Changes of climate

It’s a strange thing isn’t it… how one minute you’re there, the next minute you’re here.  On Monday, Charlie and I were near Lucca, for Valentina’s birthday.  The plan had been to go to the beach, but skies were grey, thunderstorms growled around and about; Val decided the beach would wait another day.  We went to Villa Torrigiani, which I had never heard of, but which turned out to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in Italy in a very long time.

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For those that follow Charlie on instagram, you will have already seen this beautiful, languid loggia with its extensive collection of wicker armchairs, as if in some strange minuet across the terrace.  A dream.P1010683 P1010684

The garden is dusty but perfect. One of these days I’ll do a blog about the world’s most ubiquitous plastic chairs; Bridie can remember the name of the designer, I can’t just at this moment… aren’t they just everywhere?  I liked very much their conversation with an old green bench in the garden.P1010690 P1010700

If you follow me on instagram, you’ll have already seen this beautiful room, the chapel…P1010739

And if you follow Valentina, you’ll have seen this sublime side chapel.  (Basically, you better get on to Instagram, is I suppose the moral of the tale).P1010747 P1010752 P1010760 P1010764It was a perfect, perfect place.  I rather think World of Interiors should go, if they have not already been.

Then we drove to Lucca for a late lunch. Brief snapshots:P1010776 P1010781 P1010791 P1010792 P1010795 P1010796 P1010802 P1010807 P1010811P1010814 P1010816 P1010818

And we had a perfect dinner cooked under the stars by Valentina’s sister and all felt very good in the world.

It was our last day in Italy… and Charlie and I decided there were just one or two things we’d missed on our previous visit to Florence.  The Basilica of San Lorenzo had been closed for a service.  It was so good to see the Old Sacristy again, years and years since I’d last been there.P1010830 P1010833 P1010834 P1010836

And after lunch we found ourselves passing the bizarre and amazing Palazzo Medici Riccardi, which could have been a blog on its own, but there is not time.P1010846 P1010859 P1010868 P1010879 P1010900

And then suddenly it was time to make haste, rather rapidly, through back streets to the car, and a hairy drive to the airport, and home to London… blinking… just like that.

Charlie had a day dashing to Dorset, entering entries into the Melplash Agricultural Show, which I suspect we are fixing firmly into our diaries for this time next year.  I had a day in London, catching up after 10 days away, and the next morning, extremely bright and early, we walked to St Pancras, caught the train to Luton, and found ourselves on a flight to Inverness.

That afternoon saw the town founding ceremony for the project we’ve been working on up there for years now – an incredibly exciting day after 13 years in the making. The ribbon was cut for the start of Tornagrain, just to the east of Inverness, which will be completed in about 60 years’ time.  The first houses begin to be built next year, and this week the advance infrastructure commences. It was a surprisingly powerful and moving moment.

And then, we had made a plan to stay for another day with our clients, John and Cathy… a final day of holiday. And you will see what I mean about changes of climate.

We started with a beautiful walk through the woods and along the wonderful Findhorn river that flows through their estate.  A place of astonishing beauty.P1010934

There is, tucked into the woods, a magical fishing hut… Charlie and I immediately started dreaming of moving to a small wooden cabin in the far north of Scotland. Do you see what we mean?

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Light shimmered through the majestic trees lining the river bank.P1010944 P1010946 P1010950 P1010954

At times the ground drops away sharply… the path narrow, hugging the bank.P1010956 P1010957 P1010958 P1010960 P1010963 P1010967 P1010971 P1010974 P1010975 Beautiful views to the granite gorge below.

And then, after lunch, a walk out to the Moray Firth… at the mouth of the Findhorn River.  The skies were wide and wonderful.  The sea was still, and the sound of seals calling to one another carried across the air… a dream landscape.P1020009 P1020022 P1020029 P1020031 P1020040 P1020053 P1020059 P1020065 P1020072 P1020076P1020074

And as I looked down at the beautiful array of pebbles on this most beautiful of beaches, and thought how far away we were from Italy, and how the colours and quality of all the best landscapes are so specific to their place… but how there was, on that windswept patch of shore, still just a hint of the colours of Brunelleschi’s beautiful dome in the Old Sacristy at San Lorenzo.

P1010834Do you see what I mean?

It’s always an exciting time to get home. Tomorrow is the first of September, which I think is possibly my favourite sort of day in the whole year – all about turning over a new leaf. Today, Bridie and I spent the whole day, from morning to night, in the shop, carrying out a massive new display for the Autumn.  An awful lot has changed, and I’ll try and bring you some pictures next week. In fact, there’s a funny story about the whole thing too. Either way, it is quite exciting. We can’t wait to welcome you in!

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