In the midst of darkness – there is always light

Yet again, time and events run away from me and weeks pass before I write another blog! Happy New Year! But the funny thing is that nothing gives me more pleasure than spending a little time looking back over photographs from weeks passed. They all roll into one, in a sense, but with the perspective of the rear-view mirror we feel the seasons more keenly. It was early November when I last wrote. The skies were blue, days still warm, the garden still full of Charlie’s dahlias, softly saying goodbye to the year.  And now, it’s the 5th of January, the year has turned, the decorations are coming down and we are all casting ahead.  But what I really like is to think that almost three weeks have passed since the solstice. In another three weeks, we are back to the length of days we had in October. And although spring is not yet around the corner, it’s strange to think the garden will be filled with snowdrops and early daffodils already.  I find this a very heartening thought on the darkest weeks of the year. 

It has been a really beautiful autumn, and we’ve had some wonderful early walks in Dorset…

And magical evenings – golden light – my favourite time of year.  I’ve been down in Cornwall, at beautiful Prussia Cove, with my friends Ruth Guilding, Antony Crolla, and Leo from the office – taking photographs at this magical house of my new Morris & Co collection for Sanderson, which releases this spring – incredibly exciting and I cannot wait to show you more! 

I was back to Dorset for our friends John & Beata staying – blustery walks and happy days.  and fields of curious cows, of course….

We did a fantastic trip to Scotland with the masterplanning team, to check on progress at Tornagrain – our new town that we are designing for the Moray Estates to the east of Inverness – gleaming in the late November sunshine…

My 50th birthday interlude – a supper at Spencer House (the tables filled with Scilly Isles narcissi) followed by crazy dancing back at our flat…

the carpet and all of us were rather worse for wear the next day. 

Dead to the world. 


Back to Dorset, to a few tiny roses lingering on in the garden; 

And if you want to know how to plant your tulip bulbs…watch this space…

The compost heap has been growing to gargantuan proportion. 

Mistype days, leaves all gone. I love this light so much.

The hedgerows had jewel-like leaves of extraordinary intensity – these are brambles. A week later the golden red leaves had turned brown and black.  This was such a magical moment, and I was glad to make a record.

Days in Dorset as Christmas drew near; astonishing skies and sunsets and sunrises. 

The shortest day of the year: 

Brightened by Charlie’s remarkable Christmas tree, groaning in ornament…

Boxing Day walk:

And then, just for a few days, at long last since the autumn, we managed to get to Scotland. Inveraray, my favourite town in the whole of Scotland, gleaming. 

We got to the bothies as the sun was setting, just in time. 

We have a new roof! It’s taken a long time to sort but so worth the wait, and so beautifully done.  At last we lie in bed at night listening to howling winds and punishing rainstorms – feeling cosy as opposed to waiting for drips and buckets.  Such a huge, huge relief.  So beautiful.  We are getting there, slowly…

This is our little cottage, with our sitting room on the left and bedroom on the right. 

and here’s the bothy, which is our kitchen. 

A walk down to the peninsula at sunset. 

The following morning, bright and clear, Charlie’s birthday, starting with boiled eggs and a modest half bottle of bubbly! 

An invigorating walk…

Quite muddy for some… followed by a long pub lunch and home to a fire and a bath in the old tin bath.  Which, as so many people have been asking, we fill up with water from a village hall tea urn that we heat up, and buckets of cold water from the spring.  It’s going to be nice to get a bathroom one day, but this is pretty nice for now.

Another walk to the peninsula the following day…

Amazingly saturated colours, such a different, more intense light than Dorset days. 

This is how we wash the dogs, for those that wonder? 

And yesterday another long walk over to the other side of the peninsula, around the coast – light and skies that felt like stepping into a painting.  a beautiful but abandoned farmhouse. 

And back home. 

We came south today. Charlie is back in Dorset; I took the train from Glasgow down to London. I wrote a little post on instagram where I said ‘missing this – back to reality’ and people made the sensible and beautiful comment – what is reality? maybe it’s the bothy. But I have to be honest, it feels like a dream world – literally as if we’ve stepped into a dream; we cannot believe just how much we love those little houses, and how much we love being there. But partly the magic is the other time, the otherness, the sense of separation from work and London and even the day to day round in Dorset. I suppose everything is real, and collides, but days in Scotland feel especially bright and clear, and intense.

It’s the turn of the year – a moment I always feels belongs better with the beginning of autumn, maybe, leading through to the end of high summer, in terms of our own seasonal, internal rhythms, but a time of course to reflect, and to look forward to the future.  I’ve cast some simple resolutions this year – one being, to paint more.

I hope you had a wonderful rest over Christmas, and in the in-between time; I suspect we will all be especially grateful for the lengthening days of spring this year to come.


Can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog and poring over the always wonderful photographs, all due to technology in one of its best roles. How else could a woman living in a small town in the middle of New Hampshire get a peek at such a well lived life in the UK? And oh, so glad to hear of your intent to do more painting!


Beautiful skies, muddy dogs, calming bothies. Thank you for sharing.

Joanne Robinson

Stunning as usual. Reality = the bothies!!


A post worth waiting for. Thank your for your inspiring message, especially lush photos, too!

Shelby Allen

So lovely to get this blog today. Loved all the pictures and your tree was gorgeous again this year. The bothy seems so tranquil and uplifting to me, a place definitely to be a peace and appreciate beauty and one’s self. Happy Birthday to you both and happy to see you are both busy as ever. So uplifting to me and so appreciated, as living in Canada we are not into more lockdown restrictions as of yesterday and so another dismal January, to with your glimpse of nature and beauty and your daily walks even bring a great deal of hope to me and inspiration to again get out daily for a walk even in these times and enjoy nature, at least we have that. Happy New Year and I so look forward to getting back to your shop in London and your lovely staff who helped me so many times on my visits and so miss your Christmas street festival evenings, which I used to fly from Canada just to attend that week. Regards

Darlene Chandler

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