Coming Home…

Our new front door

Our new front door

Yesterday we picked up the keys to our new house, eleven months after we first viewed it. It really has been a lesson in patience and perseverance!  We walked around in a bit of a daze thinking about all the things that we will need to tweak and change, but we have time and the main thing is… it’s ours.

As I stood outside to get a photo of the front door, I was reminded of a card that my dad made for me two and a half years ago. It’s a pen and watercolour drawing of a green door which he had cut around so that I could open it to read this quote that he had written inside:

‘There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.’ Graham Greene.

The future that lies behind this green door is a little bit unknown but exciting, full of adventure and very hopeful. My dad’s card is now well-thumbed, so I’ll put it into a frame to keep it safe as it reminds me of my journey here.

One of the things that the future definitely has in store is gardening. The house has a lovely garden which is small enough to manage but big enough to make proper use of. There is also a tiny front garden which has this abundant hydrangea to greet visitors at our front door.

Our front garden

Hydrangea

I know that if you add copper to the soil you can turn the hydrangea blue… I might try to give the old girl a blue rinse next year. But I do like pink… I noticed a blowsy pink peony in the garden on our last visit but they dug it up and took it with them, I can’t blame them. But, they have left us with some lovely roses, penstemons and a beautiful smelling ceanothus – so enough for me to work with for now! There are also a couple of mature shrubs and small trees which are crying out for lights and lanterns…

There isn’t too much to do in the house, it needs freshening up and we need to find bits and pieces to fill it with as I come bearing only one chair and the Dude has been living in a man pad for the best part of a decade. Part of the fun will be finding our style together, and yes I am sure we will have the obligatory stand-off in the rug section of Ikea. Why’s it always in the rug section?! I wonder if it’s because that’s where your blood sugar levels are at their lowest after having spent hours trudging through? He’s a very patient man but we are as stubborn as each other, it’s going to get interesting. I’ve already noticed that I’ve been met with a wall of silence whenever I mention cats…..  or ducks, chickens, peacocks, goats, etc… I wonder why?

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A cream tea in the sunshine…

Cream tea at Basildon Park

Cream tea at Basildon Park

Is there any greater pleasure than a cream tea in the sunshine? No, I didn’t think so…

A couple of Sundays ago, I was mad enough to run my first 10k race. Mad because I hadn’t done any training which, having spent three days after the race hobbling around in pain, is not to be recommended. After the race, I was buzzing on a high of adrenaline so the dude suggested that we stop off at Basildon Park a National Trust property near Reading for a post-race amble.

It was a true English summer’s day, with Swallows darting overhead and cattle hazily lumbering around in the surrounding fields. And as my weary legs lumbered from the car and up the sweeping drive, we were met with this view of the house.

NT Prop

Basildon Park

Certainly not a bad place to take a stroll to recover the legs! We sat outside and indulged in a sumptuous cream tea complete with Rodda’s clotted cream I am happy to say. If you haven’t tried Rodda’s, then your life is not yet complete, it’s heavenly.

The last owners of the house were Lord and Lady Iliffe who bought it in the 1950s and restored it, including the installation of a state-of-the-art 1950s kitchen which is still in the house and looking very chic and retro now. We were greeted by the smell of baking as a volunteer was making cookies in the kitchen, using equipment that the cooks would have used in the ’50s. It seems that the National Trust are introducing some more experiential elements to their houses which really bring them to life.

We also took a stroll around the extensive gardens, which were full of families picnicking and playing ball. Squeals of delight from happy, playing children were permeating the summer air as parents chattered together on rugs and blankets. It was an idyllic scene and a reminder that the National Trust is perfect for families. It’s also perfect for recovering first-time runners.

Garden

Through the garden door…

 

Time and tide…

Image

Bosham Harbour in West Sussex

Last weekend the dude and I visited my parents in West Sussex and went for an amble around Bosham. It’s one of those bizarre English pronunciations, so it’s ‘Bozz-erm’ rather than ‘Bos-ham’, ‘Bosh-am’ or, as the dude suggested, the funkier sounding ‘Bo-sham’.

I grew up in Sussex so was often pootling about near some water, skimming stones, plunging into the icy English channel for a swim, sitting watching the waves, and as a teenager making illegal bonfires with friends on Portsmouth beach whilst drinking cheap alcohol and listening to someone playing Red Hot Chili Peppers on the guitar. Miraculously, these escapades only resulted in one hospital visit, that I know of, and only a few disgruntled parents driving to the seafront to claim their disastrously inebriated child.

Now, I live in land-locked Oxfordshire so always enjoy and appreciate the coast so much more when we go and visit. Bosham is on an inlet of Chichester Harbour so it isn’t directly on the seafront, instead it’s a tucked away haven with gentle tidal water lapping at the town’s edge and sailing boats launching from the slipways dotted about. The town and tide have no boundary to keep each other out, so the water creeps up through the roads at high tide, and the town grows to it’s full size at low tide.

Bosham Church

Bosham Church

Bosham Church is a pretty little 11th Century church, and it’s depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry as Bosham is said to be where King Harold left England for the ill-fated trip to Normandy in 1064 which sparked war and, ultimately the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. We walked around the churchyard in beautiful spring sunshine.

Bluebells in Bosham churchyard

Bluebells in Bosham churchyard

I love Bluebells and they have been abundant this year, carpeting woodlands and here they are clustered around someone’s gravestone. As a final resting place, it’s not a bad spot.

boat

‘My’ sailing boat

We walked from the churchyard and ambled our way around the harbour, watching the sailing boats drift by. We stumbled upon this beautiful wooden boat, moored in a little creek and I was so tempted to hop in and sail off into the sunset! But, apart from not having the faintest idea about sailing, I don’t really fancy the idea of spending the next few years in a cell somewhere. So, I decided to keep on walking and think of the little wooden boat as something to dream about…