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One month



Ben

It’s been the craziest month. You might have been wondering where I’d gone. Was I ever going to blog again?

The truth is we’ve had a wonderful but manic month, with a lot going on. And, specifically, a LOT going on on Sunday evenings or Monday evenings, and that has conspired to mean that week after week after week, I actually haven’t had time to sit down and write about it! So, sorry. It’s been a little strange looking back at photos and thinking how quickly time passes.

WEEK ONE

First, the pop-up – here is a tiny snap of Charlie and Frances’s beautiful room, tented in yellow and white stripes, lined with Charlie’s pressed seaweed prints, (while you are at it, check out his beautiful new website) and with hundreds of Frances Palmer pots in every shape and shade. The opening party saw many being snapped up and over the next two weeks we were amazed at quite how many Frances Palmer pot lovers and seaweed print lovers there are in the world.  I’m guessing there’s a Venn diagram of striped wall lovers too but the fabric itself wasn’t for sale.  There is a small number of Frances’s pots in the shop for sale for those that were not able to make it to London.  Please telephone Sarah or Mary for details, or call in to Rugby Street.

So we’ve had that rarest of things; four weekends in London in a row. It’s been brilliant. We’ve both been popping down to Dorset (Charlie to pick flowers; me to work, both of us to spend time with Henry) but weeks in London in the autumn are a wonderful thing.

Like a walk in Hyde Park with our friend Lulu, and her beautiful dog Panther, who can quite easily outrun Mavis.  It’s actually years since I’ve been for a proper walk in Hyde Park.

Sparkling fountains in the Italian garden:

The garden was a love-gesture from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria; their medallions face one another across the lake.

Mysterious boundary stones set into the ground. 

The great Henry Moore arch facing the east front of Kensington Palace; a remarkable vista reminiscent of a great country house in parkland. 

The Serpentine.

Queen Caroline’s temple:

Mavis going mad….

And showing some respect.
The next morning, Charlie and I got up early and went to Columbia Road – again, somewhere we haven’t been in ages.

The best things in life don’t change. Here’s Carl Grover.

English Dahlias.

We went for breakfast in a street in Pimlico which apparently you are only allowed to park in if you drive a white or yellow car.

Secretly I rather liked this block of flats. Not quite how you’d infill two (presumably bombed?) terraced houses today. 

We were going to the Tate – to see the brilliant (but now closed) Queer Art show, which was in its closing days.  The flank walls of the great gallery are covered in shrapnel marks. 

On our way home we screeched to a halt passed the newly reopened Garden History Museum and popped in.  Brilliant displays. 

Jellicoe’s great design for the gardens at Shute (which we visited here… scroll down to the end).

WEEK TWO

On the second weekend Charlie and Frances gave a flower course. We turned the office into something completely different for 24 hours.  Charlie drove up from Dorset with bucketloads of dahlias and other beautiful flowers. 12 students joined them for the day. Morning talks were about growing flowers for cutting, and about Charlie’s garden in Dorset, and Frances Palmer’s amazing wild garden in Connecticut, and the afternoon was a practical flower arranging class.

The results were spectacular.

Although for some people a little tiring.

The next day we took Mavis on a long walk on the Heath.  I don’t think I’ve seen so many acorns in years. Yesterday, incidentally, when I was back up there, they’d all fallen.

More Moore (this time Kenwood). 

Mavis met such a huge dog that she looked momentarily like a puppy again.

Golly I was tired the day after the class. Nice to have a day pretty much going for a walk and then going to bed for a duvet day.

WEEK THREE

I’ve been down to Dorset a few times, and last week had four lovely days in a row there – with a bunch of meetings to do with our exciting project at Fawley Power Station in the New Forest. It seemed simpler and calmer to head west every evening rather than back up to London.

On the way home, a few photos of Poundbury under construction.  The new section that I’ve designed (alongside my great friend George Saumarez Smith) is really coming on now, and looking beautiful.
This is the apartment building that very, very soon now, Mum & Dad will be moving into – it’s not quite ready yet so they’ll be borrowing the Parsonage for a few weeks until it is. But it looks good glowing in the autumn evening light. We are having fun with the interiors too.

Back to the Parsonage. Charlie’s garden is amazing, overflowing with growth but tipping on the balance of autumn now.

More Poundbury the next morning. We were there for the monthly site meeting, in sparkling sunshine. 

Including a visit to the grand apartment building, Royal Pavilion, that we have designed – where the scaffold coming down at last.

Doric columns facing the square.

The dome, ready to receive plasterwork. 

An exciting moment for me.

But not quite so exciting as an early morning walk that day, and seeing the mist rising across the lake.

This weekend we’ve been in London too. On Friday we went to the funeral of the father of my dearest friend – and he had become a great friend too, who I used to call ‘The Guru’, so wise and generous was his counsel. I’ll miss him so very much.

And so this weekend my camera has stayed at home, and we can reflect on the passing of a month, and the passage of time, and of the happiness and the sadness all mixed in at once at this strange old thing we call life.

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