Saturday, May 25, 2013

Reggie Revealed . . .

"Who is that man behind the curtain?

Wait a second—could that be Reggie Darling at the controls?
Image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

"Is his name really Reggie Darling?  What kind of name is that?

"And who is this Boy Fenwick person?  And that adorable pug that Reggie sometimes shows on his blog—is his name really Pompey?

I suspect they'd be able to figure out who Reggie really is pretty quickly . . .
Image courtesy of CBS Television

"Where is Darlington House?  Is that its actual name?  Who names their houses, anyway?  Why is it that they never show full rooms, only vignettes?  Do you think they even live there?

"And all those stories about Reggie's family, do you think they really happened?

Same with this crew.  I'll bet that Reggie couldn't fool them, either!
Image courtesy of CBS Television

"How much of this stuff is made up?

"I can't find out anything about these guys when I Google them.  That's pretty strange, I think.  You can almost always find something about someone these days with a simple Internet search.  Not these two, though.  Except that blog—there are lots of links to that . . . but not to them.

"It all sounds kind of fishy to me . . ."

Well, Dear Reader, it has come time for me to answer some of these questions.  For, you see, Reggie has been revealed.  There is a certain design magazine on the newsstands now that spills the beans.  Reggie has been outed.

The magazine in which all is revealed . . .

And that's just fine with him.  Because, Reggie actually outed himself.  He agreed to use his "real" name in the story in the magazine because a lot of people already knew that Reggie wasn't the name he was born with, but rather a nom de plume.

Darlington House, as seen in the June 2013 issue of AD

Besides, he was quite pleased to have Darlington House featured in the magazine, and he thought it would be silly not to have his "real" name associated with it.  He's very proud of Boy Fenwick for appearing in Architectural Digest's pages, a coup for any decorator.  It doesn't get any better than that, Dear Reader.

Mr. Boy Fenwick standing at the front door
of Darlington House

"So," you may ask, "If you use made up names in your blog, Reggie, is everything else made up, too?"

Won't you please come into the front hall?

No.  Well, not really.  Other than coming up with playfully Wodehouse-ian names, most everything Reggie writes about is true, and actually happened.  From time to time, though, he does admit to playing around with some of the minor details (such as writing that MD drank scotch when in reality she drank Canadian Club).  But he does so mostly to perfect the voice in his stories.

Do make yourself comfortable in the drawing room.
Would you like something to drink?  A cocktail, perhaps?

"But why, Reggie, do you use a nom de plume?"

Because, Dear Reader, I prefer to keep this blog—a lifestyle one—separate from my very busy and demanding professional life in the financial services industry.  I have a whole "other" life that I prefer not to co-mingle with what I do here in my off hours, for fun.

Reggie is upstairs in the master bedroom straightening his tie
at the moment.  He'll be right down to meet you!

And I plan to keep it that way, too, Dear Reader, even though Reggie's secret it out.

Won't you please play along with me?

Photographs: Unless noted otherwise, all images courtesy of Architectural Digest magazine

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Trade Secrets Redux

This past weekend was the annual Trade Secrets Garden Show in Sharon, Connecticut.  I wrote about attending it last year (it is a "must do" in our calendar), so I'm not going to go into too much detail here about the show except to say that this year's well-attended event was a glorious one, and held on a blissfully lovely day.  It was heaven!

Reggie's topiary loot purchased at Trade Secrets
sitting on a bench at Darlington House

Litchfield County, Connecticut, where Trade Secrets is held on a gentlewoman's handsome working farm, is known for its rolling hills, quaint villages, open farmland, and estates hidden down long gravel driveways.  The area is a magnet for rich New Yorkers who prefer its low key charms to the frenzied mayhem of what has become of the Hamptons.  Nothing showy about this part of Connecticut, Dear Reader—it's all very discreet and tasteful.  Which is just how Reggie likes it, by the way.

We were joined at the show and over the weekend by the charming and amusing Meg Fairfax Fielding, of Pigtown Design fame.  The weekend was a non-stop gabfest of stories, laughter, and socializing.  I encourage you to check out Meg's blog, Dear Reader, as she is a kindred spirit, indeed.

So what did Reggie succumb to at the Trade Secrets show this year?

Topiaries.  Again!  And not just a few, mind you, but rather nine of them (an instant collection!), purchased at the booths of Atlock Farm and Snug Harbor Farm.  While Reggie has vowed time and time again not to buy any more myrtle topiaries (given his unfortunate history of murdering them), he is not a very disciplined fellow and he rationalized while considering his topiary options at the show that adding only one myrtle to the mix was permissible.  That's because if when he murders it at least he'll (hopefully) be able to console himself with the several remaining (non myrtle) topiaries that (he prays) will have avoided such a dismal fate awaiting the (currently healthy) myrtle one he bought at the show.  In the meantime, the topiaries he brought home with him are giving him lots of pleasure, which is what it is all about, isn't it?

Wish me luck!

Photograph by Reggie Darling

Friday, May 17, 2013

May Flowers

Last weekend, as I was loading up the car to drive back to the city from Darlington House, I found a basket of spring flowers waiting for me on the brick terrace in front of our kitchen door.

Boy had filled the basket, a trug really, with purple and white lilacs cut from our property and a dozen parrot tulips bought the day before at the farmers market in the nearby town.

I was so taken by the flowers' simple beauty that I asked Boy to photograph them, so I could remember them.

Lilacs are probably my favorite flower—well, at least they are among my top three favorites, which would also include peonies and garden roses.  I admit I am also rather partial to parrot tulips—so lush and elemental, verging upon the bizarre.

But how could one choose favorites among these lovely flowers?  They are so beautiful and plump, and heady with perfumed fragrance.  One is grateful for them, and for one's life when one is so fortunate to have their company, however fleeting it may be.

photographs by Boy Fenwick

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Simple Pleasure of a Chiming Clock In One's Bed Chamber

As readers of this blog well know, Reggie is a somewhat old-fashioned fellow.  While he appreciates the conveniences and advances of the modern world, when it comes to how he lives his daily life his feet are inclined to be planted in an earlier time of rotary telephones, winding clocks, and monthly calendars.  In England he might be considered a Young Fogey, except that he has long since passed beyond what anyone (except for those of a very advanced age) might consider to still be young.  Sad, Dear Reader, but true.

Reggie's carriage clock
sitting on a chest of drawers at Darlington House

As a boy I had a fascination with carriage clocks, which I first came across in the houses of my little friends and also those of our neighbors.  Developed in France around 1810 by master clock-maker Abraham Louis Breguet (1747-1823), carriage clocks (also known as "officer's clocks," or pendules de voyage) are compact traveling timepieces that were fashionable among well-to-do Europeans and Americans throughout much of the nineteenth century.  Their appeal was both visual (they are pleasing to look at) and practical, as the clocks' mechanisms were cleverly designed to keep ticking (and thus telling accurate time) on bumpy carriage and train rides.

An early French carriage clock, with its original leather carrying case
Image courtesy of the Clock Workshop, Winchester, England

As I grew into adulthood I considered buying myself an antique carriage clock, but refrained from doing so (even though sorely tempted in several instances) because of a (perhaps unfounded) concern that finding someone to skillfully refurbish said clock to modern timekeeping standards would be challenging and expensive.  In other words, I was concerned that the purchase price of the clock would merely be the entry ticket to a long and costly project that might not, in the end, produce the desired result: a well regulated clock that keeps accurate time.

"The London to Bath Coach" by John Charles Maggs (1819-1896)
Image courtesy of Wikimedia

But that all changed a decade or so ago when I was fortunate to find myself on holiday in London.  I had recently received a substantial bonus at the Investment Bank where I work, and—as they say—money was burning a hole in my pocket.  (I note that this was back in the days when Investment Banks still paid handsome bonuses, which is today but a sad (albeit sweet) and (increasingly) distant memory for those of us who remain employed in what is left of that industry.)

"The New Steam Carriage" by George Morton
Image courtesy of Wikimedia

In any event, Reggie was in a shopping mood on that particular trip, so where do you think he made his way to in order to indulge his desire to spend?  Asprey!  Yes, the august English bespoke jeweler, silversmith, leather goods and timepiece purveyor to royals, aristocrats, and moneybags the world over.

I didn't go to Asprey to buy a carriage clock, mind you, but it was there that I serendipitously chanced upon the perfect one to bring home with me to Darlington House, as a souvenir (well, a trophy, really) of our trip to London.  While strolling through Asprey's New Bond Street store I came across a display of handsome clocks in a room that included a modern gilt brass carriage clock made in the traditional form.  I wondered: "Could this be the fulfillment of my desire (finally) to own a carriage clock that actually works?"  After giving the glittering timepiece a look over, and having the saleslady demonstrate its features to me, I decided to buy it.  Yes, it was rather costly, Dear Reader—I was shopping at Asprey, after all.

Asprey's store on New Bond Street in London
Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The carriage clock I acquired that day has stood ever since on a chest of drawers in our bedroom at Darlington House, where it pleases me whenever I see it, or hear it.  For, you see, Dear Reader, my little clock softly and mellifluously chimes the number of hours at every hour and a single note at every half hour, so it is not only a visual reminder of the passing of time, but a gently aural one too.

The clock's works are a marvel
of elegant engineering

I had never before known the pleasure of a chiming clock in one's bedroom, and I have come to be a great appreciator of mine as the years have passed.  There is something quietly reassuring of hearing its chime strike softly as one wakens, either during the night or in the morning, and to learn what time it is.  When one has such a clock in one's bedroom one needn't grope for one's bedside clock to find out the hour, but rather one's clock sweetly and quietly announces it from across the room.

There's no place like home, Dear Reader.

Photographs of Reggie's carriage clock by Boy Fenwick
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