From Andalusia to Burloes: Reflections of landscape


It is early in the evening in September when I arrive back in England having left behind the intense heat of Andalusia. A land where the earth is cracked as it gasps for rain after months of scorching sun. The rolling views of olive trees and soil that changes from ochre to white, bleached by the midday sun.

This is an intensely patterned landscape framed by blue mountains which, as the sun sets and shadows lengthen, one notices shapes emerging and the density of colour is heightened.

This landscape has stirred me to paint again. I am thrilled by its complexity, the row upon row of olive trees – tiny points delineating each tree as they recede into the distance – creating a patchwork effect. This wonderful vista has inspired me to set up an easel and paint the views from the terrace of the house…

I will be exhibiting these paintings in September 2020, in London.

Returning to Burloes Hall is an amazing contrast to the harsh southern heat. The soft, green coolness of Hertfordshire, my home for the last 24 years…..

Walking from the kitchen on to the terrace and looking down the garden towards the Marquee – standing white and proud – I smile when I recall the lovely memories of so many happy events staged in this garden, the amphitheatre of dreams. I am so proud of the business my friend Nicole and I have run for the past seven years.

On this beautiful Hertfordshire evening, the basin lawn at Burloes Hall is a dazzling velvet emerald bordered by a hundred different hues. Beach trees which have lost their lime fresh leaves: yew hedges solid, enclosing flower beds bejewelled with Dahlias in scarlet and fuchsia pink: Sycamore, Ash and chestnut trees looking resplendent on this early autumn day, playing their role in creating a rich welcoming palette of greens.

The white iceberg roses below the front terrace are a mass of fluffy petals corralled by a second flowering of the purple Nepeta and the two Irish Yews stand sentinel, commanding the view.

A cacophony of barking as my Labrador and Border Terrier trot after me, over the white arched bridge crossing the ha-ha. The grass around the marquee is perfectly mown by David and Michael our groundsmen. The field of wild grasses, full of cow parsley and yarrow, has dried and become a pale savannah.

The distant fields of barley have been harvested and only rough golden stubble remains.

A buzzard flies overhead following the contours of the land. It settles momentarily on a gate post before taking off, as my dogs bound up to it.

Swallows weave and dive as I head back to the house.

I reflect that this is truly an English arcadia seen through the prism of a fiery Andalusian sojourn.

With the beginning of a new year Nicole and I will be preparing for the wedding season ahead. For many it would be just a business but for us it is an opportunity to share this magnificent ‘stage’ with couples embarking on a new journey together.