Sunday, 19 September 2010

Tea for two

There's definitely a chill in the air. It may be time to put summer clothes away and get the knitting out. I'm not a fan of short days and cold, damp weather but I do like Sunday teatimes complete with homebaked goodies. Today we had a big pot of tea, homemade scones, homemade plum jam and clotted cream. Slurp! For those of you wondering what clotted cream is - it is the southwest of England's greatest export - delicious, thick cream with a crust on top. I could eat it with a spoon from the tub, but that's probably because I myself am an export from the southwest of England and it reminds me of home. Mr Q learnt about clotted cream on our first trip to Devon together about four and a half years ago and has never looked back.

We deserved today's cream tea. This morning we were rudely awakened by a large chunk of ceiling collapsing in the hallway. Several hours and lots of cleaning later and the hall and stairs look ok again (if you don't look up, that is). We've been waiting for the roofer to repair the roof for a few weeks now - perhaps this will help us move closer to the top of his list.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Home and away

Being an Australian, Mr Q thinks that holidays in England are exotic. I'm not convinced but I like to indulge him, so we have just returned from a fabulous (and somewhat exotic) week's holiday in East Sussex, where Mr Q and I indulged our love of all things old (and my love of all things floral). We stayed in a very cute and well equipped little cottage that had previously been a cart shed, and spent our days exploring castles, palaces, towns, beaches and gardens. Here are a few of our highlights...
In order of antiquity we visited the battlefield where the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066; Bodiam Castle (complete with fish-infested moat and charmingly calligraphic graffiti); Great Dixter Elizabethan house and Christopher Lloyd's justifiably world-famous garden; the Prince Regent's extravagant Royal Pavilion in Brighton; Rudyard Kipling's home; the Kent and East Sussex steam railway; Sissinghurst Castle Garden created in the 1930s; and the fabulously modernist De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill which currently has Anthony Gormley sculptures inhabiting the rooftop terrace. It was ace! I feel relaxed, rejuvenated and revitalised (and full of culture).

For the horticulturally minded amongst you, here are some pictures of Great Dixter and Sissinghurst gardens.
I loved the exuberant planting schemes at Great Dixter, although they were tricky to photograph successfully. Mr Q found the planting a bit too chaotic for his tastes, but I was thrilled by the juxtaposition of colours and shapes. Like jazz, he said. Exactly, I said. My favourite part was the Exotic Garden. Mr Q preferred his cappuccino. Oh, the irony.

The gardens at Sissinghurst were more formally arranged, with huge yew hedges dividing the space into individual "rooms" which contained relaxed but more colour-themed planting schemes. Here are a selection of the oranges, greens and pinks on show.

What a wonderful way to spend a week. My head is full of colour inspiration.