A Day in the Charleston House Gardens i

I recently spent an idyllic English summer day at Charleston House in the rolling countryside of East Sussex, England doing some research for some workshops I’m giving there in October. The 17th century farmhouse was the home of the artist Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf’s elder sister) and her lover the artist Duncan Grant, as well as a fluid group of husbands,friends, lovers and children for first part of the 20th century. It was the country home of many of the Bloomsbury Group members, and in honour of its literary heritage it holds a major international literary festival there every spring.

But the thing that interests me the most about Charleston House are the delightful interiors where were designed and decorated over the years by Vanessa and Duncan in what has become know as the “Charleston Style”.  It’s all still there, repaired, conserved and looking as if Vanessa or Duncan might walk into the Garden Room with a cup of tea and a good book at any moment.

Duncan Grant's Studio (18)

But it was a lovely summer day, and after an afternoon exploring the house’s rooms and picture library, I headed out into the English garden to enjoy the warm sun, the chirps of the birds, and the scent of late summer flowers carried on the air by the warm breeze.

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Charleston House, Firle, East Sussex BN8 6LL


Poking about in Cowtown

The last stop on our trip to Alberta was Calgary — a modern city spreading out over the prairie before you hit the foothills of the Rockies. Locals call it Cowtown — a name which Jamjarjude has told me the powers that be in City Hall are trying to dampen down in a rebranding exercise. But Cowtown sticks, so Cowtown it is. Imagine it a bit like the Dallas of the North — all cowboys and oil men and women with big hair. That’s not far off.

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Snapshots of Alberta Part 1

Alberta is such a photogenic place that I took to carrying my trusting Nikon (including an extra zoom lens) with me wherever Jamjarjude and I went. Here’s a taster of some pictures of our recent trip from Mile 0 of the Alaska HIghway at Dawson Creek, BC down through the Rocky Moutains to the Badlands of Drumheller and Cowtown Calgary.

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Am I tempting you?

Canadian Critters

I was in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains of Alberta in August and I can’t eulogise enough about the beauty, the wide-ranging space, the forests, the turquoise — yes! turquoise — lakes and, oh, all the animals JamjarJude and I saw in the wild during our travels. Here’s a taster of what we saw in just one week.

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That’ll be a grizzly, mountain goats, deer, Canada geese, ducks, birds of many feathers, a red squirrel, a curious prairie dog, beavers, and a coyote slinking through a field outside of Jasper. All in their natural habitats.  Also saw a black bear but missed a photo of it. And lots of evidence of wolves and cougars…



Get back to nature. Visit the Rocky Mountains of Alberta.


I’m Back / Ralphie Haiku

I know I’ve gone missing for a few months. Sometimes that happens. But now I’m back.

Much has happened since my last post in May. But before I pick up with new blogs, I pay tribute to Ralphie, my loyal canine companion of my year in Nanaimo who passed away to doggie heaven in June. So I’m now a girl without a dog and good shoes. Ralphie, you will be missed.

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May your path weave through

forests green-scented — a loyal

friend at your heel.

Morris Dancers

I was walking down the sidewalk in Brighton when I heard the jingle of bells. Yes, like jingle bells. But it’s May in England, so it wasn’t Santa. No, no, no. As I walked along the sound grew louder. I turned a corner and there they were — Morris dancers. In full regalia, congregated in front of a old Sussex pub, drinking beer, tuning their fiddles, and jingling.




They were from Guernsey, and they knew their stuff. Beers down, they picked up their fiddles, accordions, guitars, drums and tambourines, and, jingle bells tied to their knees, they twirled and line-danced, flicked white hankerchiefs and bashed sticks in a centuries’ old English folk dance ritual hailing spring.




The crowd grew, drawn by the music, and the shouts and growls of the forest monsters.





Just a typical spring day in Merrie Olde Englande.