Every year as we inch closer to the longest day of the year, it astonishes me how early the sun comes up on the farm. It’s nearly impossible for me to sleep past 5:30am at the moment. Some days, instead of fighting the urge to be awake, I get up and go outside to see what happens on the farm that early. I already know that the rooster crows because I can hear him, but what are the other animals doing at that hour? The other day I went to see the horses at the crack of dawn, and they pretty much looked the same as they always do, apart from being bathed in the most extraordinary light. Perhaps I’ll join them to watch the sun rise more often.
I first met Isabella Cawdor when she was a guest at my wedding. Her husband Colin was an old friend of Christopher’s and they flew over from Scotland to celebrate with us. I noticed Isabella because of her romantic, dark purple velvet dress with floral cutouts, and she had a fuchsia rose tucked behind her ear. She was the very first one out on the dance floor, twirled around by Christian Louboutin, and I thought “Who is that gorgeous girl?” We didn’t get to know each other properly until a year a half later when Christopher and I were invited, along with one year old Coco, to visit them at their shooting lodge in the highlands of Scotland. That’s when I was really taken with Isabella. Everything about her life – her house, her kids, her clothes, her posture – was beautiful, but done natural ease and warmth. These days, the Cawdors are perhaps best known for their supermodel daughter Jean Campbell – who stars in the current Louis Vuitton and Burberry ads – but it is Isabella’s down to earth, chic country style that has me reeling every time I see her. ..
It’s been 10 days since we said goodbye to Jake, and my eyes still fill with tears each time I think of him. We haven’t even sold him yet! Two Sundays ago we sent him to live in an agent’s yard who will market him, show him to potential buyers and negotiate his eventual sale. He’s had a lot of interest and a handful of people are coming back this week for a second try on him. Despite my sadness, I feel so happy for the lucky person who is going to take him home. But I didn’t always feel that way.
We bought Jake for Coco when he was five and she was nearly twelve. Five is definitely on the young side for a horse intended to be ridden by a child. But Coco had always inherited excellent and more experienced ponies from her older cousins – they were “push button” as horse people like to say when referring to a horse that will do anything you ask on command. First Mr Teddy and then Sailor followed by Polo had all made Coco a confident and daring rider. So both her coach and her grandmother felt she was up to the task of taking on a bit more of challenge. ..
This morning I went on a walk. I wasn’t planning to, but I was all caffeinated up and ready to get going in my day, but I had 40 more minutes before I actually needed to get in my car and drive off to my first appointment. I could have caught up on emails, but then I looked outside and the sky was blue and cloudless. In England, especially in the autumn, this is rare. Even if there are not clouds, there is usually fog in the mornings this time of year. And so I was compelled to go outside. I have a busy day – lots of errands locally and then I’m headed up to London later – and as soon as I got outside I felt grateful for the few extra moments to do something purely pleasurable before the obligations that lay ahead. ..
I took this photo of our old tack room in 2008 which by chance turned out to be the summer before it was disassembled and moved from the old farmyard into a make-shift new tack room in our stables. We kind of threw it together spur of the moment, so the design and decoration of it hasn’t really been thought through. I’m thinking of making some improvements so I’ve been asking myself what it is I want from a tack room...
I know. As chic as she is you probably feel you don’t ever have to see another style icon pic of Jackie O as long as you live. I’m with you on that. But now that I have gotten so into riding, and what to wear when riding, Jackie O’s style on a horse has rekindled my awe of her chicness. These days, riding gear has gotten very technical and branded. I am constantly cutting off visible tags, blackening out logos with sharpies, and trying to find the most classic and pared down jackets, jodhpurs and boots while still keeping an eye towards practicality...
You all know I am such a huge fan of Todd Selby, and that he paid us a visit in the summer of 2012 when we first moved to England. Some of his photos ran in The Guardian last year and I posted them here. This week he posted his own edit of the pictures on his website. I loved seeing the additional pictures of our kids living out their farm life dreams, and Christopher was delighted that he included the more real, messier parts of the farm like the abandoned barns, the storage sheds and the compost pile...
Coco is my twelve year old. It was always her dream to live on our farm in England – to spend her free time outside and be surrounded by horses. Fulfilling that dream in the last year and a half has arguably been the highlight of her life so far. The paternal side of Coco’s family is known for their dedication to horses and Coco clearly inherited that gene. When she was just a year and a half old, we spent Christmas here in England and every morning she ran to the window pointing at the horses in the field and yelling “hotchy!..
I am a huge fan of all that Todd Selby does – his photographs, his watercolors, his sense of design, the people and places he is attracted to, and his so-goofy-it’s-cool personality. He is creative and talented, and his style – as well as that of the people he photographs – is highly personal. A few years ago, after religiously reading his blog and combing every page of his first book, I found a business excuse to cold call Todd. But what I was really hoping when I called him was that we’d chat on the phone and become friends. Which is exactly what has happened. Towards the end of our long phone call, he said. “Hey, what’s your house like?” I told him that I was moving to England and that I would send him some photos. Six months later, in July of 2012, a month after we had settled into our cottage, Todd was here on the farm paying us a visit. So here he was, running around the farm with a camera taking pictures of the barns, the garden, the treehouse, the cottage, the kids, us and all the animals. I was fascinated to watch him work. As a lover of photography myself I was amazed to see how shooting style differs so much from my own. He is spontaneous, quick, unselfconscious with his camera whereas I am always looking for the right angle and calculating in my composition. We have since kept in touch, calling each other occasionally for ideas or advice, and I am so glad to have such an inspiring new friend.