Tuesday, 17 May 2016

happy dorset days

I've had a bit of a busy time recently - I was playing shopkeeper at my Bloomsbury pop-up shop for the whole of April (see pictures here), and up until then I was running around here, there and everywhere, preparing for the opening, plus working on a set of twenty illustrated plates, bowls and platters for the Young Bright Things exhibition at David Gill Gallery. It was a relief to escape the city last weekend with D. - we set off on Friday afternoon and stopped for lunch at The Beckford Arms on the Fonthill Estate in Wiltshire. I always love stopping off at Fonthill - it's a perfect pocket of Arcadian England. After pizzas we drove south to The Pig on the Beach on the Dorset coast. We'd spent a few days at the original Pig in the New Forest a few years ago and I was looking forward to checking this seaside version out - when you don't have a cottage in the country (yet...), you really come to rely on good hotels like The Pig! We went for a twilight wander before dinner... How perfect is the kitchen garden, with it's sweet little thatched hut? (Designed by my old boss Ben Pentreath!)

We clambered out of bed on Saturday morning and, jumping over fences and trying not to disturb the goats, made our way down to the sea.

After breakfast we drove out to the thousand-year-old Corfe Castle (we'd clocked it looming dark and lonely from the road on the way to the hotel). Really quite incredible. Then, on to Lulworth Cove and the natural limestone arch of Durdle Door. I'd come across countless pictures of Durdle Door and couldn't wait to see it in all its jurassic glory. It was the perfect day for it. We ate crab and lobster burgers and ice cream and enjoyed the sun on our faces for a while.

Back in the car with the roof down, we hurtled along the coastal road, stopping off a couple of times to take in the view of the sparkling sea or to peek through hedges into fields full of newborn lambs.

It was during one of these stop-offs that I wondered across the road and into a wood. Surprise - it was crammed with bluebells! We napped in the afternoon and later on ate well in The Pig's marvellous greenhouse restaurant - fried oysters, gnocchi, rhubarb and custard.

We headed off after breakfast on Sunday and drove to Wilton House, a favourite of ours. The gardens were looking particularly beautiful in the sunshine. Bit sad to miss the Palladian Bridge though - it's under wrappings this year while essential repairs are made.

James Wyatt's Gothic revival cloisters (displaying the 8th Earl of Pembroke's collection of statues) never fail to disappoint.