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Softly and gently…



Ben

And so, softly, gently, summer slips into autumn. What an autumn it has been this year.  I suppose it is amazing how just when the world feels stranger than ever, Alice-through-the-looking-glass, nothing quite what it is, that nature – the great restorer, puts on such a quietly wonderful show.  I read a friend write recently that she was a November baby, and maybe that’s why she likes autumn so much. Perhaps I’m the same?

Charlie’s dahlias made a brief appearance at his bank holiday flower stand. 

The next day, I was off down to Cornwall, doing a site visit at this beautiful farmhouse where we have been working for some time now – all finished at last – carrying out major renovations and extensions.  I’m happy with our simple Greek Doric porch (which Sir Albert Richardson calls “The Cornish Order”) to give structure and a focal point to the otherwise long facade. The glazed wings are to give shelter from the punishing south-westerly winds, yet still to create a sense of welcome and openness.  Julian and Isabel Bannerman did the sensational planting, just a few months old here. 

Evening sunshine…

And morning sunrise… our new garden room gleaming. 

Back home, we had the softest mornings on our walk. The big house glowing in the first light. 

The last of Charlie’s gladioli row.

On my way to a site visit near Marlborough, beautiful mist in the parkland at Fonthill, and the astonishing gateway of Fonthill Splendens, a fragment of that great house…

Pretty good front gardens too.

Home again, dusk. 

We had a wonderful office field trip this month, led by my friend Jeremy Musson, to two brilliant Cotswold houses, astonishing Hilles, the creation of Arts & Crafts architect Detmar Blow, for himself…

And then to pure Palladian Frampton Court. Equally heavenly in its way. 

That weekend, my brothers and I finally installed the grave stone for my Mum, and Dad, at home – beautifully lettered and carved by the wonderful Andrew Whittle. 

Cotton wool days. 

The cattle back in the valley. 

And then, Autumn mists… rolling in off the sea.  We had our friends Molly and Wilfred to stay and went on a jaunt of top Dorset houses – Friar Waddon, which I’ve blogged about before as you will know, possibly the dreamiest house in the whole of Dorset?  A fragment of what was once there, and all the more wonderful for it. 

Such an astonishing position overlooking the coast, toward Portland. 

We had swims…

And the next day, Mapperton….

Followed by Montacute, which I think must rate in my top ten houses anywhere ever.

So simple, so large, yet friendly, so lucid. 

Home to a wonderful sunset… Wilfred and Molly back to London clutching bunches of dahlias…

Clouds are almost the most beautiful at this time of year…

But it has been an October of blue skies too. 

I feel like I’ve been a million miles this week – on Monday we were in London; on Tuesday I took the train to Penzance for Cornish site visits….

Staying overnight at Lamorna, where this was my view…

Back to London; down to Hampshire, back to London, down to Dorset.

We’ve had a beautiful day today….

The not quite complete reunion of the ‘Girls on Tour’….

And now, I am back in London, because early tomorrow I’m heading north. I’ve got a week of Scottish site visits and we end at the bothy and I cannot wait!

Time flies at moments like this; but it’s hard not to be excited.  I love the change seasons. You notice the nights getting darker and darker – and while that feels sad after the long days of summer, I love this moment as we draw the curtains, draw closer together, light fires and prepare for winter.  We had a beautiful harvest festival in the church a few weeks ago now, followed by a riotous harvest supper.

The gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 6, v. 25, was the chosen text of the sermon:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

A good mantra for the world as we find it this autumn.

We are not being asked to to be careless; but we are being asked not to be fearful.

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