Friday, 27 May 2011

Favourite Places - Chilcomb, Winchester

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Chilcomb, Winchester

I have been spending a lot of time in Winchester lately. It's such a beautiful city, and as someone said yesterday on Twitter, the walk from the Square through the Cathedral Close out to the College and Kingsgate St and then on though the water meadows (where Keats composed his 'Ode To Autumn') to St Cross must be one of the finest in the country.  But Winchester is also blessed as it lies in glorious Hampshire countryside and is watered by the clear chalk streams of the Itchen. The little village of Chilcomb is closest to the city. It's also the site of an Army firing range and so is curiously peaceful.

Click the heading for more photos  and here for a report on the Drapers' Almshouse outing to Winchester in 2009

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Drapers' Almshouses

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The Drapers' Livery Company maintain some 180 almshouses on three sites around London, continuing a tradition initiated by bequests from wealthy members of the company in previous centuries. The almshouses at Edmanson's Close, Tottenham are a fine example of Victorian philanthropy, and are co-incidentally only short distance from my great-grandfather's house at Downhills (He was also a liveryman. The house was torn down in 1901).

Downhills, Tottenham, once the home of John Lawford

The almshouses, though seemingly old fashioned by modern standards, provide perfect sheltered accommodation for some 80 elderly residents in extraordinarily tranquil setting, surrounded by grass and trees although in the middle of a busy suburb. Click the heading for some photos of the almshouses and their garden.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The Chelsea Flower Show this year was held at the end of the sunniest and driest spring anyone could remember and the exhibitors struggled to keep their plants from flowering too early. Nevertheless the show gardens were superb and the artisan gardens - like the one shown above - as enticing as ever.  My favourite designer, Ishihara Kazuyuki, almost withdrew following the Japanese earthquake but decided to come with a more conventional design.

Click the heading for a selection of photos from the show.

Chelsea Flower Show 2010
Chelsea Flower Show 2008
Chelsea Flower Show 2007

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Favourite Poetry - Tall Nettles - Edward Thomas

Tall Nettles

TALL nettles cover up, as they have done
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone:
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.

This corner of the farmyard I like most:
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

Edward Thomas 

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Favourite Flowers - Banksian Rose

I rarely post photos of flowers - apart from the bluebells in my favourite wood in Wiltshire - as they are so difficult to photograph well, but the Banksian rose in the garden is looking so fine this year that I have made a special effort to capture it.

Those who would like to see some really good photographs of flowers - usually in their natural garden settings - should look at Nigel Burkitt's photos on Flickr.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Wandle Road Royal Wedding Party

The residents of Wandle Road, including some who had moved away but retained close friends in the street, held a party to celebrate the Royal Wedding on 29th April, beginning immediately after the Palace balcony scenes and going on late into the night. The road was closed and cleared of parked cars and tables set up along the middle of the street with stalls on the pavement and in driveways, with food being laid out and barbecued in the playground of Finton House. Many of the houses were hung with flags  and the street decorated with bunting. There was face painting and pavement drawing, table tennis and welly throwing and a tug of war (won by the girls!). The local fire engine paid us a visit and allowed the children to investigate its mysteries and a well stocked tombola was complemented by a raffle of decent prizes, such as commissioned paintings, a dinner for six cooked at one's home and many gifts donated by local businesses, with the proceeds going to the SMA Trust for research into spinal muscular atrophy.

At the end of the day, after prizegiving and superb rock guitar performance by Mark Fiddes and the Wandling Minstrels, our resident opera singer, Friederike Krum, sang a selection of songs from the steps of her house, ending with the most moving of all hymns, 'I Vow To Thee My Country', before the release of a mass of red, white and blue balloons into the sunset. And although some party-loving souls later relit the barbecues and returned to the street for supper, most treated that ceremony as the perfect finale of a most memorable street party.

Click the heading for some photos from the event.