A river runs

Apparently it’s been a dry and lovely summer here on the West Coast and, while we can still believe that it’s the height of summer, there are undeniable signs of autumn all around.

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But what do we care about that on a golden Saturday as this Saturday it turning out to be?

We pick our way thru the boreal forest, around the giant cedars and firs, thru the curtain of vine maple…


…to the aspens and the river.

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And we stick out feet right in and and balance on the slippery rocks with our toes.

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And then, when the cold, mountain water isn’t taking our breath away, we gently ease our bodies right into the river…

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…and watch as the aspens drop their leaves and float them by.

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And hours go by and the shadows lengthen and we reluctantly dry off and head out of the boreal forest for home.


And as we walk out of the forest, the summer river seems like a memory because the signs of autumn whisper to us from all around. They are as ephemeral as a spider’s web and as real as next year’s wildflowers seeds caught within.

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But even as our thoughts turn to autumn, we will hold on to our summer river as long as we can.

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Time for one last walk. The Wychwood forest.

Very close to us at West Cottage is a forest called Wychwood. It used to stretch over 180 square miles and was counted as a Royal Forest of William the Conqueror in the 1086 Doomsday book.

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It’s a mixed forest of pines, beech, oak, maple, and the most glorious, tall bracken undergrowth.

It has a circular public path thru it and we chose to have a walk here today.

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At one point, the path wend out of the forest…

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…and we stopped and looked over our beautiful Oxfordshire countryside…

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…and the golden fields around us.

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Then we found a majestic oak and had a rest and listened to the forest.

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Summer is almost over and we can see autumn approaching fast.
Tomorrow I have to leave the country and return to the city, but I’m glad we got to walk thru this magical forest before I had to go.

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch, and I’ll come visit everyone after I land in Vancouver.

Friday night disaster…averted!

I have a Land Rover story to tell you, but rather than show you the gruesome happenings, I’m going to show you the lovely vintage things I bought the other day.

So, I had to run into Oxford today and Robbie and I made a deal that I would undercoat the chassis of the Landi first thing this morning and then, while I’m in Oxford, R would put the floors back in.

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“Just get under the car,” Robbie said, “I’ll spread out a carpet remnant for you. It’ll be easy. Half an hour and you’ll have it done.”

Then he said, “Here, use this scrapper and this screwdriver and this wire brush to just brush off the loose bits before you paint it.” :D

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So I tied my two feet of hair into a braid, got into R’s overalls, climbed under the car and started scraping the tar goop and loose rust off…which started falling all over the carper remnant, R’s overalls, and my two feet of hair!!! And the more I moved under the car, the more it got into my hair.

About an hour into it R came to see how I was getting on.
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And to help me with the job because we greatly underestimated the amount of work.

About three hours later we were finally finished and I cleaned my hands with the turpentine and ran my fingers thru my fringe and my fingers wouldn’t go thru it.

OMG! How will I get tar and enamel latex out of my hair!

No time for hair rescue, tied it up and drove into Oxford.

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I love to walk the 3 miles into the town centre from the park and ride and today I had a beautiful walk in a strong wind…which blew my hair around and tangled the tar into it even more.

Now I know that the theory is that one shouldn’t have two feet of hair past their 30s but stuff that for a game of soldiers. I love having long hair and, what’s more, I love being a brunette, so cutting the tar out and using solvents was not an option.

So, back home, and I ran a really hot bubble bath, soaked in it for a very long time, washed my hair with R’s strong detergent Pantene instead of my gentle organic shampoo, squidged an entire tube of thick, gloopy conditioner thru my hair in two treatments and combed thru it with a fine toothed comb. The resulting hairball would have made my long haired Morgan jealous, but, a final little comb thru with a bit of coconut oil detangler, and my hair is back to soft, lustrous, normal.

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Disaster averted.
And I have a beautiful, rust free Land Rover (Landi update to follow) :D

WordPress weekly photo challenge, Fray.

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I was just thinking of another meaning. Of how deer fray the velvet off their antlers to mark territory. And I was thinking of how I sat in the grass at Charlecote Park and watched the male roe deer grazing. And, as I sat there, a small group came running down the meadow to join the larger group. They rubbed antlers, smelt noses and accepted each other.

A fray of sorts.

For the wordpress weekly photo challenge, Fray.

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Silhouette

Are you kidding me? :D I love taking photos into the sunlight and getting silhouettes. As a matter of fact, if I could, those would be the only kinds of photos I’d take; that’s how much I love it.

I love the results of shooting into the light, like the boats below.
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But I also love the light itself as a silhouette.

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And my most favourite is capturing silhouettes thru unlikely screens, like leaves and flowers.

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Let me see if I can dig up a sunset shot out of the files. I like those too. :D

For the WordPress weekly photo challenge: Sillouette

Charlecote park kitchens, laundry and brew house

Oh boy, I was in heaven in these Charlecote park rooms.

As a collector of all things vintage, my heart went all out to everything here and I just wanted to move in. As a matter of fact, I contemplated applying for the volunteer job the lady had in the kitchen, making scones for the children and petting the kitchen cat all day.

Except I’d end up painting in these rooms…lol…I just know it. Great big canvases stood up all along the walls. Might not go over too well with the National Trust.

Anyway, have a look and this incredibly photo-heavy post…but then you already know that’s the standard round here. :D

What follows is the most beautiful vintage house porn you’ve seen in a while, and, if you’re like me and love old copper and black steel and ironstone, let’s move in here together.

You can do the scones and I can paint. ;D

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Laundry house:
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Brew house:
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WordPress weekly photo challenge: Texture, and Photo Friday with Nature

Do you love oaks?

I do.
Here is a wealth of old oak and texture from tip to root.

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Sharing with WordPress and the weekly photo challenge: Texture and Photo Friday with From Nature

Visiting Charlecote Park

My friend Elaine dropped off a book at the cottage with instructions that I should read it as we shall go visit a great house. The book was The Mistress of Charlecote, the Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy. And I dutifully read it.

Mary Elizabeth could have stepped right out of a Jane Austin novel. She was the good a dutiful daughter from a well-to-do Welsh family, who was married at 20 to an older George Lucy. She cried and pleaded with her parents against her marriage, but Lucy had a great fortune of £10,000 per year and the estate, and her parents would not be moved. Her mother said, “Love WILL come when you know all of Mr Lucy’s good qualities.” and she did grow to love him, as her mother said she would, and together they had 8 children, (five died), and she lived in his ancestral home till she herself died at a ripe old age.

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The book was an enchanting and, at times, heartbreaking read, and I’ve fallen completely in love with Mary Elizabeth, her husband George, all of the children, and this great house and park she called home.

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The Lucy family have lived in this house since the 13C and have farmed fallow deer on the lands. Now, a herd of about 200 deer roam the park, which was redesigned by Capability Brown in the Victorian times.

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And here is the Tudor house, (with extensive redesigns to Victorian flavour). I’ve taken this photo from the roof of the entrance gate.

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Inside, most of the Tudor is gone, and that whole “throw in as many patterns and colours as possible” Victorian decoration abounds.

This is the sitting room with silk damask wall coverings and Mary Elizabeth’s harp.

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Here is the dining room with silver and furniture gifted to the Lucy’s by Queen Victoria and various other nobles who stayed at the house on holidays. The amazing wallpaper is gilded and flocked.

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Up the grand stairs hallway is a corridor with some bedrooms.


This was Mary Elizabeth and George’s bedroom, where all four children who were born there died. George also died in that bed.

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Another bedroom.

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Back down the stairs is the grand library. It contains original notes and first editions from Shakespeare! Can you believe it? As well as some illuminated books worth fortunes.

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A formal garden to stroll in overlooking the park.

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And just there, in dark brick, is a Victorian addition holding the grand library. (That is overlooking the formal garden.)

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Just here is the river Dene, which joins the river Avon along another side of the park.

Isn’t this a dream house and park? I still want to show you the kitchens, the brewery and laundry and other lovely Charlecote parts. :D

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The palace next door

It makes me chuckle to say that.

Blenheim is very close to us here in Northmoor. It takes us maybe 10 minutes to drive to it and, they have this terrific scheme for annual passes, that, if you buy a day pass, you can upgrade it to an annual for the same price. How terrific is that? Consequently, R and I have had annual passes for a decade.

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I’m always happy to come here, walk the grounds, have lunch in the cafe and tour the Palace, and I always know that photos aren’t permitted inside the Palace, and so, have only really taken one or two with my iPhone. (When no one was looking)

So, when we walked up to the front entrance and the guard told me that photos are now allowed without the flash…WHAT! You’re kidding me? Hooray! :D

I guess it makes perfect sense. Too many non-English speaking, iPhone toting tourists around.

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Blenheim Palace is an amazing trip down British history, and, believe it or not, a certain fisherman’s daughter named Betty Ridge (1745-1808), who was born and worked on the Thames right here in our village of Northmoor, married into the Blenheim Palace family by marrying Viscount Ashbrook William Flower. My friend Julie Godson wrote the book and, as soon as I finish reading it, I’ll tell you all about it.


Though most people know that Blenheim was the home of Vanderbilts and Churchills and now it is the home to John George Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough and his family.

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They don’t live in the public rooms though. These rooms function as a museum and art gallery.

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See that painting above the fireplace? That’s one of my favourites here. It’s Consuelo Vanderbilt (1877-1964). There are loads of paintings and sketches of her around the palace. In all of them she looks very beautiful and elegant and has the most graceful, long neck…like a swan.

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There is so much to look at and take in. This formal dining room has painted plaster walls and ceiling in a giant mural by an 18C painter, Louis Laguerre.

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Even the tiny details are lovely.

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But one of my most favourite rooms is the great library.


Hundreds and hundreds of books behind these ornate doors. I often spend some time reading the spines and they mostly turn out to be history books, encyclopedias and classic literature.

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It’s good to know that Canada isn’t forgotten. :D


But the book that intrigued me the most was this little, blue, out-of-place book. Like someone wedged it out of that spot beside the red book to the right, lay it down and wanted to read it. Oh, can you imagine how much self control it took me not to reach in that cupboard and leaf thru it! Especially since the red book beside it says Diary 1898!!!

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One more from RBG Kew: Glasshouses, plus that lotus keeps showing up

If I lived anywhere near Kew, you’d know just where to find me; right in a glasshouse. Every chance I got.

This is the famous Palm House constructed in 1844. Beyond it you can see the Waterlily House 1852.

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This year the Palm House is fuller and richer than years past because the second giant glasshouse, the Temperate House, is closed for rebuilding and refurbishing for a few years, and, while there’s a temporary glasshouse for the Temperate House plants, some have been relocated into the Palm House.

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I just caught the watering time of the day. Actually, it’s more like the misting time. Isn’t it fantastic? Loved the humid, green, fragrant air.

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So many weird and wonderful blooms.

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Then on to the waterlily house. There’s something about this glasshouse that brings about some sort of reverence.

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It might be the black water, or the reflected light, or it might be the glorious blossoms, but there were at least a dozen people in the glasshouse with me and no one made a sound.

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And just there, there it was, sighing among the grasses. The lotus! A pink one. How beautiful. I have a thing for lotus these days.

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You know, I dream of a glasshouse of my own. I dream of a magnificent pavilion as my studio, or a glasshouse to house fifteen massive palm trees, (although in truth I’d settle for a simple little garden variety greenhouse and my own studios are the most wonderful spaces in the world to me, and I feel so lucky to have them. :D ).


But still had to show you one of my most favourite galleries in the world. This is the Marianne North Gallery. Marianne North was a Victorian botanist and artist and world traveller, and here, practically from floor to ceiling, is a collection of her paintings from all over the world.

Isn’t this the most magnificent space?

I used to take loads and loads of photos here, but last year someone put up a no photographs sign.

“Bah”, we say, and even, “stuff that for a game of soldiers.”

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And sometimes breaking rules is vital, because, here is Marianne’s lotus, and we must have a photograph of that!

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My week has been incredibly busy and I can’t wait to tell you all about visiting Bath, (Wednesday) and Art in Action, (today and tomorrow), taking over the charity book stall on Saturday’s village market, and visiting friends on Sunday, and, I’m also looking forward to the days calming a little next week. Big hugs from busy me over here in West Cottage to all of you. Hoping you’re having lovely, stress free and creative days.

Tell me about your days, leave me links so I can catch up with everyone. :D