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.
There’s nothing quite like waking to freshly fallen snow. That gentle blanket softening the edges and muffling the usual sounds of daybreak.
I dressed quickly, wanting to be out and explore before anyone corrupted the perfection. Down the lane, a camelia blushing in the cold dawn light.
On, past the Bookshop, and down to the harbour, an unusual peace, no birds, traffic or schoolchildren, just a gentle hush .
The little nursery, hibernating for the winter, glistening in the first rays of morning. Ominous clouds building on the horizon. More snow on its way…
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.
If you’re going to have a dream, have a big one!
‘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.
More images available here, in my shop.
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