A wander to Petersham Nurseries and Ham House

I recently came to a conclusion. I have been finding my way in England for nearly two years now and have decided that it is a journey that never ends. I am using this blog to remember my favourite parts of England and my travels throughout. I write it about it here and my other blog, Collage of Life. I will
write on this blog for as long as we live in England. At the moment that it looking like June 2012. 
Until then, the life of Jeanne...in England, as she sees it. :)

Through the looking glass at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond...

and a walk down a 150ft (50m) long herbaceous garden path...

to the secret world of Petersham House, inside and out. 

We stood in silence, along with our friend below, 
admiring the beauty of it all.

which then led to another adventure..

to the many faces of National Trust property, Ham House 

where, at this very moment,  a 'No Visitors Allowed' sign sits on it's gate 
while a film crew is busy at work...

Ham House is a 400-year-old-treasure, in large part, due to the vision of a remarkable woman, Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart. There is much to tell in the history of this grand house. The Countess played her part in the English Civil War and the restoration of the monarchy that subsequently followed. It is worth a visit to find out more. The furniture, paintings and textiles on display are well worth the visit...but then again, I am partial to all endeavours of the National Trust. :)

Visiting a National Trust property, any property in the UK for that matter,
is like opening the most splendid gift. You start from one end and carefully unwrap
each layer, taking time to make the moments last as long as you can. 
And...just when you think you have the gift truly in hand, you discover 
there is another waiting for you, in the form of a garden...and what a garden it is. :)

Just the mere mention of a 'kitchen garden' is pure delight. :)

On that note...signing off with a show that I just caught on TV last night,
a 4 part landmark BBC One series, The Manor Reborn. The show follows a team of 
historian, designers and volunteers as they refurbish a 500 year old Manor, Avebury. 
It is fascinating! You can read about it here and watch it here.

Best wishes for a wonderful weekend!


Return to 

Christmas in London

I hopped the train into London the other night.
Along the way, I thought of you and sent a Tweet to Twitterville.
From my phone, I wrote...

Off to Covent Garden...

Passing National Gallery...

London lights are twinkling...

 A beautiful night in London...

Wish you were here....

A passing thought on a November night in London. :)

Best wishes to one and all for a wonderful weekend.

Jeanne xx

PS...if you follow me at Collage of Life, you may know that
we are moving to Vietnam in July 2012. I wondered as I was
 walking in London, what I will be doing on a November
night in Ho Chi Minh next year... bit different, yes?


A Bookshop and Mrs Delany

This post is for those of you who get excited entering a book shop, the kind of bookshop you know you will love from the moment you pass through the threshold. You know that feeling, when you look to the left, to the right, look up, look down and know your day has just been made? It almost feels like you are in a trance, wandering from section to section, surveying the store as you would a new found home. Book covers catch your eye, book titles lure you in, you hesitate...should you start in this section or over in that section? You look at your watch...do you have enough time to do it all? You want to absorb every little inch of it, you want to lose yourself in story after story.  You want to reach out and touch everything, you want to own this bookshop!

Ok...perhaps I am getting a little carried away, but I found a bookshop just like that in Richmond, outside of London. It was meant to be a quick in and out of High Street, I did not have much time. I found the bookshop at the end of our trip, the clock was ticking and we had to move on. I now eagerly await the chance to visit this bookshop again. If you have a chance to visit Richmond, check out The Open Book on 10 King Street in Richmond TW9 1ND.

But....before I left the shop, I did manage to come upon one lovely delight... The Paper Garden... Mrs. Delany (Begins her Life's Work) at 72, written by Molly Peacock. Isn't it gorgeous!

Love this!......click here

Product Description via Amazon UK

Mary Delany was seventy-two years old when she noticed a petal drop from a geranium. In a flash of inspiration, she picked up her scissors and cut out a paper replica of the petal, inventing the art of collage. It was the summer of 1772, in England. During the next ten years she completed nearly a thousand cut-paper botanicals (which she called mosaicks) so accurate that botanists still refer to them. Poet-biographer Molly Peacock uses close-ups of these brilliant collages in The Paper Garden to track the extraordinary life of Delany, friend of Swift, Handel, Hogarth, and even Queen Charlotte and King George III. How did this remarkable role model for late blooming manage it? After a disastrous teenage marriage to a drunken sixty-one-year-old squire, she took control of her own life, pursuing creative projects, spurning suitors and gaining friends. At forty-three, she married Jonathan Swift's friend Dr. Patrick Delany, and lived in Ireland in a true expression of midlife love. But after twenty-five years and a terrible lawsuit, her husband died. Sent into a netherland of mourning, Mrs Delany was rescued by her friend, the fabulously wealthy Duchess of Portland. The Duchess introduced Delany to the botanical adventurers of the day and a bonanza of exotic plants from Captain Cook's voyage, which became the inspiration for her art. Peacock herself first saw Mrs Delany's work more than twenty years before she wrote The Paper Garden, but 'like a book you know is too old for you', she put the thought of the old woman away. She went on to marry and cherish the happiness of her own midlife, in a parallel to Mrs. Delany, and by chance rediscovered the mosaicks decades later. This encounter confronted the poet with her own aging and gave her-and her readers-a blueprint for late-life flexibility, creativity, and change.

The illustrations inside the book are wonderful as well....this book would make a great gift..all tied up in a red bow.... Best wishes to one and all for a lovely week ahead... I hope it is filled with wonderful stories, whether they be ones you read or of your own making. :)

Alice in Wonderland, Downton Abbey and Country Houses

My world is changing...my blogs are changing...I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland...
perhaps I just need a cup of tea. I am in England...aren't I? Sometimes I wonder... how curious...

I had a Mad Hatter moment on Friday, when it was finally announced that we are 
moving to Vietnam in 2012. Many thoughts went through my head..one being...will anyone 
follow me at Finding My Way...in Vietnam?  Decisions, decisions.... I am writing about those 
decisions over here.

To keep my life in perspective, I added Pages under my blog photo and a few new things.
One being my Shop Around the Corner. For those of you..who, like me...love
English books, movies and TV series...I have them all, waiting for you here and here.

Speaking of English movies and TV series...
Two of my favourites are wrapping up this week. I caught up with the last of Season Five on Doc Martin and will see the final episode of Downton Abbey tonight. I know I have a few American readers who equally enjoy both shows. My lips are sealed. :) Can I just say that you will enjoy both immensely!!

Austen Prose

Lastly, I am sending thanks to fellow American expat, Michelloui @ The American Resident, for putting onto what looks to be a great little book. The Anglophiles amongst you should enjoy this one. Some Country Houses and Their Owners by James Lees-Milne.  If you have not met Michelloui, she has a great blog filled with her 20 years of wisdom on living life in the UK. Please stop in and tell her Jeanne sent you. :)
From Amazon UK....
The delightful, gossipy diaries of James Lees-Milne describe his encounters with the owners of country houses - from eccentric lords and oil millionaires to raffish socialists - as he travelled over England saving properties for the National Trust. Here are sharply observed accounts of dinner with Vita Sackville-West at Sissinghurst; Winston Churchill's bedroom at Chartwell; T. E. Lawrence's dilapidated Dorset cottage; and war damage to a great house in Derby. All are infused with his love of beauty and his sympathy for those giving up their ancestral homes forever.

Are you thinking what I am thinking? 
Yes, it looks like a great read!

Dinner calls my friends...and Downton Abbey follows.
I leave thanking you all for hanging out at Finding My Way in England...
you have made the journey all the sweeter for it. :))

Mrs Greville and Polesden Lacey

I am doing a bit of reshuffling, reorganising and blogkeeping as I consolidate a few blogs. Mrs Greville has been a big part of my English life having spent many hours inside and out of this beautiful property. The following refers to a post I wrote at Collage of Life in June 2010.

I had the most wonderful experience, I met Mrs Greville. Not the real Mrs Greville, she has been gone sometime (1863-1942) but I was introduced to her thru her beautiful home. I am certain this woman had spunk...she could hold her own with the best of them. Not always an endearing quality, but in her case, certainly memorable. I visited what was oncer her home,  Polesden Lacey, a National Trust property and once the country home of the 'dynamic and ambitious' Margaret Greville.  I ascertained that Mrs Greville was a woman to be reckoned with. This was a woman who knew what she liked and how things should be done. This was a woman of exceptional taste. 

The curators of Polesden Lacey  had this to say about Mrs Greville...

An inveterate traveller...
'Mrs Greville rose from obscure origins to attain political influence, great wealth and the friendship of royalty. An inveterate traveller and relentless celebrity-hunter, she could be both discreetly charitable and personally waspish.  The natural daughter of William McEwan, a millionaire Scottish brewer and philanthropist, she declared 'I would rather be a beeress than a peeress.' She was one of the most influential hostesses in Europe for nearly four decades. Princes and maharajahs, viceroys and prime ministers, ambassadors and captains of industry enjoyed her lavish hospitality, but there was a price: she often aroused strong and contradictory reactions. The diarist, Chips Channon wrote that there was 'no-one on earth so skilfully malicious as old Maggie'. But when she died, the Queen Mother wrote wistfully to Osbert Sitwell, 'I shall miss her very much'.

The Duke and Duchess of York (later George VI and Queen Elizabeth) 
spent part of their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey in 1923

Discreet dalliances...
'Under the watchful eye of it's demanding chatelaine, Polesden Lacey became the perfect setting for pleasure and leisure, for gossip, luxury and discreet dalliance among the upper classes. 'I never follow people into their bedrooms', remarked Mrs Greville.'

Mrs Greville with Spencer Tracy and guest 

A drunken butler...
'Glorious as the setting was, Mrs Greville's staff would occasionally let her down. On one occasion, it was apparent that the butler was intoxicated. She wrote a surreptitious note saying, 'You are drunk; leave the room at once', summoned the butler and placed it on his salver. He bowed courteously, advanced to the guest of honour, Sir Austen Chamberlain, and presented the note to him. The eminent politician spent the rest of the meal in mystified silence. When she explained the misunderstanding, he replied that it was the first time he had ever been silenced by a drunken butler'.

A grand entrance...
'Every evening, at 6pm, the footman would lay out drinks on the 17th-century refectory table, while the gramophone would play the latest hits by Noel Coward. When she was sure that all her guests were gathered attentively below, Mrs Greville would descend the staircase slowly, pausing at the landing for maximum impact before completing her entree among her visitors'.

Food for the famous...
'Attention to detail ensured that the food arrived piping hot, while the champagne chilled, a welcome novelty compared with many country house dinners. Mrs Greville was renowned for her french cuisine, which was described in the Daily Telegraph in 1930 as 'unsurpassed anywhere'.

The Polesden Lacey Dinner Book

If you were a guest of Mrs Greville, you would have enjoyed...

The Guest Room

The Library

The Billiard Room

Can you see why I am enchanted?
Feeling tempted to visit?
You can find out how...here.

More on Polesden Lacey
here and here.

images 5,9 and text references here

all other images~ me