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

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Becoming an English Gentleman--Part I

Our wee Jack was born in Carlisle, so he was only one exit on the motorway away from being a wee Scots lad, had he not been whisked away to Oxford at six weeks. One year on he's an Oxford boy now, used to peeling bells and bicycles, but what we're still working on are his English countryside manners. As a proper English gentleman, he needs to be able to walk quietly through fields of grazing sheep, ride in the back of the car, and be a polite guest in country pubs--and he's coming along nicely.

We had an afternoon out of Oxford this week, a getaway for mum and dad and a perfect training ground for Jack. He still doesn't like the car very much, but luckily it's only a half hour drive and then he's out of the car and a happy, tail-wagging guy. It was still chilly so he wore his little wax jacket--which doubles as protection against whatever horrible things he rolls in--dogs!

Our first stop was the village of Swinbrook,
where we met our first new friend and
marvelled at the masses of roadside daffodils.

Horses make a
landscape more beautiful.

~Alice Walker

O the green things growing, 
the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the
green things growing!
I should like to live,
whether I smile or grieve,
Just to watch the happy life
of my green things growing.
~Dinah Maria Mulock Craik,
'Green Things Growing'

Jack was eager to get started on our walk,
but he's learned to patiently wait with
Stuart while I click away on the camera.
This beautiful Cotswold house has been
 standing empty for a while now and seems
mysterious and quiet in itself -- like a
secret house and garden, waiting for the
right person to come along.
If only it were me.

I am sure there is Magic in everything,
only we have not sense enough to get
 hold of it and make it do things for us.
~Frances Hodgson Burnett, 
'The Secret Garden'

Jack was very well behaved walking through
St. Mary's churchyard, the flag of St. George
flapping overhead in an impossibly blue, blue sky.

We walked past the church to the little gate
that leads to the public footpath in
the fields beyond the churchyard.

Then through another gate.........

..... and it's sheep!! Jack's first sheep encounter.

He was very, very good and even pretended 
to be a wee lamb with Little Bo Peep.

We crossed the field, everyone minding their own
business (both sheep and dogs), and made our way
to the tiny Norman Church on the hill, St. Oswald's.

Inside St. Oswald's, it seems as old as time.

The private box pews (19th century), for the wealthier
church-goers, the wood worn rich and golden.
The well worn flagstones, from a thousand years of
worshippers. Parts of St. Oswald's date to the Saxon
period (410-1066), but most of it is 12th century Norman.
It's believed to have been built on a Roman house or
temple. The walls now ochre, once held paintings of
the apostles and bible stories, and some of the 14th
century wall paintings have been partially restored.

Sermons are still preached from
this pulpit at least once a month.

We were very good and left no trace of
mud inside, thanks to this very polite
and ultra-English sign on the door.
We DO try.

Then we walked back past the sheep again,
everyone behaving themselves.......

...... we marvelled at more daffodils......

...... and of course Stuart had to drive
through the ford, just because.

And then we were on our way again, to Burford,
to the next lesson of the day--window shopping 
and a pub lunch. Was Jack up to the challenge?
You'll have to stay tuned and check back for
Part II of Becoming an English Gentleman.

This suspense is terrible.
I hope it will last.
~Oscar Wilde


To find the village of Swinbrook head west on the A40 from the Wolvercote Roundabout, Oxford. Drive approximately 14 miles and look for the small signpost for Swinbrook on your right. Turn right and head down the hill, going straight until you see a cricket pitch on your left and The Swan Pub just ahead-then you've found Swinbrook.

The Swan Inn was featured in Downton Abbey.
When Lady Sybil eloped with Tom Branson, this is

where they stole away to and spent their first night
together. (Sniff....losing Sybie still makes me cry.)

A beautiful, clear stream runs through the middle of the
village, hence the name 'Swinbrook', or pig crossing.
St. Mary's Church in Swinbrook
is known for the Fettiplace Memorial inside
the church, immortalizing the 16th and 17th century
Fettiplace family. The church itself is 12th century
(Norman), and the tower was added in the 19th century.
The notorious Mitford sisters are buried in the 
churchyard, to the left of the door.

To find St. Oswald's Church, follow the path through
St. Mary's churchyard to the back until you come
to a small, white, wooden gate on your left. Go
through the gate and follow the path that leads to
the right until you come to another gate which opens
into the field. The walk is very easy, with mostly
flat and even surfaces, but there are two stiles to cross.
You'll see the church ahead of you almost immediately,
up on the slope to your right. The church is open for
visitors daily. Below is an example of the recovered and
restored medieval artwork on the walls.

History is not a burden on the
memory but an illumination of the soul.
~Lord Acton


  1. What a wonderful travelogue of the area! More points of interest to add to my list, and days to spend in Oxford! I may never leave!! Jack is getting such good training. He is sure to become a real gentleman!! I love the mud sign! Such civility, the English. We "desperately" need some civility over here right now!! So glad we have FAWLTY SPIRES to escape to!!! Thanks, Carrie! xoxo

    1. Our pleasure. Thanks for being here. xxCArrieoo

  2. One more thing. . .or two!! I think Gene and I should come and stake our claim in that empty Cotswold house!! And I love the hounds tooth blanket on the horse!! xoxo

    1. You'd have to get in line behind Stuart and I :-) We were shy about £900,000+ which is about what that type of house in the Cotswolds would sell for--plus the million or so pounds to set it to rights and repair everything. Sadly we'll have to leave that to someone else with much deeper pockets--but what a gem of a house it is.

    2. It's a bit outside our range as well! My comment a bit tongue in cheek as I knew it was to begin with but THAT much was a bit of a shock! All so sad that wonderful beauty costs that much, isn't it!! But it doesn't cost to look!! And no one can take that away!! I hope some one with means will buy it and cherish it with tender loving care.