Tag Archives: roses

In, not of, with roses.

25 Jun

I heard myself say the other day:  “I love England.  I don’t love living in England, but I love England.”

Sometimes when you open your mouth and speak without thinking, truth pops out.  I’ll leave you with that bit of personal ambiguity and my annual photo spread of something about which I feel no equivocation — the gorgeous roses that bloom in our garden.  When I turn the corner to walk to my house, the scent of these roses hit me before I can even see the front door.  Some brave blooms show up as late (or as early) as New Years Day, but most reach their fulsome loveliest now, in June.









Want more roses?  See my post from two years ago, Jubilee and Roses, or look up the roses tag.  I’m still a rose-moron — I have no idea the names or types of these roses which bring my life so much beauty.  Yet in these few years I find my idea of what is required in a garden has changed.  There must be roses.  There must always be roses.


A midsummer madness

22 Jun

Midsummer.  The longest day of the year.  The one day in England where I can rejoice from the first twinkle of light to the very last, knowing I am as safe from the days of darkness as I will be all year. And what did fair befall me today, but the most worthy, most perfect summer’s day.

And where could we go, but where we have been so happily before?  One of my favorite places in England, Shakespeare Country.  (See previous posts: Day out: Mary Arden Farm, Uncertain glory of a summer day, Snapshot: pigs!, Respite, Day out: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, That in season grows.  Heck, I even used a photo of the cottage as an example of my fantasy home when we were first house hunting.)


The cottage was looking extremely well.IMG_3451edPresided over by the King and Queen of Summer.


That eye-catching crescent moon still orbits the garden.IMG_3480ed

And the garden is in full summer bloom.IMG_3481ed

No, really.  It was the most incredible day, ever, of all time.IMG_3483ed

A want to be a rose — this rose — in this garden — and bloom forever.  But even on this day, we had to move along.  We left Anne Hathaway’s Cottage for Mary Arden’s Farm, just a few minutes up the road and this year hosting a series of midsummer celebration events.  We’ve been here so many times, it is fun to see what small changes happen between each visit, and what stays the same.IMG_3502ed

Millie the Owl still swoops over heads and grabs mice corpses from her human.IMG_3505ed

Those cute piglets?  Have grown and GROWN.IMG_3529ed

A warm day.  I love the ducks’ sinewy necks curling into their water stone.IMG_3511ed

A view over the vegetable garden, toward Palmer’s farmhouse.IMG_3513ed

We’ve been at this door before.  Enter.IMG_3514ed

The kitchen, mostly cleaned, after the midday feast.IMG_3517ed

The table, cleared, and main bedchamber beyond.IMG_3519ed

The cold cellar.IMG_3521ed

The table set in the masters chamber.IMG_3523ed

Upstairs, view across the floor through the first three rooms.  Check out that hobbit door.IMG_3524ed

Adult bed with child’s trundle.

The last room on the top floor, where lesser beings sleep and work.IMG_3536ed

On this day, storytelling and fairies in the Rickyard.IMG_3545ed

Followed by music and dancing. (“Now we’re horses!  Now we’re horses!” Called out the lead dancer.)IMG_3540ed

And perfectly groomed paths through the fields — with hand sanitizers — for long, quiet, anti-bacterial walks.IMG_3546edMidsummer madness.  On this longest day of the year, it seems that time stretches out. I had seen more sun before 11am today than I would see in a full day in mid-December.  Heck, in December, the sun hardly seems to peer gloomily over the world before 10am.  I would build a Stonehenge, myself, if I thought that would guarantee a day like this at least once a year.  For today, I’m content enough to wake at 4am, and refuse to sleep until the stars come out near midnight.


Sudeley Snapshots: St. Mary’s Chapel

7 Oct

In the intermittent but ongoing Sudeley Snapshot series, I present to you: St. Mary’s Chapel in the spring.


Viewed from the Queen’s garden.  (Here’s a close up of those purple blooms.)IMG_6780e

From the front, with random stranger.  On a side note, I think I’ve done pretty well these past few years to capture photos without random strangers in frame.  How have I managed to do that?IMG_6781e

The white roses in bloom, for the white queen.IMG_6783e

The interior was decorated for a wedding.  Fragrant.IMG_6785e

The altar was stunning.IMG_6786e

I’ve mentioned before — this side chapel memorial to Katherine Parr is an eerie mix of sentimental and Edgar Allan Poe.IMG_6788eAnd a final peek of the church from the secret garden.

Dream a little dream

9 Oct

It’s a sadness in my life that I have little innate talent for design or decorating.  I wish I had a magic wand to take my dreams of cozy spaces out of my head and brush them over the world.  Or I could just take a walk:

So dreadfully impractical.  And so … perfect.

Next to this al fresco scene sits the Most Fantastic Camper In the History Of Ever And I Mean Ever:(In English parlance, this is a Bespoke [custom] Caravan [camper]).  I did not check the price.  Dreams are priceless, after all.


Next to the adult caravan is this beyond adorable child’s playhouse.  I’m trying to imagine these two spaces set up next to a silver shinning lake or babbling sparkling brook, with perfect birdsong, perfect fire-cooked meals, perfect flower arrangements, perfect light for reading or painting or swimming or finding mystical swords or whatever one might do in a ridiculous perfect world.  I assume the chamber pot would empty itself.  Maybe it would sing a tune.

These stop and smell the roses moments brought to you via the Applestore at Batsford Arboretum, and Riverside Shepherds Huts.  (Shepherds Huts?  Are you kidding me?  That’s the most elegant name that could be designed for these fractures of sugarplum dreams?  Maybe it’s ironic.)



Day out: Olympic Blenheim

31 Jul

I know I just said I was falling down the Olympic rabbit hole and not coming up for air, but this is a PSA that must be shared.  If you are living  in driving range of Blenheim Palace (Day Out: Blenheim Palace) they are doing something so cool for the London 2012 Olympics: the Olympic Outdoor Cinema in the Garden.

When my kids made faces one morning at my original plans for the day (“What are we doing today, Mommy?”  “Watching the Olympics.”  “BUT MOM, WE’VE BEEN WATCHING THE OLYMPICS NON-STOP FOR THREE DAYS!”) — I knew I needed to shake things up.  So I suggested a trip to Blenheim, one of my and their favorite places.  The new visitors centre and “Oxford Pantry” is now open, and beautiful:

We walked parts of the gardens we hadn’t seen together before:

There was a small burst of rain as we wandered the water gardens, which left behind some droplets in the rose garden:
Oh, how about another rose, you know I can’t resist a rosy close-up:
The sun perked up as we passed a temple to Artemis — where Winston Churchill proposed to his wife.
The cascade makes a gorgeous roaring sound:
Oh, the weather was glorious!
I could have run up and down this hill yelling “SUN! SUN!  SUN!”  But I kept it together.  For the sake of the children.
The Secret Garden was a fun treat.
This is where my hidden plan started to come in to play — our train ride to the pleasure gardens, where the kids knew we would find a playground and I knew we would find:
THE OLYMPIC JUMBOTRON!  To the left?  A Champagne Bar.  Yeah, that’s right.
It was the best of everything.  In between sports action, we could take breaks and:
See the butterflies in the Butterfly House.  And:
Explore the Bygone Days exhibit — this is the potting shed.  And:
A wooden I, Robot?  I dunno, but it looks very cool.  And:
Run through the playground and maze. With all the activities around, we were able to hang out on the lawn and watch plenty of Olympic sports all day — I even found a cider I like!
It tasted like apples, had a light fizziness, and there was no undertone of sadness and betrayal.  Yes.
Other families came and went during the day.  The grill (slightly off photo to the left) served up fantastic burgers (really!), and the garden cafe served tea and cakes (note teacup in lower left corner).  Other families brought blankets and complicated picnics — or plastic bags filled with foods from the Woodstock Co-op — or just hung out on the lawn like us.
The outdoor “cinema” is open while the Olympics are on, and while the gardens close at 6pm the cinema remains open until 10pm.  Entry is free if you have a yearly member pass, or for a relatively low entry fee (which is reduced for entry after 5pm).  The food is not cheap — about 7 pounds for a cheeseburger — but it is good and freshly prepared.  If we go back (I hope we will!) we’ll bring a picnic and a big blanket and expect to while away another day with a perfect mix of kid-friendly and Olympic-addict activities.

Jubilee and roses

4 Jun

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or reading nothing but Russian novels, you know it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year.  This weekend, in fact.  Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating 60 years on the throne, and her 86th birthday.  Between the Jubilee and the Olympics, the UK has gone celebration crazy.

Red, white, and blue everywhere.  It’s convenient for Americans like us, since we already have plenty of red, white, and blue decorations or party clothes.  Although it can get confusing when the band plays “God Save the Queen” and you automatically start belting out “Our Country ‘Tis of Thee”.  While retaining all my proud American patriotism, I am very happy to celebrate and honor Queen Elizabeth and her long reign.

With cake, of course.

And some homemade Jubilee punch.

And some more cakes.

Our garden is celebrating, too, and blowing out gorgeous fat scented blossoms for the Queen.


Those roses are better than fireworks.  (Well, almost.)

These are all from different rose bushes in our garden.

The colors and scents are intense  – yet ephemeral.

A bit rainy this Jubilee weekend, but I don’t think the roses mind.


Raindrops like a lace shawl.

A rose of another shape.

And an almost abstract close up.  A bed of roses sounds wonderful about now.

Happy Jubilee!