Monday, May 30, 2011

Rosary Cottage Week Two

My father, Uncle Les and his girlfriend, Jane, left after a week. Then my cousins and a family friend came to stay for a week. Their group included my cousin Patty, her nephew Jimmy and family friend Dot Bacot.

Patty teaches geology at the local junior college has an adventuresome spirit.  Jimmy is her sister Debby's son, my handsome second cousin who is a sweetheart.  Dot is an absolutely charming lady who has been a long time friend of Patty's family.

 I was exhausted after 4 weeks of travel and spent most the week resting and catching up, recreating the previous 4 weeks on my blog.  They however went off on their own adventures using the local buses and train to visit Wales, Stratford and London.

They also walked the Cotswold Way which is a beautiful trail through the Cotswolds that begins in Chipping Campden.

Their adventures cracked me up especially the role Jimmy plays. Jimmy has been deaf since he was an infant and his aunt communicates with him via sign language.  Although Patty does the listening, she definitely is not the one to hold the keys, money or tickets. It's Jimmy that keeps them out of trouble.

They always give Jimmy the tickets. You can imagine what happens when the conductor comes through the train looking for tickets. He tries to communicate with Jimmy who is deaf. Then he realizes that not only is this kid deaf but he also is looking out for the two old gals traveling with him!  Trust me, that is an automatic pass even if they have the wrong tickets, are in the wrong seat, wrong anything.  Nobody and I mean nobody gives them a hard time. 

Here they are the night we had Indian food.  I tasted Patty's dish and gasped how hot it was.  Patty had a little taste and smugly stated it was alright by her.  Then she took a second bite....this was her reaction!

We had set up closed caption on the television for Jimmy. However, I quickly realized that I had been missing a lot of the dialogue because I often couldn't understand the English accent.  Although Jimmy has left, closed caption has stayed and TV is far more enjoyable now!

One final anecdote I have to add is their visit to the local guild hall where the local artists sell their wares.  The three of them saw this large exhibit of  intricate papers that were on display.  The paper displays were beautiful and Dot wondered aloud if perhaps they were a type of origami.  Dot, who married an accomplished artist, is quite educated and experienced in art.  She commented on the texture and unique design.  Finally the lady who was minding the shop couldn't stand it any longer.  She commented that the papers they were admiring were the covers for the paintings underneath, an exhibit that opened the following day!

I howled with laughter when they told me and probably would have peed my pants had I been with them!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chipping Campden the Cotswolds

Chipping Campden is a very old market town that appears to have stopped in time.  All the buildings are the honey color of the local limestone and retain most of their original features.

I'll take you on a little tour.

This is High St. which is the main drag.  Our cottage is located directly on this street so we are near to everything.  This is a picture taken from my bedroom window.

Here we have the old Market Hall built in 1627 where the merchants used to ply their trade.

This is Grevel House, the oldest house in town, built in 1380 (about 50 years earlier than my cottage.)

This is the Red Lion Inn located conveniently right across from the cottage.  It was built in the mid 1600's.

Here we have the Almshouses which were built for the poor in the mid 1600's are still in use today.

This is the car wash of its day.  It was used to wash wagon wheels and their beds.  They would drive the wagon into this depression which was filled with water that came up slightly above the bed of the wagon or carriage and then wash the entire bottom.

And here is the Gateway and St. James Church that adjoins it.  It is the largest in the area due to the proximity of the wealthy wool merchants who lived here.  This town was built on the wool trade before its decline due to the influx of cotton from the New World.

This is the 8 Bells Inn and pub.  The building originally housed the bells for the church while it was being built.  It has now been converted to a popular B&B and restaurant with great food and atmosphere.

Of course with a country and buildings this old one also finds a variety of artisans who have special skills and reputations for excellent workmanship. 
Need a stonecarver?

One of my favorite places in town is Hart's Silversmith. 

This workshop was founded by Charles Ashbee as part of the Arts and Crafts movement and has been in existence since the early 1900's.  Here is a photograph of Ashbee taken by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Coincedentally Ashbee lived in Rosary Cottage, my current home.

The Hart family is the last remaining members of the original guild and the workshop has not changed in over 100 years.  Rows of tools line the walls and they are so busy there is a month waiting period for any of their work.  They create original designs as well as perform delicate repairs to the many antiques found in this area.

They were featured recently on the television show Antiques Roadshow in the US.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a protege of Charles Ashbee and here is his signature where he signed their guest book in September 1910.

And here's Caroline.  She is Julian Hart's girlfriend and partner.  She designs beautiful jewelry.  (I have a set of her silver bangle bracelets myself!)

The Cotswolds Way is a popular series of trails through the Cotswolds which begin in Chipping Camoden. They are known for their spectacular natural beauty. 

These pictures will give you some idea of why they are so famous and what you can expect to see along the way.



Friday, May 27, 2011

Five Weeks in the Cotswolds Rosary Cottage

Ahhhh, we finally made it.  We arrived in Stansted airport and were met by Richard who brought us to our cottage.  Dad, Uncle Les and Jane had continued on with me.   Marsha, Alice and Carolyn went home from London.

We arrived at our cottage in early afternoon.  It is a 600 year old cottage that is located in the center of Chipping Campden, a beautiful old market town in the northern Cotswolds.

There is a picture on the wall that shows the cottage exactly as it looks today.  It is dated 1890!



Here's the view out the front window.....When we arrived the roses were in full bloom and absolutely stunning.

When I say 600 year old cottage, I mean OLD.  Although the cottage has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, they are the funkiest layout of bathrooms I have ever seen.  There is one fairly normal bathroom, one with a toilet and shower with sink right outside the door and then there is my bathroom.  It took me two hours to locate the toilet!  In these old cottages they have to find a place for everything so when I closed the door to my room, I found the toilet behind it!  There is another door to the bathroom on the bedroom side so when you close both doors you are in a little alleyway!  The sink and shower are on the other side of the room!  Oh well, gives me something to talk about and cracks me up every time I use it.

The floors slope big time and 600 hundred year old wooden beams are found throughout the house.  We also have one of those two piece doors on the side of the cottage so you can open the top half. 

All the tourists are fascinated by this place and often stop at the door to peek in until they see me sitting by the window at which point they quickly apologize. So far I have met people from California, Tennessee and Northern Ireland who got caught peeking. Today, I saw a flash go off as someone quickly took a picture through the half door.  It's one of those kind of places, a real local gem albeit O-L-D.

The kitchen is big, homey and well stocked and slopes big time by the stove (600 year old room).  The kitchen chairs are leather and O-L-D but the kitchen has great character and warmth. Check out that huge center wooden beam. 

And here's my Uncle Les cooking up some breakfast!

There are two sitting rooms which are great for watching TV in one and reading in another because with these stone walls you can't hear a thing!!!  Don't bother calling for some from upstairs because they will never hear you.  Here's dad watching the news in the other living room.

The living room has a fireplace that easily dates from the early 1800's.

The cottage is in a primo location in the heart of town so my friends can crawl home from the pub.  The grocery, produce, butcher, ATM, everything is only a few steps away.  I went to get some money and heard a heavy clop, clop sound behind me and turned in time to see this beautiful horse and dressage rider walking behind me.  They apparently walk their horses down the street in the mornings for a little exercise. 

Folks, it doesn't get any more old world Merry Olde England than this!

The Copenhagen Curse

I don't think Copenhagen is a good city for me.  Things just go wrong there.  (Remember, that's where we got all messed up earlier when we were changing ships.)

We packed and got off the ship early so we could meet our driver for our transfer to the airport.

And we waited, and waited, and waited.  After two frantic phone calls our driver finally showed up 30 minutes late.  He said he had been caught in traffic.  Yeah right, it was 8 AM on a Sunday morning!

So we make it to the airport with what seems to be plenty of time.  It was 9 AM and we had a 10:30 flight for London on Easyjet.  What a nightmare!  One person was checking in passengers, there was no escalator to get carry on luggage up (just stairs).  I had Dad's bag and he forgot and left liquids in it.  Jane's bag was randomly caught for a full search and the gate was what seemed like a mile a way!  The airport actually has the minutes written on the floor to tell you how far it is to the gate. 

We were a good distance away when I heard the announcement  "Miss Lewis, final call for Easyjet Flight."  OMG, we are never going to make it.  We were strung out all way down the corridors rushing for that flight.  I tried to explain that my 88 year old father was behind me with someone who was ill. No sympathy whatsoever.  So to stall, I slowly took my bag one step at a time up the stairs to the plane until our final traveling companion made it to the gate. I figured they weren't going to leave with me standing on the stairs! As soon as we were in our seats, that plane was gone!

Good-bye Copenhagen, hello London!

Stockholm, Sweden...nice place if you can afford it!!

Our last port of call was Stockholm. 

The entry into the port was gorgeous.  The ship enters via a long waterway lined with beautiful homes and scenery.

This will be my home in my next life when I'm thin, beautiful, wealthy and Swedish.

After we arrived we set out on our tour of the Old Town and Royal Palace.
That's Dad sitting high in the saddle with a premier vantage point.

We arrived just in time for the changing of the guard.

So now we are at the Royal Palace.

After St. Petersburg I have to admit it was somewhat of a letdown.  But it does have some beautiful elements like this statue, light on the staircase and painted ceilings.  (No flash is allowed and it was rather dark but I did the best I could.)

The most beautiful parts of this palace to me were the phenomenal chandeliers and friezes on the ceiling.  The incredible sculptural elements on the ceilings rivaled St. Petersburg and were spectacular.

Here is a quick look at some of the rooms.  Note the spectacular chandeliers.

This is the largest Sevres porcelain in existence.

And this charming lady sculpture is known for her great butt!!
(Note the strategic mirror.)

The palace also had a beautiful collection of decorative objects.

After our palace visit we were off to see Stockholm's Old Town.
It was the coldest day of the entire cruise and about to rain so we didn't get far.

Here's Jane (hand under chin), Uncle Les and Marsha who was freezing her butt off!!

We saw this lady drinking something from a huge bowl so decided to try some local treats.  It turned out to be a MEGA cafe au lait so we joined the natives for an afternoon snack.

Before leaving Stockholm we saw the city's smallest sculpture.

And with that we bid Stockholm adieu.