Sunday 25 May 2014

Cute as a Button

on the left
Button Cottage, Alstonefield.

Joining Mary @ the little red house for Mosaic Monday once again.

It's been many moons since I had something as pretty as Button Cottage, Alstonefield (our home away from home during our recent stay in the Derbyshire Peak District) to share.
It's the building on the left with our Skoda Yeti parked outside.
The pretty home next door on the right is my idea of a chocolate box country cottage.

(photo from Button Cottage website)
 The cottage was comfortably furnished with antiques, vintage items and modern touches.

A pretty little corner at the front of the cottage would have been perfect for a petit dejeuner for two, if only the sun had come out long enough between the rain showers. C'est la vie.

quirky hessian shoppers decorate the porch
an eclectic mix of object's on the dresser
a vintage leather armchair complete with button throw pillow
I fell in love with the paint colour used on doors and windows & the table and chairs in front of house. The vintage dresser held an eclectic mix of French pottery plates, Emma Bridgewater mugs, dried flowers, thank you cards from previous clients, paintings and bric a brac.
Plenty of Ordnance Survey maps of the area for serious walkers, brochures from area attractions such as Chatsworth and Tissington and most importantly the latest menu from the George the gastro pub just steps away from Button cottage across the village green.

the village green, a popular place for walkers to rest outside the George.
our bedroom
(photo from Button Cottage website)

Despite the grandeur this antique French lit was very comfortable, the vine wallpaper, linen throw pillows and window blind decorated with embroidered bees made our bedroom a relaxing place to rest and read.
view from the kitchen window
I've seen this Emma Bridgewater "Black Toast" pottery somewhere before.
Oh, that's right, I have it here at home in Normandy, too!

Friday 23 May 2014

Chatsworth House is in the pink

This weekend Beverly @How Sweet the Sound is celebrating 6 years of Pink Saturdays!
Congratulations, Beverly.

Although it has been a long while since I joined in the pink party "ness" Beverly never-the-less invited me to her party and I have just the perfect thing for show and tell this week.

Magenta is the new pink.

Martin Craig-Martin, a former teacher at Goldsmith's College in London is currently exhibiting some of his sculptures in the grounds of Chatsworth House  one of these is a giant high heel shoe, it's pink of course!

Inside the house he has also covered some of the plinths, on which the marble and mosaic sculptures rest, in magenta, too. They are quite striking and our guide told us that they take some getting used to. He wasn't a fan of them, personally.

The Chatsworth lions were commissioned by the 6th Duke of Devonshire in 1823. The sleeping lion was made by Rinaldo Rinaldi; the crouching lion by Francesco Benaglia after the famous lions made by Antonia Canova for the Rezzonico Monument in St Peters, Rome.
The Chatsworth lions each weigh 3.5 tonnes!

If you're feeling in the pink yourself why not pop over to How Sweet the Sound 
to see who else is partying and wish Beverly a very Happy Birthday.
 I'm sure she'll be very happy to see you.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Chatsworth - some of the paintings

The highlight of our stay in Derbyshire earlier this month was a long awaited visit to Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
I'm not going to attempt to relate Chatsworth's history here on my blog as I'm sure you know there have been many books written about the house and it's occupants and this link to the wonderful Chatsworth website will tell you everything you could possibly want to know about what's happening there at the moment.
What I will share with you are photographs of some of the absolutely stunning works of art that we were able to see on our recent guided tour.

The tour began in the Painted Hall.

Perhaps the most famous (infamous) chatelaine of Chatsworth was Lady Georgiana Spencer who married the 5th Duke, William Cavendish in 1774.

Portrait of Georgiana Spencer
Duchess of Devonshire 
Maria Cosway 1759- 1838

 Georgiana was 25 years old 
when this portrait of her portrayed as the goddess Diana 
was painted in 1782

The Duchess of Devonshire
Thomas Gainsborough

William Cavendish
the 5th Duke of Devonshire
Georgiana's husband

Lady Elizabeth Foster
Joshua Reynolds

Lady Elizabeth was Georgiana's best friend, she was also the Duke's lover and the three of them lived together at Devonshire House. Elizabeth bore him two children and became his second wife after Georgiana's death.
Since visiting Chatsworth I have become fascinated by Georgiana and am thoroughly enjoying reading "Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire" by Amanda Foreman.

All of Chatsworth's rooms are sumptuously decorated and furnished, the collections on display are jaw droppingly beautiful, as the above photograph shows.

An inlaid wall panel surrounds a portrait of a gentleman.

In the library a whimsical portrait of two of the current Duchess's pet dogs.

A man in oriental costume
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 - 1669)

The oak staircase 

Portrait of the Acheson Sisters (1902)
John Singer Sargent

These three elegant Edwardian ladies are the granddaughters of Louise, Duchess of Devonshire; wife of the 8th Duke.

As it began, our tour ends in The Painted Hall, but fret not there's so much more to see: ceramics; furniture and statues......oh my!

Sunday 18 May 2014

Life is like a box of chocolates................

Hallbottom Farm, Stokenchurch.
To misquote Forrest, Forrest Gump............... finding accommodation on the internet "is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get".

Our visit to Hallbottom Farm in Buckinghamshire, the place I'd chosen for our first night in the UK, didn't get off to the best of starts.
We arrived during a terrible downpour to discover that the house was locked up tight, nobody home but the doggies in the kitchen who were not best pleased to be disturbed.
After waiting 20 minutes for someone to arrive we decided to leave and try and find somewhere else to rest our weary heads. On our way back to the village of Stokenchurch we met another vehicle coming the opposite way, was this our hostess? It was!
Guest sitting room
We turned around and followed her back to the farm where she quickly went about putting on lights and heat, all the while apologizing for making us wait.

Drawing room
Seems the owner of the B&B was away on a sailing holiday and this lady and her sister would be taking care of us in her absence.

I had originally reserved the Old Kitchen guest room on the ground floor however our hostess offered us the Valley Room on the first floor which had a lovely view of the gardens and which we were more than happy to take instead.

After showing us to our room she served tea in the sitting room and also took our order for an "AGA" cooked breakfast, explaining that it would be her sister serving us the following morning as she, herself, had a "day job" to get to!

We woke to an amazing dawn chorus outside our bedroom window, after a cuppa in bed the Senior Partner went outside to try and capture a shot of a Red Kite which are apparently thriving in this part of Buckinghamshire. Sadly, although he spotted two, they were too high up in the sky for him to get the shot.
We thoroughly enjoyed breakfast, the first of many "Full Englishes"  we were to encounter during our trip, it was very good and set us up well for the onward journey.

Still raining!

to be continued....................................

Saturday 17 May 2014

Home thoughts from abroad.................................

It seems that this year it has been feast or famine for my Normandy Life blog with more famine than feasting going on.

Dear reader that is all about to change, first the latest news from the Presbytère. After many months of preparation we finally put the house on the market in April.

However, so far there hasn't been any interest and as we know that the house market here in rural Normandy is sluggish at best we are prepared to wait for the right buyer to come along.

All the photographs in this post are of our French nest all fluffed and ready for a new owner.

In the meantime we recently spent 10 days back home in England scouting out a new place to retire to, we had a lovely time and I have many treats to share with you in future posts.

Such as Derbyshire's Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and Tissington Hall, a Jacobean house built in 1609 which has been lived in ever since by one family only: the FitzHerbert's.

Also, Shibden Hall situated in beautiful Calderdale, Yorkshire built by prosperous wool merchant William Otes in 1420.
Besides these stately homes there will be simpler tales of pretty villages such as Alstonefield and the plague village of Eyam in Derbyshire and Haworth, Yorkshire, home to the Bronte sisters ; churches; cottages; B&B's good and bad (!) and scenery to die for.

Hope you'll come back again soon for my virtual guided tour of two very beautiful English counties that you may never have visited before.