Chatsworth Gardens, July 2018

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On the day we went to Chatsworth, I spent some time exploring the gardens.  They are world famous- the fountain (above) is one of the most interesting features, but there are many….

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Surprisingly, unlike many other gardens we have visited in England, there were no flowers which were apparent.  (It seems that they were in another part of the garden which I missed) but I did get the chance to see the spectacular water features everywhere..

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As well as an odd collection of Yew bushes…IMG_9283 (1)

The Serpentine walk (one of symbols of the Devonshire family is the serpent.)

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And my favorite part- the Tree of Brass which spouts water from its branches!

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Finally, there was some lovely park land with gravel roads to walk along.  I even came across this beautiful Elephant sculpture.

I throughly enjoyed the Chatsworth Gardens.  *It is worth noting that when in England this summer, it was clear that they were experiencing a massive drought… everywhere which would normally be green was brown, and the fountains at Chatsworth were at perhaps 40% the normal capacity.

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The Orangery

And finally, an homage to the great Joseph Paxton Green house of the 19th century- which was sadly pulled down due to the exorbitant  expense of coal heating it required.  It still does, however, maintain the famous Lily pads!

If you have any more interest in Chatsworth, as I did, I highly recommend this documentary:

http://www.pbs.org/program/secrets-chatsworth/

Chatsworth, Interior July 2018

Greetings! I have taken a slight hiatus from writing to do some traveling.  Now that I am home again, I thought I would start to share some of my latest adventures.  I was fortunate enough to get another chance to travel to England in July.  During our trip, we went to Chatsworth.  Now Chatsworth, is, frankly,  the epitome of the stately home.  It is the gold standard of country houses.  (Sorry to the other beauties out there: Blenheim and Burghley.) 

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There is so much to cover, that I know I will not do Chatsworth justice.  It is hard to get a photo which accurately shows the the magnificence of this house, but  you can see above the view from the gardens which somewhat conveys the scale.

The painted entrance hall alone is breathtaking…

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I think one of the aspects of this house which makes it stand out, is the vast collection of treasures it still contains.  It has a very personal feel, there are small objects as well as famous paintings which are displayed everywhere and the attention to detail is extraordinary.

 

The gold leaf window frames and the contemporary art in the interior court yard show how this house seems to mix the modern seamlessly with the past.

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Above is a picture of one of the state rooms.  The gold is really breathtaking.  I believe that these rooms rarely inhabited, which is a pity.  Below is a portrait of Georgiana Cavendish, the wife of the 5th Duke.  I read the biography by Amanda Foreman before coming to see Chatsworth, which gave great insight into what life was like in this house during the Georgian period.

 

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The amount of art is also really staggering.  What I will call the “secondary staircase” is nearly covered with portraits….(and of course the two malachite urns are stunning.)

Chatsworth boasts 40 bedrooms which might seem excessive, until you remember that these country houses acted largely as hotels for invited guests, and they are, in many cases in the middle of nowhere.  (According to my good friend Wikipedia, more that half of the house is closed to visitors, which, considering the number of rooms on display to visitors means that this truly a giant.  Interestingly, it did not feel as vast as it actually is…I myself could live there quite comfortably 😉

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So many small details were what made this place special.  They had put down special foam rubber matts on the floor which looked exactly like the floorboards and matched the real rugs on display.  The servants staircase, which we took at one point in the tour, was decorated with empty picture frames to illustrate, in my opinion, the number of works of art which had been sold. (*Note: I have no basis for this, it is just my opinion.)

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The library (above) was also spectacular.  We were not allowed to enter, but as you can see from the doorway, it is really stunning.

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Finally, we saw the dining room.  The ceiling was, again, gold leaf.  The silver service, I think speaks for itself.  The detail on the candlesticks was astounding- there were intricate figures and representations of stags as well as tiny curled leaves.

I loved Chatsworth.  IT has been called “Britain’s favorite country house” and it is easy to see why.  In addition to being very grand, it also has a personal feel, and the visitor gets the feeling that they are visiting a home in which people actually live (albeit on a very grand scale.) Until next time!

The Maine Coast, July 2017

In light of the holiday yesterday, I thought I would share some pictures of a trip my boyfriend and I took along the coast of Maine at this time last year.  We had no plans, but we had a tent and a Jeep and an idea that we wanted to explore the Maine coast a bit.  We ended up spending one night in Bar Harbor which was beautiful.IMG_6713

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The next day we took a hike up a trail in Acadia National Park called the Beehive.  It had spectacular view overlooking the ocean….

The cliffs were very precarious and steep, but the breeze coming off the ocean was not to be missed. We then went to the beach far below for a quick swim…

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I was not brave enough to go swimming- the water was FREEZING, but my boyfriend did and found it to be really refreshing.  Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the Northeast.  It was a pleasure to explore-  full of fun interesting roads to drive, and hikes through Pine forests.  The trails are well maintained and easy to traverse.  (Be sure to take plenty of water, though, I made the mistake of not bringing enough which caused us to prematurely end our hike.)

We then drove along the coast to the picturesque town of Camden.  It was very quaint and typical of towns along the Maine coast: full of cute little stores and restaurants. We had a delicious dinner on the dock overlooking the harbor.  (Below).

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This was a magical trip that we took last summer.  I hope to go back sometime soon!
Happy Thursday!

An note on inspurration…

Happy Friday!  I wanted to take a moment to mention a blog that has been truly inspiring to me- baileyboatcat.com.  I stumbled across it a few years ago when I was doing a Google image search of cats wearing life jackets.  The reason behind this has to do with my Dad, a sailor who loves to take his poor cats out with him…we were debating the likelihood of a cat wearing a life jacket happily.  His cat, unlike Bailey, is not a born sailor as maybe you can guess from this picture:

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Bailey, who is a Siamese cat, and happily wears a life jacket,  looks quite similar to my own Tonkinese cat, Maya, (seen below) which further interested me.   The writing and pictures were so engaging and funny that I was soon totally hooked.  “Bailey” would post almost every day, giving updates on his sailing adventures and his life in general.  When thinking about beginning my own blog, I drew a lot of inspiration from Bailey (and his “Mom”).  The writing is so fresh and fun that I always felt happier after reading his blog posts.  While my cat will NEVER be a floating feline, we love hearing all about your adventures.  Thank you Bailey for sharing your experiences with me and all your other furry furriends!

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Chartres Cathedral, France May 2018

During our recent visit to France, we spent an afternoon at Chartres Cathedral.  This sleepy little village was our first taste of the French countryside and it did not disappoint!

The village surrounds the cathedral and is very quaint and has a medieval feel to it.  The streets are narrow and crooked and are built onto the steep hillside, at the top of which is the cathedral.  It felt very quiet as we walked to the top of the hill. Once there, we had, in my mind, one of the best lunches of the entire trip.  I had a sandwich made entirely of Camembert and French bread.  I will remember it for the rest of my life.  It was surreal.  (Sadly, I did not take a picture of the sandwich or the restaurant.  Worth noting, is that the restaurant featured an interesting collection of teapots. It was full of them.)

The interior of the Cathedral was breathtaking. The soaring ceilings and stained glass windows were spectacular.  The exterior of the cathedral looked like it was due for a cleaning, as some of the more elaborate details were masked by a layer of black…IMG_8967

(Please excuse the dorky picture, it was the only one I had close enough to see the covered in black soot.)

The front of the cathedral was also surrounded by beautiful flowers and gardens…

Finally, the highlight (apart from the excellent sandwich) was the French cat we discovered enjoying the flower garden behind the cathedral.

IMG_8418 On a rainy weekday, remembering this visit has been fantastic.  I wish you all a happy day and safe travels (hopefully with frequent cat sightings!)

Blois, France May 2018

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In celebration of a speeding ticket we got going from Tours to Blois (the second we got via mail from the French highway system a month after our return) I thought I would post about our visit to Blois which caused this infraction. * (A note about the French Highway system- the roads are very smooth and immaculately maintained.  However, they have a challenging ticketing booths on the road, and if you ever need to pull off- to, say, use the facilities, they charge a fee.  There are no rest areas like we have here in the US. Also, there seems to be an elaborate way of monitoring speeding, whereby you are not pulled over, but your speed is periodically checked. If speeding they then find you and send you a ticket.  A waring to lead-foot drivers traveling to France! BE CAREFUL.  Figuring out how to pay these French tickets is almost more painful and difficult than actually the fee itself.

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Blois itself is another royal residence of our friend, Catherine De Medici.  For a time, this was the center of French government. The staircases you can see, were copied by the the Vanderbilt estate, the Biltmore in North Carolina.

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The castle is full of history and peculiar paintings…. The one on the right is of a person with hypertrichosis who was under the protection of the royal house hold at one point.

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