Archive for the 'bonny england' Category

a few english churches

you can’t go anywhere without bumping into one.  it’s the easiest way to mess up an itinerary, since you simply can’t help but stop.  that and they leave them all open.

i hope christianity recovers enough from her long haired, loose, sheet rock, and acoustic panel ways to go back to making churches out of rock.  (the way jesus intended.)

it is sad that they are so unloved though.  the english do a great job keeping up on “restoration.”  they have whole businesses that revolve around the care and maintenance of steeples.  but they just don’t dust.  it’s like you walk in and the place is wearing a fat sticker that says, “hyacinth me.”

just give me half a chance baby.

this one was my favorite though.  nestled in some tiny town right outside bath.

i imagine it’s not too exceptional until you realize it’s scale.  so note the car parked on the side.  and that’s an english car, which amounts to half of a real car.  it’s like a hobbit church.  we drove up and i was like, “thomas kinkaide, eat your heart out.”

inside there was enough room for three pews.  it was the most sickeningly adorable thing i have ever seen.

then, poking around in the cemetery, i found this.  a tombstone for “fanny anna.”  get out.  i remarked to my husband, “that’s more of a school yard taunt than an actual name.”

but that was before i factored in the surname.  dig it.

syon park

we came back into london a little early to visit syon house.  marc had read about it in school and was excited to see it in person.  and i was like, “gee, that’s nice honey.”  looks kind of like one of those tastefully done faux stucco castles i’ve always wanted.

let’s just say it didn’t throw the interior designer back any.  i really liked how he re-sized and re-proportioned the rooms, via optical illusion or otherwise, to first give everything perfect ratios.  i mean, that’s what math’s good for.  and then he saddled up and went to town.

after walking in the front door you would walk up the raised entry to the ante room.  also known as the scrotum room.  i counted.  there were about 15.  and it wasn’t subtle.  i think there is some kind of design theory i am missing out on here.  i mean, i don’t even have one in my living room, not to mention my whole house.  but this is going to change at the first available opportunity, i assure you.  i’m not one to be outdone.

from there you entered some kind of man cave.  you can’t see, but all the little panels on the ceiling were painted with naked chicks.  i guess this was before tv.  so if you ever got bored you could kick back, smoke, and stare at the ceiling.  curse you cable, the end of an era.

luckily robert adam was a bit of a gentleman, and insisted on buffering the ladies and gentleman’s parlors by the state dining room.  where nudity was kept at a discrete minimum and everyone had their pants on.

through the next set of doors was the long gallery for the ladies.  the functional equivalent of a treadmill.  that’s right.  the men smoked, stared at the wall paper, and drank, while the women ran laps.  i know, awesome.

while we were there we got to see the paint samples they were testing on the walls, trying to match the original colors.   and while you may find current color palette tasteful, robert is with me on this one.  flamboyant teal, gold, and pink all the way.  because what you’re looking at is just dirt.  and where’s the flair in that?  also, on each end of the room were hidden little gossip closets.  each one done in a different theme.  this one was pink.  i think the other one was done up in chinese papers.  i thought they were quite romantic.  until someone mentioned that was most likely where they hid the potty.

last we got to poke around upstairs.  victoria’s bedroom was closed but we got to see her mother’s adjoining room.  it was fun to come home and finally watch “the young victoria.”  especially since a lot of it was filmed at blenheim.  been there!

the conservatory ’round back.  i guess this is the happening spot for weddings.  as you can only imagine.

although it really is much less imposing inside.

anyways, we were very pleased with our visit.  the duchess has things nailed down.  who, coincidentally, is also the matron of “hogwarts.”  the dear lady has taken all the money from those wretched films and sank it into remodeling her castle.  if you couldn’t tell, the place needed it.  i hear she has her eye on syon park next.  the tour guides live in constant fear. don’t mess with the missus.  if only all the historic homes in england had her breathing down their necks.  maybe they would dust more.

p.s.  oh yes, and the interior glamor shots aren’t mine.  no cameras allowed.  hence, all images stolen for your viewing pleasure.  you’re welcome.


why yes, i do have more pictures of england i haven’t blogged yet.

we spent a day touring around bath.  holy traffic.  let’s just say i liked it in the country better.  english streets don’t lend themselves well to traffic.  or cars, more specifically.

we visited the abbey.

missed the roman baths by 5 minutes.  but i’m pretty sure i got the general idea.

i also got to see the assembly rooms.  georgette heyer would be proud.

but really, i think the only reason people go to bath is to buy things.  the place is neck deep in shopping.  unfortunately, my husband wasn’t convinced.

wandering around the winding streets.

stopped by the crescent.  which used to be prime ghetto real estate in the 60’s.

now you would have a hard time picking one of these up for less than 4 million.  or so i was told.  i was able to visit no. 1 royal crescent.  where they tried to convince me that the place originally had barnwood floors, people relieved themselves in the dining room, didn’t bathe, and used mouse tails for fake eyebrows.  i refused to believe them.  it’s history and i can do what i want with it.  besides, my version is better.

more shopping and eating.  hubby got a “pasty pie.”  …yum?

the circus.  we also stopped at the jane austen center.  they had stockpiles of “i ♥ fill-in-the-blank” pins.  albeit mostly with “mr. darcy,” and they didn’t have a single “i am madly in love with henry crawford” one.  so i didn’t buy any.  

some building.  (there were lots of them.)

another example of excellence in parking.  i can tell we’re kindred spirits.

every day my husband checks the weather in england.  “look, it’s 108 in boise…and 55 in tetbury.”  less of a winning point with me, but i’m still prepared to do what it takes.  it’s rough being homesick.

england’s green and pleasant land

a day doesn’t go by when i don’t think of england.  like today, when i bought a rainbow luggage strap for my exploding suitcase.  you know, for when i go back.  it just breaks my heart.  anyways, here are some pictures from our visit to westonbirt arboretum.

all of which are better viewed while listening to the hymn “jerusalem.”  so yes, you might as well push the button.

of course, the place would be more romantic in person if you weren’t freezing your buns off.  not that i would let this stand in my way.  one can overcome almost any obstacle with the right wardrobe and a pair of wellies.

the avenue.

and no, i’m not going to tell you about all 18,000 trees.  other than saying, “aren’t they nice?”  (they even make pink ones.)

in this picture you can see the original manor house in the distance, making this a once very righteous, 600 acre back yard.

a better view coming up the drive.  although, sad to say, it’s no longer a residence, but a school for girls.  shame.

personally, i’m all for the unequal distribution of wealth.  a true fan of diversity.

of course, my moral compass has always been skewed in the presence of real estate.  the pyramids weren’t free my friends.  and think how boring egypt would be without them.  (very.)


this was one of my favorite places.  i think it was the copious amounts of shopping all crammed together in lopsided fashion.  marc and i squeezed into a store as big as our laundry room, with 6 other people, two shop attendants, and twenty pairs of wellingtons.  it was not exactly your typical walmart experience.  (all that acreage and the place still makes me claustrophobic.)

notice the mirror on the corner?  we didn’t realize what it was for until we got to the corner and had the sneaking suspicion we were all going to die from an imminent collision.  those brits are clever.  and so safe.

a dreamy window display.  it seems obvious to me now that i should have bought that dress.

in the center of town is some righteous gazebo.

it kind of marks the entrance to the church green and the abbey.

or what’s left of it.

here is a drawing of what it would have looked like in the 14th century, before it fell over.  which, frankly, sounds rather dangerous.  whose idea was it to stack rocks that high in the first place?

a volunteer at the abbey was telling us how all the carvings would have originally been painted in bright colors, making the place the epitome of stunning.  i didn’t believe him.  then he told us about the “church of the holy innocents” in highnam, which still retains all of it’s interior paintings.  you know, if i ever wanted to see it for myself, ye of little faith.  i googled it instead.  and what do you know, jesus decorates like i do!  and you all thought i wasn’t classy.  ha!  i guess it was the trend with a lot of the medieval cathedrals.  they limed them up and then went all vegas on them.  here is a link to amiens cathedral where they have rigged up a complicated lighting system to project the colors onto the facade.  if you thought christianity was somber, think again.

a display of flowers in the alcove.  the abbey was probably the most hospitable place we visited and also the warmest.  i don’t know how they heated that whole place, but it was quite divine.

the interior.  i like to think of it all done up in pinks, teals, and oranges.  now that he’s got me going, i won’t know when to stop.

i have no idea what the little room was up there, but it is rather irresistible.  i want up.

tomb of king athelstan.

stained glass window.  i’m just amazed that after they had a storm that knocked over half the building that they still have stained glass windows to show for themselves.

and you know what, i bet all that woodwork was painted too.  cuz it’s not a sin, see.  and i can paint all the antique, carved, boring, dark wood furniture i want to.  mother. ♥

my favorite; the nursery.

it’s like a little cell for children.  darling.

on the way out we were shown the tombstone of hannah twynnoy.  a barmaid who was ate up by a tiger and then eulogized?

it really was the cutest little town.  albeit a little crowded, but i think that was because it was a bank holiday.  this is one of the places i would go back to.  much more authentic than london, which was more like visiting india.  even though we did love the food.  mmm…indian food.

i’m still amazed my husband got us out alive.  try driving on the wrong side of the road in a rabbit warren of alleys at 40 miles an hour.

(sorry mom, when we move i don’t know if you’ll be able to visit us without having a panic attack.  i couldn’t help but think of you.  in fact, i can just see you gripping your office chair as you watched the video.  totally called it, didn’t i?)


we did get to swing by the village of bibury after all.  one of the numerous quaint spots in the cotswolds, “an area of outstanding natural beauty.”  it’s true.  i think if we were ever able to go back i would love to take the children on a walking holiday.  there are 100’s of miles of trails in the cotswolds, linking all the little old towns together.  dreamy.

i also decided to get a sheep.

here i am trying to adjust to the fact that i’m not in a desert anymore.  the english are all frigid.

these little towns even had their own churches and schools.  it took me a while to figure out that people actually lived here.  so not fair.

i kept on wondering if living surrounded by such sickening cuteness led to any kind of dementia.

at the top of the hill was a beautiful house up a private drive with a whole pasture for a yard, wonderful views, and i took you a picture of their pump house.

boy took a picture of gutters.  these are actually on arlington row.

the famous weavers cottages.  perhaps the most photographed spot in england.  and people still live in them.  entirely indifferent to the fact that i don’t.

the view up the street and what i would call a “lucky duck,” right there in the center.

they are streets by the way.  you kind of have to climb the retaining walls when a car comes through.

one of the cottages.

so they cram everything together, make the roads no bigger than sidewalks, and then keep a herd of sheep in their front yard.  because look at all that room.  my favorite are the country roads, where you have to pull over for cyclists, while there is nothing but pasture as far as the eye can see.  i wouldn’t change a thing.

here is the house that went with the sheep.

the end of the road.

arlington row again.

i need to get my husband to carve my name in stone.  i would like that.  except i’m sure his thoughts would go another direction entirely.

steps down to the stream.

and a parting shot from the car.

all in all, if i could ever go back, i envision traipsing through countryside followed by a trail of chidren all wondering “are we’re there yet?”  a host of little villages, tea shops, and picnics.  that would be perfect.  whatever you do, don’t go to london, and don’t drive anywhere.  you might die.


next stop was blenheim palace.  my other house.

above is the first gate.  after parking we walked through the second gate (below) into some kind of ante-court.

and then you walked through another gate into the main court.

and voila.  although i still don’t understand landscaping with vast quantities of gravel.

looking back on the gate from the inside.

so the left wing is still lived in by the current duke and his fourth hot wife.  personally, i would get a richer 5th wife, out of dubai or something, kick out the tourists, and then live in the whole thing the way god intended.  that would be the moral thing to do.  and definitely the tradition of the establishment.  when the going gets rough, marry a vanderbilt.  sometimes the old ways are best.

it was funny, as we were walking around i commented, “it’s just too bad the oldest son is so ugly….”  to which my husband said, “pfft!  what do you care?”  true.

the front of the house is mostly one big room with a gallery along the front full of busties.  then to the right when you walk in is the coat room where winston churchill was born.  spur of the moment kinda deal.  there’s a grand vestibule of sorts with an imposing set of doors, front and center, which leads to the state dining room.  because that’s where the action happens.  if you want to see pictures you can check here.  and the floor-plan is here.

the left side is the private apartments.  the  right wing is mostly taken up by the library.  which is quite boss, as you can see from this previously posted, twice stolen photo.  still, in person it was rather shabby.  i guess since no one lives in this part of the house they don’t feel obliged to clean the moldings or polish the floors.  naturally all of this will change once i usurp power.

and here i am, like i own the place.  and if i did, i would certainly arrange for better heating.  and probably pull down all the historic tapestries.  face it people, they’re faded.  my respect for history only goes so far.

the more i think about it, if i were a hot, iranian oil heiress i would have been destined to be a duchess.  i’m pretty sure.

okay, so from the first impression of this place you would think these people just didn’t like weeding or nature in general.  but they just keep it out back.  like i said, they garden better than they dust.  (also, the whole bank of windows you see here, excepting the basement, belong to the library.  suh-weet.)

here is the 2,000 acre back yard with man-made lake.  because we felt like we wanted one and who was going to say we couldn’t?  the park was designed by that “capability” brown fellow who spent 10 years trying to make it look like he wasn’t there.  not exactly my style, but it does juxtapose nicely with the formal gardens.

stepping down the terrace.

and then swinging a left to take the lake walk.

actually, i followed the walk, my husband zigzagged all around looking at the trees.  “look, there’s another one!”

a kid in a candy store.  and i must say this does work out i my favor since he is putting in job applications with the uk forestry commission.  so many trees, so little time.

the waterfall where the lake dead ends.

boy feeling dreamy.

he actually drug me across the wet lawns in my flats to get a picture of this one.  (it kinda looked like the other ones.)

the approach back to the palace.

then we walked around to the front.

from there you have a straight shot view across the lake to one of those phallic structures mankind seems so fond of.  personally, what is a yard without one?

we never made it all the way to the “column of victory” on account of me freezing to death.  but this is what it looks like close up, if you must know.  i just wanted to see the bridge.

it was built for entertaining with rooms in each tower.  the duchess, however, suffered no romantic notions about “water-side suppers with riparian entertainments” and never used them.  she said they were dank.  then capability flooded them with his lake.

anyways, now i’m sad.  who wants to move to england with me?

p.s.  a random quote i ran into about blenheim bed making.  i am inspired.

“It was rather like trying to put clothes on a flip-flopping whale; one needed both strength and patience. There were three mattresses. The bottom one, stuffed with straw, was turned once a week; the middle mattress, made of wool or horsehair, was turned daily; the top one made of feathers, was also turned daily and had to be shaken, punched and smacked until it was as light and puffed up and free from lumps as a giant soufflé. The Victorians took their beds seriously; it was in them, after all, that one entered and departed this life, and in between engaged in the fine Christian duty of begetting. Beds were the firm foundation of Home, Sweet Home, so the maids plumped and pummelled, pummelled and plumped, making all the Blenheim beds supremely smooth and supremely fat”.

enysham hall

so getting off the plane we hopped in our rental car and began to acquaint ourselves with near death.  i was on the side of the car where the steering wheel was supposed to be and was always grabbing for it while my husband tried to cream me into the sides of lorries on the freeway.  who is driving anyways?  apparently driving on the passenger side makes it hard to realize where your wheels are.  eventually he began to interpret my squawks as, “get on your own side of the road, we’re all going to die!”  however, we arrived safe and sound and this was the view from our bedroom window.  now that’s what i’m talking about.

the hall was definitely aged and in need of a little tlc (a.k.a. me) but it was one of the most endearing places we visited.  it felt good.  i kept telling my husband, “ah yes.  i could live here.”  he just looked at me and said, “no you couldn’t.”  anyways, i’m ever grateful jesus included that verse in the bible about mansions in heaven.  it just keeps me keeping on.

above is the landing.  seriously, i couldn’t walk through the house without emitting deep sighs and wanting to cry.  below is the red dining room.  it’s part of a series of three rooms along the back of the house that all open on each other.  across the hall was the billiards room which i forgot to picture.  it was green, with a huge french fireplace.

the library where we breakfasted on all manner of things fried.  baked beans and grilled tomatoes in the a.m. are bound to be a new otto tradition.

gideon would have loved the bookshelves.  all those old boy adventure stories he likes.  or that his mommy makes him read and he’s just not savvy enough to tell the difference.

this actually turned out to be our table.  with a view into the back 40.

i don’t know how you dust plaster work, but i want some.  i’m even less sure of how you paint it.  but i still want some.

the third connecting room was the ballroom.  and hello ceiling.  i still can’t get over the fact that someone only lived in this house for 10 years before the war when someone requisitioned it and turned it into a police academy.  that’s how you know there’s something wrong with the world.  absolutely no morals.

btw, they sell these little glue on molding swags at home depot.  i’m going to get me one and stick it somewhere.  after i paint it in the most righteous fashion possible, of course.

the lobby.  check out the space pod fireplace insert.  along the other wall were about 4 window seats with chairs, tables, and raging built-in radiators just waiting for it to rain.

the gun room, now bar.  every self-respecting house should have a gun room.  definitely one of the features on my dream home.

popping out the front door.

the view of the front.

the english seem to fail a bit dismally when it comes to home preservation or restoration, but let me tell you what – they take their gardening seriously.

the wisteria growing along the rear of the house.  the purple was so lovely with the yellow/gold accent of the stone.  my husband said it’s a weed, and no i can’t have any.  above the stone arch there is the patio that comes off the ladies dressing room upstairs.

the bay window off the other wing.

and the view.  it was all sickeningly romantic.  it seems like you could just sit out in a place like this and transcribe pride and prejudice through the air.

boy looking at trees.

stepping off the terrace.

looking at more trees.

there he is hot after yet another tree.

the windows of the gun room.

one of the gates leading to the courtyard.

and the view up the front.

anyways, if home is where your heart is, this is mine.

hello airplane

after making a tally i found that we had been on five planes, two trains, two cabs, one subway, and one rental car.  talk about bleeding money all over the place.  i upgraded my vintage suitcases for the occasion with custom luggage tags.  so they would feel special, and they do.

here is the image i used.  i took a union jack and distressed it.  i am sure it will show up again.  it’s a pretty big image if you have plans for it yourself, feel free.

here we are spry and fresh at the airport before we knew better.  i actually went out and bought a special lounge outfit for our 12 hour flight.  marc, on the other hand, wore the same pants the whole trip.  because he’s a man.  (he even came home and put them back in his drawer because, what do you know, they still weren’t dirty.)

this was the other strictly unnecessary thing i did.  i got gel nails.  and oddly enough they kind of made the whole trip more fun.  a complete novelty.  only now they are a bit of a handicap, not to mention child-safety hazard (blow baby’s nose = poke out eye).  but totally worth it.  this was the color i was shooting for but they didn’t have it.  still, these made me happy.  i have two more fills before i retire the claws for good.  everyone has to try them once.  even if your husband has to open all your sodas and those tiny complimentary packages of marmite.  i could get used to being useless.

you know, if i wasn’t already.

bonny england

i’ve been up to something.  hot stuff and i are going to england for our ten year anniversary.  when it comes down to it i am a die hard anglophile and i have no shame.  and he said yes.  first stop, eynsham hall hotel.

nothing like home away from home and the woman getting ideas and all that.  in the morning it’s off to see blenheim palace.  cuz i can.

my brother was asking me on the phone, “why do you want to go to england?  …oh wait, you want to look at houses, don’t you?”  it’s true.  big houses.

after that we will swing through the sickeningly cute village of bibury on our way to our next hotel.  i think it’s 60 miles.

we will spend two nights at marsh farm in wootton bassett.

which is right next door to lydiard house.  so i will have to see that too.  naturally.

day two we hit the town of tetbury and knock off with some bicycles and a well stocked hamper.

to go spend the day in some fat arboretum.  phat.

as it turns out, we are only going to england because my husband found out they had trees there.  at first he just thought the place was chock full of manor houses and sheep, but i was quick to lead him astray.  by the way, next to the arboretum is another manor house.  which i am also going to go see.  i am sure he will live to regret it.

and next to that manor house is, you got it,  another manor house.  suh-weet.

day three we might pop down to bath.  a 20 minute drive.

where you have such standard fare as the royal crescent, jane austen center, the assembly rooms, and roman baths.

then we have to bust our butts back to london.  where we might get to see westminster abbey and buckingham palace before we hop on the plane.  as if it were that easy.

i noticed it was easy to get distracted by all the things i “need” to see.  but really, my itinerary is quite simple.  i want to eat fish and chips.

okay, i also want to eat curry. and clotted cream and drink tea.  in fact, i want to fill up a suitcase with just tea and you can come to my house and drink it.  that and i’m pretty sure i want to buy a princess kate teacup for jael.  i want to ride bicycles through the countryside.  i want to go to a pipe shop.  i want to have a picnic in the woods with my true love.  and i want to buy a hat.

now if they would just stop putting freaking ginormous houses on every corner with “open house” signs on them.  she has no self-control.

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