In the Bleak Midwinter


The sound of steady dripping emanated from the bathroom where my sodden raincoat was hanging up in the shower to dry. The hollow drip, drip, drip as the water hit the tub below created a syncopated counter-beat to the drumming of the rain on the roof above my head. The world can be a dank, dark, dreary place in the depths of an English winter.

On days like this, when the rain falls relentlessly, a question asked by a visiting American friend comes to mind. It was the third day of her visit, and the third day of intermittent showers. She turned to me and asked, “Doesn’t the unrelenting gloom get depressing after a while?” Continue reading


In an English Bluebell Wood


“No life is so charming as a country one in England, and no flowers are sweeter or more lovely than the primroses, cowslips, bluebells, and violets that grow in abundance all around me here.” ~ Marianne North

Like many of my fellow Americans I have long been a devotee of British period dramas, but while scores of women’s hearts raced at the sight of Colin Firth jumping into a murky pond and emerging with his white shirt plastered to his frame, my eyes were glued to the stunning scenery in which all the action was taking place. Others might swoon at Mr. Darcy in his tight breeches; I swooned at any sign of a bluebell wood. Continue reading

The Horse and I

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“To ride on a horse is to fly without wings.” ~ Author unknown

One of my nieces from America is coming to visit later this year. She is at that age in a young girl’s life when her thoughts, dreams and hopes for the future all pivot on one thing: her love of horses. For the moment she contents herself with her stable full of toy horses great and small, but I know that when she takes one of those toy horses in her hand and gallops it across the kitchen counter she is imagining herself clinging breathlessly to the back of a mighty steed, riding like the wind.

How do I know this? Because I was once a horse-mad young girl myself. Continue reading

We Went to the Wilds – Part III

Why Do We Do It?


“Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. I suppose some will wish to debate whether it is important to keep these primitive arts alive. I shall not debate it. Either you know it in your bones, or you are very, very old.” ~ Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Seasoned campers, no matter where they hail from, all have their own tales of harsh weather they have endured, tents that leaked, fires that wouldn’t start, and of course the favourite, wildlife they have encountered.

Here in the UK I have heard my share of stories. I’ve been told not to leave chocolate in my tent because the mice love chocolate and will chew a hole through the tent to get to it. One friend told of waking up in the morning with several slugs – SLUGS!on her face.  My husband relates a cute little story about a large toad crawling under one flap of his tent, clambering across the sleeping area in a business-like manner, then vanishing underneath the opposite flap without so much as a by-your-leave.

In spite of my aversion to mice and my horror at the thought of a slug facial, I have to state plainly that these tales of wildlife encounters have a rather whimsical, Beatrix Pottery air about them. They may be momentarily unpleasant, but they are hardly the stuff to hold an audience rapt with fear when retold around a campfire in the dark of night. Continue reading

Lakeland Views


Once again I must apologize. Although the residual brain cloud left behind by my recent cold has begun to dissipate, my blogging time has been severely limited as I try to catch up with all those things which fell by the wayside while I was ill. I am hard at work on Part II of the camping trip last summer, but it isn’t anywhere near completion.

In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy a short preview of some of the incredible scenery of the Lake District. Some of these photographs were taken last summer, while others were taken by my husband on previous trips to the area.

Next week will be the blog which exposes just what it is that makes camping in the UK different from camping in the US.

All Hail the “Conkering” Hero


Keats is famous for calling autumn the season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness”, and that certainly is an apt description of autumn in the UK. The days grow shorter, the nights colder, and each morning it seems to take just a little bit longer for the rising sun to warm the countryside and burn off the morning fog that weaves its way like a ribbon along the base of the nearby hills. The trees are beginning to glow with their glorious gold and russet, and the old stone houses that are covered with ivy flame with scarlet. Continue reading

The Friendship Garden


Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made

By singing: – “Oh, how beautiful!” and sitting in the shade…

~ Rudyard Kipling “The Glory of the Garden”


Spring has arrived in our corner of Wiltshire. Days of warmth and sunshine alternating with mild mist and occasional thunder storms have come together to create perfect growing conditions. The fields where just a few weeks ago we walked across grass stubble are now a waist-high sea of lacy white cow parsley blossoms.  Stinging nettles have grown thick and lush, and already I’ve had to carefully thread my hand through a giant patch of them to retrieve the dog’s stick when I carelessly tossed it there. Bluebells are beginning to open and carpet patches of woodland with a delicate, soft blue haze.  The fields of yellow rapeseed glow like reflected sunlight, contrasting starkly to the dark brown of the freshly ploughed fields and the lush, green grass. Continue reading