Tan House

I’ve been a little slack with the blogs of late, so here is the first one of the year… Here’s is an account of our visit to Tan House…

For my birthday in February Paul and I pushed the boat out and stayed the night at a B&B. We had longed to stay at Tan House in Newland in the Forest of Dean, which we would often admire while out walking (usually after a hearty lunch at The Ostrich just up the road). We would wonder what it was like on the inside and what sort of people owned it. Finally, we had the chance to find out.

So on the worst weekend of weather of the year we headed out to Newland!

Tan House was built in the 17th Century, owned by the Probyn family of Tanners for six generations. It is now owned by Christie Arno and Peter Chamberlain. On arrival we were greeted by Peter and their two German pointers, Gaia and her uncle Zeus. Introductions are always improved upon by the inclusion of animals I find, they give you something to do with your hands while potentially awkward small talk ensues. We were joined shortly after that by Christie, and we chatted further about the stormy weather, how far we had traveled, how we were their only guests that weekend, and birthdays (coincidentally it was Peter’s that day). We then shared the excitement of Peter opening one of his presents from Christie, it was a splendid vintage tweed jacked which he was clearly chuffed to bits with. This gave me an opportunity to berate Paul for not having brought his own tweed jacket, HIS birthday present off me last May…never worn to date, despite much nagging and persuasion.

On our way to our room, I couldn’t help noticing the wall to wall artwork. These people liked their art, what a bonus! After unpacking, and admiring and photographing the views from our well appointed, double aspect room we planned to head back out and brave the storm for a warming butternut squash soup with a ludicrously large doorstop of bread, and perhaps one or two alcoholic beverages at the Ostrich, but not before further chats on our way out, finding out about Peter’s and Christie’s varied and exciting life of art, all the while getting acquainted with Jelly the cat. Christie told us of her time at The Courtauld Institute, Medieval studies, Peter’s time at The London College of Printing, sculptural furniture design and Graphic design. This explained their obvious passion for collecting art.

After lunch the rest of the day went something like this: a wet, windy walk; rifle fire; pheasants; noisy sheep; back for a nap listening to the storm outside; braving the storm again to return to the Ostrich for our evening meal; pitch black journey back to Tan House; BBC documentary about Stephen Fry on our laptop; sleep.

In the morning…

…We all sat down together in their glorious, yellow, wood paneled dining room, to a full English cooked by Peter (eggs freshly laid by their own hens). After breakfast, I revealed my own interest in art and portraiture. I handed my business card to Christie and suggested she peruse my website at her leisure. Paul and I then took a stroll around their superb gardens accompanied by Jelly the cat. By the time we returned, Christie had already logged on to my website, devoured all the artwork and enthusiastically shared her comments about her favourite pieces. I was quite overwhelmed by the praise. It was an honour to receive such admiration from someone so obviously expert in the arts with decades of experience under her belt.

Realising they had kindred spirits as guests, we were then invited to tour the whole house and see their treasured artwork collection. This for me made the trip. It was such a privilege to venture into their private living quarters, bedrooms and all, to view their whole collection! Christie had a tale to tell for each piece. I cooed and oohed at all the art, the furniture and the quirky nooks and crannies of the house with which, by this time I was besotted.

When our tour was over and we finally left Tan House, it was lunch time.

A month on and Christie posted up on the Tan House facebook page a wonderful write-up about my work and our visit.

Here is what she said…

Those who have visited us know that we are defiantly old school B&B. We resist the pressures to have our home turned into a “guest house”, the truth here is that we hope that our visitors feel that for a short time you not only “hire” a room for the night but you are a guest in our home, the decor and decoration no different from our own, save for the fact that the guests have the best bedrooms! Your experience here is little different to that of our old friends, perhaps not surprising when certain of our ‘B&Bs’ are of many years standing. All this is a lead up to talk about how we enjoy our encounters with you. It is truly, truly remarkable the people that find their way to Tan House. For example Amanda Clegg….

In the wintery quiet days of early February Amanda Clegg stayed with us , and over the breakfast table it was apparent that we shared mutual interests , but more significantly we discovered that she was a painter. Because of the joy of webpages I was able then and there to open up Amanda’s world and with what delight and absorbed attention I went through her portfolios. Perhaps because I spent my working life primarily learning the studied linear excellence and lavishly contrived beauties of mediaeval art, it was that, despite my own house full of an eclectic casual hanging of much abstract, colourist, and expressionist art inter alia, that I instantly fell for her work. My impulse immediately is to tell people about her. My view is that every new work created by a proven artist, enhances life and betters our world . I want to share some of her work here on this page, this a challenge to my technical inadequacies, as some of you know, so for the curious , I shall give her website address now www.amandaclegg.co.uk and suggest you look through her utterly imaginative work that I shall talk about in the next post.

Amanda works in several areas, but it is her portraits that attracted my attention….She has a light touch with the issue of “The Portrait” it may be simply be that, as the sitter is, but with always with a distinctive Amanda hand , BUT on the other hand (ouch! I hate puns & that was unintended) you may enjoy adopting and enjoying the transformation and fun to discover yourself or your beloveds in the style and ambience of artistic styles stolen from the past. Exquisite fabrics costume you in Renaissance mode, characteristic stance and expression of the Flemish school might be chosen , see Georgie with the stunning feline presence of a much loved pet that seems likely to stretch and jump out of the frame any moment. I love the naive works. I love the fayum paintings which look as tho’ they have slipped out of the British Museum, and where she so cleverly catches the same optimistic expressions of the original would be seekers of eternal life. I think it is all a joy. Each unique an utterly artistic piece , something that stays for ever …….sadly I cannot show them here , I cannot steal them from the website, but try www.amandaclegg.co.uk

Peter and Christie’s hospitality knows no bounds. You won’t find a more relaxing, uplifting break away. If you are going in the winter months, I recommend wellies and a torch (in case you venture out). Just try to visit in more clement weather!

Find the Tan House website here…

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