A bed and breakfast uses a lot of dishes. A lot. We need big plates, little plates, side plates, toast plates, butter plates, cups, saucers, milk jugs, pitchers, juice glasses, water glasses--and then there are cereal bowls, fruit bowls, porridge bowls and sugar bowls, finishing with teapots and cafetières. Like I said, a lot of dishes.
|Masons & Crabtree and Evelyn blue and white|
transfer ware~ treasures since it's no longer made.
the home of Spode, Burleigh, Wedgewood, Emma Bridgewater and all the rest. So I've spent the last 8 years collecting teapots, jugs and odds and ends--some for the B&B and some just because I love it.
|Spode, Masons & Crabtree and Evelyn,|
and Burleigh fill a dresser in the breakfast room.
|I could just about afford the doll-sized|
pieces in this tiny kitchen.
|First we had to pack up the old dresser.|
|The well-travelled storage containers from|
our move across the ocean came back out.
When we moved over to England from the
U.S. in 2008, we had a 40 foot container
full of these, plus furniture.
|It's a good thing we had the day off and|
weren't serving breakfast the next
morning, because about all we
could have given people was cold cereal.
|Stuart doing his bit for the cause and|
cleaning where the old dresser stood.
|Jack was not happy with the upheaval |
in his kitchen, so he hid out in the
breakfast room the entire time.
|The wall where the new dresser would|
live, all cleaned and ready. The ugly
shelves would go back into hiding.
Once the big job of clearing the way for the new dresser was done, I was on to my next thought--getting it into the house. I still have nightmares about the week we moved in almost eight years ago; trying to carry things up three flights of stairs, around tight corners and through small doors. We had to saw the legs off of our love seat and chairs just to get them through the front door, so any time we move furniture in and out the looming questions is, "Will it fit?!?!?!" Luckily I knew the dresser was in two pieces so I was fairly confident.......but still.........
And it did fit! Brilliantly. The courier was a star and helped Stuart move it in and set it into place. And there it was, the newest addition to our very hard-working kitchen. The best part was that as soon as it was delivered, Stuart had to go off and conduct a tour which meant I was left alone to do what I love doing best--putter about and play house. It still feels just as fun as when I played Barbie Dream House. I could rearrange my entire kitchen and the new dresser with no one but Jack and lovely music for company.
|The finished product, which a week|
ago was only a thought in my head.
|Brushed pewter knobs replaced pine.|
|There's room for all the things we use|
at breakfast, like milk jugs, teapots
and egg cups, plus space for treasures.
|Beloved books and cookbooks|
have a special place.
|Which came first, the |
chickens or the eggs?
|Stuart and I in Beatrix Potter form~|
he reading his paper, and me
with my tea and my thoughts.
|I learned early on as a fledgling antique|
collector that if you buy what you love,
somehow it all just works together.
|Inside is all the extra space our|
kitchen sorely needed. I added a
little battery powered light,
since the faster we can reach for
things during breakfast, the better.
a stay-at-home bird.”
The calm and order has been restored to Jack's kitchen and on this cold, rainy February day, with lamps on and music playing, there's no nicer place for us to be. Which is to say that I've come a long way in the past decade. Nine years ago from this very moment I was bed-ridden with Epstein Barr & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as chronic pain. I couldn't work, I could barely move. So even with all of that, nine years ago the dream of this English kitchen was somewhere in my heart. It must have been, because here it is today, the heart of our home in Oxford.
|The Lewis Tree outside our kitchen |
window--we're always under the care
of it's wide branches and steadfast roots.
(It's a very dark, dreary day today--
you can't see the pelting rain.)
|Lamps light the corners of the kitchen|
and my little bluetooth radio is always on.
|The kettle stands at the ready, so "bread|
and water can so easily become tea and toast."
For more insight in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID), or in Britain, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), I've found the book, Medical Medium by Anthony William extremely helpful.
I've lived with ME for over 20 years, and chronic pain even longer from degenerative disc disease from the age of 19, and here's what has helped me most over the years:
1) Sleep! And more sleep.
2) Naps! As often as possible.
3) Clean, healthy eating--I eat as much sticky toffee pudding and scones as the next person, but steer clear of fast food.
4) Yoga--since 1985, even if it's ten minutes a day.
5) Meditation and prayer.
6) Find one thing a day to be grateful for, no matter how small, no matter how inconsequential it may seem.
7) Happiness. Even in pain, even in fatigue. Every thought we have releases a corresponding neuro-chemical in our brain which directly affects our well-being.
8) Never, ever identifying as a sick person, but only as a person on the path to perfect wellness, perfect health.