Friday, 24 July 2015

Cromwell in my kitchen


Strange but true.
Mark Rylance and his wife Claire
paid us a visit to look at our windows.
He wore one of his trademark hats
but to amuse the baby - doffed it.
His wife said that was not something you'd see very often.

They were both smiley and charming and
 highly complimentary about the windows,
floor tiles, garden and baby.
Her actress mother was chuffed to meet him.
(They just happened to be here for lunch you understand.)
On this cold, wet July day,
it was just the tonic we needed.

Now I am pondering the peculiar nature of contacts 
between unknown individuals and the famous.
On the face of it, we all 'acted natural';
there was no gushing about his wonderful acting,
no autographs were sought,
no selfies were taken.
But would I be blogging about it if he'd been
just a man in the street who'd used us as referees
for a window making company?

Of course not.

You can listen to him on Desert Island Discs.
I missed this one.




Thursday, 23 July 2015

The last punnet



of ripe red cherries on the stall,
and in fact, the last in their orchard.
All the rest are black cherries from now on.

Hone's Everyday Book records that cherries were brought up from Kent 
and sold by the London Barrow Woman.


This is cherry season, but it is not to me as cherry seasons were. 
I like a great deal that is, but I have an affection for what was. 
By-gone days seem to have been more fair than these; 
and I cannot help trying to
"catch the manners dying as they fall."
I have lived through the extremity of one age, 
into the beginning of another, and I believe better;
yet the former has been too much detracted; 
everything new is not, therefore, good;
nor was everything old, bad.
When I was a boy, I speak of just after the French revolution broke out, 
my admiration and taste were pure and natural, 
and one of my favourite at all times, and in cherry time especially, 
was the London Barrow Woman.
There are no barrow women now.
They have quite "gone out", or, rather,
they have been "put down",
and by many they are not even missed.
Look around; there is not one to be seen.

Round and sound.
Tuppence a pound.
Cherries rare ripe cherries!
Cherries a ha'penny a stick.
Come and pick! come and pick!
Cherries as big as plums.
Who comes, who comes.



Monday, 20 July 2015

Hats


Once in a while I get seized by an urge to find and wear
 the perfect spring or summer hat.
Not for a wedding.
Not for a garden party.
Just for everyday.

And then sometimes the urge is sufficiently strong
that I go to a shop to see what is on offer.
What is on offer is an array of
completely impossible millinery.
Stiff.
Ornate.
Heavy.
Huge.
Tiny.
Veiled.
Asymmetric.
Extravagant.
Serious.
Silly
and downright ugly
hats.
I try one or two on in an apologetic fashion
and tear them off before anyone has noticed
that they are wearing me.

I go away discouraged.

But I do believe my search has ended.

I found a charming hat on Friday.
This one.


Isn't it lovely?
I thought it would go beautifully with this.


But it seems they are not for sale.
They belong to a Mrs Emmeline Lucas.
She is unwilling to part with them.
She had them made especially for her in Paris.
Too too dweffly cross-making.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Saturday, 11 July 2015

A summer's day



Inspired by this inviting scene at Gravetye Manor,


we decided that this was the summer we would acquire a croquet set.


It arrived today.
The mallets looked a little bit short.
The hoops no more substantial than bent wire coat hangers.


Our lawn?
Well let's just say that it presents
some interesting tactical challenges.

But the satisfactory crack of wooden mallet
on wooden ball played a perfect summer counterpoint
to the muffled shouts from Wimbledon
drifting through an open window.

We played until we couldn't see the hoops anymore.
And then we came in for tarragon chicken,
 strawberries and meringues.





Friday, 10 July 2015

Message received



My Agapanthus in its attractive blue glazed pot
heard Alice's admonishment
and thought it better buck its ideas up.

Not that it ever had anything to fear from a Hosta.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Accident prone


If the iron fell on your foot yesterday
it is not a good idea
to drop a chopping board
on your big toe
on the same foot
today.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

All by ourselves



at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.



Jim Lambie's Zobop zippy floor on the stairs up to the exhibition.
My senses are reeling already.


A last minute staff meeting.
Have they got used to the pink walls?


I want to come back to the picture on the left later.


Someone is ahead of me.


Two Sisters - William Bowyer
and to the left of them Afternoon Skaters - Bill Jacklin RA.



The Old House Dreams it is Still There-
Peter Messer.



London - The Streets - Kim Rugg.
Of course I checked.



A Humument 1966-2015 -Tom Phillips RA.



A Humument - Bourgeois Pictures.
We have been there;  we have seen bourgeois  pictures



Section model Feed the World Skyfarm - Lord Rogers of Riverside RA



Time Without Title - Andreea Albani.



Now back to Red Studio - Rose Hilton.

Rose Hilton is the wife of the artist Roger Hilton.
she talks about his work here :



As his wife she was actively discouraged to paint, 
despite attending the Royal College of Art,
winning the Life Drawing and Painting prize and the
Abbey Minor scholarship to Rome.
She painted a little if he went out but only
 took up her brushes again in earnest after he died in 1975.
This work was submitted in her 84th year.
Do read the article if you have time, but if not
perhaps listen to this.
I found it very moving in the circumstances.







Thursday, 2 July 2015

Krazy Kondo-ing


On the hottest day of the year we were committed to hosting
a three house Table Sale in the front drive from 7am to 7pm.

Marie doesn't focus on the practicalities of getting the stuff beyond your four walls
after putting it into black bin bags, but this is a good way
if you happen to live on a busy road, on commuter and school routes
with no parking restrictions.



It might have been the heat,
but such was my feverish urge to rid myself of the clutter
that I probably would have put the cat out on the table
if we'd had one.

Ice cold Peronis all round
when we were sure that the last of the weary commuters
had straggled past.

Then a swift trip to the charity shop today
with all the leftovers.

£165 and an empty garage.

We met some very interesting people too.
Our capsule, house to car, car to house life
means we hardly know any of our neighbours
which is a real loss.
We need more people
and fewer things.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Backs



Looking back at this lovely view from O's room for the last time.


Walking back from the Senate House
after the degree ceremony.


Lying back on the grass in Nevile's Court.
(Strictly forbidden at any other time.)


The Backs seen from the Wren Library.

And he'll be back next year!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Light show


The sun will set at 311º northwest this evening at 9.22 pm.


That means that for a few short days


I get to take pictures


of my paperweights


on the bookshelf


in the darkest room in the house.

I am less inclined to find photo opportunities
at 4.43 am when the sun rises at 49º northeast.

Heather was up at 5 am and washing up.
Here's what she saw.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

The accidental bouquet




Fennel, nepeta and salvia
being given a late and rather
half-hearted Chelsea chop.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Shock horreur




Roses


and peonies


at Sissinghurst.


So far


so lovely.


We even came up with a similar rose

  
and Christophii allium combo.
Theirs above.
Mine below.




 But what I didn't expect 


was that we both had
identical Mullein moth caterpillars
chomping away on our verbascums.

 A French visitor pointed them out to us
and we had a difficult conversation because I could only
guess at papillon de nuit for moth
which she  seemed not to understand,
but which turns out to be correct.
I was however able to impress her with
'Il reste sous la terre pendant cinq ans.'
accompanied by vigorous burrowing actions.

Vita Sackville-West spoke fluent French
(handy for when she eloped to France with Violet Trefusis.)
 I don't know if any French visitors made it to Sissinghurst Castle 
when it opened for just a single weekend each year in 1938
but I do know that 3000 French prisoners
were incarcerated there during the Seven Years War from 1756 to 1763.
They called Sissinghurst 'Chateau de Sissinghurst' and the name stuck.