Sunday, September 30, 2012


It was the Florabundance Festival at Chatsworth the day we visited and unique flower arrangements complimented each room. Some were extravagant and others charming......

>The dining room was stunning!
A single flower in a cabbage head - very sweet!
As we were leaving the grounds our cab driver offered to take us on a tour of the village chapel. He delighted us with stories of dignitaries and even pointed out the grave marker of Kathleen Kennedy, sister of the late President JF Kennedy. This is what Wikipedia says about the couple: "Despite the opposition of her Catholic mother, she married William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, an Anglican and the eldest son and heir apparent of the 10th Duke of Devonshire, on May 6, 1944. Four months after their marriage, her husband was killed in action while serving in World War II. Her husband's younger brother Lord Andrew Cavendish, married to Deborah Mitford of the famous Mitford sisters, thus became the heir apparent to the dukedom."
An American connection - How cool is that?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chatsworth and a proper Tea

The dismal rain and gloomy skies did not stop us from enjoying our day trip to Chatsworth House and Gardens.
Chatsworth is the home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. For five centuries the families have entertained lavishly, collected treasured art and artifacts, and cared for 105 acres of magnificent gardens. No wonder this place was used as a film set for movies such as The Duchess, Pride and Prejudice and the American movie, Wolf man.
After a two hour train ride from London St.Pancreas to Chesterfield we were ready for tea to be served. What a treat...even gluten free for me! Who can resist a warm scone with clotted cream and jam and a pot of Chatsworth Afternoon tea?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Highclere Castle AKA Downton Abbey

Driving up the mile long drive to Highclere Castle in Berkshire, the tranquillity belonged to another era. With dozens of sheep grazing in the rolling fields, tremendous cedars probably planted from seedlings in the 18th century, the stately home of the TV Drama series Downton Abbey took our breath away.  You could hear a collective sigh on the AWC bus as we approached the front of this family home.

After being welcomed through the impressive portal into the 3-story high Victorian Gothic saloon we were offered tea and sweets ..... and unfortunately told "no photography inside,please". But just before the announcement was made one of the ladies (whose name shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons!) snapped this picture from the grand oak staircase.
We had the most interesting guide who gave us all the historical information of Highclere Castle as well as filming details of Downton Abbey. For instance she explained how a twelve hour day of shooting for the series might only produce 6-8 minutes of film. Because it could take days to shoot an entire scene, pictures of every detail including hair, makeup, (silk)flower and furniture arrangements had to be taken to recreate the exact scene. I was so impressed that when I got home I re-watched one of the episodes and was able to spot that the desk had been moved in the library and the curtains were pulled in the dining room making the gold flocked wallpaper much darker, probably because of the sun's glare on all the portraits in that room.
As we were making our way around the bedrooms an attractive lady dressed in white sweats and blue sneakers with no laces - casual! - started up a conversation with us about a chair she was having recovered in one of the rooms. It was the lady of the house...Lady Carnarvon. She was personable and delightful and it reminded me of the labor of love- and the massive expense - it must take to keep up such an inheritance. The lower level of the house has been dedicated to the 5th Earl who famously financed Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt. To be honest - we would have been more impressed if we had run into Mr. Carson and Anna Bates sitting around the kitchen table having tea! "Americans", I know!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Yep! It's over...Fall is officially here! It is the perfect time to be in London! The evenings are cool - perfect time to open the windows....There is a crisp breeze in the air - perfect time to pack away the sinus spray and sandals .... The sports channel is packed with football, golf, and rugby matches - perfect time to hang out in the neighbourhood pub across the street...
This is not what we wanted to see when we returned to our beloved townhouse...scaffolding everywhere and painters faces watching me fix a cup of coffee in my bathrobe at 8:00 in the morning! One of the lessons we have learnt as a renter in London is that it doesn't matter where you live, construction will probably take place right next door (or in some cases, in your building) as soon as you move in! It is inevitable!
But this is what I'm venting about...the painters were ordered to stop scraping the first day by a group of my neighbours who were furious about the dust and debris blowing down their street. You can see from the townhouse next door (and that is another blog) that most of the buildings under construction are completely boxed in with painted plywood, "improving the image of construction". Granted, they had a legitimate complaint so the painters showed up the next day and wrapped the ugly scaffolding with bright blue netting - better??? And these are the very same neighbours who let their dog pee on my my flower box daily and leave little knotted plastic baggies with dog poo on the sidewalk..... "I'm just saying.....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


....Simply a word to describe an ultimate feeling of relaxation and chilled outness!
The 'Rivah Cottage' is the perfect place to chillax in September!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September Weddings

September has been a month of weddings for us and it only reminds me that this time last year we were heading to the Cape for a wedding of our own. I watched through my own dreamy eyes, each of these beautiful brides and reflected on all the details that go into planning that special day...... the venue, the flowers, the bridesmaids dresses, all those welcome bags! But the one thing that amazes me the most is how each of the brides picks out the "perfect" dress.
Weddings are such a joyous occasion for families and friends to gather. We especially enjoyed our time with friends from London who we haven't seen in a while.
Christy and Doug celebrate their first anniversary next weekend and we are so happy for them. They have made it through that first crucial year and managed to buy a house and adopt a dog and still make each other laugh..... Having someone to love and being loved - well that is what it's all about!!!