Thursday, 10 June 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 9th & 10th June, 2021



On Wednesday morning, after a wander around the garden, I did my Wii Fit workout, caught up with Blogland and found a note from Severn Trent in the postbox letting us know that the water was now safe to use as well as a 2021 Euros wallchart Gill had kindly sent me. Thanks, Gill! I'm all set for kick-off on Friday, now!


After breakfast, we got stuck into some outside tasks. I'd challenged myself to make a planter to sit on top of the gate post at the front of the house and had a rummage through the woodpile for something suitable.


After sawing, hammering and a couple of coats of Silver Birch wood treatment (to match the fence posts), I lined my planter with an empty compost sack rescued from the bin with a few holes cut for drainage and staple-gunned it into place. 



I've planted it with a Black Velvet nasturtium grown from seed which, I hope, will tumble down the wall in a few weeks time and, of course, one of my beloved geraniums. I did joke to Jon that I should stencil our address on the front to stop it from being nicked but who am I kidding? I'd be flattered if anyone wanted it that badly. 


Other than a break for noodles it was a day of pottering about, Jon did some work on Gilbert, shifted the festoon lights and dug up another couple of ash saplings growing in the borders whilst I trimmed back the Virginia Creeper in danger of engulfing the Wall of Mirrors, scattered horticultural grit over my herb bed and then sat in the sunshine doing some mending. 






Remember these gargantuan bulbs Jon ordered from the Netherlands a couple of months ago? They're starting to sprout!



We rescued this Bear's Breeches from behind the shed last year where it has stubbornly lived for years, our efforts have paid off, it's about the flower.


The nasturtiums grown from last year's plant are going crazy as are the ferns we moved to beside the pond and the hostas I grew from bulbs. In my previous woodwork project, the plant theatre is still standing. Don't laugh. I'm a grammar school girl, my education was strictly academic. I can translate Virgil's Aeneid from the original Latin, distinguish between an Ionic, Doric and Corinthian column and recite Pythagoras's Theorum backwards but my practical skills are entirely self-taught.


After tea, we spent a rum-fuelled evening watching The Antiques Road Trip & The Great British Sewing Bee.

On Thursday morning I was watering my pot plants at 6am as it was already warm. After my Wii Fit workout and breakfast, I potted up the trees dug up from the borders whilst Jon made sandwiches for our National Trust adventure. The workers started filling the holes they'd dug to access the water mains so, once again, we weren't able to go out in Gilbert but no matter, we were excited about visiting a property we'd not been to before especially as it was in our favourite part of the UK, The glorious Cotswolds.


In 1604, Walter Jones, a wealthy wool merchant from Wales, bought the Chastelton Estate from Robert Catesby, one of the notorious men behind the Gunpowder Plot. The original house was demolished and the manor that stands today was built between 1607 and 1612. 


Nestled in an unspoilt Oxfordshire valley, the slow creep of time has given this cherished family home an informal and timeless atmosphere. Today, amongst the tapestry and topiary, you will find peeling paintwork and rambling ivy as we bring to you a home carefully preserved as it was found, not as it once was.... (National Trust pamphlet)


Over the 400 years that the family owned Chastleton they became increasingly impoverished, successive generations inherited the house and were unable to afford renovations making the house a perfectly preserved time capsule. A rare and perfect Jacobean mansion. The volunteers told us that if Walter walked through the doors today he'd find the house virtually untouched.














The final family member to reside in the house was the artist Barbara Clutton-Brock who lived as a widow in Chastleton for 15 years along with her 24 cats. She died in 1991 and the estate was bought by the National Heritage Memorial Fund who handed it over to the National Trust. By now the house was in a fragile state and it took six years of work before the Trust were able to open the doors to visitors. 



Fascinating fact. In 1866 the rules of croquet were codified at Chastleton by Walter Whitmore, one of Walter's ancestors.



The last time I wore this vintage Mexican dress was in Corfu in 2019. The ginormous straw hat (originally Accessorize) was £1 from the charity clearance shop.













Jon had just told me that I looked like a demented wizard in this hat, I couldn't stop laughing

We loved Chastleton House. I know we say this every time we visit a National Trust property but seriously, this is incredible. Go!


At 63 miles from our front door, a journey of just over 75 minutes, it was the furthest we'd driven in over 15 months. 


Chastleton only opens to visitors during the afternoons so it was almost tea time by the time we got home. We sat outside and made a list of gardening jobs for the weekend (another fine one if the weather forecast is true) and placated the cats who'd been home alone for hours.


See you soon! 

41 comments:

  1. We're off to Oxfordshire soon and I've been nosing about to see what I might fancy visiting whilst I'm there. This house is definitely being added into the mix before we make our final choice! Arilx

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    1. You would love Chastleton and the make do and mend ethos the original family introduced and the National Trust stayed true to.
      I love The Cotswolds! xxx

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  2. Haha, how naughty (and funny) of Jon to call you a demented wizard!!! I think you look beautiful in your blue Mexican dress. I am super impressed with your Latin skills. I could do with some of those at the moment (having to learn endless lists of latin plant names for my next RHS exam :0 ). Nifty work on the planter and I enjoyed the Chastleton tour. Lulu x

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    1. Jon's terrible, he always says it as it is - not always helpful when there's a customer trying something on! I hated Latin at the time but it's so useful in adult life. I wish I could help you revise although I reckon we wouldn't get a lot of work done! xxx

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    2. If someone told me I looked like a demented wizard whilst trying on an outfit I would definitely buy it!!! You would be awesome helping me out with latin Vix, but yes, I suspect very little work would get done :) :) :) x

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  3. Oh, my gosh, I think this might be my favourite place you've been to, Vix! What a gorgeous garden, and I love that they've left it "as is".

    I love both of your dresses in this outfit - gorgeous colours! I also am craving that ginormous hat, despite your wizardly resemblance (hee). Your garden and side yard are just beautiful - I hope you have many fun hangouts there this summer!

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    1. Thanks, Sheila! I absolutely love The Cotswolds.That honey coloured stone is gorgeous and loved how everything was just left with repairs and stains visible for all to see, a proper home! xxx

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  4. Chaselton is a place we could visit when we go to stay with my sister in August. I’ll add to the list.
    While Philip repairs the skirting boards at the bottom of the caravan tomorrow, I’m going to take myself off to Levens Hall for my culture fix. I’m quite looking forward to a day out on my own, I haven’t done it for ages.
    Well done on the planter and the blue Mexican dress is a beauty xxx

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    1. It's such a lovely, informal place! We loved it, I know you will!
      That sounds like a fantastic plan for a day out, DIY for Philip, culture and beauty for you! xxx

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  5. I love going along on your National Trust adventures! Great outfits Vix and everything is coming along so beautifully in the garden! xxx

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  6. Such beautiful photos. I do like black flowers. Especially pansys . They look and feel like velvet.. Your garden is stunning. Worth every inch of work you’ve done. I do like the ivy up your wall of mirrors. How lovely to wander around at 6am. That was my favourite time..in the summer.if I lived in Britain my time would be spent half in my garden and half in National Trust houses. I’ve stayed in a castle in France years ago which was wonderful but we don’t have any ancient buildings in New Zealand. 10 days to the shortest day and then heading to summer. Can’t wait.please keep doing your diaries , I enjoy them so much. My mouse/rat man comes today to check the baits. No sign of any so am hoping there’s none in the house. Will keep up the baits over winter. đŸ„°

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    1. Thanks, sally! Isn't it grgeous? I do love The Cotswolds, so many beautiful villages and fantastic National Trust places to visit. We're lucky living in the middle of England and being close to everything!
      I love ancient history, I think that's why I'm so attracted to India and Greece, thousands & thousands of years of culture.
      I hope the traps have worked their magic. I think our field mice have moved onto pastures new, the lads are no longer staring at the rockery wall for hours! xxx

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  7. Are you far from Wales? And your garden looks lovely.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. We're around 80 miles from the Welsh border. We haven't been for a couple of years, we used to trade in Cardiff quite a lot. xxx

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  8. You have done a splendid job with that planter , it just needs something on the front. But you did good, I remember when we lived in the old house and dad came home with these hGV tyre planters they were his pride and joy. When they moved to snobsvill they were the first to go sad really.
    It’s funny as they are going mad as the estate is expanding at a rapid rate and they hate it, they are thinking of moving more rural as dad was brought up in the Japanese countryside as was mum and they don’t like it.
    That house was beautiful there is a a Japanese saying about old and abandoned houses , do not disturb them as you may disturb the spirits that lay within them and bad luck will come upon you. That is why so there is so many abdonded homes and buildings in japan.
    History lesson lol. Take care and keep safe love and huggs.

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    1. Thanks, Allie! Hopefully once the nasturtiums get going the plain front won't be visible - I was tempted to do some spray paint grafitti a la Banksy but some thieving toe rag might have nicked it!
      Our neighbours consider us bohemians, they are always complimentayry about what we do even though the older ones don't really get it - they'll all stripes in the lawn and jetwashing the car every Sunday!
      I wonder if there's a similar superstition in India especially in Goa where the villages are littered with grand Portuguese colonial homes - I'd love to break in and squat! xxx

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  9. What a beautiful estate. I love the idea of the artist Barbara Clutton-Brock rattling around there with her 24 cats!
    Your garden is looking fabulous as always. I'm in a constant battle with hares and rabbits and deer who seem to be nibbling everything!
    xx

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    1. She sounds like quite a character. If I had that much space I reckon my cat collecting might get a bit out of hand, too! xxx

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  10. those rugs at Chastleton got my attention and that fabulous ornate chest on legs... 24 cats is a virtual cat sanctuary. That dress is 'your colour', turquoise, it looks very pretty. Planter is smart and when the nasturtiums tumble will be perfect for that spot. We are just wading thru episodes of the Killing after you mentioned it - I get most of my tv viewing via you! it's a good one.

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    1. I was swooning over the rugs - and amazed they survived 24 cats! I was surprised one of the hard-up ancestors who lived in the house hadn't been tempted to sell that ornate chest although I'm glad they didn't!
      The Killing is excellent, isn't it? Sarah Lund is my new hero! xxx

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  11. that estate is indeed fascinating and beautiful - house and gardens. love the stone colour, the age long untouched interior and the natural but cared for gardens...... i guess it was hard to get the cat smell out of the walls.....
    and you look very glamorous in this hat and dress! but the one with the huge bright pattern is my fav today!
    well done with the planter!
    xxxxx

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    1. I adore the honey-coloured stone they use in The Cotswolds. It's such an incredible part of the world - no wonder all the rock stars and supermodels move there (I wish I could afford to!) xxx

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  12. Hi there Vix! there you go again more jaw dropping beautiful shots of you ! That beautiful blue dress that beautiful huge hat (my new favourite outfit) ha ha I love the planter you made nasturtiams trailing down will be lovely. Mine are going well. I thought the shot of the birdcage in the window would not look out of place in your lovely home. Just come across from Sheila's home tour ( I am behind "visiting") I love interiors but what I love about you dear ladies is your creativity and imagination. Chastleton looks beautiful and no wonder you were inspired. Enjoy the week end and have a beer for me Shazxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Shaz! You are kind!
      That windowsill with the birdcage and cracked pots made me gasp in delight, it's exactly what I'd have if we had decent sized windowsills - in fact I've even got a big old birdcage like that one but we use it as a lampshade!
      Wasn't it lovely to have a nose round Sheila's place? I adore interiors thatreflect the personalities of the owners! Hope your weekend was as sunny and fab as ours!xxx

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  13. Well done on making your own planter. It will look gorgeous with Nasturtiums tumbling from it.
    I actually gasped when I saw you visited Chastleton House. One of my favourite NT places ever. We visited when we were in Oxfordshire in 2016 (eek, that's 15 years ago!), and were absolutely bowled over. I remember it was a gorgeously warm and sunny day, and we were there almost an hour before it opened, as we'd been told visitor numbers were limited.
    I'm loving both of your dresses, and that ginormous sun hat is absolutely amazing! xxx

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    1. Thanks, Ann! Anything looks good with nasturiums tumbling over it - I hope!
      I hadn't heard of Chastleton House until I was leafing through the NT guidebook the other day - it's really confusing as a lot of the houses in the Oxfordshire & Derbyshire chapters are closer to us than the West Midlands ones! We loved it and can't wait to go back when more of the rooms are open to the public! xxx

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  14. I think the photo of you laughing in your big black hat is beautiful, it's the loveliest photo I've seen of you, a beautiful smile.
    I don't watch football, that feels like a confession, I know it's the national pastime!
    I need to put Chastleton on my list, it looks wonderful. xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Sally!
      I've always loved the huge international football tournaments although I can take or leave league football.
      Chastleton is exceptionally lovely, I gasped in amazement when I laid eyes on it. xxx

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  15. Now that I had a chance to power up the computer and not just read from myphone, I thought "where will Vix take us today?" You did not disappoint. That home in the Cotswolds i a treasure. I am in great need of an adventure!

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    1. You ought to put The Cotswolds on your must visit list when you're able to travel and visit England again, I can't think of a more beautiful part of our country - and it's packed with National Trust properties & antique shops, too! xxx

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  16. Your tourquise Mexican vintage dress is a dream! I love the hat you accessorized with. Great styling. The house you visited does look wonderfully preserved. It's a bit sad that the home was left with nobody to inherit it but it's great that the National Treasure foundation took over and made it accessible to public. Imagine if someone bought it and didn't preserve it? That would have been such a waste. One can definitely feel history in this house. Thank you for taking us along.

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    1. Thanks, Ivana! I've been waiting for a breeze-free day to wear that hat, the brim is so big I had visions of a strong gust of wind getting behind me and carrying me and my hat away over the rooftops! xxx

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  17. Chastleton looks lovely and it's so rare to find a house almost left as it originally was. It was sad to think of the generations living in a decaying house and unable to do anything about it but that's the reality for many; both then and now! I can add this one to my list, too, we're not that far from Oxfordshire.

    I thought the picture of you in the wonderful Mexican dress and hat was a painting - it looked as if you were one of the ancestors....loved that colourful first dress, too.

    Well done on your home made planter; it looks great and will look brilliant with a trailing plant growing out of it. Hope no one nicks it. I've had both milk and bread stolen from the doorstep this week and am having to think of a way round it...
    xxx

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    1. It is sad to think of the last inhabitant rattling around in that beautiful house and unable to afford to heat it but fantastic for us that Chastleton is unrestored and full of the original furniture and art. Well worth a drive up to The Cotswolds.
      I'm still amazed that nobody's nicked the turf yet! xxx

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  18. Methinks "demented wizard" would be a desirable style option IF it always yielded a dress and hat such as that! Just the thing to wear to an enchanted site such as Chastleton House (perhaps with a grand plume, perfumed gauntlets and fine leather slippers).

    Viewing that charming parlor, I though: "It lacks cats...". And then I read the last owner harbored 2 dozen felines. Once one has possession of a Jacobean manor, one can never have too many books or too many cats.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! Apparnetly the attic at Chastleton is bursting with treasures, the volunteers venture up there once a year and swap over some of the things already on display. I'd love a rummage up there! xxx

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  19. I wonder if the house smelled like 24 cats had lived there when it was taken over by the National Trust. I suppose there was enough space in the house and on the grounds that it didn't seem like so many. Great photo of the bee in the hot pink flower! Those mexican wedding dresses go for quite a bit of money on Etsy - the colour of yours is beautiful.

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    1. I think the National Trust had trouble getting the rugs fit for the public but think I'd have loved anyone who shared their home with 24 cats despite the smell!
      I can't beleive how much these dresses (or my block printed) ones are going for at the moment, my wardrobe must be worth thousands - vintage fashion goes in cycles, a few years ago everyone wanted 1940s Utility or 1950s focks and you can't give them away now! xxx

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  20. No wonder that you loved this House, it looks magnificent, and particularly appealing due to its decadent atmosphere!. And these are gorgeous gardens too!. Love the photos of you in your turquoise dress and fabulous 'demented wizzard' straw hat. I need one like this one now!. Looking like a painting in the fab garden!
    besos

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    1. It's such a gorgeous place, I could easily have lived there! xxx

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Lots of love, Vix