Monday, September 24, 2012

WOLF HALL - Hilary Mantel

Taking a little break from nonstop posts about my recent summer travels to bring you a book review.

Okay--I'm a little late to the game.  Some of my favorite bloggers read Wolf Hall two years ago.  I finally started reading it last month and just finished.

It started out strong, and then I lost track of  few characters and suddenly after about 100 pages it all started clicking and it was hard to put down (even harder to hold since it is a little over 500 pages).  Rarely do I read historical fictions--I prefer the real thing.  But, boy, did Hilary Mantel get it right.  The fun part is she tricks you into forgetting that you do actually know how how it all ends.

The story focuses on Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII moving toward establishing the Church of England due to the king's desire to divorce his Queen, Katherine of Aragon, to marry the devious Anne Boleyn.  Brutal climate, intrigue, and enough historical facts to make you believe you know what's going on. Glad I read it.

My only complaint is the length of the book--532 pages. 

Monday, September 17, 2012


We had seen the signs and couldn't believe our luck.  A village fete!  In Edensor! Where the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (Deborah Mitford Cavendish) lives. The stars had aligned and we could attend.  I'm smiling right now just thinking about it.

                                            Edensor is pronounced "Ensor" just so you know.
                                          Fete is pronounced "fate", but you already knew that.

                                 We paid our four pounds, and walked into our first village fete.

                                      You will notice the change in the skies in these pictures.
           Depending upon the direction, bright blue skies or dark brooding clouds or blah, blah gray.

           Festive flags fluttering above--this summer the whole of England was covered in flags.

                                                                Happy and content.

                                                    The first private home garden we toured.

                           We toured so many gardens in this tiny village and loved them all.

                                       Yep, that's a bronzed dog keeping guard on the roof.

                                     Have we come upon Middle Earth? Is that Gandalf taking a rest?

                                                 No, darn, just a gentleman and his dog.

                     The magical pathway to the house, or The House.  You-know-who lives there.

                                                  Oh, this is exciting.  Our first peek.

                                                  Yes, the house in all its glory.
           The home of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Deborah Mitford Cavendish.
                                                            I am besotted.

                 Inside that gorgeous blue front door is an apple green entrance hall (see below).

                                              Yes, I saved my copy--I'm sure you did, too.

          I took so many pictures of her home, I am surprised security wasn't called to drag me away.

   As much as I loved Chatsworth, if given the choice (you know, when I close my eyes and all of my  dreams come true) I would much prefer to live in this house.

              The duchess can just walk out her door, round the corner and head to church.

                                         Just in case you wanted to see the garage door.

          This is the chicken coop near her home--the fencing just adds to the beauty of the estate.

   I'm not 100% sure, but this may be her personal garden. Look at those gorgeous terra cotta cloches.

These people kill me--this is not a set, but a real life vicarage with the empty milk bottles waiting to be picked up.  I have got to move.

Well, we've stayed so long that the villagers think we now look familiar to them or they are starting to become suspicious.  Time to start heading back to reality that, no, we don't live here and would have to be an employee on the estate of Chatsworth to make it even a possibility.  Hmmm, I will have a change in employment next year.  Something to think about.

      We will miss the stone, the church, the blue painted gates, the beautifully tended gardens, and the dowager's quintessential english country home.

                                                               Hasn't it all been grand?

Monday, September 10, 2012


It was late June but it felt like September as we roamed around Chatsworth
Dark clouds would roll along, followed by bits of bright blue skies, and a light breeze every now and then.  No rain, so no need to stash an umbrella in the bag. Bliss.

One of the nice things about Chatsworth is that you don't have to follow a tour guide throughout the estate.  No bunched up groups smacking into each other.  You can speed walk through, stop when you've found something interesting, or dreamily walk along pretending to live there.  We would be the latter.

                      Speaking of living there, this is the family's private entrance to Chatsworth.

                                             Note the topiaries at the top of the steps.

Let's roam around a bit.  The gardens at Chatsworth continue to evolve but the two most famous of the landscape architects are Lancelot "Capability" Brown (who designed most of the open parkland) and Joseph Paxton, who is probably the best remembered of the long list of rock star gardeners.

                                                                 The Cascade House
                                                  On a warm day you can give your toes a dip


                                                             The Cottage Garden

                             She was my favorite sculpture standing guard along the hedge row

                                                                    The Rockery
                                                          Designed by Joseph Paxton

                                                The Emperor Fountain and Canal Pond
                                                     Also designed by Joseph Paxton

                                                      Rose gardens at the Orangery

                                    Hmmm,  interesting.  Wouldn't want it in my garden, though.

                                                                        West Parterre    

                                                                Oh, what's this?

                                                     Let's take an ice cream break

                                                        So fun!  Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 3, 2012


What a gorgeous day at Chatsworth.  Just look at those colors!
Certainly, we were meant to be there on a day like this.

           I suspect you know that Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
And, of course, you are fully aware that Chatsworth was used for the exterior shots of the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice.  

                           The famous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, lived at Chatsworth.
                     You probably read all about her in Amanda Foreman's excellent biography.

                       Deborah Mitford Cavendish, the current Dowager Duchess of Devonshire
                                        Her biography Wait for Me!: Memoirs is a delight.

               How about a tour of the interiors of this majestic estate?  The artwork is astounding.
Paintings, sculptures, tapestries, wood carvings, metalworks, and more fill Chatsworth up to the attics.

         Paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, John Singer Sargent,  and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, are just a      few of the artists in the Chatsworth collection.

                                          Paintings fill up the walls along the hallways

                                                 and on the ceiling of the grand entrance hall.

       And tucked under those gorgeous stairs in the entrance hall is a ping pong table for family fun.

                                                      Dazzling porcelains all lined up
                           Perfect illustration as to why grouping collections has such impact

                                                   Hand painted Chinese wallpaper from 1830
               I loved this so much that I bought several items in the gift shop depicting this pattern

                                                      The Mary, Queen of Scots room
                                                        A little cramped but I'll take it

                                            Picture taken in honor of my sweet niece, Ellie.

                                           Different chair but love the fabric combination

    Don't you just want to crawl into that bed, pull tight the bed hangings, sleep the sleep of the just,
                                and then be awakened with tea and toast served on a tray?

                                         And how about ending the day in the library?
Sitting in one of those cosy chairs (I'm thinking the dark green velvet chair on the left side would be            perfect), reading a good book in the middle of a 'dark and stormy night' is my idea of heaven.

                                                            "A Veiled Vestal Virgin"
                                                                by Raffaelle Monti    
                                                               Marble, yes, marble

                                                                   The dining room

                                                                The dining room
                                      (Couldn't decide which shot to use so I posted both)

                                                  Entering into the sculpture gallery

         This is how I felt after touring Chatsworth, with hand to heart and a wistful look on my face.                                            
                                           Next post: The Gardens of Chatsworth