Six weeks of Summer

Six weeks have passed since I last wrote, on my way back from Scotland. How long ago those balmy days of early June now feel. Charlie’s garden was frothy with roses and cow parsley… like walking into a midsummer dream.  We had wam evenings, clear days, bright mornings, filled with birdsong.  Even on early morning walks the air was dry and warm, the ground parched after weeks and weeks of no rain.   From the dust of England we went to Morocco for a weekend, for the brilliant, sparkling opening of our friend Jasper’s astonishing new hotel, the Villa Mabrouka, in Tangier.  A dream.  On our first day we woke early and explored the town…
Inside the Kasbah museum;  A resting broom, and a tortoise, in the garden – two of my favourite things.  We called in at La Di Dar, the home of our friend Gavin Hougton, brilliant decorator, potter, and Tangerine – he was in the middle of one of his brilliant drawing school holidays held in his perfect little house on the edge of the gate to the Kasbah.  That night the light was a dream – here we are with Tessa Traeger, Patrick Kinmonth, and our friend Molly.  Kristin Scott Thomas dressed for the surroundings…. Jasper & Oisin, at lunch with Veere Grenney.
Jasper and Ellie looking beyond glam at the opening party.  We danced into the night.  Anna McKew, the wonderful grand dame of Tangier who was friends with my great aunt Trishy, who lived here for 50 years.  Cool light on the terrace the next day…. The Lawrence Mynott Pavilion in the Villa garden, originally created for Yves Saint Laurent.  Dinner at Gordon Watson’s… one of the most beautiful rooms in the world…. Gordon’s garden…. Surrounded by the majesty of Tangier – truly, an oasis.  We had a strange journey home, with a delayed flight and a missed connection. We abandoned chaos at the airport and headed into Madrid where we had a lovely evening and a fine morning, visiting the Prado, and then the botanical garden next door.  Back to beautiful Madrid airport.  And happy to be home, 24 hours late, where the lilies in London were going wild.  I came down to Dorset that weekend and the garden was going mad too.  Snapshots. It really has never looked this good.

Walks are still hot, but the weather was changing.  Clouds rolled in and it feels to have been the coolest, greenest, dampest July that I can remember for some time.   A truly English summer.
One evening I went to Poundbury to take photographs of the recent phases, glowing in the golden hour.  And getting up very, very early the following morning to take photos of the development we designed years ago in Weymouth Harbour, which you can see starting with the green house and wrapping along the harbour front, around the corner.  We went up to Somerset one weekend, for a visit to Frome reclamation, to buy some bits and pieces for Scotland – visiting the beautiful village of Batcombe for lunch at the pub, where our friend Margot has just started cooking.  Home again.  It feels, ever so gradually, as if the year is turning now.  There is a change of light…. Caddy came over for supper one evening to look at the garden.  I headed down to Cornwall to take photos of a house we’d worked on in the far west, down near the sea – but stopping at the little scheme we designed some 10 or 12 years ago now for the Duchy of Cornwall to photograph our houses there in unexpectedly striking light.   It’s good to see how they are settling in, and the square now completed, and the allotment beds at the lower end of the garden at last finished and ready to be occupied (it’s taken far too long!).  My destination – heavenly.
I popped down to the sea one afternoon in brilliant sunshine.  and then back home – where we had our friends Lizzy and George for the weekend. 

The following weekend, Bridie, Brandon and Will came.  Much hilarity and laughter!  I was up in Glooucestershire for a day last week, at a site visit for a new farmhouse we’re building to be almost competely steel and concrete free in construction, and completely fossil-fuel free in operation – here is the super-insulated wall of terracotta block in place, receiving its facing of traditionally laid local stone, set in lime mortar.  Brand new ancient feeling stone walls.  Home to Dorset – where I was home alone – Charlie and the dogs were in London. Henry our cat makes a rare appearance on the blog.  Normally he lives in the attic.  Without the crazy little ones around, he was greatly enjoying the run of the place.
Strange cat.  Apples ripening…. meadow overflowing.   The rain swept through in soft drifts today…. the land hasn’t looked so green in high summer for years. It is rather wonderful.  Blackberries are suddenly out in all the hedgerows.  It somehow feels that autumn is around the corner.  Our destination was the Valley of the Stones, and this ancient stone, fairly recently re-discovered, if that is the right word – a Neolithic axe polishing stone.  Do you see the patch of stone in the foreground?   It is totally smooth to the touch, like marble.  This is where, some 6000 years ago, ancient people lived – which, amazingly, is only perhaps two or three hundred generations – three hundred births and deaths separating us from them. 

It’s a magical and ancient spot. A good place to end, as we contemplate the new week, and the new month, as high summer holds us in her balance before the year slips gently into autumn.


Spectacular photos of Tangier. Wonderful to see my dear friend Anna Mc Kew at the opening of Jasper’s marvelous hotel. I was thinking of her when I saw your first photograph of the hotel so phoned her for a chat and then afterwards scrolled down and discovered her photo on your blog!

Peter Sullivan

Thankyou for sharing photographs of your last few weeks.


So good to hear from you again! As usual, the photos are striking—so much beauty, so many lovely people and places! And animals. It was nice to see little Henry too. You and Charlie have a talent for finding the magic in the world, and for adding to it greatly. Thanks as always for sharing. ❤️

Diane Keane

Your garden’s truly a dream.

Carlo Speri

So nice to see this blog of Tangiers, what an amazing place to visit. Loved all of your trips to Poundbury and Cornwall area and it certainly was nice to see the elusive Henry again, it has been a while. Beautiful pictures of your flowers and vegetables and nice to see you enjoying time with friends. I find the weather a bit strange this summer, so much rain, then humidity and then back to cool at night and light coat needed. Hard to believe that summer won’t be lasting too much longer. That farmhouse you are doing looks quite interesting from the way it is being built. So nice to see you both in your travels, work and friends. I cannot wait to be back travelling to London in the fall and visiting your shop. Enjoy the last days of summer, time will go so fast, I am afraid and we will all be back to cool weather. All the best from Canada.

Darlene Chandler

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