An art day

It’s been a funny kind of a day today, and I suppose there’s something about the moon or this heat or something, because I woke up feeling super down.

R and I were listening to the Sound of the 60s on BBC 4 over our breakfast in bed. Usually we end up bopping away to the silly songs, but today the songs just made me feel weepy. Especially the song Blackbird.

And I don’t even know why…that’s the drag of it all. I mean, nothing really happened at all! Maybe it’s last night’s bad sleep or a couple small annoyances that added up to a major downer…I don’t really know. But R just hugged me thru it and told me that all we are are tiny, insignificant carbon-based lifeforms, spinning gently on this tiny planet, around a little burning star, in an obscure section of the Milky Way, a tiny galaxy in a universe of billions of galaxies, with other life forms thinking that they’re all alone out there, and right now, this moment, everything’s fine right here with us…and it was.

Today was going to be an easy, stay at home kind of day for me. R had a client come today with his mini to have R map the engine, and so I took the afternoon to paint.

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I started the kingfisher the other day on a page from a 1920′s copy of Grieg’s Sigurd Jorsalfar, and so I finished him today.

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But what I really wanted to paint was a blackbird. One page didn’t seem like enough, so I took out two middle pages from the same Grieg and started these.

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Many more layers of dark paint and then I’ll stand them on fence posts.

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I was looking thru some photos and found a few of some fireweed, (willowherb in the UK). Maybe I’ll paint a bunch of fireweed behind and around my blackbirds.

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Actually, I’ve been taking a bunch of random country photos these days because I think I’d like to paint an oil of a pastoral scene of some kind and my photos usually serve as terrific reference for paintings.

I snapped this one, (like a lot of them), while R was driving yesterday.

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You know, at the time I took this one, I thought to myself, “will that dead spiderweb show up” and then I though, “No, it probably wont.”

Well, actually, what I managed was to give myself a webby Dali moustache. :D

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Big hugs, and I hope you all have a brilliant, happy and relaxing Sunday, which ever corner of the ol’ globe you’re in.

The Land Rover restoration catch up

We may have officially tipped the balance of the scale onto the chaos side with four cars on the go, but we’re plugging along slowly but surely.

My mini, Robert’s new black mini, and Robert’s Medusa project are a bit on hold for the Land Rover because we’d really like to drive it somewhere this summer. Before I get on with telling you how it’s all going and probably boring you with tons of car photos, I’d like to say that Robert is the innovative creator of this project and I’m mostly kind of like the magician’s assistant. (But maybe without the cute costume and the rhinestones)

Well, let’s see, let’s start at the beginning of this Land Rover restoration:

Soap and water! That’s always a good place to start.
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Once the mud and grime were somewhat subdued, I saw a few problem spots. One was carpet backing glued onto one of the rear panels and also this:

The caulked, chalky residue that happens when steel rubs against aluminum.
Time to get the angle grinder.

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Well now, the carpet backing came off really easily, but I was in a hurry and didn’t bother with a respirator. Big Mistake!

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I was finding it really hard to close the boot lid. I mean I had to push with all my might to get the bottom panel flush enough with the car to slip the locks sideways. R deduced that one of the previous owners had dropped the boot lid down without the chain attached and it hit and bent on the tow ball, so R took of the side braces and straightened them out.

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In the meantime, I had an ugly job ahead of me requiring gasoline, diesel, my hair dryer and toothbrush, and tons of hours. But it had to be done.

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One of the previous owners, (probably the same one who dropped the boot lid and bent it), had applied a tar based undercoating and glued down thick woollen insulation all over the foot well and under the seats and covered the original labels and made a huge, goopy mess. If I was going to restore this, the tar had to go.

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You see that one bright spot above with the original paint showing? That was an hour worth of work. See the side of the seat below? Yeah, that took three hours!

By day four with tar gunk I was convinced the previous owner should be hunted down and shot!

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Tools of the trade!

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On Thursday, we took the day to drive out to the scrap yard to find some missing bits for the Dodo.

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We found some scrapped Landies and got to work finding and removing the pieces we needed.

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There’s a Landi there with this short roof turning it into a pick up. I’m thinking it might be great fun to get that roof and have the choice. What do you think? R says there’s no more room in the garages…lol.

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One of the things missing was a fan for the heater. A blue Landi had a lovely red one and R took it out for me while I picked wild flowers. (I know, I’m such a help!)

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Here are some of the things we got from the scrap yard. They include the red fan, a battery bracket plus tie-downs, and bump stops.

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We also got a spare tire, which sits on the bonnet and makes the Landi look super aggressive. it’s slightly smaller than the wheels I have now, but will get me home in a pinch.

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In the meantime…lol…It’s my birthday on Sunday, :D and for my prezzies I asked R for some needed Landi bits. He bought me some wonderful things, like these new rubber gaskets, and they’ve been arriving over the past couple days.

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Here are some of my prezzies and the scrap yard finds…and my cup of tea.

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And can I just tell you how wonderful Robert’s been today?

He’s replaced the fan, replaced the drag link ball joint in the steering and scrubbed it down and painted it yellow, replaced the head lights, replaced the battery for a larger one, put the hold-down strap on the battery, replaced the wing braces under the wheel arches, and helped me with the sanding disk in the angle grinder.

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While mostly I got on with that horrible tar gunk…upside down…under the steering wheel…between the pedals…with gasoline and a toothbrush. :(

(I believe there is a “no more tar” light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s flickering ever so dimly away in the distance, but it’s there!)

Also today, we took it into the construction site for a test drive!

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But then, what’s that feeling? Oh no, the clutch is slipping in third gear. That’s going to be an undertaking.

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But, this evening, R ordered me a new clutch plate and tomorrow’s a new day. :)

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Walking down to my village, Northmoor

It’s been a wonderful summer day round here. It was the perfect day for a lunch time visit with our friends Chris and Diane.

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After lunch, Robert and Chris wanted to talk cars and general boy stuff, so Diane and I decided to walk down to the village to look around, post a letter, and visit the church.

Northmoor is about a mile down the lane form West Cottage, past fields and farms and country estates.

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We saw this big guy! Look at the size of his horns!

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Further down the lane we found these little lambs who came trotting to us and they were so loud!

I fed them some dandelion leaves.

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In the village, the cottages are so lovely. I love the old English feeling of our village.

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Then up to and into the church.

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And said hello to my Knights Templar Thomas Moore…

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…and his lady Isabel.

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We walked around inside the church and read the grave stones and carvings.

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Had one more look around and walked back up the lane to the cottage. :D


Village open garden tour which turned into a visit

My friend Elaine called Sunday morning to say come to the village open garden tour from 2-4 pm.
We said we would love to.
Well, I was dying to visit and catch up with Elaine and William, and so the village garden tour turned into a visit one garden and stay put tour. (Besides, Elaine made tea and some wonderful cakes). :D

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Elaine and William’s garden is a wonderful British mix of jumbled beds of flowers…

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…and beautiful cultivated organisation…


…all backing onto a field, walking distance to the Thames.

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There’s plenty of whimsy in the garden, (like this flute playing frog and tons of bells tied to the branches of a tree), and Elaine had some lovely pots of plants and home grown fruit for sale.

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One of the visitors described the garden as a little fantasy garden for children to play and I can see why. There’s a lovely open grassy area for turning cartwheels and somersaults, hidey areas behind trees and under arches and little paths thru little woods and shady, ferny places.


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And there’s a pond with reeds, waterlilies and beautiful little goldfish.

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I asked Elaine for a little piece of this spectacular Gyppsophilia for my garden. I’d love to grow it in memory of Theo.

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So we wandered around the garden having our tea and cake, chatted with new friends and connected with old.


And had the most wonderful afternoon. :D

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A day at Aston Tirrold

Today Robert and I went to the lovely village of Aston Tirrold to help R’s sister Catherine prepare for her house move.

She took us out to lunch at the local pub The Crown.


Do you know English village pubs? If you do, don’t you just love them?

Most have an outdoor patio…

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…and that quaint Old English feel inside.

According to Wiki, there are 261 different The Crown pubs in England and they have nothing to do with each other, unlike The Slug and Lettuce pubs which are a chain…go figure. :D

Pub and house names are an ancient tradition round here. Most likely, some proprietor of this The Crown, wanted to show his loyalty to the royalty of the day. House names rarely change round here.


We three ordered the first three things on the menu and had a seat and looked around.

I know that sometimes estate firms offer “a wealth of old oak” as a selling feature for period homes, but this pub really does have a wealth of old oak, from the lovely beams and special little iron brackets to the floors.

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And, of course, the obligatory beers and ales on draught.

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Later in the afternoon we relaxed in the garden with Catherine’s cat Jet.

He’s a big, soft squishy bun of a boy. We were wondering who is bigger, Jet or Milo. Then we wondered what would happen if we could put them nose to nose to compare. Probably a lot of fur would fly…lol.

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We coaxed shy little Sable out from the tall grass…

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…and, eventually, Lynx came back from the fields for a cuddle, and proceeded to dribble all over everyone with sheer teenage happiness. Lynxey is a very young cat and, like most teenagers, was squirmy and impossible to hold still, so sorry about the blurred photos; these were the best out of at least 20, but you can sort of see how pretty she is. Also, I rarely get to see her because she’s always off in the fields killing something, so this was a big treat for me.


We had a lovely day, and it was wonderful for me to catch up and see the garden and the kitties.

Looking forward to seeing you again next week Catherine. :D

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Here I am in England! At home.

Look what Robert had waiting for me!

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But that’s not all. Look what else was waiting for me!

This is my new car; it’s a vintage, 1970′s series 3 Land Rover.

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And it’s MINE! Robbie bought it for me and he and Jason fixed almost everything on it in time for me to get here.

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By the way, it’s been named DODO (as per the license plate)! So I’m introducing you to The Dodo. You’ll probably see a lot of it and my mini this summer, (which by the way has been named The Doctor because the license plate says DOC. I need a Dalek key chain for my mini…lol).

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What I thought when I got here was that I only had three tea bags left in the cupboard. How could I survive with only three tea bags? :( There just is no way! So I asked R to drive to the store so I could get some more tea.

Then we cleaned up the cupboard and found all this tea! :D

But he still drove to the store to get me some fresh tea bags.

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Ah…my hero!

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Now we’re at home. R is with our friend Alan trying to sort out a problem on Alan’s car and I’ve just picked this lovely, fat Nigella seed pod out of the garden…

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…and drew it on the page that says “English”.

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It’s good to be here. :D

Summer at home tour

EDIT: Winner of the chickadee/bluetit painting is number 3 Patricia
and Winner of the towhee painting is number 37 Marion

It’s been an exciting few days of trying to figure out exactly what where home for the summer is.

I sat in my studio and started to paint and came up with this image: The impossibility of my West Coast chickadee on the same bird feeder as my British blue titmouse. Both the same species of birds, both hundreds of miles apart. And that best describes my life, my friends, because Canada may be my country, but Europe is my home town.

Most of you know that I was born in Prague and now live between Vancouver Canada and Oxfordshire UK, so this probably doesn’t come as a surprise.

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As far as I can remember life has always been like that…an adventure, and this site is a way for me to communicate that adventure with you.

This is where I live for 7 or so months of the year: a 1920 Craftsman cottage nine streets away from the Pacific ocean. Where I have a studio in the loft, with a rather large green and oak trunk, which holds C’s summer journals.

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Chloe has been keeping summer journals practically since she could write. I looked at the journals yesterday. I flipped thru the pages and remembered us in Geneva, in Vienna, in Prague, in Venice, in Paris and in England. Every summer, ever spring, every school holiday and sometimes when there was no holiday but we said, “Stuff that for a game of soldiers, let’s get out of here!” And we lived there. Really lived there. Rented an apartment, spoke the language, cooked the groceries we bought, entertained the friends we made, hiked the country, rented a car and ended up in Lichtenstein, got on the fast train to Prague and spent the night in Berlin (oops)…really lived.

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I’m so glad we glued C’s photo to the front of each journal as a reference to that year. These journals are put away now, safely, for her future, but each one is a treasure of summer memories.

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Right now I’m about five days away from switching city for country, pavement for meadow.

The quirky 1920′s cottage in Vancouver for an equally quirky 1950′s cottage in Oxfordshire with a name rather than an address, West Cottage, five fields away from the Thames, where my love is at the moment.

Switching my beautiful blue/green ocean…

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for my beautiful blue/green river.


Where I always stop for tea and dream up new art, new techniques, new media…

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Like enamelled copper, pottery, stone carving and lino cuts.

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Where my vintage mini and land rover wait for me to join Robert’s one-of-a-kind cars and our friends at races and car shows.

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Where I hound car boot sales and come back with way too many treasures to cart back to Vancouver at once.

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But this summer is a special summer. I’ll be going to Prague first. Back to the heart of my home, my spirit, my wandering Bohemian nature. I’m going where the light is pink and my grandparents sleep in the warm earth. Going to visit family and friends, to speak the language, to walk the streets, to touch the city and connect with my home.


And then, then I’ll fly back to London, and Robert will pick me up and we’ll drive thru Oxford…


and we’ll go home.

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And we’ll stay at home till the weather turns and the early autumn fogs start rolling over the meadows and all the wildflowers turn to seed…


…and the wind will change direction and we’ll feel it and see it in the willows, and I will leave my river…

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…and return to my ocean.


Do you remember a couple of posts back I said I would give away this image (below)? Well, I decided to give away both the chickadee/titmouse and the beginning of this post and this towhee image below, plus a few of my greeting cards, and any other silly and wonderful goodies I can think of, to two random generator numbers, so, if you like, please leave me a comment and I’ll draw the name on Monday morning and post it off PDQ before I leave on Tuesday, (so please leave me a way to get in touch to get your addy). Also, I’m off to visit with my daughter Kerstie and my three granddaughters for the weekend (and this requires hours of driving), so might not have a chance for replies till a bit later, but, since we’re probably all bloggers and you all feel the same thrill, am every so grateful for each and every comment and connection. :D

Also, sending out a great, big, THANK YOU to Kelly who invited me to take part in this lovely blog tour. Please pop over to her site. You’ll love her warm and gentle nature as much as I do.

Here is the updated blog tour list for everyone to visit these lovely gals.

Wednesday,  June 18th

 On Sutton Place

Stone Gable

My Soulful Home

Thursday,  June 19th

 Country Design Style

Cedar Hill Farmhouse

Lilacs & Longhorns

Friday,  June 20th

 Thistlewood Farms

At The Picket Fence

Jennifer Rizzo 


Saturday,  June 21st

Our Southern Home

Southern Hospitality

Debbie Doos

Veronica Roth

Finding Home

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Photo Friday and WordPress photo challenges

Lol… Alive, Inside:

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Don’t worry, it’s just dusty little ‘ol me. We were enlarging one of the bedrooms at West Cottage. :D

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Last randomness from E

So, it’s almost that time again, I have to switch countries.

Yesterday Robbie and I took down the Christmas tree and all the deckies. We kept it up extra long because neither one of us really wanted Christmas to end, (even though we did tell ourselves that our visiting friends Chris and Diane needed to see the tree), actually, deep down we both know that our time in E is coming to a close and it’ll be 2-3 months before we are together again and neither one of us wants that, but then neither one of us wanted the inevitability of R having to take down the tree and deckies by himself…too sad.

So the only thing Christmas left at the cottage is this basket of nuts and one box of R’s After Eights. (we also finished the Christmas cake last night)

But then, it’s time to focus on spring and new projects.
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Took Theo to the vet this week because he was acting like perhaps something was stuck in his teeth, or his mouth. The vet found a loose and infected tooth…poor old buddy…and she hoiked it out :( and sent us away with anti-inflammatory drops for him, which will also help his arthritis in the cold weather.

We also found out that he’s lost a bit of weight, which we don’t like, so we’ve been spoiling him rotten with assorted bowls of yumminess. We thought his head might explode at the choices, but he just dives right in!

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This winter R and I completed a few projects, like insulating a part of the attic space previously uninsulated, and clearing out and reorganising the shed…you know…those mundane type things no one really wants to tackle. So we’re really happy it’s done!

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I did some research and found out that there is no easy way I can take my orchid to Vancouver…barring three separate permits and inspections to protect Canada from imported British pests and diseases…Boo! That means I’ve just lumbered Robbie with a fifth house plant to take care of while I’m not here, and while I take houseplants as a replaceable commodity, he takes it all very seriously and wants them to survive and be happy until I get back. And he’s not a plants person at all! Poor R.

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But for now, we still have a couple of days and open fires and healthy Theo and each other. Counting our blessings. :)

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Sharing with Nancy and the random crew. :)

Tea in Wallingford

Well, all the wind and rain has resulted in some localised flooding. I joked that now we live in The Lake District, because all the fields are lakes! The Thames and Windrush have resulted in some sewer and drainage problems in Northmoor and so what are we going to do?

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We went for the day to a lovely market town about 23 miles away to have a mooch in the antique arcade and a bit of lunch.
The first thing I saw was the stall with this shelf. OMG! I loved everything on it! I loved the dog and the funny harlequin cat, that weird…thing in between, and I love the paintings. Wanted to buy it all. Ok, let’s just get something straight right now. I actually wanted to buy 75% of everything in the arcade…lol.

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But I wanted to have a look at some lovely tea also. What do we all think about the tiered plates/cup/thing? I kind of like it. The cup might hold some flowers while the plates hold the goodies. (Assuming the water doesn’t run out thru the hole.)


You know, I really would love to learn how to carve wood because these funny ducks would be the first thing I’d carve. Love how they sit in this basket.

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Look at this! Here is an exquisite hand-painted Victorian tea service.

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And Robbie found a friend! This is Milo, the same name as one of our Vancouver cats and so we loved him right away. He was such a soft, foxy, friendly little thing.


And then this! The next tea tray I make will have a friendly pig in the centre.

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After we had a good look around, we went to find a lovely spot for lunch. At first we thought about a pub, but then we found this lovely, friendly, yellow cafe called Catherine’s cafe, which had a great view of the arcade.

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We chose this little table upstairs in the tea rooms, with turquoise seats, flower pots and a reading angel. Catherine is a retired English teacher and has brought her classic book collection into the tea room for customers.

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I bet you’re all wondering what I bought. I wanted to buy absolutely everything, but I bought this little green hat pin and this lovely old Christmas bobble.


AND ALL THIS EPHEMERA! Not sure how these things will end up being used, but it’ll be great.

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Thank you so much for this lovely day Robbie…PS. I’m going back for that painting. :)


Sharing with Terri and Martha and Sandi and Bernideen.