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Road Trip The Cotswolds part 2 plus the Chelsea Flower Show

Road Trip – The Cotswolds part 2 plus Chelsea Flower Show – click the link to see LOTS more photos. The fabulous trip continued…. we stopped at Bourton-on-the-Water to take a quick stroll through town, then went on to Bibury.

 

One of Bibury’s main tourist spots and overlooking a water meadow and the river is Arlington Row, a group of ancient cottages with steeply pitched roofs dating back to the 16th century.

Henry Ford thought Arlington Row was an icon of England. On a trip to the Cotswolds he tried to buy the entire row of houses to ship back to Michigan so that he could include them in Greenfield Village.

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IMG_8271Rolling Hills of the countryside. Some of the hills are quite steep because of the Cotswolds escarpment, a pie shaped area of limestone from the Jurassic period tipped on its edge. Some of the hills rise 1000.

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Throughout the countryside are stone monuments to those who fought and died in the First and Second World Wars. And everywhere are beautiful stone fences, laid up with no mortar.

A comment our guide said I thought was worth repeating. “We owe so much to the US, we could not survive without you, although I’m sure, your country feels it could survive without us.”

The very best garden in my opinion was Highgrove, The home of Prince Charles, and unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos. After hearing a taped presentation by him about the garden and his interest in organic I changed my mind about how I perceive him.

We had champagne High Tea, the gift shop was beautiful, the outdoor part was so well done I could do a dozen paintings just of it. The house was built in the 1790s and when prince Charles purchased it there was just a small kitchen garden. It is stunning and he and his gardeners have made it so it is beautiful in every season.

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Of course I always need to post signs…..

 

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And my two favorites…

Bourton House Gardens followed… an award-winning three acre jewel… winner of the prestigious Historic Houses Association / Christie’s “Garden of the Year” Award. The garden is surrounded by a stately 18th century manor house.

Another stunner followed that one –

Sudeley Castle… has nine individual gardens… all unique and beautiful. Elizabeth, Lady Ashcomb, is the current owner and lives on the estate.

It has played a roll in the history of England for over 1000 years. Can you imagine living in a castle where a queen is buried, you have your very own ruins and a large chapel too?

The castle was once home to Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII. Henry himself, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth I and Richard III have all played a part in Sudeley’s story. King Charles I (1600s) found refuge here during the Civil War, when his nephew Prince Rupert established headquarters at the Castle. Following its ‘slighting’ on Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil War, Sudeley lay neglected and derelict for nearly 200 years.

King George III was amongst those sightseers who came to admire its romantic ruins. Then in 1837 Sudeley was rescued by the wealthy Worcester glove-makers, brothers John and William Dent, who began an ambitious restoration programme which was continued by their nephew, John Coucher Dent, when he inherited the castle in 1855. His wife, Emma Brocklehurst, threw herself enthusiastically into Sudeley’s restoration, at the same time forging strong links with the nearby town of Winchcombe. It is the results of Emma’s dedication that are so evident in the gardens and exhibitions at Sudeley today. If you are interested in more history.

 

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I see a painting here!

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And on to the next town!
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We spoke to the owner – he said this wisteria is at least 180 years old.
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Red chestnut

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Loved traveling in a small group, we went on many one track roads that most tours would never have been able to go on.

While in the Cotswolds we stayed at Moreton-in-Marsh a market town granted its market charter in 1227.

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Curfew tower.
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Our hotel

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There were lots of topiary and garden decorations made from willow. I love all the plant supports made from tying twigs together. It would be fun to take a workshop on making them, if one exists in the US. They are everywhere in England.

Our last garden to visit in the Cotswolds before going on to Windsor Castle was Barnsley House… built in 1697 of Cotswold stone, is a perfect example of the English country house and garden. The acclaimed garden, with remarkable beauty, was designed by Rosemary Verey, recognized as the “Grand Dame” of Cotswold garden designers.
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I loved the way the kitchen garden was laid out, it was as beautiful as the rest of the gardens, combining vegetables and flowers. She helped Prince Charles with some of his gardens.

These snails are huge “Roman Snails”, brought by the Romans between AD 43–410 and they are protected. This one measured about 4″ long.

 

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We then visited Windsor Castle – the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world – we were scheduled to stay just across the street when that pesky wedding bumped us. People were still going nuts about the wedding which took place on Saturday and we got there on Thursday. We stood where they took their vows and right beside where the queen sat. Again no photos inside but the church is divided by a wall so most of the celebrities sat in the back on folding chairs and had to watch the wedding on a screen, so you at home had the same view as they did!!

I had been in London years ago and been to all the major attractions so this time I was interested in seeing the pubs and buildings whose outside are decorated with flowers.
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We did have a pint here!

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Our last day was visiting the Chelsea Flower Show.

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Of the sculptures my favorites were the Alice in Wonderland and Wind in the Willows. My VERY favorite was the Red Queen.

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IMG_8972I decided to walk back to the hotel, it was a couple miles through the city, I din’t realize that the commercial district around Sloane Square was having a competition – Chelsea in Bloom – so many store fronts were decorated with flowers.

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I failed to mention the last two nights in London we went to two private clubs – The Oxford-Cambridge Club, and then The National Liberal Club. Both were lovely but I bet you can guess which one didn’t have as many rules and was more laid back.

On the way back to our hotel I walked past Buckingham Palace.

And I executed my plan perfectly, as I got to Picadilly Street, exactly as I came out off of the “Long Walk” I was at the door of The Ritz.

It was quite lovely!
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A nice way to end an amazing trip.

When I got home I took my friends advice and stayed in bed all the next day and watched “The Crown”. It was a good plan!

What’s next? A couple sculpture workshops, then Michigan. Oh yes, in-between lots of artwork! I’ll post that too.

 

 

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Road Trip The Cotswolds a garden tour part 1

What a treat to join 7 others on a tour of some of the gardens and private homes of the Cotswolds. They have a charity program called the National Garden Scheme where gardens all over the country are open, with all income donated to charity.

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Generally these are private gardens and this is the only time they are open. After arriving in London we took off for the countryside. I had been in a little bit of that area about 35 years ago but had forgotten how beautiful and rural it is. Most of the area is protected from too much development and most buildings are built from Cotswold stone. It’s a honey colored limestone that gets a rich color as it is exposed to the weather.

The first garden we visited was in the town of Blockley, where Father Brown Series is filmed. In fact his church was visible from the garden – Mill Dene – as it was just down the hill from the church. This garden is built on a very steep slope and includes a waterfall and a millpond. One of the larger Cotswold villages and largely unspoilt, midway between Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden, Blockley was a main centre of the silk industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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IMG_8058IMG_8049Of course none of my photos do ANY of the gardens justice.

Chipping Campden is a small market town with a beautiful High Street dating from the 14th to 17th century.  A High Street is the primary business street in an English town.
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Market Hall circa 1627

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Banqueting Hall

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St James, one of the finest “Wool” churches in the Cotswolds. A wool church is one that was built in mediaeval times with money made from the wool trade.

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This was an amazing trip, sometimes visiting 3 gardens a day!

Hidcote Manor was owned by Bradenstoke Priory in Wiltshire until the Priory was disbanded by Henry VIII in around 1539. The manor house, was built in the 17th century as a farmhouse.

It is considered to be one of the masterpiece gardens in England. It was started in 1907 by Lawrence Johnston. Johnston’s garden design with themed “outdoor rooms” revolutionized garden design throughout England,.. and still influences designers today. Over the years many plants have been named after Johnston or Hidcote in recognition of his extraordinary talent and plantsmanship.

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Next was Kiftsgate Court Gardens… where three generations of women in one family created and shaped a garden to be one of the Cotswold’s most treasured. Kiftsgate gardens began in the 1920s by Heather Muir who had an organic approach, with a feminine feel, to gardening.
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We visited Blenheim Palace a grand country house built in the early 1700s. It is one of England’s largest houses. Blenheim is the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill. The palace is the current home to The 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.  I had been there about 35 years ago and didn’t take a lot of photos of the gardens. And we couldn’t take any inside. It was interesting that they were setting up to film a new Doctor Doolittle film.


Sezincote was the most unusual estate we visited. Built in 1805 it was enchanting!

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A pretty nice place to keep your farm equipment.

IMG_8528IMG_8524IMG_8522We were not allowed to take photos inside but here is a photo from their website. Again this photo does not do this room justice it was totally filled with light and looked out over the orangarie.

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I could have lived in this room.
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This is the view out the window.

Next post – more gardens – the Chelsea Flower Show, and a little bit of London.

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Why I blog

I recently switched my blog from blogger to wordpress – and you might ask why blog at all? When I owned Carolina Creations it was to keep customers informed of our upcoming events, what our artists were creating, what I was doing with my art, and I threw in some personal things as well.

dovecote2I don’t have Carolina Creations anymore but I am still doing my own artwork. I’m traveling a lot (doing it while I still can), and I like to take photos and write a little.

It’s really a journal of my life, what I’m doing and what I care about.

A friend told me that she switched her blog from one host to another and she lost the whole thing (always backup!!). So years ago I started printing it every year or two. Since people don’t print photos like they used to they can disappear with a computer crash or like my friends blog did. And besides if you don’t print photos – in the future our kids or relatives will never know you existed or at least what you looked like!

blogbooks

I use blog2print which is an online platform that is so easy to use.

Probably because of my age I like flipping through the pages and holding a book in my hands.

So I can see myself continuing to blog for the foreseeable future – right now it’s more about my traveling than anything else – but one of these days I’ll be content to stay at home again in my studio and create, then it will go back to being more about art. I really do it for myself but I’m pleased that other people read it and enjoy it.

Thank you for reading!