Friday, 20 May 2011

What Beatrix saw...

For the past few days, we've been having a break in the wonderful Lake District, in Cumbria. You may remember that we visited there last year too...my first introduction to what is some of the most incredibly breathtaking countryside I've ever seen...

We rented a little dog-friendly cottage in Windermere village again...the perfect base for exploring the Southern lakes region. The weather wasn't as wonderful as last year - the North West is rainy country, which is part of what keeps it so green and lush - and we weren't there for as long. But we made the most of it and the sunny days we DID have. I'll show you more in my next post...but for this first one, I wanted to share the blissful experience of Hill Top - which was Beatrix Potter's home before she married, and which she kept to receive guests and write her timeless books in later years...

I didn't take pictures in the house itself - this is forbidden, and I wanted to respect that. Besides...you may want to visit yourself one day! All I can say about the interior is that if you love Beatrix, it will be just as you imagine. A jewelled, burnished treasure of a place...with secrets and special corners everywhere. There is no electricity (this was her choice) and how I would love to see it at night...glowing with candlelight and magic. Everything in the house belonged to her...except some of the curtains & rugs, which have been perfectly replaced. She had a true artist's eye for things of beauty...antiques, wondeful paintings (many by her younger brother, Bertram, who seems to have been almost talented as she was) Charm and love flow through the heavy old doors and envelop you as you rest on the wide, ancient window seats and peer through the 17th century glass at the hills and gardens below. Because the entry tickets are timed, the little cottage is never too full...and yesterday I found myself alone in her bedroom for long moments. Carved four poster bed, muted ancient patchwork quilt, original William Morris wallpaper and bed hangings wonderfully embroidered by the lady herself. I sat, and breathed, and tried to remember everything before I was disturbed and the spell was broken...

The garden mirrors the house in it's charm & carefully considered beauty. As you walk up the long slate path from the road towards the house, the first thing you notice is the birdsong, the fragrance of flowers...and then the vivid colours and the gentle flock of Herdwick sheep in the little meadow that runs alongside the garden. Nearing the cottage, mellow woodsmoke from the log fire that burns all day in the range in the hallway is there too...but enough, enough. Let me show you...
the view across the valley (from the front gate)...

at the gate, towards the house...



first sight of the sheep...

a better view...

Nearly at the house now...

the kitchen garden...

was this the inspiration for Mr McGregor's garden, I wondered...
and then, at last...

there it is!

I found a wonderful 18thC jug on the mantelpiece of her bedroom fireplace. Primrose yellow and full bellied...it had handpainted flowers and, in the centre, a little poem inscribed. So beautiful, so Beatrix & so Hill Top...I felt tears fill my eyes - and I had to share it, so found the little notebook & pen I always carry and wrote it down. I will leave it with you until next time...have a wonderful evening xoxo

Let the wealthy and great
Roll in splendor and state,
I envy them not I declare it:
I eat my own lamb, my own chickens and ham
I shear my own fleece and I wear it.
I have lawns, I have bowers
I have fruits, I have flowers
The lark is my morning alarmer.
So you jolly boys now
Here's God bless the plough
Long life and success to the farmer!

16 comments:

  1. What a lovely trip! I hope to visit this lovely place someday... and England in general! ♥

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  2. Oh Rachel what a wonderfully blog write up!! Of course I want to go there & thanks to you I have visited it now...smile..

    Blessings...
    xoxo Gert

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  3. Rachel,
    It's so wonderful you were to visit Beatrix Potters home! I hope to go to England one day... hope hope hope :)

    Thanks so much :)
    Love,
    Denise of Ingleside

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  4. What a lucky gal you are!! The mystery is revealed as to where you headed off to...how lovely, cool, green and peaceful. Her work is so charming...just like her home apparantly! I look forward to hearing more about the trip, Rachel, and I am so glad you had a nice vacation! Love and hugs, Sherry xx

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  5. Ohhh thank you so much. You've given me a vacation today. So beautiful to see all that. Your reports always make me want to go to England. Love the little limerick, so charming. Did you see the movie about BP starring Renee Zellweiger, sort of an odd movie but it was fun to see about her life.

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  6. What a lovely time away you have had, Rachel! My dream is to visit England someday. Perhaps then I will be able to view some of the lovely countryside you have captured so well in your pictures.

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  7. How wonderful to see it in spring!
    Those delphinium, just the sheer lushness of everything. Not just an incredible artist, but an amazing and generous person, to leave all that beauty to the National Trust for everyone to enjoy. Thank you for the tour, i loved every second.
    xx
    julie

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  8. It was lovely
    This post so grand
    The words you use
    Show great command....
    I loved the story
    It took me far
    Across the Pond
    To where you Are.

    Beatrix Potter's home and flowers
    a bit of sun and English showers
    And for a moment, in her home
    You felt the magic all alone

    You entice us with your baking treats
    You delight us with your thoughtful tweets
    But now this poetry must end
    But for always Rachel, you are my friend...

    I loved the post....as I love Beatrix Potter!
    and you!!
    xoxo Joann


    \

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  9. Dear Rachel,
    Thanks so much, I feel as if I've been there too! It is truly beautiful and couldn't be more British!
    xxxxxxxxxx

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  10. I adore Beatrix Potter! I have several books that she wrote and to this day I still enjoy flipping through them. There's also a sweet movie called "Miss Potter" which came out a few years ago, you should watch it if possible.

    Thank you for this enchanting tour of one of the England's and the world's treasures!

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  11. what a really lovely post. I'm glad you had such a good time.

    wish that rain would head our way!

    xx

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  12. hello my sweet friend...so happy to see you this morning at farmhouse kitchen...and thanks for the kind words about my sweet ones...so cute...and YES!!!! all that was missing is Alice...i just love it when they line up like that waiting for daddy to come home...

    i read every word of this wonderful post to john...we both loved it so much...what a joy ...we both adore beatrix potter as well...her gardens and her lifestyle...i loved reading about her lighting her home with candles...

    i am home today working in my garden with Teddy and baking a pineapple upside down cake...wish you and alice were here with us, my friend

    sending love,
    kary, teddy and all the kittys at farmhouse kitchen
    xxx

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  13. Thanks for a wonderful post. Your words, so descriptive, made me feel as though I was there with you. Oh to be in England! I hope I will return for a second visit one day. My first was in 1963/64, so I think it's time I revisited:)

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  14. We saw her museum in Windemere. I understand why she got inspired in the Lake District. It is such a beautiful place. I never read her books (shame on me), but I thought it was quite interesting that the was interested about fungi.

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  15. Dearest Rachel,
    How romantic to go away for a few days to the beautiful, tranquil, Lake District! Yes, I clearly remember when you went there last year...think it was later on in the summer. I still have my treasured Jemima Puddleduck magnet hanging on my kitchen board. It always reminds me of Beatrix Potter and YOU! Hilltop looks stunning and you describe it so beautifully! One day, I would love to visit with my family, and see all these gorgeous pictures in person. Beatrix Potter is such an inspiration, just as you are! I am looking forward to seeing more pictures and learning more about the Southern Lakes region! Happy, happy Monday sweetie. xoxo

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  16. What a wonderful place to visit. I shall put it on my bucket list which is growing quite long. Think I am seriously in love with England and especially Cotswold and Lake District You took some wonderful pictures and I enjoyed the tour so much.
    Hope your day has been grand. Love you! xoxo

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