Cakes, cookies, pastries and tray bakes

Over the last month we’ve been preparing and testing recipes for lazy afternoon tea at Le Manoir.

Here are the fourteen that made the list (in no particular order):

1. Carrot cake
2. Lemon drizzle cake
3. Chocolate brownies
4. Flapjacks
5. Custard tarts (see below – yummy!)
6. Jam tarts
7. Victoria sponge
8. Fruit tarts
9. Coffee and walnut cake
10. Scones
11. Cookies
12. Shortbread
13. Chocolate cake
14. Lemon curd tarts

What’s your favourite? Is there anything else you would you like to see on this list? SCH

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The Great British Sewing Bee is back

I was really happy to see The Great British Sewing Bee back on our screens this week having recently completed a ten week dressmaking course, and now being in the middle of another term. The programme didn’t disappoint; ten new contestants of varying personalities, sewing experience and creative styles; three different sewing tasks; three types of common fabric: cotton, wool and silk.

Task one: a simple sleeveless, round-neck top in cotton / Task two: repurposing an ankle-length woollen skirt / Task three: making a made-to-measure silk nightie.

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It’s amazing how many skills and techniques were covered by those three tasks in week one. Here are just a few that I jotted down:

  1. – Choosing the right fabric for the type of garment
  2. – Understanding how to treat / work with different fabrics
  3. – Measuring models and transferring measurements to patterns
  4. – Accurately marking, pinning and cutting out patterns
  5. – Matching fabric patterns (especially where it meets in the middle of a garment)
  6. – Adding darts / understanding body contours
  7. – Hand stitching (ladder stitch, etc.)
  8. – Understitching (e.g. necklines)
  9. – Rolling hems
  10. – Applying trims (e.g. lace)
  11. – Adding drama/impact
  12. – Following instructions and mManaging your time!

What have I missed out? Next week I’m sure the BBC will up the difficulty level. SCH

We’re changing names!

From today, ‘The Little Grange’ is simply to be known as Le Manoir Saint Gervais.

Initial feedback suggests The Little Grange doesn’t bear any relationship to the offering… a boutique B&B that also runs vintage craft courses… and was perhaps a tad confusing? I really value feedback and have taken on board these comments. We now have a new URL for the website ( and will run the B&B business and courses together under that name. I must say it is starting to make life a whole lot easier!

With the name changed we now have a Pinterest account set up ( as well as a Facebook account (

I was very fond of The Little Grange as a flexible concept (The Little Barn; La Petite Grange, etc.), but recognise it came about very early in the development of the business when a UK property was still a distinct possibility. Who knows, maybe we will get to use the name one day in another part of the business?! SCH

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Upholstery course: day two

This is a progress update on the small stool I began re-upholstering last year (well, dismantling more like)!

I realised quite quickly that we had stapled the webbing to the wrong side of the chair last time round (fine if you are planning to build the seat up without springs – not so good if you have old springs to replace). So I began by taking off the webbing, cleaning up the woodwork and reapplying the webbing to the correct (under)side.

Next it was time to hand sew the springs to the webbing and create a sprung unit from the five springs by coercing them together with string. Then I nailed a layer of hessian to the frame – over the top of the springs – and hand sewed the springs under the fabric by ‘feel’.

That took most of the morning which meant the afternoon was spent hand sewing little cord pockets for the synthetic filling which would be tucked in to create part of the seat padding. The final step was to add another piece of hessian and secure with temporary tacks.

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This is as far as I got in seven hours. I am hoping that one more course day may bring me closer to the actual fabric cover! SCH