Tag Archives: cotswold

Sudeley Snapshots: Tithe Barn

9 Oct

Another installment in the occasional series of photos from lovely Sudeley Castle.  Built in the fifteenth century by Ralph Boteler, to the side of Sudeley Castle, is the Tithe Barn.

IMG_4207edThe building was largely destroyed by Cromwell’s forces during the English Civil war, but the romantic walls remain.

IMG_4193edThe interior has been re-imagined as a sweet and almost secret garden, with wild roses, hollyhocks, hydrangeas, wild clematis, wisteria, foxgloves, and more.  It’s like a Shakespearean sonnet, really.

IMG_4195edEvery doorway and window has its own character, its own sense of being a magic portal.

IMG_4185edEven in autumn, with most of the blooms past their prime or gone entirely, the Tithe Barn retains a sweet beauty.

IMG_4190edTake a walk through and around the barn, and check out views perfectly framed by both architecture and vegetation.

IMG_4201edTurn around and see the upright silhouette of Sudeley Castle itself through the flowers.

IMG_4196edOr stand clear and enjoy that graceful view — almost cozy, when it comes to castles — reflected in the carp pond.



20 Sep

Rollrights.  Solstice and equinox, I like to visit.  (See: Rollright redux; Rollright stones; Stones at the end of the rainbow; Seventy-three)   Here near our Autumnal Equinox, I saw more people walking the stones than I have ever seen before.  Good weather?  Scottish Independence?  I don’t know what drew people to walk the stones on a slightly overcast but fresh fall day.  I didn’t care, I suppose.  It was a good feeling to see the stones surrounded by visitors.

IMG_20140912_144545edThe number of formations changes every time I walk the ring of stones.  And I do walk it.  There’s something peaceful in the pacing of the stone ring.  Always something poetical about the shifting lumps and crevasses of the stones, and the changing colors of the lichen.  I’m reminded that the lichen on these stones are probably some of the oldest life forms I’ve ever met.

IMG_20140912_145236edThe curving walk to the Whispering Knights is surrounded by blackberry bushes, blooming.  This may be the secret to the many visitors to the stones.

IMG_20140912_145604edThe knights huddle in their slumping splendor, overlooking the rolling cotswold hills.

IMG_20140912_150637edAcross the road, my witch has finally fallen.  Fallen, and disappeared entirely.  “The King won in the end,” speculated my son.  But I stood on the witch’s spot, threw my arms out at the king, and recited her curse.  So, who won?

IMG_20140912_122803edA visit to the Rollright Stones remains one of my favorite days out, and a quarterly touchstone to my year.  And every visit is punctuated most satisfyingly with pies and Hooky at puddingface, in Deddington.

This visit had an extra weight of promise and transformation underneath it — many changes happening behind the scenes here in Camelot.  It satisfies me to know I have been able to spend three whole circles of the sun visiting these ancient stones, and that they will continue to wait out their purpose long after I am able to walk their circle in spirit only.

Flowers of middle summer

3 Jul

Another summer, another fragrant visit to Cotswold Lavender.  Possibly one of my most favorite seasonal visits.  (But who can say.  I have so many seasonal favorites.  England is full of them.)

See previous visits: Day out: Cotswold Lavender; Cotswold Drive; Purple Haze; Week out: Cotswold.  Since we’ve been here before, I’ll give myself the pleasure of simply sharing a few new photos — there’s a wildflower field, new this year! — and breathing in deeply the memories (along with this cup of Lavender and Earl Grey tea).

On your drive to the fields, enjoy the rolling countryside.


Boy, the traffic is just crazy, isn’t it?


More fellow-travelers.


And finally, that picturesque white cottage looking over the purple fields.IMG_3668ed

And see the burst of wildflowers, new in the fields this year.  What a glorious contrast to the purple lavender, white house, green fields…IMG_3586ed

There’s space and time to sit down right next to the lavender.  It bobs and almost sparkles in the sunshine.


Other friendly visitors in the fields…IMG_3678ed Deep purples … IMG_20140626_115859ed Gravity-defying spiders … IMG_3649ed

Bachelor buttons in the wildflower fields.

IMG_3597ed I can hardly think of anything more English.  Well, maybe I can, but I don’t want to think, I want to lay down among the flowers, listen to the music of the bees, and watch the flower tops bounce and bend in the breeze.10502460_10203355700867392_2054136464055792860_n

If you are around and have the time, a visit out to the lavender fields can’t be beat.  Check the website for peak bloom times — and get there before they harvest the lavender!

Snapshots: Westonbirt Arboretum

16 May

Not really a “day out” post, because, to be honest, I don’t quite have the energy.  The sun was shining, I wasn’t carrying around my bigger camera (too heavy!), and I just wanted to enjoy the sunny sky and a stroll through the beautiful cultivated woodlands or Westonbirt Arboretum.  So, just a few snapshots to share with you, and to remind us all that there is sunshine in England once again.

I have no clue what is going on with this chap, but he is clearly a lucky wood-man.


We found a 2,000-year-old lime tree.  Sort of.  A 2,000-year-old stump of a lime tree.  It’s called coppicing.  Look it up.  It’s cool.20140515_110534ed

I’m a bit of a sucker for Japanese maple.  They’re so beautiful it’s like my eyes can’t focus on them properly.20140515_110609ed

There are groves and groves of Japanese maple here at Westonbirt, in nearly rainbow colors.20140515_112636ed

We also found bluebells … and honeysuckle azalea … and magnolia … and clematis … 20140515_124345ed

… and rhododendron … 20140515_124747ed

Right, I mentioned bluebells?20140515_124904ed

… and Oaks … 20140515_125527ed

And long vistas … 20140515_130814ed

… and intense dappled greenery.


It was also wonderful to see all the mothers and young children out walking and playing and picnicking here at the Arboretum along with the more elderly couples and interest groups.  The natural inclination to get outside on a sunny day and simply be in the sunshine and greenery strikes me as so very British.  Or am I forgetting America?  On a sunny day, did we all run to the park with a picnic and plan to spend hours doing nothing but walking and sitting in the fresh air?  Maybe we did.  It’s been a while.  I’m fairly sure we didn’t have cream tea and cakes. So to sum up the day:  England=winning.

The determinedly charming village of Tetbury is very near Westonbirt, and looks like it’s worth a visit.  I’ve only driven through on my way to visiting Highgrove, but I think a village tour needs to be on the agenda sometime soon …

Chedworth Roman Villa, part two

28 Apr

We’ve been here long enough that I really do have my favorite spots.  The Shakespeare Houses.  Blenheim Palace.  Bourton-on-the-Water.  Places I visit and re-visit, and after a point it seems silly to keep re-posting journeys made in the same place.  So do check out my first Chedworth visit for more of a description of the place … then hop back here for more views around the place on a sunny day.  On a sunny Mothering Day, in fact, or as we described it at Chedworth: Matronalia.  (Come on groovy Romans, let’s dance!)  My family knows exactly what I like by now!


The Helix Pomatia are still hanging around, two thousand years after the Romans brought them over — hibernating at this time of year.IMG_2806ed

The entry area of the formal baths have a looping rhythm.IMG_2809ed

An example of the curatorial work ongoing here at Chedworth.IMG_2811ed

Visitors get to have a go with their own tesserae.IMG_2816ed

Volunteers discus daily living — and FOOD!IMG_2817ed

The changing room.

On this visit, I was particularly struck by the small designs on this floor.  You could be forgiven for thinking these are hearts, but these shapes signify ivy.IMG_2827edAnd I do like the color and shape of this sweet bird.


Check out that hypocaust!  Sexy.IMG_2828ed

More baths, outside the larger, more formal bath house.IMG_2836ed

Religious artifacts in the museum on site — last time I showed you some of the Roman glass.IMG_2840ed

And one of my favorite things — yes really — the latrines.  May your spongia be ever fresh.


And after a rummage through latrines and hot tubs, what better than a full Sunday Roast, sat in a beer garden?  Best tradition ever, England!



And, as we made our way home, we found the cherry tree in our neighborhood fully, finally, in bloom.

Elkstone Church

19 Apr

We’ve been here before, when I was working as a pusher of antiquity on my family.  Elkstone Village, and the Church of St John the Evangelist.  So, this time, come view the church in various impressions of sunlight, shadow, and secret doorways…


Or secret spring visitors to the flowers in the graveyard.IMG_2665ed

Exotic growths on trees in the churchyard.


The snowdrops give their last gasp, behind a chummy pair of grave markers.IMG_2673ed

Oh, right, there’s the church, still and peaceful in the sunshine.IMG_2684ed

My newer camera has a decent zoom!  Check out the waterspout at the top of the bell tower.IMG_2692ed

See the contrast between the older-style wooden roof and the newer bell tower arches.  You are stepping right across history.

Reflections bounce through the small space.  See how the altar looks like it is glowing?  That’s natural sunlight.IMG_2704ed

I find this memorial rather magnificent.  I’m not sure if it is more or less spooky in clear daylight.IMG_2707ed

The … crocodile?  wolf?  dragon? at the end of the zig-zag Norman arch.IMG_2712ed

A clearer image of St. John.  The Green Dragon in his cup represents the poison he drank … and gives name to the snug pub just down the road.  (Our drinks there were perfectly poison-free.)IMG_2715ed

The light in this corner still fascinates me.IMG_2719ed

Today, the spiral staircase to the dovecote was open!IMG_2725ed

No doves to be found, only more quiet and peace.


Perhaps an unusual view, of the return to the church from the dovecote.  I enjoy more rarely-viewed perspectives like these, they make me feel more homey in a place.IMG_2735ed

The beautiful stained glass over the altar.  (1929 Virgin and Child by Henry Payne of Amberley) Such a better image than I was able to capture previously.

IMG_2733edAn almost delicate winged dragon? lion? holds up one end of the larger norman arch around the altar window.

IMG_2776edAnd more fascinating quiet corners in the churchyard.

Little lamb, who made thee?

6 Mar

I declared the arrival of spring and disappeared from the blog.  But I return to you with more evidence of green pastures and warmth to come.



A lambing barn in the Cotswolds.  In the front, moms and babes in ‘bonding’ areas where they can hang out together for several days without interference from other mothers or babies.  They learn each other’s scents and sounds and patterns, while still being surrounded by the larger group in which they will live.IMG_2310ed

This cocky fellow was about two days old.IMG_2351ed

This gorgeous bub about a day old.IMG_2317ed

And these two soft ones are newborns.  They were born about fifteen minutes before this photo was taken, and had not yet been moved to a bonding area.  Mama was still checking them out.IMG_2343ed

Lambikin was so tired he dozed off against a fence. Look at that face.
IMG_2338edA kiss from mama.

Lambs and an English country spring … it doesn’t get much better than this.

(Where did I find these lovely lambs? At Cotswold Farm Park.  Great day out with kids … or for adults who need lamb therapy.)