Wednesday, 16 June 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 15th & 16th June, 2021

I got up on Tuesday morning to find an email from a friend with the devastating news that her beloved husband had lost his life in a terrible accident three weeks ago. They made a wonderful couple, led a life full of love, laughter & adventure. Anyone who met them could see that they were soulmates and for him to be snatched away is just so cruel. My heart breaks for her. If ever there was a reminder to appreciate our every moment and live life to its fullest then this is it. 

I was able to check into my Wii Fit for my weight and a balance check but the exercise option is well and truly kaput. Instead, I caught up with Blogland, did a load of washing which I pegged on the line before exploring the garden. When Jon was up we had breakfast, made sandwiches and headed off to this week's grand National Trust day out.



Our destination was Canons Ashby in the county of Northampton, neither of which I'd visited before although Jon had been to Corby a couple of times when he worked for a living. (A journey of around an hour and twenty minutes).




Canons Ashby was home to the Dryden family for 400 years and their ancestors still retain a grace and favour apartment within the estate. The house started life as a Tudor manor house but underwent many alterations over the years, none more so than during the residency of William Dryden, a wealthy self-proclaimed bachelor who spent part of his fortune transforming the house into a fashionable Georgian weekend party house for impressing his London friends.






After falling into wilderness during the 20th Century the National Trust spent almost a decade restoring the garden back to the original design of 1710 with descending terraces, gravel paths, sculpted topiary and vistas that showcased Edward's love of symmetry and formal elegance.












The house and collections are presented to echo the time of Sir Henry Dryden, the Antiquary, who lived at Canons Ashby from 1837 to 1899.




I loved this painting of Henry and his wife, Fanny, taking tea in the hallway of the house in the late 19th Century. Look at all those lovely houseplants!
 

We spent the afternoon in the garden, basking on a rug and taking full advantage of the glorious sunshine and getting stuck into this fantastic book (I bet the film's good).


 After watering the garden we had salad for tea and watched Hungary vs Portugal and then Germany vs France. Remember Jon having to go to the dentist at the beginning of lockdown last year to get his crown glued back on? It fell off again!


On Wednesday morning I checked into my Wii Fit, wandered around the garden and washed the bathroom rugs. After breakfast, I cleaned the bathroom and Jon called the dentist managing to get an emergency dentist appointment for the following day. We were expecting a delivery from the local builders' merchants but when Jon called to check on the time he was told it would be after lunch so we went up to the garden centre for a couple of bags of compost. They were out of stock but we snaffled a few plants from their bargain shelf so didn't leave empty-handed.


Remember that overly big, sloppy, off-the-shoulder top I wore a few weeks ago with my 1950s wraparound (HERE)? I donated it back to the charity shop, replacing it with an unworn crisp cotton one by Topshop which I won for £2.50 from eBay (I love the triangle cut-out at the back). The skirt is vintage Phool and the 1970s French-made sunglasses were from a vintage fair six years ago. I'm taking a trip back to the 1980s with my banana clip! I think these copal beads are one of my most favourite charity shop finds ever. 


Back at home, we stripped off and got stuck into another woodworking project taking a break for noodles. Listening to Russia Vs Finland on 5Live we cracked on, making another planter from an old skirting board which we planted out with our bargain £1.99 tray of blue plants (Verbena, Lobelia and Petunia) - I love how they look with the original Victorian poison green paint.


Izzy arrived bearing parcels. Jon's monthly sweet treat (Stephen's keeping his eye on them), an Anokhi double bedcover and cushion covers won for a song on eBay and a parcel from my lovely friend, Kezzie. I've often admired her in this vintage blue St Michael prairie dress and she suggested we did a swap as she'd taken a liking to one of my recent chazza shop finds. In the parcel she included a few things for the Kinky rails, a crisp cotton midi dress, some funky vintage ties, a nautical top and a 1970s dagger collar shirt and some Nigella seeds (not pictured) foraged from her garden. Isn't she a star?


Our delivery arrived, ten sleepers for a project. It nearly killed Jon lugging them into the garden in 26°C heat but leave anything lying around and it'll be nicked in no time! He rewarded himself with a beer (and I joined him).


We planted our Yukka when we moved into Stonecroft back in 2005 and for the last two years, it's delighted us b flowering. The heady scent is intoxicating, not just to us but to all the pollinators and butterflies that visit the garden. Jon filmed a painted lady getting high!


Here she is again, enjoying feasting on a scabious.


Tea was a salad whilst watching the Wales match with our hearts in our mouths. Well done, boys! I'm off to water the garden, then it's the first half of Italy Vs Switzerland, rum & cola and the grand finale of The Great British Sewing Bee. Raph to win!

See you soon!

46 comments:

  1. The Good Liar is an excellent movie - L and I just watched it a week ago!

    What a lovely trip to that estate! Sigh...I'm looking forward to checking out some more parks and places this summer with my mom, so hope to be able to share some of our adventures with you, to return the favour of all these wonderful tours you've been on! And don't you look like the Lady of the Manor? Love that pretty dress! Can't beat the heat better than in a cotton dress, right?

    That is wonderful of Kezzie to send you a goody package! I love seeing the elusive Stephen overseeing Jon's package of sweets.

    Lastly, I am SO sorry to hear of your friend's husband's passing, Vix. I do know how devastating an unexpected death can be - we'll be celebrating the 1-year anniversary of losing our dear Karen next week on the Solstice. It truly does bring it home: life is so short! Appreciate every day, and every personal contact you have with your loved ones. Big virtual hugs to you, my dear.

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    1. That's good to know! I thought The Good Liar would be a winner when I saw the cast list. I shall try and hunt it down after the Euros.
      I'd love to see some of the parks and gardens in your part of the world, I know both you and your Mum will totally look the part when you visit them. That dress always gets lots of love when I wear it, I do feel very posh in it!
      I can't believe that the anniversary of Karen's passing is next week, it seems like only a few weeks ago and must still feel to raw to you, all her friends and to Nick. I can't imagine how my friend is managing to hold it together but I think her beautiful dog they rescued a few months ago is a comfort. xxx

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  2. I'm glad the parcel arrived safely! I'm always nervous sending things! Hope the things are useful! I was going to sell them but I just can't get motivated to do eBay and I think they've the best chance of reaching a happy home through you!
    Looks like Dryden's place was a great place to visit. You look very fitting in your dress!
    I'm glad the new Topshop top worked out. I've recently, in the last few months, found some really lovely versatile cotton tops (all but one from Tu at Sainsbury's) in the chazzers which I've been loving wearing with Sumner skirts.

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    1. I love everything! I can't wait to wear the dress but I'm being very good and saving it for the Autumn - it's a perfect fit. I hope your parcel reaches you soon and you like what;s in there. isn't getting stuff through the post fun?!!
      Funnily enough I often find really lovely cotton tops with the Tu label in chazzas, the quality seems really good. I was admiring one of the National Trust volunteers block printed tunic on Thursday, it was ancient George at Asda from a £1 charity shop! xxx

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  3. Thank you for such a lovely blog post Vix, I needed it after the news of our lovely friend. It has sat heavily in my heart all day.
    The photo of you and Jon in your masks is so glamorous. You look like you’ve stepped out of a film. Hmm ! The Serpent, thinking. Xxx

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    1. I felt awful being the bearer of such dreadful news. I still can't believe something like that can happen to someone so lovely and so full of life.
      What a compliment, The Serpent definitely wins the award for most stylish TV drama since Peaky blinders. I think we need to watch it again! xxx

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  4. I will add the Good Liar to both book and movie list. How clever are you and Kezzie swapping? Love maximizing each others assets. I'm truly sorry for your friend, and for you. Makes me shame myself for whining about inconsequential things and not just enjoying life with others.

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    1. The book is excellent, I don't want it to end. I shall definitely track the film down once all the football is over!
      I'd never call you a whinger, Sam. You always look on the bright side of life, that's why I like you. xxx

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  5. I am so sorry to hear about your friend's husband. We sure do have to live life to it's fullest while we can, we never know what the next day may bring. What another beautiful National Trust adventure and and always you look beautiful and like you belong there full time. How nice of your friend Kezzie to send you the goodies. Enjoy your evening Vix. xxx

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    1. So right, Martha, no waiting, no saving things for best, just live! xxx

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  6. Very sorry about your friends husband, Vix, it is so true that we have to really appreciate what we have and the pandemic has really made us think about this more. I was chatting today to a customer who has motor biked all over Asia on epic tours with biker friends (Thailand, Philippines, Burma, Vietnam) and has so many plans all his friends that went with him have died (in their 60s some from covid) - isnt that awful - needless to say the conversation was about how to make the most of life before it's gone... you have packed so much into the last few days! the day out looked worth the journey and your latest EBay shopping is a winner :) Betty

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    1. How sad about your customer's friends, so many adventures and so many more to have and struck down by this awful virus. I hope he still continues with his plans.
      I was excited to spot that bedding set on ebay, I'm always drolling over the homewares in Anokhi! xxx

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  7. My gosh your country house tour looks like a wonderful summer jaunt. I love John and the sheep and you looking all glam in your hat and gorgeous gown.

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    1. Jon and those sheep make a good team, don't they? xxx

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  8. Good morning dear Vix, firstly a big fat virtual hug and thinking of you and the loss of your friend. Our loss yesterday was little Amy. She got ran over. So sad but such a sweet little creature to have entered our lives for too short a time. I feel so sad Dave took over a bit but onto brighter things - you look stunning in the white dress and I too love that painting. You are such a great ambassador for the NT. My new hostas are doing well but those are monsters lovely. Being curious now what are Jon's sweet treat? and I reckon he deserved a beer after lugging the sleepers. Hmm you have reminded me I wanted to see the film the Good Liar. It is so humid here at the minute wafting in the kaftan weather. Anyway Vix enjoy the football (and lets raise a glass tonight to life). Shazxx ps I just scored some stuff to zush up the bedroom off ebay too.

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    1. Oh Shaz, I'm so very sorry to hear about little Amy, you must all be devastated. What a wonderful life you gave her, I'm sending you (and Dave) loads of love and virtual hugs. i know hoe hard it is to lose a precious pet.
      I love hostas and was really impressed with the size of those beauties. I'm glad yours are doing well and have escaped the evil slugs.
      I shall watch The Good Liar after the Euros have finished, the book is fantastic and i can just see Helen Mirren playing Betty.
      I hope that heat come back soon. I'm wearing the mohair cardi I got from the cahrity shop on Sunday over my lucky bikini - what a sight! xxx

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  9. Well I never knew Yucca flowers were fragrant. Now I can definitely have one in the garden as I adore the exotic look of them. That stunning dress you wore on your day out makes you look very 'film star' esque. x

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    1. Thanks, Cherie! The scent from the flowering yukka is absolutely incredible, I love how exotic it looks. xxx

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  10. So sorry to hear of the loss of your friend Vix. A sudden loss is always a reminder of lifes uncertainty and the need to live each day to the full.
    I always enjoy your National Trust visits and this one is no exception.You look a vision in your cream dress and picture hat. Enjoy your sunshine and garden time. xx

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    1. Thanks, Jill. You're so right, life really is short.
      Canons Ashby is a stones throw from the Cotswolds, a perfect place for you to visit when travel is allowed again, the whole area is littered with grand houses and incredible gardens. xxx

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  11. What a pretty picture you make, seated on the bench in a dress with lacy sleeves clearly designed for sitting on benches, being pretty. Life is real and life is earnest, and we must roll up our sleeves and get on with the grubby chores -- but life is also short and we're foolish to miss the grace notes on offer along the way. Let's hope the passers-by appreciate Jon's hard work in setting up your new street front garden and yours in adding the wild flowers.

    A dear friend entered home hospice care this week, having told his doctors he wanted to be in his own bed, covered in cats. Less than two months ago, he was making plans for the summer...it's some comfort to know that, like you and Jon, he and his wife have consistently made efforts to live as well as their circumstances have allowed. They have smelled the flowers and rescued bees and butterflies, and sat on park benches and listened to the trees.

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    1. Wonderful sentiments, Beth. I'm overwhelmed by the lovely comments we're getting from passers-by who say they walk past evry day and delight in the cahnges we're making. Not only are we enjoying a prettier front garden but we're meeting loads of new people, too.
      I'm so sorry to hear about your dear friend. I hope he gets some comfort from thinking of the quality time he and his wife (and cats) were able to spend together.xxx

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  12. Such beautiful pictures, Vix! And my deepest sympathy to your friend who lost her husband in such tragic circumstances. Yes, we never know from day-to-day what's going to happen... and that's probably a very good thing or we'd die from fright. Go Hungary... the land of my heritage!! :) ~Andrea xoxoxoxo

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    1. Thanks so much, Andrea. I think you're right, we have to just live and not think too deeply about stuff, who knows what awaits us on the next corner?
      I shall cheer Hungary on tomorrow afternoon! I've never met a Hungarian I didn't like. xxx

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  13. i´m very sorry to hear what has happend to your friends man! and yes - it´s a reminder to enjoy every day that we are together and healthy.
    again you found a beautiful spot to spend a day out - love the house and gardens the the sheep of cause.
    kezzie is super sweet to send extras with the swapped dress.... and the anokhi bed- and cushion covers look very pretty. love the pic of stephen guardening his dads sweets :-)
    is´t it lovely to have butterflies and other honey loving insects flocking to the garden? until you step barefeet on a bee in your flower dotted lawn - as i just did - ouch.
    xxxxx

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    1. Thanks, Beate. Yes, it really is a reminder of how fragile life can be, we should never waste a moment.
      Canons Ashby was another of those houses that just felt so cosy and homely, a bit frayed around the edges but all the better for it.
      Ouch! I hope your poor foot is okay. I love seeing all the butterflies and bees flocking to the blooms, I can watch them for hours. xxx

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    2. the foot is better then the poor bee! she´s dead - the foot only itches....

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  14. What devastating news about your friend's husband and indeed a reminder to enjoy life to the full.
    I'd never heard of Canons Ashby, but then again we never visited that area. What a gorgeous place. I'm loving the slightly wild garden and the photos you took of the interior details are delightful. I'm loving the Erigeron growing in the cracks of those steps. This is exactly how I fell in love with the plants, which I finally managed to find and plant in Dove Cottage's garden last year.
    I'm loving the vintage Phool skirt worn with the crisp white blouse, and I can't wait to see you in that dress Kezzie sent you.
    Lovely footage of the painted lady getting high on those Yukka flowers, and your latest woodworking project is another triumph! xxx

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    1. I still can't believe its happened, a complete and utter shock that he's left us.
      I'd never been to Northampton before and the two villages we drove through were absolutely gorgeous, it's only a few miles from Banbury so all honeyed Cotswold stone and cobbled courtyards. I loved the daisies growing in the steps, I get so much inspiration from National Trust gardens.
      I much prefer that white blouse to the last one and was tempted to wear Kezzie's dress yesterday but I think I shall save it until the Autumn. xxx

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  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your friends husband, what awful news.
    Canons Abbey looks lovely. I noticed the photo of Mexican fleabane, one of my favourites. I planted some in our garden last year and its romping away.
    The colour of your new planter is great, it looks perfect on your steps planted up.
    Those sleepers look like an exciting project, heavy work though. xxx

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    1. It was eactly four years to the day that I'd woken Jon in tears over Grenfell Tower. Such a horrible thing to happen.
      I didn't know those daisies were called Mexican Fleabane, I was hoping there would be some on sale as I love the way they looked on the old steps. xxx

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  16. Canons Ashby looks great and just in the next county. When OH goes down to 3 days a week we'll be able to visit more NT places and this is certainly on the list. I loved your dress; were they lace panels or embroidered panels?

    Your copal beads are lovely and they go with everything. Great finds as always and how fab to have a friend to swap clothes with. Mine are either too tall or too skinny or both to swap with me...

    The railway sleeper project looks intriguing!
    xxx

    I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's husband. Something happens and your life is changed forever in an instant. That's why we must make the most of everyday we have.

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    1. I wondered if you'd been to Canons Ashby, it's really close to you. One of the volunteers said that Banbury is really close and the chazzas are really cheap and good, so well worth a drive.
      I love it when I can swap clothes with friends, I'm lucky that quite a few of mine are the same size as me!
      Such awful news about my friends husband. It really was a wake-up call that none of us know what's around the corner. xxx

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    2. PS Those are lace panels in the dress!

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  17. My heart goes out to your friend, losing her husband suddenly like that. We don't know how much time we have so we should make the best of it. You and Jon certainly don't let any grass grow under your feet - always on the move, that's you. I definitely prefer the crisp off the shoulder top with the cut-out back. You look like a film star in your blue tinted sunnies. Those giant beads were an excellent find.

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    1. We really do need to live in the here and now - no saving things for best or having bucket lists, seize the moment and live! xxx

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  18. I’m so sorry. Beautiful photos. Thank you so much for sharing

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  19. So sorry about your friend who lost her husband. We really never know what the future brings, we must hang onto our loved ones.

    This estate is wonderful and you look divine in that dress.

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    1. Thanks, Ivana. You are so right, It really is all about living in the here and now. xxx

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  20. A comforting thought for your friend .. let's stop and think as the days go by. I hope to give every day its value ... admire nature, breathe the scent of flowers ... Thanks for the photos you shared .. a wonderful garden and place! I like your photo with the lovely white dress .. A nice walk!
    Hugs, Carmela

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    1. Thanks, Carmela. We do need to make the most of every day, no plans, just seize the moment and enjoy while we can. xxx

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  21. Sorry to hear the sad news about your friend Vix xXx
    Oh yes, I can see myself having a cup of tea with Henry and Fanny in amongst the houseplants. You look wonderful as always floating around the grand estate. I'm loving these planters you are whipping up at the moment. That Kezzie's a good lass. Lulu x

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    1. Thanks, Lulu.
      I love how all thse grand houses have gerniums on the windowsills, my Dad always had them as houseplants, too! Kezzie's ace! xxx

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  22. Oh, I haven't seen one of those banana clips in years! I'm so sorry to read about your friend's husband. Xx

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  23. Lovely to see you in another National Trust beautiful garden, looking so fabulous!, I love these photos of you in the gardens!
    I'm catching up with your blog and enjoying your photos!, also taking notes on the books you're reading and commenting them to Mr.A.
    besos

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Lots of love, Vix