Two favourite places

P A R T   1  :

N E W   Y O R K

Somehow, there aren’t many more views in the world as thrilling as this…. the towers of Manhattan on the skyline. It takes my breath away every time….

Although maybe this view, from our hotel room (at the Bowery, before you ask) was even more thrilling when we pulled open our curtains early the next morning. We’d had a lovely evening the night before with Valentina. 

We were in New York for a short visit – to see friends, to give ourselves an autumn kickstart in one of the most beautiful cities in the world… and on Monday, I was giving a talk at Sotheby’s, for the ICAA.

Within a few minutes the sun was gleaming off the faceted glass wall of One World Trade Centre. 

Within another few minutes we were being completely blinded by a Death Star. 

… I wasn’t quite sure that was Daniel Libeskind’s plan, but there you go.  Blinking, we left our room…. and made our way to Buvette for breakfast with Charlie’s friend Rose. 

Heaven.  And then up to the Union Square Green Market, surely one of the most beautiful sights in the whole of New York.

Dahlias for Charlie! 

And amazing flowers and fruit and veg. 

We went back for a snooze. We’d decided not to rush around too much.  Then an amble through Chinatown and Little Italy – late lunch at Odeon. 

The Festival of San Gennaro was in full fling….

Some of my favourite streets in New York…

I know we’re not meant to use single-use plastic anymore, but these balloon corgis being taken for a walk did make me chuckle.

A brilliant supper with Val that night, in the village… And then on Sunday morning, up early, breakfast, lacy cast iron balconies casting shadows in the hot sunshine…

And breakfast before a quick tour of the Tenement Museum.  Maybe this is what our kitchen in Scotland will be looking like in a few years time…?

We had a delicious lunch with Frances Palmer, and her husband Wally, and a brilliant catch up. Back to the hotel – we popped into John Derian’s shop and lovely to see John there.

The next 24 hours flew by, Sunday evening supper with Austin, on Monday, meetings and me getting my talk under control, no small thing, and then off to Sotheby’s…. it was a brilliant crowd, so good to see old friends and to meet new ones… out for dinner afterwards… and one final view of beautiful New York that night. 

And then we were off on the early flight home the next morning.


P A R T   2 :

T H E   Y E O V I L   C H R Y S A N T H E M U M   &   D A H L I A   S O C I E T Y

It was a bit like waking up from a dream, as if we’d hardly been away at all. Back to a hectic week in London, and then, on Thursday night, late, back to Dorset. I was out all day on site, which was exciting and fantastic, the very first day thinking about the designs of a new house in a beautiful setting… and then back to Charlie’s wonderful display of dahlias in the setting sun.

Trouble in the cutting garden:

The following morning we were all up very early. Charlie was taking his Dahlias to the final show of the season, the Yeovil and District Chrysanthemum & Dahlia Society Autumn show.  I took the dogs for a walk as the sun came up. 

The hills are covered in bales of winter feed, looking like Antony Gormley has called by.  Enid barks at every black bag. 

Sibyl in the woods:

It was at this moment that I got a text from Charlie saying ‘standards incredibly high – not expecting anything at all’.  I reminded him, as I often do, that it’s not the winning but the taking part that counts….

We had breakfast in Bridport with our neighbour Anne, then a basking moment with papers and pints before lunch and heading to the show.

We needn’t have worried.

First in the novice category (this is the last year Charlie could enter, as he’s now won two medals from the Dahlia society earlier in the summer) was one thing, but getting a second in an open category (Collarette Dahlias) was something altogether more amazing. 

Regular readers will know how much I love this show and the society. Almost as good as New York – or maybe in its own way, even closer to my heart right now?

Then it was time for the cups to be awarded. 

The following photographs tell the story:

Flush with victory, we had a celebratory drink at the seaside that evening, as the sun went down and gale began to blow in.

And then today, we had a lovely ceremony, out at sea on the Solent, on the Isle of Wight, scattering my father’s ashes to the winds and the tide. A moment passing, but a happy day, and so good to think about Mum & Dad and the brilliant years they had on the Island.

I’m back in London now. Charlie’s in Dorset for another day or two, with the garden, and the dogs, so it’s very, very quiet here in the flat this evening and I think I’ll be early to bed tonight.  When I walked up from Waterloo earlier, the grey clouds were thick over the city.  When I started writing the blog, they were thick overhead.   And then, I looked up, and the sky was clear, and a beautiful soft light was over Queen Square, the tall buildings glowing in the dying rays of the sunshine above the trees.  And life, just for that moment, felt completely serene.

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