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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Village days - part 2

Just one final open gardens/village tour. This is Apethorpe, a tiny village which has a huge country house hidden away behind the main street. Apethorpe Hall is owned by English Heritage and is being restored, so it's rarely open to the public. Last weekend, the gardens, still a work in progress, were accessible, along with  eight or nine village gardens. Again, it was perfect weather. 

This cute cottage had a bric a brac stall in the garden. The owner was selling crystal wine glasses for 10p each. I am not a fan of crystal, so I didn't buy, but afterwards I wondered if I should have done!

Fantastic idea for a library....and here is Apethorpe Hall.

It is a Jacobean house, a favourite with royalty of the time. It has been an approved school (in the 1980s) and was then owned by a Sheikh who never visited. Finally, English Heritage bought it under a compulsory purchase order a few years ago. A massive restoration programme has been underway ever since. Work is ongoing inside and out but it's all taking shape. There are stonemasons workshops and stacks of stone work everywhere....

Scaffolding on the walled garden.

This is a listed lily pond.

Ancient trees.

And meadow walks.

A graceful stable block:

The Hall is now for sale. Rumours were swirling that a French Count has already bought it, but over the years, there have been many reports of rock stars, actors and royalty who are interested. The cream tea tent was full of gossip as to who the secret purchaser could be. "Just so long as it's not an oligarch," said one lady. "Just think of all those gold taps!"

I still think I'd prefer a cottage like this one. And maybe a car like this?

Hope you enjoyed the tour. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Village days part 1

Sweet peas on the allotments

Open gardens, open village days, it was all happening around here over the weekend. As the events were both within a three mile journey of home, I could not resist going along to take part. It was glorious weather, which meant that I took plenty of photos. So once again, I am going to take you on a tour. First of all, we are going to Woodnewton, Northamptonshire. And tomorrow I will post about Apethorpe, also in Northamptonshire. 

How inviting does this look? As if it could get any more idyllic, just beyond the trees is a river.

A clever garden, owned by a garden designer.

And a beautiful woodland walk in a wilder plot. 

A brilliant log store. And a flower pot wreath...

I noticed that lots of gardens have box parterres - small low box hedges - in their design. This one was pretty, with the tiny red flowers rising above it.

This last garden is in a fairly small plot, but the owner had packed so much into it. She was really happy to chat about her garden and told me that she spends hours on it every week. "I don't sleep well, so you'll often find me out here at 5.30am," she said. "It's my passion."

More gardens tomorrow, including a stunning Jacobean country house, and the sweetest country cottage I've ever seen!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A garden trail

Today I went on an open garden trail in my own village. It is amazing that you can live in a place for so long and not realise what is hidden behind the Northamptonshire stone walls. Houses that may look ordinary conceal lovingly tended plots full of character and riots of colour. Want to have a look?

This little detail comes from my favourite garden of the day. It belongs to a garden designer, so I knew it would be lovely, but actually it was breathtaking. A series of 'rooms,' on one side flanked by old stone walls, which then open out and lead down to the river bank. There were formal areas near to the house.... 

Quirkier spaces...

 And a wilder area, with a retired pony (39 years old) and chickens....

Before a walk down to the river's edge.

Peering through the hedge to the house next door, I was intrigued to spot this old building through the trees. 

 What a wonderful hideaway that would be. 

This gorgeous delphinium was in Pat and Ken's garden. It reminds me of those vintage tablecloths with cottage garden embroidery. Pat's delphiniums were ridiculously strong and healthy but she insisted that she doesn't feed them or give them any special treatment. Jealous!!

I loved the stone floor in this part of Jackie's beautiful garden. The pile of stone for sale was being snapped up as I arrived. We have a lot of limestone in the area where we live, it has a wonderfully mellow tone.

I toured the village  allotments and enjoyed being talked through one plot by a retired man who spends 18 hours a week working on his. The rain had just started to fall as I reached him, so I didn't take any photos, although I did snap these extremely happy looking and healthy hens as I arrived.

A very sociable way to spend the afternoon. I went on my own as Perry and youngest son have gone away for the week to celebrate the end of GCSEs. Eldest is just home from uni and he is catching up on sleep and watching quite a lot of football matches before he starts his holiday job next week. 

I hope you enjoyed your Sunday, wherever you may be. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

The colours of summer

Took a little break from everything yesterday morning and headed off to Newark Antiques Fair. I've written about it before, and it really is a lovely fair. Not for the faint hearted as there are so many stalls, and so much choice. I found a lovely French seller who had lots of mismatched china in beautiful colours. I picked up the blue plate above, the blue of summer skies I thought.

This colourful trio, and the fabric behind it, which is thick linen printed with birds and flowers.

I really, really love these plates. My mission really was just to forage for fabric for my quilt. I did pick up some lovely scraps:

Just can't wait to start patching with those pieces. I saw lots of curious sights. I fell for these vintage bakery labels, but at £12 each, I had to be content with just taking a photo.

I resisted the old bears as well.

One stall was comprised of the contents of a 1960s toy shop. I loved these dog shaped erasers: 

Quirky, beautiful, crazy, there are all sorts of things at Newark. I loved this tiny book which at 50p, I could afford to bring home.

And a red patterned tin and a scrap of Sanderson fabric completed the haul.

Happy weekend one and all.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Fabrics from afar

Although I have more than enough fabric to make my current quilt, it's always exciting to acquire a few new pieces to work into the design. I was browsing through Etsy one evening, as you do, and I noticed that there were some fabric shops in India which sell through the site. I fell in love with these block printed pieces, and as they were incredibly reasonably priced, I placed a small order. One envelope arrived the other day, having only taken about a week to reach me. I do love these bold pink prints (probably showing a bit stronger in these photos than they actually are).
I ordered from

Although I'm using pinks and greens for this quilt, I don't want it to be wishy washy, so I need to inject a shot of colour every so often. I found a lovely old pink daisy print dress in Oxfam the other day, and that has been another welcome addition to the mix.

In fact, I have cut up a couple of vintage dresses for this project. I fall in love with them on the rail, but they are often difficult to wear, so I think it's better that they end up preserved in a quilt. 

I am just waiting for one more package from India (green block print), and off I will go again. 

And here is some pink and green from the garden today.

Hope you've all had a happy weekend....
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