2018 June eNewsletter

June 20, 2018

My, what an amazing few weeks it has been in all our gardens? I have never seen so many roses garland our walls here in Aynho. Pictured above is one of my favourite combinations, the semi-rambler, Purple Skyliner and the repeat climber, Sir Paul Smith. Purple Skyliner was bred by the late, great Peter Beales as a repeat form of Veilchenblau; similarly, Sir Paul Smith, what an amazing few weeks it has been in all our gardens? I have never seen so many roses garland our walls here in Aynho. Pictured above is one of my favourite combinations, the semi-rambler, Purple Skyliner and the repeat climber, Sir Paul Smith. Purple Skyliner was bred by the late, great Peter Beales as a repeat form of Veilchenblau; similarly, Sir Paul Smith is a Beales introduction of about a dozen years ago. They hold their blooms well on strong stems and if you do not know these two beauties I can heartily recommend them!

Iran Crocus Fields 1000 x 550

Thank you to all who were in touch to say how much my despatch in May, devoted to Iran, was enjoyed. As it was sent out to you, I flew back for my second Iran tour which again went without a hitch. Our third tour there, Ancient Frontiers: Exploring Persia & Iran, 7 – 21 October, will be led by an Iran specialist and a veteran of many Iranian tours, John Osborne, who lived and worked in Shiraz for several years. If you have wanted to visit Iran in the past and have hesitated, do give us a call and we can answer any questions you may have. October is a wonderful month to visit and amongst the special delights to be enjoyed is the harvest of the autumn crocus in the fields around Natanz, a major source of Persian saffron, considered to be the best in the world.

Trentino Valley 1000 x 500

Over the last fifteen years we have developed a large range of tours throughout Italy and the jigsaw pattern capturing them all is now almost complete. One piece which will finally slot into place is Alpine Pastures: Trentino-Alto Adige, 30 August – 5 September. This is the ‘middle land’ between Italy and Austria, and the source not only of the River Adige (which you may know as it flows through Verona) but of some of Italy’s most dramatic scenery and unknown artistic treasures. The tour will be led by James Hill, our resident tour manager in Italy, supported by some of the best local guides available. Over three nights in each of Trento and Bolzano, a wonderful range of medieval castles, renaissance and later palaces and some fine gardens will be visited. If you are jaded by the thought of battling the crowds in Rome, Florence or Venice, you can be certain that this will be travel as of old – beauty unsullied by tourism, charm and warmth from the locals and a wonderful tradition of food and wine.

Berkshire Mountains 1000 x 500

Wandering round the Weald of Kent and Sussex a few days ago, I saw a sign for Rye, that lovely town which was once home to Henry James, the expatriate master of the American novel. While arguments will continue over which of his ‘big’ novels is his finest, anyone who has immersed themselves in his fictional world will have realised just how much New England, and above all Boston, did to shape his aesthetic. Those elegant, sensitive, at times brittle, Bostonians may seem a world apart from today’s bustling city, yet it can so easily be discovered if you know where to look? Fall Beauties: Boston & the Berkshires, 2 – 11 October brings together the history of this remarkable city through its personalities, historic sites and impressive art collections. October is an ideal time to visit as the American ‘Fall’ reveals nature in spectacular and colourful form, and for this tour we have added an extra three nights spent in the glorious Berkshires staying in Stockbridge to take advantage of nature’s bounty.

Agrigento Temple of Concordia 1000x500

Sicily has always been one of our most popular tours and we are delighted to offer it again this year, Complex Crossroads: Sicily Ancient & Modern, 23 October – 1 November. Christopher Smith, who until recently was Director of the British School at Rome, has become a regular member of ‘Team CICERONI’ and he will lead this year’s tour, ably assisted by James Hill as the tour manager. Christopher’s remarkable knowledge of the ancient world and Italian culture is always a joy to listen to, delivered in his inimitable witty and friendly style, so effortless that the immense scholarship which underpins it all often seems hidden from view. Do consider travelling with Christopher as you are sure to be enlightened and entertained in equal measure.

D8778 012 1000 x 550

We have a series of three Study Days organised for this Autumn and I hope you will find something of interest? The first will be And None Shall Compare: Thomas Chippendale’s Genius, 7 September when we shall explore the life and work of this great English genius. Held at Firle Place in East Sussex, a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of furniture history experts will take part, looking at his career and focusing on the ‘Panshanger Cabinets’, now part of the Firle collection and one of his greatest ever commissions.

Thomas Cole Eden to Empire 1000 x 500

The second Study Day takes place a few days later at The Linnaean Society in London when James Hill will explore the career of America’s finest landscape painter, Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire, 12 September. As Constable and Turner are to English landscape painting, Thomas Cole is to landscape art in America, a key figure in the development of ‘The Hudson River School", capturing the rugged beauty of the country’s rural expanse. Our day will include the morning lecture and afternoon entry to the National Gallery’s exhibition on Cole, which will transfer from the Metropolitan in New York. Rarely seen paintings by Cole, his contemporaries in both the UK and the US such as Constable and Turner, plus artists such as Claude and Ruysdael on whom he drew for inspiration, will be included.

Langlois commode 1000x500

Our final Study Day this year will see us return to Woburn Abbey for our third visit. Woburn Abbey: Treasures from the Furniture Collection, 30 October will be led by the Abbey’s Curator, Matthew Hirst, one of our most interesting young art historians and an expert on furniture history. The Abbey contains a superlative group of pieces accumulated by the Russell family over five centuries and not only will Matthew introduced us to the family and their history as patrons, but we shall also have privileged ‘behind the ropes’ access to some of the finest pieces in the collection. It is sure to be a memorable experience.

Finally, details of several of next year’s tours have been released on our website in the last two weeks, with more to follow each week for the next while. Do have a look and I hope you will find something of interest to tempt you to travel with us in the near future?

All best wishes from all of us here in Aynho.

Tom Duncan


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