If your idea of an English summer is synonymous with birdsong, bounding labradors and Ben Fogle and you’ve woken up wondering why we’re already halfway past September and you’ve still not managed to escape the Big Smoke, fear not, we may have just the thing…
The inaugural Country Life Fair opens not, as you might think, in the rolling Wiltshire countryside or leafy Surrey Hills but, in fact, in Fulham.
Hosting more than 150 exhibitors over the last weekend in September, the event at Fulham Palace celebrates the best of British rural life from country gardens and country pursuits to speciality food, award-winning wines and luxury clothing, and there’s also an educational ‘country kids’ area for budding young urban bumpkins.
Whatever your interest in all things rural, The Country Life Fair will have something for you. Country pursuit enthusiasts will be able to peruse the finest display of equipment and accessories, while fashionistas will be thrilled by the ‘tweed’ catwalk collections. The green-fingered will find inspiration in the Country Garden, with workshops by gardening experts; gourmets and gourmands will be tempted by home-made and home-produced fare in the Country Kitchen and bon viveurs will be able to sample artisan spirits, wine and real ales in the Country Cellar.
Ben Fogle, President of the Country Life Fair, joins a roll call of well-known faces who will be at the Fair including Dick Strawbridge, TV cooks Rachel Green and Mike Robinson, food writer Tom Parker Bowles and Cleve West, Chelsea Flower Show gold-medal winner.
This being Fulham, the exhibitor range reads like the left side of the King’s Road; there’s Boodles, the headline sponsor, style maestros Dubarry and Moloh, specialist auctioneers Bonhams, and, naturally, the famous country piles Chewton Glen and Cliveden House are keeping the flags flying high. It wouldn’t be a country fair without a fine pair of over-and-unders, barrels broken and slung under the arm, and these come in the prestigious form of Purdey, E J Churchill and Holland & Holland.
As well as the high end high street emporia, there’s plenty of opportunity to purchase works of art, services and products offered for sale from many exhibitors you might not usually come across, as many of them are not based in London and don’t have physical outlets.
And for all that pacing and perusal, Fulham’s own locals, The Brown Cow and The Sands End ‘country pubs in London’, and Mr Fogg’s of Mayfair, are extending their famous hospitality and providing frothy ales and further refreshments for visitors.
As summer sings its last for another year – already?! – and you’re itching to crowbar in one last weekend of rural revelry The Country Life Fair promises to be a celebration of all things pastoral, supporting British artists, style, produce, services and style.
The Country Life Fair will be held at Fulham Palace, Bishops Avenue, London SW6, the weekend of the 27-28 September 2014. Tickets for the fair are on sale now, ranging from entry level garden tickets priced at £23 (early bird discount) to £125 VIP packages, and are available from The Country Life Fair website or through Ticketmaster.