Some time away

A weekend trip to the Isle of Wight, in a country house, to celebrate a friends 50th was just what the doctor ordered.  Once across on the charming ferry we hit the long and winding road.

To the right of us was sea, to the left, cornfields.

The view of rolling fields from the casement window at the back of the house where we stayed.

 The next day we went for a walk around the beauty spot that is Newtown nature reserve, on the way we came upon a church.  Inside they were selling these beautifully knitted church mice.

Then off again, across the salt marshes.

Wherever you looked was view.


Lichen and water. 

And more view.

Elsa proved a great walking companion.

A lovely breeze gave the flags some animation.

A rickety, wooden bridge spanned the water, no sign of trolls, I checked.

And more beautiful views.

an unidentified plant

 The next day it was time to go, but before we did we popped into Osbourne House, the home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  At the entrance, this chap was happy to share the family jewels!

But a stunning profile, I'm sure you'll agree

Interesting to note the house was built with the German word gemutlich (meaning cosy) in mind. 

The view to the side.

The view to the front, with Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower clearly visible.

The lovely colours of this wallpaper caught my eye.

The nursery had more than the faint whiff of Goldilocks to it.

The satin covered crib is fit for a Kardashian West!

An Indian themed corridor, lined with interesting portraits of the queens subjects and staff

I like this mans face

The man below was a very dear man servant to Queen Victoria, it caused a scandal when she gave him a bedroom in the main house.  Maybe the tv series will get on to this fascinating chapter?

The Durbar room - so called because of the Durbar - the relief work lining the walls and ceiling, a mixture of wood carving, papier mache and paint.  

The exterior stone is a beautiful muted gold.

After exploring the grounds and shoe-horning in a quick afternoon tea, we nipped off to catch our ferry from Fishbourn, and then home.

Reading Material

I have just finished reading Toast and Marmalade by Emma Bridgewater, it is part biography, part catalogue for EB ceramics and part living the bucolic dream.  As you would expect, it is lavishly illustrated with photographs - of her ceramics, her home, and her family.  It's a very evocative book - musing on the link between our early memories and what we surround ourselves with to make us happy home dwellers in adulthood.  Emma's passion for ceramics and patterns clearly goes back in a straight line to her childhood and her late mother.

I find the link between early childhood memories and why we surround ourselves with what we do now, fascinating.  Another book that muses on this emotional elastic cord is Justine Picardies' book My Mothers Wedding dress. She traces her love of clothes, fashion and fabric back to the influences of her childhood - and her mother - and her mothers black wedding dress.

Certain colours and fabrics can certainly directly propel me back to childhood.  My strongest fabric memory is of my grandmothers bedroom curtains.  They were white and a lovely pale yellow stripe - with a floral design over the top.  In fact I've just googled the description and it came up with Sanderson Rosebud and Candy stripe - that's it below.  Isn't the internet wonderful!

When my daughter was very young she appropriated one of my scarves to take to bed with her - it was an old one (I'm getting allergic to the word 'vintage' it just seems to have lost all meaning), bought from Covent Garden when they had a clothes market, back in the very early 80s.  Cream silk with red polka dots and a beautifully rolled and hand stitched red border, with an (unknown to me) French signature on it.  She now has a collection of polka dotted objects in her bedroom. No coincidence I'm sure.

I had thought of making my daughter a quilt made of fabric from clothes of hers and the rest of the family that I have squirrelled away.  I'm not a needlewoman, so it may end up being an outsized cushion, then when she is no longer at home she will still have a little piece of home with her. 

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

What an inspired idea and a wonderful way to honour the lives lost in The Great War.

It was a bright sunny day when I went to The Tower of London.  Volunteers were working hard to assemble the handmade poppies -  a 4 part process - stem in the ground first, followed by a handmade, ceramic poppy head, and finally the black centre to secure it.

888,246 poppies are being 'planted' to commemorate each life lost on the battlefield.  You can buy one of the poppies online for £25 + P & P. All of the monies raised from their sale will go to families of service personnel.

The installation was conceived and designed by Paul Cummins and is being assembled by volunteers.

Blood Swept Lands will be finished by 11th November -  in time for Remembrance Day.

It felt very upbeat.  The volunteers were clearly proud of their role, the crowds were amazed by the scope of the installation.  The blazing sun meant it felt more like another city - not our familiar rain cloaked, grey skied capital.  Bright colour on this scale is not something Londoners are used to.

I don't know which organisation the volunteers came from, but I envied them coming together to create such a beautiful memorial. I'm not sure I will envy the people who will deconstruct it in November though!

I couldn't help but wonder what previous residents from times past would have made of the sight of a sea of red, spreading like a stain in the moat surrounding the bloody tower.

You can clearly see a path running through the poppies that leads to a green hillock that will presumably play a part in the ceremony on Remembrance Day .

If all the poppies sell, 15 million pounds will be raised, over 2 million pounds has been raised so far.

I hope they sell every single one.

A Very Grand Design Indeed

The most amazing house and garden - Great Dixter 

an Elizabethan house and the most exuberant 21st century garden

  even succulents got involved

Someone else looking at these told me they were called Ladybird poppies. 

Ferns - against the backdrop of brick, wood and fretwork.

the lily pond

Grass and Gunnera

What a gate should look like

attention to detail - finial and etching

I've no idea what this plant is called, have only ever seen it in Cornwall - my children christened them Honey Hives.

His Royal Hotness - Lucifer

stunning specimens

Wonderful fencing 

dashes of lemon and lime

there were tunnels and vistas

clever juxtopositions

delicious combinations

A path edged to perfection

luxe Lupins

 the most exciting colour combinations

the cat even works well on the bench!

the left hand side of the Long Border 

the right hand side 

colour and texture play

around the back

a Victorian watering cart

An beautiful barn

I love the tile pillars

until next time...