Off to the beautiful wilds of England’s smallest county for New Year, with its Roman and Anglo-Saxon settlements, castles, ancient churches and stone-built villages. As we pulled off the A-road and onto the narrow, tractor-marked roads leading into one of Rutland’s prettiest villages, great blankets of snow-swathed fields popped into sight on our left and right. “Am I in a dream?” asked one sleepy voice from the back of the car. It did seem strange to have only just left a cold, but distinctly un-snowy London, and literally found yourself surrounded by the stuff 90 minutes later.
The children poured out of the car and into the garden and within a blink a snowman with edible (grape) eyes and a pineapple top tuft for hair was constructed and a snow filled trampoline was gleefully bounced upon.
We were lucky enough to be staying in a very beautiful 17 century stone-built house that was formerly the old rectory in the village.
It is a treasure of a house, full of Tudor grace and charm, that manfully withstood the assault of 25 people, including 15 children, keen to embrace the joy of New Year festivities.
I managed to take a few photos of the snowy New Year’s Eve as the sun went down behind the steep pitched slate roof. The moon even put in an appearance. (I am aware that this is beginning to sound frankly irritatingly picturesque but I have the pictures to prove it- see top of post!)
The fading light brought out really beautiful shapes and silhouettes from the leafless gnarly branches of the four oak tress that guard the back of the house. (And yes I do happen to think that Robin Hood probably stopped here for a rest and a smoke It’s a very nice spot and he was a local boy)
We made an apple crumble from this produce on our last summer visit. This year we are planning to make a trip to the herb nursery next door, to stock up with cook’s ingredients for our London garden.
I was also able to see first-hand the brilliant print clash bedding extravaganza, as discussed in an earlier post ‘Just a quickie, as the Bishop said to the nervous choirboy.’
It looked every bit as good as I had hoped and frankly felt a lot better as I sank into it at around 3pm, after an evening of hearty chat, food, wine and cheese.
My little bird survived the journey intact, more or less, and resided over a fine banqueting table topped with a rather lovely patterned table runner from Svenskt Tenn, www.svenskttenn.se
It is a beautiful fabric that came about as a collaboration between Svenskt Tenn and the English textile company GP & J Baker. I think that their birds and mine look rather good together.
We are already making plans for another visit and next on the redecorating agenda is the Rectory kitchen. A bold, and brilliant, decision has been made to remove the kitchen island and this is going to free up the whole space enormously. The table will be able to take centre stage and a Welsh dresser will create both storage and a lovely focal point on one side of the kitchen. The walls are going to be a gorgeous burnt yellow. I can’t wait to see it. The whole home just manages to balance elegance and warmth. Much like the lovely hostess herself.