Monday, 26 June 2017

National Treasures: Mottisfont Abbey Roses

Mottisfont Abbey is world renowned for its collection of old fashioned roses. As June was upon us, we knew we had to act fast and visit Mottisfont to see for ourselves.

Mottisfont Lane, Romsey SO51 0LP

The NT has this to say about the collection:

Our walled gardens are filled with heavenly fragrance and colour from thousands of roses in early summer.

We’re home to the National Collection of pre-1900 old-fashioned roses, which reach their peak in June. Visitors flock to see this world-famous display from over five hundred varieties.

Over 500 varieties of rose bloom in our walled gardens.

Unlike modern species, old-fashioned roses tend to flower just once a year, so their full summer blooming is an extraordinary annual sight.

Discover varieties such as Malmaison – a sumptuous pale pink bourbon rose inspired by the Empress Josephine’s famous garden – and delicate Chinese tea roses in shades of cream, pink and red.
The light crimson and deeply scented shrub Rosa gallica officinalis was brought to England from Persia by the Crusaders, and there are other hybrids so ancient that they are prehistoric. Some varieties are so rare that it's possible we have the only stock in existence.

Created by Graham Stuart Thomas - one of the most important figures in 20th-century British horticulture - in the 1970s, our walled gardens were chosen to house many varieties that may otherwise have become extinct.

We were lucky on arrival, to find shady car parking, but had we got there any later, we would have ended up in the baking sun in the overflow carpark in a nearby field. I wasn't sure how busy it was going to be, being that it was Father's Day (or in our household Fur-Fathering Sunday) but it was busy indeed and we could see the sun gleaming off the cars from the shady riverbank.

Our first mission was to find shade to have our picnic, and most shady spots were taken, or being selfishly reserved for a bit later by people. One woman who was actually set up on a picnic blanket, had her son stood on the bench we wanted, walking back and forth on it, while she called her mum, getting her to get there soon, as she had a bench for her. We ended up under some trees, next to the house, sat on a log, which smacked of being round the campfire!

Picnic finished, we then debated seeing the roses first or going in the house and as it was just gone noon, decided roses first as the house might have been full of people getting out of the midday sun.

I must say, although we could have done with getting there a week earlier, the roses were truly spectacular.

The scent was delicious, and filled the walled garden with the most incredible fragrance. Bees, hoverflies and butterflies were everywhere.

It wasn't only roses, there was also the Lesser Spotted Apple Eater ...

Next time I'll share some photos of the interior of the house and all its Edwardian trappings.

If you're interested, this was my other Mottisfont post, from January.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Whole Lottie Love

I've been letting Andy choose my outfits again.
This time he chose 'Lottie', also from Lindy Bop.

I hadn't worn this since I got it last year, even though it was the dress I was most looking forward to arriving, and consequently the one I was most concerned about not turning up, knowing first hand about Lindy Bop and their overselling shenanigans.

The reason I hadn't worn it was because I didn't realise the fabric would look quite so evening-esque (it even rustles like taffeta), and I really don't go anywhere even remotely dressy, but when you let your husband pick your clothes, you end up wearing such dresses to National Trust properties.

Sunday dawned bright and hot and we were going back to Mottisfont Abbey, a place last visited on January 2nd, and we, okay, I thought it was high time to experience it in summer.
But I digress.

This dress is wonderfully floaty, but is made from polyester, so I was a bit concerned that I might overheat with temperatures predicted to be high. I was already melting come 9am, stood in the kitchen which frequently reaches the mid 90's, while ironing Andy's shirt for him.

I purposely only wore minimal jewellery, as necklaces can feel a tad 'sticky' in hot weather, so I left that out of the mix, but as you can see, Lottie has an unusual neckline, so it was redundant anyway.

The bodice is just about long enough on me, the skirt too, but the neckline does something odd.
The sleeves, which are cap like, have a tendency to bunch inward, for instance, were you to use your arms, which as a human being, I do, fairly regularly and that causes the front of the bodice to gape outwards.

It's here that I started noticing a trend in Lindy Bop bodices, when they have a wrap front, they often suffer from a gaping problem with the bodice, leading me to keep referring to it as a LBG (Lindy Bop Gape) problem and I now rate them on a one to ten sliding scale of Hoochie-ness. One being positively virginal and ten being Vintagey Hoochie Mama.

Lottie is definitely a problem, for me anyway, if I use my arms (an occupational hazard) and if I lean forward. I only discovered this once at Mottisfont, when reapplying sun cream and realised as I leant forward to do my legs, that if anyone was any closer, I would be flashing them my bra! The reality was, I could have fit about two squirrels down my top if I leant forward.
Yes, I also have a squirrel rating.

Long story short, I was warm, it was mid 80's this day, but my biggest problem was keeping a grip on the plastic coated handle of my parasol! My hands got extremely hot and the thing kept sliding out of my grip!

My feet were also too hot in my elderly ballet flats.

Red chiffon hair scarf - vintage, nan me down
Diamnate hairgrip attached to scarf - gift
Dress - Lottie, Lindy Bop
Petticoat - eBay
Shoes - retail

Parasol - gift
Sunglasses - prescription
Plastic woven bag - had for years
Earrings - Accesorize
Bracelet - George Rain Jewellery

I rate this dress, because of the bodice shenanigans, five on the Hoochie scale and two on the squirrel scale.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

National Treasures: Winkworth Arboretum

Created in the early 20th century by Dr Wilfrid Fox, this hillside arboretum has now been maintained by the National Trust for 60 years and has built up an internationally significant collection of more than 1,000 different species of shrubs and trees, many of them rare.

We were very impressed by the sheer size of the trees to be seen, they were majestic. I can't wait to see them in all their autumn finery, that must be spectacular!

Winkworth Arboretum exhibits large collections of azalea, rhododendron, and holly on slopes leading down to landscaped garden lakes.

We could see the lake but alas, couldn't get there because of, you know, the shoe thing, and couldn't even use the viewing platform as it was being repaired.

Gertrude Jekyll explored the woods in the early 20th century and the exotic trees were planted from 1938 by Wilfrid Fox.

There was a memorial to Dr Fox, but we didn't see it this time but do plan to go back again next month, better prepared.

There are three walks offered At Winkworth, one is access for all, which is marked blue and is the one we ended up on, after the shoe episode. There are no steps and it's approximately 1km long.

There is then a yellow walk, which covers 1.6km and involves steps, which is where I came a cropper. We then abandoned it in favour of the blue walk as walking was difficult with a heel coming off my shoe. My dodgy balance makes stairs a challenge enough anyway, without added complications.

The third walk was marked red, and covers 3.6km and features steep steps.
The minute I saw the word steep, I was adamant that I wasn't doing that particular walk. 

The views were spectacular.

Despite the glorious weather the day before, this day was a lot cooler, to the point that I needed a jacket.

No, contrary to what Andy said, I was not breaking into Mud's 'Tiger Feet' dance, I was straightening my belt.

"All night long, you've been looking at me,
Well you know you're the dance hall cutie that you love to be

Yes, I was the most vibrantly dressed visitor, brighter than the children by far and was indeed wearing the most impractical shoes imaginable! But, they're all I had. My ballet flats have a huge hole in the sole. Still. And looking at the ground as we walked, I knew they would have been useless, I may as well have not worn shoes had I gone with those.

It's a beauty of a place and we shall return in July and then again in the autumn, to see the autumn colours and probably again in the winter too. And if we continue our membership, again come spring! Cherry blossom and bluebells? Yes please!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Oh Beautiful Lana

I'm getting into the swing of outfit posts!
Isn't summer so much easier when it comes to such things?

Oh, beautiful Lana
I told it my mama
And my dad
What I had
Was the sweetest
And the neatest
Little girl
In the world

Oh beautiful Lana
Don't you know that I wanna
Hug and kiss you
And Let you know that I miss you
While we're apart
Oh my heart
All it can say is


This is the 'Lana' dress from Lindy Bop.
I asked Andy to pick me a dress to wear on this day and had an instinct this is what he would pick and I was right.
He also picked out the hair scarf which was a gift from lovely Vix.

There are no problems with sizing with this dress, which is why I have so many 'Lana' dresses. If I was to make a fuss, an inch or two in skirt length would be nice, but it's fine really, no real problems at all.

I picked the earrings, little metal lilac flowers, as the dress too, has little lilac flowers and the me made necklace which is made from imperial jasper.

The shoes are old ones from Joe Browns, and I adore them, but they needed a repair the night before as the upper shoe was coming apart from the wedge part. They seemed okay by morning, after spending the night with the weight of a chair laden with heavy books on top (1000 Vegan Recipes, Cars of the Late 60's and Warhol, if you're interested!).

However, I then wore this outfit last Friday, to pick up my labradorite disc from a jewellers and we were then moving on to a National Trust arboretum.

First, we went to the bespoke jewellers I won the gift voucher from at last years car show. This years car show had just been on, so I knew I had to use my voucher now as it was getting silly. However, I couldn't afford to have my labradorite made into anything, as it was way, way out of my price range, so picked out this beautiful little faceted rose quartz bracelet with magnetic silver clasp.
I love it! I've adored rose quartz since I was in my teens, it's so delicately beautiful and I couldn't be happier with this.

Then onward to the arboretum and the pesky heel of my shoes came unglued as I was being adventurous going down some steps. And then I lost my balance because of this and hurt my leg.

But I can guarantee you that I was the most vibrantly dressed visitor this day, brighter even than the kiddies! My post about the trip is coming soon.

Anyway, after the arboretum, where we debated a cuppa at the café, but figured they wouldn't have soy milk for me, then realised we didn't have any money anyway, we moved on to a few places trying to find me a flask so I could have a cuppa when we were out and about. I wanted a flamingo one, as you do if you're me, but the one I had seen on Amazon didn't have good reviews, so we trawled around a few garden centres trying to see what they had and found absolutely nothing. I had to make do with ordering a 'normal' one once home.

I did find flamingos though: a soft toy, a watering can, an umbrella, paper cups and plates and these fine fellows, but the only flamingos to come home with me were the ones on my handbag:

As we were passing through a small village near here, we popped in a charity shop and as always, I made a beeline to handbags (nothing), gloves (two pairs, one looked modern and one pair was horribly stained and I wasn't sure they would clean up well and as they were in a locked cabinet, I figured they would have a higher price tag and I could feasibly spend money on gloves which would never clean up nicely) and then moved to the scarves and had a good dig through a seemingly bottomless basket and voila!

Can you see it? It's one of my trademark 50's/60's chiffon scarves and is a soft buttery colour with gold thread stitching at the hem. I then remembered we had no money of any consequence on either of us. I asked the lady how much, as these charmingly ramshackle little charity shops usually charge around £1.50 for scarves and she looked pityingly at the one I was wafting about and said, "20p?" like she thought asking that much for such a sorry sight was criminal. We managed to scrape together 20p and I left, very, very happy with my 20p scarf. This is the least I have ever paid for one.

Then, when I got home, I tried to put it with my other scarves and first attempted to put it with the yellows, as all my scarves are tied up in rainbow order, but it looked white next to the vibrant yellows I already have. So, I moved it next to the white one and then it looked really yellow. It ended up with the yellows.
These are the problems of the compulsive organiser ladies and gentlemen.

And that was that!
My leg though, still really hurts.