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We've been in Rutland for the weekend - for a wonderful wedding of our friends Connie and Tom. In a strange sense, Connie is familiar to every one of our readers - she's the brilliantly talented graphic designer who designed our website when Bridie and I re-planned everything a couple of years ago now.
It was the happiest craziest most fun party we'd been to for, well, at least a year (since our own wedding party, of course, down in Dorset) and even more fun to explore a completely new part of the world; the beautiful, serene, green Heart of England.
We started in Uppingham, the tiny market town near Connie's house... having a perfect Saturday morning mooch around this little place with, seemingly, hardly a chain store in sight and a thriving number of small independent butchers, bakers and bookstores. And this brilliant Ironmongery shop complete with gloss green and cream shopfront.
The sun has shone on Dorset this weekend. I'm writing on a quiet Sunday evening after the most fantastic couple of days. We've had our friends Will and Brandon (and Mavis's best new friend, their Airdale puppy, Lewis) staying with us.
Friday evening was balmy. The Parsonage was bathed in warm sunshine. Charlie's vegetable garden is looking like a microcosm of paradise.
The last of the tulips, pretty much:
But the first of the apple blossom: Continue reading
After the washout of the Bank Holiday weekend in Cornwall.... enjoyable as it was.... it was nonetheless rather a rare and lovely feeling to be arriving in Dorset on Friday evening with the forecast of hot sunshine all weekend. Zoe from the office, my right hand person (although she sits on my left, as it happens) was coming to stay and we caught the train from Waterloo with that wonderful sense of relief that only Friday afternoon can really bring. We arrived just in time for the social club committee meeting, planning the events for our Queen's 90th birthday celebrations next month. It didn't take too long to sort the logistics of Victoria Sponge baking competitions and dog parades before we settled into the usual committee banter which rapidly turned into a fascinating discussion of 'IN' or 'OUT'. Opinion was divided.
Maybe as a result the committee meeting wasn't quite as raucous and dangerous as usual and we woke up bright and early on Saturday morning (thanks to Mavis) without feeling too ill. But it was very grey. Where was the sunshine? We headed in to Bridport for the market and breakfast at Soulshine.
We were overwhelmed by the blossom in the churchyard next door...
You might have been wondering where I went again..... but in this case it was just another manic week. I can't tell you what a relief it was to get down to dreamy Dorset on Thursday... albeit Charlie and I were nursing tender hangovers after a delicious and bonkers supper with Rita Konig on Wednesday night. We were all feeling a bit the worse for wear but I was glad I wasn't her friend James, who managed to be taking his driving test at 11 o clock that morning.
I had Dorset meetings all day, and got home to dramatic clouds and bright sunshine... high spring. The veg garden sparkled. I've been away for so long that we have almost missed the great glory of Charlie's tulips, bucketloads of which he's been taking to London each week for sale to florists and friends, but luckily the garden was still looking amazing. Tulip-time; my favourite.
Some of you may have been wondering where I'd gone. The day before we were meant to go to Lisbon, I came down with a really horrible flu. I woke that morning hardly able to croak to Charlie "I don't think I'm going to be able to make it". And then spent the next 8 days in bed.... That sort of flu.
There was one bright thing on the horizon though.... and that's our new puppy. Meet Mavis!
Where's the blog gone, you'll have been asking... and time has been rushing by.
It's been one of those moments where I have just had to get my head down and press on. I have been deep in writing the final text for my next book - which I am happy to say is now finished. It comes out in the Autumn, published as before, by Ryland Peters & Small, and it will be called 'English Houses'. People keep on asking when I'm going to be writing a book on my own work, but if I'm absolutely honest, I'm not really ready for that. So it is going to be another book of inspiring houses - the Parsonage, I guess you could have guessed; our flat in London, ditto; and then ten other beautiful houses where I have sneakily managed to persuade friends to let me and Jan Baldwin (with her camera) in through the door. Although I say so myself, it's looking visually stunning. In fact, I can say that because I'm merely praising Jan's incredible ability to catch a moment and a mood.
Anyway - watch this space.
Meanwhile Charlie and I have been having VERY quiet times down in Dorset. From time to time I've stepped outside to snap a shot here and there as the light creates a moment in the garden. Spring is on the brink of bursting, but after the warmest start ever to the year, it has felt rather cold and restless for the past fortnight, as if the garden is a little held back.
But what is magical, still, is seeing how much changes in a week. This was at the Easter weekend: