In June, North Norfolk is particularly blessed with wide ribbons of scarlet poppies. The flashes of red shout loudly amongst other more timid wild flowers. The meadows appear to dance in the breeze each flower pirouetting on the beat.
Red is a colour not normally associated with Utopia, but at this time of year, living in North Norfolk, one cannot but wonder at its enchantment. It started with a view of three scarlet fields at the gateway to Creake Abbey, followed by a surprise sight of another glorious poppy meadow on our journey to Wiveton Hall to pick strawberries.
The lush crop of succulent fruit beckoned us in to devour its abundance. Gathering strawberries for jam making feels a real treat on a sunny day in Norfolk – bend, forage, find and basket, repeat, bend, forage, find and basket - gathers a slow momentum. Seduced by the all-pervading sweet heart fragrance, the basket fills itself easily.
The heady aroma transports to the kitchen where jam pan and boiling fruit meld before warmed jars. Apron once green now splashed and scrumbled with red sticky handprints and sweet smiles of endless setting tests. Labelled pots of red goodness parade in the store cupboard – North Norfolk delights abound.
For red lovers we have an exotic design of rich red hues, Pheasant Fancy is one our exclusive limited edition lamp shades, and it’s illumination creates a warming glow.
Looking after yourself is always on the agenda, but it doesn’t always get attention – we know first hand how hard it can be. So, we have devised a suggestion of a day trip to somewhere that will rejuvenate you. This idea does come with a serious health warning that you may leave feeling inspired, exercised, relaxed and well fed!
So to look after your body and soul we advise you to make plans to visit Houghton Hall this summer.
Tonics include the following good health promoting attractions:
1. New installations by Richard Long
If you caught the national news last week you would have seen environmental artist and Turner prize winner Richard Long, talking about his new installations inside the historic hall and in the estate's magical parkland. Experience 'the spirit of place' for yourself by wandering around the vast estate.
Top up your art-fix by visiting Norfolk By Design’s curated selling exhibition that runs all summer in the atmospheric stables. Here you'll find affordable art from the cream of the county's artists and designers. Plus you'll see our responses to the wonderful landscaped grounds in the form of two new drawings - now available as limited edition fine art prints framed and unframed. ‘Houghton Hall: West Perspective’ and ‘Houghton Hall: East Perspective’ reveal vistas where dynamic avenues of planted beech and lime punctuate the country estate. The trees act as a dramatic counterpoint to this historic hall - creating sight lines with a powerful perspective.
Above: A different perspective - Jac's new drawings especially for Houghton Hall
Unwind and lose yourself in the impressive sculpture garden with pieces: 'Skyspace’ by the American artist James Turrell, Anya Gallacio, Zhan Wang, Stephen Cox, Jeppe Hein, Rachel Whiteread and Phillip King.
Sharpen your eyesight with a stroll around the parkland spotting herds of deer - the unusual white deer are a particular treat.
Relax in the 5 acres of the picturesque walled garden - one of the Hall's favourite places.
Get inspired by one of England's finest Palladian houses - built in the 1720s for Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole.
Then take some sustenance at the Stables cafe.
If you’re not replete then pop down the road to see us at Creake Abbey for more art, food and history.
Here at Utopia we are still amazed at the plethora of effects that different types of light cast on colours, even after so many years of studying the concept. This enchanting power, that alters one's perception, is a wonderment we want to share with you. Here are a few useful pointers about the basic concept.
Consider the direction of the sun and its relationship to the walls at different times of the day. A north facing room will have a very moody and intense version of the colour, whilst a south facing room will have stark shadows and light moving around the room during the day, changing both the strength of the colours and the mood of the room.
BELOW: the inside of the summer house at Anglesey Abbey beautifully illustrates the power of sunlight on colours.
The type and strength of artificial light is a major factor in colour perception too. The range on offer is vast including: incandescent bulbs, fluorescents, halogen bulbs, neon, light emitting diodes, candles and oil lamps. The possibilities and variations are endless with cool and warm options (see below) colour changing and sequential, and then of course dimmable - all will affect the colours you choose.
BELOW: one of our transformations where an Edwardian brass chandelier is given a contemporary twist with giant globe dimmable LEDs.
The colour of artificial light has impact too - it is measured on the Kelvin temperature scale where the lower the number the more yellow the light quality and the higher the number the more white or blue the light.
Warm white- 2500K-3000K is the standard colour of incandescent bulbs.
ABOVE: warm white pearl bulb
Bright white/cool white- 3500K-4100K.
Ambient light is atmospheric and thus creates moods and emphasises the dark tones of a colour.
Task lighting creates flashes or spots of intense colour fading out to shadows.
Want to know about light bulbs? Probably like most of us, you only notice those little but essential parts of our modern lives when they stop working. Here the BBC has a mini broadcast about light bulbs, helping us gain insight into those things that we all rely on to see in the dark!
50 Things That Made the Economy Modern - light bulb
'Once too precious to use, now too cheap to notice - the significance of the lightbulb is profound. Imagine a hard week's work gathering and chopping wood, ten hours a day for six days. Those 60 hours of work would produce light equivalent to one modern bulb shining for just 54 minutes. The invention of tallow candles made life a little easier. If you spent a whole week making them - unpleasant work - you would have enough to burn one for two hours and twenty minutes every evening for a year. Every subsequent technology was expensive, and labour-intensive. And none produced a strong, steady light. Then, as Tim Harford explains, Thomas Edison came along with the lightbulb and changed everything, turning our economy into one where we can work whenever we want to.'