Luxury and Style

Luxury & Style is the ultimate online resource and review centre for everything connected to British luxury and a stylish, elegant lifestyle.Luxury & Style is the ultimate online resource for British luxury and a stylish lifestyle; which includes luxury product reviews, a rich revelation of gracious living and the latest news on the UK style scene. On this site we cover the country lifestyle, art and antiques, pets, classic clothing, gardens and outdoor living, polo, public schools, horse racing, classic cars, sailing, nannies, entertaining, the social season, health and beauty and luxury lifestyle services. Visitors can gain a clear understanding of etiquette, classical taste, culture and elegance, as well as an insight into smart society, including the distinctive and utterly unique English aristocracy. We also outline the secrets of the British highlife to help those who are determined to join the upper echelons and mix with the illustrious cream of society.

Once you have settled on a venue for your party, whether it is in a large room at home, in a marquee in your grounds or at a hired venue, you will need to address the issue of providing party food and drink for your guests. If you are having your party at a venue away from home you will find most venues will cover the whole catering thing in-house and the best venues will give you sound advice and offer a range of menus to suit your budget.

However, under certain circumstances, such as a marquee bash or special dietary needs, it may be necessary to bring in outside caterers or even arrange the catering yourself. Food and wine can be a minefield simply because if you or your venue get it wrong, it may spoil your party.

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So, you have been asked to get involved with organising a charity ball. You hope it is going to be the greatest, the best and most stupendous ball ever held, and that all the guests will gasp in awe as they arrive! Your main objectives when running a charity ball is to raise the charity’s profile, raise plenty of cash and make sure that everyone has a great time (regarding the tickets are good value for money).

Large or small, any ball can take up to a year to plan and going to be hard work to organise – here are a few tips to help make your ball a huge success. The first few months of planning are the idea stages, dream time. Decide your venue, book it, and then spend several months with a sketchbook conjuring ideas, to transform your building or marquee into another fantasy world. Read more »

Finding top class, reliable, experienced party and event suppliers is a major part of running any party or event. You will need to do a fair bit of research before you employ any of these companies. Whether they are a florist, a hire company or even a jazz singer always choose party suppliers that are on your wavelength and prepared to work within your budget and take note of your desires.

At all costs avoid suppliers that try to push their own tastes and ideas instead of working hard to make your own dreams come true.

Keep your eyes and ears open whenever you attend other people’s events or parties. If the caterer was particularly good or the florist was inspired get a contact name and number. There is nothing quite like finding people already working on the job!

Search the internet for party suppliers and look on event forums. People often post their experiences – good or bad.

When selecting party suppliers ask key questions such as: What are your payment terms? What do you charge for overtime? What is included in my contract? What are your requirements? What do I need to suppy and when? Will you be on site – if not then who from your company will be? Are there any extra delivery, set up or take down charges? When will you need access to the venue and for how long? Also check whether they have a certificate of insurance.

Make sure that you give all your chosen party or event suppliers a clear concise brief and ask for a proposal and all costs in writing. Don’t keep changing your mind or adding things, it gives suppliers a justified reason to up the price!

If the meeting is at your supplier’s premises ask to look around, it will give you a pretty good idea of efficiency levels and staffing quality, important factors if you are going to be relying on this company.

Listen attentively to what is on offer and measure how you reply. In other words don’t overdo the rapture, by remaining somewhat enigmatic you may be offered more than you expected for your money.

Remember that at all times you are in the chair, it is your money being spent, so take your time and find out all the facts before you go ahead with any decisions.

Always compare prices and deals from your supplier’s competitors, if only to use gathered information as extra bargaining power.

If you employ an entertainer or a band bear in mind that they will require refreshment and possibly a room to change in. Some entertainers occasionally request an overnight room, if so make sure that you agree who pays, and more to the point, who is responsible for any damage or mess they leave behind in the room or you could be left with a large bill. Also watch out that they don’t order lots of food and drink at your expense!

Finally when your party or event is over and everyone has had a great time – do pay your bills promptly. If you keep suppliers waiting for their money word gets round pretty fast and next time you run a party, if you dragged your heels about paying, you may find that everyone is suddenly ‘busy’. The event industry is a fairly small tightknit community that isn’t afraid to discuss clients and their foibles.

If you are organising a party in a rather drab venue don’t despair, you can in fact transform any room with linen hire. Linen hire companies are a party planner’s best friend – and here’s why. Many an party planner has looked dolefully at a banqueting room that is in a perfect location, is plenty big enough, boasts a couple of convenient bars and comes with helpful in-house staff but for all that has one major drawback.

The room itself is dowdy, with tired out-of-date, furniture, and certainly won’t impress friends or those all important VIP guests.

The immediate reaction of many ambitious party organisers is to reject the venue in favour of something much more bright, modern and appealing.

But what if there isn’t anything else available or, even if there is a posh alternative it’s going to cost well over the given budget? So what can be done to get round this difficult problem?

One excellent tried and tested solution is to use hired in table linen. It is available in many colours and can have a huge impact on any room. No matter how drab, and nothing transforms a table more than elegant tablecloths to the floor.

Even ugly chairs can take on a new lease of life when covered with colour coordinated chair covers and sashes that are finished at the back with dramatic bows. The final beautiful effect is then achieved with the addition of crisply folded napkins.

To gain the maximum transformation of a room with linen just follow these simple rules:

Get a floor plan and determine exactly how many tables and chairs you will need to put out and then dress with linen for your event.

Before you place your order with the linen hire company, make sure that the venue agrees in a written contract to provide the number of tables and chairs you have requested and even more important they agree to provide the size requested.

It is no good ordering tablecloths for six foot tables only to find on the day that the venue has supplied tables that are a mere five foot in diameter. It can be extremely dangerous to drape a large tablecloth over a small table – sooner or later a drunken guest will trip over the over-long tucked in sides!

Since there are so many types, colours and styles of table linen to chose from whether it be crisp damask napkins, shimmering gold tablecloths or stretchy polyester chair covers it is well worth getting lots of brochures and fabric samples before you decide which colours and styles are going to enhance your venue.

Bear in mind that you can alter the atmosphere of any room simply by choosing the appropriate colour and style of table linen. For example you would hardly use a combination of black and gold for a wedding but you might choose fresh blue gingham for a children’s party.

Once you are ready to hire select a reliable table linen supplier with good quality, well-laundered, linen. If possible go to the supplier’s warehouse and look at their stock – not the crisp clean new stock but the used and laundered linen. This is after all what you will be getting delivered for your event or party. Check for holes or frayed edges and note whether any of the linen is stained or badly pressed.

When you are choosing your colour scheme, remember that event lighting can adversely affect the colour of the linens. If you have any doubts ask to borrow a piece or two of your chosen linen to test the colour under different lighting.

When you place your order ask for the linen hire company to deliver it at least 48 hours before the event. This gives you time to check the colour, size and condition of the linen and deal with any mistakes or necessary replacements.

Remember all tablecloths can be greatly enhanced by silver, fine porcelain plates, crystal and flowers in the same colour tones but none more so than those in rich colours.

Napkins can be folded in many artistic ways and often benefit from the addition of ribbon bows, single fresh flowers or even a piece of costume jewellery.

Chair covers are a very effective way of changing the look of a room. Try to hire covers that come with large matching sashes which can be tied into sumptuous bows at the back of each chair. For weddings or special celebrations a cheerful posy of flowers fixed to the centre of each bow can look charming.

Always unpack your linen as soon as it arrives and go through each piece for wear and tear or any nasty stains. It is a good idea to order a few spare items to allow for the odd piece that is below par, emergency replacements or even to dress that sudden unexpected extra table.

Finally allow plenty of time to put your table linen in place, especially tying chair bows! Also only dress the room with linen when all the other suppliers, such as lighting and prop companies, have finished and gone – you don’t want dust, dirt and greasy finger marks all over your pristine white damask!

Choosing party entertainment carefully is important since the hallmark of any good large party is lots and lots of fun, so your merrymaking would be incomplete without some form of entertainment. As well as the obvious option of music you could also consider other options such as magicians, circus acts, look-alikes, comedians, tribute bands, classical musicians, roving entertainers, silhouette cutters and even fortune-tellers.

In addition you can always book outdoor entertainment such as a fireworks display, a fun fair or a dramatic water effects display. Any of these ideas can make your party go with a swing.

See below for more details on party entertainment:

Always check that the venue has an entertainment licence and there is sufficient power supply for entertainment, sound and lighting systems.

If you want entertainment, or a band to play during dinner, make sure there is adequate staging or room between the tables (for roving entertainers) for them to perform.

Certain types of entertainer will need a comfortable changing room.

Don’t forget that any entertainer or live band will need to take regular breaks and be given some form of refreshment, so this must be allowed for when you are budgeting for food and wine.

If an entertainer has come a considerable distance you will normally be expected to pay for overnight accommodation.

Decide what sort of music you would like, whether it is a D.J., a band or a musical act.

Once you have loosely chosen your performers ask for CDs, tapes or videos. If possible meet them before your party or find a chance to hear them perform live.

If you choose a band check how long they have been together and whether they are used to performing at your style of party.

Find out how soon before their performance all musical entertainers and performing acts will arrive.

Check how many breaks they take and how long they are – you may need to cover their breaks with a different form of entertainment or music.

Find out how they will be dressed and whether it is suitable for your style of gathering.

Also check whether there are noise level systems that must be adhered to and if so can the volume of entertainment be controlled.

Find out if they are able to accommodate requests or even let talented guests stand up and sing a special song.

Book well in time as many of the more talented entertainers are in demand even up to a year in advance.

Ingenious effects can be created by firework displays, laser displays, amazing pyrotechnics and full aquatic shows with floodlit water fountains, spirals and rain-bars. You could consider ending your party with a choreographed musical firework display culminating in the 1812 Overture.

To amuse the ‘boys’ at your party, and probably most of the girls, why not hire in a Giant Scalextric, a Formula One Simulator or a full casino with real croupiers.

Employing a professional party planner is often a good idea when you consider that planning a party can be one of the most important occasions in your life – so it is vital that every single element runs smoothly. Many people nowadays simply opt for the services of a professional rather than even attempt to run a party or event themselves.

If you are still undecided about the advantages of employing a party planner you can use our quick checklist below that may indicate you could do with a bit of professional help in planning a party. Read more »


Country Wisdom Country Wisdom Country Wisdom Country Wisdom Country Wisdom Country Wisdom

In a bygone era children growing up in the countryside would hear old country sayings that were expressions of wisdom that had been related to their fathers and their fathers before them. England before the industrial revolution was largely made up of deep-rooted country communities, which drew strength from each other, and the local sage was not just some quaint old character you might buy a drink for at the pub, but a well-respected member of the village, that people turned to in times of trouble. Many people couldn’t read or write and often these simple rhymes reminded them to live in harmony with their surrounding and to accept their simple lives that were all too often filled with hardship and sorrow.

Over the centuries tilling, sowing and harvesting the land and tending their animals taught vulnerable rural populations to respect Mother Nature and work with, rather than against, the seasons and the weather, passing on their observations, experience and wisdom to future generations. Thus proverbs, folklore and even superstition became part of everyday life and even the language.

Reading these timeless country sayings and naïve verses opens a charming gateway to the past. We have listed some of our personal favourites for you to enjoy and take a nostalgic step back in time.

The moon on its back – holds water in its lap
If the moon shows a silver shield
Be not afraid to reap your field

If the birds begin to sing in January Frosts are on the way
A storm of hail brings a frost in its tail
See a pin and pick it up
All day long you’ll have good luck

It’s going to rain when cows lie down
So hurry and seek shelter in the town
Rain before seven – fine by eleven

Red sky at night is shepherd’s delight
Red sky in the morning is shepherd’s warning

The blackest month of all the year
Is the month of Janiveer
If the grass do grow in Janiveer
It grows the worse for it all the year

Do freeze the pot upon the fire
A wet January a wet spring
If February brings no rain – ’tis neither good for grass or grain

In February if thou hearest thunder
Thou shalt see a summer wonder
Clear moon – frost soon
Spill salt for sorrow – spill sugar for joy
February fill dyke – be it black or be it white
A February Spring is worth nothing
At Candlemas Day – ’tis time to sow beans in clay

As the day lengthens
So the cold strengthens
March hack ham- comes in like a lion – goes out like a lamb
A peck of March dust is worth a king’s ransom
The early bird catches the worm
So many misties in March – so many frosties in May

If the oak be out before the ash
There’ll only be a little splash
If the ash be out before the oak
Then there’ll be a regular soak
Rain on Good Friday or Easter Day
A good crop of hops, but a bad one of hay
Easter come soon, or Easter come late
It’s sure to make the old cow quake
Hawthorn bloom and elder flowers
Fill the house with evil powers

When the elm is as big as a mouse’s ear. Then sow barley, never fear
Rooks only build their nests where there is money
In spring, hair is worth more than meat
April weather; rain and sunshine both together

If it thunder on All Fool’s Day
It brings good crops of grass and hay
Put salt on his tail to catch a bird
When April blows his horn
‘Tis good for both hay and corn
If the bees stay at home – rain will soon come
If they fly away – fine will be the day
An April flood carries away the frog and his brood
You might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb

If the cock crow when they go to bed
They’ll sure wake with a watery head

When you hear the cuckoo shout
‘Tis time to plant your tetties out
Ashen tree, ashen tree pray buy these warts off me
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Change not a clout till May be out
Who doffs his coat on a winter’s day
Will gladly put it on again in May

Shear your sheep in May
And shear them all away
Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched
If your whipstock’s made of rowan
You may ride through any town

When the cuckoo sings on an empty bough
Keep your hay and sell your cow
Cut thistles in May – they grow in a day
Cut them in June – that is too soon
Cut them in July – they will surely die
A cold May and a windy – a full barn will find ye

Mist in May and heat in June
Brings all things into tune
Wash blankets in May – you’ll soon be under clay
One magpie for sorrow – two for mirth
Three for a wedding – four for a birth
June damp and warm – does the farmer no harm
Cider on beer – is very good cheer
Beer on cider – makes a bad rider
It’s no good locking the stable door after the horse has bolted
Mackerel sky – rain is nigh
A dripping June keeps all in tune

A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon
A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly
In July shear your rye
St. Swithin’s Day if it do rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s Day an it be fair
For forty days t’will rain nae mair

If the 24th of August be fair and clear
Then hope for a prosperous autumn that year
All the tears of St. Swithen can cry
St. Bartlemy’s mantle wipes them dry
Fair on September first – fair for the month
You can take a horse to water but you cannot make him drink
As wet as a fish – as dry as a bone
As live as a bird – as dead as a stone

September blows soft
‘Till the fruits in the loft
September dries up wells or breaks down bridges

A good October and a good blast
To blow the hog, acorn and mast
Eat an apple on going to bed
And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
In October dung your field – and your land its wealth shall yield
November take flail – let no ships sail
If there’s ice in November that will bear a duck
There’ll be nothing after but sludge and muck

Plough deep, sluggards sleep
And you have corn to keep
A windy Christmas day – a good crop of fruit
Hours of sun on Christmas day
So many frosts in the month of May

If Christmas day be bright and clear
There’ll be two winters in that year
A green Yule means a full churchyard

Bounce buckram velvets dear
Christmas comes but once a year
When it comes it brings good cheer
And when it’s gone it’s never near