Florence’s Gift Guide #5: Beautiful Books

It’s official. I’m a book addict, but my favourites to receive as gifts are cookery and interiors books, the kind of coffee table beauties that are full of gorgeous imagery and inspiration. As many of these books are cheaply available online for around the £10 mark, I decided to forgoe a stocking filler gift guide and round up my favourite recipe and decor books that I’ll be giving and would like to receive this Christmas.

For Foodies…

  • I’m ALWAYS looking for recipe books that lean towards sharing food. I love having friends over but rarely make fussy food prefering big plate options, and one pot solutions that everyone can dig into. Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi looks like just such a book and is causing a real stir in the Christmas market this year so it’s on my lust-list.
  • I only discovered the Great British Bake Off this season and got totally addicted. Everyone loves Mary but it’s Paul’s critique and exacting standards that made me want this book. Paul Hollywood, How to Bake
  • I spotted this book on the shelf in the Bertinet Bakery in Bath. I mean, how could you not notice that stunning front cover image? I suspect this would be of the variety of cookery books that I buy mainly for the beautiful imagery, however there are many recipes that look do-able for the keen baker or wannabe pastry chef. Pastry, Richard Bertinet
  • If you’re a regular in the food section at book stores you might have seen Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros, an equally stunning book to this more recent release. I hesitated to buy her books before, fearing I wouldn’t want to attempt the recipes, instead just staring at the pictures, however this book focuses on Italian food – my favourite. Tessa now lives in Tuscany so my mouth waters at even the thought of what this book may contain and it’s more than pretty enough to display too. Limoncello and Linen Water by Tessa Kiros.
  • Lastly, not pretty (what happened with this cover I don’t know as the styling of his books is usually fantastic,) and rather omnipresent this Christmas is Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. I have several Jamie Oliver books and they are without doubt the most relied upon and turned to books in my kitchen. For that reason this has to be a no brainer. Although I’ve heard 15 minutes is more than optimistic for some of the recipes and omits time-consuming prep, I know it would contain recipes that would become staples in my home.

For interiors addicts…

  • First up, Decorate Workshop: A Creative 8 Step Process for Transforming Your Home by Holly Becker. Holly’s second book, this one rather than telling you what to put in your decor projects, advises on how to approach re-decorating and designing your home. Many people struggle to translate inspiration into an actual room and this book shows you how.
  • American Modern, Thomas O’Brien. This book isn’t one you’ll find on the bestseller lists, but it was given to me by a friend and remains my favourite interiors book. With a thorough insight into many American homes in their entirety, I am always inspired when I flick through it’s pages.
  • Another older choice but still relevant, Domino: the Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy, is perfect for the coffee table but full of inspiration. I bought a special edition Domino magazine whilst away and just loved the approach to design, decor and styling so have renewed interest in this book which is on this years Christmas list 🙂
  • If you have a friend who has just bought their first home or is in the midst of renovation project, Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love: is a great book. Full of DIY ideas from super bloggers Sherry and John Petersik who have documented their own renovations on the synonymous blog.

Readers, I would love for you to share any thoughts on my selection – do you own any of these books and are they a good gift choice or do you have any other suggestions to add to my list? Are you also coveting any of them?


Recommended: The Queensberry Hotel, Bath

Last week, I shared my trip to the Thermae Bath Spa which was a part of a girls weekend away with my Mum and Sister. We stayed at The Queensbury Hotel booked via Mr and Mrs Smith with an extra bed put into our Deluxe room.

We arrived on Friday night after a nightmare drive through rush hour traffic, from Manchester via Birmingham to pick my sister up and in the torrential rain that plagued Silverstone that weekend. We eventually arrived just after 9pm and after quick turnaround we picked up a cocktail in the bar en route to dinner in the Olive Tree restaurant. When I asked for recommendations, Rach suggested the restaurant so I felt in safe hands and despite feeling tired, it was amongst the best restaurants I have ever eaten in.

The food was incredible, quite light and the portions weren’t enormous but I prefer that, particularly eating late at night and it meant we could sample all 4 courses. I started with the seared tuna and stuck with a fish theme having the lemon sole, preceded by an amuse bouche of gazpacho and finishing with Mascarpone and citrus cheesecake with roast peach and blood orange sorbet. Immense is not the word.

We fell into the huge bed and slept hard.

After an equally amazing breakfast that included a varied and delicious buffet complimented by various hot options, (my sister had french toast while I chose the porridge with fruit compote from the buffet,) we headed out to explore the sights of Bath. Of course we had to start with the Royal Crescent, which despite the biblical weather looked stunning.

Next up we went for a wander towards the shops and stumbled across the Bertinet bakery. Full of delicious treats by Richard Bertinet’s kitchen, there was also a cookery school which I would love to return to and a small shop with kitchen items and a range of Bertinet books.

Next we found The Loft with Caffe Lucca inside, perfect to stop in if you need coffee and cake or lunch. Mum and I could have stayed for hours in The Loft. Full of stunning room sets and unique furniture, the styling was impeccable and the whole edited collection completely lustworthy. If you’re in the market for salvaged interior lighting, Felix lighting across the road is full of industrial lighting varying from fifties hollywood film set lighting to submarine and ship lighting, there are some brilliant finds. On the whole with independents, small cafes and restaurants and shops like Toast, Bartlett street was worth a wander.

From here we headed into the main town centre, stopping for some sale shopping and eventually reaching the Abbey which was well worth a look before heading to our spa session.

That evening we wanted to eat somewhere close and had already wandered past The Chequers on the way to the Royal Crescent earlier that day. The food was relaxed and the portions enormous (I had the steak,) but we had a great meal for a reasonable price – perfect if you don’t want too much fuss but good food.

We spent the early part of our Sunday back in the same area before settling in a nearby pub to watch the Murray Wimbledon final before heading back.

I’d love to hear your recommendations for things to see or do in Bath and places to eat. Just leave a comment in the box!


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