Tag Archives: travel
February 6, 2013

Catching up…?

Yes, it has now been over four months since I promised to finish blogging my last trip, but I plead Kenyan Internet! It has been turtle-slow since October, which has made it difficult to do very much at all, especially with photos. But I’m busily organizing pictures this month and hope to complete the final few days of our trip soon.

In the meantime, check out this year’s tour at http://sensibility.com/2013tour. We only have a few spots left, so let me know if you’d like to join us! It’s a great year to go with the 200th Anniversary of Pride & Prejudice and lots of Jane Austen-related stops on the itinerary in addition to historical costumes. :)

September 17, 2012

Charming Lacock Village

On our way to our hotel near Bath, we stopped for several hours to enjoy a leisurely afternoon in Lacock Village. It was a gorgeous, sunny day with a light breeze–perfect for tea and strolling around!

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A wonderful pause before our big Regency day in Bath!

August 28, 2012

Off to the UK in September!

The 2012 Historical Costume Tour begins on September 9, and we’re so excited about the wonderful itinerary! I’ll be blogging during the tour as time permits, so check back here to see what our group gets to enjoy–including an original 19th-century cotton mill, two famous historical costume collections, and tapestries created by Bess of Hardwick and Mary, Queen of Scots!

March 3, 2011

Preparing for 2012 Tour!

There just wasn’t time to plan a 2011 tour, as our family moved overseas to Kenya in January and has been settling in since (very exciting!). But I’ve got 2012 in my sites and am planning for a very new and different tour to places not yet visited with a “bookend” in Bath for the Jane Austen Festival launch, which is always a hit.

If you are interested in joining us in September 2012, just drop me a line through my contact form, and I’ll put you on the info list. Those on the list get first dibs on tour spots before I post here or on my message forum. And if you have ideas of what you’d like to see in England, don’t hesitate to share by posting comments here!

September 24, 2010

Last Day in London…

This has been a week to be remembered! I am especially pleased that my mother got to come along on this year’s tour. She hadn’t been back to England since 1994, and we were able to visit dear friends on Tuesday. First we had a nice visit with my friend Sarah in Dulwich:

Sarah and I have corresponded for years and love to meet up whenever we can…

My girls loved playing with new friends as “Grammie” looked on…

We even cajoled Jenny into coming along for the visit. Here she entertains my littlest one…

After returning to our hotel, we met up Tuesday evening with my late father’s British co-author and his wife, whom I haven’t seen since I was 16 years old! It was a wonderful reunion. So our visit drew to a close at last. Wednesday morning I tied up loose ends by running a few errands nearby. This area of London feels like a second home to me now. The streets are so familiar, and it’s fun to know what is around each corner. It’s like visiting an old and well-loved neighborhood from childhood and finding it just as inviting as ever. I do love Kensington!

Six of us shared a taxi to Heathrow Wednesday morning (which is a real deal if you have a group of people traveling together–cheaper than using the express from Paddington). Because of Mom’s knee surgeries, she got the royal treatment from Heathrow staff, riding in her own “chariot” and enjoying the use of the comfortable Special Assistance Lounge while we waited for our gate to open:

Mom entertains the baby as we wait for our flight…

Heathrow’s refurbished Terminal 4 is like a palatial mall filled with shops, restaurants, and bookish corners. Our wait went by so swiftly, and we were boarding before we knew it. The flight back to the US was uneventful, and we’re glad to be back home and recovering from jet-lag. I came home to find six emails from people wanting to go on a future tour, and several of this year’s participants already say they’d like to go again. We’ll just have to wait and see how things work out! I’ll be sure to post here if we plan another jaunt across the Pond.

Thanks so much for following this year’s trip and leaving fun comments. It has been lovely to share this journey with you!

September 10, 2010

It’s almost here!

Hard to believe the 2010 Tour is already upon us. The year has just flown by! We are so excited about this year’s tour. We have a group of 15 lovely ladies going along, and I’m really excited that my dear mother will be with us this trip. We haven’t been in England together since 1988, so this will be a wonderful memory-maker. :)

Stay tuned for blog posts about the trip, as time permits (and when I have WiFi access!). I’ll be taking all the pictures myself this time (a rather daunting prospect!), so I’ll have to get the hang of using this new camera and formatting photos.

We’re going to be in London, Wiltshire, Hereford, Exeter, and Somersetshire this year, seeing historical garments from world-renowned collections and touring beautiful manor houses at the same time. I’m excited to meet curators who specialize in areas that are new to me (lacemaking, anyone?), and Suzi Clarke will be along as before to guide us through all these delights. Hope you’ll tag along here for all the fun!

August 18, 2010

Less than four weeks out from the tour!

All the checklists are crossed off, the tickets are purchased, and our group is set to cross the Pond and enjoy our time in beautiful England! I’ll be blogging about the tour each day if all goes well (and the Internet connection is reliable!), so be sure to bookmark the blog to “follow” us through Wiltshire, Hereford, Exeter, Somersetshire, and London. It’s going to be a fantastic journey!

October 24, 2009

Bringing England Home…

102_1379Ever since I can remember, my parents served hot tea–not always a full afternoon tea, but definitely the steaming cupful with milk and sugar. Mom and Dad brought this tradition home with them from England on an early visit when I was little, and it stuck fast. Having grown up with “teatime,” I just naturally kept to it when I was married, and now I love to share it with my own children. Some days it’s just a hot cup during afternoon quiet time without ceremony. But, every now and again, we pull out all the stops and put on full afternoon tea. Today was such a day!

After our recent tour, sweet Amanda and Cari gave me a gift from Fortnum & Mason of loose-leaf tea, strawberry preserves, and tea biscuits. We broke these out today, enjoying the unmistakable fragrance that came when we opened the lid of the tea canister. Oh, this was going to be good! I pulled out our favorite “pink” china (a gift from my folks for my hope chest when I was 15), polished up the “Silver Beethoven” cultery, and laid out the tea tray with all we’d need.

Next, I tied on my favorite apron (a new find from the scrumptious Cath Kidston store in Bath!) and pulled out the ingredients for Suzi’s utterly delicious scones: self-rising flour, butter, sugar, salt, and buttermilk.

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Let me tell you, I’ve tasted scones from all over, and Suzi’s are the best I’ve ever eaten. They have a moist texture and a slightly sweet, almost creamy taste. I’ve never had better. But don’t take my word for it! Here is Suzi’s recipe:

My mother worked in a cafe in Stratford on Avon, and was given this recipe by a French lady who ran the place. It was called “The Cobweb Tea Rooms.”

  • 10 oz self-raising flour or 1 1/4 cups (You can use all-purpose flour with a raising agent – the best thing is to read the instructions on the packet for this, if you can’t get self raising flour.)
  • 1.5 oz sugar (3 tablespoons)
  • 1.5 oz. butter or margarine (I think about 3 tablespoons – equal weight to sugar.)
  • pinch salt (don’t leave this out – it really helps.)
  • about 1/2 cup sour milk or buttermilk, or milk curdled with lemon juice. Plain milk will also do.

Rub the flour, sugar, salt, and butter together until they look like breadcrumbs. Stir in the milk, very gradually, to make a firm, pliable dough. Don’t let it get too sticky. Roll out on a floured board to about 1/2″ thick. Cut in circles – I use a cutter about 2″ – 2.5″ across. Place on an ungreased baking sheet – you should get about 12 from this quantity.

Put in a hot oven, 200 degrees C (that’s about 400 degrees F), less for a fan oven, for about 10 minutes. I know this has to be different at altitude, but I don’t know by how much.

Serve with strawberry jam and thick heavy cream, or clotted cream if you can get it.

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Now, I completely forgot to bring home clotted cream from England, so we had to make do today with whipped cream. If you’d like to try clotted cream (which is like a thick, rich, sweet butter), you can get it Stateside from the English Tea Store, which offers lots of exclusively British teas and treats.

Here’s our spread with the scones hot from the oven!

Care to join us?

Care to join us?

Suzi's famous scones...

Suzi's famous scones...

We sliced our scones in half and dolloped whipped cream on top, followed by a generous teaspoon of Fortnum & Mason’s strawberry preserves:

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102_1383Absolutely delicious! We savored every bite and enjoyed the amazing tea fresh from the pot. My girls adore the ritual of a proper afternoon tea, complete with cloth napkins and beautiful silverware. I am thankful to my parents for always bringing home the best of foreign lands and for taking my siblings and me all over the world when we were growing up. It’s one thing to travel and just be a tourist; it’s another thing to study each culture you move through and come to appreciate and enjoy its own unique traditions and pastimes. Going through England and Germany as a teenager and staying for a goodish stretch in South Africa was a great gift. So was driving all over the United States and Canada and visiting in different homes. Each family has a culture, too, and it is so good to learn what is important to others and what they treasure. I feel my life is infinitely richer for the gift of “studious travel” given to me by my parents. They whetted my appetite for more. My husband and I desire to give our children this same gift as the years go by. On my next trip across the pond, I’ll be taking my daughters. I can hardly wait to share my love of England with them first-hand!

But you don’t have to hop in a plane or board a ship to dip into foreign places and learn from them. There are books galore that will take you on journeys, show you exotic ports, and even let you step into another household and see how life is lived there. Over the years, I’ve picked up books at used book stores, flea markets, and all kinds of yard sales, including lots of “coffee table” eye candy. These books have influenced my decorating style, my color choices, and even my taste in literature and food. Here’s a stack of some of my favorite (well-worn!) books on English living:

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102_1385I never tire of dipping into these and enjoying a glimpse into someone else’s well-loved home. If there’s anything that describes the English house, it’s certainly “cozy.” Little nooks for reading, warm kitchens, wide hearths, groaning bookshelves–these are England to me. Pots spilling over with flowers in abundance, gardens crammed with color, roses climbing old stone walls–these, too, are England. And how much richer our lives have been from bringing these things home, whether from a trip or from the pages of a book! This last journey over with our lovely tour group was an opportunity to share the things we love with others, and we are so glad we had the opportunity to do it. It’s a pleasure we hope to repeat with our children and with friends many times in the coming years. Perhaps you’ll come along next time and drink it all in? I’d love to have you! Thank you for sharing “my” England with me through this blog and indulging my lifelong delight in all things English. Until next time….

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October 16, 2009

Trivia Contest Giveaway!

Okay! Now it’s time to sharpen your wits and see how closely you’ve been paying attention! I’ve got four little giveaway packages from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. Each package contains a commemorative keyring and a keepsake card celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s move to Chawton Cottage (card is blank inside and includes an envelope):

I have two of the cards on the left and two of the ones on the right, plus four keyrings. First four people to send in correct answers win a card and a keyring!

I have two of the cards on the left and two of the ones on the right, plus four keyrings. First four people to send in correct answers win a card and a keyring!

So, without further ado, here are the questions:

1. What was the first official event of the 2009 London Historical Costume Tour?

2. Which two ladies got to serve as models at Shakespeare’s Globe for “Ophelia’s” costume?

3. Which famous 19th-century church did my family attend the first Sunday?

4.  What was our first stop on Monday the 14th?

5. Which play did we see at Shakespeare’s Globe Monday night?

6. Who got to model Cathy Hay’s fabulous oak leaf gown?

7. What was the name of the special 1950s exhibit at Kensington Palace?

8. Who was our guest speaker at the Fan Museum’s Orangerie on Wednesday?

9. Name the two places we stopped to tour on our way to Bath.

10. What was the name of the group that performed Sunday night in Bath?

11. Name one BBC miniseries that used Lacock Village as a location.

12. Name two of the inns/pubs in Lacock Village.

Okay, that’s it! The first four people to send in correct answers will win! (Please don’t post your answers in the comments — be sure to use the feedback form.) I’ll announce them here on the blog as soon as I have them. :)

October 14, 2009

Charming Lacock Village

102_1333We gathered after breakfast Monday morning, missing a bunch of ladies who had either left the night before or who were staying on longer in England. Our coach driver loaded up our bags, and those of us heading back to London settled into our seats. All of us flying out that afternoon had enough time to stop through Lacock Village on the way, and we looked forward to seeing the site of favorite costume dramas like “Cranford” and A&E’s “Pride & Prejudice.” The morning was sunny, promising a pretty drive through Wiltshire. After a very short drive, we pulled into the parking area outside the village. Everyone was eager to hop out and see what lay beyond the trees shielding Lacock from view. We took the footpath and soon arrived next to the gate for magnificent Lacock Abbey. After pausing to snap some shots, we wended our way through this wonderful medieval village, enjoying all the cozy cottages and lovely inns and shops. This really is a fabulous location! There’s even a cottage you can rent for vacations–dreamy. [The first seven pictures below come from Lindsay's camera--thanks, Linds! The rest are my snapshots.]

Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey

Looking down the main street, with the Red Lion Inn on the left (Recognize it? Picture Mr. Darcy gazing at in disgust by torchlight--the Meryton Assembly Rooms!)

Looking down the main street, with the Red Lion Inn on the left (Recognize it? Picture Mr. Darcy gazing at in disgust by torchlight--the Meryton Assembly Rooms!)

My husband stands in front of King John's Hunting Lodge, one of the oldest inns in Lacock.

My husband stands in front of King John's Hunting Lodge, one of the oldest inns in Lacock.

Miss Molly poses for a snap in costume, looking right at home!

Miss Molly poses for a snap in costume, looking right at home!

Gazing out across the fields of Wiltshire surrounding the village.

Gazing out across the fields of Wiltshire surrounding the village.

The parish church in Lacock

The parish church in Lacock

An ornate iron fence surrounds a tomb in the churchyard.

An ornate iron fence surrounds a tomb in the churchyard.

Looking down the nave of the church. I loved all the light streaming in from the leaded glass windows.

Looking down the nave of the church. I loved all the light streaming in from the leaded glass windows.

A look up at the timbered ceiling--beautiful!

A look up at the timbered ceiling--beautiful!

Ornate leaded glass windows down the side of the church...

Ornate leaded glass windows down the side of the church...

Windows above with the sun streaming down...

Windows above with the sun streaming down...

And the beautiful stained glass window...

And the beautiful stained glass window...

The lectern up at the front...

The lectern up at the front...

Looking through the front door out toward the graveyard...

Looking through the front door out toward the graveyard...

Side view of the church with my son walking amongst the tombs...

Side view of the church with my son walking amongst the tombs...

One of many beautiful half-timbered cottages.

One of many beautiful half-timbered cottages.

I love this one!

I love this one!

Looking through the gate toward the memorial chapel and graveyard...

Looking through the gate toward the memorial chapel and graveyard...

The town's war memorial for those lost in WWI and WWII. For a village this small, there was a surprisingly high number of losses in WWI.

The town's war memorial for those lost in WWI and WWII. For a village this small, there was a surprisingly high number of losses in WWI.

Looking up the alleyway next to The George Inn towards the woolen shop.

Looking up the alleyway next to The George Inn towards the woolen shop.

The George Inn itself.

The George Inn itself.

And we must showcase the flowers around the doorway!

And we must showcase the flowers around the doorway!

Looking 'round the corner from The George...

Looking 'round the corner from The George...

A charming stone cottage

A charming stone cottage

The Sign of the Angel -- inn and pub.

The Sign of the Angel -- inn and pub.

A closer view of King John's Hunting Lodge

A closer view of King John's Hunting Lodge

The shopkeeper across the street mentioned that a lot of the houses on this street had their upper rooms bumped out over the lower to fit large looms for weaving, which was a staple trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The shopkeeper across the street mentioned that a lot of the houses on this street had their upper rooms bumped out over the lower to fit large looms for weaving, which was a staple trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.

After doing some shopping in the National Trust store and enjoying a light lunch in the village, we re-boarded our bus for the drive to Heathrow. It was so hard to believe our time in England had at last come to an end! We gazed out over the countryside to drink in all we could before our flight homeward. We can never say a final “goodbye” to England, as it really feels like home after all our visits. We say “au revoir” instead and hope we’ll see it again soon!

Now, I have a few goodies from the Jane Austen Festival to give away in my final blog post, so prepare yourself for a trivia contest! I’m going to post questions about the things we saw and did while in the UK, and the first four readers to send in correct answers will win the goodies. Stay tuned!

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