Donkeys and daffodils

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Petworth House last September. 

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There was sunshine at the cottage on Saturday morning and for the first time since we bought the cottage we were able to sit in the garden and relax. (Good Friday was also sunny and warm but we were too busy building bonfires, mending fences and painting to sit down.)  We had an amble around the hamlet and said hello to the very friendly donkeys. Eeyore, seen on the right, is eight-months-old and being weaned so his companion in the paddock is an old donkey.

And then on to Petworth to stroll among the daffodils in the pleasure grounds and to walk around the park where we came upon a clutch of newly hatched Egyptian goslings.  To mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Sir Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who laid out the pleasure grounds and landscaped the park, the Embroiders’ Guild is holding a superb exhibition in the servants’ quarters of textile art inspired by Capability’s Petworth landscape. I  liked the way the artwork was mounted on canvas blocks, it was very unifying and especially effective against the ink-blue walls.

Petworth  House is a treasure trove for art lovers. I found the portrait of Lady Elizabeth Percy by the artist Sir Godfrey Kneller who lived in Twickenham. Elizabeth (1667-1722) was the  daughter of the 11th Earl of Northumberland and an extremely wealthy heiress. She was married and widowed twice before she was 16-years-old (her second husband was killed by her lover) and it was her dowry, including Petworth, that she brought with her on her third marriage to the 6th Duke of Somerset that enabled the remodelling of Petworth House in the grand Baroque style, including a roof of Northumberland slate.

Sunday morning was spent at the allotment planting two rows of Charlotte potatoes, digging out the compost heap and direct sowing the first salad leaves, rocket, spinach, radish and beetroot. I brought home purple sprouting broccoli, perpetual spinach, herbs, rhubarb and an armful of Purple Prince tulips. I was pleased to see the asparagus is already shooting and I think an asparagus cookery challenge may  be on the cards this year.

In the afternoon we went in search of lambs and bluebells and found both. It was a lovely relaxing weekend and I remembered my mum and dad who were married on 2 April 1956. I have their album of wedding photographs and today I found my mother’s wedding bouquet carefully preserved in a sheet of blotting paper within its covers. So no vase today, but a remembrance of a hand-tied wedding posy from 60 years ago.

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11 thoughts on “Donkeys and daffodils

  1. Productive allotment! Our rhubarb has been hovering at ground level for ages but seems unwilling to just push skywards. I spied the first asparagus spear yesterday, which proves that spring really is here. I wish I had a couple of donkeys to talk to on my walks.

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  2. It sounds like a fine weekend indeed. We have a couple of asparagus spears, too 😊. How amazing that someone could be married and widowed twice by 16. Kneller Park in Twickenham was a favourite spot to cycle to when our children were small. Hope you have a good week Sarah. X

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  3. I am reeling at the thought of being married twice and widowed at 16, they certainly packed a lot in in those days! Petworth House sounds like an amazing place to visit! X

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  4. How wonderful to have fresh vegetables from your own garden. I don’t think I would have coped so well with being married and widowed at 16, I could barely tie my shoe laces if I remember correctly. Have a lovely week x

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  5. Lovely post – particularly liked the bit about your mum & dad at the end. Do you know Dennis Cotter’s cookbooks? He has a vegetarian restaurant in Cork City (Ireland). His ‘Paradiso Seasons’ (after the name of the restaurant) is one of my very favourites – and fantastic asparagus recipes. Worth buying – I write on my cookbooks and I’ve written ‘yum yum’ on everything I’ve tried …

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  6. I really like that you shared a remembrance of the wedding bouquet. I didn’t save mine, though I wish now that I had. I had been in a big hurry to get back to work after my wedding (I was a teacher at the time and didn’t get any time off), so I stuck it back in the florist’s box and sort of forgot about it and by the time I remembered, it was really beat up. I should have had it preserved properly. I’m glad you had a chance to spend time at your cottage. I chuckled about the baby donkey sharing a pen with an old man donkey while he’s being weaned; that’s clever and maybe something I should have tried. 🙂

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  7. Petworth is an amazing place. I haven’ t been for years but I particularly remember the amazing collection of Turners.
    Wow, haven’ t you been busy on your allotment? Well done. I got my potatoes in at the weekend too.
    Lovely donkey, I used to have one called Hamish when my children were little. He was so full of mischief.

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  8. Lots of interest things in your post, Sarah – thanks for sharing it. And how lovely to find to have preserved a wedding bouquet for 60 years – had you realised before now that it was there in the album?

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  9. You’re allotment’s looking fabulous, so neat and tidy, I’m so impressed. Thank you so much for pointing me towards This Blessed Plot, you’re right, I absolutely love her drawings. And you’re right about organic gardening, must the best way to go and at no extra cost. Probably cheaper in the long run without having to buy expensive pesticides and fertilisers. Love the story about your mother’s pressed wedding flowers, how wonderful to still have them. Wishing you a good weekend. CJ xx

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  10. I have been meaning to visit Petworth for some time, but hearing about that embroidery exhibition has made me really, really want to go! How lovely to find a pressed wedding bouquet from so long ago, that is really special. x

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