Last week was one of those weeks (as some of you will have noticed) where I entirely ran out of time to post a blog. Events had conspired. No matter. You now get two weeks blog in one. Holiday time double billing!
W E E K O N E
We’d had Bridie staying last weekend, and a lovely time we had too. The usual… Bridport market, followed by a delicious lunch at Brassica; but on the way home from Beaminster we called in at the Puncknowle Fete. Puncknowle, which for the uninitiated, is pronounced ‘Punnel’, is a fine village down the valley from us. It is one of those places with many corners which beckon you in.
There is of course nothing else on earth like an English Village Fete.
The Manor has a sublime ancient facade.
The coconut stand, as Bridie later found, was something of a fix. The coconuts were very small, and very tightly wedged into their metal brackets. The little girl in pink hit one of the stands very firmly, which in my book would normally release a coconut. Not so at the Puncknowle Fete.
We did not try the football, on the grounds that the holes were probably smaller than the balls.
But I loved the Human Fruit Machine.
This lady had done very well on the tombola.
The jam stand was heaven.
The manor sits in a sublime position next to the church.
A small note. Violently coloured begonias, such as the one I photographed here in the village, are – I predict – about to come bouncing back in to fashion.
On Sunday, we had a lovely walk on Maiden Castle, the ancient hill fort overlooking Dorchester. It is a strange and wonderful place. We dropped Bride back at the station. The sun settled gently that evening; a beautiful warm night. Charlie and I could not resist taking many photographs of the spectacular sunset. It took a long time to tear ourselves away from the scenery in the sky and make supper.
That moment when the sea gleams with the light of the sky, but the land is dark:
I had a very, very busy few days in London (hence no blogging), and then bright and early on Thursday morning we drove down to Dorset. Meetings all day, but home to a beautiful evening. Back in the spring, Charlie had planted hundreds of dahlias in a new border in front of the house. Their moment is about to come.
W E E K T W O
The veg garden is overflowing.
Friday morning was beautiful. The garden was soaked in dew. It is an amazing time of year. I had a wonderful day on Friday, at a dream new project, restoring a beautiful Georgian Gothick Folly in the park at Stourhead. That is another story. But I got home in time to collect our friends James and Eldon from the station, who were staying for the weekend. Friday evening descended into happy drunkenness with friends from the valley and from Lyme Regis over for supper on a beautiful, heavenly evening. We were all slightly the worse for wear on Saturday.
Twenty four hours later we found ourselves – thanks to an incredible last minute invitation from our friend Tania Compton, the renowned landscape designer – at Shute, that achingly beautiful garden in North Dorset, designed in 1969 by Geoffrey Jellicoe around the ancient source of the River Nadder. It was truly magical.
From one type of magic to another: we drove across heavenly Dorset and Wiltshire lanes, in the late summer haze, back to Tania’s dreamy farmhouse, surrounded by the magical, wild, extraordinary garden that she and her husband Jamie have made here over the last 15 years. It was breathtaking.
Supper was late and wonderful with conversation deep into the small hours. We drove home and fell into bed. Two nights in a row is sometimes more than I can cope with, but it had been an extraordinarily invigorating evening.
This morning, the valley was embedded in a deep mist. We took Mavis for her walk through a beautiful, silent, grey world. But the sunshine burned through, of course. We had a beautiful afternoon, and just before I sat down to write this evening I wandered outside to snap a few photographs of bright, golden, evening sunshine streaming across the garden.
Some little while ago, C & I decided that we weren’t going to go anywhere this summer. The veg garden is overflowing with produce. Dorset hasn’t looked finer in a long time. We couldn’t wait to just enjoy home. So now, with a couple of tiny exceptions, we are here until September. On a misty morning like today, summer feels as if she is on the balance of tipping into autumn, but I have to keep reminding myself that that is not really for a few weeks yet. This is the magical moment when the countryside is dark, green, full, dusty; all across the fields farmers have begun getting in a golden harvest, and we are poised on that perfect moment of high, high summer.
Life is all about days like this. And I have never known a year where it is more important to remember what it is that keeps us full of the joy of the small moments that make up our everyday.