For about 2 years of my childhood my family lived in the United Kingdom. Not only did we live in the UK, but we lived in one of the most magical counties: Wiltshire. Every day on my way to school I would see giant white limestone horses carved into the sides of hills. We lived near to Avesbury and Stonehenge wasn’t too far either. This is not to mention the usual charm of the English countryside: crumbling stone walls, lichen-consumed headstones in the churchyard up the road, local pubs and phone booths, and even a cold, desolate pill box leftover from the World Wars along an otherwise placid canal. There were horses, sheep and cow behind our house, luscious gardens inside all of the fences, hills upon hills for miles, and this was only in our neighborhood. I remember visiting other’s homes to explore streams and forests, what I was sure were haunted stone barns, and a canoeing trip up a canal with family friends while my parents visited Paris (yes … they went without me; though, it should be noted that I was apparently quite a snob and wasn’t interested in visiting Paris – probably the only way they could have convinced me is if there had been a tour on horse-back).
Greenery, slugs, gardens, pastures, stonework, and horses. These define my memory of my time there. No matter what they tell you – the rain will always be worth it. And hey, I loved every moment of stomping through puddles in my wellies. I was always outside there. I was standing on the fence, feeding apples and oats to the fat white horse behind the house. I was riding and jumping horses at school. I was playing football and cricket with the neighbors, or sitting out next to the small, newt-filled ponds. Even at school we walked the gardens and sat next to pools painting with watercolors or drawing; our recesses weren’t filled with brightly colored plastic equipment, but with running through trees and over grass, pretending to be horses or fox ourselves; we marched down the lane to the on-campus chapel to sit in the stuffiness and sing from old books. The rain made the earth, the leaves, the air smell stronger. The roses climbing every side of our house hung heavy; the slugs grazed freely; everything was warm and damp.
These are my strongest memories – in the gardens and fields – and what I hope to capture in my English decor section. The garden and growing things were a large part of everyday life there. No wonder when I read Pride and Prejudice later in life that I could have slapped Caroline Bingley for her snickering at Elizabeth’s hem. Then there’s Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, which turned my mind into a garden-planning machine, ready at any moment to find my own private plot of land to turn into MY secret garden. In this section, I look to bring the garden inside and to appreciate the quiet dampening effects of rain. The materials and ideas which I am using to define this section are floral + striped patterns, velvet, garden scenes, tea, lamps, roses, sheep, and the colors grey, red and green.
Here is a selection of images I have found which at least lean toward what I have in mind: