Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Cotswolds, a story book come to life

Coming to the Cotswolds is like opening an old, richly illustrated story book and falling in.
There's honey colored stone, thatched roofs, and romance everywhere.

Almshouses, pubs, ivy and roses creeping down the stone walls.
England, no wonder we are so enchanted by your beauty.

 ...It seemed as if we'd stumbled onto the Braveheart movie set.
We half expected to see someone in period costume running out of the doorway.

The thatched roofs... real thatched roofs. 
Real. Thatched. Roofs.
And we didn't see another tourist.

Is this not just like an old, old story book come to life?
But not at all cutesy, not at all what the Brits call "twee."

If we were not Anglophiles before, Mr. Wonderful and I were completely in love with England when we arrived in the village of Chipping Campden.

Did you know those picturesque finger-thin sign posts are actually REAL?


The weather vanes, too, look exactly like those in the stories my grandma read me. 
I found myself walking around with a silly grin until we returned to our B& B and tasted (yes, really!) tea and crumpets.

Are you a fan of all things English, too?
We are already plotting how and when we'll get back.

Friday, November 20, 2015


What a gem of a city.
For those of us who love everything English, this place has it all.

For starters, there's the York Minster, regal and covered with history on every surface, inside and out.

Everything in York made us fall more and more in love with England.

Natural beauty.
Works of art.
Fabulous tea rooms.

And last but definitely not least, it's a place that can make you feel like Mary Poppins is right at your elbow. 

Look at these two, selling roasted chestnuts between the merry-go-round and the bike rentals downtown.

Even the signs are charming... Really, where else would you find a shop whose specialties are cheese, chilli and chutneys?

We walked for hours, savoring the beauty and history, and traversed the ancient city walls...

Peeking over the wall, you glimpse verdant gardens and glassy Victorian greenhouses, the spires of the Minster, and homes with laundry flapping in the autumn breeze. Even medieval spikes to protect against intruders.

After all that walking, sketching, and braving the whistling wind, it was time to rendezvous with my dear friend, Jane.

It was time for a proper brew.
Tea time.

Let's share tea tomorrow!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


When I went off to teach overseas for a month, I had no idea I'd be completely locked out from posting on my blog.

England and unable to share? Awful! So permit me to gush on for a few days now...

When everyone else was looking up at Parliament, I couldn't resist seeing it in the puddles.
(I've always been one of those stubbornly "different" people.)

After wanting to for years, I finally made it to the ultimate art supply store, L. Cornelissen & Son, just down the road from the British Museum. Such an old world feel, and simply bursting with irresistible and hard to find creative tools.

 When you see it from the street, you know you're in for a treat, but then you step inside...

I walked away with two sable brushes and two calligraphy pens and felt I'd done well to resist the silverpoint tools and the jars of pigments that screamed, "take me home!!!"

We celebrated Mr. Wonderful's birthday in London, sketching and wandering Westminster Abbey and the British Museum...

England is so irresistible because it is at once comfortable and yet foreign, with a vast history readily apparent at every turn...

 After I had sketched like a maniac through London for two amazing days, we hopped on a BritRail train and were whizzed to York, where I'll pick up the tale tomorrow.

Stay tuned. If you like England, you'll love York. And be prepared to swoon when we reach the Cotswolds...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Already autumn.

A fleeting season if ever there was one.
It was full of art and medical crises that kept me too busy to blog.

Hurrah for a fresh breath of air! 

Change of seasons in weather and life are so welcome.

There has even been a sliver of time here and there to paint with friends.
Here I was sketching with Maria Coryell-Martin of Expeditionary Art, whose travel palettes are the legendary. They're truly amazing... sliver-thin so they fit into a small pocket.

Jane Blundell, the well known Australian watercolor artist was here to teach color mixing, and what fun we had!

Our little valley is so lovely in autumn.