Monday, 17 May 2010

The real world beckons

The wisteria is just about to explode on the coach house wall. A burst of heavenly blue against mellow, golden stone and porticoes.

I am sad today at Mapperton, There is a fine rain falling and the trees above the shop where I work deposit loud drips on the corrugated iron roof. Apart from the occasional Sunday, my sojourn here is coming to an end, after being offered a job I just could not refuse. Sadly, my talents as the Gertrude Jekyll of West Dorset have not been recognised and it's back to an office job for me, at least for the time being.

However, I shall still be writing my Manor from Heaven blog, with the help of bulletins from Her Ladyship and chats with the head gardener. And I intend stopping by with my camera every now and then to record the joys on display in these beautiful gardens.

I'll keep you posted.

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Trouble in the henhouse

A plaintive cry goes up from the courtyard, and then the sound of poultry, fighting.

A bantam hen shoots out of the manor gate and hides among the plants for sale. A pair of fat and fluffy bantam cockerels are on the prowl.

'They're desperate for mates of their own, ' says her Ladyship. 'They're both totally frustrated. We could do with someone donating them some girlfriends.'

They try chasing the phoenix jungle fowl into submission but the girls' own cockerel bodyguards are having none of it. A stand-off ensues. Even the Indian runner ducks join in and start name calling.

The white bantam boys slope off to a bench. Then they head through the gates to the churchyard.

Something's gotta give.

I'll keep you posted.

Maddie x

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Monsters, trolls and RHS members

It is spring at Mapperton. The house martins dart in and out of cool passageways, smoke curls up from a bonfire and the handyman is mowing the lawn.

A customer questionnaire has been introduced this week and I shall make it my mission to get as many people to fill it in as possible.

There are lots of RHS members in today which means they don't have to pay - RHS stands for Royal Horticultural Society and if you're a member, it gives you free access to lots of great gardens. Then we have a a lady in a disabled buggy, a set of keys handed in, my apple from last week still on the counter and a spot of rearranging the merchandise, making sure all the teacup handles are pointing the same way.

Flustered by a sudden rush, I give someone too much change and then another moment of panic when I think someone has walked off with the church key and then I realise they're still in there.

The bantams have a fight on the roof, the plants need watering and a woman with a very strange hairstyle - like Marge Simpson's, only black with gold streaks - comes in. I can't take my eyes off it, thinking what a great place for a house martin to nest and then worry my fascinated gaze might be reflected in how she fills in the questionnaire when she gets to the bit about staff.

Two small children scoot around on little wooden bikes and then two girls dressed as fairies tear around chasing a chicken. It seeks sanctuary in my shop but they still come after it. I tell them off and then pretend there is a monster in behind the counter with me just so they get the message.

They roar off, screams bouncing off the golden stone walls, and their mother comes charging in. A rather large lady, she looks as if she could handle herself in a fight. So I make myself look small and pathetic.

'If my children come in again,' she says in a posh voice, while I inwardly quake, 'you have my permission to order them out. Just tell them you turn into a troll when you get angry.'

She knows me, obviously.

Later, a pretty but fragile-looking young woman in a sunhat glides in like something from a Jane Austen novel.

'Do you have the church key?' she asks.

'Only I'd like to have a sit down in the quiet. There are some terribly noisy children running all over the Italian garden.'

I'll keep you posted.

Love Maddie x