Category Archives: England

Design Inspiration: Henrie Haldane

On my last trip to England I managed to connect with the talented painter Henrie Haldane. We originally met through a women’s business network and I was instantly captivated by her work. Lovely Man and I commissioned this 20140731-081248-29568428.jpgfor our house in England, inspired by photographs I’ve taken of nearby lakes.

She now lives in Spain and the colours and light of her new home shine through in her latest works. 20140731-071513-26113813.jpgWe commissioned another painting, in a darker palette inspired by this20140731-071513-26113055.jpg and on my current trip I’ve finally been able to see it in place.  

 Isn’t it gorgeous?

Henrie can be contacted via her website



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Filed under Art, Decor, England, Happiness Project, House Updates, Photography

Friday I’m in Love: Pink Roses

I love almost every colour of rose, but I think pink roses are my favourite. And even though it goes against my California-native/drought-tolerant principals here in California, I couldn’t resist a few David Austin roses in my new planting schemes. This

Gertrude Jekyll rose with deer sageis one of my all-time favorites, Gertrude Jekyll, planted last year and finally hitting her stride. Doesn’t she look great against the grey of the deer sage?

And this

Charles Rennie MackIntosh budsis a new friend, Charles Rennie Mackitosh, planted in February and about to reward me for my faith. You can take the girl out of England… ūüôā


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Happiness Project: Bonfire Night

Until quite recently, Halloween was a not big thing in England. The major Autumn celebration is Bonfire Night, which commemorates the capture of Guido (Guy) Fawkes and the foiling of his plot to blow up Parliament. Of course, the bonfire and fireworks are the main event, but it wouldn’t be England if there weren’t some kind of associated food. Here are my favourites:

Bonfire toffee. I much preferred this to toffee apples, although it can be a tooth-breaker! This recipe comes from a book belonging to my my mother:


Parkin. A delicious Yorkshire version of gingerbread. More of this at a later date …
Jacket potatoes. Pretty universal these days, but I have clear memories of eating potatoes baked in foil, with butter and cheese (sharp cheddar of course) at the Boy Scout bonfire every year.

Happy days! What autumnal food brings back memories for you?

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Friday I’m in Love: Conkers

Growing up in the English countryside, conkers were a big part of Autumn. As soon as (and sometimes before) the spiky seeds cases began to fall, my schoolmates would be gathering up the biggest and trying out various curing methods. Days later, small knots of children would stand in the playground, cheering or groaning as prize specimens conquered (pun intended) or were defeated Рideally smashed to smithereens.

Today I still love conkers – more correctly, horse chestnuts – though as a decorative item rather than for any competitive games. They look beautiful piled together in bowls, at least until they dry out and the shine vanishes…

photo photoThank you to Mum for braving the English weather last week to collect and photograph these for me!


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Filed under England, Nature, Plants, Seasonal Pleasures

Seasonal Pleasures: Autumn


I recently came across this post from fellow WordPress blogger spanishwoods¬†and it inspired me to create my own list…

  • Golden sunrises
  • Misty mornings
  • Long shadows
  • Kicking leaves
  • Bonfires
  • Fireworks
  • Leaves turning colour
  • Gingerbread
  • Conkers

What makes you happy about Autumn?

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Friday I’m in Love: Autumn Leaves

Autumn is tiptoeing in. Shadows are lengthening and by now in England there would be fiery colors in the hedgerows and a hint of a nip in the air in the mornings… Here in SoCal we are facing another weekend of 90/30+ temperatures and I am beginning to feel nostalgic for real seasons.

So: here’s what I’m missing!



What is your favorite season?

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Filed under California, England, General, Happiness Project, Nature, Photography, Plants, Travel

Summery Summary

Happy Labor Day! While the distinction is irrelevant in SoCal (where September is often the hottest month of the year), for most Americans today symbolises the end of the summer. So it seemed appropriate to mark the day with a summary of the summer chez nous.

Work on the house has seen less progress than we’d like. We do finally have a fence at the back of the kitchen garden IMG_0708so that’s one promise kept, but the¬†original doors on what used to be the kitchen proved to have termite damage and it has taken FOREVER to get new ones. Hopefully, once they arrive it should be a fairly quick process to finish the floor and paint the walls.¬†That said, the spa area is almost complete…IMG_0712expect a longer post soon!

As distractions, there was a wonderful weekend in Charleston with my Lovely Man IMG_0697and visits to family in England and France. IMG_0713As to the rest, just kicked back and enjoyed the summer!


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