Tales from the Sea Garden

Tales from The Sea Garden

Email me: theseagarden@btinternet.com

Wednesday 30 April 2014


On my way up the A303 yesterday I decided to stop off at Sonehenge. So many times I've driven by and seen it from a distance but never actually stopped. In a way I'm glad I left it till now, as there is a superb new visitor information centre (built some distance away and completely out of sight so as not to impede on the prehistoric monument) which gives a complete overview of not just the world heritage site of Stonehenge but also all the burial barrows, mounds, earthworks and archaeological remains that are in the surrounding landscape. Outside the visitor centre they are constructing some replica houses based on remains excavated at Durrington Walls, where they now think the Neolithic people that constructed Stonehenge actually lived. 

There is also an exact replica of one of the sarsen stones mounted on wooden rollers to demonstrate one of the methods used to transport them. 

Shuttle buses take you from the visitor centre to the site itself, and a path allows you to approach really quite close.

  The monument was begun about 3000 BC and during this early stage was used as a cremation cemetery, with an estimated 150 people being buried here. Some 500 years later, about 2500 BC, the central stone settings were erected, with some of the stones, sarsens, weighing 30 tons or more. There were no metal tools available to the people who built Stonehenge, only wooden hammers with heads fashioned from flint.

The stones are aligned to the midsummer sunrise and the midwinter sunset, clearly important occasions to the builders of Stonehenge, but the meaning and function of the monument is still debatable.

I then drove on to one of my favourite gardens, Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire. A thunderstorm had taken place not long before I arrived, and much of the garden was awash with water. 

Every leaf and flower was bejewelled with raindrops.....

Although there were many pretty spring bulbs in flower the garden is best visited in June. Mottisfont holds the national collection of roses, and when they are in full bloom the garden is transported into a veritable paradise for the senses. It was somewhere I used to love to visit when I was a student at nearby Winchester School of Art. 

In the grounds is this cute little shepherd's hut, decked out as it would have been when in use as a travelling shelter for the shepherd tending his flock.

A circular grove of trees had some interesting patterns painted onto the trunks...

 An avenue of pollarded limes...

The meadow alongside the garden had clumps of cowslips...

I shall post another instalment tomorrow..... x

Sunday 27 April 2014


Eridge Park, 8th May 2014

Tomorrow morning I shall be setting off in my van ultimately bound for Kent and the Decorative Living Fair at Eridge Park, but stopping en route to see some gardens that I love and to visit an old friend on the Hampshire/Sussex border.  Listening to the weather forecast this evening I think I'm in for a week of showers and also getting much colder, brrrr! 

The Decorative Living Fair is co-organised by Caroline Zoob, and you may already be familiar with her exquisitely detailed embroideries:

For some years Caroline lived as a tenant for The National Trust at Monk's House, the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf; and last year saw the publication of her book 'Virginia Woolf's Garden'. Having just seen the film 'The Hours' for the first time I am keen to go there when I am in Sussex. To see where Virginia Woolf lived and to walk in the beautiful garden that she created will be a real treat.

Eridge Park is just to the south west of Tunbridge Wells in Kent. The Fair is for one day only; Thursday 8th May. To avoid queuing on the day tickets can be ordered in advance by going to Caroline Zoob's website here. A standard ticket costs £7.50 and allows entry from 11.30am - 5.30pm. Early bird tickets at £10 are also available if you wish to gain earlier entry to the Fair at 9.30am. The Fair will be chock full of beautiful antiques, decorative homewares, garden paraphernalia and unique handmade gifts. I have never visited Eridge before, but I have heard so much about it that I'm really looking forward to taking part.

Here's a taste of what will be on offer on my stand....

Whilst I was at the Trereife Fair last week I took the opportunity to photograph a couple of paintings that hang in the house there. On my first visit to Trereife two years ago I was immediately drawn to these two pictures hanging one above the other on the wall in the front drawing room. I commented to my friend that they looked just like my great uncle's paintings. To my astonishment on closer inspection I noticed one of them was signed, and they were indeed by my great uncle, Edward Morland Lewis!

I asked Mrs. Le Grice, the owner of the house, how the paintings had come to be there, as great uncle Teddy comes from a Welsh family and as far as I knew had no connections with Cornwall. She told me that they were found in a box in the attic, and wanting to find out what she could about them, did a bit of research. I already knew that Edward had been a student at St. John's Wood School of Art and later at The Royal Academy where he met Walter Sickert. Sickert considered him to be his most talented pupil, and Teddy quickly became Sickert's personal painting assistant. Mrs. Le Grice informed me that at some point Teddy had come to Cornwall and befriended fellow artist Alethea Garstin, daughter of Norman Garstin, one of the leading artists associated with the 'en plein air' painters of the Newlyn School. Teddy must have gifted Alethea the two paintings and somehow they ended up in the attic at Trereife.

Sadly great uncle Teddy's promising painting career was cut short by the Second World War. He caught tuberculosis whilst on active service in North Africa and died aged 40.

Edward Morland Lewis
1903 - 1943

Growing up looking at his paintings on the walls of my grandparent's home I must confess I was not greatly enamoured with his painting style, but then they are not the kind of paintings to appeal to children. Now I do see a style and sense of colour that I can admire. I only wish that I could have met him. 

Edward Morland Lewis was the youngest of the ten sons born to my Great-great grandparents from Carmarthen in South Wales, and the eleventh child was my grandmother. But that's another story that will have to wait for a future blog post.......

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Trereife Spring Fair

Phew! I've finally got broadband and have just got time to do a quick post before I head off tomorrow to set up for the Trereife Spring Fair.... if any of you lovely readers find yourselves in sunny Cornwall this weekend, the Fair runs from Friday 18th to Monday 21st, at Trereife House near Penzance. (Just head west out of Penzance on the A30 Land's End road, and it will be signposted on your right). The Fair is open 10am - 4.30pm each day, and will feature all manner of arts and crafts designed and made in Cornwall, as well as food stalls and demonstrations by top Cornish chefs. Plus a lovely house and garden to visit! 

I've been working my little socks off making stuff to sell; framed collages of natural finds....

new cushions; all vintage fabrics and hand-dyed linens.....

and shell collages......

(I always have a combination of anxiety and excitement before a fair....months of hard work are distilled down into a few intense days of selling not only your goods, but yourself too)

Whatever your plans are for this Easter, I hope the sun shines for you! x