It goes without saying that Christmas is a huge deal at The Hambledon and we embrace it heartedly. To the extent that several members of staff have multiple trees to accommodate varying decorative schemes. And they might need one more this year because our Christmas shop is open and it’s more fun, colourful and kitsch than ever before.
The tree is decked with a sparkly, neon-trimmed menagerie: winter hares in velvet collars; racoons carrying tres; birds wearing earmuffs; glittery swans, polar bears, bambis and parrots; dogs from Scotties to corgis, and for cat lovers out there (we hear you!), we're introducing your furry friends encased in beautiful glass globes. We’ve also thrown metallic rainbows, unicorns and pineapples into the mix for good measure.
Cards, wrap, advent calendars, crackers, garlands and balloons come courtesy of Meri Meri so the profusion of glitter, neon and fun continues; the foil balloon garland reading 'jolly' saying it all really. Let the festivities begin.
In 2011, French entrepreneurs Boris Gratini and Lilian Monnier focused their attentions on nail polish, and the idea of “leaving the world of cosmetics and getting closer to the world of fashion”. They wanted to be kind to the environment and make their products in France from start to finish. They wanted great colours free from nasty chemicals. And first and foremost, they wanted to sell their nail polishes from vending machines.
And so started Nailmatic, and probably the most fun, friendly and fashion forward nail polishes out there. We haven’t got one of their cool vending machines but we do have shelves stocked with their grown-up polishes (great colours, solvent free, phthalate free, formaldehyde-free); a nail polish remover that actually smells nice (lavender and 100% natural); plus their kids range featuring polishes (removable with just warm, soapy water) and rollerball lip-glosses (glittery and made from apricot kernal oil). A whole lot to love right here.
We pretty much run on sugar at The Hambledon. Rifle behind any of the counters and you’re sure to pull out some sort of confectionary. So the AW16 return of Pastiglie Leone – Italy’s original & finest ‘king of sweetness’ - is something we’re all kinds of happy about. Mostly because they’re the prettiest candies we ever did see, plus we like anything with a good story, and this one is as old as the Italian Republic itself.
It begins in 1857 in a confectioner’s shop in Alba where Luigi Leone produced small, intensely fragrant candies designed to be eaten after a meal. The first flavours were peppermint, cinnamon and rhubarb; the candy dough kneaded by hand and carefully dried for more than 24hrs in the mouth of an oven.
It wasn't long before they became a favourite of the king, and so, in 1861, to better serve the royal family, Leone’s production moved to Turin, residence of the Italian monarchs and later, the first capital of the unified Italy. Already known as the ‘capital of sweetness’ thanks to its cafes and patisseries, Leone fitted right in and was soon renowned throughout the city for its irresistible flavours.
Following the death of owner Luigi, ownership passed to a family who handled the business for just a few years until 1934 when it was bought by Giselda Balla Monero. Nicknamed ‘Lioness’ because of her untameable temperament, she transformed the company’s destiny, relocating the factory to Corso Regina Margherita 242, and investing heavily in the beautiful packaging and advertising we're smitten with today.
Now in the hands of Giselda’s son Guido, the candy originals are still produced according to the traditional recipe of 1857, set in the same bronze moulds, and packaged in the prettiest retro tins. This season you'll find us secretly scoffing on all manner of flavoured pastilles, boiled sweets and fruit jellies, collecting the tins as we go, and generally running on a sugar high through 'til Christmas.
It's been a huge pleasure having Creighton's Chocolaterie in our project space this summer, not least because we've got to hang out (and sample the range, and decorate chocolate unicorns) with the lovely Lucy, founder of Creighton's. We took the opportunity to ask her to compile her wishlist of Hambledon wares.
1. Paris Candle £22.50 | 2. Cat Pouch £9 | 3. Little People Big Dream Frida Kahlo £9.99 | 4. Lion Headdress £13 | 5. Multicoloured Festoon Lights £39.95 | 6. The Gourmand No7 £12 | 7. Gold Glitter Alphabet Bunting £2.25 | 8. Fart Whistle £1.25
Roll up, roll up! Summer is here and our Creighton's Chocolaterie project is in full swing; the ground floor mezzanine decked out in vintage fairground paraphernalia, shelves lined with Creighton's latest collection of circus-inspired confectionery. We asked founder Lucy to name her hero products.
Prize Goldfish: Back to the days when you could win your pet by throwing an oversized ball into a too-small hoop.
Ginger Beer Bar: A chocolate bar laced with the taste of sticky summer days and wrapped in a sleeve inspired by
fairground balloon sellers.
Unicorn Food: A Hambledon exclusive, because unicorns need chocolate too!
Magic Unicorn Lollies: Another one-of-a-kind design made especially for the event, and they look pretty!
Retro Popcorn Bar: Comes in a special retro popcorn bag which is reminiscent of 1950s American movie drive-ins. Also reminds me of the final scene in Grease when they are dancing around the fairground!
Cactus Lolly: When the British summer isn’t quite as hot as it should be, fill your life with cacti and pretend you live in Texas.
Granny Gnashers: Our most loved joke creation.
Glazed Donut: No trip to the fair is complete without an obligatory sugary donut.
It's all the Fun of the Fair this summer in our Project Space with our favourite chocolatiers Creightons popping up with lots of circus inspired chocolate treats.
Mother and daughter, Lucy and Andrea are taking a trip down memory lane with a nostalgic collection based on the sights, sounds and tastes of the fairground: ginger beer, sarsaparilla and stick of rock chocolate bars; lollies celebrating hook-a-duck, prize fish, carousel horses and glazed doughnuts. And we have some Hambledon exclusives including glittery Unicorn Food (because everyone has a unicorn to feed), pink and aqua unicorn lollies, and a popcorn chocolate bar in super lovely vintage bag.
The Creightons Chocolate Shop is open Friday 1st July 2016 – Sunday 28th August.
It's time for Summer adornment and we are absolutely all about jewellery this season. There's New York luxe from Swedish born Annika Inez's label By Boe, Danish minimalism from Copenhagen's Pernille Corydon, English charm from Mirabelle and some good old London kitsch from Weathered Penny. Prices start from £15 so it's all good.
We've got all sorts of stuff for the boss/captain/sheriff in your life. Check out magazines, books, gifts, cards and superhero masks. And hurry. Father's Day is on 19th June.
Lucy is an avid fan of a gin and tonic. Finn is partial to a glass of fizz. Rob has been known to down a pint or two of Cognac. The Hambledon wouldn't necessarily be the natural home for the temperance movement in Winchester. But we like to confound expectations. Welcome Mr Fitzpatrick (est. 1899) from Rossendale, Lancs, and his traditionally brewed, non alcoholic, botanical cordials.
The temperance movement began in Preston in 1835 during the period of the Industrial Revolution and was a response to the widespread alcoholism that existed at that time. The availability of cheap ale and gin (Lucy, Rob we're watching you) had been responsible for the breakdown of family life and industrial productivity amongst the working classes. Prohibition was never legalised here but non alcoholic bars began to appear in every town and village to promote abstinence from ‘the demon drink'.
The movement started and continued to blossom in the textile districts of Yorkshire & Lancashire, but quickly swept across the whole of the UK. It was a Methodist cheese maker born in Preston, who set about establishing a society under which a pledge of sobriety was taken. The society grew and expanded beyond the churches to become part of every day life for the now sober British. Temperance Bars had become the new social scene.
By the 1890s temperance bars graced every high street, the most prominent being Mr Fitzpatrick's – a successful family of Dublin herbalists who established themselves in the North of England and at their peak successfully ran over 40 shops in the region. After World War II interest in taking the pledge faded. The end of prohibition in the United States and the heavy importation of sweet, sugary drinks, saw the decline of the Temperance Bar. However, one Temperance Bar survived and today Mr Fitzpatrick’s still own and operate the little Victorian bar situated in the Lancashire town of Rawtenstall.
And now The Hambledon has its very own corner of sobriety with a selection of Summer time cordials. It's the perfect time to ditch the hard stuff and get involved in cream soda, lemon and ginger punch, rhubarb and rosehip cordial, sarsaparilla and root beer.