25 Jan 2016


I may have mentioned this before, but when I went searching for a country home for my family six years ago, apart from the more serious boxes that needed to be ticked (school, distance from station, does it have a roof etc.) – there were also the boxes that came under the banner of “my ideal fantasy life in the English countryside”!  Does everyone have a wish list like that or is it just me?    For example, we may not actually own a pony…but we certainly want a paddock to put the fantasy one in;  We may not actually know how to grow a sprout from seed…but we jolly well require a greenhouse and raised bed vegetable garden (based on an 19thC formal potager) to grow that fantasy prize marrow in – all the better to display at the ‘fantasy’ country show; We may not ever actually have the courage to get the chickens – but that stunningly attractive hen house painted in Farrow & Ball…you see how it goes.  

I think that we all have a fantasy image of how we would like to live our lives regardless of whether that life takes place in the city or the countryside.

One of my particular prerequisites for our ‘then’ new house was that it absolutely had to have a separate dining room.  You see, I was going to have a weekly dinner party, where my friends both old from the city and newly acquired from the country, would converge and enjoy splendidly stimulating conversation, food and wine whilst congratulating their hostess – me – for putting together such a beautifully presented table etc. etc. etc.   Of course, (so my then naive and optimistic self imagined)  it would be entirely possible to sustain this bight sparkle of sociability once a week for 52 weeks of the year – rather like n 18thC ‘salon’ at the court of Versailles.  Oh what fun.  Oh what a delight.  Oh what rubbish!

Dear reader, I did indeed get my house with a dedicated dining room, and a delight it is too.  However, do I host lively dinner parties on a weekly basis?  Well of course I don’t – who on earth has the time to organise – let alone wishes to cook for a dinner party on a weekly basis when there are three children, a crazed dog, a hamster and a commuter husband to cater to.  I realised quite quickly that I do not live on the set of Downton Abbey and neither am I Marie- Antoinette!

Despite it’s irregular use for it’s intended purpose, my dining room does, however, remain a constant delight, that I do use – although not always for dining – on a daily basis, so all is most certainly not lost or wasted.

I try to insist that my husband and I dine a tete-a-tete at the table as often as we can – I do like to do the starched napkins and candles thing, and we do actually have friends over for ‘smart’ dinners every now and then.

But mainly it’s simply a joy to dine with the whole family or friends in the family room adjoining the kitchen, where we can sit 10-12 quite comfortably, everyone can muck in and there is no need to stand on ceremony – oh yes – and the dog can join in.

The dining room has also thus become a temporary study for me and my budding interiors business.  And a very nice ‘study’ it is too.  As it’s still a work in progress, it’s a great room to style, photograph and generally ‘play around in’ with vignettes and potential product shots and colour schemes.

But mainly (while it awaits it’s paintings and sparkling guests) it looks like this.  Unless of course, you would like to join me for dinner sometime?

Until next time,

The Diaries

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