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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!

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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!

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Road Trip Brussels Gent Luxembourg Maastricht Trier Bastonge then home

Road Trip Brussels – all I can say is WOW. I didn’t know what to expect and never expected Brussels to be so beautiful with so many vibrant neighborhoods. And the most beautiful square I have ever been in. It beats Paris, Rome, Venice, London, NY, Florence – its called La Grand Place. My pictures just don’t do it justice so you can see more at this link from UNESCO – a video. It was truly breathtaking. A lot of the ornamentation is covered in gold so the whole square looks like a jewel.
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In a walkway just off La Grand Place is the 1902 statue of local hero Everard ‘tSerclaes. Rubbing the statute is said to bring you a year of good luck (hope it works even though this is a reproduction of the original) and a guarantee you will return to Brussels. Everard was Lord of Kruikenburg and was killed during the fifteenth century when he was defending Brussels.

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Brussels is a city of great contrasts. It is the headquarters of the European Union with a section of the city devoted to that with high rises and lots of new buildings. It makes you wonder what was taken down to build the new.

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The population of the city is over a million with 2 million in the metropolitan area, and there are traces of civilization that go back to the stone age, the Romans were here and the original settlement that was to become Brussels was begun around 580 AD.

You see buildings that span the centuries with a building from 1600 next to one built in 2018 and any of them might have a comic strip mural painted on their side.

There are many, many parks and lots of green spaces, refreshing compared to many large cities. My favorite park was The Petit Sablon Square, just a few blocks from our hotel.  The park is surrounded by statues depicting medieval professions.

There is a lot of public art including…

You can’t talk about Brussels without the Manneken Pis being brought up. The statute was designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder  and put in place around 1618. It was replaced by the current statute in 1965. They make a big deal out of him, he has hundreds of costumes (like 1000 or so!) and his clothes are changed several times a week and a ceremony is held each time – go figure.

Belgium has more comic strip artists per capita than any other country. There are at least 50 murals and many statutes devoted to the art all over the city. Some of the popular strips born here are TinTin, the Smurfs, and Lucky Luke to name a few. To see more and read more about them follow this link.

One of the things we saw throughout Belgium was the Espalier and Pollarded trees.
I’ve talked about Espalier before but Pollarded is a new word for me.

A tree that has been pollarded (pruned) means the upper branches are trimmed to control the height of the tree. Because we were there early spring the new growth had barely started. After years of being trimmed back the tree develops these “knots”. They say this way of trimming actually extends the life of the tree.

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If I knew it, I had forgotten it (sorry Father VanHorn),  that Brussels is the world capital of Art Nouveau. There are over 300 Art Nouveau buildings there and probably hundreds if not thousands of buildings with Art Nouveau tiles on their facades. Victor Horta is the most well known, and his home is open to tour.

 

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A couple fun shots followed by signs…

 

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There were two walls built around ancient Brussels, the Halle Gate is the last remnant of the second walls of Brussels. The first wall was built in the 13th century, the 2nd in the 14th century. The Aneessens Tower is a remnant of the first wall.

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At the cities edge is the Atomium. It has nine steel spheres that form the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It was built for Expo ’58, the 1958 World’s Fair. Five of the nine spheres, including the very top sphere are open to the public. The spheres house an exhibit of dedicated to Expo ’58, a restaurant, and a snack bar. It is GIANT!! 334 feet tall.

Reminecant of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe Brussels’ Triumphal Arc was built for the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Belgium.
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And yes, that is a giant carton of fries on the right. Everywhere in Belgium promotes their fries, but don’t ever say French fries!

There are a lot of beautiful churches and monumental buildings in the city.

After Brussels we visited Ghent, or Gent, which has a beautiful medieval city center, Trier the oldest city in Germany, Bastogne to see a WWII museum and a quick fly by of Antwerp.

Road trip Luxembourg Maastricht Trier – On our way to Luxembourg we stopped at the town of Maastricht. It’s the shopping mecca for miles around, designer clothes and lots of other high end shops.
The one I was interested in was the bookstore. Probably the most beautiful bookstore in the world in an old cathedral.

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Maastricht became well-known through the Maastricht Treaty and as the birthplace of the euro.     Maastricht has 1677 national heritage buildings . It was part of the Roman Empire, they don’t know when the Romans arrived but it is known they built a bridge over the river here in the 1st century AD.We went on to Luxembourg, and stayed in Luxembourg City.

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Luxembourg City

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I was embarrassed to learn how much I did not know about the role of this city in the history of the world. There have been inhabitants here for 35,000 years, since the Stone Age!  Today there are many offices of the EU here.

Outside of Luxembourg is the Luxembourg American Cemetery where more than 5000 American soldiers are buried along side General George Patton. The Battle of the Bulge took place here and over 90,000 allied troops lost their lives but won the war.
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It was very sobering.

We then travelled to the oldest city in Germany, Trier. It was inhabited by the Celts in the 4th century BC and the Romans conquered in the 1st century BC. It is home to some major Roman ruins.

The Gate The Porta Nigra, remains from the Romans as does the Basilica which was part of a large castle built by Emperor Constantine.
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In another part of town there are remains of the largest Roman Bath outside of Rome.

Other spots around town.

The next day we started making our way toward Brussels. On the road to Bastogne we saw these markers every kilometer. Liberty Road marks the route the 3rd US Army of General Patton and the French 2nd DB (armored division) followed in 1944 during the Operation Cobra.
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We stopped at Bastogne and visited the Bastogne War Museum. It was an amazing and sobering experience. I’d like to know if our government officials who have never gone to war no less served in the military, have visited some of these museums to be reminded of the devastation, and yes what happens if you don’t fight when necessary.
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The museum was very well done and the 3 theaters were actually movie sets that you were sitting in.
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The Belgium countryside was beautiful and every once in a while you’d see a castle or large chateau.
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Gent or Ghent is another city with a beautiful medieval city center.

Some people say Ghent is the place to go rather than Bruges. But I fell in love with Bruges, it seemed more intimate to me, yes there are probably more tourists there but I loved it!!

These disks measured about 4 inches across and there were dozens of them in the street, don’t know why but there they were.

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Everywhere you turn in Belgium they are selling chocolates, beer, fries, and waffles!

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A few signs…

Odds and ends around town.

 Met and amazing sculptor working in bronze,  Jurga.

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Whew! What an amazing trip. Had to end it with a nice glass of Kriek.
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Next Road Trip England, London and the Cotswolds to visit gardens!

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Road Trip Bruges

Of all the beautiful places we visited in the Netherlands and Belgium, Bruges was my favorite. Belgium was never on my radar but I think I will have to return.
I loved the scale of Bruges and it has lots of canals and old architecture.  The first fortifications were built in the 1st century BC, and the first city charter was in 1128.
These photos were my first impressions of the city.

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Burg square is one of the earliest inhabited places of the city.
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Market square – since 928, is ringed with guild houses, restaurants and chocolatiers.

b3b4b5b6     Like in Amsterdam they have a béguinage, what a peaceful place to live. And like in Amsterdam, the gates are closed at night and only those ladies that live there have a key.
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The city has many squares, parks, beautiful buildings, and hidden places….


…. and is well know for it chocolate, lace, and beer.

Bruges has been a center for lace making for hundreds of years. The top two photos are of a large lace map of Bruges that hangs along a canal.
Chocolate shops are everywhere!

There are often large sculptures in the windows made of chocolate, like the monkey, cartoon characters and the unicorn above.
There are 3 breweries in Bruges, and I’ll have to admit I drank more beer on this trip than I have in years, my favorite was the Kriek, made with cherries and other fruits.
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There is art on the buildings everywhere and lots of neat wind vanes….

At every turn there was something neat to see…
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The stations of the cross.

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As far as the language in Belgium, they speak Dutch in the north and French in the south and both in between. Somewhere I read you are better off starting in English if you are not fluent in either language. In Brussels the street signs are in both French and Dutch, but other signs are often in English! As much as I’d like to learn another language I’d really need to decide where I was going to spend the most time to decide what to tackle.
There are a few thing you need to watch out for, the most important is bikes and cars. In the old cities the streets are narrow and especially in Bruges the drivers go fast and don’t automatically stop if they see you at a cross walk, while in most of the other cities they did. And bikes go everywhere not just on the bike lanes so you really need to watch where you step.
Public art is both contemporary and not on the city streets and there is lots of it….

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We didn’t get a chance to see the windmills, but there are 4 along the edge of the old city. Originally there were 25 and they date from the 1700s.
This is not my photo but one from Free-City-Guides, just so you can see what they look like – on my list for next time!
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As usual there are lots of museums and churches. The museums include (to name a few) Archaeology MuseumThe Bruges ‘stadshallen’ and BelfryBruges Beer ExperienceChoco-StoryThe Folklore Museum, and the The Liberty of Bruges.
I did manage to visit a couple of the famous churches in the city. The Basilica of the Holy Blood and The Church of Our Lady.
The Basilica is famous for the vial that is said to contain a cloth with Christs blood on it, and the fact that it is two churches in one. The lower church is Romanesque, and the upper church is Neo-Gothic.
The Church of Our Lady, was just down the street from my hotel, and has an extensive museum. In its collection is Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. They are still uncovering frescos on the walls and ceilings,
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The sepulchres and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold are here and painted tombs from the 13th and 14th centuries.

And, as usual, here is my sign collection.

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At the southern end of the old city is Minnewater, the Lake of Love. There are over 100 swans that live here and they are taken care of by the city.
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As we saw all over Belgium there is a lot of espalier here. If I ever stay home long enough I would like to grow one on the garage side of my house.

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Part of the city ramparts.

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My last shot of the city outside my hotel window. As I said I loved everything I saw in Belgium. This post is out of order but I was excited to show how beautiful the city of Bruges is. BTW you will see many ways to spell the name of this city,Bruges, Brugge, Brugges.
I was also in Amsterdam on this trip, you can see photos from that part by clicking here Road Trip Amsterdam.
There are more posts to come about Ghent, Antwerp, and beautiful Brussels.
And since I’m home for a while there will also be posts about ART!!

 

 

 

 

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Road Trip Amsterdam

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Close to our hotel was the Opera House, The Hermitage Museum, the Skinny Bridge, Rembrandt Square and lots of great photo ops!

I loved all the 26 years at Carolina Creations but am also loving having more time to travel and do my artwork. The two – travel and artwork – go together – although I seldom do artwork when I’m on the road because I want to spend the time seeing everything I can possibly see. Traveling is inspiring to me, I see scenes that I want to paint, I see art I’ve never seen before and it gives me ideas to use in my own work from how to present something or a new technique. Creating art for me is a solitary endeavor so when traveling I also get to meet new people.

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This sculptures in Rembrandt Square depict the Dutch artist Rembrandt’s painting The Night Watch which is in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Museum. The sculpture was done by Russian artist Alexander Taratynov.

I decided this is my year to travel. Havana, Florida Panhandle, Key West, this trip, and more to come! Amsterdam has been on my list for a long time and it did not disappoint.
hook   Although the weather was cool and partially cloudy it was still beautiful! What was my favorite thing? I suspected the architecture and canals would be and I was right.
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I was going to do this whole trip as one blog post but after seeing just my photos from Amsterdam I’m not sure that the City by itself will fit into one!

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There was a lot I did not know about the city –
….     There used to be 300 canals and now there are only 100.
….     Most buildings have a hook coming out of their gable, especially if they are the tall skinny ones. In the old days it was used to raise and lower merchandise, a person had their shop on the 1st floor and warehouse above. Now people often live on the upper stories so when a person moves in or out they take out a window and use the pulley to raise and lower furniture.

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See the family playing chess in the background?

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….     Few Dutch go to church, so while there are quite a few church buildings, few are used for worship and many have been sold off for other purposes.
….     The semicircle of four 17th century canals is called the Grachtengordel, and while you can still get turned around, if you can identify the main canals you can usually figure out your way. Our sweet hotel, the Eden/Rembrandt Square, was on the Singel (The Singel was previously a moat around the old city.), which was a great location, across from the Opera, and from where I walked everywhere I wanted to go. The rooms were not large but were contemporary, very nice, and they have a great bar and restaurant.

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Lots of cheese shops.

After a brief introductory Tour with the tour group I tromped all over the canal part of Amsterdam by myself, not wanting to miss a thing. There wasn’t an area I felt uncomfortable in by myself.
I met two artists shortly after arriving at an outdoor show I stumbled across, it’s held only on Sundays and it was just around the corner from our hotel. Called the Outdoor Sunday ArtMarket .
Connie Van Rumpt works in paper mache.
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And I had a nice conversation about working in black and white with Wim van der Meij about his etchings and got this piece of one of the canals.
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I did find some neat boutiques in the Jordan district but I guess I wasn’t looking in the right place to find a lot of artist run shops.
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You (I) just can’t go incognito anywhere….. I walked into a store and immediately the owner said “You own a shop.” (of course I don’t anymore.)  I said “How do you know?” “The bag you are carrying. I have one just like it .” So we compared notes. Years ago, probably 10 anyway, maybe 14, when people were first buying reusable bag,s one of the first companies to make them was called Envirosax and we started carrying them at Carolina Creations. The particular bag I had in my hand was an ad for the company, which was a promotion for shops that ordered from them that first year, which gave me away. Go figure.
I also went into one of the coffee shops that sells marijuana – I just had to do it – and ONLY had a cup of coffee, but found it interesting that you could smoke dope there but you could not smoke a cigarette!

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The floating flower market Bloemenmarkt was ok, selling mostly bulbs but this one stall did have nice fresh flowers.
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The city has a museum for just about everything, 100+… the ones you might expect The Tulip Museum, The Cheese Museum, The Houseboat MuseumHeineken Experience, and some you might not expect like the Sex Museum, Torture Museum, Prostitution Museum, Erotica Museum, Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum,  Nederlands Uitvaart Museum Tot Zover the museum about funerals, Tassenmuseum Hendrikje the museum of bags and purses, just to name a few.
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I’ll have to admit I’m not a huge museum goer, it’s walking the streets I want to do when I travel, but the Van Gogh was one I didn’t want to miss, it was great and very well done. One thing I noticed in the extensive gift shop i saw no images of “Starry Night”, or  his “Cafe Terrace at Night” , they can’t use the images because they are not in their collection I was told. They are my two favorites.
If I would have had more time I might have visited the Rijksmuseum, the National Museum of the Netherlands with nearly one million Dutch works of art, The Amsterdam Museum, or the Museum Van Loon, (which is a canal house owned by the Van Loon family of the Dutch East India Company), the Ann Frank House, The Jewish Museum, Verzetsmuseum or the Dutch Resistance Museum.
amm10            We strolled through The Begijnhof, passing through this gate, which was built in the 14th century and donated to the Beguine for a place to live. It is at the medieval street level which is a little over 3 feet below todays street level. “The Beguine women lived as nuns but not within a monastic community. The Catholic Faith was banned in the 16th century, but the Beguinage was the only Catholic institution that survived, as the houses were privately owned by the Beguines. However, they had to give up the chapel. Later, a new church was built behind the facades of some of the houses, a so-called ‘schuilkerk’ (hide-and-seek church). ” (thank you Wikipedia).              Today women rent the houses and the outside gates are locked at night, but during the daytime anyone can wander through.

The brown wooden building is one of the two oldest wooden buildings in the city, built around 1465.
It was interesting to identify the types of gables on the buildings, Triangular Gable, Bell Gable, Neck Gable, Spout Gable and the Step Gable. Often depicting the period in which the building was constructed.
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You see wall plaques on many houses , before numbering was introduced, houses were identified by illustrated plaques.

As usual I had to take photos of signs.
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I knew there were a lot of bikes in Amsterdam, but I didn’t really know just how many, over 800,000. Almost every street has a bike lane and you take your life into you hands if you don’t stay off them and look both ways when crossing them.

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You might not be able to tell what this is but it is a parking deck for bikes, holding not nearly enough. Throughout the city there are tens of thousands parked on the street and we were told they pull about 12,000 a year out of the canals.
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Surprisingly I saw no bike accidents. But guess there are some!

There were lots of interesting things to see.

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assort3     There are eight windmills within the city limits, only one is open to the public. But in May they have a National Windmill Day. During this weekend you can visit hundreds of them all over the country, for most, it’s the only time they are open.
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The canal ride and dinner at night was enchanting.
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I’ve got more photos from Amsterdam I’ll share in the next post.

Next up – Luxembourg, Trier, Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp.

Posted on

Road Trip Key West, flowers, and points north

Key West post Irma ….

There are a few empty shops on Duval, which you usually don’t see…there are some signs “closed for repairs from hurricane damage”….and a lot of the shade is gone… but Key West is every bit as beautiful as ever.

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My friend Deb met me there and we stayed at the Almond Tree Inn. Our room and the grounds were beautiful, and the location perfect. It’s a half block off of Duval on the quiet end of the street.

This year they started a free Duval Loop bus that circles every 15 minutes and we rode it twice a day. When ever I go to Key West I always want to walk all the streets in Old Town so being able to catch a ride back was great.

My favorite thing is to take photos of the architecture and flowers. One of these days I’ll do some paintings of some of my favorite spots.

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Chickens and roosters still abound.

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We even went to Sunset at Mallory Square, the first time in 33 years I’ve done that.

kwwThe cat man is still there  (thank you youtube for the video) – don’t know if he is the same one from years ago but he if he is he’s crazier than ever!

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Ate lunch at Blue Heaven after Deb left. NO I did not eat this Key Lime Pie with the giant meringue – the folks sitting next to me at the bar did! You can eat with the chickens running around your feet outside or inside without at Blue Heaven.

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We found some fabulous artwork in the galleries and visited with some friends.

We ran into NC artist, musician, and friend Mike Rooney at Bo’s. He was teaching a painting workshop at Dog Tired Gallery the next day and getting ready for a show at Gallery on Greene later in the month, he’s also teaching at The Studios of Key West.

kw rooneyWe stopped to see boat builder, painter, wood worker, and all around artist and friend Tommy Avery (originally from Bridgeton) in his studio on Stock Island. This is one of his paintings of the Green Parrot.

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We had lunch with another friend who lives here, which made us feel like we really belonged in this slice of heaven.

After seeing paintings by David Scott Meier, the creator of the famous painting “Nice Hat”….

Nice Hat…we tracked him down in his studio on Simonton.

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Turns out it was a fluke he was there since he is moving his studio up state to Deland, after being in KW for many years. We had a great conversation about his work, what he’s up to, where he’s been, and who he is currently studying with.

I didn’t meet her but was greatly inspired by paintings by Joan Becker. I had never seen her work before. LOVE it!!
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Other work I liked were the totems by Key West Pottery potter and sculptor Adam Russell.

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Just for fun we went to see Randy Roberts at La Te Da. He put on a great show, (no lip syncing)  and at the end he sings in his own male voice. He was great.

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No we did not go to the Garden of Eden but like a town where you can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you are not hurting anyone else.

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As epitomized in the official philosophy of Key West.
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I don’t know why but I love directional signs (other signs too) and always have to take photos of them.

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The thing I noticed most that was different was the lack of shade, Irma took out a lot of the canopy, but the flowers are still beautiful!

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