There is honestly nothing, nothing, in the world that I love more than that moment – which I think happened this weekend, down here in Dorset, when there’s a tipping point headlong in to spring and a promise of summer is around the corner.
It’s about this time of year, every year, that the cattle are put out in the fields overlooking the distant Bride Valley; I never fail to have my breath taken away by that placid calm as they graze as a golden sun sets in the west. Regular readers of the blog will know that I’ve got a bit of a thing for this moment.
The garden is looking calm and placid too, in the first flush of growth; that optimistic time of the year when anticipation is more powerful than reality. (Although, to be fair, I’m mainly anticipating a lot of slugs and snails after the wet mild winter). I had a good day today, putting up bean poles and planting out veg.
My garden is being photographed for a very glossy magazine in a couple of weeks or so. It’s as ready as it’s going to be, because I’m not down here again before the photographer arrives. I’m off to stay with my friend Gavin in Tangiers, which I will be very happy to write about on Easter Monday…
But really, something else has been going on at the moment.
It started the other day with a very nice lunch I got invited to at Robert Kime’s beautiful shop on Museum Street. “Come for lunch” said Christopher, who runs the shop… “are you free next Thursday?”. I was. I thought I was popping over for a sandwich with Christopher in a cafe. So I was rather sheepish, on arriving about 10-15 minutes late, as is normal I am afraid, to find 7 other people sitting down at a beautiful dining table with beautiful flowers eating a beautiful lunch… my empty seat in the corner.
It was a fantastic pause in a hectic week. On the way out, I thought, you know, I better buy something hadn’t I? Well… it had been a good lunch. But really, I’d already spotted something completely wonderful on my way in. A pair of painted little rush stools.
“Wow. They’d look absolutely great in my house in Italy” I said. “They’d be perfect for either side of the fire”.
This is not an entirely untrue comment… except for one small detail. The house doesn’t quite exist. Or, I suppose, more accurately, it does exist. But I haven’t visited it yet, and I don’t own it.
“REALLY?” everyone said. “We didn’t know you had a house in Italy?!?” Well, to be fair, they would look great by the fire of a house in Italy, especially if it was my house.
So I bought them. Breaking, once again, my golden rule – don’t buy stuff unless you know exactly where it’s going to live.
Here are the little stools in Dorset. You see what I mean?
Well, this particular rule-breaking has been happening quite a bit just of late. Today, a delivery turned up from a weird ebay furniture warehouse in Cornwall. What had I done? Well, after writing the Habitat blog a couple of weeks ago, I went a bit zany and bought a set of 8 Magistretti Dining Chairs that are now residing in my slightly crazy store room in Dorset. It used to be the office but things got a little mad a while back. I think I need a new store room now.
See what I mean? Perfect, huh? They are already beautifully faded. They used to be the red ones. Bliss. Ideal for the terrace or kitchen of the same Italian house.
It’s carrying on. The other day, Darkroom, our neighbouring store on Rugby Street, had the most beautiful Berber cushions in the window that you have ever seen. Check them out here. Ideal for the hot house. The one I really wanted got snapped up from under my nose. But Rhonda has promised that more are on the way in shortly. Pay a visit (oh, and don’t forget to come to see us too).
Basically, I think it’s an itch. It’s somewhere under my skin, and I’m not sure where it will end. But if I carry on buying furniture like this, I’m going to need to start researching places sooner rather than later. On my bookshelf at the moment? Conran on France, Stefanidis on Patmos. Too much.
Oh man. To die for. Will and I are going to Patmos this summer, with friends. Yay!
Of course, I’m going to miss Italy like mad. Val and I are plotting a short weekend at la Casa together in July.
If I told you Valentina’s house was still free for a few weeks in August, you might want to get in touch with her immediately and snap it up…. if I were you…
It doesn’t quite get over the itch, though, does it? My sister-in-law had a great point, when she said that the best house in the sun belongs to your friends (um, thank you, Val for over a decade of perfect summer holidays)… before going on to do whatever she could to persuade me to buy a house in Greece. I think rather proving the point of her principle.
A few years ago, Will, George and I went on holiday to Sicily. Across the valley we spied this amazing house.
We went to explore, but couldn’t get close owing to an extremely ferocious dog and evidence that there were people about. But it was like a dream.
Here was the view.
Will would stand looking at it for hours, half a mile away, from our terrace, and then draw up the proposed floor plans.
We got on the case. We tracked down the owner, and then found out it was for sale. On our last day, we managed to get a tour.
The funny thing was the plans were nothing like as cool as we’d hoped, and from the main bedroom window was a grim view to a very ugly modern house that we hadn’t ever been able to spot from the lane. We had a great little day-dream, but it wasn’t quite to be.
Where you would start looking if you were me? I hesitate to add… this is a plan for 10 years down the line, but it’s nice to have a think about isn’t it?