PUBLISHED: 12:28 25 June 2013 | UPDATED: 12:28 25 June 2013


Top Trend: Alfresco Tableware

It would appear that the English appetite for entertaining outdoors remains as strong as ever, in spite of our erratic weather. Clearly optimism is a prevailing philosophy for customers who visit Altons Garden Centre near Chelmsford. Altons spokesman, James Oxley, reveals what people are buying to accessorise their garden sets. ‘In our showroom we always dress our outdoor furniture so our customers can get an idea of how to make the most of the pleasures of entertaining alfresco style. We stock a broad range of melamine tableware with a choice of styles from funky and colourful, to more elegant and simple sets. We also have a good selection of plain and coloured non-breakable wine glasses and tumblers, large and small bowls and serving plates too. A very popular feature of one of our top selling tables is an inbuilt ice wine-cooler in the centre of the table. An alternative and practical choice would be our wine coolers that come with a frame to clip on to the side of the table. Like our furniture, the tableware is a great investment, and with care can be something to enjoy over the years with the lighting of every barbecue.’

Alton Garden Centre

Arterial Road (A127)


SS12 9JG

01268 726421


Top Trend: Conservatories

According to Hometec’s Nigel Jackson, this is definitely still the age of the conservatory – or perhaps to be more precise, the orangerie. So what’s the difference and just why are orangeries proving so popular? Nigel explains: ‘Whether the preference for the design is elaborate or quite plain, customers are opting for orangeries because they make more of a liveable area due to their insulation efficiency meeting the necessary regulations. Before, with standard conservatories, this wasn’t the case, which meant that the space felt like an added on extra rather than part of the house. Due to unique .9 U value (a measure of how fast heat passes through material) glass panels being used in the construction of the orangery, warmth is retained in winter and heat is kept out in the summer. As a result the whole of the back of the house can now be taken off, if desired, so that existing living space can open out into the orangery, which allows for a greater use of the space. I have seen people putting plasma TVs in this new space, and in one case even a kitchen! An extra bonus is that the glass is self cleaning.’

Hometec UK

401 Rayleigh Road

Leigh on Sea


01702 421421



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