So, there I was, roaming disconsolately around 'History Live!' the new wizzy and slightly queasy name for English Heritage's Festival of History at Kelmarsh. Why do they do this? It's like the English Tourist Board now being 'Enjoy England'. Yes, I will, thankyou. Anyway, I wandered about under the lowering skies, looking at Roman soldiers on their iPhones, chatting up WWII nurses doing each other's hair and generally feeling glum at the lack of light for my pictures when 'lo!', I walked into the beer tent and saw this on the bar. Now I don't normally drink the fruit of the apple, but how could I resist this? Quite apart from my well known penchant (in certain select quarters at least) for white on red polka dots, I just loved the design. It took me a while to get to the small print, but '100% cider apples' and 'Herefordshire' did it for me too. So what's it like? Let's put it like this. Come Christmas I want a reasonable quantity stowed in the cellars of Ashley Towers. As it says on the label: 'Well rounded, medium, still.' Thankyou to Celtic Marches who made it and designed the label- just for me it would appear.
There can perhaps be nothing more English than watching an event in the pouring rain. Considering the recent spell of excellent weather it really was bad luck that the al fresco performance of Pride and Prejudice at the National Trust's Ightham Mote should have been greeted and terminated by a storm of Biblical proportions on Saturday night. We arrived as rain swept across the lawns, tripping over our folding chairs and picnic hampers as we desparately tried to find a viewing position that didn't involve other people's umbrellas and massed ranks of hooded kagoules. I sat on a packet of wet scotch eggs, chucked a big glass of rose over the people in front and tried to keep an even temper as my chair decided to fold itself back up again and slowly sink into the grass. It was at this point that a lady thrust herself upon me and asked "Would you like to buy a raffle ticket?" I expect to hear of my membership suspension from the National Trust shortly.
But sincerest congratulations to the Chapterhouse Theatre Company for such a valiant and utterly professional attempt to give us the play for half an hour before a classic lightning strike threatened to take out the entire Bennet family. Two for one in one case as the actor playing Mr.Bennet doubled up as a very convincing D'Arcy, presumably doing very quick changes behind a convenient and very damp shrub.
I've made some decisions this week, quite apart from re-starting my blog. But first a very big thankyou for to all those followers who didn't disengage and who have kept the faith whilst I've been faffing about. I've decided not to Twitter anymore after I looked at the last one I'd 'tweeted' that used all the word allowance to ponder on why there was a teatowel from Leatherhead blowing on my neighbour's washing line. And the same goes for MugBook. The truth is I just can't be bothered with all that, but what I will promise is that these Unmitigated Postings will be as regular as All Bran. It's a forum I love, I've been away from it far too long, and even if there's only my immediate followers out there reading it I shall be very happy.
The idea for my 'first' posting came from the above tin that I found irresistible in Market Harborough's Market Hall the other week, and the timing for it's first appearance is hopefully obvious. And having just received the fabulously beautiful gift of my first grandaughter from Only Daughter, I'm all ridiculously babied-up at the moment. So here's to all new arrivals, royal or not quite so royal. (Opens bottle of Pimm's, puts a teat on it, gurgles it down in one, falls over. Smiling beatifically.)
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)
"Open this book with reverence. It is a hymn to England". Clive Aslet
"Enchanting...delightful". The Bookseller "Cheekily named" We Love This Book
The Cigarette Papers
"Unexpectedly pleasing and engrossing...beautifully illustrated". The Bookseller
"Until the happy advent of Peter Ashley's Cross Country it has, ironically, been foreigners who have been best at celebrating Englishness". Christina Hardyment / The Independent
More from Unmitigated England
"Give this book to someone you know- if not everyone you know." Simon Heffer, Country Life. "When it comes to spotting the small but telling details of Englishness, Peter Ashley has no equal." Michael Prodger, Sunday Telegraph