Friday, 16 December 2016

Packwood - A House To Dream Of, A Garden To Dream In



When asked why in 1904, Alfred Ash, a Birmingham businessman and confirmed city dweller had, somewhat impulsively, bought the 134 acre Packwood Estate in rural Warwickshire at auction he replied, I bought it because the boy wanted it.



The boy was his beloved 16-year-old only son, Graham Baron Ash. Baron, as he preferred to be called, was said to be both reserved & courageous with a party-loving generosity. His work with the family firm, which he never much cared for, came to a halt at the outbreak of the First World War when he volunteered for the medical corps. Before joining up he travelled to, amongst other places, Burma, India and Egypt, where he recorded his encounters with the people he met. In his diary he writes of bribing a priest in China to order to acquire an ancient roof tile. This, it is said, was when a lifetime of haggling over antiques begun.

Graham Baron Ash

Determined never to go back into the family business after leaving the army, Baron dedicated the rest of his life to restoring Packwood House, stripping back the lavish Victorian interior, considered at that time to be hopelessly outdated, and restoring the house to reflect its original Tudor heritage.


Years ahead of his time, Baron set about acquiring architectural salvage from demolished historical buildings and hunting down antique textiles, furniture and artifacts from around the world to furnish his dream country house. There were some modern comforts included, this was, after all, a young man's party pad and so en-suite bathrooms and a sprung dance floor were added to make 16th Century Packwood House the ultimate in Jazz Age party venues.








Each window, updated by the Victorian residents, were replaced by salvaged, period perfect Tudor originals, some from as far afield as Belgium.


Sadly the render, applied in Georgian times when the original Tudor brickwork was considered to be old fashioned, could not be removed without damaging the exterior.

As you can see we took advantage of our National Trust membership by visiting Packwood today. I seriously fell for the glorious antique textiles (Jacobean tapestries, Turkish rugs, Tudor wall hangings and decadent woven curtains resplendent with unicorns and all manner of mythical beasts) Baron had spent decades hunting down.





In keeping with his love of textiles, rather than quotes on Baron Ash presented on the usual paper labels, they were cleverly embroidered on napkins and cushions instead.


Despite it being the depths of winter the gardens remain gorgeous with all manner of interesting artifacts scattered about.


Like Powis Castle, Packwood also had some deliciously clipped yews.









In the spring this area becomes a bluebell wood so I think we'll have to come back and see in all its glory.


These contemporary follies, created by Manchester artist Hilary Jack, are a nod to Baron's series of follies where he hosted entertainment and plays in structures scattered throughout the garden. Jon is standing by one inspired by a note left in the 1930's visitors book  A house to dream of, a garden to dream in a giant, grass lined four poster bed carved from a felled oak.



I'm sitting in the Inside Out House, made from old doors and no doubt inspired by Baron's love of recycled materials.

WEARING: 1970s Courtelle maxi dress (Present from Lyndsey of Boomerang Vintage) worn with a Devore & fake fur coat (Janne's Vintage) and a contemporary Italian cross-body leather bag (Charity shop, £1.99)

This dinky little garden shelter, complete with blankets to keep party-goers cosy is lined with photographs & extracts from a 1922 edition of Country Life, back when Packwood House was featured in the magazine.




Packwood House, Packwood Lane, Lapworth, Warwickshire, B94 6AT

Where to next? There's so many fabulous heritage houses & gardens nearby that we're almost spoilt for choice. At £8.70 a month for the pair of us we're already getting our money's worth.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

91 comments:

  1. Looks beautiful. I must admit I love visiting all the different national trust houses.

    X x

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    1. Aren't we lucky, having so many on our doorstep? xxx

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  2. Just missed you, we were there this afternoon! Along with Baddesley just down the road, this is possibly my favourite NT property. Ask to see the original front door key next time, it is huge!

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    1. I can't believe we missed each other! x

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  3. I loved joining you on your little visit to this "bachelor pad".

    Visiting national trust houses when I lived in the UK was a hobby of mine. I'm glad you're making use of your membership.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Glad you enjoyed your trip!
      I'm loving the NT membership, not sure why it took us so long. It's great for weekend workers like us, we get to visit places when nobody else is about. xxx

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  4. What an interesting property! Thank you for the tour xxx

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    1. Isn't it fab? I thought you'd enjoy the follies! x

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  5. Thank you for the tour around Packwood, what a marvellous place. With all those parties you'd think that the butler would have seen Baron tiddley at least once!
    So glad you joined the NT. xxx

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    1. I know, I was loving Baron and his recycling. His lack of tipsiness was a bit disappointing. xxx

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  6. We're members of the NT for Scotland now as it's a bit cheaper. Haven't been to this one- looks fab. I think Wightwick is near you- it's arts and crafts and that was interesting too. I'd really like to see the back to backs in Birmingham next time I'm up that way. We use the NT places as stop off points for a cuppa if possible when we're travelling...so much nicer than the motorway services! Arilx

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    1. Wightwick is the closest to us, we've been before but due a repeat revisit. Loving the look of the Back to Backs, something after we're back from India, I reckon. xxx

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  7. I like the inside-out house-what a great idea.

    I love having a peek at people's homes, and that one sure doesn't disappoint. Your outfit is perfect for the occasion, and the coat is seriously wonderful. I wonder if there were as many people photographing you, as the estate? I know I'd want your photo.

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    1. I'm nosy, too. So good to see houses full of clutter and colour, unlike the dull interiors magazines all minimal and white.
      There weren't many people about but the few that were were very complimentary! x

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  8. What an absolute gem! I loved the outdoor artifacts, too.

    You look fab in your red and black outfit, and somehow although your outfit isn't Tudor, it fits in perfectly with the surroundings.

    You are making very good use of your NT membership already! Any more planned for the weekend?

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    1. Funnily enough there was a window seat with an almost identical zig-zag tapestry cover.
      I might squeeze another visit in this week and there's some fancy ornamental gardens I'm tempted with if the weather plays nicely. xxx

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  9. What a gorgeous place! I would definitely go back in the spring if I were you! And your outfit is perfect as always! :)

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    1. I'd fallen in love with a bathroom I'd seen on Packwood House's website but sadly it was closed, another reason to return! x

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  10. I loved this post Vix, it was so interesting to hear about the history of the house and the little details, such as the anecdotes on the napkins, and the touches where the house has been restored, are just swoon worthy. I love those shots in the gardens too and the pieces of artwork are the cherry on top - I love sculptures and installations using recycled materials! Love what you're wearing too. - Tasha

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    1. Hi Tasha! Glad you enjoyed the visit. I loved the recycled aspect. I wish I could find Tudor furniture at car boot sales, my house would be full of it! xx

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  11. It's good to see you using your national trust card, it also means we get to see them too.
    We love the houses we've visited in the Lake District. The atmosphere, history and textures do it for me. Many times I think I was born in the wrong era.
    Looking forward to seeing more with you xxx

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    1. If we trade with Judy's in Cumbria next march we're hoping to squeeze a NT visit in the day before.
      I'd only want to live in the past if I was one of the idle rich, I wouldn't fancy a life below stairs! xxx

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  12. The joy is in the details: your red-and-black boots peeping out under the red-and-black walking suit, the embroidered script on a turned up corner of table linen. One is certain Baron would have acknowledged your display of respect for his creation (proper attire for an afternoon call) and so welcomed you with open arms -- and a glass in each hand.

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    1. One has to do one's best when visiting such grand homes. Jon was worried we'd have to abide by the unofficial dress code of National Trust members when we joined, I can't see either of us wearing a polar fleece, stout walking boots and a waterproof jacket! xxx

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  13. You are getting your memberships worth, and I get to tag alomg. Nice coverage of the story behind the house.

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    1. The story sold Packwood to me. Baron, with his love of travel, hunting for second-hand furniture & antique textiles and partying was a man after my own heart! xxx

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  14. Oooh, isn't it lovely! I' d like to have a nose round there! I love the yew hedges- brilliant!
    I might have to mug you for that Maxi- it is gorgeous!!!x

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    1. You can't see in the photos but that maxi is dotted with metallic thread, I love it! xxx

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  15. Like the Barron I too like work with recycle items. Love the big ole Christmas tree and I can imagine how well the room smell of pine.

    Coffee is on

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    1. Recycling is best! Baron was way ahead of his times. x

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  16. You and Jon look very at home on this property. "I bought it because the boy wanted it." Hahaha. Yesh. Happens to me allll the time. It's the kind of home that requires Staff. The out-buildings are very interesting. I would have liked to attend a party or two there in the day. Thanks for the tour.

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    1. I did walk around saying in a loud voice, I want this house, we could live here but sadly no sugar daddy overheard me ! xxx

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  17. It looks like you and Jon had a lovely time exploring! Can't wait to see where you visit next, the houses and gardens are so beautiful. Xxx

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    1. We loved it, Jess! Packwood, despite it's grandeur, had a really homely feel. xxx

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  18. What a fantastic house. Just have to say, I LOVE those boots you're wearing! xx

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    1. Isn't it divine? I usually wear those boots with short dresses but my birthday maxi had a centre split that showed them off to perfection! xxx

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  19. I'd love to have gone to a country house party in the 20s!! Love how the quotes are embroidered on the napkins and the inside out house and four poster are great touches. There aren't a huge number of NT properties around here and most of them are closed all winter, but it looks like the perfect time to photograph the place. x

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    1. I think some of these properties get rammed at weekends and at the height of summer. Both Powis Castle and Packwood were almost empty - we could pretend we lived there! xxx

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  20. What a marvellous place Packwood House is, and I must say you're looking very much at home there. What a lovely idea to have the quotes embroidered on napkins and cushions. I'm loving all the quirky details and the modern day follies. Wish we had the equivalent of the NT here in Belgium ... xxx

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    1. The National Trust (and English Heritage) are just brilliant. It's a real shame other countries don't follow suit. xxx

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  21. I love exploring places like that. I too have a love for old textiles - would give my left arm for a nice antique turkish rug. (need right one for drinking cider)

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    1. Ha! Yes, keep one arm for cider drinking! xxx

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  22. We went to Packwood last year, this week we went to Whitwick Manor :-)

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    1. So many great places on our doorstep.

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  23. Thank you for posting pictures of such wonderful estates. Ooh! Definitely a place worth visiting! I can imagine the parties that must have taken place.

    Love that red and black ensemble! You are both well dressed and stylin'

    Happy thrifting ;)

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    1. I bet there were some fantastic parties, I'd have loved to have sat wrapped up in a blanket watching the sun rise in that cute little hidey-hole after an all-nighter! x

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  24. Ooh! The inside out house is awesome!! I love to see such a formal place decorated with paper chain.

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    1. The Xmas decorations were made to reflect Baron's love of recycling. The chains were made from old dressing making patterns and maps! xxx

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  25. What a lovely place, definitely one to visit. You look lovely as well, I love the red and black outfit! x

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    1. Thank you! I thought I better make the effort as I was visiting such a grand house! xxx

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  26. How beautiful. God I would love to be a fly on the wall for one of those jazz parties!

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    1. Me, too! White Russians and Royalty were frequent party goers, apparently. xxx

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  27. Graham reminds me a bit of George Clooney in his bachelor days. Gorgeous house, love the woodwork (my dad was a professional cabinetmaker) and you look divone in red & black!
    xox

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    1. Good comparison, he wasn't too bad on the eye was he? xxx

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  28. That little tour you took me on was seriously fantastic!! Thanks so much. I adore the inside out house, that would be perfect in my garden. I am so looking forward to you going back when those bluebells are in flower.

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    1. The garden was gorgeous in winter, I bet it's incredible full of flowers. xxx

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  29. That's the perfect comment to write in the visitors' book, whoever came up with it in the 1930s was spot on! Packwood House is a beauty, and what an interesting story of its restoration and decoration by man about town Baron. I can see exactly why it would appeal to both you and Jon, all those glorious textiles, the love of travel and exotic heritage, the recycling and contemporary touches which blend so well with the old. Gorgeous!
    As are you in that stunning red and black frock, what a fab gift from lovely Lyndsey. And good to see you and Jon are beautifully co-ordinated!
    Where to next on your National Trust travels?
    Love you! Xxxx

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    1. We were planning to visit another place but when I read about Baron I knew Packwood was the place for us! I never know what to write in a visitor's book so kudos to the guest who penned that description - obviously not a woman in the throes of a hangover!
      Lyndsey did well with that frock! The turquoise one will be making an appearance soon. xxx

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  30. A truly great comment for a visitors book; succinct and poetic. Packwood is wonderful, just the right amount of stuff. Baron obviously had exquisite taste. Honestly we are SO lucky to have the National Trust. I love what they do and it is such a good cause to support. Having a card, forces you out to do things. There are so many great places to visit in the Midlands. I've been wanting to go to the back to backs for about two years. I think you have to book your place with them though, so be aware. It's bizarre, loads of properties near here seem to close for the winter months, but obviously not over there in the West! Anyway, you look glorious and what a great day out! xxxx p.s. Stoneywell is lovely over Leicester way

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    1. I was tempted to book a visit to the back-to-backs last week but Birmingham is mental when the German Market is one so I'm definitely going to wait till the Spring.
      There's quite a few open right up until Xmas although the one I want to see closes for the season tomorrow - poor timing as it's the dead relative's society festive piss-up in Wetherspoons this lunchtime! xxx

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  31. Such a spectacular home and I'm always so thrilled to see a place like this (and its contents) preserved for future generations. Truly special. This one reminds me of the Sleeper McCann house in Gloucester Ma that I visited this past summer. The original owner was a bachelor as well, who also decorated with salvaged materials. I would love to see pictures of the bluebell wood in the spring. You have to go back!

    And, of course, you're looking quite chic for the tour in that outfit. Love the red zigzag pattern of the maxi peeking out from that fab coat! And knowing it has metallic thread, I love it even more!

    Thanks for sharing this magical place :)

    Theresa

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    1. Hello Theresa! I loved your Sleeper McCann visit back in the Summer and you're right, both Baron and he had exquisite taste with just the right level of opulence. xxx

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  32. imagine - this beautiful estate with all this gorgeous jazz age party people, dressed to the nines und entertaining themselfs with dancing, funny games and plays :-)
    like in this pet shop boys song.....
    you and jon look so cool and perfect for the location!!!!
    hugs! xxxxx

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    1. I really was the ultimate party pad with the only neighbours to annoy being the sheep!
      xxx

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  33. HAPPY CHRISTMAS, Vix, and thanks for your fabulous posts. Stay warm. xx

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! It's been a pleasure getting to know you and your family over the last few months. Back at you! x

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  34. What a fun house! It must be wonderful to be able to make somewhere so beautiful. What parties the house must have seen!

    I like the Inside-Out House.

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    1. I loved Packwood. I'd have quite happily moved in there and then. Wonder if the National Trust fancy doing a swap and having Stonecroft instead? x

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  35. What a marvelous place and you've provided the rich history. Love the inside out house! And the gardens - just breathtaking. We need a National Trust in the US, although we do have a wonderful national park system, Our "old" homes though are babies compared to many of yours. xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. Your national park system is a wonderful thing. The US ought to start something similar to the NT, even if houses aren't ancient it's still a wonderful thing to visit homes to get an insight into social history and fashions of the time. Get campaigning! xxx

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  36. What a gorgeous house! I love all those turkish rugs (yes, please!), beautiful woodwork, follies in the garden... the story is really fascinating too. I bet 8t was a great party pad.

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    1. I love a rug (or four), the more aged and threadbare the better! xxx

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  37. Oh, to have the money and the time to spend renovating a home in the country to perfectly suit one's taste! Looks like the money spent on the National Trust membership was well spent. Thank you for sharing your tours!

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    1. I know! How the other half lived. So good of him to bequeath his masterpiece to the nation so we can all enjoy it rather than just the aristocracy! xxx

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  38. What a gorgeous setting the house is in. The baron sounds like a fascinating character. Keep the National Trust properties coming!! X

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    1. Be careful what you wish for! There's loads in the Midlands! xxx

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  39. The photo of you by the pond is so romantic!
    How wonderful to find a pal, practically a soulmate, lost in time!! The house is marvelous - I'd live there too. No loud parties for me - just lots and lots of writing and reading!
    Much love!

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    1. I think me and Baron would have got along famously.
      One of the conditions of the National Trust having his home was that they'd always have fresh flowers in each room for the guests to enjoy, just like he did! isn't that lovely? xxx

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  40. oh yes, do go back and see it when the bluebells are out, it’ll be glorious!

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  41. Oh my goodness, what a treat to have had you share your visit to this exquisite place! I'm right in the middle of reading a retelling of what life was for someone in service during the exact days that Baron would have been working on his home, written by a former house-maid when she was in her 90s. It's called "Aprons and Silver Spoons", and is so interesting. They actually lived part of the year in the English countryside, in a Tudor style mansion. The rest of the year was spent in a townhouse in London. To have seen your pictures right now was absolutely perfect timing.

    I'm very happy that you have your membership too! This way I can enjoy the amazing sights with you. xo

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    1. That book sounds fascinating, I'll see if I can find a copy. What fantastic timing my post on a Tudor country house was! xxx

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  42. What an amazing house and history, I really look forward to seeing more houses that you visit! Also you look great in your red and black outfit!

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    1. Thanks, Trees! I'm making the most of my membership card while the vintage fair season takes a break! xxx

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  43. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  44. Such a beautiful place! I would love to live there (I will work off my rent to live there actually!). Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I wouldn't mind living there either, maybe we could share? xxx

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Love from Vix
xxx