October 3, 2018

England...... it's the people and the cake.....Part 1

Back to my "Blogging Season", yes for me there is a season, when landscaping slows. My fav time of year as a deep breather settles in, until the holiday season. YIKES!

Having just finished our, my British partner Sylvia and my, 2018 tour of the English countryside,  come share a peek. Like the post title says, it is truly about the people and that we feel makes our tours special. The gardeners, semi-royalty, artists, antique traders, and the entrepreneurs that allow a visit into their lives

This man.......I should really do a whole post devoted to this him, CLIVE FARRELL.
A world renown Butterfly Conservator, Entrepreneur, Artist, Genius.

As a good friend of Sylvia and husband Joe, Clive personally takes our group each year thru HIS landscape, lucky us!
His vast property is a combination of conservation and imagination extraordinaire. Butterflies, of many varieties, dragonflies, beneficial insects, hedgehogs, birds.......live in creative luxury as their natural habitats diminish.
Clive has many public habitat parks throughout the UK, even Butterfly World  in Florida. Ok, let's get a glimpse

Discarded stumps are popular in England, they are a additionally a habitat for beneficial insects

A dragon, and why not? Some of our brave ladies
A particular variety of butterfly loves a chalky soil and plants from the Pea family, so why not create that habitat with a shell walkway and stone hut, creatively and visually impacting?
When creating a true butterfly habitat one requirement is the weeds, what we call weeds, necessary components, particularly as food. With this necessity in place, why not create an imaginative habitat?
Hence Clive's Prison Garden
Above is a reprehensible weed thriving in it's cell
Many circular borders are decoratively enhanced
Ever feel imprisoned by time? This needed water feature drips, drips, telling one time is running out
This is a 1/100th of the property, I'll just have to get back to this magical and gracious man with a separate post
See his home office below, and the ever present smile

                                                                 Thank you Clive!

Our friend FLEUR, wish my name was Fleur, opens her home & gardens
Newly thatched, this entrance is overseen by the thatched owl above the door. Every thatcher has a signature on their roofs, be it an animal or a decorative design on the peak

Fleur's garden exists on many tiered levels with intimate rooms, encouraging strolling as unlike American gardens where all is to be seen from one vantage point, be it a deck or patio

Do you detect a theme here?
Allowing us to gleefully wander her cottage, my fantasy of living this life is fulfilled, for the moment! Low ceilings, ancient beams, down furniture, and look at that Inglenook Fireplace, gasp!!

Mapperton House & Garden. Construction began in the 1300's. Additions in Shakespeare's time, and beyond contributed to this glorious setting.....imagine!
A few times a year the home is opened for a tour. Our group above had our own private tour by THE EARL OF SANDWICH himself! The docent said to me, "you do not know how rare this is"
The Earl, John Montagu (there is a famous name in British history), was warm, understated and very engaging. 
The home and gardens were recently the setting for the last version of 'Far from the Madding Crowd'

Did you know that moss & lichen are a good sign? These delicate plants can only grow where the air is clean. Too many times back home I see people scraping off "this junk!
That patina really appeals to me, you?

NIKKI of The Fabric Barn

On a family property, one of the buildings is dedicated to Nikki & friends business selling Designer British Fabrics, deeply discounted. My inner textile hoarder goes MAD here!
Following our shopping spree, this darling family invites us inside for cake. Did I mention everyone offers cake, always home made? 
Nikki's son also stayed and welcomed us in  their kitchen

Peering on the other side of the island, a long ago fireplace is now a dog cozy.....gasp...... 
  Note the ancient flag stone floors
 Lastly in their kitchen is FABRIC COVERED INTERIOR SHUTTERS! I need this at home, somewhere

Dilly; Is the garden creator, ALL BY HERSELF, 25 years ago, everything from a derelict farmstead
Husband Tim is an artist, their 15thc barn being his studio, brimming with his paintings and sculptures
Son Jake is a renown expert on the art of pruning via the methods of Japan. An author on the topic and founder of NIWAKI, a distributor of all manner of pruning tools and accessories from Japan. Take a look at his site, a great video on pruning is included

What a slacker my family is!

Something else I need at home, a penguin, really, cannot wait to try, empowered by Jake and his tools

Just for us, Jake provided a pruning demo and chat. Another future post, we learned sooo much

Scattered amongst the garden rooms was Tim's iron art, a poor photo but if you look closely you can see the stumbling horses & riders.....whimsical

SARAH of the Old School Gallery, opened her shop doors on a Sunday, where much is closed. This artisan studio and shop was arranged just for us, with homemade cakes (!) and coffee to listen to this man......
An educational chat by IVAN MACQUISTEN on all matter antiques, what to look for, how to research our own, how to navigate auctions, etc, etc. Fascinating!
Ivan is the former long time editor of Antiques Weekly, well connected in the antiques world, all while possessing a photographic memory. And did I say he is an engaging lecturer, or that he is Sylvia's son-in-law?
Thank you Ivan!
As long as I am in fantasy land over here, I would exchange lives with Lucy! (really, I would exchange a life here with most anyone, not picky) An ancient stone home & stables, surrounded by their horse business, an accomplished rider herself, gorgeous interior, and an inventive garden created 
by Lucy, oh yes, she is also slender and beautiful
 Levels, terracing, formal & informal settings for long distance viewing and for strolling

This garden was the favorite of many 
More to come on this woman, Elizabeth, aka the Vintage Contessa. Renown in the blogging world and prolific on Instagram,(FUN),  I was so excited to meet her. You see, we have chatted via phone, our blogs & Instagram for over a year. Elizabeth is a true original, I am quite fond of "individuals", and as thought, adored her.
All of the women on our tour were ones you would hope to meet again, and again, .......lovely!
Here we are with cake in Lucy's garden
One of my besties, Mary, came along. Eventually the cake becomes too much, and as long as there are dogs everywhere, why not! Do I detect a turned up nose?
A 17thc cantilevered home in a rural setting. As many before her, Mrs. Elliott found this in a derelict condition and created her own masterpiece, in and out

Just a capsule of photos with an array of rooms to explore and a breathtaking long view to herds of cows

They even have a 13thc chapel & graveyard, many villagers lost during the Plague rest here
A view from the kitchen of our gals enjoying cake
The open plan kitchen....again the floor!

Sue & Oliver's setting is a dreamy old farm, set around Sue's gardens. After a wander, Sue and partner Penny, serve us lunch all handmade, and cake! All while in a 14thc barn

Think of what these rafters have witnessed......

Afterwards, we were the first guests into their newly reconstructed 12thc chapel! Some walls had fallen in and English Heritage helped with the rebuild with experts from London. With a cleaning, ancient religious carvings were discovered to all's delight

Penny, left, and Sue have a flower arranging business together. They provided a demo with each of them on one side, "sticking it in!" while creating a masterful piece that looked to be a solo effort

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our adventure of cake, gardens, cake, antiquing, and more cake

 In the interim we are off to France shortly to explore for a 2019 trip to Paris & Provence. For those that have inquired, we will still do an England trip next year too. Lists of names are forming, details to follow


PS; follow along on my Instagram account, we will take you to "Provence"

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