Village thanksgiving

Can you believe this autumn, shifting softly from September to October without a whisper?  I am not sure I can remember a more quietly beautiful time as this.

I got to Dorset on Wednesday night (with my friend Ben from the Prince’s Foundation) to find a new thing. Charlie had come down earlier and for the first time ever the lights were glowing warmly in the windows, the fire was lit, and the smell of woodsmoke hung in the air. Flowers were picked on the kitchen table, and supper was in the oven. Bliss. The following day my friend Kim Wilkie (who with his partner Pip creates his own microcosm of harmony at Franklin Farm) came to stay. It would be true to say that Kim more than once accused me of being rather spoiled just now. I’m afraid I can only agree.

We went for a walk down the valley. The sunset was extraordinary.

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I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it.

Kim and I spent a day running through the many jobs we’re working on together. Somehow we’ve got so many things going that it’s not only good, but necessary, to take a whole day to carefully plot out ideas. I used to think I could do all this sort of stuff myself. Now I cannot think about starting the design of a new building in a landscape without Kim to bounce ideas back and forth. It’s can be a bit like a game of tennis. Sometimes the rallies are so exciting that we’re a bit breathless at the end… when the relationship between architecture and landscape just gels perfectly together. Although put it this way. You’d be better off getting me to draw a house than playing a game of tennis.

Charlie, meanwhile, baked delicious cakes. Can we set up a petition for Charlie to open a cake shop, please, Lambs Conduit Street? I’m putting on weight but I don’t care.

The vegetable garden was soft in the misty mornings.

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The dining room window; not a bad view from the office.P1050891 P1050895

But despite the gentle views it was a happily hectic weekend. Charlie had 4 girlfriends staying (I rapidly christened them Charlie’s angels, which I think is a name which might just stick). Not everyone made it to church on Sunday morning. We’d had a pretty good night the evening before.

It was the village harvest festival. The church was beautifully decorated.
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Everyone made it to lunch in the hall. It was a great afternoon, which I would say was enjoyed as much by the youngest member of the congregation (note: the wine was not his)…P1050913

…as by one or two slightly older residents, many of whom have been in the village for generations, while others have just arrived. I love days like this. And I suppose that the Harvest festival is our own little version of Thanksgiving. The crops are in. I really do think this is my favourite time of year.

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In the afternoon we decided a brisk walk to Abbotsbury was the order of the day.P1050918 P1050919 P1050921 P1050924

We climbed to St. Catherine’s chapel, and then the angels made their farewells. Charlie and I came home to the most beautiful late afternoon sunshine westering in the valley.P1050930 P1050934 P1050936 P1050944 P1050948

Something tells me these long autumn days will not be with us for ever. But I think the memory will.

Briefly, before I say goodnight, can I apologise once again to those readers who need their blog fix on a Monday morning? Bridie and I have been in interviews all day for the new shop manager position, starting very early this morning, and somehow there just wasn’t time to write between our return to London and this morning. It was wonderful to have met so many very strong candidates, and we’re excited to feel that we will have some excellent new energy coming into Rugby Street soon.

And a finally, finally… Thank you for the many kind comments on twitter, and instagram, and here on the blog, about the article that came out in the New York Times about my flat. You’re able to read the story and look at some photos here. Thank you Rita and Natasha, for a lovely story. And now, I can breathe a sigh of relief. I’m perhaps allowed to post a photograph of the flat once again.  A London weekend beckons… and in the meantime have a very happy week.

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