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Thanksgiving



Ben

It’s been a good week, and a productive one, but it felt like quite long at times too. I got back from Scotland on Sunday night. A very busy few days back at my desk, after the week off unpacking.  On Wednesday, I was out all day, photographing a project, which is always a long and slightly exhausting moment. Then on Thursday, I was at the seaside in Belgium, in Knokke, catching an early train.  We are working on a beautiful apartment there and had a meeting with the local architect, and owners.  The ever-changing view across the North Sea is serene and breathtaking.

We had a little time on the way back to the railway station and had a proper walk around Knokke. it’s a beautiful arts and crafts town, with many houses built in the 20s and 30s, many by English architects. An incredibly civilised place.  This is the church, one of the most beautiful small churches I have ever been in, like an illustration from a story book. 

It has a wonderful open air church contained within the cloister. 

The altar. The door to the church proper is behind me. 

Incredible red-orange doors and white, white walls. 

Our client took us to his father’s house and garden in the town – one of the most intense and magical gardens I’ve been in for a while. 

Like a dream landscape.  Heavenly. 

The town is full of fine houses like this one… white walls and red roofs behind green hedges – a perfect palette. 

And then via one or two other dreamy Belgium buildings on our way back to the train. 

On Friday, I was out on the Wiltshire chalk downs at a fine farmhouse, thinking about ideas there for new owners. I’ll be honest, it was a very tired me that made it down to Dorset that evening, in the middle of a drenching rain storm. We had a PCC committee meeting for the church that night, and supper with our neighbours Jim and Nic afterwards. I fell into bed.

On Saturday, we work up late to more pouring rain. The garden is sodden but beautiful, the last of the dahlias putting on the most incredible display. The frosts feel a little way off yet, I must admit. 

Our neighbour Ed and Christine’s roof is lovely and mossy at this time of year, its colour merging into the wood on the hills beyond, as the trees lose their leaves in each gale.

The garden is nearly at an end, but it’s been too wet (and Charlie’s been too busy) to put anything to bed. 

Dark trunks of beech trees, black in the wet, while I walked the dogs in the woods.

Yesterday, we woke to more rain, after a late night home.  But after lunch, the clouds suddenly passed, and we had remarkable blue skies and warm sunshine. 

We’d been getting the church and hall ready for the village Harvest Supper. 

The church was looking absolutely beautiful.

A small candle had been lit on the altar. Our new vicar, Jane, said at the beginning of the service, that it had been placed there in memory of those who couldn’t be with us for this harvest supper – namely, Mum, and Dad, who had enjoyed this evening so much, this time last year. 

Dahlias by Charlie on the altar; the giant marrows caused a degree of horror for those who hadn’t seen them before…

Nipping back home, the Parsonage glowed in the late afternoon October sunshine.

And as we left church, the last of the light.  It’s the tipping point of the year. 

Apples and dahlias glowing pink in the grand. 

The start of Harvest supper… I forgot to take any more photos, the evening was so fun. 

And yet again, I rolled in to bed, tired, tired, if I’m honest slightly needing another weekend to recover from this one.

Harvest time is such a good time – as Jane said, a moment to literally, and metaphorically, thank our blessings, to count the harvest, and be grateful for this beautiful world we live in. Especially, we in the village are grateful that the church roof is mended and in fine shape for decades to come. The generosity of many readers of my and Charlie’s blog and instagram was given a special notice in the thanks that were made this year.

To end: here was Mum, last year, at the end of a brilliant Harvest supper… so happy.

It’s so sad that she’s not here this year, and nor of course Dad – whose Memorial Service we are holding at Greenwich in just a few weeks now (if you are reader of the blog, and knew my father, and would like to attend, please email me for details).

But if there are any lessons to be learned from their absence – it’s to be grateful for the world, to live life to the fullest, to live in the moment, to love your neighbours…and to love life itself.  Not a bad mantra for an autumnal Monday night in London, I’d say.

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