There is an emanation from the heart
which cannot be described,
but is immediately felt and puts
the stranger at his ease.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...
It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home,
a stranger into a friend.
Don't be satisfied with stories,
how things have gone with others.
Unfold your own myth.
May my life be like a great
hospitable tree, and may
weary wanderers find in
me a rest.
~John Henry Jowett
Saturday, 28 February 2015
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Stuart, Max, and I have a morning routine that I think is probably one of the secrets to our success of being able to run two small businesses together--and still be happily married. Every morning, rain, sun, sleet, snow, or wind, we take a walk together after breakfast. That way the stresses of cooking and serving breakfast together can melt away with each step. Any little disagreement or tension we might have had is forgotten and we're just a couple on a walk with our dog.
|By the time we hit Holywell Cottage|
on Longwall Street, breakfast is
forgotten and we're hand in hand.
|Snowdrops are carpeting Holywell Cemetery |
especially beautifully this year.
|Daffodils will soon be replacing |
the snowdrops and crocus.
|Oxford Botanic Garden|
Monday, 23 February 2015
This watercolour by Edith Holden perfectly captures an English February. Snowdrops blooming, busy birds, and the first tentative, and very delicate, signs of spring.
Max and I see these early harbingers of spring every day on our walks through Holywell Cemetery. The snowdrops start appearing in late January, and by February they carpet the ground.
Walking through a cemetery every day may seem a little odd, but Holywell Cemetery is a little different. It's the burial place of Kenneth Grahame, the author of the children's book, The Wind in the Willows. To honour him, the cemetery has been left wild and as a sanctuary for the animals Grahame filled his book with. Badgers, deer, fox, and hedgehogs all make their homes here, and it feels so full of life that I forget it's even a cemetery. It's alive with the natural movement of the seasons, the activities of wild creatures, and the cycles of life, so a resting place for people blends in naturally and there's nothing spooky about it. As I follow the pathways around the cemetery, I feel the fullness of life always, mingled with the memories of those laid to rest.
So in February, it only seems natural that this is where Max and I watch most for signs of spring. With the snowdrops come the birds, so busy and flighty, singing at the tops of their little lungs.
This little robin followed Max and I around the cemetery this week. He let me stand just a about two feet away from him and take some photos, and then he flew right over my shoulder, brushing past my ear and settled on the cross.
It was a very busy place, that afternoon in the cemetery. Max and I both could smell the very recent trail of a fox and we spotted deer off in the corner, grazing quietly. I didn't have my good camera with me that afternoon, so my photos could only pick up their little, white bums in the distance, but they were happy and relaxed, glad to share their wild space with us.
|You can just about see the white of the deer in the |
top photo and more snowdrops, as the sun set, below.
Now, as February passes into March, the ground will begin to warm, the snowdrops will make way for daffodils, eggs will hatch in the trees overhead, and a warmer light will spill across the gravestones. Another winter will pass into spring and to be sure, Max and I will be there, along with the foxes, deer, badgers, and hedgehogs, to mark it's progress in a cemetery full of life.
|The real badger set at Holywell Cemetery|
There's a large badger set just off one of the paths, and every time I pass it this is what I imagine it looks like down there................
in the post below, republished from 2011.
Sunday, 22 February 2015
|All Souls College with the Radcliffe Camera|
|St. John's College Garden|
the 19th and early 20th centuries, like the
I started collecting Oxford memorabilia, postcards, and guide books in earnest once we had our B&B, and Stuart especially uses the books, gleaning tidbits from them for his walking tours.
All I know is that everything they've written is true........."I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera." ~W.B. Yeats
|Magdalen College and bridge.|
|Magdalen College Garden|
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
|Hidcote Gardens last April, a dizzying, |
glorious mass of tulips and daffodils.
|Our first visit to Hidcote last year was in March, |
when the magnificent magnolia was in bloom.
Hidcote opens 7 days a week on March 7th.
More on Hidcote Gardens here.
Monday, 16 February 2015
After weeks of dry and cold weather, we had a day of relentless rain, and then the sun came out and a rainbow encircled Holywell Street. It was very welcome rain though, and will kick-start our spring, so you'll find no complaints here.
|Perhaps an alternate universe or a portal into |
Narnia, the Shire, or Lyra's world, captured
today by an Oxford graduate student.
|Tete-a-Tete narcissus and a happy pansy |
face greet our guests at the front door.
|Daffodils line a wall on Jowett Walk.|
"Spring is natures way of saying 'Let's party!' "
|The opening of Sulgrave to the public in 1921.|
|Sulgrave in the late 19th century, before it's west wing was restored.|
The Washington family arms, the 'mullets and bars', still decorates the doorway on the southwest porch, and it's this crest that is thought to have influenced the design of the U.S. 'stars and stripes.'
Sulgrave Manor can be visited on weekends between March and the end of October, bank holidays between April and the end of October, and Tuesdays in August. Private group tours can also be booked, and Sulgrave hosts many special events throughout the year.
|The Tudor building has been restored to it's former glory which|
reflected the wealth of the wool trade in the 16th century.
|"The Constitution is the guide which|
I will never abandon." ~George Washington