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?

This:
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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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. :)

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Sharing with Terri and Martha and Sandi and Bernideen.

Walked down to the village…it rained…we didn’t care

This morning Robert said, “what’s that strange light?” It was the sun! So despite the gale blowing outside, we decided to go for a walk down to the village to see our Knight Templar and his Lady in the church.

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West Cottage is on the outskirts of the village, and almost half way between two villages but we belong to the Northmoor parish and it’s lovely to walk down there.

We walked under an ominous sky, past the fields of clever sheep who know better than to get blown away. They were looking at us in a “there go some crazy people” way…

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…past the houses…

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…until we got close to the pub and then it started to rain like the dickens.

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So we ducked into the church.

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And said hello to Thomas Moore and Isabelle.

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We had a little rest…

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…and looked out the windows to see the rain stopping, and so we continued with our walk.

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Back up at the pub we saw the big rain cloud moving away.

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So we decided to take the long way home, in sort of a triangle, from the village, up Marsh Lane, across the fields and home.

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We said hello to the Northmoor herd and admired their fluffy winter coats.

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A little further up the lane the wind had blown all the crab apples down and they bobbed along in the stream like beautiful little balls.

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Some berries were still firmly in place though. Nice for the birdies.

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When we got to the public foot path we ran into a bit of a problem! Umm :( We thought about wading thru, we thought about taking our runners off and just going for it…but in the end we decided to take the extra long way home, back the way we came.

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But we had a lovely walk. :D
Linking with Mary for Mosaic Monday

Shopping for prezzies for the Clover

Junk shops + vintage shops + thrift shops = Happy! Because the one thing I absolutely love doing is finding one-of-a-kind, unusual things for my children (and me). And thank goodness for my iPhone. Happy little iPhone; clandestine little photo taker. :D Let me show you a favourite shop in our market town: The Old Pill Factory.

I absolutely fell in love with this little mirrored photo frame,(and the enamelled jug), but the frame was a bit pricey at about £28 (if I remember). Might have to go back for it thought because the more I look at it the more I love it to pieces.

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Old books are absolutely my weakness and look at these beautiful covers!

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I loved the gentle girliness of this bench and pillow, and I love that the cover on the bench isn’t perfect matchy matchy. That’s how my quilts usually turn out…lol…so I feel most gratified.

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And look what I found! Now this is the perfect man-cave that I can live with. Aren’t those chairs and that sofa just to die for? I can see them being in some ol’ boy’s club in Oxford, smelling of cigars and scotch. That wine rack would be full of lovely wine bottles and on the wall facing the sofa would be a roaring fire with those plush fire guards, you know, the ones you can perch on. Heaven. Actually, I think I might expropriate this man-cave for myself and call it a girly-grotto.

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I took at least an hour exploring the nooks and crannies of this lovely store. It’s impossible to see it all in one go. I think I might have to go back next week. :)

Hope you’re having a relaxing weekend across the ol’ globe.

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Reflections and tea on this last day of 2013

I’m watching two blackbirds chasing each other in the garden. The tree where the bird feeders are hung has three blue tits and the garden robin on it waiting their turn. Tomorrow will be a new year for us all, but not for my birds. They will continue to live, to thrive, to survive, to grow.

Sometimes I think we should be more like the birds. Not set endings, beginnings, values on life.
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I made a cup of tea for myself in this little Victorian cup. It’s a little old, a little bit worn, and a little bit tired…but isn’t that true of us all? Aren’t we all a little bit old and worn and tired? Some of us might be tarnished and even cracked or broken.

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But then we learn and experience and grow. We grow and we bloom and we shine even if we are broken and tired and old.

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So our time goes by and we make another cup of tea and have the last mince pie and wave the old year goodbye and greet the new, and a new beginning so we can all grow and blossom.

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I wish you all a blessed and happy New Year dearest hearts. I’d like to leave you with some profound thought or some quote, but I keep staring at the sign in the pantry here in West Cottage. It belonged to Robert’s father and hung in his naturopathic surgery.

I wish you all focus and happiness and joy and growth for 2014. Thank you for being here for me, with me, holding my hand and supporting me in the things I do. I offer you my support and love whenever you need me. I’ll be there.

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With Terri and Martha and Sandi.

Road trip!

Robert bought a new boot lid, (trunk lid), for his new experimental mini on Ebay.UK. So we jumped into the mini, (what else would we drive to another mini enthusiast’s?), and we drove 42 miles away to Old Stratford to pick it up.
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Beautiful day for a road trip. We started off on the A40 (it’s a highway) but soon left the tall banks of the A for the scenic, smaller country roads.
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Today was perfect with that silvery, low, cold winter light.
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We chose smaller roads,
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then lanes, driving from tiny village to tiny village
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we peeked thru every gate,
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We appreciated each village church,
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And we were very careful to share the road.
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We got lost once…
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…OK twice…
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…and we drove thru some flooded marsh lands which splattered the windshield and broke a fuse which cut the fuel pump and the indicators. Suddenly Robert was without power. We coasted to a stop and Robert rewired the fuel pump, started the mini and…
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…cleaned off the windshield so I could take some more photos. :D (Love that man)
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We found our destination, got the boot lid and turned round and headed for home under beautiful Buckinghamshire skies.
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We drove on till we got to Oxfordshire…
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…crossed the Thames and we were home.
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Lovely day :D

A late afternoon walk and a happy birthday wish

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This has been a wonderfully lazy day. We read about the queues waiting to get into London or Oxford stores for the Boxing Day sales and we laughed about it all. There’s no way, that’s not our style. We went for a walk instead. Oxfordshire has a ton of lakes around; remnants of gravel extraction. These lakes make great habitats for birds and water fowl. Most of the lakes have public footpaths thru them and this is one such walk we found.

This walk goes to and over the Windrush River. That’s the river which flows around our next door village and joins the Thames five fields away. There are holiday lets (rentals) all along one side of one of the lakes. We were thinking that this must be a lovely place to spend a couple of summer weeks swimming and boating around; especially for city people.

We stopped on the bridge across the Windrush for several minutes and looked at the sky.
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And on the way home, a promise of spring. Pussy willows starting to open.
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I spoke to my mom this evening, (morning in Vancouver) and wished her a very happy birthday. She’s making roasted ducks for a few friends who will gather at her home. Love you mom, and I hope you have the best day. :D
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Merry Christmas everyone!

Good morning, good afternoon and evening too, where ever you are my dear hearts, new friends, friends I haven’t met yet but know I’ll love. Did you have/are you having a lovely Christmas day?
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We have had a wonderful peaceful day with much love, texts and emails from friends and cuddles from Theo.
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Christmas here in England is all about the Christmas lunch and this means TURKEY, lots of it, just around 3pm, right after the Queen’s speech, so the turkey went in by 11am.
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Open wood and coal fire all day, open prezzies and happy moments.
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Theo could smell the turkey and knew there was a piece there for him, but had terrific trouble waiting.
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At last our Christmas lunch was ready.
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And Theo got up on his window ledge to wait for his share.
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When it was his turn, after we ate, (remember, ex pub cat with little discipline if he’s allowed), he gobbled up the turkey so fast I couldn’t get a clear photo of him. I guess it met with his approval…lol. (Don’t worry he got a huge bowl of turkey in the kitchen.)
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With our candles lit and a cheery fire, we watched the Doctor Who Christmas special. I’m afraid we sort of lost the plot. We ended up scratching our heads and asking each other where the heck was the story…and what was the story anyway? Anyone get it? Please let me know.
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It’s evening now in England and I’m thinking of what has now passed, what is to come, where we’re headed. Robert is rubbing Theo’s soft ears and Theo is out like a light beside him. What a beautiful night this is…this Christmas night. The fire is cracking and the candles are burning down. There’s a soft, warm glow in my heart.
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Whirlwind days

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I’m sure we’re all feeling much of the same sameness, aren’t we? ‘Tis the time for Christmas magic, visiting good friends, running around like crazy trying to get everything done and fitting in the unexpected.

Us? We’re baking a giant Christmas cake this evening and will continue baking it to about 10pm. (I know, what are we like?)

Yesterday was a glorious day. The sun was mostly shining and we were invited to friends for lunch and supper.
We left a little past 11am and returned a little past 11pm. (Theo was not impressed with us)

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We visited Catherine, bringing prezzies and hugs. We played with the beautiful Jet in the sunroom and coaxed Sable down from the linen closet. We chatted and hugged and had a lovely time, and said our goodbyes and drove to Geoff and Dawnie’s to see Geoff’s wonderful car collection, Dawnie’s stunning horse Murphy and have the loveliest supper with them. Dawnie had just come back from riding Murphy at Windsor Castle in the Windsor Great Park by special permission. That must have been something special; riding your horse in the Queen’s back yard.

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Today we’ve had several power cuts. The weather had been Wagnerian to say the least, with heavy rain and fierce trees-down winds. Robert’s childhood friends lost their mother and her funeral was today. So we drove the 35 miles to a beautiful little village with a beautiful little stone church which shook and rattled in the wind and supported our friends and their family in their grief. After the service we followed the pallbearers up the hill and into the grave yard watched them lay their mother to rest.

The vicar’s words resonated with me, “Farewell, dear Voyageur – ’twill not be long.
Your work is done – now may peace rest with thee.”

Linking with Mary at the Little Red House and wishing everyone a tranquil last couple of days before a magical Christmas. :D