November 5th, 2018 / posted by paularath

One of the nicest things about living in Lower Heyford, Oxfordshire, is that you can walk to Rousham Gardens in less than half an hour.

Jerry and I love these gardens, and visited them several times. Unlike many of England’s more famous gardens, these are not at all commercial and remain totally unspoiled. There’s no tacky tea room and no gift shop! And we had Rousham all to ourselves.

The view of Rousham House from the bridge on the road to Lower Heyford

Rousham House was built in 1635 by Sir Robert Donner, and it’s still owned by the same family. The architecture is Jacobean.

The gardens are often a pilgrimage for landscape architecture students because they were created by William Kent (1685-1748), who is considered the father of English landscape design. Fortunately, the gardens remain almost exactly as he left them.

The formal gardens lead to the pigeon coop.

Rousham House is seldom open because it’s still occupied by the family, but the gardens are open every day. It costs just six shillings to go in and it’s on the honor system. There’s a big bushel of apples inviting you to take some home.

A view from the side of Rousham House

Sustainability is clearly important at Rousham and the gardens include many apple trees, as well as vegetables and herbs galore. There is an entire greenhouse just for the tomato crop.

An abundance of pears grow up the side of the pigeon coop.

There are interesting ponds, porticos, groves, streams and cascades scattered around the property, as well as classic Greek style statues of gods and goddesses. A herd of Long Horn cattle graze in the park.

But it was the flowers that captivated me the most, especially the dahlias.

 

Dahlias were in full bloom

 

The rose garden

 

I love these beautiful little passageways to secret gardens.

 

Wow! What a color!

Now that’s a hot pink!

Dahlias come in such delectable colors!

I love kids. I really do. ( I even have one of my own.) But it’s nice to know that Rousham Gardens does not allow kids under the age of 15. It’s a place for quiet contemplation and perhaps a picnic lunch. Silent and serene.

Paula Rath

October 25th, 2018 / posted by paularath

Elizabeth Kent’s pretty and festive silk shibori gift bags

This weekend, and the first weekend in November, bring us an art show that offers an ideal excuse to spend a day in the country. Five artists and artisans come together to show their latest creations just in time for the start of the gift-giving season.

Tagami & Powell Gallery & Gardens

October 27 & 28 (Saturday & Sunday) and November 3 & 4 (Saturday & Sunday)

10 A.M. – 4 P.M.

47-754 Lamaula Road, Kaneohe (actually Kahalu’u)

The show will feature paintings and giclees by Hiroshi Tagami, ceramics by Kenny Kicklighter, jewelry by Babs Miyano and clothing by Elizabeth Kent. Painter Michael Powell says this will be his last Kahalu’u art show.

“Meet Me at the Meat Market” by Elizabeth Kent

Kent, designer and maker of Vested Interest, will  introduce her charming little silk gift bags. They’re perfect for a jar of chutney, some decorative soaps or a little bauble of any kind. She has also fashioned dyed lingerie, patched together to create the jacket above, which she calls “Meet Me at the Meat Market.” It’s a political statement protesting one of Kent’s causes: human trafficking.

The back of a patchwork jacket.

 Babs Miyano has also been working on some new products, including appliqued aprons and tote bags. Her newest line of jewelry includes earrings fashioned with druzy crystals, as well as her popular eyeglass holders (made with a little help from her mom). Don’t miss her lauhala bags embellished with amethyst crystals and bodhi leaf skeletons.

Appliqued aprons by Babs Miyano

Why not pack a picnic brunch and stop at a beach park on the way out to Kahalu’u? We all need little reminders that we are lucky we live Hawaii.

Paula Rath

October 23rd, 2018 / posted by paularath

Coopers Cottage, our home for two weeks

Following our rather intense two-week watercolor workshop with Australian artist John Lovett, we wanted to have some time to absorb what we learned and paint on our own before touring more of England. It’s way too easy to lose your rhythm as an artist, and once you let go, it’s often hard to get back.

The back of Coopers Cottage. The open door on the left leads right into our “studio.”

I did some homework early this year and asked several friends from England if they would recommend a small, quiet, quintessential English village for us to live and paint for a spell. Two sources came up with the same village: Lower Heyford, in Oxfordshire. One of those friends was Chris Oliver, a dear friend and colleague, the former travel editor at The Honolulu Advertiser, who lives half the time in Kailua and the other half in Cambridge, England. Chris has a friend who lives in Lower Heyford and she and her husband, Gareth, have visited there often. The other source was Brett Thiebaut, who attended Oxford and fondly remembers Lower Heyford.

Jerry enjoyed painting on the patio at the back of the cottage.

I went online and found just one cottage for rent in Lower Heyford: Coopers Cottage, available through ShortLetSpace, a company based in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. I booked it immediately.

We were happy that the TV didn’t work, as we had plenty of time to read novels.

The cottage is 400 years old, at least the central thatched part is. On either side are additions. Where ladders once were, there are now stairs going up to the bedrooms. The kitchen and bathroom are new and very efficient, except we didn’t have hot water the first week. But we had a tea kettle and I just boiled water for a bath.

Lov ely claw foot tub with a garden view

The wood fireplace in the living room is lovely, although it was seldom cold enough to warrant a fire. Our good weather continued after the watercolor workshop.

The back garden of the cottage

Lower Heyford is very quiet and rural. Traffic is sparse and non-existent after about 6 p.m. There are lots of lovely walks to take, around the neighborhood and up and down the canal on the Cherwell River.

A typical morning walk along the canal going toward the train station

Lower Heyford is known as a hub for long boats, the barge-like boats that people can rent to travel on the canals, through locks and under bridges.

On weekends the long boat business really picks up.

We were delighted and surprised that there are many thatched roof homes in Lower Heyford. One such home was being thatched while we were there and we had an interesting discussion with the thatcher.

A professional thatcher at work

The average roof needs to be thatched about every 25 to 30 years. The decorative portion, which also keeps the thatch pinned down, is refurbished about every 15 – 20 years. Luckily, there is a new generation that is learning the trade, so thatching will continue to be viable.

Isn’t the design of the thatch beautiful? The job took about five weeks for two or three men.                                                           Photo by Jerry Mayfield

Here are just a few of our neighbors’ thatched roof homes.

 

Photo by Jerry Mayfield

 

I love these windows.

 

Can you see the little red box? That’s the community’s mail box, inside this private home.                                                                            Photo by Jerry Mayfield

 

A five-minute walk away was the local pub, The Bell Inn, with good draft beer and yummy steak and kidney pie. Kizzie’s, where they served a delicious breakfast and lunch with great coffee, was a godsend.

Our local pub in Lower Heyford

Lower Heyford offered us the perfect respite for a quiet, serene and creative time well spent. Perhaps next year we’ll rent a cottage near Cambridge or in Chipping Campden….

Paula Rath

October 16th, 2018 / posted by paularath

Stonehenge, almost sunset                                            Photos by Jerry Mayfield

Stonehenge is, without a doubt, the most famous set of rocks in England.

However, there are many other henges and rock circles scattered around the landscape, mainly in the Wiltshire District of Southwest England.

We hired Anne Martis of ToursByLocals to take us to Wiltshire and show us several significant henges. Anne, who lives in the Cotswolds, is highly knowledgeable about this part of the country. She planned our day perfectly, so that we would catch the last shuttle from the museum to Stonehenge and have this incredible place almost to ourselves at sunset.

An Avebury stone circle

We visited Avebury first. This is a Neolithic henge monument containing three stone circles, including the largest megalithic stone circle in the world.  It was constructed over several hundred years, from 3700 – 3500 BC. It is a place of religious importance to contemporary pagans, and we saw a small group sitting in a circle near the male and female rocks, clearly absorbed in their thoughts.

These rocks at Avebury are called the male and female rocks.

 

My watercolor interpretation of the Male and Female Avebury rocks leaning in toward one another.

 

Entryway to the West Kennet Long Barrow

We then walked up Silbury Hill to the West Kennet Long Barrow, a Neolithic chambered tomb (also called a barrow). You can walk right inside the passage to experience the atmospheric internal burial chambers, where some 50 skeletons were discovered. It is estimated that 15,700 man hours were spent in its construction.

Rocks leading to the entry to West Kennet Long Barrow

Archaeologists date the construction to around 3600 BC, around 400 years before the first stage of Stonehenge, and it was used until around 2500 BC. It was such a moving experience to walk through that sacred burial place!

A Wiltshire white chalk horse carving

Only about a mile away is one of seven white chalk horse figures carved into the English landscape around 3,000 years ago.

Ahhhh…Stonehenge!

When I lived in London in 1967-68, my roommate was sort of Twiggy-looking model named Caroline. She was a bit of a wild child, and on New Year’s Eve she and some of her friends piled into her tiny red Triumph and drove from our flat in Earl’s Court to Stonehenge. I heard tales of their dancing and drinking among the rocks until sunrise. I suspect it was orgies such as this one that now prevent the rest of us from getting close to the rocks. There are ropes that prevent visitors from getting closer than about ten feet away.

A different side of Stonehenge

It’s okay, though! This place, sacred to so many, still holds a spell, especially as the sun starts to sink in the sky.

Mahalo to Anne Martis for insisting we have a photo taken at Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is Britain’s most celebrated prehistoric monument, thought to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old. No one knows why it was built, but some believe it was constructed as an astronomical observatory or a sanctuary for a sun worshiping cult, or perhaps a combination of the two.

Regardless of its original purpose, Stonehenge holds tremendous power over anyone who stops to appreciate its awe-inspiring beauty.

Paula Rath

 

October 13th, 2018 / posted by paularath

Please come to our Autumn Pop-Up Artist Sale next weekend!

We have all been creating like mad so you can expect lots of fresh new art and craft.

I recently visited Lynda Sakraida‘s studio and she has been creating some of her most beautiful bags EVER.

Here are images of just a few of the cards I have been making for the sale. They are all mixed media fiber art, sewn onto watercolor cards.

Every card is unique and one-of-a-kind, which is also true of Lynda’s bags, Jo’s ceramics and Cora’s jewelry.

So be sure to come early for best selection.

And, as an added bonus, Interior Accents is offering 30% off on all furnishings and accessories.

Paula Rath