A few of our snaps from a photoshoot earlier this week with film photographer Katy Lawrence.
We and Katy have long been Instagram buddies before we became email and then Pinterest pals and discovered that we share a mutual love of dungarees, tea-dresses, granny shades of pink and wicker baskets. And roaming around getting lost.
At long last we finally pinned her, and her rucksack-ful of cameras, down in London town, and between a flight back from Budapest and a flight out to Cuba we got together for a day of flowers, food and photography; we'll be sharing the 'real deal' pictures on the blog in a few weeks.
Katy's work is exactly the kind we love; moody and evocative, full of sea and weather. Her pictures have that memory-lane-like quality to them, faintly melancholic - they are grainy, threaded with grey light and mist. You can feel where you are in her photographs - or where you were, once - bare-legged in a field of burnished golden corn cut to stubble, messy hair tied with ribbon on a hill-top in an autumn wind. They smell of winter, summer, brackish water; they have a sort of pre war innocence - a scratchy cardigan, knock-knee'd Englishness. Katy's like that too - unaffected, quick to smile, open to beauty, a bit wild.
Last week we trundled back from The Real Flower Company's Rose Paddock with the Land Rover laden with buckets of highly perfumed garden roses, vines, briars and herbs.
The farm setting was just as idyllic as it sounds. Encircled by glorious Hampshire countryside - narrow lanes, little hills, oak copses - roamed by healthy hens, speckled guinea fowl and a particularly delectable Jack Russell puppy, very sleepy in the afternoon heat.
And there they grow very beautiful flowers.
Blowsy roses, sweet peas, a fine selection of flowering annuals, a mouth watering array of herbs, and foliage to break your heart - jasmine, rubus on furry trails with leaves like shined leather, rubrifolia with grey-green leaves, dull, gleaming hips and the littlest pink flowers, pheasant bush, viburnum...
We were given a great welcome, treated to a lengthy tour, and loaded up with all sorts of unexpected treats to head back to London with - wafts of apple mint and chocolate mint reaching us in the cab every so often even with the windows wound down. A scented journey.
On the way back, we foraged beautiful beech branches and oak, with leaves tinted copper.
Of course, despite a hopeful morning the day of our shoot, it pissed with rain most of the afternoon.
It's like that at the moment. Little flashes of summer descending into entrenched drizzle. The shivery kind of damp that makes you want to run a bath and take an afternoon nap in a cashmere sweater. It's England; c'est la vie.
We didn't nap, but we did drink a lot of tea. And ate cake, an almond-y, apricot-y sponge sandwich (a Wild Delicious recipe, take from Amber Rose's book Love Bake Nourish, which, coincidentally, is one of the most beautifully curated baking books of all time) spread with thick cream, and dusted with sugar and rose petals.
As I write, a leftover arrangement (the one I am so very seriously making below) spills over my screen. Occasionally a rose bursts and collapses its petals onto the table.
I used to feel anxious about this. I used to take arrangements apart before they came to the end - found their wilting leaves and drooping heads too disquieting. As if somehow that would protect their dignity, as if somehow it made me a better florist. As if flowers had only to be seen at their perkiest, in their fullest flush. I'd briskly tidy them away - no decay here, please!
I'm more sentimental now. Less ageist. You'd think it would be the other way around, no? I've had more flowers through my hands this last year than most people will have in a lifetime. And yet, when they are mine, I find it hard to say 'enough is enough'. Sometimes a fine sheen of mould grows around the base. The petals lose their elasticity and lustre. They are still beautiful.
Sometimes they wrinkle and dry tea-stained on the flower before they drop. I hold on until the bitter end.
I think this was my favourite piece I've made so far this summer.
Those were the first apple boughs of the season to cross my palms; an annual treat, one of the significant markers of where we are in the year. A reminder to cherish every token of summer's bounty, not to take it for granted.
Elegant branches of green beech - how I dream of this in the bleak midwinter when all but the pine trees are bare. Strawberries, still pale but ripening. Fat raspberries on the stem chaperoned by their wrinkled, downy leaves. Honeysuckle. Nothing can quite prepare me for my first bundle of honeysuckle each year; childhood in a bucket. And these roses, my god. Sumptuous and soft as a debutante's satin gown.
So I shall let it slowly collapse onto the dining table, my arrangement, while the rain falls again onto the garden this afternoon. And when the petals have all dropped and I finally sweep them away, the strawberries will be ripe, and I shall eat them!