Showing posts from October, 2012

Dreams, designs, and dangerous women

"I am so longing to read about you starting a new garden. Wonderful to see the concepts and ideas developing, happening and growing. What lurked in your mind, unsuited to a completed London garden, that you can now tackle with aplomb, delight and joy?"
Diana of Elephant's Eye, who has been a long-term blogging friend, posted this comment on my last post. She's absolutely right. Things do lurk in your mind. They are filed away for future reference, until one day you pull the idea out, blow the dust off it and see that, yes, this is the time to put it into action.
Just because your garden has a particular style, often dictated by its aspect, its soil type, the local climate and so on, doesn't mean that you can't appreciate a completely different style.
I have a fairly clear concept in mind for my new garden. The actual landscaping may turn out to be slightly different from my current mental picture, but the style will be the same. I want something that echoes the s…

So, Awkward Hill...

It's a strange name, isn't it? Awkward Hill is a very steep hill, rising abruptly from the River Coln. You can quite see why it's called "Awkward" - it's a sort of blip or bump right in the middle of Bibury.
If you go down the other side, the lane is called Hawkers Hill, as in hawker, or pedlar. I keep meaning to look into this, to discover whether Hawkers Hill is a corruption of Awkward Hill, or whether Awkward Hill is a corruption of Hawkers Hill.
If anyone knows where the name comes from, I'd love to hear from you. When I decided to move to Bibury, my family thought the name was hilarious. It was even suggested that I use the blogging name Awkward Cow. But I think not.

Local heroes

One of the things I want to do in my new life is to use local producers as much as possible. If you live in the country, it seems mad not to buy from the people on your doorstep, especially when some of them are producing wonderful things, whether it is cheese or gingham checks.

I came across the textile designs of Vanessa Arbuthnott (above) while looking for a shepherd's hut. (My mother wants to buy a shepherd's hut for my garden, where she will sleep when she comes to stay. But that's a whole other post!)
Vanessa's designs were featured on the Cotswold Shepherds Huts site, and I was thrilled to find a range of fabrics that used such clever colour combinations and subtle designs. I've never been a very chintzy person, but I wanted something for Awkward Hill that was more in keeping with a country cottage than the more austere colour scheme I had in London. I think Vanessa's designs complement the colours of the Cotswolds perfectly.
I'd discovered, thanks t…

The Japanese question

The first thing you do when you buy a house in the UK is to have a survey done, to check that there are no structural problems such as subsidence, or damp, or dry rot, or anything else untoward.
I've had many of these done over the years, but I've never had one that mentioned Japanese tourists as a possible hazard!
Under the heading "Environmental issues to check and other considerations", my surveyor notes: "Bibury is very popular with tourists (especially Japanese, who often wander around the village peering into houses and gardens).
This is absolutely true - indeed, many of the houses on the main street, down by the river where the tourists tend to congregate, have signs in Japanese which (I assume) say things like "Private".
"They're always very polite," said my surveyor, "and all they want to do is to take photographs, but they do tend to assume that the entire village is one big historical attraction."
The only access to m…

BBC in Bibury (from the archives)

I found this old video from the Day Out series, presented by Angela Rippon. This episode looks at the South East Cotswolds and features Bibury, along with Northleach and Fairford.
There's one about Cirencester too, with a different presenter.

Counting down the days

I am itching, absolutely itching to move into my new house. We haven't even exchanged contracts yet (there's no great delay or problem as far as I know, so it should be any day now), but although I tell myself that in a few weeks I will have all the time in the world to measure for curtains, think about the garden, rejig the kitchen and arrange the furniture and so on, I want to do it all NOW!
It's funny how you can make a connection with a house after seeing it for only 30 minutes. I've now visited Awkward Hill Cottage three times, and each time I go, I feel at home. My shoulders relax, my breathing slows and the world seems a much more beautiful place.
It's not that I dislike London. On the contrary, I think it's the best city in the world - the most beautiful, the most glamorous, with the most to offer in terms of theatre, restaurants and shopping. (I'm biased, of course!)
However, for me, life in London has become a bit of a Catch-22 - I have to work in…

Golden October at Awkward Hill

The famous cottages at Arlington Row, which date originally from the 13th century, and which are now owned by the National Trust. In the 18th century, they were converted to weavers' cottages.

Rack Isle, which is also managed by the National Trust. It's a meadow area which is home to all sorts of bird and animal life. In the olden days, the weavers used this flat area beside the river Coln to dry their cloth, hence the name.

In the gardens in Bibury (above and below) the shrubs and trees are starting to take on their autumn colours.

Meanwhile, up at Awkward Hill Cottage, the autumn crocuses are in full swing. They're growing in a reasonably open situation - not too dry, but with a bit of sun. The blue ones, below, look like a little pond from a distance.