SONG for the AGES

When I was in England I found a song ~ MUSICA (don’t worry, it takes a moment to start) a song for the ages, I kept hearing it, and as the beauty of it slowly seeped 🎵 into my consciousness, I began to pay more attention to it, and finally I was in a castle somewhere where it was playing, 🎵and I thought, “What IS that? I’ve heard it somewhere before!” So, I bought the cd, put it in our car, and as we drove hill and dale, along the narrow roads,🎵 between hedgerows, past fairytale cottages and wild gardens, through England, the “green and pleasant land,” this is what was playing.


. . . as lovely old stone walls rushed past . . .


And views of small handmade villages . . .


where stones were laid, and cottages built, and no two chimneys are alike . . . get-attachment-aspx


with farms and sheep . . . and not just any sheep …


sheep with personality


and everywhere, reminders of what came before . . .englandwithitshistoryimg_7736

clues of ancient people and ancient times, our predecessors as they struggled to make a life, to become stronger, smarter, better . . .

stone walls line the roads

Your heart is soaring anyway when you’re doing that, from the history and the beauty, but if you have a sound track for your heart to soar to, it’s even better. It turns out img_2267 this song is the unofficial ‘anthem’ of England, taken from a poem (“And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time”) written by William Blake in 1808 and put to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916, as a positively heart-stopping tribute to the industrious generations that came before.  Learning about this song, brought me to something that has been going on in England since 1895 which was shocking to me since I was just finding out about it.  Especially since it’s been happening get-attachment-aspx in London for eight weeks every summer for over a hundred years (all you more well-educated Anglophiles will say this is very old news) ~ daily classical music concerts at the Royal Albert Hall (and other places) called img_7708“Proms.”And in particular, I wanted to mention the “last night of the proms” when the music they play, like this song, is wonderfully British, old and traditional, and touchingly patriotic ~ people dress up for it, and there’s a chorus and everyone sings along and cheers and waves flags.  I love tradition, and the quirkier, the more people-ish, the better. The Promenade Concert (Proms) has an interesting history, conceived by Robert Newman (a musical impresario) who said, “I am going to run nightly concerts and train the public in easy stages. Popular music at first, gradually raising the standard until I have created a public for classical and modern music.” And that’s exactly what he did.  Newman dreamed of generating img_4729a wider audience for concert hall classical music and he did it by offering low ticket prices,  in an informal atmosphere where eating and drinking were permitted as they listened to the music. And now all these years later, it’s everything just as he envisioned it, even more so, hundreds of thousands of people all singing together, the music of forever. Makes me proud to be human. Because people do these things. And here, for you, the last night of the Proms, a little taste. First song is the one that brought us here, Jerusalem, I’ve put the lyrics underneath the video…

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!


And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among those dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green & pleasant Land.

And now because it’s a tradition of the heart, God Save the Queen 🎵. There are so many videos of the Proms on Youtube, you can Google and enjoy. Here’s a bit more MUSICA.


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Where we went in England

If you’d like a very short but fabulously-done history lesson, look at THIS, the opening ceremonies at the London 2012 Olympics. These people are amazing.

Hope you enjoyed that! I’m off to put some Musica on and wrap packages. Have a wonderful day! Love you! About the recipe for those yummy short ribs: had to get the butcher at the supermarket to order them! Live on an Island. Recipe coming soon! ❌⭕️

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 325 Comments


Hello Everyone, welcome HOME . . .MUSICAsocomewithme darkness img_6062

As we have discussed before, I’m a house person, I love them ~ I’ve loved them forever.  All sizes, big and little ~ some so little they can fit on the shelf on top of my stove, and some even smaller that light up with votive candles. I even loved the little red houses in our Little house on the stove monopoly game and seeing them all lined up, even if it was just Baltic Avenue, was a feeling of great comfort! I wasn’t even that wild to change them for a hotel. I liked my houses.🏡 So today I think I’ll show you lots and lots of English and Scottish houses and some New England houses too;  houses we walked by, houses we went into, houses we lived in, and houses famous people lived in… and some we just drove by while I scrambled for the camera. Won’t that be fun?  But before I do… We have some unfinished business don’t we Girlfriends? We have some prize winners to announce. I thought we might do this a bit quicker than usual, because, as you know, Vanna can take FOREVER to wake up, she’s such a princess. So when she came in last night, while she was still alert, I got her to draw the two winning names! Brilliant eh?

img_7278  So here we go! Over 3,000 of you left comments to enter the drawing which sounds like a lot (a real lot if you ask me!) until you remember how many millions of people buy lottery tickets ~  you have a MUCH better chance of winning! This is my favorite part of the drawing… the Heart of the Home Dream Charmmoment in time where everyone is still a winner. I do not like announcing the actual winner, no matter how happy I am for them.  I just wish everything would divide itself into loaves and fishes and pass itself around. But let’s be excited, because here we go . . . The first name Vanna drew will receive what you see above, a personalized copy of the 30th Anniversary edition of Heart of the Home, plus, a bird-in-a-gilded-cage ornament (that I found in England), and, in addition, two of our limited edition Dream Charms for your necklace or bracelet: Fireworks in Oak Bluffs“Christmas Joy” and the new “Heart of the Home.”  SO. Are you ready???? Here we go!! Fireworks please!

The First Winner is . . .  Sandra Stephens (who wrote in her comment that she has a “new dream of visiting England”). Congratulations Sandra‼️I hope winning this prize sets you on a path of luckiness that takes you everywhere you want to go!♥️

And now, for Drawing Number Two:


And here’s the second prize, the teapot I bought in an antique store in the Peak District in England in 2012… I painted it for A Fine Romance, and now it’s waiting to hear about its new home ~ that, along with two personalized books, A Fine Romance, and Heart of the Home, and a Last year, island fireworks!“Girlfriends” Dream Charm.

And, the winner IS, eeeek, . . . . . Joy in Alabama‼️

Congratulations to you, Joy💛 ~  hopefully this will bring you even MORE Joy! I’ll write both Sandra and Joy to find out what names they’d like me to write in their books and to get their addresses. Thank fireworksevery one of you for your amazing, wonderful, funny, evocative, sweet comments. It’s you that makes this Blog such a nice place to come to. Thank you for your contributions!! LOVE YOU!♥️

Now. Not really a runner’s-up prize, but still, something quite nice:  Houses.  Shall we?bathing


We’ll start with one of my little top-of-the-stove houses ~ this one only comes out once a year.💛


And now, in no particular order . . . Homes sweet Homes.  Rainy day or sunshine, in focus or not, houses have such sweet allure. Much more than just shelter from the storm, they are havens of hopes, dreams, memories, births and deaths, grief and joy, youth and age, school days, holidays, snowstorms, daffodil lawns, barbecues, careful economy, report cards, grilled cheese sandwiches, energy, creativity, birthday cakes, new shoes; our homemade, everyday lives. All of these houses have one basic thing in common, besides the fact that normal people, like us, just trying to get through this life with everything intact, live there ~ it’s also something about the mystery in each of them that makes me think that I might like to live there too.  One of my favorite things in travel is to see how others live. What home looks like to them.


So many houses in England have names . . . Just like my own Holly Oak, which must have had English roots to have always had a name. A name always makes me wonder. Why? I like to wonder why. I come up with all kinds of plausible and implausible possibilities, and Joe is my victim. He’s trapped in the car with me as I muse out loud. Luckily he doesn’t listen to me, other wise I might drive him crazy. 💛

house ebrington 2 mi from chipping campden

Thatched roofs are not something you see too often in America. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.  But there are many in England, and in Scotland, some of them are made with heather.


Just like in the USA, different parts of the country use different kinds of building materials…mostly what was available locally and most plentifully.

house ray's mom's

Joe and I stayed in Owl Cottage for three glorious weeks and church bells rang everyday.

Nov 2 home to st. mary's square

Walking home from shopping in town passing church on the right . . .

house bunting

Fairy1Charm is a dime a dozen in the United Kingdom, I think you will agree. This is just a normal house in a normal town on the Fife Coast in Scotland (highly recommended) that just coincidentally shadows word home sweet homehas bunting draped across the street. Perfectly normal. But doesn’t it make you wonder who lives there? I love the putty color, the red door and the step roof.  Scotland, land of  Highlands and Lowlands, lairds and lasses, pipes and lochs, legends and faeries, shepherds and dogs, castles and plaids, bagpipes and unicorns, castles and cottages.

outside of house

This is another house in Scotland. Looks like not too much from the outside,  but it was one we could go in, because it’s part of the Highland Folk Museum ~ 30 historical buildings that show how Highland people lived and worked from the 1700s up to the 1960s. Lots of interesting homes here, and best of all, they are all furnished and you can go in! Here’s what this little house was like inside:


Sweet and simple. The people who decorated these houses for the museum worked hard to collect just the right vintage for each house.img_2227They kept it real so we could get a flavor for the times, running water and everything. This would have been an amazing luxury compared to some of the houses we saw there. wooden-spoon


Like this one, for example. I’ll have to do a whole blog on this Highland museum, because there were some fascinating things there I know you would love. They were re-thatching this 17th  century house in several colors of heather which sheds most, but unfortunately, not all, of the rain which Scotland is somewhat famous for. october-2010-462These stone houses were amazing. Living here was NOT easy. There was an open fire in center of the one big room, smoke was everywhere, but supposed to go straight up through hole in roof. The homeowners and their children would have sat on wooden benches around the fire, cooked either in a pot that hung from chain over the flame, or on a huge hook that hung from another chain. There was no heat or light except the fire, no windows, no running water, and btw, no bathroom. Eeeek. This is precisely why I steered clear of every stone circle we came to. I touched nothing. With my luck I’d go back in time and there would be no Jamie, only motherhood, trying to keep the kids out of the fire, in one of these wet, drafty, dark, dirt-floored houses while hanging naked rabbits on hooks. We have it so made, Girlfriends.

house Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Anne Hathaway married William Shakespeare in 1582. This was her family’s picturesque twelve-room, thatched-roof farmhouse in Stratford-Upon-Avon where Will came a’courting. It’s open to the public, you can wander through it and around the lovely gardens, but watch your head.img_0842

Though the timber-framed 500-year-old rooms were many, they were made for very short people, and rambled from level to level.


We also went to see Shakespeare’s Birthplace ~ when we walked in the door to get our tickets, these three women were already singing the Star Spangled Banner! 🇺🇸I don’t know why! They didn’t even know we were coming!🎵  We immediately joined in and that made us all laugh. So cute! I think they liked their jobs!


There were costumed docents in the house where Shakespeare was born, full of detailed information, bringing history to life, telling the story of the place where William Shakespeare did his childhood dreaming.Dreamers


I loved the bonnet she had made and embroidered and asked for a closeup. She was embroidering a little bag to match when we walked into the room.

img_6159This of course isn’t a house … just something I saw in one of the villages as we were driving by … a luv-lee decoration on the second floor over a bookstore. Wonderful, eh?


Tudor style hotel! Built around 1500! Still standing, loved, used, appreciated.


This is the famous city of Bath (“Bawth”), we stayed in the house with the black door. There was a darling little shop on the ground floor, we had the three stories above where we celebrated Rachel’s 50th Birthday. I’ll have to do a whole blog about that too!


Coming out of a pub driveway, this darling brick house was just in front of us. Good spot. Live there, cross the street for lunch, go for a walk out back.

rebel house Silver Street

And this adorable loaf-of-bread cottage was just around the corner from where we stayed in the tiny village of Chacombe. I could happily live here, wear 1940s aprons, make Hot-Cross Buns and Victoria Sponge for the church, drink tea from a chipped crockery cup, and ride a cock horse to nearby Banbury Cross to celebrate Remembrance Sunday.

In the middle ages, every workman was an artist. Wm. Morris

So true, but William Morris did not have this ⬇️and I know he would have LOVED it:  MUSICA


This traditional oast house was a discovery on one of our walks … first through a field of cows and then past this wonderful place.img_0811

Had to show you these chimneys! Building was a little hit or miss in the old days. Nothing seems to stop anyone, not roof heights, not beams, not levels and they felt perfectly fine building a house with a much bigger top than bottom. The rules were different. You did what you needed to do, even if it meant this.

There ain’t no rules around here, we’re trying to accomplish something! Thomas Edison


Walking to Rachel’s house from town, crookedness at its most charming best. Another Tudor style house on the left.


This is one of the manor houses near Bolton Abbey (some of the most romantic and prettiest walking country there is),  just south of the Yorkshire Dales. . . and owned by the Duke of Devonshire since 1775. (See the duck in the grass?)


I’d be perfectly happy with the little house on the right. Excellent location!


Or this, pure charm, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere in the Lake District. We went here in 2012 ~ it’s the first home of William Wordsworth where he moved in 1799; planted flowers and vegetables, watched birds and butterflies, read, talked and wrote some of his most famous poems. ruralenglandistoobeautiful


Just another example: in England they can put a garden on a postage stamp!  Sometimes less! Climbing roses grow out of cracks between sidewalk and foundations!address word home dreams


Purely pretty. Like the rest of the country, all handmade, no two houses alike. No two windows, or roofs or chimneys are exactly alike because the hand of man is all over this place!home mug



Box of chocolates

Another drive-by. I was thrilled that this wasn’t too out of focus and you can read the name on the garden gate of Buttercups Cottage! I mostly just hung out the window with my camera all the time, because, as everyone who’s traveled through the English Countryside can tell you, this kind of charm isn’t just here and there, it’s EVERYWHERE.domesticity


Luv-lee Lacock, a mostly 18th century village owned by the National Trust.


This was the house I thought perhaps we should have as our clubhouse. What do you think? Knitting lessons every Thursday afternoon? Sunday dinners at 4?

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. William Morris.


One more drive-by shot, look at the fox and ducks on the roofs! Look at that thatch design ~ not a fancy house, just a perfect house . . . had to have a photo…


A nice little neighborhood . . . imagine the road is dirt, now picture the people walking by in 1806, carrying baskets, there are horses and wagons, food comes in pots, tins, boxes, and barrels and no one here ever throws anything away! img_1973

Honey Cottage, home sweet home.tea

Paul Revere's house

Just so you can see how England brought their architectural sensibilities to America, this is where Paul Revere lived during the Revolutionary war. The house was built in 1680 and is the oldest surviving structure in downtown Boston. It’s made of wood, because there was lots of it in the New World and not so much heather or Cotswold stone.



And this is another luv-lee old New England house ~  we have many beautiful historic homes here ~ beautiful in all seasons, but in the fall, they shine.prayer for a little home


In the winter too…. here’s Louisa May Alcott’s “Orchard House” where she lived with her Marmee, father, and sisters in Concord, MA. Open to the public for tours.Staygladys house

And Gladys Taber’s 1690 Stillmeadow Farm  . . .Gladys was born in 1899 and wrote lots of wonderful homey stories about life in her Connecticut house.Gladys Taber


Another Massachusetts Charmer.


Then there’s this one, our house in the snow.beatrix-potterHome sweet home

I’ve always loved painting houses for my books and calendars …


I was even able to send love of houses to the far east via the Chinese edition of A Fine Romance!


Home All my best to you Girlfriends, happy home, happy life!  🏡 Thank you again for your wonderful comments! 💛 Shall we go to Highclere Castle next? 👑 Or maybe to Carrie’s House in Oxford? 🇬🇧 Or, perhaps we go to Bawth and make dinner 🍾and decorate for Rachel’s Birthday?💐 Or, shall I make you some short ribs in a crock pot right here in my own kitchen?🍽  You choose! Bye for now❗️  Hopelessly devoted to you . . .  ❌⭕️


Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 655 Comments