti Dark Petrol Multi wallpaper: £80 per roll, wallpaperdirect
  3. Seletti monkey light: from £169, Amazon

Cakes & Bakes: Sourdough beer loaf

Home-made sourdough beer loaf | H is for Home #sourdough #realbread #recipe

I’m continuing with Sourdough September this week and making a sourdough beer loaf using a dark, delicious porter from Acorn Brewery in Barnsley.

Sourdough beer loaf autolyse | H is for Home

I’ve been baking with sourdough – on and off – for a few years now and it can be hit & miss with the temperature of our house. This recipe that I’ve used talks about room temperature being 22ºC; we have a thermometer in our kitchen that never gets past 15ºC at the peak of summer! I’ve picked up a couple of tricks to improve the ambient environment for bread baking. In the winter, I simply put the proofing bowl/banneton near the wood-burner. In the summer I boil a mug of water in the microwave, remove it, put the bowl/banneton in and close the door. It usually works quite well.

Home-made sourdough beer loaf with bottle of Old Moor porter | H is for Home #sourdough #realbread #recipe

The web page where I found this recipe has lots of photos of the finished loaf uploaded by all the people that tried it. Lots of lovely, round boules and shapely batards. As you can tell from my photos, mine was a bit of a ‘nailed it’ attempt! It wasn’t the temperature but the consistency of my dough that was to blame.

Sliced, home-made sourdough beer loaf | H is for Home #sourdough #realbread #recipe

Starter hydration is described as a percentage – e.g. 100% hydration or 75% hydration. I wasn’t at school on the day percentages were taught and I’ve still not mastered them… maths was always my worst subject too! My starter is kept at the former percentage i.e. equal weight (not volume) of flour & water at each feeding. I don’t know where it went wrong to be honest. I should have gone with my instinct and added more flour – I could tell that I would have to pour my dough out of the banneton, almost as if it was a batter. Even so, it still managed something of a rise and tastes great! I will revisit this sourdough beer loaf recipe very soon and post the results below.

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest for later!

Sourdough beer loaf
Yields 1
Cook Time
50 min
Cook Time
50 min
  1. 400g/14oz strong white flour
  2. 100g/3½oz wholemeal flour
  3. 345g/12oz bottle of beer (I used most of a 500ml bottle of Old Moor porter brewed by Acorn Brewery of Barnsley here in Yorkshire)
  4. 75g/2⅔oz water
  5. 80g/2¾oz sourdough starter
  6. 12g/½oz saltHome-made sourdough beer loaf ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
  1. Pour 345g/12oz of room temperature beer into a bowl and mix thoroughly to release the carbonation
  2. Add the 500g/17⅔oz flour mixture to the beer and mix until thoroughly incorporated into a shaggy mass
  3. Cover and set aside (autolyse) at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) for 2-3 hours
  4. Combine the salt, water and starter and mix thoroughly before adding to the dough
  5. Fold repeatedly until everything is thoroughly mixed together and the dough begins to feel smooth
  6. Cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about an hour
  7. Fold the dough 8 times (8 single folds)
  8. Re-cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about 12 hours at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) or until the volume of dough doubles (optionally stretch and fold periodically)
  9. Turn out the fermented dough on a lightly-floured work surface and shape into your preferred loaf (boule, batard, etc.) and then place dough into a well-floured (rice flour is preferred) proofing basket/banneton; cover and allow to sit at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) for about an hour
  10. After 30 minutes or so, place your preferred baking vessel, stone or tray (I used my pizza steel) in the oven and preheat to 260ºC/500ºF (or your vessel's maximum safe temperature).
  11. With the dough fully risen and oven pre-heated, gently transfer the dough from the proofing basket to the baking vessel, score the top of the loaf, and then bake at 260ºC/500ºF with top on (if using) for 20 minutes
  12. Turn the oven temperature down to 230ºC/450ºF and bake for another 10 minutes
  13. Remove the top of the baking vessel (if using) and bake for 20 minutes or until the colour of the crust is as desired and the internal loaf temperature is at least 90ºC/200ºF
  14. Remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a wire rack and allow it to cool for at least an hour before slicing
Adapted from Breadtopia
Adapted from Breadtopia
H is for Home Harbinger

4 new gardening trends to try in 2017

4 new gardening trends to try in 2017

Many recent studies indicate that time spent in and amongst nature plays an instrumental role in reducing stress and improving general health & well-being. Fortunately, due to modern advancements, it’s not necessary to go into the woods to spend time with nature. You can do so in the comfort of your own home, office or garden.

No longer are we limited by climate, rainfall, space, and soil conditions when it comes to growing plants. The advancement in modern techniques and technology enables virtually any available space to be transformed into a plant haven. Here are four new gardening trends to consider.

Vegetable seedlings

  1. Growing herbs & vegetables indoors

Indoor gardening techniques and equipment have improved in leaps and bounds over recent years. People are often choosing (or being forced) to live in smaller spaces without large gardens, whilst at the same time the demand for local and organic food has increased tremendously. Hence, many are opting to grow their own herbs, salads and other vegetables such as pak choi and chillies indoors. You can also grow your own herbal plants for infused teas, soaps or medicinal treatments. A windowsill is a perfect site for all this. You might also have a small balcony area that you can dedicate to these plants; or, failing that, grow plants under lights or use aquaponic systems.

Swallow greenhousecredit

  1. Greenhouses

If you do have some outdoor space, it doesn’t need to be large or expansive in order to grow your own food. You can have a Swallow greenhouse installed in your backyard or flat roof terrace. These greenhouses are specifically manufactured to help grow delicate plants that require specific conditions. They are constructed of timber that is heat-treated up to 215ºC, protecting the construction from rotting. Hence, you can be assured of the durability of Swallow greenhouses as they’re built to handle cold and damp weather conditions with ease. If you’re considering installing a Swallow greenhouse in your backyard or other potentially suitable space, pay a visit to the site

Cacti and succulent house plants

  1. Jungle and desert-inspired interiors

A trend that has been gaining momentum recently is grouped collections of house plants. If you browse magazines and interiors websites, you’ll see that many home-owners are using house plants to decorate their homes – arranged in wonderful assemblages of various sizes and shapes. Many have broad, glossy, architectural leaves and others cascade down from shelves and hanging planters. This gives quite a jungle-inspired feel and they’re currently all the rage.

The same can be said of cacti and other succulents. Again, they’re arranged in concentrated collections for maximum impact. Various pot colours & sizes – and using alternative containers such as up-cycled tins can add further interest. When decorating your home, consider these bold and intriguing house plants – for both the natural air purification benefits and to make a real interiors statement.

Click Grow house planting kit

  1. Hi-tech gardening tools

There’s some great new technology on the market for the both the experienced and aspiring gardener.

There is a growing range of apps available for your smartphone or tablet. There are plant identifiers such as the RHS ‘Grow Your Own’ which tells you what fruit & veg you can grow; when to plant and harvest and what pests and diseases you may encounter. There are also a number of podcasts that you can download and watch to improve your gardening knowledge.

The Parrot Flower Power plant monitor is a little device that you stick into your plant’s pot (either indoors or out) and it monitors and analyses the growing conditions. It sends you alerts to your smartphone via an app to let you know if the plant needs more or less light, water, warmth or even if it needs to be re-potted!

If there are rooms in your house that get little natural sunlight, you may find it a challenge to grow plants successfully. This dilemma has now been solved. There are now planting kits that come with integrated LED lights to ensure that your plants get all the light they need.


Dish of the day: Ambleside Pottery

Vintage Ambleside Pottery slipware dish | H is for Home

We don’t go into charity shops that much any more, but we had a mooch in a couple yesterday – after viewing the auction at Hartley’s in Ilkley (a nice town for a day out if you’ve never been – auction, independent shops, cafes etc). We made a few purchases including this cute little vintage slipware dish.

Detail from a Blue slipware pottery dish produced by Ambleside Pottery | H is for Home

It was made at Ambleside Pottery which was founded by George Cook in the late 1940s. This is quite an early example and rather charming, we think. They also produced some fabulous sgraffito designs which have real mid century modern style.

Stamp detail from a Blue slipware pottery dish produced by Ambleside Pottery | H is for Home

The pottery closed in the 1980s. It’s developing a wider following of collectors, but is still very affordable. Strangely we saw the best piece of Ambleside Pottery we’ve ever come across in Ilkley – a huge 1950s flagon-like slipware jug. It was for sale at the aforementioned auction. We couldn’t attend on bidding day, so left a bid. Alas, we didn’t leave one high enough, missed out – and have regretted it ever since!

Get their look: Mid-century lounge

Mid-century loungecredit

Our love affair with all things 50s-inspired continues with this mid-century lounge. It has many of the classic hallmarks of this type of space – light & airy, unfussy, optimistic. The furniture is stylish, yet retains a functional simplicity – the distinctive splayed legs and feet associated with the era are much in evidence. The parquet flooring is a wonderful original feature that really suits the overall design. Clean lines and hard edges are softened with textiles and lots of natural foliage.

Whilst we’re concentrating on the lounge area, we love the open plan nature of the apartment and glimpses through to the kitchen and mezzanine bedroom. The glazed panel works perfectly to section off the bedroom area whilst retaining the sight line and flow – this is cleverly echoed by the the mirror on the wall beneath.

  1. ASTRO Tressino S 7042 IP44 wall light
  2. Aspect mirror
  3. Mid-century media 6-piece set
  4. Mid-century turned wood leg planters
  5. Stellar white marble side table
  6. Santiago leather armchair in camel
  7. 2 x Lule high back carver dining chairs
  8. Porto left-hand corner sofa

Have a look at some of the other interiors we’ve featured in our Get their look series.

Get their look: Mid-century lounge | H is for Home