The third week in July I was in Cambridge for business. I scheduled my flight home for Sunday, and took Friday and Saturday off to do some sightseeing (something I always mean to do on these work trips, but somehow never actually do).
I got up early Friday morning to catch a 7:19 train out of Cambridge.
Two British Rail connections (1 train even had WiFi!) got me to the village of Rye, where I caught a bus to the village of Northiam. I didn’t know quite what to expect of where I was headed, and was a little surprised to find myself (post bus drop off) walking down a series of narrow country lanes, wheeled carry-on in tow, seeking the address of a B&B, South Grange. After checking in and dropping off my suitcase and the trappings of a professional work week, I headed out on foot to find Great Dixter.
I should mention that, despite the UK’s record breaking summer of drought and hot sunny weather, on this particular Friday, it rained. Pretty much all day. On arrival at the garden I ducked in to the Loggia to get some lunch, and peer apprehensively out at the rain. Can you believe I’d left both a rain coat and a fold-up umbrella in my luggage, back at the B&B? Only someone from Southern California would pull such an amateur move in British weather.
But the gift shop had umbrellas. Nice ones that weren’t even very pricey.
In the rain, the place was pure magic.
The colors were mind blowing. I quickly realized how lucky I was to have a rainy day — fewer visitors, vibrant colors, and the raindrops literally sparkled.
I spent nearly 2 hours stumbling through about 1/3 of the gardens, visually dumb struck by the depth of colors and textures. I had a revelation of finally understanding design principals like dividing a garden in to rooms, and the impact of vertical elements (vertical interest! What a concept!). To someone who spends probably most weekdays looking at screens or office interiors, a day of just looking — at this! — at as slow a pace as I wanted…. using my eyes in a deep way I typically don’t, was simply amazing.
I’d turn a corner and come face to face with some incredible detail.
More to come!