Friday, 31 August 2012

PLACES ~ The Broadway Deli

The Cotswolds is such a beautiful place to find oneself in need of lunch. We nipped over to Broadway, a wonderful village and had a wander and a bite to eat at The Broadway Deli. It's in a beautiful listed building and a popular place in the village.

It's tiny but we can highly recommend. We sat in their little conservatory at the back with a view over the enchanting garden full of herbs. It's charming with feather stuffed cushions in bright gingham and small flower prints. The food and coffee were brilliant.

Will who served us took great care over our coffee and the cappuccino was perfect. It is not as easy as you might think to make a great one - often they are bitter because the maker's technique is not refined.

You can read about Will and the coffee here on their own blog:

The Broadway Deli Blog and Will

It's not possible to walk through this deli and not be tempted by all the things they stock. We had to have some of their spices and a tub of the rich red well turned out strawberries - local, and divine!

We will be back.

The Broadway Deli

Friday, 24 August 2012

WORDSMITH ~ Wisdom and happiness on your walls

This magic and most evocative wall was drawn by Helen of
Busy Bee Studios.

I often come across images I like on the internet when looking for something else. And save them in a hurry without reference to their origins. I always regret this later when I need to know more about them. I find images are great inspiration for projects and I have a massive collection of them from magazines, books and online.

My apologies to whoever this image belongs to as I am unable to credit them. If anyone knows please tell me and I will update this post. (NOTE! Helen from Busy Bee Studios did get in touch and this wall was created by her. You can see more of her work on her own website, link above, at Busy Bee Studios).

I really like this as an idea for a feature wall. I'm not sure if this is actual wallpaper, it looks like a mural. It would be easy to make your own and use quotes which were relevant to your life.

I especially like the flag bunting and the clock, but you could customise this design to include any symbols dear to you. I'd add a bit of colour if it were my mural. And I'd have to have a white rabbit running away in a corner!

I'm not an artist but if you can sketch a bit you could include members of your family and your pets! Mrs Black is nagging me now to make one that stars her. She likes this vintage postcard and it would not be that hard to put it on a wall as a sketch.

I also love this quote, which is apparantly from Harry Potter, and it is a decal you buy on Amazon. Even easier than trying to draw and paint!

Happiness Harry Potter decal

Lastly I love this retro mural, in the right room this would certainly brighten your life. This is such a simple shape which would be easy and fun to make. I don't know where this one is from either. Sorry!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

ENCHANTED ~ Dragon Cottages

A cottage at Haslemere, Surrey Helen Allingham

Like many parts of Britain the area of Wiltshire we live in is graced with old cottages both thatched and red brick tiled. When I was a child I decided that the tiles were from dragons or sea serpents and I named the cottages adorned with them 'dragon cottages' because they looked as if they had scales. Children's minds are funny things!

A Green Dragon and his scales

Tiles hung on a side of a building

This one even has a dragon ridge on it's roof!

As I grew up elsewhere I did not set eyes upon an English dragon cottage save in books and magazines until I landed upon this sceptred isle in the 70s.

Magical Cotchford Farm

The first that I saw in person were in Sussex. I had to make pilgrimages to many favourite authors homes, and to historic houses and gardens. Many of them were hung with red clay tiles. I was in Heaven, but sadly in those days only photographers carried decent cameras and so I have just slightly blurry photo memories of those early halycon times in the English countryside I loved so much.

Cotchford Farm was dear to my heart for two reasons, it had been the home of Winnie The Pooh author A.A. Milne where he wrote the Pooh stories for his young son Christopher Robin and later in the 60s the last home of the very talented but ill fated boy-child, Rolling Stone Brian Jones.  There are statues of the Winnie The Pooh characters in the garden and more than a slight air of sorrow pervades it, but the farm house is so pretty.

Christopher Robin and Pooh 1925 at Cotchford Farm

Another favourite childhood author of mine was Rudyard Kipling. I loved that he adored cats and his poem The Cat Who Walked Alone is still a favourite of mine and Mrs Black's. I had to visit his house, and was delighted to find that it too was hung with clay tiles!
Bateman's home of Rudyard Kipling

Bateman's is the wonderful Jacobean manor where poet Rudyard Kipling lived from 1902-1936. It is in Burwash, Etchingham, East Sussex and is open to the public via The National Trust.

Bateman's National Trust

I never tire of looking for buildings hung with red tiles be they humble or grand and now I take photographs. The workers cottages we live in have a few dragon scales and our particular cottage has quite a few Dragons inside and out as we collect them.

I love the elaborate tile decoration which you find all over Britain on cottages, grand houses and shops. 

This is the magnificent Merchant's House, Marlborough, Wiltshire
Courtyards and alleys in Marlborough

This building is cheating a little as strictly speaking these are not tile hung, but built into the fabric of this wonderful old bulding at Kingsclere. I can still imagine them as Dragon scales, for quite a special Dragon. It's a most loved place of mine. The initials on it are of one of the greatest ever racehorse trainers John Porter (2 March 1838 – 21 February 1922) who built Kingsclere on the Hampshire Downs and also founded Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire. During his career he trained racehorses for royalty and his horses won twenty three British Classic races including the Epsom Derby seven times. Some of his most famous horses include the Triple Crown winners  Ormonde (1886), Common (1891), and Flying Fox (1899).  You can read more about him and Kingsclere here: National Racing Museum.

While I was growing up in America I collected books about England, especially those with illustrations of country cottages inclduing my 'Dragon Cottages'. I knew I'd live here one day and it kept my dream alive to look at them.

One of my favourite artists was Helen Allingham,  (26 September 1848 – 28 September 1926)  the  English watercolourist and illustrator of the victorian era. I know her view of England is a romantic one, but that is the point isn't it? I love the way her paintings are so soft, almost always include animals and birds and do have a dreamy quality to them.

A cottage at Shere, c.1875
Where I grew up a few people had prairie style gardens, but not many. It was thought in those days that your garden, or 'yard' as Americans call them, should be a tidy place. My Great Grandmother was a magical woman. Very self sufficient, a little mysterious and set in the old ways. She had a tiny cottage a cat and a cottage garden. I still remember her sweeping her dirt path to keep it free of weeds and less dusty.

Kentish Garden, Helen Allingham

Although her cottage was in a rural backwater of Northern California she may have been the one who first set me dreaming of the world beyond, of castles and kings and dragon cottages.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

NATURE ~ Amazing Rare Things

Sometimes you find the most amazing rare things in everyday life - as long as you remember to keep your eyes open for them! 

Our House Martins who have made their nests on our cottage are beginning to fledge. This is the last nest with young ones yet to venture out. Soon they will join their parents and relatives swooping acorss the nearby fields and one day they will all join up on a roof or a wire, and then begin their long journey of many thousands of miles to Africa where they winter. This nest is just above a bedroom window and even at night you can hear them shirping and chattering. I love that sound and always look forward to the return of the Swallows, Swifts and House Martins. I will miss them and even though I am a winter person each year when they take wing a little part of me goes with them.

We were in Hungerford yesterday to visit our unit at The Emporium. We added a new shelf unit to display items. It had been dark wood and we painted it a pale blue-grey. My Great Grandmother had one which got passed down the family and finally sadly disappeared. She always called it a 'what-not' shelf. I'm not sure where that comes from but have never heard it said in England. Has anyone else heard this?

I can never resist having a look around the other dealer units at the Emporium, and rarely escape without buying something. We all joke that our homes must be full of each others things! As it is August and the days are filled with flowers in full bloom I was drawn to this Chintz, so very pretty and well displayed here. I do love the one with the Chicken.

Late summer for me is all about blooms and the last efforts of flowers and insects to enjoy what sunshine we have left. I'm with them there! No wonder I was drawn to all things floral as if to celebrate the end of summer.

We have this wonderful little hand painted pottery cat from Portugal in our unit. Mrs Black does not want to part with him as she collects cats but he really needs a good home. We also had an Owl and they looked like they might become The Owl and The Pussycat, but someone bought the Owl and now this cat is lonely. Isn't he cute?

This tiny Italian hand painted chest of drawers is beautiful and it is only £20.00. I can see many uses for it, holding precious pieces of jewelry, as a button/bead store or just to display on a table where the light would catch it. Such pretty colours and so delicate.

The vintage display I mentiioned in another post (with that super Black Cat  Lamp!) also has this Owl lamp (at £68.00) which the men amongst us must covet as it would be fabulous in a study or corner of the sitting room devoted to books and tv. It would light up a dark hall. Actually I covet it too!

In keeping with blooms and rare and amazing things we have this book by David Attenborough for £10.00. It's in perfect condition, like new. We have a selection of second hand books, some old and some never used, all at very reasonable prices. We thought this Portmeirion jug complimented it. I'd love to have someone do some murals on a wall from this book or pottery. The Passion Flower on the cover is so exquisite!  Amazing Rare Things

It was totally appropriate that we had a Butterfly adventure as we left Hungerford. There have been so few seen this summer due to all the rain and wind and as we strolled past one of our favourite shops called  Peppermint and Cream   there in the window was the most perfect Peacock Butterfly trying it's best to get out. A small crowd of Lepidopterologists (for that is what those who study Butterflys and Moths are called) had gathered and were snapping photos and calling for it's release. Fortunately the kind shop keeper took pity and moved many objects in order to get into her large window and rescue the Butterfly. Upon release it landed on my husband's shirt and we ended up walking up the street with it to try to release it into a garden. Off it flew. Such a beautiful uplifting sight.

And when we arrived home what should greet us in our garden but another Peacock sitting on our Butterfly Bush.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

CHARMED ~ The Pastel of a Cat by Lady Marion Rootes

I never cease to feel joy when I accidently come across some small treasure, whether it is one which I intend to sell on, or one that I decide to keep. This one is most definitely a keep!

While wandering in the nearby village of Ramsbury, Wiltshire we looked in the small charity shop there (Ramsbury Charity Shop of Hills Stores) which is run by local people who donate their time in order to keep it open to provide funds to local charities. It's located in what was once the village shop. It's only open a few days a week for a few hours, but it has made a difference to those charities.

And to me because I love this little pastel of a black and white cat amongst flowers which was painted by Lady Marion Rootes of North Standen House some years ago. North Standen House has a lot of history and Lady Rootes does too, I found this mention of her on a blog about the Rootes car empire.

Rootes Motor Cars

And they have a Wiki entry

My photo of the pastel does not do it justice at all as it was shot through the glass of the frame. His eyes are wonderfully alive, (lit by The Jellicle Moon!) he has a knowing smile, magnificent whiskers -  and I am certain that this was painted of a real much loved cat.  I wish I knew the cat's name and story, and shall have to do some further research. If anyone should stumble across my post and know how I might get in touch with Lady Marion do please contact me.

It has been many years since I kept the company of a black and white cat, whose charming ways inspired T.S Eliot to pen a poem about them, 'Jellicle Cats'. My life has been graced by three such cats, all of whom I loved. Each one of them danced by the light of the  Jellicle Moon in their own little way.

This one is going to hang on the wall and remind me of them and Lady Marion Rootes who so lovingly gave the cat immortality. 

Jellicle Cats come out to-night
Jellicle Cats come one come all:
The Jellicle Moon is shining bright -
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball.
Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats are rather small;
Jellicle Cats are merry and bright,
And pleasant to hear when they caterwaul.
Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces,
Jellicle Cats have bright black eyes;
They like to practise their airs and graces
And wait for the Jellicle Moon to rise.
Jellicle Cats develop slowly,
Jellicle Cats are not too big;
Jellicle Cats are roly-poly,
They know how to dance a gavotte and a jig.
Until the Jellicle Moon appears
They make their toilette and take their repose:
Jellicle Cats wash behind their ears,
Jellicles dry between their toes.
Jellicle Cats are white and black,
Jellicle Cats are of moderate size;
Jellicles jump like a jumping-jack,
Jellicle Cats have moonlit eyes.

They're quiet enough in the morning hours,
They're quiet enough in the afternoon,
Reserving their terpsichorean powers
To dance by the light of the Jellicle Moon.
Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats (as I said) are small;
If it happens to be a stormy night
They will practise a caper or two in the hall.

If it happens the sun is shining bright
You would say they had nothing to do at all:
They are resting and saving themselves to be right
For the Jellicle Moon and the Jellicle Ball.

Footnote: The delightful and historic village of Ramsbury has it's own website and should you ever be passing by stop and have a meal or a drink at The Bell, which has it's own cafe, Bella Cafe. You can also stay there! It's a favourite place of ours and we will be writing more about local villages in the future.

Ramsbury, Wiltshire

The Bell Inn, Ramsbury

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

FOLKLORIC ~ Gypsy Caravan the unexpected but welcome visitors

Agatha Christie was certainly right - you never know what will happen in an English village.

Still, it's not every day that a gypsy caravan and horse stop in front of your cottage for lunch.

 He was a very handsome, well mannered boy and they were out for the day rambling round the countryside in their caravan. Had to give him an apple of course!

And then they were off towards Berkshire, continuing their adventures.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

SHOPPE KEEPER ~ The Emporium new vintage selections

The Emporium in Hungerford, Berkshire

Part of the new vintage display

We have a new vintage display at The Emporium. It's in the middle of the room at the back of the ground floor and adds a lot of fun and colour to the room. Lots of lovely things I'd like to take home with me and a good selection of cards as well.

Really love this black cat lamp and Mrs Black does too. It's very Kim Novack in Bell, Book and Candle. (One of our favourite films!)

The very stunning Kim Novack and the cat that played Pyewacket in the film.

Some classic vintage handbag finds -

This black top hat with the scarf and butterfly brings back happy memories of Fleetwood Mac concerts when Stevie Nicks enchanted us in hers. This looks fabulous with the black dress and lashings of pearls. 

Stevie Nicks in her top hat and feathers

The main display, it's so pretty!

Friday, 3 August 2012

CREATIVE PEOPLE ~ The Vintage Pixie

Our cottage is so tiny, like a doll's house, that we must be VERY cautious about new items we bring home. But every now and then there is something we just cannot resist. This chair is so beautiful we are seriously tempted! Totally impractical, yes ideed, but still so desirable. Such a clever use of old lace and crochet.

It's from The Vintage Pixie who are based in Cambridge, Minnesota, and they sell on Etsy.  They also have a facebook page which is where this photo came from. I'm sure she will not mind me sharing her treasure with you.

The Vintage Pixie on Etsy

The Vintage Pixie on facebook

She will be appearing at Junk Bonanza in mid September, wish we were near!

Junk Bonanza event:

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

BEWITCHING PLACES ~ Dartmouth beside the sea

Beautiful Dartmouth with it's colourful houses, many boats and clear water. 

Boats in a stained glass window in a cottage by the sea

I have often lived near to water,as a child near a large river, later in San Francisco, and finally in suburbs and villages dotted along The Thames. I have been seriously tempted to give it all up and seek solace in some small seaside village in England on a boat or in a pastel painted cottage.  There is something so soothing being by the water and these little towns and villages are often like stepping back in time.

At the weekend we visited Dartmouth in Devon which is not really on the sea, but on the banks of the estuary of the River Dart, which is a long narrow tidal ria that runs inland as far as the town of Totnes. Dartmouth is within a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.  Like most seaside towns in England it has a slightly faded air of victorian glamour, but it's charm remains intact.

I love the way that blue is used such a lot by the sea. The light is different, transfused by the silver glitter of the water.  Blue works so well and so do the pastel painted houses.

A bit of bright blue works in this light. 

I want to live here!
Nest to the water, a  large pink and bright blue house.
A Heavenly blue door, lovely lion knocker
 and stunning stained glass. 

Beside the sea you find many interesting plaster reliefs. 

You must have Fish and Chips! 

More blue and pink houses.

Colourful Dartmouth. 

We enjoyed searching and finding the many references to life beside the sea. There were the usual sightings of galleons, little boats, ferries, shells and fish. But there were a few surprises too ......

We found castles and crowns and more than a little bit of Alice in Wonderland when we had tea in a proper silver teapot at The Singing Kettle.

Time for tea! 

Gorgeous old silver teapot

More silver and real tea! 

Where we ate lunch, at the Station Restaurant. But beware the Seagulls if you sit outside!

Right on the water in town 

An excellent menu and decor in keeping with the seaside

We loved the old boats hanging from the ceiling. 

Lovely antique and lifestyle shops to browse in and many things to see. These pretty little flowers grow on the rocks overlooking the water and are magical.

Faerie like tiny flowers by the water

This shop had interesting items, old chests of drawers, pottery and tn lamp bases
and pretty little apothecary bottles.

I love these spools of thread displayed. 

The Cherub public house is the oldest building in Dartmouth, and it is really a wonderful building and pub.  Dogs are welcome too!

Despite all the temptations, we could not remain on land any longer and decided to take a boat across to Dartmouth Castle and the church that sits beside it. Dartmouth Castle is looked after by English Heritage and is over 600 hundred years old.

It was absolute bliss being on the water and it brought back so many childhood memories of adventures. And then - we saw the Mermaid and her little house just hidden away in the rocks! We had not known that she was there and came upon her totally unexpected.

Dartmouth Castle

The magic Mermaid sunning herself

Bronze Sculpture, created by Elisabeth Hadley, second photo from:

And this is her wonderful little house!
The Mermaids House

A bridge across the shimmering water.

Sailors trust their lives to the sea. This was found at the church.

The jellyfish swims by us.

Sigh, it is time to go back now. hard to tear ourselves away.
We had to hurry to catch the last Ferry of the day!

Our boatman arrives to take us back to the harbour.

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