A cloudy Saturday afternoon in Lincolnshire. After trespassing at the formidable Harlaxton Manor we remembered we had National Trust membership and found ourselves at Belton House, north of Grantham. This is Restoration architecture in all its beautiful 'look at me' glory, built in 1685-88 for Sir John Brownlow. One of my favourite architectural styles, here are the customary rooms filled to the wainscots with sumptious furnishings, all watched over by those indefatigable NT custodians standing helpfully by. It's all well worth seeing, but I tend to get a little restless at having to cope with so much high art kept protected from the light, skipping things I should see because I start to wonder what the tearoom's got on. It isn't that I don't appreciate what I'm looking at- how could I not- but I get the same thing happening in awe-inspiring cathedrals. Somehow I get more out of a forgotten country church in the middle of a field. Yews gently moving through old distorted glass, not having educative literature thrust at me. Here at Belton we took a bracing walk round under the trees and I found myself falling to my knees in photographic supplication in front of the lawn roller. Just look at that peeling paintwork on the wheel, an abstract of rusty service that contrasts so effectively with yet another coat of lovingly applied green paint. All this, and a big slice of moist fruit cake in the stable block.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012) and Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012)