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.
~Rumi


May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett


Friday, 17 March 2017

This is the day the Lord has made; 
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
~Psalm 118:24


Give us this day our daily walk......


And give thanks for cameras....


.....and muddy wellies.


For wax jackets that protect
against the spring winds....


....and the colour green.


For punters & reading vicars.....


.....and for hearty flowers.


For a little dog to share it with......


...and for a place to call home.




How true it is that, if we are cheerful and
contented, all nature smiles, the air seems
more balmy, the sky clearer, the earth has
a brighter green....the flowers are more
fragrant... and the sun, moon, and stars all
appear more beautiful, and seem to rejoice
with us.
~Orison Swett Marden



Saturday, 4 March 2017

A Few Bits & Bobs

March is the month of expectation....
~Emily Dickinsin

Wednesday was the first day of March, and in
Oxford it started out very promising. Barely a
breath of wind, almost-but-not-quite blue skies
(which is a great improvement on the grey),
and just a touch of sun. On our morning
walk we were full of the  joys of spring, or
something to that effect, thinking that
winter is maybe, probably, sort of over?

Daffy-down-dilly came up in the cold,
Through the brown mould
Although the March breeze
         blew keen on her face,
Although the white snow
      lay in many a place.
~Anna Warner, Daffy-Down-Dilly

We've been having to settle for spring in the
form of kitchen daffodils, sometimes the only
bright spot in the day.


If the skies are grey outside, bringing in as
many daffodils as possible will brighten a
kitchen immediately. And so will a few lamps.  

I'm a lamp-hound. Overhead lighting can be
harsh, so I've always had little lamps tucked
into every possible corner of my kitchens.
They bring instant cosiness to any room,
especially a kitchen and we have no less
than eight in ours. The joke is that we have
to start an hour ahead of bedtime to get all
of the lamps switched off.
(ha-ha Stuart-very funny)


More springtime in the kitchen, with tulips in
a cornish blue jug and one of my many bowls
 (I'm also a bowl-hound) filled with fresh
herbs for cooking. They make me feel like
there's life and vitality around, even in the
middle of winter or on a dreary March day.


So.......
back to the first day of March. We were feeling
optimistic after our morning walk, since we
barely needed wooley scarves and I actually left
my jacket unbuttoned.😯I decided it was a perfect
time to start some spring planting, and so tucked
some tête-à-tête narcissus, a pale yellow primrose
and a hyacinth in the basket that hangs on our
front door. With supreme confidence, I was going
to move on to my next big task of replanting all
of the window-boxes for the front of our house.
They're still full of winter heather and pansies,
and look like they've been through Storm Doris,
barely living to tell the tale.


I had hoped that in our part of England at 
least, March would come in like a lamb, and
so broke out a new pair of garden gloves in
honour of the day. But my hopes were dashed,
since it looked more and more lionish as the day
wore on. And then sheets of rain began pelting
down. All thoughts of planting daffodils,
pansies and primroses came to a soggy end.

My new garden gloves were
set aside for another day.

Last week I did manage to replant the basket
of flowers in the old butcher's bike out in
front of the house. There was a brief respite
from the rain and wind right after Storm Doris
hit town, so I took the golden opportunity.
Daffodils are extremely hardy in this sometimes
rough English climate; even on the wettest and
windiest of days, they persist and persist. It's
 good to be more like a daffodil. To just keep
going and going, no matter what occurs. To
be buffeted by winds, yet standing tall, knowing
that eventually the sun will warm your face again.


Flowers greet our guests all through the
year and they're photographed a
hundred times a day by tourists. 


Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely
House east of the Sea. That house was,
as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect
house', whether you like food or sleep, or
story-telling or singing, or just sitting and
thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of
them all. Merely to be there was a cure
for weariness, fear and sadness.
~J.R.R. Tolkien, 
The Fellowship of the Ring


We're doing our part to keep Holywell Street
bright and cheery on the rainiest of days.


So in the end, there was no more planting this first
week of March, as rain fell and lionish winds blew.
It was a week more suited to warm tea and a good
book, read by no less than eight kitchen lamps. 

Speaking of tea, this winter
Emma Bridgewater
debuted a new series of mugs--
'Lovely' London, Paris, Venice,
and best of all, Oxford mugs.
Not only is this mug beautiful and
captures Oxford's golden hues, it's
one of the most perfectly sized and
balanced mugs we've ever used. I
noticed the Oxford mug is sold out,
but I'm sure there will be more.

Bring me a cup of tea
and the 'Times.' 
~Queen Victoria
 (on her accession to the British throne)


Good for a hot cup of Earl Grey
..... and they're just right for my
after-walk, mid-day mocha.

Coffee is a hug in a mug,
especially good if it's a mocha hug.


The book I've been reading, trapped indoors
with rain pelting against the windows, is called
A Secret WomanIt's written by an American
writer who lives and works in Oxford,
Rose Solari.

I had popped into Blackwell's bookstore last
week, always a very dangerous thing to do.
dare anyone to walk through the miles and
miles of books in Blackwell's and not come
out with at least one book.


I stumbled upon 
A Secret Woman almost immediately.
Once I saw that the inner sleeve was a photo
of the dreaming spires, it was mine. It was an
added bonus that it was a signed copy;
the beauty of an Oxford bookstore is that
often Blackwell's and Waterstones
have signed copies of many of the books.

A Secret Woman is about a young woman who
goes in search of her mother's past after
her mum passes away. She's bequethed an
enigmatic painted chest, full of papers and
books. In reading through them, she discovers
her mother had an entire secret life. She
begins a search to unlock her mother's
secrets, which leads her to England and to
Oxford-- which is why the book had to come
home with me.

In search of my
               mother's garden,
I found my own.
~Alice Walker


That every mother has a life of her own running
like an underground river through her life, is
something every adult child comes to face to face
with at some point, especially daughters.
A Secret Woman is just that, and as the daughter
in the story gleans more from her mother's life,
 she then discovers herself. 

Reading a mother & daughter story this
month is fitting, since in Britain,
Mother's Day
is in March. It's traditionally known as 
Mothering Sunday and falls on the
 4th Sunday of Lent. It was originally a 
day to honour and remember the
Virgin Mary, or Mother Mary. 

It was also the one day a year when children,
especially daughters working as domestic
servants, could go home and visit their
mothers. So in Britain at least, Mothering
Sunday began as a holy day and is still
celebrated during the season of Lent.


Mothering Sunday cakes in Oxford's 
Covered Market at the Cake Shop.
Little & delicate fancies for special mums.



Mothers are the gardeners
of the human race.
 ~Anna A. Rogers


It's always so hard to choose--which one?


Oxford's Covered Market always seems to be
harbinger of things to come. It's where
Christmas first appears and where Spring
makes it's first stand during a gloomy winter.
Even if I don't need anything in the market,
I always walk through it on my way to the
shops or the post office. The colours and the
smells combine to make a beautiful tapestry
 for the senses.


The object of our lives is to look at,
listen to, touch, taste things.
Without them, these
sticks, stones, feathers, shells,
there is no Deity.
~ R. H. Blyth


When I started writing this, it was Wednesday,
March 1st, and now it's Saturday, March 4th.
And there's something else; it's sunny today!
Truly sunny. None of this watered down business--
just sun, high in the sky, with a few puffy clouds.
In other words, a very good day for planting,
so out come the garden gloves again and the
pansies will finally have a home.

Even I never dreamed
of Magic like this!
~ C. S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia

It's the small things like garden gloves and
changing seasons that make a happy life
these days. In a world that's seemingly moving
at the speed of light, it's the little things that
tickle our senses, or our fancy, that give happiness.
It's a complicated, messy world out there,
so it's important to stretch our hearts as wide as
the world, but it's equally important to keep our
eyes on the little things, the hidden things,
 the glimmers of beauty, the moments of
serendipity. To look for the magic that's there.

The invariable mark of
wisdom is to see the
miraculous in the common.
 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just never know where you'll find it,
sudden magic. Sometimes it's in the most
mundane of places. Even in a post office.

This W.H. Auden (Christ Church, Oxford)
poem was clipped next to the self-checkout
at the central post office yesterday. In
Oxford, you get poetry with your stamps,
which delighted me the entire day.
Simple, sweet serendipity just needs eyes
for the seeing.


And now it's time to put on my garden gloves, join
the singing birds outside, and finish what I started
on Wednesday. I have a date with some pansies.
And as Vita Sackville-West wrote,
Flowers really do intoxicate me......
and birdsong, budding trees, wispy clouds,
chapel bells, a good book, a cup of tea,
the back door open to the breeze,
warm, little lamps, bright tulips on the kitchen
counter, and daffodils waving against a blue sky.

♬Who could ask for anything more?!♫


The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air, 
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.........
~ Chief Dan George
A chief of a coastal Salish
band in the Pacific Northwest

Daffodils wave in the breeze on our
back terrace, with New College as a backdrop.

Update & meanwhile, a day later.....

.....the windowboxes are planted and in place
up over the front window. Bright pink
primroses, lavender & buttery yellow pansies,
and tiny narcissus; another step toward
spring on Holywell Street.


The 'Amen!' of Nature
is always a flower.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes



Springtime is the land awakening.
The March winds are the
                      morning yawn.
~ Lewis Grizzard




All photos ©CarrieGordonHolloway