Life, Uncategorized

Scenes from Oxford

 

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The day my friend and I went to Oxford the weather wavered from bitterly cold, rainy and gloomy to sunny and crisply lovely. When we arrived in the city the wind was cutting and as we walked into town from the train station my cheeks froze and I wished I had worn a warmer coat. All through our all-too-short visit we ducked into shops (we spent quite a bit of time in Cath Kidston and Waterstones) when the rain came and ventured out again when it stopped. The weather in England can be truly insane! The day we visited was during Freshers Week so there weren’t too many students around, but there were still lots of bicycles.

I think the cold and the threatening rain stopped me from taking many photos, which I’m disappointed about.  I thought Oxford was beautiful and I wish I would have explored more of it – that will be a goal on my next trip. Here is a selection of the photos I did take:

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Life, Uncategorized

Jane’s Day Out

Have you seen this video? It was released a few days ago by the Jane Austen Centre. Though undeniably cheesy, it does give a glimpse of Bath and its attractions that I was going to show you before I accidentally deleted the entire post I wrote on my visit to the city. So, instead of my photos today, enjoy a tour through beautiful Bath with Jane Austen. I’ll try to post my photos another day.

Life, Uncategorized

Pretty Plants in England

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One of my very favorite things about England is its beautiful gardens, plants and trees. Many of you know that I live in Arizona, in the Sonoran Desert, and though it can be surprisingly and stunningly breathtaking at times, for most of the year it is quite brown and grey. Needless to say, the greens of England thrilled me. I reveled in the gardens and the flowers intoxicated me. Even walking in the parks was a treat as most of the parks here at home are not very interesting and mostly serve as playing fields for soccer and football, not beautiful places in which to enjoy nature.

I was also really intrigued by the gardening culture in England – all of the books and TV programs devoted to the topic are wonderful. While I was there I watched an episode of a program called ‘British Gardens in Time‘ and fell in love with the subject of the episode, Biddulph Grange, so much so that my friend googled to see if there was any way we could visit. Unfortunately, it would have been too long of a journey from London so I had to shelve that dream for another time.

Following are some of the photos I took of the lovely plants of England. I wish I would have taken more photos of the foliage, but I think I was too busy marveling at and enjoying it all to remember to photograph a lot of it. I hope you enjoy the show.

In Bath–

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At Westminster Abbey–

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At Windsor Castle–064

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At Hampton Court Palace–

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Life, Uncategorized

Emily’s Walking Book Club & Hampstead

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I know I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy reading the Emily Books blog and admire the range and diversity of books that Emily reads and her intelligent and humorous writing. As I was reading her blog a few weeks before my trip I realized that I would be in London on the Sunday of her October walking book club and decided that my friend and I must go. Thankfully, I already owned a copy of the book up for discussion, The Home-maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, and my friend was willing to give it a go. 256

I emailed Emily for directions and information about where to meet and learned that the group meets at the Daunt Books shop on South End Road in Hampstead, nearly across the street from the heath. Emily works for the shop and started the walking book club a few years ago to combine two of her loves: books and walking. You can read more about it here.257

Due to a tube station closure and to getting lost we were late, so instead of trying to find the book shop we waited by the heath entrance to see if we could spot any groups who seemed to be talking about The Home-maker (dove grey books in hand) and just a few minutes later I saw Emily, whom I recognized from photos on her blog, come walking up the street trailed by many enthusiastic readers. After confirming we were in the right place, we joined in the group and had a lively discussion while walking over the green and gorgeous heath. At the midway point we stopped under a huge, ancient tree and revived with delicious plum cake that Emily had made herself. It was a great experience and if I lived in London I would join in every month (though they are currently on a hiatus as Emily has just had her first baby).261

After the discussion we all rambled back to Daunt and I had a nice talk with Emily and a browse in the shop. I bought three books – Love and Summer by William Trevor, Old Filth by Jane Gardam and Pleasures and Landscapes by Sybille Bedford.

When we had made our purchases we set off down a picturesque side street to go to the John Keats House which we had noticed when we were lost and had given up on looking for the book shop (so there was a positive side to our misfortune). We bought our tickets for the next tour at the Keats house then explored the beautiful street where the house is located and discovered the neighborhood library.

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The tour was fantastic and it was a joy to see where Keats had met and fallen in love with Fanny Brawne and where he had penned some of his most beloved poems. I especially enjoyed touring the kitchen and servants’ area of the house, as these are so rarely shown on tours.270

Next, we set off across the heath in search of Kenwood House, which was remodeled by the great architect Robert Adam in the 18th century.  It took us a while to reach Kenwood (I am a slow walker) and we arrived shortly before closing. Sadly, half of the house was already shut off for an evening event so we only got to see one side, but it was beautiful nonetheless, especially the library with its original Adam ceiling and breathtaking hand stitched rug. The artwork is also quite amazing. 276

On my next trip to London I’d like to go back and see the other side.277 279

The day we spent in Hampstead was one of my favorite days in London. I loved the heath, the walking book club and the quiet streets lined with lovely houses. And any day I get to spend in a wonderful book shop is a good day in my eyes.

Life, Uncategorized

A Few Photos from England

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I’ve been back from England for a week now, but have only today found time to turn on my computer and download my photos. I fell head over heels in love with London and miss its energy, culture and history. I knew I would enjoy my trip, but I didn’t think that I would yearn to go back or dream about the city every night. Now I’m scheming for ways to save money so that I can return next year!

I need to organize and categorize my photos for future posts so today I’ll share just a few highlights:

025The poppy installation at the Tower of London.

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Windsor Castle

092St. Paul’s from the balcony at the Tate Modern.

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A visit to Persephone Books.

206A day in Bath.

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A walk across Hampstead Heath.

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The National Gallery on a rainy day.

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A walking tour of Oxford.

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The gardens at Hampton Court Palace.

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A farewell to Big Ben.

Going to England was truly a dream come true.

I hope you’ve all been well!

Life, Uncategorized

Going Across the Pond

British-flag-in-the-windBright and early Monday morning I’m boarding a flight for London. This has been a dream of mine for most of my life so you can imagine how excited and thrilled I am to have this opportunity. I’m going with a friend and we’ll be in England for eleven days. It all somehow seems slightly unreal! I will have wifi where we’re staying so I’ll post photos on Instagram and Twitter when we get back to our flat in the evenings as most of my family and friends have demanded it of me. I haven’t scheduled any posts to run in my absence, though I hope to somehow do a post for Margaret Kennedy Reading Week. I’m currently reading her novel Together and Apart and the two long flights I have on Monday should give me plenty of time to finish it. Have a lovely two weeks and I’ll post when I get back!