Thursday, 17 July 2014

Mown and Grown

The long days yawn ahead. 
Long and lazy. 
Pyjama clad, Croc footed I head for the fields with the lark and Boodle.
First stop the Cowshed, new doors fresh paint! 
Actually re-claimed doors but let's not quibble it's too early...
The fields are humming already. Choirs of insects sing ~ the grasses sway. The dew drops balance like pearls of sweat, the flowers tangle with the grass, no-one is sure who came with who to this dance.
Where the field runs into the garden fringes it seems to be beckoning the roses, "go wild!"
And the long day yawns ahead. 
The fields are "half-cut!" Drowsy and swoon inducing is the scent of a fallen wildflower meadow. Sorrel, Sweet Vernal, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Tufted Vetch, Clover, seeds and husks all jumbled like a giant bowl of nature's pot-pourri. It smells so sweet...honeydew, golden mead. I think it may be the greatest tea I'll never taste. The tractor drowns out the insects. Cutting long into the evening and the dark.
 Dusk is purple and gold. I head for the fields with Sauvignon and Boodle.
We yawn, the long day stretches behind us. 
Food for the winter.
I suspect I am talking to myself, but should you happen upon this post "Hello! Hello!"
I have been, and continue to be "here" Down the Lane. We are building a new piece of Lane which, whilst exciting, is also utterly terrifying and consuming. I promise to share all with you once we are respectable! In the meantime sending summery greetings or winter greetings to my Faraway friends!

 PS If you are interested in finding out more about native grasses and meadow flowers, The Wildlife Trust is an excellent resource.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

H(e)aven or where the road runs out

On England's southern margin, where the chalk cliffs dunk into the channel like a shortbread biscuit, lies Cuckmere Haven. 
When the weather is rattling through on fast forward ~ four seasons in one day ~ and the light shifts and pools, the wind whistles in one ear and out the other, then suddenly drops away, silence, the skies darken and the sea mist softens and blurs. The cloud breaks and bright dazzling light bounces off pebbles and glints in pools. It is a pure sensory pleasure to be here...
Walking across the flood plain at Cuckmere Haven out towards the Channel. Green and pleasant collides with coastal wild. Rolling South Downs at your back nothing but shingle and glittering sea horses between you and France. Strips of green along the ric-rac curves of the Cuckmere. Silty banks gleaming like wet clay flaring out to a width of pebbles, strewn and tide tumbled. Groynes stand proud, weathered and softened, ropes hang, knotted and split, flyaway mermaid's hair. The rabbity watchers stand, all seaweed and studded...

 It suits me well this Island life. I happily bowl around my green Sussex landscape knowing that the road ends at the sea. I love to look out beyond these shores. I find large countries both fascinating and intimidating, where is the sea? How far is the sea? When I was in Australia I found the vastness incomprehensible, the views were epic and wide, the horizon impossibly far away. Distance took on a whole new scale of meaning, I loved it but felt like an alien! Only when I returned home did I appreciate the way a well positioned tree, hedges, fields, a church spire conspire to punctuate an altogether smaller landscape.
 We retire inland to East Dean
 Fish & Chips washed down with a drop of Harveys bitter. Restoration complete. Someone asked me if Boodle is an American Labrador? If portion size is anything to go by then, yes I suppose he is. I walk across the village green and notice that one of cottages has a blue plaque, I investigate.
I listen carefully for the strains of a violin.

"At an Inn door stands a young labourer, tall and straight but loosely made...A prince - a slave...He goes into a cottage that stands worn and old and without a right angle in its timbers or its thatch any more than its apple trees and solitary quince which all but hide the lilac and massed honesty of the little garden. This is a house - I had almost said this is a man - that looked upon England when it could move men to song. 
For a moment or less as he goes under the porch I seem to see that England, that swan's nest, that island which a man's heart was not too big to love utterly."
 Extract taken from The South Country by Edward Thomas.

Thank you for hearing my song

Find out more about the Cuckmere Valley here

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

On reflection...

...I should have walked further...
 Thank goodness ( before I edited this post I had rather appropriately, yet unwittingly, written thank Godness! )Mr.Lane dragged me, my chocolate choked body and my chocolate crazed labradog across Ashdown Forest yesterday.

On reflection, yes, I should have walked further, eaten less, imbibed less...But I wouldn't change the laughter or the company...and I didn't need the chocolate for either of those things to be true.
The walking was good~the noticing was better. 
Rich chocolate-eggy coloured landscape wrapped in felty green.
Silty holes filled with fresh rainfall magnifying paw prints, hair floating into grassy tufts, silvered mercury puddles with me in them. That watery girl half wanted to stay there, staring back skywards....
 ...I should have walked further...

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Floral Circus

Persephone has lead me a merry Spring dance this week. Showering me with flora at every turn, confetti like abundance...she conducts the Circus of blossom with great deftness, it's heady and it's seductive, slowly you realise you're a little drunk on nectar.

Rosy dawn arrives with her misty veil and cherry blossom bunting...
The girl on the train had feathery long lashes and the tiniest nose. Blonde wisps gathered in tiny clips...she reminded me of  a flower fairy...
In Carnaby Street, spring bulbs!
...and around the corner, outside Liberty, velvety fragrant abundance, symphonic colour...
Walking on towards Shepherds Market, Act 1, Scene 2 of  us* 
Blown sideways like a spore, I hadn't anticipated the nostalgia. It's a thrill to be here, there's "our" Trattoria. 

I open the gallery door and there is an abundance of paint ordered by Virginia's brush strokes. 
Blowsy bouquets in oil and acrylic dance across the walls whilst patterned chickens cavort amongst them.
At home, a desire to catalogue, capture all. 
I snip buds and bracts. Petals spin in the breeze I try to catch them, elusive as snowflakes.
I will press these and later, when I find them again, all tissue paper thin, delicate corpses I will have this spring moment again. 
I begin to imagine each flower is a costume in a Spring Circus.
I hastily draw a tent. Laughing, I answer the phone.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm making a flower Circus!"
"Of course you are!" 
We laugh.
 That night I fall into a heavy hay feverish sleep and I dream of the Circus...
* After we met in Act 1, Scene 1, Jolly Harbour. Mr.Lane and I would meet up every Friday in Shepherd's Market. 
I longed for Fridays all week.

**Virginia Griffith-Jones is exhibiting recent works in Shepherd's Market. Hurry though as it finishes Friday. Details here.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Shooting Buttercups

Have you ever looked at a favourite book or magazine and thought "I wonder where that is?" I have, often. So it was, with rather a large dose of excitement, I sqwuaked "That's our buttercup field!" when I saw a preview of Selina Lake's new book featured in last weekend's YOU magazine.
That old velvet chair has never looked so good!
Styling by Selina Lake, photograph by Debi Treloar
One fairytale kind of day, last May, Selina Lake and Debi Treloar came to begin shooting for Selina's new book Outdoor Living.
I say a fairytale kind of day as the light was amazing, shimmering and I have long admired both Selina and Debi's work, so it was a genuine thrill to meet them! Selina's car was brimful with gorgeous props and flowers and the lovely Jess!
I am visualising the ridiculous sight of my landrover trundling up The Lane with a large pine dining table dangling out of the back whilst Jess wrestled with it in order to keep it on board! 
We were heading for the buttercup meadow which sits further up The Lane. 
Selina conjured up a gorgeous tablescape...Debi got to work and the whole scene is now immortalised in Outdoor Living.
Styling by Selina Lake, photograph by Debi Treloar

The sofa that lives in the Cowshed (Don't ask!) found its way outdoors, Selina Layered it with crochet and cushions, mini lampshades were hung in the trees, it looked so inviting, the perfect reading spot...I sat there long into the evening...until Mr. Lane helpfully pronounced that the dew was settling and soggy sofa was not the way forward!

My home is a visual history. Every object however shabby and unlikely has a past known to me.Every granny square, whether hand stitched by Magpie for my dolls when I was small  or squirreled from a junk shop or scored by my MIL from Mawnan Smith Craft Fair in the gaudiest colours she could find! ( Totally against her nature but knowing I would adore the clash!) Old quilts and Grandpa's hat...kept and past on by the women folk. Seems most appropriate to be musing on these things on Mother's Day.
 No surprise then, when I tell you that two brand new books are wrapped and waiting to be given to the Magpie and the MIL. Where and what would I be without you?
Sending you and all Mum's golden cross stitches, arm-fulls of buttercups...threads of love, sewn kisses.

Selina's book Outdoor Living was published this week by Ryland Peters & Small and is available from all good bookshops ( Snort! I've always wanted to say that! )
In case you were wondering the lovely cushions on my sofa are a mixture of Cottage Industry and Cath Kidston. The gorgeous mini lampshades were made by Folly & Glee.