Tuesday, April 30, 2019

More Springtime

I can't help but share more Springtime photos from around our home.  It can be a very short season and I like to savor every moment.  

The Bridal Wreath Spirea is blooming so lovely this year.  I got this little shrub from my Mama years ago from my childhood home.  It means the world to me to see it blooming.  

The columbine continues to grow beautifully along with its other red companion.

These are the sweetest spring flowers that reseed themselves and enjoy their day in the sun/shade garden.

This female red bellied woodpecker is waiting her turn at the suet.  If you can feed the birds, you are in for a treat.  They will reward you with their antics and appearances near you.

The male goldfinch has been coming by for breakfast every morning.

We've been quite surprised to see the male pileated woodpecker this late in the season.  We usually see them in winter, but he is welcome to chow down at our suet anytime!  He really does consume an enormous amount of suet, though.

The Viburnum Snowball shrub is taller this year.  It's blooming so lovely this year!

My cousin reminded me that our Grandmother had these on either side of her front steps.   Her variety must have been different for I don't think she would have had twelve foot shrubs next to the steps.

Spring is so lovely this year in spite of the terrible storms we have experienced.  I am sitting on our patio writing this post and watching a male wren go in and out of a birdhouse on a side table.  He has been so attentive to his mate.  I dare not disturb this process and hope I will have some baby wrens to photograph!  While I was reading about their habits I learned that the male will build up to 12 nests and introduce them to his mate.  She will choose the one to her liking.  Now, if that isn't amazing, I don't know what is!  Happy Springtime! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Springtime Blossoms

Every Spring the world around our home blossoms.  I've shown photos of our garden for the five years I've been blogging.  If you don't mind I'll share what it's looking like around here now.  I can't help it, I love gardening and Spring!

The dogwoods have been lovely this year, but such a short time in the sun!  It's been so warm they are now waning.

"The Spring came suddenly,
bursting upon the world
as a child bursts into a room,
with a laugh and a shout
and hands full of flowers." 

The daffodils are over their blooms and then the narcissus and grape hyacinths were blooming.

The bleeding heart comes back to our delight every Spring, usually around Easter.  

The wood violets that I planted last year are blooming so pretty this year.  I know some consider them a weed, but to me they are lovely.

Not everything is all flowers and blooms around our home.  Last week on Monday morning during the wee hours we experienced a very ferocious storm.  The above photo is taken from our compost area showing the hickory tree that fell during the storm.  We were so lucky that we only lost our tree!  Our children's old swing frame saved our fence.  The tree is gone now and I'm sure we will miss it.  It's always sad to lose a tree! 

The perennial bed is alive with color.  Veronica speedwell is filling in nicely.  It's a joy to watch old faithfuls return. 

The nodding columbine is beginning to blossom.  Their sweet shy heads are purple and red in my garden.  The red are having a slower start.

The pulmonaria continues to reseed itself all over the garden.

The pink azaleas out front are full of blooms. 

The white ones out back have a larger bloom and are quite lovely.

The pirate bluejays are frequent visitors the last few days!  Grayden's family owned a darling set of books, Book Trails for Baby Feet, that has a sweet story about the pirate bluejay.  Very appropriate for these characters!  Our daughter now has that set in her home as she loved these books.

It's a wonderful time of year watching the earth come alive again! 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Exeter Cathedral

The next place Grayden and I visited on our Golden Anniversary trip to Britain was Exeter Cathedral.  Considering the sad events of this week at Notre Dame Cathedral, I was hesitant to share our visit to Exeter.  After thinking a bit about it I decided to still share.  We visited Notre Dame Cathedral in 1997.  One of the astounding things of visiting Europe is viewing ancient cathedrals.  The Cathedrals of Europe are certainly breathtakingly gorgeous.  To view such beautiful architecture that was built without modern machinery blows my mind!  Watching the news brought tears to my eyes and heart.  I still can't believe what has happened and I'm so glad the French are going to rebuild the magnificent heart of Paris!  Vive La France !  So no disrespect to Notre Dame Cathedral is intended in my post, but to show how magnificent these old cathedrals are.  Many of them have suffered similar fates in the past because of fire and bombings and have been bought back to glory.  In fact in May of 1942, Exeter Cathedral was hit by a bomb that destroyed St. James' Chapel on the southern side.  After WWII, it was rebuilt.

This is our first view of Exeter Cathedral as we parked our car on the street behind the lovely grounds.  Come along with us as we enter Exeter Cathedral that is officially known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter in Exeter.  This Anglican church is the seat of the Bishop of Exeter.

Maybe you know the poem or the hymn by George Herbert.  I really think it is appropriate for this Holy week. 

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lacked anything.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:

Love said, You shall be he.

I the unkind, ungrateful?  Ah my dear,

I cannot look on thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

Who made the eyes, but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?

My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:

So I did sit and eat.

Stepping through the huge doors I am immediately struck by the magnificent quiet beauty of Exeter.  

My eyes immediately gazed upward at the heavenly vaulted ceiling.  Exeter Cathedral's foundation was begun in 1133.  Think about that for a moment...Starting with the Norman style and then in 1258 was rebuilt in Gothic style. The massive Norman towers were kept.  In 1400 the cathedral was complete.  It is made of local Purbeck marble from nearby Dorset.

Stepping into the nave of Exeter Cathedral we learn it has the longest continuous medieval stone vaulted roof in the world.  It is amazing!  Cathedral's were built to glorify God and I certainly feel that here. 

Stained glass windows adorn the cathedral in every arch.

Above the high altar is the Great East Window.  This window contains glass from medieval times.  The figures of Abraham, Moses, and Isaiah still have their original faces.  During WWII this glass was removed along with other precious items.  All the other glass was destroyed during the bombings.

The Great West Window was created by William Peckitt of York in 1767.  It features the apostles and saints. 

The Astronomical Clock dates from 1484.  This model is based on the understanding of the solar system of the day.  Such as the sun and moon circling around the earth in the center.

High on the north side of the nave is the Minstrel's Gallery.  The gallery was built in the 14th century and features carved angels playing musical instruments.


The misericord carving of the elephant is the only one on display in the cathedral.  It is one of the earliest involving an elephant.  These carvings are on the seats in the  nineteenth century choir stall.  The carvings are now being restored as they are separating from the seats.  They were originally carved in the thirteenth century and are one of the oldest surviving sets of misericord carvings in England.

This is St James' Chapel after its reconstruction after WWII.  It has a more modern feel but with a nod to the past.  A large portion of the city of Exeter was destroyed during this bombing.  St James' Chapel was in ruin.

The Exeter Rondels were added to the Cathedral in 1989.  Marjorie Dyer and over 70 volunteers from the Company of Tapisers made the amazing covers for the cushions that line the nave of the cathedral.  The Exeter Rondels tell the story of the history of the magnificent cathedral in tapestry.  This is an amazing feat that shows the love this community has for their beloved cathedral.

Exeter Cathedral is magnificent and reminds me of the Glory of God.  We feel honored to have experienced our time standing in that glory. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019


Today I'd like to continue sharing our Golden Anniversary to Britain.  It's taking quite a while to record all of our visit as we were there for four weeks.  Believe me we took advantage of every moment there.  We had a marvelous time and I do appreciate you visiting with us.  

After visiting Arlington Court,  we drove to visit Knightshayes.  This very large estate is located in Bolham, Tiverton, Devon.  Come along with us as we travel to a most interesting estate. 

The rolling hills of Devon are delightful to view.  We secure a spot in the car park and head to the stable.

It has been converted into a reception area along with a shop and a cafe.  You know me, I don't miss a meal so let's stop and eat before we tour Knightshayes in the cafe.  I didn't take photos of our meal, but I did record in my journal that Grayden had quiche and I had a Teddy Devon Pie, which is a savory pie made of potatoes and onion.  I understand in Devon, teddy is a potato!  

Walking out of the small courtyard, a lovely visitor pointed out this adorable dormouse resting in a garden ornament!  Isn't he darling?

Knightshayes is a Gothic Revival house.  The house is a rare example of the work of  Victorian architect, William Burges.  You may remember reading about his work in other spots we have visited.  He is mostly known for his work on churches.  Knightshayes is the only Burges designed home that the public can tour.

Knightshayes has been the home of three generations of the Heathcoat Amory family.  The family made their fortune in lace.  John Heathcoat Amory had the house built.  He was the grandson of  Sir John Heathcoat who was the creator of the lace bobbin making machine.  He owned the lace factory in Tiverton.  The family gave the home to the National Trust after living here for over 100 years.  Come inside with us.

Stepping inside we realize the massiveness of this house!  The family was not happy with William Burges' progress on Knightshayes so they fired him after he worked on the project for four years.  They then hired John Crace to finish the inside of the home.  Most of his work was covered up by the family until the National Trust restored the property.  

Possibly the family was trying to make their home less imposing and more cozy.  

The last member of the family to live at Knightshayes was Joyce Wethered.  She was a gardener and a world championship ladies golfer.  She won the English ladies championship four times.

Upstairs the bedrooms were lovely.

I think my absolute favorite was the view out the upstairs window of the lovely gardens below.  This tree took my breath away!!

Let's stop for tea while we continue to visit.

You can clearly see the ornate bed and decor. 

The ceilings in Knightshayes are most ornate.  

Let's go into the dining room and view the beautiful room.

This walnut linen press may be the largest we've seen and oh so handsome!

In the dining room we were told that the ceiling was covered up and discovered by the National Trust during renovation.  The Heathcoat Amory family covered up paneling and ceilings.

Perhaps they didn't like the reminders!

The library next to the dining room was a very cozy room.  Of course, it too had an elaborate ceiling.

There is so much to see in the two stories that the public is invited to tour in this three story house.  Let's go outside and get a little look at the gardens.  First we pass by the flower arranging room.

So many lovely arrangements awaiting their turn in the home. 

When we step outside there is that very large bonsai style tree!  It is just lovely in the sweeping lawn and flower beds.

Gardens were very important in remote estates in Victorian times.  To grow food first and then to have lovely flowers for your home. 
After the two World Wars the walled garden was in poor condition and was restored in 2001. 

The formal gardens were restored by Sir John and Lady Heathcoat Amory after WWII.  It has won many awards with its many species of plants.  

I was intrigued to learn that Knightshayes served as a rest home for American soldiers during WWII.  It was a place of respite from the war.  Many large estates took on this role during the war.

We enjoyed our visit to another very interesting and multi-layered home in Devon, England.  Thank you for traveling along with us!