Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Drinking in the morning sun...

...Blinking in the morning sun...
The light, early...so pure, slaking around the angles of the house and bursting through the window panes...theatrically lighting the kitchen.
I stand, transfixed looking at the detail and the shadows.
As the minutes tick past, so the spotlight shifts elsewhere...

Tea and sunshine...perfect morning balm...no matter what is broken, you have a sense it can be mended.


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Egging me on!

 These newly lighter, longer evenings are wreaking havoc with the dinner arrangements here Down the Lane. I can't come inside...just need to finish wrestling with this ridiculously rambling rose. Three evenings in a row I have stubbornly stood, back to the Westerly Biter, dead heading ancient hydrangea bushes whilst slowly losing the feeling in my fingers. Three evenings in a row we have eaten a boiled egg for dinner!

 It feels so extraordinarily good to see flowers again! So much is waking up every day now, blink and you miss something going from tight bud to blossom or leaf. The house is clad in all sorts of inherited wonders, I am finally able to anticipate, knowing the rhythm of the seasons here on our hill better each passing year. 

The house is swathed by a beech hedge scarf. I love the stubborn faded leaves, dry and rustling in the wind. Often still refusing the new buds long after the cow parsley lace has opened. The bank under hedge, roadside, is studded with yellow primrose stars and purple vinca that has made a break for wildom under the hedge and down the lane.
I don't know why, but I like daffodils at Easter. If Easter is late or Spring is early and the two do not coincide I feel strangely cheated.This year all is well, the daffs huddling around the trunks of trees and decorating the fence line are chiming on kew!

 I am writing this and thinking about all the patterns implied by the shadows and the limited palette...
 ..speaking of shadows, being blown about by an April gust!


Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sleeping Beauty

Arguably one of the least appealing buildings on our plot is the old Nissen Hut. Smothered and choked as it is by a thick vest of evergreen pine, ivy, hydrangea, blackberry, clematis and buddleia...woven to it's corrugated sides. Or at least it would be if it were stripped bare. As it is I often look across and imagine it is a giant upturned birds nest. Or, perhaps it is an enormous abandoned Gypsy Caravan gone "Haversham". What would happen if we did, strip it bare? I suspect it might simply give up the ghost, remain there momentarily before heaving an enormous creaky sigh and collapsing inwards in a cloud of dust.
It is also the source of endless conjecture..."one day we will....." "I wonder who built it?" We know that once there were two side by side, the brick footings are still visible in Home Field. "What did they use them for?"
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Nissen Huts were first produced during the First World War. Major Peter Norman Nissen a mining engineer and inventor developed three prototype semi-cylindrical huts. They were used extensively in the Second World war for both storage and accommodation, although not exclusively there are examples of them being used as churches and, after the war as family homes.
Photo credit: Haywood Magee
They are now in decline, ours must be at least 70 years old, perhaps older. There are lots of derelict examples dotted around the countryside, all well camouflaged by years of weathering.
Whilst trundling around the alternative reality that is Pinterest the other day I spotted this...
I love these miniatures by Antonia Dewhurst, they are scale models of buildings made up using digital images of the original. Something in me shares Antonia's fascination with the sense of "Home" and belonging.

Oh! and then, I discovered this and thought..."One Day!"
The Lane Man, at some distant point in the future when he reads this, will snort at my whimsy. The current scene is populated by machinery, logs, oil cans, wardrobes. rope, chairs, kitchenalia, paint pots, scalextric, fairy lights and ivy vines snaking through the cracks in the corrugated iron roof!
And the truth? Well the truth is I love it as it is...warts and all. After 4 and a half years I wouldn't change it..."One Day...." seems a very long way away!
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Back inside, there are plenty reasons to be cheerful. Stirring from my Nissen musings, I refocus on the £2 bunch of daffodils that light up the kitchen, so simple and exuberant, forever grateful for the simple stuff...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


In a wet jasmine clad greenhouse a steamy cup of green tea...fragrant January at 
I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup,

Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,
I love tea's names, which tea would you like? I say
but it's any tea for you, please, any time of day

Extract from "Tea" by Carol Ann Duffy
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 January...the cleansing, the cold, the cloudy, The threshold of the new...for clarity tea, I drink tea in comforting bucketloads. Cupping my hands and musing what might be...

Jeska at Lobster and Swan posted about a brilliant tea shop, VRAC, in Lewes here the teas are exquisite...I am longing to try the Primavera...
"An enchanting and invigorating blend of olive leaf, orange blossom and Spanish mountain thyme. From the same garden as the lemon verbena and harvested last month. Can’t get more vibrant than this!"

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 Yes to Primavera! Spring!

I am smiling at myself, as, I looked back to last year 's posts, early February and there I was...Petersham Nursery! such a creature of ritual...

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

What's new?

Early last Spring, there was a house down a lane. A lovely old house whose timber frame creaked in the wind. A lovely old house full of nooks and curves, oak pegs and wobbly glass nestled into the hill. Such a friendly solid house but with a little dark kitchen...

We first viewed this house on a wet and windy November morning 5 years ago. Ellie Goulding was singing ..."This will always be my home..." as we turned into the drive and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. "I'll end my days here" I thought...then I shook myself, cursing my fairytale mind...To the left a little orchard, 6 or 7 fruit trees and a row of crab apples. At the corner an enormous fir tree, stories high. At the top of the drive a ramshackle group of derelict farm buildings. "I want it!" I mouthed to him as we stood in the cowshed with the roof leaking into puddles on the concrete floor looking out across the field we now call "Rounders".
"I think we should look at the house before we make any decisions" he said sternly
"Yes." I said, whilst imagining the apple blossom in jam jars on trestles inside the cowshed.

The house, well it's all we ever wanted. Oak beams, inglenook fireplaces, wonky windows...but light...all the rooms are light, walls full of leaded lights, an oriel window in the hall...but the kitchen...
the kitchen is small and dark, with a strangely positioned cat-slide roof with a velux window that hints at a beautiful view but actually is a blank stare of sky just above the horizon.
"We'll have to change the kitchen" I mutter, " Yes," he replied.
And so, last March, 4 years later, the digger rolled in and we began. I remember feeling excited and anxious. Having seen reels of Messrs. McCloud and Clarke I knew my naive exhilaration would soon become stress and ultimately tears, and I couldn't quite see the end but I dived in unabashed.

 I had thought I wouldn't write about the build here but my absence for long periods last year deserves some sort of explanation and now that we are almost finished it seems silly not to reference it at all.
And I can report my earlier statement about the stress and the tears was completely accurate, but the end has come and gone and I am writing this from the end of our longed for and much anticipated kitchen island!

This wonderful new space is populated by treasures collected from, inspired by and or made by many friends made and found here in the blogosphere and so my grateful thanks to :
Alastair Hendy at A G Hendy Home Store
Alex and Zoe at i gigi
Chloe and Harriet at Closet and Botts
Gilly at Woodlea Craft & Design
Pen at Cottage Industry
Polly at Folly&Glee
Penny at Le Petit Jardin
Rose at Butlers Emporioum
and last but not least the gorgeous kitchen itself, all hand made by the wonderful Nathan Levick at LevickJorgensen

To coin a very hackneyed phrase, building something is a journey and an education. I  loved sourcing reclaimed Tudor bricks, our old oak beam, limestone flags, marble, basalt etc, You discover how resilient you are, as despite your best efforts there are always delays and budgets are stretched beyond your wildest dreams.
 Our kitchen was finished on December 22nd and the home team rolled into town on 23rd!
And so at last, here we are!
Just you and me and the Boodle...it's quiet, no workmen...

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A pocket full of Rye...

All my undone actions wander
naked across the calendar

A band of skinny hunter-gatherers
blown snow scattered here and there

stumbling toward a future
folded in the New Year...

New Year makes me melancholy...I find myself wondering if I wrung enough out of the year that's dying. Did I try hard enough, did I appreciate enough...what did I learn? Luckily there is a Birthday to be celebrated in our house on New Year's Eve, thank goodness, as I am much more myself when there is love to be showered on beloveds.

We have been chasing the East Sussex coastline these last few days...low slung sun...shards of light...lungs filled with icy air...the Downs, the Marshes...It's become something of a tradition.

Resolutions? No...I simply want to "taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain..." SYLVIA PLATH

...And as for those undone actions I mentioned earlier...let me remedy one right now...
 a heartfelt THANKYOU for taking the time to read this and for your kindness in visiting The Lane in 2014.
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I wish you peace and happiness for 2015*