Hi Girls and Boys! Waking up on our first morning in Beatrix Potter Country, (eek!) peeking out the window to the darling town of Ambleside (eek!). Freezing up here in the North, just a wee bit away from Scotland!
This is a cottage we passed on our way in to town; this is how they look in this little village! Can’t quite believe we are really here!!!
Just took Joe his morning tea; now I’m dipping apple slices in “Rachel’s (not my Rachel, some other Rachel) organic, Greek-style Coconut Yogurt” (it’s become an addiction) and listening to BBC talk about the fantastic event going to happen on the River Thames today. Are we getting coverage of the Diamond Jubilee in America? Let me know! I’ve been collecting images of the festivities to show you just in case!
But speaking of Rachel, I thought I’d start today by taking you on the visit we made to her parent’s farm; we were lucky enough to be invited for lunch with the darling Ashby family who we love very much! With a little bit more Lovely Mozart!
I also put three new videos on Youtube for you . . . The first one, here, is a little walk I took when we arrived at this magical farm just a half hour north of London, where the family moved when Ray, the oldest of three girls, was fourteen. Diana (Di), Ray’s mum, was kind enough to keep her bluebells in bloom until I could get here!!! Thank you Diana!!!
I’ve talked about the wild bluebells so much, I knew you’d like to see them! I was so afraid we would miss them because we got here a little late and England had a very warm March. One of the best harbingers of spring I’ve ever seen, the hillsides here are covered with them, they turn the whole world blue; the shady sun-dappled woods are carpeted as far as the eye can see; you walk through them, around them; they’re next to the roads, just everywhere. Almost gone now, but Di had quite a good little meadow of them still here. Worth a trip across the sea just for the bluebells alone!
The next video is when we were walked into a field and lambs ran up to me and Ray’s little nephew Will … OMG. That was a moment!!
It was a mini dream-come-true for me! I love lambs (I love to paint lambs! Painting them into the diary the last few days!); they’re everywhere here, cavorting all over the hills and valleys; sometimes, on narrow farm roads, you have to stop your car because they’re meandering into the road! I’ve been itching to get my hands on one, and then this happened! That’s just one reason why I call this farm “magical.”
The meadows are covered in wildflowers; we stopped in the buttercups to search for wild orchids . . .
. . . and we found them, peeking through the grass! I also heard my first cuckoo bird out there; totally unmistakeable, in case you haven’t heard one, it sounds exactly like the clock! Or vise-versa I guess! Then it was out to visit the cows . . .
Lucy and David are working hard toward their goal of making and selling artisan cheeses! Since these are the happiest cows in the world, buttercup and wild orchid munchers, hugged every day, fed and cared for in the most thoughtful way, this cheese should be delicious!!!
Then it was back to the table for a wonderful picnic lunch of roasted chicken thighs, steamed potatoes, carrot salad, bean salad, quiche, watercress salad, bread and butter. Strawberries and rhubarb on meringues with cream! Di let me take lots of photos of the inside of her fabulous old house, but I feel a bit funny putting them up here . . . so I’ll only put a few. It’s a very old, very charming house; full of family love. There are photos everywhere of happy family life in this house like this one of Rachel and her doggie.
I don’t think she’d mind if I show you this picture in the kitchen and some of the wonderful tiles she’s collected — and this one below, of the oldest part of the house where there’s a hutch made by her grandfather that has the same teapots on it that were in her own parents house. There’s a downstairs bathroom I’m particularly crazy about — it’s just inside the back door, the one you would use when you come in from the field. Lit by window light, you can imagine it in another time and not having changed much; it has hooks along one wall where every imaginable kind of foul weather gear you would want is hanging: heavy p-coats, down parkas, oilcloth rain slickers, woolen vests, tweed caps, Two old rifles lean in the corner behind the porcelain sink with copper faucets; muddy Wellies and heavy leather work boots are lined up under the jackets on the tile floor; there’s a guest towel with puppies on it (this is dog country around here!), and the view through the windowpanes goes to the garden. The property is “listed,” meaning it has historical significance. I believe the oldest parts of it were there in the 1400’s!
We toasted Clive and Di’s 5oth Wedding Anniversary! Beautiful aren’t they? And this is beautiful too!
The last video is of Rachel’s four-year-old nephew Will hitting a golf ball! Look at that follow-through! He wiggles back and forth to get himself set the way golfers do, concentrating for a moment on the spot where he wants the ball to go, and wham! We watched as he hit ball after ball, over the fence, into the field. He’s four!! Has his own small golf clubs, and wears little gloves! One of the nicest little people I’ve ever met. Everytime he called, “Sue! Sue!” in his English accent, which he did all the time, I melted into a puddle. He’ll be a star someday. He actually already is one!
The only thing missing in this wonderful day was Ray and Lucy’s other sister Esther and her three little children who all live in Australia. Despite the distance, they were very much here in the hearts of everyone. I know their ears were burning.
Someone who wasn’t missing, who really should be, but manages to sneak in when least expected . . .
. . . that Petey! Always hanging around! OK, must go OUT and explore and be back in a couple of hours to watch the telly to see the Royal Barge, with Queen Elizabeth and her family, go under the Tower Bridge; there will be ten “music boats” in the seven mile long river pageant on the Thames; the last one, at the very end, will be a boat carrying the London Philharmonic Orchestra!!!! I hope they’re showing this on American TV; it’s such a huge celebration here, flags are flying, everyone is partying, I couldn’t begin to tell you — let me know if you’re able to see any of it! Bye for now, Girlfriends. More to come!