The Church will be locked overnight…

There was a slightly ominous tone to the rules of the Long Bredy Flower Arranging Competition flyer that had been dropped through our letterbox a week or so ago.


Especially…. the seventh line down:  ‘The church will be locked overnight’.  What scurrilous behaviour did the committee think might have happened, I wondered, if the church had been left open. I love village shows.

We woke feeling tired and lazy on Saturday morning. Flower arranging competitions were the last thing on Charlie’s mind. But we lay in bed rather too long to be assured of an easy parking spot in Bridport, and by the time we had actually got up, the prospect of breakfast at Soulshine (the wonderful cafe in Bridport that opened a little while ago) was also combining with the rather more fraught possibilities of being stuck in a long snake of holiday traffic winding its way West on Saturday morning… and then the middle-class road rage of the Bridport Waitrose Car Park (which is something else to behold). All of which slightly takes the shine off morning coffee at Soulshine.

So I offered to cook breakfast at home…. at which point (I guess we are talking about 9.45am) Charlie decided he was going to enter the Long Bredy Flower Arranging Competition. Entries, you will have noted, had to be in the church before 11.

He dashed down to the veg patch to cut flowers.  I made him a fried egg sandwich.IMG_6251 IMG_6252 IMG_6254 IMG_6255

A bunch of dahlias, sweet peas and fennel grew larger by the minute.IMG_6256 IMG_6257 IMG_6258 IMG_6261 IMG_6265

Within 10 minutes he was back in the flower room. Giant buckets of flowers had appeared from nowhere.
IMG_6266 IMG_6268 IMG_6272 IMG_6274 IMG_6275

Bunches of sweet peas that he’d picked the day before were lined up to be ransacked.IMG_6276

The arrangement grew.IMG_6280 IMG_6281

And grew.IMG_6284

And grew.  45 minutes has passed and the clock was ticking dangerously close to departure time when Charlie declared he was done.
IMG_6288 IMG_6290 A last minute panic concerned the rule that the arrangement could be no wider than 60cm.
IMG_6292 IMG_6295 IMG_6297 IMG_6298

Overall the effect was rather incredible.  I was getting a little bit nervous that Long Bredy may not have seen anything like it.

The church of St. Peter is very beautiful.  We walked around enjoying the architecture and memorial tablets as much as the flowers.IMG_6305 IMG_6307 IMG_6308 IMG_6312

Note the heater for the organist’s seat.IMG_6315 IMG_6317

The west end has become something of a garden shed, replete with mowing machines and the accoutrements of the church flower arranging ladies, neatly stored.IMG_6327 IMG_6328

And an extraordinarily steep flight of stairs leading to the bell ringing loft.IMG_6330

The churchyard is beautiful, tucked into an amazing fold in the hills – separated from the fields by a stone-walled ha-ha.IMG_6333 IMG_6336

Beautiful paths have been mown through the long grass.  A perfect graveyard.IMG_6339 IMG_6340 IMG_6344

We finished at the church and left, stomachs in knots, knowing that the judging was about to commence.

Nowhere better to call in than at Bellamont, just up the road. We found Anthony Sykes in heaven, decorating his new conservatory with gold paint.IMG_6356

Anthony’s pedimented entrance into the conservatory, gleaming.IMG_6359

Anthony & Harriet built this incredible Georgian Gothick house about 15 years ago. I dedicated my book on English Decoration to Anthony. His vision is amazing.IMG_6361

We had a great gossip and catch up and left a little after 12, admiring the Sykes’s Longhorn cattle on our way out… gazing at us across the Gothick crenelations of Anthony’s creation, known locally as the Pink Palace.IMG_6364

We rushed back to the Church…. And found the third prize:IMG_6367

And second…..:IMG_6369

And then, the First.IMG_6370



Obviously I can’t comment any further at all. I’m biased. But I’d love to know what you think. It could be an interesting comments page!IMG_6372

On the back of the card were the judges comments “a startling arrangement. It appeared to be rather unsymmetrical. Maybe that was intended?”

Yes.  I think Long Bredy wasn’t quite ready for Charlie.

To drown our sorrows we took ourselves off (in the Morris 1000, which cheered things up immediately) to Weymouth beach for champagne and fish and chips.  We could be said to have a few bottles of bubbly left over after the party. It was heaven.  IMG_6376As regular readers know, I’ve got a thing for Weymouth – especially on a bright and breezy day in High Summer. It’s fab. Although I suspected we might have been the only champagne drinkers on the beach at that particular moment. IMG_6377

We got home and Jim & Nic came over and we carried on.  This, after all, is the face of defeat:IMG_6388The garden is looking incredible, heavy with flowers. I’m afraid I’d left my normal camera in London, so everything in this blog is taken on my phone, not quite the same at all (but hopefully you get the idea).  That reminds me – one of the most asked questions on the blog is what camera do I use. I’ll do a blog one of these days about all of that! I think it would be helpful. IMG_6396We walked, slightly tipsy, in the perfect evening, to our neighbours the Goodwins for supper.  We passed the cricket ground – which at this precise moment 2 weeks before had been the scene of the marquee, camels and our party. All very strange, and rather dream-like, now.IMG_6400And we had a beautiful dinner with the Goodwin family, in their incredible house, and walked home very late in the utter blackness of the night. And this morning a great rainstorm swept across the valley, and after church we went down the road for lunch with our friends the Sitwells, where just occasionally some of the talk may have been about the unfairness of life, and unrecognised artistic genius. 

And tonight it was so grey and stormy, we lit a fire, and autumn ever so gently knocked at the door.IMG_6414Of course, there are lots of adventures to be had before then.

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