Thursday 12 August 2010

Wild Glyndebourne, civic Lewes

Don't know what the current Glyndebourne head gardener has been up to, turfing over bits of herbaceous border, pulling up the roses and thinning out the planting. But where nature is left to run its course, parts of the Glyndebourne grounds have never looked better.

Meadow zones are the new gardening black, of course, and there are more of them towards the east end of the lake where we usually set up our picnic (can't recommend too strongly, by the way, that you go to Bill's fabulous deli emporium in Lewes and get yourself one of their £11 boxes - superb salads, best quiche, fruit cocktail-drink, cake). The trees, of course, look more glorious than ever swaying in the wind on the other side

and the north walk can be especially magical in the late afternoon light, if it's sunny, which it was on Sunday and most of Monday.

The border I still approve is the one that runs alongside the organ room and house. Here there's a buddleia of an almost phosphorescent lilac.

More formal and blowsy in effect are the plantings in the council-owned Southover Grange Gardens of Lewes, one of several places I saw for the first time following a Tom Paine trail (he played bowls on what's supposed to be the oldest green in the country, pictured up top and another area I'd overlooked on a previous trip to the castle). To celebrate the diplo-mate's birthday, we stayed for once in a hotel - Pelham House. Pricey, but worth it, because here are idiosyncrasy and a real link to the civic fibre of the town, appropriate since the council once held court in the newer wing. Our room was decorated with images from the covers of the excellent free Viva Lewes magazine, and the hallways had plenty of town images from talented local printmakers. The jewel is the hallway ceiling painted by Cressida's brother Julian Bell, a trompe-l'oeil tightrope walk which reminds me of those Moscow metro friezes.

All this ties us more closely to the place, though I've learned one thing: not to think of buying a house on the lovely south slopes of the town, could we afford it, as the noise of the nearby A27 is all too apparent. Better to think of being up the hill to the north, where Glyndebourne education dynamo Katie Tearle and husband, that incredibly knowledgeable and flavoursome music writer Mark Pappenheim, live. We popped in for coffee and to see Mark's bees, which were buzzing around rather frenetically. He's full of apine wisdom and presented us with some honeycomb from this year's relatively rich takings.


Willym said...

If I didn't revere, worship and adore you I'd hate you! You lucky man! And do wish the diplo-mate a happy belated from the two of us.

David said...

Well, Pesaro seems like a fair exchange, you're not exactly treat-deprived...but it does look rather gorgeous, doesn't it? And no place works to higher standards, when it does work, than Gbrne. We did feel privileged against the odds to catch that Don Giovanni.

And yesterday I heard the best of all possible Proms. So on a winning streak at the moment. Bolshoi Onegin and Into the Woods in Regent's Park to follow.

Minnie said...

Gorgeous birthday weekend, obviously - and quite right, too! This post is far superior to any of the short-break travel pieces to be found in the MSM.
Beautiful photos: what a treat to have a selection of the best of the sights. Am a huge fan of Julian Bell, so thrilled to get a good look at the terrifying tightrope feat.
Thank you, and bon weekend!
PS Read the first line of your review of Wednesday's Prom & laughed - with joyful recognition as I, too, had earmarked that particular concert ...! It didn't disappoint: savoured late (yesterday evening on 'listen again'), the experience was enhanced by your considered comments.

David said...

Weird that not everyone loved that Prom as much as we did, Minnie. Guardian complained about confused/confusing programming (why, if done with such conviction?) and was underwhelmed by the Langgard. Horses for courses, I guess.

Anonymous said...

What's the chance of you having a high rez copy of the Tightrope Walker you have pictured on

This is not for commercial puposes but rather, I'd love to try puting it up in my hallway.

Brooklym, New York

David said...

I'll check my discs with photo copies, Paul, and get back to you with jpegs if I find it.

Pat said...

Well, it's summer and time for the hallway project. A second try for a high rez copy of the Tightrope Walkers can't hurt.

Paul from Brooklyn, NY

David said...

Had to open the page to find out what all that was about, Paul, forgive me. With a spare Saturday moment, I went through my discs and found them, so sending over to your email address at long last. Good luck with the decorating!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You enrich my life.