March 19, 2011

The colors of England in Spring

How is Spring where you are? I am told that Chicago is going to be 70 this weekend! All the great sweaters (the British call them 'jumpers'....why?!) I bought on sale may have to wait.

Gatherings from a walk or small bloomers from your own garden make for charming arrangements.  Bottles, big tin, fabric scrap, napkins, could all be lovely table setting for an informal gathering.
The smaller the container the better for the dainty flowers of spring. I do not have an image, as it was long long ago when i had a ladies lunch. At each place setting was an egg; top broken off and flowers as above with each egg bearing the guests name. The real trick was in getting them to stand up; good old plumbers putty, will not harm the table and a small piece holds it upright.

Talk about charming........even the woodland mushrooms are whimiscal

To achieve a natural look, dedicate a portion of your lawn and choose very early blooming species. Come fall, casually toss small handfuls of bulbs, plant where they lie. By the time you need to do the first mowing, the bulbs will be finished ready to sleep until next year.   

Snowdrops. If you can find these bulbs, plant now for next spring.

Fritillaries'   A magical bulb for light woodland settings. See the checkerboard pattern?

I need to become vegetarian

A walk through the residential area and what do i find?  Yes.....more doors! All in brilliant colors. Could you ever be so brave? Personally loving it, well most, and if you have shutters bring the color thru-out the facade.

I instantly thought of the lovely Elizabeth at the  Pretty Pink Tulips blog.

Named;  Fairly Lynch....??

LOVE this color!

You know who i am thinking about.....I hear he is very nearby

Intense golden yellow lichen enlivens gray stone
Mosses and lichens have two requirements to thrive; a moist climate and good, clean air.  

Hedgehogs, the quintessential spring animal of England

NOTE:   I was excited to leave the distractions of home and work behind. One bit I was certain of was the ability to write more blog posts and visiting others. Best laid plans went awry; forgetting that a rural environment has sporadic internet capabilities.......oh well.....

Have a happy week!
Tonight I am treating my hosts to dinner and a concert in the 13th century Abbey; Bach chamber music on medieval instruments. Can't wait!


March 7, 2011

Art Exhibit with Sam Rosenthal.....and more

Local Chicago Artist Sam Rosenthal at work on Wacker and Wells along the Chicago River. Take note of the size

To completion.  Stunning isn't it?  Our beloved city is bathed in an after glow of the setting sun fused with the amber cast of street lamps

Please join us at our reception for SAM ROSENTHAL

1822 W. Grand Avenue
 Friday March 11th

Here is what I hope those of you close to Chicago won't miss; our first ever art exhibit, a one-man show with Sam. An area native, who paints the urban environment and natural landscapes in a career spanning two decades. At the age of 41, he has works in public and private collections on three continents in a broad range of subject matters.
In this painting he captures the beauty of a lonely intersection on a damp night, with red and green stoplights glittering on the surface of puddles and the humid night time air in a pointillist haze
Sam paints the unexpected beauty in ordinary scenes, places you pass daily, but seldom notice

City life hustle and bustle. Who stops to absorb these scenes? Sam does, with an enhanced perception of all that surrounds us

Chicago at a distance, bathed in pinks, violets and blues signaling the end of another day. I have often heard from artist friends that one of the more difficult skills to master is the sky, the clouds, and the light

This to me, resembles the works of Edward Hopper who like Sam at times, depicts loneliness in public places. I find these eloquent cityscapes compelling and thought provoking in the format of realist art.

Who can't relate to this man's frustration? See the rearview mirror? An artists pictorial poem, or our everyday nightmare? Both i believe. I have to tell you when I saw this piece in person I was so taken; the colors grabbed my attention and the image in the mirror brought forward his sense of humor.

Here is a quick switch, and a nod to his various interests. Looks like a photograph doesn't it?, feels like a compelling breath of Spring

Friends, this wonderful show only lasts ten days, so be sure to see it while you can, and if you can, I hope you make it to our opening, too, where you can meet Sam while enjoying an evening of libations.

It should be a wonderful evening!

To RSVP, Call Bart 312-226-6654, or email him

Want to see more of Sam's work? Go to his website


These twinkling eyes belong to Clive Farrell a highly respected entrepreneur, philanthropist and world renown butterfly expert whom is currently building the largest butterfly sanctuary in the world near London.

And tomorrow I have the pleasure of meeting him at his home with my friend and hostess, Sylvia who is a personal friend. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity I cannot wait to share.

His office/studio is on stilts overlooking a 100+ acre meadow, a greenhouse filled with butterflies and an authentic medieval kitchen garden.

THEN.........on Wednesday a phone conversation with a very special woman, someone I have never met but have always been fond of.....Sharon....of a favorite blog: MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME.
Sharon is British and lives in France. The photo above is her garden, bed and yes, her horse, all featured in her current blog post.
When I first found her blog I was smitten and as I came to know Sharon a real fondness grew. If you have not discovered her blog, take a look, you too will be dreaming of your own country home in France.

Till then, cheers!

March 2, 2011

Sherborne England....Observations

Feeling like I am in a fairy tale, the English countryside is this beautiful.
It's a chilly, damp, early spring with fresh crisp green everywhere, which magically highlights the stone in this ancient village.

Old Sherborne Castle's original owner was Sir Walter Raleigh, damaged by Cromwell's men and later destroyed by Parliament, it's stark beauty is hauntingly surreal
Sir Raleigh built a new home now known as Sherborne Castle. The Digby family currently resides here since their ancestors purchased it in the 1760's. Portions of the castle are open to the public
For a great non-fiction read. The story of Jane Digby;  a woman born to excessive wealth and privilege who abandons everything; her family, wealth and strict social protocol of the era for fearless adventure and a 'scandalous' romance. Her story would shock today's society.
Let's go........
My eyes are drawn to the architecture, the small details of paint colors, the shape of an exterior lamp, ancient building materials, and on and on is where my focus lies.
Most of the in-town structures were constructed from the 1300 to 1600's. If we took away the new window and the gutter, this home would appear as it has for centuries. Even a small sampling of the original roof remains
The patterns, particularly the top ridge, the columns and the high gloss door
A less threatening pattern at the top. Take note of the window mullions, hand cut stone.
Carved stone entrance pediment with columns....centuries old. Love to stand back and imagine all those that passed
I am usually here in late summer when flowers are everywhere. The beauty of this time of year is the rich honey colored stones stark beauty, unadorned, brings the structures to center stage
Love this, lose the single shrub
"The Doors of Sherborne".........could sound like an old book title.........the stories of what lies beyond
PERFECTION! Take a good look at this OIL based paint, it is practically mirror like. In the US the ban on oil based paints has taken off and is official in most states. It's fumes are considered hazardous and a minor pollutant. This makes me crazy; oil paint? What about cigarettes?!
contemplating a smuggling ring.....are you in?
Many doors have the wooden piece at the base to deflect water and I am liking it. Love the glass, it adds light while lending privacy.........."quite clevah" as the British would say

Ever have coffee from a 'French Press?' Forgot how completely easy this is to make and the coffee is rich and creamy, will be pulling mine back out when I get home
A medieval entrance to the main streets of town. Legend has it that the "most despicable of criminals" were hung from this spot. Look at all the yummy architectural details beyond
Door to a school from the 1300's
Charming Tudor with original lead windows. From age, they are a bit crooked but that just adds to it's charm! Love the national save and preserve mentality.

This centerpiece of the market began as a monk's wash center......remember, all and anyone affiliated with the church, had the dough
Notice the carved stone vault ceiling?
Love the story of this stunning building. Built in 1440 and signed off by Henry VIII, it's use today is as originally intended, an 'Almshouse' for the elderly and the poor of town. If selected they will have free care by turning over their few worldly possessions. Currently run by private charities.
Let's go in........I knocked on the entrance door and the head matron, effusively apologetic, asked if i would "be so kind to come with notice and she would be happy to take me around." She wanted to tidy a bit first.........And by and large that gracious and kind demeanor permeates the culture
Stunning isn't it? Look at the tile flooring, red and black squares, yes original and intact
A side entrance. Yes again, an original door AND original (i know i keep saying that...sorry)  hinges and hardware. The wood of the door is one solid board, imagine the size of the tree
Remember the Digby's? No, they do not own this pub. However, they were and are so influential the name appears everywhere.
Note the sign saying "free house?" This means they are not beholden to any one brewery and can sell any beer they choose. Increasingly becoming rare as it is a more costly alternative
Crazy for the framing used on most signage

Classical  sign, 'fish and chips'. Again there is that gorgeous oil based paint. 
Personally great design is about contrasts; in the garden, indoors and outdoors. The gloss of the paint with it's subtle formality is a stark contrast to the rough, age-worn stone. These opposites perfectly compliment each other. Until my smuggling ring is up and running, you can use a high gloss water based paint on doors, sills and shutters.......another benefit? Easy to clean. 
Heading "home" the days are flying by........have a great week..... Cheers!

A very special friend crafts 'one-of-a-pair' lamps from found objects. These are old clock roman numerals turned lamps
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...