If you squint hard enough, you can just make out a small white building on the left, snuggled in the near lush hillside.
Just beyond it is the McCottage, which overlooks the Bay of Wigtown, Cairnsmore, and the RSPB nature reserve, where I’m standing, taking a photograph of this vast field of sunshine. Just off to the right is a derelict building once the control tower of a small airfield used during World War II. In fact, on top of Cairnsmore, there is a small cairn, dedicated to those airmen who lost their lives during exercise, their aircraft not making it beyond the craggy summit.
The control tower is now home to a small colony of Scottish bees. I’m unsure how successful they will be in this location, whether there’ll be enough forage to take them through a long season of honey making. The rape field isn’t ideal either. Honey produced by bees gathering in rape fields is often pale and bland, and crystallises quickly.
However. I know nothing, and am being guided by my mentor. A tall Dutch chap, with Edwardian beard, who thinks the location is ideal. His great x 8 grandfather began the first beehives in Leiden at the botanical gardens, back in the 1500’s. We shall see.
In the meantime, I carried on along the dusty track, avoiding potholes like chasms, to the old shore line.
I paused for a while along my wander and watched a skylark arguing with itself. Madly flapping and whirring, high above the marshy hinterland, fiercely guarding territory, its song was long and melodious. A heron swooped down, two lapwings immediately reacted, diving and looping, white flashes beneath a blue and grey sky. A skein of late geese flapping by, oblivious. I hope the bees like it here…
It’s so good to finally feel warmth at last, in the air, on my face, and bones, and here at the stone circle. Taking in sunshine under one solitary soft cloud.
I stood awhile and listened to the bleating of the sheep in the field opposite. Ewes watching lambs frolick and leap in the sun.
I placed my palms face down on the ancient granite and felt the heat warm my hands. Absorbing centuries of energy, it felt like being charged, zapped. How many others have done this before me. 5,000 years of people passing through. A shepherdess droving, a Pict defending, smugglers, soldiers, farmers, all on their way.
Specks of dust. Rays of sun. Year on year. Don’t blink. You might miss it.
Travelling down to Dorset yesterday, from Scotland, and decided to call in to my old Alma mater for a spot of breakfast. It’s only a five minute detour, and always worth it.
Sometimes we lose sight of ourselves in the big scheme of things, and being here is a reminder of a most wonderful time, immersed in books and learning, meeting new friends from all over the world, a different context, a nudge to self to step out of routine and the ordinary from time to time.
I did a double take, that bicycle is identical to the one I had, a menace on the roads, it was a real bone shaker, but the young man in the bike shop enthused so much over it, a 1952 original Raleigh. I sold it when I left, to an incoming graduate, and wish I hadn’t.
High Table here was always special. The chef a marvel, his food was exquisite, and much talked about by all the other rather envious colleges, when the Emperor of Japan came, GTC was chosen as the best place to entertain him.
The steward always brought me a little something extra, much to the amusement of Lawrence, my best pal in College.
And afterwards up to the Common Room, for coffee and petit fours, the grand piano played more often than not by a visiting fellow.
How many gentle flowers grow In an English country garden? I’ll tell you now of some I know And those I’ll miss I hope you’ll pardon Daffodils, heart’s ease and flox Meadowsweet and lilly stalks Gentain, lupine and tall hollihocks Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots In an English country garden.
Nana Mouskouri, remember her singing this?
Globally speaking the biggest selling female artist of all time. As a multi linguist she sold all over Europe, America and Asia. Quite surreal to think of this young woman from Crete singing about native English flowers and gardens.
This garden is in Cheshire. Very close to home. The Dower house to a big estate, and open annually for charity. I love it here. An oasis of tranquility, adjacent to a beautiful boating lake swamped in yellow lillies, and overlooking a village green opposite a cluster of ancient cottages reserved for estate workers.
The garden to be absolutely frank, isn’t the most cultivated or colourful or groomed, but I like it for those reasons. The English love a good nosey, and here is the perfect excuse, pay a couple of pounds, wander round the borders and the arboretum, and pretend, just for a short while that you are Lady of The Manor, about to disappear indoors to prepare for dinner, you’ve maybe been out earlier with your trug, collecting rose blooms for the table, not it’s time to break out the pearls and enjoy a glass of chilled champagne in a crystal coupe.
Here we have a gorgeous strand of Vintage Italian Murano Glass beads.
In everyone’s favourite; blue and white. I think these are exquisite. Beautifully made, each bead unique and individual, capped with a sweet little gilt fixture, and then hand knotted in silk in between, in pristine condition.
Murano is a little collection of islands, just to the north of Venice, Italy, famed for its glass making. In 1291, all the glass makers in Venice were forced to move to Murano due to the risk of fire, and the tradition of bead making began. The glass makers soon became highly revered, and were allowed to wear swords, and marry into the nobility. Murano glass is highly collectable, and sought after. This colour is rare.
This gorgeous necklace is the perfect summer accessory, would look fabulous with white linen.
Available to buy here in my eBay shop, or directly via Paypal. You won’t be disappointed – it’s amazing!
‘Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done.’
The traveller’s journey is done right here, right now, with this fabulous ‘Sunflowers in Bowl’ oil painting by accomplished artist, Anne Brandon Jones (1878 – 1968).
Brandon Jones was a Royal Academician and a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, but her main interest was in embroidery. She was a skilled needlewoman, and published many books on the subject. Interestingly, this particular painting reflects her skill and technique as an embroiderer, with paint applied in a measured and careful way; textures and direction of paint are built up deliberately and with care and precision.
Anne attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London (which eventually became Central St Martin’s). The School opened in 1896, as a result of the growing Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris and John Ruskin. (Anne’s son John was a founder member of the William Morris Society, and a renowned Arts and Crafts architect).
When I look at this amazing painting, I can certainly see the Arts and Crafts influence peeping through, the earthy colours, the organic shapes, the natural, simple form are all leitmotifs of this particular style. It’s a fabulous piece, by a female pioneer of one of the most influential creative eras of the last century.
“If you treat glass right, it doesn’t crack. If you know the properties, you can make things; the color of dusk and night and love. But you can’t control people like that and I really, really wish you could. I want the world to be glass.” (Cath Crowley, Graffiti Moon).
On Venice’s famed isle of Murano, glass masters keep alive the art of lampworking. Each of the beads in these graceful Murano earrings is individually made over a hot flame, uno alla volta.
A unique, individual, antique, dusk coloured pair of luscious earrings, available here!