Friday, July 31, 2015

July Tea and a Book

Tea and a Book is back!

(I have to admit, however, that this installment is a bit of a cheat. You'll see what I mean later.)

My favorite read of the summer (so far) is Kimberly Brusker Bradley's The War that Saved My Life.

The story features many of my favorite things: WWII England, child evacuees, cozy villages, horses, and more. The very accessible first-person narration is quite gripping, and the horrors of abuse and war are offset by the protagonist's horsey adventures (yay!) and blossoming friendships with people in her new community. I absolutely devoured this book! I'm sure I'll read it many more times.

Here's the official blurb:

Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother

Earlier this week Steve and I enjoyed a day trip to London to visit the Imperial War Museum. My favorite bit was the permanent exhibit entitled The Family in Wartime, partly because it brought back memories of The War that Saved My Life. (click photos to enlarge)

Evacuation propaganda posters.

I took this (terrible) shot while Steve and I were sitting in an Anderson bomb shelter -- Ada, Jamie, and Susan spend some tense moments in one of these!

After our all too brief visit, we made our way to Piccadilly for tea at Fortnum & Mason. And now you see the "cheat" part of this post -- I did not make my own tea, and I do not have any recipes to share. There's no reference to F&M in The War that Saved My Life, but I'd like to believe it would have been one of Susan Smith's favorite places to shop before the war, perhaps with her dear Becky.

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon had a nice "relaxed posh" feel to it. The young man who brought our tea tray recommended that we put a drop of strawberry jam and lemon curd on our scones and mix it all together. This sounded blasphemous to me, but we figured it was only polite to try. Absolutely scrumptious. So there's a tip for you, gentle reader!

[Cross-posted to Livejournal]

Monday, July 27, 2015

England 2015 postcards -- The Lake District

Catching up on postcards today with some shots from our July 16-19 trip!

Before I talk about the photos, I should mention that we first went to the Lake District many years ago -- to Bowness, in fact, near Windermere -- and it was one of the HOTTEST weekends I've ever experienced in England. This was in the days before smart phones with weather apps, so I packed for cool weather. Argh! It was so sunny that at one point my arms broke out in a heat rash and I felt quite ill. The nights, as you might imagine, were miserably sticky and hot.

THIS visit, to the northern part of the district, was much more to my liking. The skies were gloomy (but nicely dramatic in photographs) and the air was damp and cool. Rain was forecast for the entire weekend, but aside from a few minor sprinkles we only saw it the mornings before breakfast. For me it was perfect hiking weather, and we ended up covering a lot of territory!

Now for the photos -- above you see a shot of Keswick from Hope Park. Steve and I were both so impressed with the town. Certainly there were lots of tourists around, but the place did not feel the least bit overcrowded. Keswick is bigger than I would have predicted -- you'll find just about everything you could ever need -- and yet it manages to stay quaint and charming.

On Friday we decided to walk the perimeter of Derwentwater, which we'd been told was around 13 miles. No problem! It took a good portion of the day, especially because we stopped often and took afternoon tea at a hotel on the opposite side of the lake. I love this shot of the northeast side of the lake with gloomy sky above and Meadowsweet below.

Saturday morning we hiked to the top of Latrigg Fell, which offers gorgeous views of Keswick and the lake.

Then later that day we walked up to the top of Castlehead Wood and took a selfie, ha!

I have many more photos at my Lake District Flickr Album -- I hope you'll take a look!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

England 2015 postcards: Oxford Botanic Garden

Steve and I have always loved the Oxford Botanic Garden, and I've subjected you to many photos of it over the years. Can you bear with me once again? And perhaps help me with flower names? Above you see beautiful pinky purple flowers (I never pay attention to labels, argh) with Magdalen tower in the distance.

This is my favorite doorway in the garden wall -- I tend to take a photo of it every year.

A gorgeous burst of red by a window -- wouldn't it be lovely to have an office with such a view?

I love this riot of color! There are poppies in there, but what else? And what are the blue flowers?

Methinks I need to find a guide to English flora . . .

[Cross-posted to Livejournal]

Thursday, July 9, 2015

England postcards 2015 -- Cornwall

We are back in Oxford for another summer law program at Brasenose College, and I intend to carry on last year's tradition of "postcards." This edition focuses on Cornwall, where Steve and I recently spent time with friends. Above you see a photo of the beach somewhere between Rock and Polzeath, which was taken early in our walk along the SW Coastal path toward Port Isaac. (We didn't quite make it to Port Isaac that day, but we did cover 14 miles!)

Here we are -- Dom, me, Bede, and Steve (Ben is taking the photo) -- in Boscastle, a pretty little town on an estuary.

A high point of the trip was our visit to Tintagel. How glorious was the sun!

[The above photos were enhanced with the "HDR" filter from Snapseed.]

See more photos and details in my Cornwall Flickr album. And stay tuned for more!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]