After ten years of being a full-on B&B queen, this year it was time for a little break . . . which would hopefully stretch into a long break and semi-retirement. I 'wintered-over' in Wales, a place you normally wouldn't think of purposefully spending the winter. It's not exactly Florida. It's probably as far removed from Florida as you can get, but it's a perfect place to rest after ten years of full-on hospitality-making.
of Doing Nothing,
of just going along,
listening to all the things you
can't hear, and not bothering.
Pooh's Little Instruction Book,
-inspired by A. A. Milne
Winter stretched into spring and summer, and I did make a few appearances in Oxford, but mostly I puttered at our cottage in the Welsh borders. Created a garden, walked, read and read and read, and napped.
Real Silence begins when a
reasonable being withdraws
from the noise in order to
find peace and order in his
~ Peter Minard
Then my eight month sabbatical was over and it was time to get back to Oxford, and No. 14 Holywell Street (although mostly back to Stuart and Jack.) We had hoped I could semi-retire from the B&B but that wasn't to be. Our long-time housekeeper proved unreliable (and more unfortunately, larcenous), so my apron was back on almost before my bags were unpacked, and I'm back to the life of a B&B queen (although most days I feel more like Cinderella.)
back in our kitchen, my
apron on, making poached
eggs and porridge.
list is repainting the kitchen
You did know this gourd-ish
squash has its own season, right?
Winter, Spring, Summer,
anticipate it every year.
~Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer,
|The JRR Tolkien memorial bench|
in the University Parks, Oxford
There is some good in this world,
and it's worth fighting for.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien,
The Two Towers
I've lived many places in my
life and no place has given me
more daily delight than Oxford,
especially with scenes like this.
Two priests walking together in
chanting in Latin. There are just
no words to describe the delight
of this. Jack on the other hand is
far more delighted by the scent of
a squirrel, as any self-respecting
dog would be.
|Michaelmas daisies grow along the|
River Cherwell in the University Parks.
They're an autumn blooming aster,
coming into full bloom about the time
of the feast of Michaelmas,
and is sweetness incarnate.
Jack & Tex could get used to one
another and become friends and
mates first. Which they have.
Jack loves to be the
chaser and luckily Tex wants to
be chased. Round and round in
circles they go.
They both have new, cosy beds for chilly
winter mornings. They quietly keep watch
as we prepare breakfast, waiting,
ever waiting for that errant piece
of bacon to fall.
Both boys are perfect gentlemen on
our pub stops on our way home to Wales.
This is at The Plough in Ford,
in the Cotswolds. Great food and a
perfect atmosphere. By the time
we reach it, we feel miles and miles
away from Oxford.
Sitting in the window seat
at The Plough, with the dogs
under the table, sharing a meal
with Stuart. My idea of heaven.
The most affectionate creature
in the world is a wet dog.
~ Ambrose Bierce
The Hunter's Moon was here this week,
the colours are deepening, the squirrels
are even busier hiding chestnuts and
acorns, and October is (very sadly!!)
drawing to a close. Below, Jack on
the scent of a squirrel, although a year
ago he very nearly caught one to the
shock of both dog and squirrel.
Since then all his posturing and hunting
is just for show and to save face.
The light in October makes everything
look lit from within, even doggies.
Below--I've tried to caption this photo
but there are too many choices . . .
Which way to Narnia?
You went first last time!
I'll hide you seek.
Good friends can communicate
just through their eyes (and tails.)
AND they're off!!!
There's no more beautiful time in
Oxford than October. The sunlight
makes the stone of the buildings
even more impossibly golden.
Below, walking home down
Ship Street, with Jesus College to
the right and the spire of Exeter
College chapel in the background.
The clocks change tonight and we'll
be back to standard Greenwich
Mean Time, which means on Sunday
it will be dark by 5:30pm.
I love when the nights start drawing in,
when I can legally be in pjs by about 7pm,
and reading is my favourite evening
activity--especially after the final of the
Great British Bake Off airs next week.
A few of the things I'm reading right now . . .
I found the little gem below at a street
market in Ludlow, Shropshire for
a pound. As someone remarked on
Twitter, it's one of those times you
can absolutely judge a book by
since June 1st called
'JRR Tolkien, Maker of Middle Earth'.
And this week, just days before it ends,
Stuart and I finally were finally able to see it.
We're so busy helping other people enjoy
Oxford we often miss things ourselves.
This time though, we were determined not
to miss this glimpse into Middle Earth
and Tolkien's world.
We were struck by two things, and the
first was Tolkien's own artwork. He was
trained in drawing and painting from a very
early age and his artwork for his stories
tells almost as much as his written word.
The second was how he managed to make
up alphabets, entire languages, write tomes,
with accompanying artwork, all while still
being a family-man with four children,
a full-time scholar and fellow, and even
an air-raid warden during the war. But
there was entire world inside him and the
story of it would be told, no matter what.
'The Forest of Lothlorien in Spring'
was my favourite painting up close.
His forms are so striking and bold,
but his colours take on an
otherworldly glow when you see
them in person.
Tolkien wanted the sun, the surrounding sky
and part of Smaug to be red but the editor
made a note on the left side to
"ignore red". And he was right.
The deep blues and greens are
etched in anyone's mind who's read
'The Hobbit'. It's the first gate we pass
through leading into another world.
It was followed by piercing grief and loss of a loved one and the betrayal of someone we wholly trusted. But then the journey shifted again. We regrouped, recommitted and now we're happily straddling both Oxford and Wales, plus we have the newest love of our life, Tex.
to do with the time that is given us.
~ JRR Tolkien