There was a slightly ominous tone to the rules of the Long Bredy Flower Arranging Competition flyer that had been dropped through our letterbox a week or so ago.
Especially…. the seventh line down: ‘The church will be locked overnight’. What scurrilous behaviour did the committee think might have happened, I wondered, if the church had been left open. I love village shows.
We woke feeling tired and lazy on Saturday morning. Flower arranging competitions were the last thing on Charlie’s mind. But we lay in bed rather too long to be assured of an easy parking spot in Bridport, and by the time we had actually got up, the prospect of breakfast at Soulshine (the wonderful cafe in Bridport that opened a little while ago) was also combining with the rather more fraught possibilities of being stuck in a long snake of holiday traffic winding its way West on Saturday morning… and then the middle-class road rage of the Bridport Waitrose Car Park (which is something else to behold). All of which slightly takes the shine off morning coffee at Soulshine.
So I offered to cook breakfast at home…. at which point (I guess we are talking about 9.45am) Charlie decided he was going to enter the Long Bredy Flower Arranging Competition. Entries, you will have noted, had to be in the church before 11.
He dashed down to the veg patch to cut flowers. I made him a fried egg sandwich.
A bunch of dahlias, sweet peas and fennel grew larger by the minute.
Within 10 minutes he was back in the flower room. Giant buckets of flowers had appeared from nowhere.
Bunches of sweet peas that he’d picked the day before were lined up to be ransacked.
The arrangement grew.
And grew. 45 minutes has passed and the clock was ticking dangerously close to departure time when Charlie declared he was done.
A last minute panic concerned the rule that the arrangement could be no wider than 60cm.
Overall the effect was rather incredible. I was getting a little bit nervous that Long Bredy may not have seen anything like it.
The church of St. Peter is very beautiful. We walked around enjoying the architecture and memorial tablets as much as the flowers.
Note the heater for the organist’s seat.
The west end has become something of a garden shed, replete with mowing machines and the accoutrements of the church flower arranging ladies, neatly stored.
And an extraordinarily steep flight of stairs leading to the bell ringing loft.
The churchyard is beautiful, tucked into an amazing fold in the hills – separated from the fields by a stone-walled ha-ha.
Beautiful paths have been mown through the long grass. A perfect graveyard.
We finished at the church and left, stomachs in knots, knowing that the judging was about to commence.
Nowhere better to call in than at Bellamont, just up the road. We found Anthony Sykes in heaven, decorating his new conservatory with gold paint.
Anthony’s pedimented entrance into the conservatory, gleaming.
Anthony & Harriet built this incredible Georgian Gothick house about 15 years ago. I dedicated my book on English Decoration to Anthony. His vision is amazing.
We had a great gossip and catch up and left a little after 12, admiring the Sykes’s Longhorn cattle on our way out… gazing at us across the Gothick crenelations of Anthony’s creation, known locally as the Pink Palace.
We rushed back to the Church…. And found the third prize:
And then, the First.
Obviously I can’t comment any further at all. I’m biased. But I’d love to know what you think. It could be an interesting comments page!
On the back of the card were the judges comments “a startling arrangement. It appeared to be rather unsymmetrical. Maybe that was intended?”
Yes. I think Long Bredy wasn’t quite ready for Charlie.
To drown our sorrows we took ourselves off (in the Morris 1000, which cheered things up immediately) to Weymouth beach for champagne and fish and chips. We could be said to have a few bottles of bubbly left over after the party. It was heaven. As regular readers know, I’ve got a thing for Weymouth – especially on a bright and breezy day in High Summer. It’s fab. Although I suspected we might have been the only champagne drinkers on the beach at that particular moment.
We got home and Jim & Nic came over and we carried on. This, after all, is the face of defeat:The garden is looking incredible, heavy with flowers. I’m afraid I’d left my normal camera in London, so everything in this blog is taken on my phone, not quite the same at all (but hopefully you get the idea). That reminds me – one of the most asked questions on the blog is what camera do I use. I’ll do a blog one of these days about all of that! I think it would be helpful. We walked, slightly tipsy, in the perfect evening, to our neighbours the Goodwins for supper. We passed the cricket ground – which at this precise moment 2 weeks before had been the scene of the marquee, camels and our party. All very strange, and rather dream-like, now.And we had a beautiful dinner with the Goodwin family, in their incredible house, and walked home very late in the utter blackness of the night. And this morning a great rainstorm swept across the valley, and after church we went down the road for lunch with our friends the Sitwells, where just occasionally some of the talk may have been about the unfairness of life, and unrecognised artistic genius.
And tonight it was so grey and stormy, we lit a fire, and autumn ever so gently knocked at the door.Of course, there are lots of adventures to be had before then.