Temples of delight

Yet again you will be wondering where the blog has gone. If you are, by any chance, a new and budding ‘blogger’, you will know that the first rule of blogging is regularity. So, when there is a long delay in a blog, there better be a good reason.

A clue to the first reason can be found in a tiny photograph snap which you can see here on our bedroom mantlepiece.

Yes, just in case you were not sure, that’s me on the right. And Charlie on the left.

I guess this was three weeks ago now – and we had just arrived at our friend Lucy Clayton’s SCOUNDRELS’ BALL, held in Vauxhall.  Full fancy dress was required. Charlie had come as a highwayman, dressed all in black – all the better to show off his newly-bleached hair. I was Hogarth’s Rake, in full mid-18th century costume, wig and chalked face.  I would say, on arrival, I was about half way through the story of Rake’s Progress.  By the small hours of the morning I was nearly at the end, not quite in Bedlam but almost. The Ball was held in Brunswick House, the beautiful Georgian house stranded on a roundabout of huge modern buildings at Nine Elms Lane.  Our party tipped out in to the streets of Saturday night Vauxhall, not so far from the Georgian Pleasure Gardens. Lucy, being the consummate hostess, had arranged entry for her entire ball to Duckie, and all I can say is that if you want to have a good time in a gay club in Vauxhall on a Saturday evening, there’s no better strategy than arriving dressed in full 18th century costume and make-up.  Charlie and I headed then to the Crown, at god knows what o’ clock, and finally home, via strange scenes in McDonalds on High Holborn, at about 5 in the morning, where no-one blinked an eye at the curious attempts of Dick Turpin and Tom Rakeswell trying to order a big mac on the giant press-button screens when completely and utterly drunk. We got home and slept until 2. We crawled out of bed and the most that we and Mavis could do was to make our way to the Duke of Cambridge pub for a long late roast lunch with Bridie. Recuperation came slowly, with an Indian takeaway on Bridie’s sofa in her beautiful, beautiful new house. We walked home and crawled into bed.  No blog, week one.

The following weekend we were staying in Suffolk. We started for a night with our friend Benedict and Daniel at there extraordinary cottage surrounded by the River Stour on all sides – the house is even called Island Cottage. We had the happiest night there but I didn’t take any photographs at all, partly because I forgot and partly because when I remembered I realised that their beautiful house was far more fit for the pages of World of Interiors or Cabana magazine than for here, and modesty sometimes is becoming. Watch this space.

And then the following morning we headed just down the river to our friend Veere’s. We had a weekend at the Temple. 

Veere’s house will be familiar to readers of the blog and my most recent book. It is a dream.  A miniature Temple of Pleasure like nothing else I know; part dolls-house, part grand Country House in equal measure…. and all, supremely decorated and supremely comfortable (Veere being Veere).

Here is our beautiful room.

Here, by the way, for those that are not on Instagram, is Charlie’s new look….!We had walks to Stoke-by-Nayland.

Beautiful hollyhocks still in flower, and growing out of every crack in the road.

The old vicarage.

Our fellow guests went swimming in the canal by dusk on return. Not for the faint-hearted.

The following morning was bright and clear.
The grand room, with the Mimosa tree just turning into flower that day – the citrus yellow perfect against Veere’s pink walls.
Another walk to collect the papers.
And then the longest, most delicious and fun Sunday lunch with old and new friends.

As we left, the moon was coming up, reflected in the canal.

The Temple was heaven. Certainly, a different sort of weekend than the one before, and rather more civilised.  Our costume rental from Angels had lasted two weeks, and for a brief moment I felt sad that I hadn’t brought it all up with me to Suffolk. It would have been quite fun to sit in Veere’s great room, looking over the canal, in wig and coat (you realise, incidentally, how flattering the 18th century cut of clothes was designed to be).

But I hadn’t. We drove home slowly down the A12 and made our way back to London and by the time we had got home, I’m afraid I had rather run out of energy to write a blog that night.  Week Two, no blog.

Then, and here there are just a few photos, I’ve been spending the better part of the whole of last week helping Mum and Dad move into their new flat, in Poundbury.  I’m sure I’ll write a bit more about that when it’s all done – but it has been a monumental task, unpacking hundreds and hundreds of boxes and getting everything sorted.  I won’t show you the chaos.

Sitting Room nearly ready:

The kitchen with its amazing wallpaper by Lake August!  And yellow lino floor.

The central hallway, with blue grasscloth walls…

The outside of the building is nearly finished! 

Sue and Lloyd putting up curtains!  G P & J Baker. 

First supper in the kitchen…

Hallway pictures are up. Nearly. 

Well, anyone who’s moved house recently knows quite how stressful the whole thing is. Mum and Dad aren’t quite living there yet – that happens next week – and after a few weeks at the Parsonage they’ve gone up to my brothers for a few days to escape from packing boxes and Poundbury.  But with everything going on on for the whole weekend, and on Monday, you can see why I didn’t quite get around to a blog this weekend either.  In other circumstances, it would maybe have been about how beautiful and soft this recent autumn weather has been. I don’t think I’ve seen the village looking more beautiful in years.  But just for once, I didn’t even have a camera with me.

So, why now?  Well tomorrow morning, Charlie and I are off early to Venice for a tiny holiday.  We can’t wait.  And I thought I better tell you what we’ve been up to before that.


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