Hello darling friends. Are you out there? We are, somewhere, but don’t ask me to be specific! I’m writing to wish you a Happy Easter, and catch you up on the last week here in luv-lee England by the sea! MUSICA (Luv-lee Vera Lynn)
Let’s do both! We’re off the ship! Goodbye wonderful Queen Victoria. We loved every moment of our time with you. 💞 Grab a cup of something hot and join me for the “homecoming.”
Waking up early last Friday, I went out on our deck in my jammies to see the lights and breathe my first breaths of England all around us . . . we’d arrived!
We had to stay on the boat until they could get the bags off and it was our turn to go. . . so we went to the Lido for breakfast ~ my last breakfast on the ship was perfection, one poached egg, half a broiled tomato, and a wee slice of hash browned potatoes. You have to agree it was pretty cute!
And suddenly, we were on land (where I continued rocking for two more days!). And there was no doubt which country we were in.
With just enough STUFF to keep us feeling as though we have everything. Which we do. I took pictures of men and bags while we waited for Rachel who was coming to pick us up!
Here we are, two people who should never have met because it was quite impossible, but who did anyway, as in a miracle, who have so much in common and so much love for each other. Together again.
And Rachel’s darling husband, Paul … we marvel every time we see them, which is never enough, how lucky the four of us are to have found each other . . .
We sat and had lunch and talked about a thousand miles a minute, but they had to catch a train home, and we are off in another direction, for now . . .
Into the careen-mo-bile we went . . . here’s the map of England I painted for A Fine Romance, I haven’t painted the new one yet, I’ll need to add Ireland this time! But see the foot going off at the bottom left on the map? That’s where we’re going to be staying for the first two weeks, in Cornwall, just below the Devon border. But, see the ship? Our hotel for the first night is on the coast, just above the ship’s smokestack. A short drive, for practice.
Hither and yon we went (that’s as specific as I can get about where we actually were) ~ It was clear ship-life was over and there would be no more sunbathing! Winter had returned! Our green and pleasant land is on the verge.
We are going to see the whole change of season as the trees bud into leaf, and the hedgerows become less brambly and fill with leaves, birds nests, and wildflowers, we will be witness!
But for now, the reality is that that white spot is snow, and baby, it’s cold outside. (Right now, inside, I am wearing two sweaters and a shawl. Joe’s out, and just called to tell me it had been hailing! Sounds just like home!)
Only drove past our hotel twice, trying to figure out how to get into the narrow driveway. But Joe did it. 👏 Each time he becomes more comfortable driving on the wrong side of the road . . . and I’m thinking I should get those things they put on a horse’s eyes so it doesn’t get spooked. Okay, a blindfold.
We checked in, then stood and marveled at the view from our room. Way over there, you can see a church with a clocktower and churchyard, and in the foreground there are thatched houses. Squealing. We are really in England! Couldn’t get it to sink in!
The Limestone Hotel in West Lulworth was the sweetest place to stay ~ we woke up our first morning in the total quiet of the countryside pierced by the music of birds ~ and the food there was amazing. At breakfast they actually handed me the menu tucked inside a Beatrix Potter Book!!!
Why? I don’t know, because they are English and can’t help themselves. Because they like to see Americans go bonkers. (Quietly bonkers, as we are strangers in a strange land and wish to draw as little attention as possible to our idiot selves!)
As we walked out, we saw the bin filled with their breakfast “menus.” I’m afraid I took this a little personally. Our first breakfast? On our first day in England? Doesn’t this seem a bit much serendipity-wise? Did one of you call ahead? 💞
We stayed only one night (lamenting the whole time, we wanted to stay longer, the story of our lives with everything we’ve done this week!), then we were off along narrow roads and through tiny villages to find our rental house near Bude in Cornwall (close to the Devon border), me with the camera glued to the car window. We left the ship on March 23rd, and today, as I’m writing you, the birds are still singing, and I’m in a whirl of everything we have done!
Colors have gone by in a watercolor blur, little dogs on leashes, flying white clouds, ancient churchyards, pubs, stone walls, cobblestone streets, and fields of lambs, feeling yourself falling back in time through your car window. Good thing I’m writing it all down or I would be totally lost! We’re still trying to get our land legs! I could honestly write all day every day, I’m so inspired. I barely know what to tell you first . . . I’m trying to be organized . . . one thing at a time, stay focused . . .
So, on the way to the rental house, we made the all-important first stop at our favorite supermarket to stock up with everything we’d need to wake up the next morning and Sing Ho! This famous English market is like a good book, you get inside and you don’t want to come out. Every picture tells a story. Crisp organic vegetables, eggs so fresh and local the yolks are bright orange, seeded crunchy breads, salted butter, fresh from the farm whole chickens, and massive juicy, tart blueberries from Spain ~ and no GMO’s, they aren’t allowed in England. 💋
We found the cottage we’d rented, found the key, got ourselves unpacked, and slept like babies. And what do you know, the next morning the sun came out (for a while, the sun in England plays hide and seek with the clouds) … and here is our thatched cottage which I would have recognized anywhere ~ been dreaming of getting here for months!
This is the living room. It’s not grand but there are three small bedrooms upstairs, one for us, one for our luggage and one for Siobhan who is coming this afternoon to stay with us for the weekend (we have reservations for “Sunday Roast” Easter Dinner 🌸 ~ more about that later).We go off for a muddy walk, pop some musica into the car and wind our way through the brambly hedgerows, exploring all day, then back home where Joe builds a fire. I make tea and write, Joe reads maps while we watch Mary Berry make goat cheese on TV, and Goggle Box which may be the funniest thing on television. In between, I am reading a wonderful book, the Pulitzer Prize winning Washington by Ron Chernow ~ an amazing biography of our first President. Big fat book that Lowely’s John gave me… so big, will probably last the whole trip. I LOVE it. Can’t wait to go to bed and read! While we walk each morning, I tell Joe what I learned the night before. If you like history, you’ll love this book!
And as always, when we leave home, we are automatically lost. Inside the rental house, too. Where’s my camera? Where’s my pen, where’s my jacket, hat, purse, phone … because nothing has a place here. I forgot. I took it for granted at home on the Island, how normal it is to have things where they belong. That is over. Not to mention how does this washing machine work, is this really the door key, and tell me again about the money. And the constant refrain “what do you suppose this is, means, stands for?” Ahh, glorious travel. Love being all so much more ignorant than usual. I’m ten years old again and everything is new. Things are so different here, it makes you think . . .Here’s our new tip for travel: You’ll love this, it works like a charm.
Don’t let these narrow roads scare you … get behind a truck (a lorrie), and let him run interference. He knows what he’s doing and you don’t. Never leave him if you can help yourself. Do not pass. That is idiocy of the first kind.
Narrow road where people park in your lane? No problem, follow that truck! His bravado will blow your mind, but just go with it.
Afraid that everyone is stopped around the curve? Don’t worry, you have a truck in front of you! (Been looking for a good place to use this quote and I think I’ve found it:)So where shall I take you, what would you like to see? That is my question. We have been to so many places, but I need to pick one because you can’t stay here all day and suffice it to say, neither can I! I know, I’ll give you a little taste of everything . . .
Starting with pubs, which you probably know are everywhere. Bastions of good will. The food in England is two thumbs up and six stars. Here, we are in a beautiful candlelit place that Rachel suggested, in front of a fire at the St. Tudy Inn, in the tiny town of St. Tudy (Say, “sinteudie,” one word) ~ run by a famous chef here in England, Emily Scott. So lucky to come for lunch on a week-day just before Easter, I’m sure next week we’d never get in!
It was just yummy . . . this is “Port Hilly mussels with Bacon and Lovage” . . . (they forgot to mention in cream sauce!). Mouth fell in love.
OMG. Is all I can say, don’t look at me while I slurp them down and lick the shells!
After lunch we explored the village . . . because all this was waiting just outside the pub door. We looked over the roof tops and saw this . . .
And visited the wonderful church . . .
Where we found this marble tablet on the wall. Called “A Table of Kindred and Affinity.” It’s not about intermarrying, which is what we first thought, but then we decided it was more about keeping the peace in a small village! According to this rule-tablet, you may NOT marry your son’s son 🤓, nor your sister’s daughter’s husband! 😜 Don’t even try it! And even though you’re not related to him, it’s just asking for trouble if you marry your Husband’s Brother’s Son.
On another wall was this delicately carved thing . . . the church was lovely, we read that it got its start as a Celtic graveyard called God’s Acre . . . filled with history, and beautifully needlepointed kneeling pillows in every pew.
Perfect for Easter . . .
The church yard was peaceful, and the pigeons sang the national anthem, as they have forever, “My toe-huts-Bet-tee” . . . 🎵
Primroses were peeking from their winter lodging in rock walls . . . clusters of daffodils were everywhere.
Back through the village we went, back in time, past windows with lace curtains . . .
And BTW, if you like lace-curtained windows, you’ve come to the right place!
Because they’re everywhere. This gorgeous curtain was in an AMAZING village called Clovelly, pronounced Cluh-VELLIE. The black enamel door, the brass numbers, key hole, and mail box, a wee work of door art.
These curtains too, so pretty . . . want to come back and see what this wall looks like in the summer! I think those are climbing roses. Can you imagine? So romantic.
And these curtains . . . which also came with something else that Clovelly is known for . . .
Lots of friendly kitties . . .
Just like home . . .
And they not only like to be petted, they expect it (spoiled by us appreciative far-from-home tourists). . . if they see that come-hither gleam in your eye, they will come right up to you and rub your leg, making your day! As you can see, they live in a tiny, vertical, fishing village, very steep (what is the word for steeper than steep, steep doesn’t do it), built on the rocky coast, and every one of the cobblestones you see, and many more, were brought up from the shoreline below and laid by hand. There is a strong legacy of insanity that runs rampant in this village. It’s a real place with real people, not a museum, and all handmade. And no cars allowed. No vehicles at all. Don’t even try to bring your skateboard.
Near the front door of each home you’ll see what they call a sledge. Not a sled, a sledge. Residents pull everything from their cars in the car park home on one of these, groceries, fertilizer for their charming little gardens, firewood, probably their babies too, it all comes this way or it doesn’t come. Imagine the days before heat and electricity? At one time, we read, everything came down by mule, even tourists. There are still mules living up at the top near the gift shop.
Lots of different styles of sledges in Clovelly!
Real people live here, and that is one of them below Joe ~ he is RUNNING with his dog … normal people can barely walk on this street, but he is a runner and just getting home.
The locals really do have to put up with a lot to live in this historical place, there isn’t a lot of privacy. There are hotels and pubs so it doesn’t exactly “close” but most of the tourists leave by around 5 or 6 … later in the summer. And you should mind your p’s and q’s when you come because they will compost you if you don’t. 😹
We got there late, and the little tea room was closed . . .
but the tea room window was darling . . .
And this one, too, someone’s kitty has a wonderful view when he dines . . .
So worth the walk, and oddly, much easier walking up than down. Even if walking a steep road isn’t your cup of tea, no one needs to miss this lovely place where nothing ever changes ~ most of the time Land Rovers are available to take people down and bring them back up.
Because when they say down, they mean business. You can also stay at the bottom, at the Red Lion Hotel, and they will drive you in and out.
So back up the hill we went . . . seagulls crying and swooping over our heads. I tried to take pictures of them, there are two there if you can see ~ it was the best I could do, there were really maybe a dozen of them but they refused to gather together and pose for me. And so off we went, intrepid climbers, looking for a place to have tea so I could write this all down . . .
Then map man has another idea . . .
“You like King Arthur and Camelot and all of that, don’t you?” “Yes,” I say, narrowing my eyes at his oddly innocent question. Could be a trick.
So the next day we went to the inspirational castle ruins of Tintagel (pronounced Tin-TA-jel), with links to the legendary King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Anyone who’s read Mists of Avalon would love to visit this place of magic and myth. Besides the views and the ruins, there is a luv-lee tea room and gift shop too. There is so much to say about this place, but I will save it for the book I’m writing ~ In the photo above, we are about to walk back to the car the long way, and Joe is taking my photo as I am reading the sign that leads to the walk.
Now here I am with the sign saying, “Really?”
Because #1 “Unprotected cliffs and banks” got my attention, especially when I looked at the “path.” ⬇ Hello.⬆
But hey. Okay, let’s go. I’m insane, I fit in.
It did get better as we went along… although I did lag at times.
The views were wonderful, the air was salty and clean and smelled like clothes on the line. We were outside, walking in England, what could be more wonderful?
We met others, this happy couple who we could hear laughing all the way up the hill . . . but no, sadly, we did not think to say, “Can you please take our picture?” We really need to do better at that.
Wow, get to use it AGAIN! Never before, then twice in one post! What are the chances?
On the way home, needless to say, we had more delicious and calming “tea” here in the tiny Cornish village of Boscastle at the Cobweb Inn which was built before 1600 (as a warehouse, although they say the townspeople could always get a drink there). It’s a place where muddy boots and wet dogs are welcome . . . crowded with local families of all ages. And us. A little bit in awe. We are still new at this.
So now, a few more bits and pieces, you’re almost caught up . . . we bought our first real, English, Hot Cross Buns ever, brought them home and had them this afternoon with milky Earl Grey tea. They were fresh, soft, and sweet, with no frosting on top, but they have a cross. Easter!
I think I’ve shown you this photo before. I’m on the right, my brother Jim is on the left, and Stephen’s in front … all of us are the opposite of thrilled to be sitting with what we can’t help but see as a sort of monster despite the big bow and the eyelashes. Steve is still young enough to cry, Jim is faking his smile but bravely staying on the rayon knee for his mom who just wants a photo, and I am being brave too, as the oldest. We all would prefer to go somewhere else, anywhere else. Easter Bunnies were not really like Santa. I think they finally gave up trying to sell them to the crying babies of the world! But no matter how bad this was for us, I found something that had to be worse.
Talk about brave! These are really good boys! Is this not the worst? I laugh so hard every time I see it! I can’t get over how awful it is! I found it on line a long time ago, and I’ve been saving it for just the right moment to spring it on you! I hope you’re sitting down.
Okay, I’ve dried my eyes. I’m probably just tired, but that bunny strikes my funny bone in a place I can’t seem to get back from! I recognize the humor, it’s my dad, together we would go through a whole box of tissues snorting and laughing at that photo!
SO, snapping myself out of it! Changing the subject, while we were at the Limestone Hotel that first night . . . a miracle of coordination took place.
Off the boat, only one night at the Limestone (this bunny was on their lawn!), and yet, a package arrived there for us that very day! Perfect timing! Waiting for us in our room! And inside were the new cup samples. Eeek! As I was ripping open the boxes, I worried, remembering the first group . . .
. . . and how dark they were ~ I was praying these would be better. That color had been a setback, and approvals took much longer than they should have ~ I expected to approve the samples before we left home, but they didn’t make it in time, so we tried for Florida, and that’s when the dark ones came, and I just couldn’t say okay to them. But look!
Our new samples and they’re just what I hoped . . . And now they’re with us here! We have gifts! 🌸 I’m so relieved!
I wanted to show you . . . so you don’t worry! The color is wonderful, the flowers soft and none of them are black!
Love this sweet handle on the Spring cup.
And the pink butterfly!
And the softer spring colors look gorgeous on the bone china . . . all just splendiferous! Thank you for your forgiveness, I just couldn’t force myself to give you something I only partly liked, at best. They will arrive to the Studio, we hope, the end of April … fingers crossed! We want you to have them for Mother’s Day and will do everything we know how to make that happen. 🌷
Worth waiting for, pansies are perfect for Mother’s Day!
Bottoms all turned out well too. Kellee has put these up in the webstore, so you can see all sides, bottoms, handles, everything, just in cases.
Kitty cup too, Jack in the Box!
Immortalizing my boy.
My darling short one.
Kitty love is right!
Another cheery handle!
And the one that will always remind me of this wonderful adventure . . .
Another fine romance!
Lambs and hedgerows and spring trees and everything …
Yanks on Shore, Look out England! 💞
I have a little Easter present for you 💞. . . a skinny chick bookmark I made before we left . . . just click there, and print it out. I hope you like it! It might make a good Easter-dinner place card. So what are you having? Ham? If you’re having ham, try my Fruit Compote with it … I think it’s in Heart of the Home, or maybe Vineyard Seasons, and it’s SO good!
And don’t forget my lovely cream-cheese and coconut frosted carrot cupcakes! (The recipe is also in the new version of Heart of the Home if you have it.) I’m very far away from most of you right now, but it doesn’t feel that way! And you’re never far from my thoughts. 💞
It’s a most wonderful time of year! Sending love XOXOX Here comes April, we start right off with a full moon! And I’ll just say it now, Rabbit-Rabbit . . . good luck to us all! 👏