I'm going on a short bicycle ride around the countryside this afternoon. It's all new to me, since I've only been living here for just under two months. Here is a photograph taken of myself this morning, walking around my country house, Raffles.
I purchased the Raffles Estate from my late, great Uncle Horatio some time ago. It's a 17th century, grey-stoned manor, with an interesting past - it was once owned by Lady Pilkington-Jefferies, an outspoken artist, feared by many for her prickly ginger hair and outlandish dress style. She adored the company of sailors and, legend has it, published many steamy stories of her voyages on the seven seas. It is fitting that we share similiar interests.
Raffles has a walled garden and its own orchards, set on a hill just outside Brill, a farming village in northwest Buckinghamshire.
Here is a view of the surrounding countryside. It's the most idyllic and enchanting place, yet the sinful delights of London are only 50 minutes away by train.
A view across the pastoral landscape of rural Bucks, to a distant farm.
Internally, Raffles is full of grandfather clocks and grand staircases. Most of all, I enjoy the library because it holds historic curios, glass cases full of preserved butterflies (Uncle Horatio was an interpid explorer and went deep into the Amazon with just a pith helmet and machete) and colonial artefacts. On one of the walls is an original print, below, from the Elizabethan era.
I find this picture particularly inspiring because it's exactly the way I like to cycle around the countryside. Yes, that's right, if you're visiting northwest Buckinghamshire, you might glimpse Fanny on a vintage Penny-Farthing, usually just wearing lingerie, or sometimes, less than that! It does help to break the ice when it comes to the rural English stiff upper-lip.
I'm opening up my home to the village over the weekend, for a Summer Fête and also to celebrate the beginning of the production of my new film; here are some photographs of how the house and gardens have been decorated for the celebration.
The newly appointed staff are a damn sight better than the last ones in Wiltshire! Look how well dusted this room is.
Where I do most of my writing in the day.
When I hold a celebration during the summer months, it's the height of decadence to string French, antique chandeliers from the trees; these are hanging everywhere around my garden, and will be perfectly complemented by a brass band I've organised. It should be an unforgettable weekend.