“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
― Henry James
Here are a few sunny snaps from a glorious, garden-filled week in the English countryside – and a few places to put on your Travel List if you plan to come here this year.
David Austin's Rose Garden in Albrighton: a heavenly haven of scent and petal.
This was the romantically named Poet's Wife, which was one of the new 2014 roses launched at Chelsea this year.
It's a beautiful, beautiful garden, especially in June, although the gardeners said it blooms right through until September. Def one to put on The List.
David Austin Nursery and Garden
Bowling Green Lane, Albrighton,
The Cecil Beaton Exhibition currently on show at Salisbury Cathedral's Museum.
This is one of two Cecil Beaton exhibitions showing at Salisbury; the other, curated by Jasper Conran, is at Wilton House. I have to admit that I'm fascinated by Cecil Beaton. Many people dismiss him as a "floozie" (his word) but he was, in fact, an inmensely talented and incredibly hardworking writer, artist, photographer, diarist and designer who tried to live a life that was not only inspirational but original. When he returned from the war (he'd volunteered to be sent there as a photographer), he was – like all war survivors – a remarkably different man. The war changed not only his attitude but also his work. Before, he'd motor down to his country house at breakneck speed, his small Ford hidden under its load of books, birdcages, rugs and boxes of roses from Covent Garden. After the war, he was more contemplative, sombre, considerate. The parties thinned out and the projects became more of a priority.
He deeply cherished his friends, his books, his art and his life in the Wiltshire countryside, where these exhibitions are set. But what he loved most, he always said, was spending time in his garden.
If you have time this summer, do try to see one of these exhibitions. (The Salisbury Museum is the better one). It is truly inspirational.
Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum,
The King’s House,
65 The Close,
Reddish House, one of Cecil's beloved homes.
Two first editions signed by Cecil Beaton that I found at Heywood Hill, one of which had a personal letter of CB's hidden in the back.
Rye in East Sussex, one of the prettiest towns in England.
It's by the sea so you can hear the sounds of seagulls and smell the salt, but it also has the feel of other garden-loving villages in Kent and Sussex. No wonder Londoners are flocking here to restore old homes.
Even the antique shops were pretty.
The George hotel and restaurant in Rye.
The service and check-in procedures are terrible (so bad, they make Fawlty Towers look like the Georges V Paris), but the rooms are beautiful.
98 High St, Rye
A wonderful and increasingly renowned mercerie called Merchant & Mills in Rye.
It's become so popular the owners now ship all over the world. The branding is gorgeous.
14A Tower Street, Rye
An old favourite, the Wheatsheaf in the Cotswolds.
The Wheatsheaf has a glorious beer garden, and uses lots of gardenalia inside the rooms as well, such as these vintage wicker cloches.
I stayed so long chatting to people that I ended up staying the night! And the next too.
The rooms are wonderfully cheap. And the bathrooms will make you want to buy a roll-top for your own ensuite.
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby