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Week of contrasts



Ben

It’s been a week of contrasts.   I can’t really make the connections between the dots, except by a narrative of very separate events and moments.

 

I.

On Wednesday, I had the good fortune to be asked to a small view of the Antony Gormley exhibition at the RA, just before it closes this coming week… and it was amazing, as you can expect, to see that beautiful and thought-provoking exhibition in empty rooms….

A dream world, of the mind, pushing boundaries.

 

II.

Then, that very evening, a few hundred yards away, it was the opening of the wonderful townhouse that we have designed for J. P. Hackett at 14 Savile Row. It’s been an amazing building to work with, such beautiful interiors and such history (it was for many decades the home of Hardy Amies) – and such fun clients. Here is the emerald green gloss club room which we created out of a warren of dark and dingy offices at the back of the house. Pop in for yourselves any time now. It’s officially open!

 

III.

But I had to tear myself away, and take the late train to Dorset, because on Thursday morning, in Devon, it was the funeral of my dear uncle Mike. Gosh, what a year it has been.  Michael died two days before my own father’s memorial service. But it was a quiet, gentle and beautiful service, just like him, and as much as in celebration as in sorrow….

 

IV.

That evening, I arrived back in London. On Friday, at crack of daybreak, I was heading to Prague for the day, visiting the apartment we are designing for lovely former clients from London.  It was so beautiful to be back there after such a long time – I visited Prague some 15 or more years ago now. Things felt like everything had changed, only to be expected…. and that nothing had changed too.  We walked around the city that evening before dinner, which our clients took us to – in one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in a very long time indeed.  Plain concrete floors, white walls, bare wood tables, gentle lighting, tables packed with locals and no choice at all as to what was on the menu that evening – just heavenly food, plate after plate.  My perfect sort of restaurant.  Especially the no choice bit. And before you ask, I don’t know the name!

 

V.

But then, to Dorset, arriving in the gloom of dusk, late yesterday afternoon…. can  you imagine how good it was to walk in the woods and hills this morning? A soft, still, grey, murky autumnal air. The last of the beech leaves are glowing against the neutral greys, greens and browns of everything else. 

Our favourite hills.  The landscape wears its winter colours now.  Up here, my mind clears, the week makes sense of itself. 

 

VI.

And to finish, a final contrast.  Here are some photographs of a little boat, Bee, with a powerful history, that is being sold at auction by Sotheby’s in three weeks time – in fact, on the 12th December.  You might be a bit more excited by this boat than by the other thing happening that day (our general election, that is, for overseas readers).

Charlie and I have decided we’re not QUITE ready for a boat yet, in Scotland, although it’s on our dream wish list. But I have a feeling that you might be.

So, this is the out of the blue email I was sent last week, by someone from Sotheby’s, who I’ve never met, but which intrigued me greatly…

Dear Ben,
I have been following your Scottish adventures with huge affection and recognition.
Next month at Sotheby’s we are offering for sale a very special Scottish boat which I thought you might love hearing about. 
Her name is Bee. She was built in 1904 – possibly the last surviving Stroma Yole from Orkney. Originally commissioned by five crofters as an open boat to ferry food, equipment and livestock to and from the Mainland, across one of the most dangerous stretches of water in Europe, she was beached on the island after a bull stuck its foot through hull!  
Rescued and repaired in 1968, she is currently being cared for by the Berwickshire Maritime Trust under the careful stewardship of Johnny Johnston (a retired fisherman of 40 years). The Trust use her to teach traditional sailing skills but need to raise funds to repair their other boat, hence the sale of ‘Bee’. 
She is an extraordinary boat with a fascinating history. A boat built for work and tough seas but equally at home on calm inland waters.
If you would like a little sail in her next time you are up North please do let me know. Johnny would be delighted to take you out. 
I have attached a few images of Bee taken last month. Just in case you are tempted to take to the water!
With very best wishes
Lucy Brown

 

There. You see?  And I thought that would provide a calming start to the week, as well as teaching us a little bit about some of the themes of time and history and permanence that the last blog was touching on.

Who knows, is the next owner of this beautiful little boat reading the blog right now? I hope so.

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