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Lighten up with lanterns and lamps.

Byline: YVONNE JONES

SIMON King, chef/proprietor at restaurant 1861 near Abergavenny, will be judging homemade cakes in the Great Abergavenny Bake Off today.

The money raised from this prodigious baking event will help cancer research charity, Relay for Life.

As the weather has taken a nippy turn, I'm glad my seedlings are safely under cover.

A cloche is ideal for protecting tender young plants from untimely chills, and from garden pests such as slugs.

Look up Cox and Cox, for a charming Victorian style cloche (www.coxandcox.co.uk).

Cox and Cox also has a lovely bamboo lantern with a glass interior that will be perfect for shining some light on a summer BBQ, and they stock great solar lanterns, and delightful fairy lights to add a touch of magic to a summer's evening.

One of the things I hanker after is a walk-in larder. Traditionally, a pantry, with a cool slab of slate for storing food on, would have been the household fridge.

Even with modern conveniences, a larder is a great place for storing preserves and any other food items that need to be kept cool but not chilled, such as strings of onions and potatoes.

I have an Aga in my kitchen, which warms my cold farmhouse in winter, but can be baking in summer. Although I love it, I'm not a great advocate of expensive cookers.

Does an expensive oven really make a better roast chicken than the cheaper version? I doubt it, after all, it's people who cook food.

My advice with all appliances is to buy a reliable make (something too cheap may not give the best service), but don't go overboard.

Similarly, fridges. Do we really need those colossal American-style fridges? There's a limit to how much food we can all eat before it goes off, so a modest-sized fridge will do the job perfectly.

And, if you are planning some spring decorating and ordinary paint disrupts your life because of the fumes, consider buying an ecologically friendly paint that's kinder to you and to the environment. Have a look at www.ecohomecentre.co.uk, or call 02920 373094.

With the housing market still sluggish, many people are deciding to stay put rather than move - investing money in making improvements to their current home instead.

But the depressed nature of the housing sector has resulted in an unexpected turn of events - buy-to-let appears to be making a comeback.

Roger Tucker, MD of Mead Property Services in Cardiff, says that buyers with spare capital are in with a good chance to snap up properties while prices are low, but rents are still rising.

"Although the asking price for homes remains fairly high, the reality is that properties often sell for well below the asking price," he explains.

"The lettings market is on a high right now as more people are renting and for longer, and, as a consequence, rents are increasing."

Yvonne Jones is a Royal College of Art trained designer, and owner of Chameleon Interiors. Call 029 2037 1277 or visit www.chameleoninteriors.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

* 1. An attractive Victorian cloche from Cox and Cox protects tender plants * 2. A magnificent bamboo lantern from Cox and Cox * 3. Solar lanterns add charm and colour (also from Cox and Cox)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 21, 2012
Words:548
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