Monday, 23 January 2017

The Cotswolds blanketed in frost

The frosts have been heavy and widespread recently, but that didn't stop us getting out to new parts of The Cotswolds on the weekend. This time? Bibury to play the tourist at Arlington Row, then on to Burford to warm up in a cafe and poke about browsing the high street. 

Like most Cotswold stone villages, Bibury has its history entwined with the wool industry. The river Coln (and the stream from the Arlington mill) babbles past the most picturesque cottages, all higgledy piggledy and as quaint as they come! 

The cottages of Arlington Row (above and below) were built in 1380 as a wool store and then later converted to weavers cottages in the 17th Century. 

They looked like a magical fairytale land with the frost covering them. 

The swamp-like land adjacent to the cottages is called Rack Isle, it separates the cottages from the mill. It has now been turned over to wildlife preservation. It is seasonally flooded to provide natural habitat for water birds and meadow plants. The name 'Rack Isle' harks back to its industrial past as it was the land used for hanging the wool to dry. If you look hard enough, you might be able to spot some wooly sheep in that patch of lovely midwinter sunshine on the hill behind the cottages.

Although Bibury was frost encrusted, there are signs of spring beginning to emerge. I almost walked straight past these snowdrops pushing through the frozen earth at the doorstep of one of the cottages. I am glad they caught my eye though. I have been eagerly anticipating snowdrops blooming in England. They're a different cultivar to the snowdrops we have back home in Australia. These particular ones are slow to open and keep that perfect elongated 'drop' shape as they defy the frosts and freezing temperatures. They look slightly forlorn, but I find them really enchanting.

I wish I had some on my doorstep.

Kate  x

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

January citrus and antique markets

For my birthday I planned a trip to the ICAF antiques fair in Shepton Mallet. One of the things I was most excited about our move to the UK was all the antiques and vintage homewares that I'd be able to buy. So, I eagerly anticipated this particular birthday treat. I had visions of baskets, French dough bowls, milk glass vases, plant stands, kitchenalia and all manner of curiosities coming home with me. In other words I expected to be parted with cash, and be happy about it. After all, I'd heard good things about ICAF fairs HERE and HERE.

Although I did make a purchase- or should I say Alex made the purchase, being the one to haggle the price while I pretended not to know him and look busy on another stall... But, I didn't come away with a car load of beautiful-but-maybe-not-practical wares like I had imagined I would.

My sole purchase was some beautiful Edwardian era transfer ware.  I'm hopeless when it comes to resisting blue and white ceramics. And I have long admired the Asiatic Pheasants design first released in 1862 by Burleigh.

This is a lovely pie dish which I promptly filled with the season's best clemetines.

Accompanying the pie dish is this small platter plate, shown here with my grapefruit breakfast.

They weren't bargains per se (Alex did negotiate 7 pounds off the total) but they make me happy, and I am sure I couldn't have bought them back home in Australia at the same price.

I'll just have to keep looking for more treasures.

Kate  x

Friday, 13 January 2017

Paper whites

Yesterday was my 28th birthday!

Alex sent me a whole lot of paper white narcissi. 220 stems to be exact, although I didn't count them myself. All of my vases are still in storage, so I was desperately trying to find appropriate vessels to plonk them all in before dotting their heavenly scent in different corners of the house.

These are from one of the flower farms on the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall. I just love that they were hand cut on a farm off the British coast and couriered right to my door.
The Isles of Scilly are well known for their flower farms, at the peak of this industry in the early 20th century, approximately 40 tonnes of flowers were being shipped from the islands to markets in London weekly. The Isles are owned mostly by the Duchy of Cornwall which leases much of the freehold land to the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust. The rent payable? One daffodil per annum. Such a funny and sweet little bit of history.

We've woken up to snow here in Wiltshire today, so right now this is what my day is looking like...

Kate  x