A Carrot And A Crisp Linen Waistcoat

Gosh, I have just been over to the old .me site and it seems a bit empty there. The tumbleweed blows and the door of the old grain store bangs in the lazy wind. A moth eaten three legged dog scavenges beneath the porch of the deserted saloon looking for the last bits of stale jerky while a buzzard watches from the shingleless roof of the old livery stables.

That is possibly enough lame Western imagery for the moment. The point is that things seem to be much more whoop-di-doo over here so this is still the happening place to be if you want  to comment, grumble or post random abuse about Matthew Wilson.

As promised previously I have been in Cornwall for much of this week staying at a place called Trelowarren which has some very comfortable houses and all the joys of the Lizard on its doorstep. It also has a particularly fine drive lined with very ancient Quercus ilex and, apparently, an entire Rococo garden (designed in 1750 by Dionysus Williams (i)) lurking somewhere beneath the laurels. The first recorded garden here was in 1428. We pootled about wandering along leafy roads, gazing from cliffs onto crashing waves and wondering why parts of Cornwall are so lovely while other parts are benighted by appalling buildings and bits of old metal left lying around.

I took the opportunity to revisit a garden of mine called Kestle Barton. I planted it way back in the spring and have not been since. Some of you on Twitter may remember accompanying me on the journey: I also wrote about it here. You too can go and see it: along with some interesting exhibitions – you can even stay in a very comfortable house.

As it is October it looked a bit tired and exhausted but seems to have done its job well over the summer. The bit I was particularly interested in was what I called the linear meadow. The way this worked is as follows (pay attention, this bit is about gardening). In Cornwall they have a thing called a Cornish hedge: this differs from most other hedges in that it is a hollow wall filled with earth into which things are planted (notably beech in many places). This makes a fine high barrier and windbreak – it also makes driving quite hazardous but that is beside the point. Anyway, a cornish hedge was built around this garden but instead of shrubs and hedging we sowed one of Nigel Dunnett’s excellent annual meadow mixtures. The result is rather good (even now) a long line of flowers sprouting from the top of this wall:  hence linear meadow. There, aren’t you glad you stayed awake? Here is a picture – excuse the dock leaf, it is there in case you sting yourself on the nettle that is just out of shot.

As it wouldn’t be right to drag you all the way to Cornwall without going to a beach here is some sea: this is at Kynance Bay and very fab it was too. Springy turf, rocks and pleasantly scary teetering edges (ii) All the better because there were very few people there: I imagine that, like much of the county, it is a living hell in August. The same thought struck me as we walked through the very narrow streets of St Ives which has lots of charming little houses and a good beach. Lovely now, purgatory in summer.

There was a shop selling Pasties in strange flavours including Chicken Tikka, Lamb & Banana and Flamingo Surprise (iii). None of which seemed altogether natural so we went elsewhere: in this case the elsewhere was Roskillys where we ate too much ice cream and fudge. If given the choice between an unnatural pastie and a double scoop of Hokey Pokey I know which side I am on.

Since returning I seem to be spending a lot of time being cross with suppliers. So far my list includes lighting people, roses people, bulb people, hedge people and greenhouse people. If anybody else wishes me to be cross with anybody on their behalf then now is the moment as I am on a roll.

I am listening to Blue Moon of Kentucky by Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys.

The picture is of sweet chestnuts.

In 2006 I was in Thurrock Services.

This time in 2007 I was in London lunching with three of my favourite people and pondering on double entendres while crossing Westminster Bridge.

  1. Dionysus is not a Christian name currently in vogue. A pity: I rather wish modern parents were more adventurous in their naming. Apparently the most popular names in this country are Oliver and Olivia (James, which was top of the list for many decades is now about number nine): seldom does one come across an Ebenezer, Oolith, Sherlock, Ptang, Fronia, Enobarbus, Chastity, Stribog or Nuttella. More’s the pity.
  2. I have always rather liked heights (much to the annoyance of firstly my mother and latterly my wife). I am not at all attracted by anything else even slightly frightening – I refuse to watch horror films and loathe fairground rides. But I am happy to climb the tallest trees or lean out over precipices I remember going to Hawkstone Park to do some filming with Joe Swift ages ago.In fact, now I have thought about it, you can see a clip here. I seem to talk rather a lot, the sound is quite rattly and look depressingly young. Joe is still bald, though. It was very windy and some of the drops were particularly vertiginous. Joe does not like heights at all which made it all the more amusing. VP wrote about it here the other day if you want to know more.
  3. It is possible I may have imagined one or more of those flavours.