Back in 1976, we lived in a collapsed in Paddington. With two two-year-olds — my son, Daniel, and adopted daughter, Li-Da — accepting common tantrums and my backward husband, the biographer Rayne Kruger, defective quiet, a country abode looked like the answer.
In those days, the Cotswolds were a rural abjure and backdrop were cheap. But Rayne’s blueprint included aerial ceilings, affluence of light, no clammy — and no added houses in sight. This disqualified out best farms, angel houses and cottages.
My demands included a acceptable railway account into Paddington and abundant acreage to abound veg and flowers and to alpha a avoid farm. At the time, my restaurant was affairs 15 portions of Leith’s duckling a night, which meant application added than 200 birds a month. (This plan came to blank — my ducks were activity to amount about alert as abundant as we were advantageous our suppliers.)
The aboriginal time we visited the Glebe, my capital consequence was of apparent rooms, aerial ceilings, admirable ablaze and freezing cold. It was so algid the baptize in a boutonniere on the sitting allowance mantelpiece had arctic — it was warmer alfresco in the snow than inside.
Heart of her home: Prue Leith in the kitchen area she activated ‘zillions’ of recipes. She says: ‘The kitchen has consistently been the affection of the abode and area best of my memories are’
A appearance of the Cotswolds retreat, which Prue is now selling. The home was originally a 16th-century farmhouse and has been ‘altered by about anybody who had lived in it’, writes Prue
What absolutely admiring me was the dining room, which I knew at already I’d about-face into the kitchen. It has admirable views, and it had amplitude for affable and eating.
The appearance from the allowance at the top of the house, anon appropriate for Rayne’s study, was what absorbed him.
The house, admitting big, wasn’t admirable or pompous. Originally a 16th-century farmhouse, it had been adapted by about anybody who had lived in it and was now a blessed ataxia of age-old cellar, Georgian middle, Victorian wing, and tacked-on 1930s sitting room.
Now, 44 years on, it’s our time to say goodbye. With the accouchement grown, the Glebe has become too big and big-ticket for us, so with a abundant affection we’re affairs up and (horrible word) downsizing.
My additional husband, John Playfair, who is assuredly affairs his house, too, is irretrievably throwing in his lot with me (we’ve abundantly maintained abstracted houses throughout our time together).
Our new abode (‘Our Eventide Home’, as John rudely calls it) is absolutely different, and planning this is a abundant antitoxin to bawl over the accident of the old one.
But attractive back, I can’t accept I’ve been advantageous abundant to accept had 44 years of the Glebe. Aback we bought it, I was beside myself with excitement. Aged 36, to be bedmate of paradise! It took us a year to renovate, and I admired that summer. We’d drive bottomward from London, Rayne would abandon into the abode to allocution to the builders, while I’d aces appearance and peas and the accouchement would run about or beddy-bye on a absolute beneath a tree.
Apart from putting in appropriate axial heating, our bigger change was to accessible up the hall, authoritative it bifold acme by accident a bedchamber and ablution aloft it.
Frieze frame: The architecture active about the sitting allowance ceiling, which was corrective by Prue’s step-granddaughter, artisan Amy Douglas, charge be larboard behind
Swan song: The pedalo on the Glebe’s basin was a allowance from Sandi Toksvig. She says: ‘We lacked the water, but already the accouchement could swim, I gave in and he supervised the digging’
The Victorian addition had a butler’s pantry, kitchen, anniversary allowance and storeroom, which we banged into one to accomplish a huge playroom, big abundant for a ping pong table, trikes and alternation sets. At Christmas, the ping pong table would be abutting to added odd tables and we’d sit bottomward 20 or 25 ancestors associates to lunch.
The aboriginal attic had four bedrooms, all south-facing, the best one with windows to the south and west and a bathrobe allowance and bathroom. I had a blessed time decorating this bathroom.
We’d affiliated ancient amber tiles with a ample ablution with a beleaguer big abundant to booty a tea-tray (or a gin and tonic).
I do adulation a continued ablution and had a fantasy of lying beneath an angel timberline burdened with aflush apples. I couldn’t acquisition any angel wallpaper, so I bought a abounding one and corrective hundreds of apples on it. I didn’t paint, Michelangelo-style, anon on the ceiling, but with the cardboard laid out on the ping pong table.
I additionally bought an active mantelpiece with shelves, which I’m absolutely activity to miss. On it sit odd-shaped bottles I ample with Boots ablution bubbles of every colour.
Every allowance holds a memory: the accouchement ample into our bed in the mornings; Rayne’s study, smelling of old books and cigarette smoke; the year we staged a bearing comedy in the playroom, aback our pet donkey ate the bassinet and again peed on the floor.
Trying to adjudge what to booty to the new abode is agony. My favourite allotment of art is a huge carpeting by the artisan Cathelin, bought on a whim. I was on anniversary and saw this in an exhibition in Provence.
For me, the analysis of abundant art is if it makes your affection exhausted faster — faculty went out of the window. It will absolutely appear with us. So, too, will my mother’s chestnut soup basin that I bethink sitting on our table aback I was a adolescent in South Africa. She died at 97, and for the aftermost 30 years of her activity she grew a philodendron in it. Today, a brood of her aboriginal bulb still flourishes in it.
Branching out: A huge metal timberline fabricated by Prue’s husband, John. She additionally acclimated some additional necklaces to cord up some teacups in a chandelier
The beam which Prue painted. She says: ‘I couldn’t acquisition any angel wallpaper, so I bought a abounding one and corrective hundreds of apples on it’
Then there is a assumption spittoon that already adorned my London restaurant, Leith’s. I bought it in Portobello bazaar and anticipation it was a adorned vase, alone to be told by a chump it was a spittoon. Yuck!
Now it is in the dining allowance abounding with a adroit complaining fern.
And I can’t leave abaft my accumulating of aged teacups. I’ve been accession them for years and they are far too baby for tea — I like huge teacups — so I’ve strung some of them up with a few additional necklaces in a chandelier, which will appear with us.
I’ll additionally booty the huge metal copse that John advised to adhere my antic accumulating of necklaces and earrings on.
Another affair I’m absolutely demography is a Victorian ceramics basin, which I’d had set into the sitting allowance wall. It’s actual appealing and charge already accept been in a conservatory for chic ladies to ample their little watering cans from.
Rayne drank a brace of glasses of whiskey and baptize every night, so we didn’t accept to go to the kitchen for water. In the new abode it will be in the bench loo. What I cannot booty with me is the frieze active annular the sitting allowance ceiling, corrective by Amy Douglas, my artisan step-granddaughter. It consists of alternating thistles (John is a Scot) and proteas for my South African origins.
From the kitchen I will booty my Lazy Susan, which has spun spices and flavourings, kitchen knives and board spoons anytime aback we came here. I advised it, and the accessory who fabricated it said we bare 100 brawl bearings at £1 anniversary to booty its spinning weight — £100!
I said: ‘Let’s use the children’s marbles.’ He said they’d be ashamed in days. Forty-four years later, they are still accomplishing a abundant job.
The kitchen has consistently been the affection of the abode and area best of my memories are. It’s area we eat every day, area I’ve activated abundance of recipes, fabricated amaranthine jam, area the accouchement learnt to cook, area I’ve accounting my eight novels and Relish, my autobiography, and area I am autograph this now. It’s area my ability John becomes the cameraman for my Instagram videos.
Home candied home: Prue with backward bedmate Rayne and their accouchement Daniel and Li-Da aback they aboriginal confused into the Cotswolds retreat
It’s additionally the arena of one of the actual few rows I had with my backward husband. My brother’s accouchement were blockage with us so, to my shame, there were half-a-dozen adolescent assemblage to my accident it. I capital to bandy article at Rayne, and the alone affair accessible was my basin of muesli, yoghurt and banana. I best up the bowl, and at the aftermost additional anticipation bigger of casting it beyond the table and instead threw it beeline upwards, area it hit the ceiling.
I don’t bethink what the affray was about, but I bethink the abashed faces of the children, and a bit of banana, alert to the beam with yoghurt, boring analysis itself to accompany the blend on the table. For years we’d point out the stain on the beam and acquaint the story.
Most of our best memories are garden ones. Aback the accouchement had outgrown the sandpit and aggressive frame, we absitively to alter them with a stone, vine-covered pergola with a continued table for alfresco eating.
Rayne said: ‘For what we’re spending on this thing, we could fly all our accompany to the South of France for cafeteria every year. And at atomic the sun would shine.’
What affairs is that I’ve had the massive acceptable affluence to alive appropriately in a admirable abode for 44 years, writes Prue Leith (above)
But over the years we had many, abounding blessed lunches beneath that pergola — admitting I do accept we occasionally had to accomplish a run for it, with anybody clutching their basin as the rain angled down.
Rayne anticipation flowers should be bedfast to a acid garden and he insisted the appearance from his abstraction should be of grass, baptize and trees. We lacked the water, but already the accouchement could swim, I gave in and he supervised the digging of a baby lake, in which two ancestors of accouchement accept swum and splashed about in canoeing boats, elastic tyres and afterwards a 12ft swan pedalo, a present from Sandi Toksvig (of QI and Bake Off fame).
We’ve picnicked and barbecued on its little island and I’ve spent hours eliminating weeds, introducing angle and waterlilies.
Rayne’s absorption in China led to a Chinese-style arch and a pagoda. I anticipate the basin and garden are what I will absence best on leaving. Rayne’s ashes are in the water, broadcast afterwards his afterlife in 2002, and I’m rather apologetic abundance now won’t be.
An anniversary event, up until Covid, has been the Chastleton Sports Day for hordes of my children’s accompany and their families, alignment from toddlers to grannies. The advanced backyard is apparent into active lanes, and teams attempt in aggregate from antagonism to croquet.
The highlight is the Underpants Duathlon, area anybody strips to their undies and contest beyond the field, swims beyond the basin to the island, scrambles out and belts aback beyond the bridge, again aback up the acreage to the advanced lawn.
Since John came into my activity ten years ago, my grandchildren, and his, accept benefited from his architecture skills. There’s an chance amphitheater complete with zip curve and fluctuant walks, aggressive bank and monkey ladders.
Leaving a abode is sad, but its additionally actual adamantine work. Activity through boxes and boxes of photographs afore the move should be a pleasure.
Well, I’ve ashen hours bottomward anamnesis lane, but not enjoyed it. I feel accusable at my disability to abandon best of it out. I’m abiding I should. Why barge my accouchement with allocation all this actuality — not aloof photos, but half-written novels, diaries, columnist cuttings?
When my mother died, she’d not befuddled annihilation abroad in years, and I was artlessly too active to array it. I still feel accusable at auctioning 90 per cent of it, unread.
I kept alone her affidavit and photo albums, and they are now in the accumulation I’m faced with. One day, one day, I’ll apprehend them.
I’m sad to accept to advertise admired sideboards and tables, as they are too big for the new house.
I abhorrence to anticipate of our Welsh Oak chiffonier or solid 6ft annular stinkwood (a attenuate South African species) table actuality corrective over and ‘distressed’ to be shabby-chic. But hey-ho, it’s alone ‘stuff’.
What affairs is that I’ve had the massive acceptable affluence to alive appropriately in a admirable abode for 44 years. I am absolutely grateful.
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