(Stone wall, Mont St. Michel, France, 2008)
A stone or brick house is the ultimate refuge from the Big Bad Wolf: strong, impregnable and protective. I have long felt a powerful love for dwellings fashioned from these elements and for the images and feelings they inspire: a safe haven against the fierce outside world, a tangible evocation of romance and a palpable connection to a long-distant past.
In choosing stones and bricks as our materials, we are able to build houses like my son builds his Legos -- in ceaseless shapes and variations and colors. Whether stacked painstakingly on top of one another according to a precise plan...
(A Voysey house, South Kensington, London, 2008)
...or added onto haphazardly over generations and then abandoned...
(Stone and brick cottage, Scotland, 2007)
the results are the same: a unique monument to individuality which lies in sharp contrast to the increasingly anonymous poured-concrete-and-steel world we live in today.
(Macchu Picchu dwelling, 2007)
The house below I am convinced is enchanted. After years of walking through Hyde Park (I could swear along the same pathways), suddenly one day it appeared in front of me, nestled in a thicket of trees, looking as if it had just escaped from 1850's Barsetshire.
(Cottage, Hyde Park, London, 2008)
Built centuries ago, some buildings seem to vibrate with the pulse of countless ghostly inhabitants, but I don't find them spooky in the least.
(Bruges, Belgium, 2008)
On the contrary, I like to think that each generation of inhabitants (no matter how small) adds a new layer of character to their dwelling...
( A children's manor house, Normandy, France, 2008)
...and that with the lapping caresses of time, we are lucky enough to behold them today, swathed in a well-worn patina of charm.
(Scottish cottage, Loch Lomond, 2008)
Just as the best cooking pans are the ones which have been seasoned through the enjoyment of endless meals, so are the best houses the ones which have been enriched to perfection through generations of lives well lived.
(Farmhouse, Normandy, 2008)
As one of my great heroes, Winston Churchill, so eloquently remarked, "We shape our buildings. Thereafter, they shape us."