Monday, June 29, 2015

Day Three, Hilltop and Giveaway

Today is a day I have dreamed about.  If I admit it, if I were only able to visit one place in England, it would be Hilltop. Visiting Hilltop, one of the homes of Beatrix Potter, has been dream of mine for a long time.  I've loved her charming books forever.  Her beautiful artwork is truly a gift from God.  Sometimes when a dream is about to be realized one can be afraid that the real thing will be disappointing.  Believe me--I was not disappointed!

Our apartment is only 27 miles from Hilltop!  This is the main reason we chose to stay in this location.... But it took us 1 1/2 hours to get there.  The M5 and A roads were just fine, but then we took a B road that was curvy, narrow and quite scary.

See the stone wall on the left--that's where I was sitting in our car, trying not to say too much to Grayden as he carefully drove us along curves and hills and more stone walls.  

Along the way carpets of bluebells made the drive beautiful and more enjoyable.  It was a drizzly, rainy, moody day.  Anticipation of what was to come made it all very mystical and magical.

After driving at very slow speeds we finally made it to Near Sawrey--the town where Beatrix Potter bought her beloved Hilltop!

Beatrix Potter bought  Hilltop in 1905 as a retreat away from London.  She purchased Hilltop with money from her first book-- The Tale of Peter Rabbit.  She loved the area around Hilltop and it's not hard to see why!  It served as inspiration for her books that followed. 

Upon arriving at the car park for Hilltop, rain was falling.  We were early (on purpose) to be able to get our tickets.  Hilltop is very popular and has a timed ticket schedule.  We were early enough to pick up our tickets for the first opening at 10:00am.  A few cars began to fill the car park.  Everyone wants to come to Hilltop!

It was time to make our way up to Hilltop.  We followed a hill up a narrow pathway made of large rocks that was lined with flowers.

We're almost there!  I can't believe it! 

There she is!!

The nice National Trust docent invited us in!  Oh my, yes I'll park my brolly at the door and yes you can wipe the rain off my jacket.  We don't want to harm anything in Beatrix Potter's home.

We made our way inside to a sitting room on the left.  It was cozy with a roaring fire to warm us.  There were low beams and the ceiling was covered in wallpaper.  I'm quite emotional at this point as I can't believe I'm standing where Beatrix Potter once stood.  Everywhere there is charm.  To the right is another room that is filled with lovely china that Beatrix collected.  She was from a wealthy family and attended many antique shows with her mother.  It was pointed out that she and her mother didn't have much in common but they both loved to go to antique sales together.

Toward the back of the sitting room was the scullery where Beatrix prepared meals.  To the left of the scullery were stairs we climbed to see four rooms.  One was a room of her collections with a lovely dollhouse.  Another sitting room with a piano and beautiful photos of her and her family. Her bedroom with her lovely tester bed and bed coverings and memorabilia all about.  She added an addition so she could have proper light for her art studio.  She never wanted electricity in her home.  This room was filled with her brother's artwork.  Bertram was an accomplished artist as well as their father.  There were very large paintings that lined the walls.  Sadly no photos are allowed inside, but you can go here to see her bedroom.

I can't begin to describe how I felt in her home!  Her love of nature was everywhere.  Beatrix Potter, I felt your spirit in your beloved Hilltop.  I'll never forget it!! 

As we left her home I turned around and gazed upon this special place. We wandered about the property.

Upon leaving the gate we spotted Castle Cottage, the home that Beatrix and William Heelis shared after their marriage. It's the white house on the right. 

When we planned this day before leaving home, I told Grayden I wanted to stay all day in Near Sawrey.  I did not want to short cut this visit.  So next to Hilltop was The Sawrey House Tearoom that we had to go visit.  We read on their menu that Beatrix Potter would often come and have afternoon tea here.

The vistas from this property were lovely!  These photos were taken from the inside the Sawrey House Tearoom.

After having a lovely soup for lunch it was time to take another look around Near Sawrey.  It's so charming and quaint in this area.  What a wonderful place to live!  I hope it never changes.  Beatrix Potter was a big proponent of the National Trust and gave over 4.000 acres of land, 16 farms and cottages, cattle and Herdwick sheep for future generations to enjoy.  Her gifts were the largest the National Trust had received and enabled them to create the Lake District National Park.  Thank you, Beatrix Potter!

Because of all the joy that I felt upon seeing bluebells and Hilltop, I wanted to have a gift drawing for one of my readers.  Thank you for coming along with me on my Grand Adventure to England and especially to Hilltop!  It is very special to be able to share it with you!

I bought this lovely mug in one of the National Trust stores to give away.  If you want to put your name in the hat, just leave a comment on this post and in a few days I'll draw one of your names and send it off to you.  Thank you for coming along! ♥

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Tale of the Zucchini

In the kingdom of love and joy,  the king and the queen decided that they needed to start their walking again.  Alas, the weather in the land was hot and humid.  Too hot for the queen as she is not fond of walking when the steam is rising from the street.

The king suggested that they go over to the Royal Mall and walk in the comfort of air conditioning.  The queen thought this to be a lovely idea so she laced up her royal walking shoes and off they went to the Royal Mall.

Walking around the Royal Mall, trying not to draw attention to their subjects,  a young woman and three adorable boys approached them.  The young woman said she was from the Royal Agriculture Department.  She corrected herself and then admitted that she and her family had been on vacation and wondered if we wanted a zucchini from her garden.  She pulled it out of her bag and low and behold it was a giant zucchini.  The king looked at the queen and asked what she thought.  The queen looked at the children's faces and said of course we would love the giant zucchini.  You see the queen has a soft spot for children and didn't want to turn those adorable boys down.  The mother handed the zucchini over to the king.  As the children walked away the smallest boy said---"Thank you, now we don't have to eat it!"

The king looked rather interesting walking around the Royal Mall with a zucchini.  The queen arranged to have a royal bag for the giant zucchini.  The king was now able to finish the walk with the queen.

As the king and queen were travelling home in their royal coach, the king asked the queen what in the world was she going to do with this giant zucchini?  The queen was worried along with him about this issue.  Probably the queen would find it to be hollow or rotten inside.

The king loves chocolate and the queen figured she must make a chocolate zucchini bread.  Here is the king with the giant zucchini in the royal kitchen.

The queen still wondered what the zucchini would look like when she went to cut it open.

The zucchini turned out to be fine.  So the queen made some fine chocolate zucchini bread.

If you would like to make the royal chocolate zucchini bread go Here for the recipe

It makes two loaves of really moist delicous bread fit for a king and a queen! 

PS --The queen has enough zucchini for the whole kingdom.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

England, Day Two, part two


We're travelling to the Peak District to visit a very special place owned by the National Trust.  After leaving Emma Bridgewater we travelled to Lyme Park on a series of A roads (similar to US highways but not always four lanes) and some M roads (like US interstates).  Again all we had to do was to go to the GPS and select Lyme Park.  Travelling along we passed lovely vistas.  The afternoon skies are now turning blue!

Upon arriving at the entrance we drove the long winding drive up to the car park.  We passed this interesting looking structure as we ascended the hill.

We later learned this was used as a hunting lodge and later as a jail for poachers.  Continuing up to the mansion we see the lovely Lyme Hall.

Lyme Park was the country home of kings and aristocracy.  The estate was granted to Sir Thomas Danyer in 1346 and passed to the Leghs of Lyme by marriage in 1388.  It remained in the possession of the Legh family until 1946 when it was given to the National Trust. 

The large estate lies in Cheshire in the Peak District.  The 1300 acre estate is quite impressive.  They do not allow photographs inside as many of the furnishings are on loan from local families.   The home is filled with treasures from the Edwardian era,  Lyme's Golden Era!  The Peak District is stunning and a beautiful setting for Lyme Park.

We entered the home's interior through the center courtyard.

After viewing the interior we wanted to see the gardens and view the home's exterior from different angles.  Let's take a look.

Lyme Hall was used as Pemberly in the BBC production of "Pride and Prejudice".  It's where Mr. Darcy met Miss Bennett.


The sunken garden above is the Italian Garden (originally laid out as a Dutch garden).  It was created by William Legh and is obviously filled with formal flower beds and a central fountain.  This garden is amazing!  There are four cherub statues featuring  earth, fire, air and water. 


Before leaving Lyme Hall we decided to visit their tearoom and have some refreshment.  All of the National Trust places that we visited had lovely tearooms.  It's one more way you can support their efforts to keep up their wonderful properties.  We were told if it were not for the National Trust most of the properties we visited would have fallen into ruin.

Driving down the winding driveway we spotted a small herd of red deer. 

Lyme Park is a lovely place to visit.  I can see why many families in the area come here to enjoy the lovely surroundings.

Here is a map of Lyme Park to give you an idea of its size.

Entrance Tickets

The pamphlet above shows the actual front view of Lyme Hall.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June Bloomers and Father's Day

It's always nice to see the daylilies bloom and give color to our yard.  Spring is always beautiful, but there is a lull in blooms around our place.  Our front has the most sun so that's where the daylilies are.   Let's look at some of the flowers that cheer our days.

We also had a visitor last week after a rain storm. 

My sister's mother-in-law calls the lilies above ditch lilies.  Have you heard this?  It's true they grow in a lot of ditches in Virginia.

On Father's Day we all celebrated at Kabuto's Japanese Restuarant in Richmond.  It is such a fun place to have dinner and the grands love it there. Our son Grady and his Dad are two wonderful fathers of which I'm so proud.

Left to right. Miles, Grayden, Alex, Grady, Samuel

At Kabuto's they cook dinner on a grill in front of you and put on a show while doing it.  The boys love to watch the chef catch food on fire.  Then they indulge in "catching food" as the chef tosses it their way.  It's definitely not what we do at the table at home, but great fun out.

We really miss our daughter and son-in-law especially when there are celebrations. They live in New Hampshire.  Our son-in-law Peter is a wonderful father to Samuel and we wished he were here to celebrate with us. 

Our daughter swam her first open water swim on Saturday.  It was a two mile swim.  Peter was her pilot in a kayak.  Samuel said they call the person in a kayak the YAKER--Too funny!  We're so proud of Noel for reaching this goal!  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

England, Day Two, Part One

Have you heard it rains a lot in England?  Oh yes indeed it does.  It doesn't matter to us--well not much!  We're in ENGLAND and we are prepared!  We have our brollies (British plural for umbrella) and our jackets.  It is a chilly day but we are ready to explore.

Today we are travelling to Stoke-on-Trent to see the Potteries.  It is the World Capital of Ceramics!  Many of the famous china we all know and love was first manufactured here.  Sadly many of the famous potteries have left England for Asia.  Today I wanted to visit the Emma Bridgewater Factory.  I have been collecting her mugs for years now.

After eating some toasted Sally Lunn bread with peanut butter and some grapes we picked up at Waitrose (grocery store) we headed out.  This bird greeted us as we went out the door!

I had no idea what kind of bird he was.  After returning home I looked him up and I believe he is a magpie!  He stayed around our place for the whole time we were there.  So neat to see him!

When we got in the car I pushed the saved places button and then selected Emma Bridgewater.  We headed down to Stoke-On-Trent to visit the Potteries area.  We were travelling along in the rain and I was trying to be the encourager. 

Along the way I managed to enjoy the scenery.  Look at the beautiful rapeseed field.

We made it there safely--hey, I think we're getting better at this driving thing!  Also we were happy that the rain had all but stopped!

These are the roses that frame their doorway.

It was so much fun going into their shop and seeing how they make their beautiful pottery.  There are many temptations available  to one who likes their pottery.  Needless to say, I was in EB heaven!

You can go into the decorating room and paint your own mug--like Susan Branch did.  Well I was not blessed with the talents of Susan Branch and decided not to paint a mug.  There was a sweet couple doing a very fine job on their mugs.  In February of this year the Duchess of Cambridge came to Emma Bridgewater and did paint a mug.

Aren't the ladybugs the cutest!  Everything at Emma's is so colorful and happy.  

We decided to eat in their tearoom.  Cornation chicken salad and Thai lentil soup was our choice for lunch.  The soup warmed our tummies and the sandwich was delicious.  It came with a wonderful salad and coleslaw.  It was plenty for us to split!

I must show you this amazing stove at Emmas!  Isn't it beautiful?

On the wall in the tearoom is a collection of tea towels that they have designed over the years.  I especially loved the National Trust tea towel.

Speaking of The National Trust, let's leave Emma's and visit one of their properties.  It's up in the Peak District and I can't wait to show you.