Sissinghurst and RSVP


…Josef and I visited Sissinghurst. When we finally found it tucked away in Kent, I was surprised. I expected to see a manor house and found that Vita’s famous home was a tower. And when she lived in it, well at least when she first moved in with her husband, the tower and its grounds were in a complete mess. Along with some outbuildings, the tower had been used as a madhouse and prison prior to their ownership. In the early days, Vita and her husband more or less camped in the tower. It had no running water, no heating and no toilet. They tucked themselves up, ate tins of sardines and just threw them out of the window down onto the rubbish tip below. Hard to imagine when you see her elegant portrait attached.

However, they didn’t leave things like that and spent their time developing the garden which was beloved by them and all the visitors that have followed since their departure. But I was there to reflect on her relationship with Virginia Woolf. I’d planned to take a copy of their letters with me to read in the sunny grounds, but the copy hadn’t turned up in the library. I took instead a book I was well into called RSVP, written by my friend Tara Moore. The story had become gripping, but what I found even more interesting was the lift it gave me when I read it and figured this was a mirror reflection of Tara’s personality. The novel fitted with the sunshine, the ice cream and our picnic and made it a wonderful day.


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