Thursday, 21 April 2011

Doing the Charleston

The spring time weather is being very kind to us, isn't it? Glorious sunshine and a summer vibe in the air for the Easter weekend. Yesterday was busy with cleaning, washing, shopping and taking the little man swimming, which we both enjoyed thoroughly. So in the evening I took a chance to relax with knit and natter at Make, do and Mend. I loved catching up with all the ladies and seeing their latest projects, espcially Hannah and the lovely Lynne. Her work is beautiful, she is based at Hylands Studios so if you get a chance to visit please do, or even one of her workshops. Love From Lynne details are here: 
We also chatted about the Cath Kidston love. So I was rather pleased when a competition pinged into my inbox this morning to win the Royal Wedding collection memorabilia. I have to admit I love all this wedding lark. Flags, bunting, street parties. How lovely. I wish Park Avenue was smaller and not so busy, it'd be great to have a street party. However, most folks don't seem that interested in the Royal wedding. Such a shame, no-one seems to care about the Royal family anymore. I personally don't really pay much attention to them but any excuse for a good knees-up and some community spirit seems a good enough reason to be interested in Kate and Wills' nuptials to me.
Anyway, to win stuff, click here:

So back to the weekend's activities. On Saturday afternoon we drove up to Firle, a little further from Lewes, alongside some spectacular scenery over to Charleston House. Home to artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell it was a very inspirational, from the paintings, to the garden and of course the decor. 
I saw a feature on the Bloomsbury Group in Country Living a few months back so it was fascinating to visit the house. Many famous writers visited there during the twentieth century, including Vanessa Bell's sister Virginia Woolf. Have you ready any Woolf? I rather love her. The artists painted directly onto the walls and furniture over the years, and it's a really interesting interior. The shelves are full of beautiful ceramics by her son Clive Bell and there is some lovely tapestry work by Duncan Grant's mother too. My favourite room was the studio, which was light and full of some of their best work, including an incredible painted fire surround.

The garden was beautiful, a little walled garden with interesting ceramics hidden away, lots of blossom-laden fruit trees and a hidden orchard that overlooked the beautiful Sussex countryside. I can see why they came here again and again throughout the war periods, the landscape and colours must have been wonderful inspiration. 

Of course no visit to a country house/museum/gallery would be complete without a gift shop and tea room. And I have to tell you, the visit was worth the tea room alone. A gorgeous converted farm building lead to a light and airy room with a polka dot table full of cakes on cream enamel stands, little wooden tables painted in Farrow and Ball cooking apple green, and of course tea. Presented on a spotty tray, little brown individual teapots with Emma Bridgewater mugs. I had peony, Darryl had seagull. We shared a flapjack and a chocolate refridgerator cake. Yum!
The gift shop was a delight too, with plenty of arty and literary books, and some beautiful ceramics, papers and fabrics by the house as well as some beautiful Liberty and Lisa Stickley stationary. We came away with some postcards and some seeds. Maybe at the new house we'll cultivate a pretty walled garden! 

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