Monday, February 24, 2014

Constable at Petworth

In the summer of 1834 Constable visited Petworth House on two occasions.  The second time he stayed for two weeks and during these visits he sketched and painted many local scenes.  I don't claim to be any kind of expert when it comes to art (in fact I'm no expert at all!) but as the old adage goes 'I know what I like' and what I like are watercolours and this small, but perfectly formed, exhibition delivers.  Petworth is mainly known as the haunt of J.W.M.Turner and Lord Egremont was a generous patron to him and consequently Constable didn't get much of a look in.  There are forty paintings in all and show ordinary life and everyday landscapes in and around Petworth.  Two paintings jumped out at me, mainly because we'd visited these places in the last few days.  'Wicked Hammond's House' a study in pencil, which I instantly recognised as a pub we'd been to the previous night, now going by the name of The Grove Inn and a watercolour of the church at Tillington with it's rather crazy tower. We stayed in the village only a few days ago and had a room with a wonderful view of the church tower, as written about here.  Anyway, I love a good story behind a painting and this one caught my imagination.  Constable made this drawing on the 25th September 1834 and it's now in the collection of the V&A.  The exhibition catalogue  tells of how Constable  made the drawing while on a joint sketching excursion with Charles Robert Leslie, that Leslie records the excursion as follows: “I recollect spending a morning with him, he drawing the outside while I was sketching the interior, of a lonely farmhouse which was the more picturesque from its being in a neglected state, and which a  woman we found in it told us was called ‘wicked Hammond’s house’: a man of that name, strongly suspected of great crimes, having formerly been it’s occupant.  She told us that in an old well in the garden some bones had not long ago been found, which the ‘doctor said were the arm bones of a Christian‘. (Constable at Petworth; Loukes, A; 2014,  National Trust Catalogue).  A story like this really brings a painting to life I think.

{Wicked Hammond's House - Constable 1834}

{Tillington Church - Constable 1834)
'Constable at Petworth' runs until 14th March 2014 - advisable to book.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Horse Guard's Inn, Tillington, Sussex


It's been a full-on week as I've raced around the country; from London to Newcastle, to Northumberland, back to London and then to Sussex.  It would be fair to say I feel pretty tired and jaded by life at the moment so a night away in a cosy pub was just what the Dr ordered!  I first came across this little pub when we were staying nearby and we tried it out for Sunday lunch.  It was a hit on all fronts and when I saw they had three rooms above the bar, I filed it away for future use. 

The Horse Guard's Inn, perched precariously on the slope of the village hill, is old.  About 350 years old and it shows in every nook and cranny.  There are low, wonky beams; sloping floors and miniscule doorways.  There are open fires in each of the downstairs four rooms but it's usp has to be it's quirky vintage d├ęcor.  Everywhere you look are brocante finds that have been utilised and upcycled.  The bar dominates the main room and the other rooms are home to a myriad of old pine tables and mismatched chairs for diners.  There is only one small sofa and I guess if there's one thing that I think is missing at the Horse Guard's it's somewhere comfy to collapse after eating their delicious dinner!  Talking of dinner - all their food is sourced locally and they display their suppliers on a chalk board.  Their fabulous garden is also home to many of the vegtables and herbs that find their way to your plate.  Between us we had venison with purple sprouting broccoli and roast potatoes and a griddled pork chop with bubble and squeak and curly kale.  The venison was deliciously pink and gamey and the pork was perfectly cooked, succulent and 'piggy'!  We also sampled their homemade bread which literally was like manna from heaven - served with their organic olive oil and pomegranate molasses (I'm so going to steal that idea!) to dip it in.  By the time we got to puddings we were beaten!  But for those who can always fit in a dessert you could take your pick from a chocolate torte, a ginger parkin sponge with ginger wine sauce and ice-cream, local cheeses as well as a variety of homemade ice-creams and sorbets. 

We slept well in a cosy beamed room with a wonderful view of the village church opposite before partaking of a hearty English breakfast.  We had been hoping for a walk before we headed back to London, but the weather put a stop to that; we watched as the rain was blown horizontal by the fierce winds and decided that an hour by the fire was a much safer option - I even tried my hand at some knitting (left for customers to pass the time away in good old-fashioned style).  This is a fantastically relaxing place to unwind and let life's cares drift away.  The only regret is that the weather wasn't conducive to sitting outside and enjoying the country garden, but you know what that means?  I have to go back in the summer...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love is in the air...

Whoever, and wherever you are, wishing you a day filled with love and happiness, in whatever form that takes...


Thursday, February 06, 2014

The January Cure

I blogged about this month-long project here and although I haven't completed as much of my list as I'd have liked, I did manage to get some stuff done!  Some time ago I inherited a very large ornate mirror frame.  It was a very dark finish so I sprayed it white, leaving it a bit patchy for interest and variety; a sort of vintage look.  I got as far as putting it up on my newly painted wall with an idea for a gallery wall, within the frame. It sat there empty for many weeks.  A few more weeks.  I kept looking at it and thinking I must complete the project but I had one major problem.  In the summer I bought these prints at a market in Tynemouth:

I loved them.  But, they've sat in a cupboard for the last 6 months waiting to be framed.  I always do this.  It's one of my less endearing traits.  So I started hunting for thin black frames 10x8".  Seriously - how difficult did this become?!  I went everywhere and the only frames I found were priced way over my budget; then, quite by chance I noticed some black frames on a supermarket website.  A quick trip later I was the proud owner of three black frames at a bargain price of £1.98.  So, my gallery wall is now complete.  Here it is in all it's glory.  I love it.  One thing to strike off that list too...