Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The New 'Pavilion'

So, Darling and I had to entertain some guests from overseas over the weekend. Being excited about being in 'Africa' I reiterated the fact with an African themed evening. I played it down slightly, and tried to subtly hint at Africa rather than make it outright tackarama (mine and my girlfriends' word for tacky) The good news was that our new 'pavilion' (what we like to call it) had just been completed. There's nothing like a new pavilion to raise one's spirits.Aren't these flowers amazing. They're obviously from the Protea family and are specifically called 'Banksia' The couple from Indonesia were particularly impressed.

The New Completed Pavilion

Darling, hanging the fish trap light at the eleventh hour.

Table mountain dressed up for the occasion.

You see how our house is in camouflage with the mountains! Clever house.

The table looking a bit naked - not quite complete.

The beautiful Portia.

Darling's drinks table.

Where are the guests?

* A note from Mrs Mostess
When serving canapes never make them so big in size, that it is impossible to simple toss them into your mouth. One does not want to have to stand trying to balance a plate as well as your glass then try and eat a huge tricky canape. Only people from the circus can make it look effortless.
Also, whilst trying to introduce your guests to our native cuisine, don't under estimate people's unwillingness to be adventurous. As biltong, kudu carpaccio and ostrich might seem like old hat to us, it is most certainly too much to ask of the palate shy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Style

So, I am still recovering from Christmas - or rather just letting it all sink in. I could not believe my eyes when going to a pre Christmas drinks party at a pukka English manor house in Henley, I had stepped into my ultimate fantasy.......

Ample sized Christmas tree in the hall. Perfect. Love the mono tone.

White doves flying up banisters. Oh how I would love to descend these stairs for dinner.
Another gorgeous tree on a table.

Can you see the train track going around the tree? Sir William McAlpine who's home it was is a true English eccentric and has a train obsession. There are miniature trains chugging all over the house laden with mini Sheppard's pie's, chocolates, mince pies and macaroons. Too much for me to cope with really.

Chests filled with gold treasure.

Real reindeer poo!

The children's playroom - as one might expect or at least hope for a true English child.

They even had Elvis singing whilst baby is being fed.

The sitting room. The house was decorated by Oliver Messel a renowned stage turned interior designer during the sixties and seventies. I will have to do a mini expo on him later. You just must see the houses that he decorated in Mustique. I had never heard of him before and now I have researched him it appears he was the Nicky Haslam of his day. He also designed suites in the Dorchester hotel, where I might add Sir McAlpine was ACTUALLY born. His family owned the Dorchester at the time.

I quite enjoyed this crazy concept of a side table filled with all sorts of fascinating nik naks. Brooches, pill boxes, badges and all things shiny and pearly.

I love a fire screen especially tapestry with dogs . I love the flowers over the mantle piece.
Well what can I say. We know the English and their labs. Also, might I add that all posh homes have little tapestry cushions with funny little sayings. The Duchess of Windsor had "You can never be too rich or too thin" She certainly lived by that motto by looking at her.
Panelling!!!! Nothing beats it.

Of course the library, always my favorite.
Amazing amazing books with ladder. I am obsessed with library steps.
The dining room had the most beautiful wallpaper that covered walls, servers and the entire ceiling. In fact I am so sad I do not have a photo of the ceiling - it had the same fabric as the walls all gathered in the centre like an Arabian tent.
I apologise for the darkness of the photos. I was trying to subtly take photos with my iphone. Terribly embarrassing to be seen taking photos of someone's home. I was like a spy, quietly snapping away under my clutch bag whilst mid conversation with guests. Can you spot the blackamoor figure?

Sad it's not too clear.

A long passage in the house made so interesting with all hats collected from all over the world. The pictures on the wall are all framed puzzles of trains. 

In the guest loo I found the official 'Sloane ranger handbook' which I just adore. Funnily enough I actually have a copy - from before I met Darling strangely. It is brilliantly witty and now from witnessing I can't believe how true!! I will have to give you some examples soon.
This is Sir McAlpine's life size steam engine that travels around his property. He has proper stations and once a year invites the people of Henley village for a ride! I have mentioned him before in previous posts. He is the neighbour of Darling's parents and also has a private zoo. You might remember on previous posts photos of us walking the dog and stumbling across wallabies, lama's and strange African buck all living in harmony in the English countryside.

Oh, and they also have a carousel.
What fun to be an English eccentric.