Cotehele Garland

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The Tamar Valley can be a grey and dank place between November and January. Outings tend to need the right sort of clothes and a brew. A trip, at this time of year, to the medieval Manor House, Cotehele, provides numerous muddy walks along rivers or in the countryside and plenty of chances for a brew. It also alleviates the dankness with a fabulous flashback to the fecundity of Summer.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele

The tradition of the garland goes back to the 1950’s. It celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2016. Because it appears in November and carries on beyond the new year. Many first time visitors are surprised by its colour scheme. It doesn’t shout Christmas with rich jewel colours  or bold glossy green foliage, instead it is a joyous celebration of summer colours. Everything in the garland is grown, dried and stored on the estate.

 

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My eye is always caught by the bright pink abstract wiggles of Limonium suworowii or Pink pokers. Tethered, as they undoubtedly are, in the garland, they look like horticultural escape artists waiting to break free.
The garland is the responsibility of the head gardener. Each garland takes 12 days to assemble but it has taken a full gardening year to grow the plants from seed and then harvest them to be hung and dried ready for the November assembly. Depending on the quality of the summer weather, between 23,000 and 35,000 flowers are produced. Volunteers spend 70 hours a week caring for, then cutting and stripping the flowers ready to be dried. Picking starts in April, once ready, they are bunched and hung to dry until November.

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Each garland differs slightly depending on the growing success, or not, of the various flowers that traditionally form the garland. Some years a theme is adopted that has a particular significance, for example, last year was the centenerary of the end of World War 1.
The green base of the garland is the product from fifty Pittosporum or Cheesewood trees, an evergreen shrub with small, shiny, leathery leaves. Ninety feet of rope forms the beginning of the swag, bunches of Pittosporum are then tied to the rope until it is covered.
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Photo credit . The National Trust. Cotehele

The swag is then ready to become a garland.
Scaffolding is erected indoors and the swag is hung in the Great Hall, gardeners clamber up to create the lofty design, the beauty of a years harvest of flowers and hard work are pushed into the greenery one colour at a time to ensure an even distribution.

sdr_vivid The Garland attracts 32,000 visitors to the estate. For some it is an annual visit, to rekindle the memories of past visits, for others, it is a unique experience, never to be repeated but wonderful never the less. The volunteer guides at Cotehele are a huge asset. This pondering was all gleaned from talking to a volunteer for less than ten minutes, I don’t think she missed a single thing.

Plymouth Bloggers- an evening out

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Being a Thursday child I’ve been about a bit. However for nearly thirty years Plymouth has been my nearest City and the area that I return to even after long sojourns. My relationship with the city is mixed, initially I was a little ashamed to say I came from Plymouth. My reasons were complex then but I’ve grown to love the city and really want the best for it. Aditya Chakrabortty wrote a brilliant piece in The Guardian, recently,that reflects where the city is at right now.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/11/post-industrial-plymouth-business-social-enterprise?CMP=share_btn_link

A group of Bloggers were invited to the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth to meet with some of the people and organisations who are keen to promote Plymouth and its increasingly vibrant cultural and creative life.

If anyone is in any doubt that Plymouth is on the up then curiously the Crowne Plaza is a good place to start.

Big organisations are wise when investing large chunks of money, they do their research. Crowne Plaza has invested 5 million pounds in reimagining the old Holiday Inn. It is a remarkable transformation. 30 years ago my very first night in Plymouth was spent there, the only thing that lifted my heart at the time was the view from the room hosting the breakfast buffet. That same room is now the latest iteration of the Marco Pierre White group of restaurants. Beautiful, louche, photographs of the eponymous chef fill the entrance.

Once inside the place is so stylish and glossy with those amazing views it’s hard to think that you are in Plymouth rather than a world renowned iconic city. (Iconic City is of course exactly what Plymouth wants to be) Anyway I digress. My point is that Crowne Plaza have invested in their Plymouth Hotel because they believe that Plymouth is going to become pretty amazing.

The Bloggers event was held in one of the meeting rooms. In common with the whole interior of the Hotel the room had some pretty interesting artwork. Inky Blue is the signature colour of this hotel.

Usually when Plymouth Bloggers meet we eat and talk, last night there was talking to be followed by cocktails and canapés. Luckily the quality of the talking took our minds off this unusual turn of events. Sally from Onshore Media introduced us to the movers and shakers of the Plymouth P R machine. I imagine there is no such thing as an effective, yet lack lustre PR, I was impressed that Plymouth has such engaging and dynamic representatives , vividly explaining where this, somewhat overlooked, Port goes next.The point of this initial meeting was to explore where blogging and PR merge and how they can be mutually supportive. I find this whole thing really interesting, finding things in Plymouth that fit naturally into the general theme of my blog will be fascinating.

www.visitplymouth.co.uk

www.crowneplaza.com/plymouthuk

www.mpwrestaurants.co.uk

https:madeinplymouth.org/

www.weareonshore.com

Cocktails and canapés, beautiful views of a great city, nothing more needs to be said.

Thanks to Lauren Rogers from Crowne Plaza for hosting, the bar has been raised for future meetings.

theoldmortuary- in the press

Three years ago, when we were knee deep in rubble and dust, we contacted Cornwall Today to see if they were interested in the story of turning an old mortuary into a home. Kirstie Newton, the editor, put us in touch with Jackie Butler one of the magazine writers. We met with her in 2016 before moving back to the cottage. Jackie’s article along with photography by Tom Last and Stephanie Yates has been published this month in Cornwall Today. IMG_0523Jackie has written a great article out of a lovely afternoon natter about our two year redevelopment of the old cottage and the adjoining mortuary. What is only touched on briefly,  but is the absolute core of this build, is the amazing quality of work of the tradesmen we used. Both creative people,  we knew how we wanted the cottage to look but not how it could be achieved.IMG_0524Jason and Dave, Wayne, Pete and Justin listened to our ideas, many of them mad, and used their skill to achieve what we wanted where possible and found great alternatives when things weren’t possible. We had concrete wall desires that would have cost us a fortune if we’d used the same techniques as Tate Modern. Together we worked out how to get the same finish at a fraction of the cost. IMG_0526Wayne was tasked with painting the main room of the house in a dark granite grey.   ( Farrow and Ball Railings) . I think he had doubts but then came up with the brainwave of painting the banisters white with a black handrail. It looks epic.IMG_0525Pete put up our eclectic taste in light fittings including the legendary neon and Justin had the unenviable task of putting up tiles in a herringbone pattern. All these lovely men came to us via              http://www.superfit.uk.com/IMG_0527

They did a brilliant job.

 

Its lovely to see their hard work and our ideas in a magazine, thanks to Cornwall Today for taking an interest in our project.

It’s another Nate Berkus kind of day.

IMG_1471It wasn’t meant to be an interior sort of day. Today was about painting outside walls, I attempted to paint some walls but the Cornish summer weather got the better of me and as fast as I put the paint on, it was diluted with heavy rain showers and rinsed off the wall.

Time to tackle the spare room and create a feature wall. Today’s problem is barometers . We have two! Something that is no longer needed now every smart phone or tablet has a weather App. But back in the day they were considered a fitting retirement gift from employer to worker.  Ours represent a fathers and grandfathers employers gratitude for years of loyal service. It felt too disrespectful to send these two bits of history to the charity shop.  I had boxes of framed photographs to sort through and a rusty round mirror that I thought could make an interesting addition to the wall. I picked though the photographs and selected the ones that seemed to match the dark wood of the bed and the barometers . Once that was done I measured out the wall space and marked the same area on the floor. Then it was just time to play around with positions and weed out the pictures or frames that didn’t work in the hanging plan. Once I was happy I started putting nails in the wall in the right position for my chosen pattern, after hanging the barometers and mirror I started putting the photographs into their positions. I only needed to switch a couple of frames that didn’t quite work as well on the actual wall. I’m pretty pleased with this , it has been a good use of a rainy day.

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theoldmortuary- real life interior design.

IMG_1468Nate Berkus a US interior designer has many of the same philosophies that we are adopting at theoldmortuary. As we have mentioned before we are sadly depleted of relations the generation above us. We have a pretty large archive of ‘stuff’  from deceased relatives , it needs to be curated or we would be accused of being hoarders and that has never been a stylish look.

Tea sets are a tricksy one , reasonably unfashionable for day to day living .We must have had five sets that were nostalgic to the point of being impossible to send to the charity shop. We’ve found a compromise.

This one , a simple classic that suits our style lives on the Cornish Range in our Kitchen.IMG_1467Denby Manor Green Stoneware was produced from the 1940’s until the 70’s,our collection holds pieces from every decade and has been inherited or gifted from family and friends. I can’t say we use it often but it looks good on the range and is really comforting to use , especially in winter. The bowl shape of the cups is perfect to hold between chilly hands and the plates have a bit of a lip that is great for retaining the melted butter that oozes from hot crumpets.

We have a few bone China plates that we have kept from a variety of manufacturers and sources that spark interest when Cake is required , the quality of the pieces spans Woolworths to Crown Derby. We’ve also kept 4 bone China cups and saucers that we serve deserts in. Beyond that the bone china has gone to charity shops, it takes up too much storage space and flies of shelves if you brush past it. You don’t need an eight person setting to prompt a memory when a single plate will do.

 

My Place-Brixton East

 

IMG_2874Brixton East is a fabulous multi-use creative space. Currently South London Women Artists are curating their latest exhibition there.

The Private View is tonight, 7th July between 6pm and 9pm. Rye Poets with Pia Goddard will be performing.

Creative Port- talking to Pia Goddard

South London Women Artists always put on thought provoking, stimulating shows. I’m sure My Place will be of their usual high standard . theoldmortuary delivered a piece to be exhibited yesterday and got glimpses of greatness through swathes of bubble wrap . An exhibition blog will be written after the big reveal.

So if great art and great poetry can’t persuade you to get along to Brixton East this evening, or during the next week. Maybe the promise of a great industrial architectural gem of a place might persuade you . My Place is THE exhibition to visit in Brixton right now.

 

http://www.brixtoneast1871.co.uk/

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Brixton East is a short walk , 5-10 mins from the centre of Brixton .

The Dog ( Crown and Greyhound)

IMG_0459Ten years ago when we left Cornwall , Dulwich Village became our London home. Serendipity took us here and we have stayed within a couple of miles and have home and family here now. For the last couple of years the local pub has been closed for refurbishment and the addition of hotel rooms. The Crown and Greyhound is named after an amalgamation of two former Dulwich pubs and was built in 1900. Known locally as The Dog it has been greatly missed during its closure. Much has been written about the charm of London pubs, and as the grandchild of publicans I am particularly charmed. I have a love of pub aesthetics and the smell of them that I can’t really put into words. I’m all about the place rather than the drinking .

As an aside, in my mind, the bar mentioned in ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran is exactly the ‘shape’ of The Crown and Greyhound in Dulwich Village.

Trepidation was, I suppose, the feeling I felt on walking in to The Crown and Greyhound on my first visit in June as it re-opened.

The refurbishment of the Crown and Greyhound is a triumph. All my favourite corners and spaces seem unchanged and the parts that were formerly a little awkward have been reworked into great spaces that look every bit as genuine as the original. A new bar and bar-b-que area in the garden is a great addition

I didn’t stray into the hotel area on my first visit. We had lunch, the food was fabulous as it has always been. Despite being very busy it was served promptly by very attentive staff.

On a lovely Saturday lunchtime the pub was heaving with people having a great time.

In common with many pubs in this area the Crown and Greyhound suffers, a little, from irresponsible families imagining that the pub is an informal play school and buggy park with a bar. Just a few feral children can be a big pain in the arse , ruining everyone’s enjoyment . Especially the families who have busy happy children who are a pleasure to share the space with. I’m sure this is a tricksy problem to resolve.

http://www.thecrownandgreyhound.co.uk/

Congratulations to the team at the Crown and Greyhound for a job well done.

 

 

 

Real Interior Design

IMG_0696We devour Interior Design magazines and Pinterest is a regular time waster. How often do you see loo rolls featured? We’ve repurposed an old French hatstand, from TK Maxx to hold loo rolls and really without them in position it would still be an old hat stand. The Crystal Palace poster came from Brixton Village. Hand blown glass bottles from Kokkino Chorio, Crete and the Vanishing Cream from Shanghai.

Real Interior Design is about curating our possessions into colour themes and reusing things into contemporary life. We have far more use for loo rolls than hats!

 

Daylesford Day Out

IMG_0582Yesterday the stylehounds of theoldmortuary. design went to the new extension at Daylesford Organics in Moreton- on-the-marsh. For me and the hounds it was a first although I regularly visited the Marylebone branch. However whilst working in Cheltenham and living in Gloucestershire Hannah had hunted down the rural base in search of coffee and decided we should all visit. IMG_0572.JPGWhat a feast for the eyes. Daylesford Farm Shop takes pretty to a whole new level. There was texture and colour, perfume and chatter. We came away inspired and happy.