There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

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.

~Melody Beattie

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

Monday, 1 June 2015

Gentle June and Vicarage Eggs

"Spring being a tough act to follow, 
God created June."  
                                       ~A. Bernstein

The gentle scenery of the Cotswolds in June--
quiet sheep, Queen Anne's Lace, and rolling green hills.

Living right in Oxford's city centre and working around 100 hours a week each, there are times Stuart and I are desperate for a break and a change of scenery--at least once a week to be precise.  When you run two small business and live in one of them, we've found we have to be diligent about carving out our own space, our peace and quiet, and our time together with just the two of us (or four if you include Jack and Max).  The perfect place to find the calm and serenity we crave is the place we fell in love, the Cotswolds.   Within just a half an hour's drive from Oxford we're in the midst of the 'cots' (sheep enclosures), and the 'wolds' (rolling hills), and we feel like we're "us" again.

Lower Slaughter, Gloucester, and the River Eye
Voted one of the most beautiful
villages in Britain.
Beautiful cottages line the river that
runs through Lower Slaughter.
Sometimes we just wander, driving down the single-track lanes in search of a good pub stop, but other times we have a plan and a place in mind.  One get-away plan last June included finding a Cotswold stone bird bath for our garden and we knew just the village to find it, Lower Slaughter in Gloucestershire. It was also the perfect spot for a walk with Max along the River Eye, which runs right through the middle of the village.  As we drove out of Oxford, the phone calls and emails and bookings, and all the multitude of demands on our time faded away, so that by the time we parked the car in Lower Slaughter we were smiling and happy and relaxed.

Lower Slaughter cottage garden.

After a walk along the river and through the village, admiring the cottage gardens as we went along, we found just the right bird bath and loaded it in the back of the car.  Our next stop was the village of Upper Slaughter and afternoon tea at the Lords of the Manor hotel. In the summer, tea is served out on the broad lawns which look out onto the wolds beyond.

The Lords of the Manor is a stunningly elegant and a decidedly British hotel, but afternoon tea out on the lawn is not a stuffy or posh affair.  It's welcoming, the staff is relaxed and attentive, and you're invited to sit back and breathe in the calm.  That afternoon the sandwiches and scones flowed effortlessly out to the wide lawns, with plenty of clotted cream for Stuart and lots of jam for me.  And a summer afternoon tea isn't complete without a glass of champagne with a June strawberry in it.

Ford of the River Eye, Upper Slaughter
When the clotted cream and jam finally ran out, we hoisted ourselves from our garden chairs and it was time for Max to have a paddle in a ford of the River Eye, which also runs through Upper Slaughter. Lucky for Max, there were three other dogs playing in the river that day.  They all had a good time splashing around together, getting themselves and their owners nice and wet, and had a wonderful, doggy time.

Still full of afternoon tea and with one very wet dog, we were on our way again down the next single track road which led to the village of Taynton.  As we drove into the village and came around a bend, we were met by a sweet little scene in front of us--elegant stone gates that led up to an equally elegant vicarage.  It all looked very regal and stately, but off to the side of the gate was a funny, little, lopsided, red table with a sign that read, "Vicarage Eggs".

Stuart usually doesn't stop the car on his own unless I yell, "stop the car!", so I yelled and he stopped -- right in front of the little, red table.  We got out of the car to select our eggs and put the £1 in the honour box, and marvelled at the peace and the quiet of the village--no one about, no noise but birdsong, nothing but cottages and roses and sheep in the distance.  

"I wonder what it would be like to live in
a world where it was always June."
~L.M. Montgomery

Taynton, Gloucestershire
We carefully tucked our vicarage eggs in next to the new bird bath and not feeling ready to return to the city yet, we took a walk through the village and churchyard to admire the cottages and all the roses in bloom.  It was a gentle and still June evening, with nothing much moving about except a few cats on evening patrol. After a walk through the church yard and a final glance at the roses, we were back in the car and back to our life in Oxford.

Taynton, Gloucestershire

Once we were home, the bird bath was immediately set in a place of honour, in the centre of our back garden.  We can't escape as much as we'd like to, so our garden is our haven in the middle of busy Oxford.  It's not a Cotswold village, but our garden does have birds and roses and peace, and it's where we go for sanctuary.

"In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts 
here and there.  To the flowers I whisper the 
secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe.  
I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels."

 The birdbath as it looks today.

These are the eggs, carefully labeled with the date the girls at the vicarage laid them.  We served Vicarage Scrambled Eggs the next morning, and they were delicious, as only Vicarage Eggs can be.

Our own June roses.
Oxford, June 2014
"What is one to say about June, the time
 of perfect young summer, the fulfilment 
of the promise of earlier months, 
and with as yet no sign to remind one 
that it's fresh young beauty will ever fade."
                                            ~Gertrude Jekyll


  1. You have such a talent for painting word pictures!! This was lovely!! A gentle saunter through the Cotswolds on the 1st of June -- just what I needed!! I can't believe how tall and lush your lavender is!! I have some English lavender and wonder how long it takes to get as big as yours. I just planted mine a couple of months ago. I'm hoping it will survive our climate. Thank you for another absolutely enchanting ramble! xoxo Jane

    1. Thank you and yes, our lavender is about ready to explode onto the world. It just loves the English climate. I even have a fairly large lavender plant growing straight out of a brick wall--I'll post a photo of it when it's in bloom. I think the fairies must tend to it or something, because there are no earthly, visible means of support! xxxooo

  2. I'm sure the fairies tend to everything in the English countryside! How wonderful of you to share it!! :-)