On Monday I took three friends in the car for a day out to Petworth. It is a beautiful, vibrant and quintessential English market town which, reputedly, has more antique shops than any other town in the UK so what better place to go to source vintage and antique items for my clients and obviously a good look for myself also! It was a cloudy day with rain forecast around 2pm so we got an early start with a coffee pit stop north of Petworth at the lovely little village of Chiddingfold which has the most enormous green in the middle of it flanked by some beautiful old houses.
Then back in the car and we arrived at Petworth with an hour to spare before lunch. We found a convenient parking spot right outside the antique market and had a good wander around it; I bought a 1960s Dutch oil still life for only £50!
Here it is in situ
Petworth is full of stunning architecture and narrow cobbled streets which have some hidden treasures.
A peek through the gate into someone's pretty garden
The English have perfected the art of hanging baskets and window boxes!
This display of petunias is quite something. You have to duck to enter the shop. Look at the next image which is what you see as you exit the shop!
I had booked a table for lunch at The Horseguards Inn in Tillington. It's less than a minute from the centre of Petworth and it is a regular haunt of mine when I'm in the area as the food, ambience and service are superb. The village of Tillington is small but perfectly formed with quaint cottages, pretty cottage gardens, a beautiful church spire and views to die for across the Downs
The Horseguards Inn is a 350 year old pub. With rolling views down the Rother Valley, the Horse Guards got its name in the 1840s when part the household cavalry would frequent the Inn, while their horses rested on grass in the grounds of the Petworth Estate under the watchful eye of Lord Egremont. The pub is relaxed, friendly and informal with wooden tables and chairs, oak beams and stripped floorboards. In winter you can roast chestnuts on one of the open log fires or play board games at the bar.
Pretty entrance to to the pub
There are many intimate areas to sit which are quirky but beautiful. This tiny seating area is the only one at the front of the pub looking across the road to the church
So many original ideas for styling the outside space
Hay bales covered with rugs - brilliant idea !
The loo for outside guests - the actual loo is behind the door. Love the way the gravel continues inside
Outside cupboard for condiments
And just in case you feel a bit chilly, some vintage hand-crocheted rugs
"Laundry today, naked tomorrow" !!
The window ledge next to our table in the pub, with views across the road to the church
The best Virgin Mary I've had in years!
Octopus main course - heaven on a plate!
Dessert of peach jelly, poached peaches and vanilla ice-cream
After lunch we took a leisurely drive back to London down winding country lanes. Approaching London we decided to detour through Richmond Park and had the luck of being up close (probably too close if you take advice from the Park's website!) with a large stag!! We stopped the car, wound down the windows (he was only a few feet away) and watched him tearing at the greenery for a good feed and then he decided to saunter across the road in front of the car. What a photo opportunity !!
I love these days out in the countryside with friends. I've done three in the last two weeks and have a couple more up my sleeve for the next two weeks so watch this space. The English countryside is so gentle and green; there is nowhere I'd rather be in high summer than right here.
I'd love to hear about places near London that you would recommend for day trips so that I can add them to my bucket list.
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A couple of weeks ago a friend and I went to Charleston, the home of the Bloomsbury Group, to do a lampshade painting workshop with Cressida Bell who is the talented artist granddaughter of the artist Vanessa Bell and daughter of Quentin Bell. I wonder if you are as passionate about the Bloomsbury Group as I am? I devour books about them and have often visited Charleston, Berwick, Firle and Monk's House.
At the end of August I paid a visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden. This was my second visit to Sissinghurst (I went a couple of years ago) and it is one of those places that you could visit two or three times a year and always see something new.
Petersham Nurseries is one of those places that is good for the soul. It is all about beauty and style, both outside and inside. I'm there at least three times a month and have rarely left there empty handed!
It's a half hour drive from my home which takes me across Richmond Park, another place that is good for the soul. It's hard to believe that you are in a big city when you are in the middle of the park surrounded by trees, bracken and deer.
It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post mainly due to been manically busy with client work but I also had a two week break in Italy over Easter. As many of you know, I was married to an Italian and lived in Italy for ten years so it’s my spiritual home and I try and go back at least once a year. I stay with friends who live in the Piemonte region and we usually jump into their camper van and head off somewhere for a few days.
Last week I took a friend to the Chelsea Physic Garden for lunch and a wander. I'm a member of the garden and I love to pop in there to sit and read, have lunch or tea & cake, or a wander. I find it a real little oasis in the middle of Chelsea and a source of inspiration.
We parked in Battersea Park and walked over the prettiest of the bridges over the Thames, the Albert Bridge. I whizz over the bridge on my moped but can't stop to admire it or the view so it was a treat to be able to walk over it and take some photos.
esterday I spent an absolutely amazing day out in Sussex with a friend on a "pilgrimage". Having been to see Charleston House and Berwick Church three weeks ago and becoming obsessed with the Bloomsbury Group, I wanted to return to see Monk's House, the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf and also to visit the church in the village of Firle where Vanessa Bell, her live-in lover Duncan Grant and Vanessa's son Quentin Bell (from her marriage to Clive Bell) are buried.
It was a perfect English summer's day - cloudless sky, a lovely cool breeze and temperatures around 25C. Be warned now, I'm afraid this blog post is serious photographic spam!!
For those of you who don't know Charleston House, it is the home of the Bloomsbury Group and became a country outpost for a group of artists, writers and intellectuals. It started in 1916 when the painter Vanessa Bell, her husband Clive and their two sons Julian and Quentin moved there from London on the recommendation of her sister, the writer Virginia Woolf. With them were another painter Duncan Grant and his friend David Garnett. They rented the late 16th century farmhouse and despite the house having no hot water or heating, guests increased the household. It became a rather unconventional household of friendships and relationships - they didn't separate or divorce, they just reorganised!!!
visited the city of Bristol yesterday for the first time and it was all thanks to Instagram !! When I joined IG a year ago I thought it would just be an app on my phone where one looked at other people's images and made the odd comment or two. I was so wrong - IG has been a revelation, I've met so many like-minded, interesting people on IG and I've started to meet some of these lovely people in person. It's rather like a blind date as you've chatted on IG for months and got to know the person but sometimes you haven't even seen a photo of them. Then there's always the risk as with any chatting online that the person isn't quite their online persona. Anyway, yesterday was about meeting up with some IGers (as they are called) in Bristol. Most were unavailable or on holiday but two ladies, Lou and Marcie, were keen to meet up.
I jumped on the train at Paddington with some trepidation.