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Pootling about



Ben

PART I

I followed Charlie back from Stockholm a day late, and had a beautiful day heading to Richmond Park for our friend Monica’s birthday. London steamed in sultry heat, and, giving a bit of thought to where I was heading, realised that the sublime Marble Hill was going open for tours. A house I have wanted to visit for years – a cool, leafy, perfect Palladian villa on the banks of the Thames at Twickenham.

In the care of English Heritage, the house is a little dusty around the edges at the moment because of a massive argument (I don’t know any of the details, I’m afraid, and probably don’t want to) going on about a proposed re-presentation of the house and surrounding landscape involving a large Heritage Lottery grant. I understand the locals went ballistic. While the arguments grind on, works are on hold. The very nice lady at the ticket desk (who turns out to be a reader of the blog) apologised profusely, but I couldn’t help but admit I found the place perfect just as it was.  I love a slightly dusty and ever-so-slightly down at heel house; so much more magical than something over spruced and over-explained. 

The interior can only be seen by guided tours, on Saturdays and Sundays only – times are on the English Heritage website. The tour was erudite and excellent. When the house was rescued from demolition and housing development in 1901, it was stripped and empty of all contents.  Over the decades great efforts have been made to furnish it with appropriate paintings and pictures, and a rather ravishing collection of early Georgian contents has been assembled.

De Gournay created the beautiful Chinese paper in the ground floor dining room. 

In the parlour opposite, an engraving of the house showing the view from across the river that has not changed at all in 300 years. 

The stair hall, with extraordinarily lavish mahogany floors and staircase.

In the saloon:

And the principal bedchamber:

I took the footpath down to the Thames where a ferryman is still there to take you across the river to Petersham.

The view back. I liked the little plastic boats in their own way.

Richmond Park, burned dry, with the beautiful view from King Henry’s Mound.  We had a hot, happy picnic for Monica’s birthday on the grassy banks just below.

The following day, to Dorset – we were there for the week. I had some quite long days out and about with work, but so magical to be waking up there every morning – misty mornings.

The heat has been intense even on early morning walks.

Beautiful warm evenings with trips to the seaside for cocktails.

Charlie’s beautiful dahlia border is in full flower.

PART II

Last weekend we were in Bridport. It was the Folk Festival all last weekend.  The town was full of Morris Dancers. Brilliant.

But the weather was turning.

Blackberries in July…

Sunday was pouring with rain.  We met up with Sharon at Old Albion, for a bit of a laugh and some sympathy.  In fits and starts, the folk festival had moved indoors. The dancing was great but the atmosphere not quite what it might have been if South Street had, as planned, been closed to traffic, and all the groups had been parading down the street. Ah well, next year. 

PART III

This weekend has been random but fun. Yesterday, we found ourselves driving through Frampton. ‘Flower Show Today’ announced an A-board on the main road.  Charlie came screeching to a halt and turned around.

The village hall was filled with a rich display.

The most fragrant rose was incredibly fragrant:

Liz Napier won most prizes, I realised, including Best Rose in Show. Deservedly.

It turned out that Flowers in August in Frampton was 30 years old this year, and there was a lovely display showing the early years.

The Vegetable table.

We were delighted to meet Liz Napier!

Cups ready.

Then to our friend Flora’s for supper.  Flora, conveniently named, is a brilliant florist. She’s been growing the most amazing flower garden on the side of the hill at their farm. Here’s a peek.

We’d made a plan to meet Mum and Dad at the Cattistock show today. Charlie, really sadly, was a bit under the weather and stayed at home, resting up – which was sad because the Cattistock is Charlie heaven. I took the Morris 1000 and found myself being entered into the classic car parade.  Hilarious. 

Spenny, this one’s for you:

The show secretary’s tent:

All eyes on the show ring, although sadly the ground was too hard for equestrian events, and I guess the day was too hot for the doggies contest (unless I’d missed that entirely). 

The shade of the beer tent was the place to be.

Punch and Judy:

Shearing:

Tug of War:

My favourite of all – all the spray-painted signs advertising the various tents and attractions….

were on the back of old election placards.  Theresa May – standing up for the Pimms Bar.

This evening, Charlie and I went down to Burton Bradstock to see the sea. We came back via Puncknowle, and a little glimpse at one of the most wonderful, romantic farms in the whole of West Dorset, that has just come on the market for the first time in a century. 

Sharp-eyed readers with long memories will remember my blog on the subject from a few years ago now, About a Farm. Looke Farm is a dream. Anyone with a deep sense of romance and a determination not to over-do this amazing place, please get in touch…. the details are here.

We drove home through high summer lanes.

back home at the golden hour, for a final walk around the garden.

And sunset, over the gently glowing dahlias at dusk, in highest summer.

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