Thursday, April 29, 2010

Heading into the blue...................

Looking out across the English Channel ~ Spring 2009

Sometimes I stand looking directly across the Atlantic Ocean, dreaming about another trip home across the vast expanse of water.  To a familiar place, the country of my birth, the place where family and longtime friends still live and wait for me.  If you've read my profile you know I've been traveling that route for over 47 years, back and forth until it's become second nature.  Usually it was fun, several times the journey home was sad.

Rockers on a Summer's day in Wake Forest, North Carolina ~ 2008 

Leaving the comforts of my adopted home here, my next journey will take a curve.  The familiar things of my English home will be missed this time when the plane turns away from Europe and heads South towards the African continent.  One stop in Dakar, Senegal to refuel then on to Johannesburg, South Africa........18 hours to relax (luckily in Business Class) and to share thoughts with my friends about our adventure ahead.

Flying like a some place new and strange. 

 A safari is an overland journey, usually a trip by tourists to Africa, traditionally for a big game hunt; today the term often refers to a trip taken not for the purposes of hunting, but to observe and photograph animals and other wildlife.  There is a certain theme or style associated with the word, which includes khaki clothing, belted bush jackets, and slouch hats.
~ From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~

Safari means "long journey" in Swahili - originally from the Arabic "safra" meaning a journey.

I've already read several books about the countries I'll be visiting, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.  I've watched all the movies I could get my hands on.  My wonderful friend Paula who's taking me on this trip of a lifetime has shown me photos she's taken on numerous previous safaris! I think I know what to expect......but I know it will be the unexpected that will blow me away!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Packing up...........

What does one need for a two week African safari?  A duffel bag stuffed with a minimal amount of lightweight, olive drab and khaki colored clothing, including the ubiquitous 'safari vest', is a good start.  Pre-treated with insect repellent is a plus.  Throw in two pairs of quick dry panties, a bush hat.......and for me another more elegant hat complete with my lovely friend Vanessa's flower pin "just because" pair of sturdy shoes, flip flops for the shower/pool areas where big bugs hang out, PJ's, a warm jacket for evenings around the fire pit as it will be early Winter, and.......make the best of it! 
My back-up camera, the nice compact Canon A1100

My great camera with the 26X zoom

Can you believe, a lady closer to seventy (ouch! that's hard to write!) than sixty, would actually be going on such a big adventure?  For me, who's traveled quite a lot, this is the ultimate trip.  
My cameras will document my journey.  They will be the most important items in my luggage next to my passport.  On my return I hope to share with YOU the beauty of the African continent, the animals, the people, and the special places where I stay.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beach days are ahead.............

Recently, after a good clean up of the pollen-smothered gazebo, I decided to organize the potting shed.  Found my two large white ceramic shell bowls purchased years ago, and my shell collection from the beaches of North Carolina - plus a few really lovely ones from some far off exotic island, found in a shell shop!  Decided it was time to bring them out of hibernation in readiness for Summer.  Yes, another season will be here before we know it!

I found the pretty shell encrusted tureen at a church thrift shop a few weeks ago - it has a crack but that's OK because I won't be putting soup in it!  It was only $8 which I think was a fabulous bargain.

Heaven's a little closer........
In a house........
...........By the sea.

I popped into the same thrift shop at the weekend. Found these three vintage tile coasters.  The illustrations and beautiful writing were worth so much more than the 25 cents each price tag.......perfect for my table.

If my dreams could all come true ~~~
Paradise would be ~~~
~~ In a little bungalow ~~~
Somewhere by the sea. 

I grew up by the sea and really miss being able to get to the beach without the two hour drive. I'll be on the New England coast during our annual July vacation trip - then down to the North Carolina coast in the Autumn when it's cooler.  Meanwhile, a bit of beachy feeling is here in my back garden!

The crying gulls ~~~~~~
The thundering surf ~~~~~~
The song of the sea ~~~~~~~
All are..............
............Music to my ears.
All words on the coasters by D. Morgan, 1993

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chattering in the green garden........

Pale yellow flowering jasmine along the side fence ~ opened its simple, delicate flowers and perfumed the entire back garden this weekend.  I left the upstairs bedroom window open on that side of the cottage and I can smell the thousands of tiny blossoms on the stiff breeze blowing through today. 

It's really amazing how the garden gets a real jump start after a Spring rain.  No matter how often one drags around a plastic hose to soak sleepy roots and shower dusty leaves, it takes a good soaking by Mother Nature to truly get things going......well, at least in my garden it does.

The Endless Summer hydrangeas are budding ~ definitely a welcome sight after the unusually cold Winter in North Carolina.  I may not see these fill out and open as I'll be far away in May, however I have a feeling those sparkling blue blossoms will be lighting up the front porch on my return.

Well I'll probably still need to find another source for a box full of juicy figs to make my favorite recipe from John Burton Race's French Leave cook book......Roasted Figs & Walnuts.
BUT ~ do you see it, tucked away between the beautiful palm-shaped leaves?  A fig, the first, and the little tree now growing happily in it's third year since planting.  We had three trees taken down here in January, perhaps the fig is happier with more sunshine beaming down on it.

.........and as if the perfumed fence in the back garden isn't pleasurable enough, the two white blooming jasmines on the front porch are also sharing their heady fragrance as I walk by.  This one on the outer end of the porch took a beating through the Winter and I was certain we had lost it.  I cut off all the dead wood and leaves and am thrilled that it seems to be thriving again....perhaps because I talked to it, encouraged it to try harder, because we love to sit on our little porch and breathe in the sweet scent.  Talking to one's plants and shrubs is encouraged..........we elderly gardening gals have earned this right, you younger ones can join us if you're brave!!

Do you grow perfumed plants?  What are your favorites?  And, most important, tell me if you chatter to your plants..............or am I the only strange one!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peace reigns........

My two beautiful Peace rose bushes are blooming in front of the cottage - one by the porch, another in front of my bedroom window. I only get to pick a few during the season, preferring to see them blooming in the garden.  This is the first one cut yesterday. 

This radiant, sweetly perfumed flower has a fascinating history.  This rose was named the day Berlin fell to the allies during World War II.  The day peace was signed with Japan, it won AARS (All-America Rose Selections) honors and members of the United Nations were presented with its blooms.........golden yellow with pink edges.
(from Jackson and Perkins website) 

The vase?  One of two petite wine glasses in silver holders I snapped up at a brocante in Aix-en-Provence in October 2008.  The monogram says 'Vin Bravais' which translates as 'wine faced'.  Anyone know more about these tiny glasses and when they were used?  Any help from you blogging gals in France would be wonderful, thanks.

Found the lovely oval platter on Thursday, very old transferware (cannot make out the blurred backstamp), complete with crack and chip which makes it all the more lovable to me, and definitely worth the $15 I paid for it. The floral design is a blue-green shade, almost grey, so perfect and French looking. 

This platter was a great find at a new shop now open in the former 'pepto-pink barn' next to my favorite SuzAnna's Antiques.  The cute building is now freshly painted in attractive colors.  Named Two Old Birds, owners/sisters Debbie and Susan offer lots of antique and vintage treasures.  I'll be sharing more soon.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pink Saturday

"The very pink of perfection"
             ....Oliver Goldsmith, Poet, Novelist 1730-1744

Following a good cup of strong, black coffee, I grab a camera, slip into comfy footwear, and head out the door for a weekly visit to SuzAnna's Antiques. Just a 12 minute drive if I hit the green lights!  I pull into the shop anxious to see what pink delights have arrived since my previous visit. Here are some of the pretties I found during the past couple of weeks.

Sharing some little dabs of pretty pink..............
muted, soft, subtle shades of pink are my favorite, and this candlestick is perfect.

This piece is a gorgeous chaise, just wish I had somewhere to put it ~ and the pink rosebud fabrics on the pillows are lovely.

Dusty pink heart ~ what tiny trailing flower would you plant here?

Some pinks in the lovely tapestry wall hanging.......but look at the delightful pair of swans, I'd really like to bring them to my home!

Always look up when shopping ~ the sweetest finds are sometimes close to the rafters.  The old frames had a pinkish tinge ~ and the crystals, such pretty things dancing in the light. 

Be happy this Pink Saturday.  Now hurry over to Beverly at How Sweet The Sound for more beautiful pink posts to perk up your weekend............and for some very exciting news about PINK SATURDAY!!!!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Natural order of things................

Large Antique French dough bowl, a little bit expensive but so gorgeous ~ purchased with the pine farm table two years ago.  I loved its burnt end, did the dough catch fire perhaps?  Picked it over the more perfect bowls!
Thought they belonged table and old wood bowl.

Giant spools of beautiful natural linen yarn found recently at Pirate's Chest flea market for $1.99 each, a steal!

My sweet roses, still quite lively and pretty to look at as I post and say good morning to each of you. 
Have a happy day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Planting for Provence

I'm still digging and delving in the dirt..............going to need a serious manicure any day now!

Trying Provence lavender again.....have just one old plant left in the garden and know it's in the wrong location.  Lavender requires lots of sunshine and good drainage - sandy soil helps.  I'm planting three of these healthy looking babies up on a slope, in full sun, and adding sand to the planting hole.  Wish me luck as I so want to pick bunches of lavender to dry.  I have more sun since the huge oak had to be removed.......before it fell! I also want to get a little feel of the gorgeous fields of lavender in Provence............guess I need a couple of acres and a few thousand more plants though, sigh!

If I ever get to gather like this I've gotta have this beautiful old wagon, and painted in French lavender blue.......heavenly!

Do you love the perfume of lavender? 
Do you grow lavender?  Any tips will be welcomed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stop here to smell the roses....

On Friday a local grocery store had a great buy on long-stemmed roses ~ $6.99 a dozen! I was in heaven when confronted by the beautiful selection.  There were plenty of red, orange and bright pinks, but as you know, my faves are the 'shabby roses' in dusty washed out pink, pristine white and old fashioned cream.

I mixed two bunches ~ palest pink and cream ~ I know these will eventually dry to those gorgeous papery vintage shades and can remain in the house for quite a while as a lovely decoration.

Well they weren't directly from my sweetheart........but as he paid the grocery bill I couldn't resist thanking him for giving me such lovely roses!
I photographed the roses outside on my back deck, it was such a beautiful day and the strong shadows were most interesting.  Now they're next to me here on the dining room table sharing their delicate perfume.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pink Saturday - Days of heaven.....and earth

Time to show you the splendor of the April garden......because that's where I've been spending all my time this week!  Miracle Gro is good, but someone up there is busy working miracles even more amazing to fill the garden with color and beauty this Spring.

The azaleas are blooming profusely.  The palest pink George Tabor has always been my favorite ~ guess it's because it looks like a true 'shabby chic' style of flower, single open petals and massed loosely on big bushes.......simple but gorgeous.

If you want a delicate pink in your garden, this is the one to grow.

Another deeper pink is this one below ~ don't recall the name ~ pretty ruffles double petals and nice with Spanish bluebells.  Note the periwinkle (Vinca) popping up.  Remember one small plant can choke your garden beds in no time flat.  I must run out there and start pulling it out....again!

My potting shed got a tidy up and sweeping out this week too ~ how I love this useful little back garden getaway.  The Akebia vine is growing by the doorway.......and there you can see where I rest my weary back, sipping a nice cuppa and thinking about the next project, now underway.......planting the vegetable garden!

Hope your PINK SATURDAY is going well......perhaps you're busy in your garden.  Take a break and visit Beverly at How Sweet The Sound to get a peek at all things pink.
Thanks for stopping by today ~ wish I could take you on a garden walk.
Happy weekend to all.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Camping ~ African Style

Which of these three things will not be going to Africa with me? 

The insect repellent clothing is a extra safety factor for me who is loved by mosquitoes everywhere!

A few good books for afternoon lounging between game drives at the safari camps......this series set in Botswana, by Alexander McCall Smith, is so wonderful.  I've actually read this first one and am now on the second, so will have to buy two more to take with me!

BUT those huge sea chests filled with elegant clothes and dainty high-heeled way.  My little duffle bag is stuffed to the gills with khaki colored bush clothes, and that's all I'm allowed to take. It has to be squished into those tiny planes when flying over the bush from camp to camp.
My trip to Africa is getting closer and I'm getting really excited.  Remember, I won't be blogging while away.....weight allowance and a soft bag will not handle a laptop, and besides there is no Internet available in most places where I'll be staying.  I have stocked up on photo cards and batteries though and hope I'll have some fabulous images to share with you when I return.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beautiful "Elaine"

Doulton's Elaine plates in my dining room

I'm so lucky!  I'm so grateful, and thankful, for such wonderful friends.  People who share their treasures without another thought........and hopefully don't have regrets later when they discover they've given away something old, so old there aren't many of them around anymore!

Lovely Susie, owner, with daughter Jenny, of SuzAnna's Antiques, my favorite place in town, is home recuperating from her recent back surgery.  Keeping a whirlwind woman like Susie down is nothing short of a fulltime job - and the sign hanging on her bedroom door 'NO BLT' doesn't mean bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches are off the menu today, but rather NO Bending, Lifting or Twisting allowed!

While visiting Susie at her adorable home and garden last week, I spied these three plates on the perfect chippy hutch aging in the garden.............and beneath a little weathered dirt and pollen, saw a beautiful floral pattern in grey, a couple of cracks and delicate crazing! My heart fluttered! I offered to buy them, Susie insisted on gifting me with them.....and I was over the moon with happiness. 

Searching for info. on this old pattern brought up little other than Doulton without Royal in front means the china was made before 1890.  There is none available at Replacements Ltd.  Notice the unusual raised swirls - after much soaking and scrubbing they really gleamed.  I would say these are salad size, too small for dinner and too large for side plates, and they are so perfect on my dining room dresser.

Susie said her huge collection of old plates meant she could always grab from the pile to toss around more in the garden - on her fabulous outdoor vintage furniture, to edge flower beds and birdbaths etc. I will understand if she wants these back....meanwhile I am just enjoying them more than I can say..........and holding my breath in hopes I can continue to give them a home as I love them so much!

Please stop by SuzAnna's Antiques blog and leave Susie a get well message - and remind her about BLT!  Meanwhile Jenny, Bruce (Susie's wonderful hubby), Gail, Sam, and other helpers are keeping the shop in tiptop shape and it's loaded with fabulous do stop by to shop.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Back at the Depot...............

Remember my recent trip to Concord, NC to visit the Depot grand opening at the Gibson Mill?  "Artsy Fartsy" Janna, "manager extraordinaire" steered me there, and my ever wonderful DH drove me there with Vanessa my best road trip friend - well actually everything friend! Janna has two booths of fabulous finds here, some of which I showed you previously at the Depot, and also her booths at The Sleepy Poet in Charlotte, NC.  Janna is a busy lady that's for sure, even making fabulous jewelery in between junking trips to the countryside and working!!  I love how these young women do so much with their time - just wish I could turn my clock back a few years, plus get a new back for the heavy lifting part, lol!

Well I promised more pics of the treasures offered in that huge space......and here they are.

Rachel of The Shepherds Fold Design and busy assistant manager at the Depot, has the prettiest chippy painted furniture and lots of interesting accessories...loved the baseballs in the shoeshine box.

Beth of Olde Tyme Marketplace whom unfortunately I didn't meet, but hope to next visit as she left me a lovely comment on my earlier post about the Depot, had gorgeous things beautifully displayed in her booth.  See the old French blue painted wooden wheels displayed in the silver cute is that?  I should have brought those home!

Other things caught my eye...........tons of them but  I couldn't photograph everything displayed in that 'Aladdin's Cave' covering the massive 88,000 square feet.  Here's a few, and another time I'll share the loveliest 'garden booth display' I've ever seen.

Yes, these words are true........and how great it is to repurpose, reuse and recycle history in and around our homes.

Tell me where you are hunting these bright Spring days!  The brocantes of France (you lucky ones!); neighborhood yard/garage sales early Saturday morning; local flea markets; antiques/vintage/thrift shops.......or even at the side of the road - amazing what some people just 'drop off'.