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Spring calling



Ben

It’s been a perfect weekend in Dorset.  The end of a pretty hectic week – a weekend of peace and quiet had never been more welcome.

On Friday evening I took Mavis for a walk – the sheep are grazing the cricket pitch, with their lambs, which puts one in a good state of mind really. 

The hills never fail to calm my mind. 

Charlie’s garden is bursting.  Each evening the air is almost thick with the scent of hyacinths. 

Thousands of tulips are coming soon….

Charlie will shortly be taking tulip orders – he’ll be bringing buckets of tulips up to London weekly. Email him here if you are interested.

On Saturday, the day dawned bright and breezy. Thinking of our resolution, always to find something new to look at, we decided to go on a trip up to Somerset, to investigate the National Trust house at Barrington Court. I’d been years and years (literally, decades ago) and had always wanted to go back.

Perfect daffodil meadows surround the house;  And ranges of beautiful, arts and crafts cottages and garden buildings, which I don’t remember at all from my last visit. Very inspirational.

The house is approached through a meadow filled with daffodils; the old Jacobean house to the left; the 17th century stable and kitchen block to the right.
Inside, the place is completely empty.  It was purchased by the Trust in 1907, as a near ruin. but they didn’t know exactly what they were going to do with the place; and had no funds to execute a repair. Rescue came, after the first world war, in the hands of Colonel A. A. Lyle (of the Tate & Lyle family), who took a long lease in the 20s and poured his heart and soul into the restoration. Lyle had a vast collection of medieval panelling and joinery that has been artfully incorporated through the building – which feels, inside, much more like a late arts and crafts building of the 20’s than it does an original Jacobean house. But it is a beautiful place. The Lyle Family left in the 1980s and the house is now entirely empty of furniture – strangely nice.

The 1920s bathrooms are particularly fine. 

In the long gallery.

Lyle hired the ageing Gertrude Jekyll to design the garden. A beautiful plan of the garden, part executed, hangs in the converted stable wing.  A dreamy drawing. 

Beautiful gardens surround the house.

Many corners of the walled gardens are moated. A dream.

Inside the walled vegetable garden; high walls lined with fruiting trees.

Plum blossom on a north facing wall:

The tennis pavilion:

We made our way back home and stopped in a little village, Hinton St. George, on the way, for lunch.  The name had a nice ring to it, which – unlike more than a few Dorset villages – didn’t prove wrong. 

We got home in time for tea with our friends Roy and Chris, and a beautiful sunset.

This morning, early, Mavis and I went out – well, not quite as early, thanks to the change in clocks.  I love this moment in the year, even if you do lose an hour.

My brother and sister in law, and niece, were coming over for lunch and we had round two of the walk in the warmth of the midday sun.  The sheep had moved to the shade.

Mavis didn’t stop all day. Here she is with her cousin Coco. 

It has been the most beautiful afternoon in Dorset. We lay in hot sun and did nothing.  But then it was time for me to turn around, and head back to London, and I can’t say the journey is going very well.  Sunday evening train delays, the usual…  I’m staying calm, but please remind me never to arrange an early morning meeting on a Monday in London ever again?

At moments like this, I’d rather be Mavis.

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