At the end of the long hot cliff walk lay the reward, a tiny valley, tucked away in the crazy up and down coastline; Coleton Fishacre:
The house was built in the 1920s by the founders of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) from stone quarried from the valley below (they have pictures showing the mini railway line they laid to get the stone up the cliff!).
It was built as Arts & Crafts and then decorated Art Deco style and the result is breathtakingly lovely. It may not have the ornate ceilings and enormous painted murals of much older houses but this is a house where both H and I felt instantly at home and peaceful. We may just have found our dream house, it's probably a good thing that the National Trust owns it so that we can go and visit whenever we want.
I haven't any pictures of the interior but there were so many things that we sighed wistfully over, not least Lady Dorothy's bedroom curtain fabric - a massive black on white floral print. The original was block printed for her in Belgium and she used it for curtains and chair coverings. When the National Trust acquired the house, only the dressing table stool had the original fabric so they tracked down the block maker and had another run made on plain Laura Ashley fabric. There was none of the original left because Lady Dorothy (clearly a woman after my own heart) had the remnants made into a stunning sundress!
The gardens are if anything, even more impressive. It would be so easy, faced with a steep valley with a stream running down the middle, to simply terrace away in a sort of 'open cast mining' garden. That can be stunningly beautiful (try Upton House), but here twists and turns lead you down little paths to new viewing spots, with always a hint of the sea through the trees.
Formal paths at the top of the garden
One of my favourite unexpected spots is this gazebo
Reached down a gentle grassy path that doesn't look as it if goes anywhere special. What you can only see from the side is the drop off:
This is the start of the quarry that gave the slate to build the house. The gazebo is covered with climbers and will smell divine when it comes into bloom.
And then there were the flowers - pure heaven with the new(ish) camera to play with.
With stamen that look like they've been dipped in mercury.
The upper pool
The lower pool; these two are quite close together but have a totally different feel from the colour schemes.
Parents through the azaleas
Inside a bamboo grove (I now really want a bamboo grove in my garden but I think I might just need a bigger garden first!)
A snail, a good 4-5 foot up a frond of ornamental grass.
Columbine (I think)
Ditto, but in different colours.
My favourites, the iris beds - which speak for themselves:
I just need a pond to plant some round!
We christened this the dragon plant because it looked like a chinese dragon and also a little bit like a dragon fruit.
Study in white
More white, this time wild garlic by the gazebo.
Fire grass (as named by H and me!)
The dinner bell?
And in all of this, there was a little knitting
And yes, that is my newest and most favourite pair of sock needles and some lovely sock yarn suspended above a sheer drop into the flowerbeds below - it was very carefully balanced.
The socks turned out like this:
The yarn is Colinette Jitterbug in Caramel (which incidentally now comes in 110g hanks which is a relief on the yardage) and these are standard cuff down socks with a short row heel; a present for my wonderfully surprised mother in law, who left us a wonderful voicemail message when they arrived on Saturday morning - after the return of her mended raspberry monkeys she wasn't expecting it at all - hee hee!
In taking the pictures, I realised why I was powerless in the face of this Caramel yarn:
I have just knit a pair of socks that perfectly match the colours of my favourite and most beloved Cath Kidston satchel!