Wednesday, 26 November 2014


Myott England's Countryside platter, edge detail
a treasured pattern of mine

As we do not have Thanksgiving in England we are tipped straight from 'back to school' to  Christmas, with a small stop between for Halloween and Guy Fawkes, or Bonfire Night. I love the little Trick or Treaters which visit us on Halloween, and on Bonfire Night our village hold a communal bonfire with fireworks.

But I miss the Thanksgiving holidays I had with family and friends when I lived in California, or the early years after I first moved here when we would all meet up at the family home. I like the way that so many people decorate their homes and yards for Fall with pumpkins, scarecrows, primitive dolls and the multi coloured flags. Windows alight each night with scented candles. As if joining in the show that nature provides for us before the dark and cold of winter.

There is something very special about a house full of people of all ages sharing a meal prepared with love. It's worth the early rising to get the turkey in the oven and prepare the mounds of vegetables which need to be washed, peeled, cooked and often mashed by hand. One Thanksgiving the black Labrador who lived on the top of the hill above our house came down to join us. She was quite old and it was raining but she was determined. We were honoured and suspect that she had a second dinner when her owner took her home.

Showing gratitude for what we receive is something I try to make a permanent part of my life.  Autumn seems the perfect time to take a moment and remember the year before retreating indoors and preparing our homes for the Winter. It's a time to thank those who have helped us and shared our lives through the golden times, and the bad times.

Although from California our family scattered across America, as so many do today so this get together in November was precious to us all. As our family Elders passed on this also became a time to remember them, and to do our best to make a meal as good as they had once done for all of us. Our family were not well off and they made the most of whatever they could afford to buy or grow. We are more fortunate than they were and grateful for the guidance they gave to us to assist us in our lives.

Time has diminished my family numbers, big houses were sold, we downsized and we are now the Elders ourselves. The truth is that we will have no more Thanksgivings together and as the youngest I am left with the memories of those days.

I still like to dress the house for the seasons and have a small collection of what I call winter and summer china and ornaments. Because I moved here when I was a young free spirited girl having a big adventure I traveled light and was unable to bring my china with me. In those days few of us owned a camera and sadly I did not record my surroundings but I  remember fondly some of the transfer ware and patterns. Once it was clear that I was settled here I began my collection again and tried to find some of what I had left behind. For me it is a way of remembering my family.

Funny enough I realised most of the things I cherished as a child had been made in England. I love brown transfer ware for it's simplicity and there is something comforting about the mellow shades and delicate designs.

Many of my pieces have chips or hairline cracks but I still use and enjoy them, carefully!

I am very nosy about china and always like to take a peak when visiting stately homes. I love it when the houses have kept their collections. On a recent visit to the National Trust property Tyntesfield I fell in love with a huge glass mold in the shape of a turkey.

It was used as a jelly mold, or as we called it in America, a 'jello' mold. I would love to borrow it !

One of my favourite  pieces I own is this vintage Wood and Sons Burslem jug, 'Woodland' pattern, hand coloured transfer ware, English Staffordshire. I  love the shape and the detail in the design. The border around the rim is so beautiful and it also has a pattern down the handle. The big house set in the country scene reminds me of the stately homes in the landscapes around England, and in some parts of America.

I wish all of my friends across the water a Happy Thanksgiving from our little cottage here in Wessex where we will take time to remember.

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