Thursday, October 29, 2009

Keep Calm and Carry On

At the onset of World War II, with fears of German invasions on the horizon, a series of three morale boosting posters were printed by the offices of the Ministry of Information in 1939. The first "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory" (800,000 copies printed) and the second, "Freedom is in Peril" (400,000 printed) were issued and hung in prominent places across the country. Two and a half million of the Keep Calm and Carry On posters were printed, but were never distributed. They were held back to be released in a time of crisis or invasion. The bold typeface and the crown of King George VI were designated to draw attention to the message and to give reassurance. Fifty years later, a copy of the Keep Calm poster was found in a dusty box sold in auction and the public got their first view of the poster. Since the Crown copyright expires on artistic works after 50 years, the slogan is now in public domain and has been reproduced in many ways.

Today it seems to be a slogan for a new generation and can be found at every turn as you look around the country. Holly found this tea towel at Selfridges.

You could put your feet up a spell and meditate on calm thoughts.

You'll see it on books like these I saw at the V&A museum

and on coffee mugs, or would that be for tea? I think a cup of tea would have a more calming effect than a cup of coffee.

How about on your bag?

Of course, any good slogan has room for improvement as seen on this bag which spoke to me.

And on the flip side, you can also buy the mugs saying "Now Panic and Freak Out" with an inverted crown on the top. Which one would you prefer?

If you choose to see a big selection of Keep Calm and Carry On products, such as these note cards, you might shop at the Keep Calm Gallery.

Or how about these lunch bags at this Etsy shop?

Or my personal favorite Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake poster at Jenny's Bake Shop. I ask you, what could be any more calming than that?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bits and Pieces Along the Way

I'm sure you've gathered by now, that I had fun taking a lot of photos with my new camera on our trip to the Cotswolds in late September. Hope you've had a chance to look at the earlier posts with my best photos, but there were just a few fun ones left over that didn't make the cut in the original blogs on the Cotswolds. Like this view????

So did this group of painters painting by the riverside--what a peaceful day they were having. I would have liked to take her painting and frame it right away for my house in London. Is it nosy to look over a painter's shoulder? I sure wanted to stick around and watch.

This might be a little hard to see unless you click on the photo to enlarge it. It's named the Vine House, and unlike the beautiful and flaming red vines we saw all over the countryside, this one is still very green and if you look closely, you'll see small grapes growing towards harvest time. Wonder if they make a little wine from these? You could just pluck a snack as you went out your front door.

On one of our walks, we saw these stones. A mini Stonehenge, perhaps?

Hope you don't need any drugs if you have the swine flu, because you are definitely not welcome in the pharmacy if you do.

In the small town of Upper Slaughter, you could help yourself to some fresh vegetables or homemade jam on the side of the road--just leave a little donation in the jar. Can you imagine how nice that would be to be able to leave a money jar outside your house and feel assured that no one would take it?

Looks like a fox running across this thatched roof, but we were told that each roof-maker tops his completed roof with a certain emblem. It's his form of advertisement.

Loved the animals we saw along the way, like this mama and her ducks

and these love birds cooing overhead

and the cows grazing in the meadows.

If you needed a little "poo," that could be arranged for just 3 pounds a sack. Wonder how big the sack is???

And lest you forget, Please Dogs, Please All of Us, Don't Foul the Churchyard. Sound advice, and that's a good note to end on....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October Birthdays

Meanwhile back in Texas, it's birthday month! My older son Ryan, on the left, turned 30, so his wife gave him a "Good-bye to the 20's" party, and all the guests came in period costume. Here you'll see Ryan and his wife, Allison, along with Jason and his wife, Cristen.

I thought the girls were especially lovely,

but the guys were dashing too. Happy Birthday Ryan!

Today we celebrated Jordan's two year old birthday with her family and a few friends.

Her creative mommy came up with an idea for a "Two-two" party.

Ballerinas of every size came.

Our fountain was dressed for the party.

Real ballerinas came and gave pointers.

Even the boys were fascinated, or "gobsmacked" as they say in London.

Little Troy caught on quite quickly.

And the mommies and aunts were fast learners too.

Opening presents was the most fun of all

especially the furry kind who make great friends.

Too much fun and too-too much attention made for one very tired girl. Happy Birthday Jordan. We love you!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

White Cliffs of Dover

Last weekend, we took a couples tour organized by the American Women's Club to the port city of Dover. Dover is located along the SE coast of England, and is the departure point for the Channel Tunnel. Situated across from France at the narrowest point between England and France, it is only 21 miles across. Some, of course, have chosen this spot to launch their swim across the Channel, and even in October, there were a few swimmers in the water working out with that goal in mind. Because of its strategic location, Dover was an ideal place for a fortress and castle.

Visiting Dover Castle was one of the highlights of the trip. Built in the 1180's by Henry II,

it has been modified over the years to enhance its defense.

It withstood one of the greatest of medieval sieges in 1216.

Walking along the battlement walls, you could see France in the distance.

If these walls could talk, imagine what stories they could tell.

In the very center of the castle is the Great Tower which has recently been decorated to display what it might have looked like in the times of Henry II. He built this section to provide a palatial setting for any visitor who would come to visit him on their way to Canterbury. It is one of the best preserved royal buildings from the Middle Ages. Seen above is the Guest Hall, a multi-purpose room, which has been set up in preparation for a huge feast.

The king's kitchen was on the bottom floor.

A flutist was entertaining as we passed by.

The King's Hall was also a multi-purpose area, and is seen here as it might have been set up for a reception with the king's throne on a dais.

After the castle visit and lunch, the group headed down to the port, where we boarded a boat for a ride around the cliffs.

The afternoon sun shining on the chalk white cliffs of Dover was stunning.

In the very middle of the cliffs you can spot the entrance to the secret wartime tunnels. First built in the late 18th century during the Napoleonic Wars as underground barracks, they were adapted for strategic use in the Second World War. Taking a tour in the tunnels was fascinating as we walked through only a portion of the miles of tunnels that had first been converted to an air-raid shelter, and then later into a military command center and hospital.
Below is a video clip of the classic song "The White Cliffs of Dover," which was an inspirational song sung by Vera Lynn, affectionately known as The "Forces Sweetheart." During the Second World War, she hosted her own radio program and would send messages to soldiers serving abroad. Just recently, in her 82nd year, her biography was published entitled Some Sunny Day. Evidently, she was an inspiration to many of the solders, and this looks like a book I might add to my reading list. Listen and imagine how they might have been inspired during those dark days to peaceful times ahead.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Waddesdon Manor

About ten years ago, a very special place was described to me. At the time, I was taking a class at Christie's in Paris, and one of our instructors described in detail a home of exquisite beauty. Since I am such a francophile, his description of an exquisite estate with French furnishings in the countryside of England planted a seed, and ever since that time, I have dreamed of going there. Recently, I was granted that privilege. As we walked up the pathway to Waddesdon Manor, it was as if a French chateau had been plucked from the countryside of France and dropped onto the English hillside of Buckinghamshire.

Waddesdon Manor was built between 1874-89 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild as a place to entertain his friends and display his wealth of art treasures. It became his life project and a labor of love. The home is full of antique furniture, china, textiles, carpets, decorative accessories and fine art from some of the greatest painters of all times.

As you approach the front of the house, you first notice the Renaissance style so typical of chateaux in the Loire Valley of France

and as seen from the back framed by the gardens, you know you're in for a special treat as you enter through the front doors.

No pictures were allowed inside, so these photos are found in the book Waddesdon Manor, The Heritage of a Rothschild House. Above is the formal dining room, where as many as 42 could dine in high style while admiring the Beauvais tapestries on the walls.

There are 45 rooms on display, such as the Red Drawing Room where the gentleman might have "withdrawn" for conversation after dinner.

The Morning Room is known for its collection of famous Dutch paintings.

The Tower Drawing Room is seen here.

The home is filled with the best of the best French antiques.

Winston Churchill slept in this Louis XVI bed in the guest room known as the Portico Bedroom, one of 16 guest rooms. There would have been room for all of us to stay the night if we had come for a visit.

And after a good night's sleep, we could have strolled the gardens, one of the finest Victorian gardens in all of England,

enjoyed the beautiful statuary,

pondered the view,
listened to the music of the fountains,

and enjoyed the flowers which were planted seasonally, before bidding our host adieu.

Perched in the gardens is The Great Bird, a re-creation of a late Victorian application of carpet bedding,

as seen on his friend, also. The technique originated with the gardeners of the Rothschild estates.

No visit would be complete without passing by the aviary which is currently stocked with species that were in the Baron's collection at the time.

I waited 10 years to see Waddesdon Manor, but I know it won't be that long again. I'll be back--maybe you'd like to go with me this time?