One sees great things from the valley,

only small things from the peak.

~G.K. Chesterton


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie


Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.
~Rumi


I hope you will go out and let stories,

that is life, happen to you, and that

you will work with these stories . . .

water them with your blood &

tears & your laughter till they bloom,

till you yourself burst into bloom.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Saturday, 21 April 2018

National Tea Day

Each cup of tea represents
an imaginary voyage.
~ Catherine Douzel


Today is National Tea Day and 
The Store House Tea Room is
more than ready. We have our
official tea masters on hand &
guarantee a perfectly brewed
cup of tea, made with our special
blend of water & perhaps a small
amount of dirt. But it's Welsh dirt,
the soil of poets & bards.

The tea masters have worked
tirelessly to perfect their brew
and each cup is a surprise to
the senses.


Special care is the hallmark of
The Store House Tea Room.


Friendship is for sharing, and what better
to share with a loved one than a cup of
 tea, freshly brewed by a master craftsperson.

When you have nobody you
can make a cup of tea for,
when nobody needs you,
that's when I think life is over. 
~Audrey Hepburn


Come along inside... 
We'll see if tea & buns
can make the world
 a better place. 
~ Kenneth Grahame,
The Wind in the Willows

Enjoy our lovely surroundings
. . . peace, tea, and quiet.



When it comes to clean-up,
don't worry about a thing.
Our staff will lovingly care
for our tea things until the
next time you visit.


It's all packed away neatly in
our signature picnic basket.


As you leave, you'll be gifted
with a hand-chosen pebble as
a special reminder of your
afternoon tea at 
The Store House Tea Room. 


Then why not walk off the sumptuous
tea with a walk in the surrounding
countryside, in the green & pleasant
land of Powys, Wales.


 We wish you a very happy
National Tea Day and hope
you'll visit us again soon!

Find yourself a cup of tea;
the teapot is behind you. 
Now tell me about 
hundreds of things. 
~ Saki


There is no trouble so great
or grave that cannot be much
diminished by a nice cup of tea.
~Bernard-Paul Heroux


There is a garden in every
childhood, an enchanted
place where colors are brighter,
the air softer, and the morning
more fragrant than ever again.
~ Elizabeth Lawrence



Thursday, 19 April 2018

It's All Good

When the green woods laugh
with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream
runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh
with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs
with the noise of it.
~ Lord Byron

I dreampt of this view all winter,
never having seen our garden in spring.
The back door wide open to the breeze,
the greening hills meeting up with a
cloudless sky, sun & shadows playing,
and green things growing.


I had to wait a day longer than Stuart in
Oxford for our warm weather & clear skies.
Before we were treated with a summer-like
day, we had a windy, chilly day; not quite
the flip-flop weather Oxford was enjoying. 

Magnolias in bloom in the
quad of New College, Oxford.
We waited out the wind yesterday and took
our walk just before sunset, when the air
was finally calm and soft.

Straight up the hill we go,
along the mossy track, the
roots of trees are our steps.
Take a course in good water & air;
and in the eternal youth of Nature
you may renew your own.
Go quietly, alone;
no harm will befall you.
~ John Muir


I like to go out walking in the evenings,
"quietly, alone"
especially now that the days are longer.
By 6 or 7pm, the earnest walkers have
retired to their B&B or a pub, and the
locals are home watching The One Show
or East Enders. Jack & I have the hills &
the woods to ourselves.


Between the twilight of the day & the river,
we're in a liminal space where it's easy to
imagine we share the woods with fairies
& hobbits. On the open hillsides,
only rabbits share our space.


After walking 5 miles and climbing the equivalent 
of 44 stories, Jack & I both fell into bed and were
sound asleep last night in minutes. The next
thing we knew, there was bright sunshine
streaming in all the windows. Jack
immediately started basking in it.


The first thing to do on a day like this,
and really the only thing for me to do,
is wander through our garden. 
Little corners of our garden already feel
like me, like us & like home. St. Francis
immigrated with me from the States
to Oxford, & by the looks of it now in
Wales, he feels right at home.
Some of the stone pots came from my
father-in-law's garden after he passed 
away a year ago, shortly after my mom
passed away. They're the perfect reminder
of him and his lovely garden.


Then we checked the green-o-meter to
see how the hillsides were coming along,
and sure enough, they were even
more green this morning.


I do not understand how anyone
can live without one small
place of enchantment to turn to.
~ Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
(Author of The Yearling & if you
haven't read Cross Creek, do!)


Connection with gardens,
even small ones,
even potted plants,
can become windows to
 the inner life. 
 The simple act of stopping
 and looking at the beauty
 around us can be prayer.
~ Patricia R. Barrett, 
The Sacred Garden


These are Cotswold stone troughs that
we've had in Oxford for years, so they've 
weathered & mellowed. Every time we
went out to Lower Slaughter in the
Cotswolds, we'd add another one to our
collection, along with our bird bath.
We buy them at the Old Mill shop,
next to the beautiful mill pond.


We still have a lot of digging and creating to
do in our garden, but having the daffodils
in bloom has made it already feel like
 it's ours. I planted the bulbs first thing
because one cannot have a garden in
Wales without daffodils, since it's
the national flower.


We also had the best kind of garden
visitors today, small feathered
and curly-haired friends.


Our little neighbour darling likes
to come visit after she's home
from nursery. Sometimes we
read, or have a tea party, but
today she chipped in and helped
me water with the bunny
watering can I keep for her.


I love these little people;
and it is not a slight thing
when they, who are so fresh
from God, love us.
~Charles Dickens,
The Old Curiosity Shop


Children have neither
          past nor future;
they enjoy the present,
which very few of us do.
~Jean de la Bruyere


I don't know what I would have done
today without her most able assistance.
Every gardener should have an 
under-gardener in training.


As wonderful as the joy of discovery in our
new garden is, sometimes I do miss
our Oxford garden, a little secret
haven in the centre of a bustling city.
But, I love our new garden just as much
and I still have a summerhouse sanctuary
just like I had in Oxford. The nice thing
about getting older? You learn it's all good.
Or, as Stuart says, 
it's all swings & roundabouts.

My Oxford summerhouse sanctuary in Oxford.
 After 3 years, we lost our beautiful hens to a
wily fox, so Lady Catherine de Bourgh &
Miss Havisham are laid to rest under the 
apple tree. We brought our coop with us to
Wales though, and are going to combine our 
chicken-rearing, egg-production with our
neighbours. RIP my beautiful girls.


Soon Jack & I will head back to Oxford for
awhile. I have a husband & two businesses
to look after before I come back and enjoy
the summer in our cottage. I'll miss it very 
much, but then I'm going back to scenes
like this every day. So, as it turns out,
it IS all good.


Back to Holywell Street, Oxford
after my winter & early spring
in Wales.


Just because everything is different
doesn't mean anything has changed.
~ Irene Peter


One of the best things about being
back in Oxford will be to watch as
the new cygnets hatch in the pond 
at the University Parks.

There's comfort to be had in
routine and familiar sights.

See you soon in Oxford!


The living moment is everything.
 ~D.H. Lawrence




Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Concentrating on Greener Thoughts

And so by degrees the
winter wore away . . .
and the chill, bitter, windy,
early spring came round.
~ Anthony Trollope

Jack says 'hello' & hello spring!
We've waited & waited, sometimes
not very patiently, but finally we've
turned a corner. The daffodils here
are in full bloom and the tulips are
following close behind.

I wasn't sure if they'd survive the bouts of
snow in February & March, but the daffodils
held on bravely and are in their full glory. In
Washington state I always measured spring by
 the trees in bloom, but in Britain and especially
in Wales, I measure by the daffodils. They
shout in yellow waves in gardens and along 
the roadsides, 'spring has come!'


Just down the hill from us in the town centre,
daffodils wave to cars passing by & shoppers
on foot.


And along with daffodils, comes sheep grazing
in the new, spring grass, and lamb after lamb
being born.


This little lamb isn't the only one who wants
to leap for joy in the sun and green grass.
After this winter, I think we all do.



All the leaping and gambolling takes a toll
though, and a quick nap in the warm grass
is just what a sleepy lamb needs.


The hills around us are turning even more
impossibly green. Jack and I climb up high 
in them nearly every day to get the best
views of the sky and the rolling hillsides.

Climb the mountains and get 
their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow
 into you as sunshine 
flows into trees. 
 The winds will blow 
their freshness into you, 
and the storms their energy,
 while cares will drop 
off like falling leaves.
~ John Muir


Jack has discovered that the hillsides are full
of rabbits. Big, healthy, brown rabbits, with
round, white cotton-tails. What he hasn't
discovered is that there are as many places
for the rabbits to hide as there are rabbits.
He spies one, goes bounding after it, and
it's deep under the bracken lickety-split.
It doesn't stop him from trying though and
I haven't the heart to break it to him that
he'll be outrun and outwitted every, single
time. Better to let him have his fun.


"I know it was here somewhere!"


An animal's eyes have the
power to speak a great language.
~ Martin Buber


Our morning routine is always the same.
Walk outside on the terrace, check
the hills and the weather . . .


. . . and take time to stop and smell the primroses.


Next we see what the crows are up to today . . .


. . . and then come on! Let's play.


The first day of spring is one thing,
and the first spring day is another.
The difference between them is
sometimes as great as a month. 
~Henry Van Dyke

And now it's the day we've all been waiting for,
the first spring day here in our corner of Powys.
The first day of spring was just about a month 
ago, so Mr Van Dyke was spot on. The windows
are wide open and sun is lighting up all the
dark corners of the cottage.



When I step out onto our terrace, the view of
the hills to the east is something I'll never tire
of. There are more white dots every day as
the flocks of sheep grow, and just when I
think the hills can't get any greener, they do.


We look down over chimney-tops to the
town centre. The verdigris dome was once
a Victorian bank and just behind it you can 
see the old castle mound, with the ditch 
running around it. In the Welsh borders
especially, also called The Marches, castle 
ruins run up and down the Welsh/English
border. There's a long history lesson there,
but the sun is shining, I have a new garden
to create, and especially, the hills are calling
to be walked.



I'm going to live with our garden for a bit, to
get to know the light, the soil, and the seasons,
get to know it from a plant's point of view.
We did bring our Cotswold stone birdbath from
Oxford though, and I've planted Hidcote lavender
around it again. The lawn is more weed than
grass, there are beds to create and roses to
plant. But all in good time. The joy of just
be-ing is something I'm finally able to savour.
I've retired from achievements, accomplishments
and endeavours.  Our garden will unfold almost
as a surprise, and I love surprises. I especially
love the surprise of waking up every day in this
most beautiful & intriguing part of Wales.
From South Dakota, to Seattle, to Oxford,
and finally to Wales. Now there's a surprise.


In the garden of my life I'm done with anger, 
done with strife. I cultivate my own few
joys far from this culture's buzzing noise.
 Colonnade and marketplace, fame's 
small change and money's race, 
academe's cold haughty tower -- 
have no meaning, hold no power. 

 Letting go of shoulds and oughts,
 I concentrate on greener thoughts 
and find as I fulfill my soul that things
 spin calmly in control, that though 
events conspire still, they tend 
to bend towards my will. 
No greater cause achieves the 
measure than that of my 
own reasoned pleasure.
~ Peter Saint-Andre, 
In the Garden