Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

No Generation Gaps

The day was spent with family. All sorts of family from many locations, all drawn together by this need, this desire to be together. Some of the family members knew each other enormously well, and fit together like gloves. Others were newer to this familiarity, and took small steps forward in the knowing. It was all immensely satisfying.

Anyone who has partaken of a feast such as we had yesterday will know that one does not easily get all this food to the table at the same moment. Certainly, it takes coordination, planning, and delegating to make this happen. And it did happen, yesterday. Beautifully! At just the right moment, the grandmothers were asked to orchestrate the making of gravy; and knowing the value of gravy, those grandmothers went at it proudly. The result was stunning!

And I cannot leave out the quintessential element that made this Thanksgiving meal so successful for the gentlemen who came. Our host has a magnificent Man Cave, complete with huge recliners, remotes, flat screen TV (very large), football games, drinks at hand, snacks, and women who came in frequently to see if they needed anything else. Really, how could they need anything else?! I ask you.

There were no generation gaps yesterday. Young, old, and in between did not shrink from holding hands to give Thanks, together. Everyone was accepted, and all laughed a great deal.

The astonishing truth about yesterday is that it happened in millions of homes, all across this land of promise. People everywhere made the effort to travel the miles, bake the pies, carve the turkeys, and serve it all up - together.

It isn't over. No, not yet.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, November 28, 2013

An ExPat's Thanksgiving

(The following is a continuation of the post on 11/27)

The pictures of Tom Turkey one might see in a supermarket ad are oddly different from a Real Tom Turkey. The frozen bird, safely tucked up amongst all the other frozen birds, looks quite fat and round, minus its head and any un-useful part. The Real Tom Turkey isn't like that at all. The Real one has all his parts still firmly attached. And moving around.

I shall draw a veil over the part where Ted had to 'take care of' our turkey. However, small daughter and I felt we should not shrink away from watching. So we experienced it all.

We helped remove the feathers and prepared our turkey, which did not end up looking like the Butterball we were used to. But it was good, it was so, so, good!

There are several things about a Thanksgiving meal that are very much American, and decidedly un-British. The most important of these is the pumpkin pie. With whipped cream. Pumpkin, in England, is considered only as a vegetable, and not a suitable sweet. So I told my British guests ahead of time that we would be serving up some old fashioned pumpkin pie. Friend Rosie was excited to try it. And I was sure they would like it!

The Day developed wonderfully, in all respects. Our guests enjoyed the turkey and trimmings, the rolls (with jam) and the pumpkin pie. Robert especially warmed to the conversation, and told several stories of his own travels. We all ended the day thankful to have found ourselves that much richer having met.

The next morning dawned cold and bright, and as I picked up the milk from the porch, I saw an ambulance parked outside the house next door. Robert's house. I watched closely with dread in my heart, not really wanting to be told what had happened. Another neighbor approached where I stood,  and said that Robert had suffered a heart attack. He died later that morning.

This was awful! We had just had that wonderful meal together. We had talked about his daughter and how he was looking forward to seeing her for Christmas. We had laughed and become good friends with Robert. And he was gone. So soon!

All of these things made that Thanksgiving Day an unforgettable one. It was like life itself - at times unpredictable in its blessings and its sadnesses. Just the day before, my husband had led us all in a Thanksgiving prayer, filled with gratitude for all we had been given, and for life itself. 

Let us continue thanking. Not just on Thanksgiving Day.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">browniesfordinner</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">PhotoChet</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Most Important Thursday

Everywhere I go these days, someone is greeting me with a smile and a 'Happy Thanksgiving!' Bank tellers, Walmart greeters, wait staff in restaurants, and the kind folks at Home Depot are all looking forward to Thanksgiving Day.

But what do Americans do when they find themselves in another country on Thanksgiving Day?

In 1991 our little family was living in England. We wanted to find a different way to celebrate this holiday, and share the meal with our British friends. So we invited friend Rosie and her family, and our neighbor, Robert.

There was so much to do - long before the day, we purchased a wild turkey from Rosie's farm, rather than picking up a frozen bird at the Commissary. My small daughter and I drove out to get it, and were surprised to see Ted in the turkey pen when we arrived. We had not realized that our Thanksgiving turkey would still be alive!

That was a very interesting day. And it was going to be a very interesting Thanksgiving Day. I will tell you all about it tomorrow, on the day Itself.

With many warm greetings from,
the SconeLady!

photo credit: <a href="">U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time, Precious Time

Admittedly, it is a long time to be walking every day. The 10 miles adds up to about 3 hours, and at least so far, the time spent is very much a conclusive success.

We have spoken here of a tie-in of the walk to the finding and consuming of scones. This is because I see these two things inevitably linked. To enjoy the scones, the walking half of the equation helps me to keep from being overpowered by caloric donations.

I have to say this, though - that calories should not become a bullying factor here. If you want to eat a scone, you should not feel that you have to equal this pleasure with a pain. If you want to walk 10 miles well that is fine too. But it is not a requirement! Neither is weighing oneself on a scale (almost no good can come of it).

But for me, it is fun to eat scones, and it is fun to walk miles. Simple, and true!

Take care of yourself the way that works well, for you. I, for one, hope this will mean our paths may cross; perhaps at an afternoon tea table, and perhaps along a path somewhere in this world.

And I will look forward to seeing you along the way!
the SconeLady

Broadway, in the Cotswolds

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Walking Fool

It is a question I am often asked, by good friends, by acquaintances, by family, and by complete strangers.

'Just how far do you walk each day?'

The answer, in the law of averages, is 10 miles. Mm-hm, that's 10 miles a day, every day - apart from traveling days, which sometimes crowd out the walking. And now that I have gotten accustomed to this freakish habit, I can't bear to stop it. It breathes life to me!

I have always enjoyed walks of all sorts - with my children, when we can really get in a good talk, or pushing my grandchildren's strollers, or walking while traveling in another country. It is such a good way to see things! An absence of Rushing. But this - this 10 mile business, began during the time when I was restricted from driving, and from riding in a vehicle. I walked, because I could do nothing else!

These restrictions were in place for nearly a year, and by the time they were lifted, I was a bonafide Walking Fool; meaning, I was hooked!

After having spinal fusion surgery, I was weak as a kitten and unable to hobble even one teeny-weeny block. So I became resolved to lengthen the one block to two, the two to four, and in time the vitality began to take root again.

I am not finished speaking with you about this, my dear scone-lovers. Because it does, it really does tie in to our love of scones, haha! And that is one reason we drift back, and back, to these pages.

And I still look forward to seeing you along the way!
the SconeLady


photo credit: <a href="">-mrsraggle-</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Microwaving in England. Or not.

There is a running discussion between myself and friend Rosie. And her sister Emmie. It is not an argument, perhaps more of a consultation. It surrounds the use of a microwave.

Everyone in my circle of friends has, and frequently uses, a microwave oven when cooking or reheating food. Friend Rosie, and her sister, do not. Please realize they do not think a microwave oven is a bad thing. They simply do not think about it at all.

The truth is, they have no need of one. To these British ladies, preparing food and consuming it are central elements in the day, and one should avoid hurrying either of them.

At the long, scrubbed pine table in Rosie's kitchen, anyone might be found chopping, slicing, peeling, or cubing food items. Someone else could be sautéing vegetables on the top of the AGA; perhaps Ted is kneading the dough for his bread oven, or grilling steaks over his open fireplace; Rosie might be preparing a crust for the tarte tatain she will serve for dessert, along with homemade cinnamon ice cream.

And all throughout, discourse and laughter tie it all together. At the right time, the food will be ready and everyone will settle down to a very long, and satisfying, meal together.

There won't have been a microwave in sight.
And nobody notices.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Friday, November 22, 2013

Two Men Called Jack

Today is November 22, 2013. Because of this, I spent some time today listening to everything I could about that other November 22. The one in 1963.

It was a life changing series of events, beginning with the sharp rifle shots that altered history.

Like so many others, I remember exactly what I was doing on that day, when someone informed us all that Jack Kennedy had been shot. It was an awful moment, and one that has lingered more or less constantly, ever since.

We were still in Junior High School, and in the middle of a Science lesson our principal opened the door, saying, 'The President has been shot,' and closed the door once again. Although transistor radios in class were against the rules, 3 of them materialized, and we all listened in shock to the news reports. In a short time, we learned that the President was dead.

The news reports continued on, and on, as a man named Oswald was found and arrested; as he was jailed; as he was transferred to another facility; as he was shot and killed during that transfer; as Jack Ruby was seized and arrested for Oswald's murder; as numerous television announcers continued the dialogue about what was happening, and would happen; as the somber drums of the funeral march beat the moments away, before our eyes. It went on, and on.

Throughout the shock of all of this, another man quietly died that November 22. The other man they called Jack. C.S. Lewis, beloved author and University professor, slipped away to very little fanfare. There came no frantic radio message, there was no flag draped coffin followed by thousands. Only a few gathered round his grave  near Oxford, that day. But the life of this other Jack was such that thousands have since found themselves following, if not the man himself, then the God he wrote so prolifically about.

Many of us would not even know that this Jack died the same day as the other. The fact was over-shadowed, as you know.

I do not write of these two Jacks in order to compare them, as though one or the other was the greater man. That is not a discussion for today. But I do want to remember them both, this day, November 22, 2013.

For me, today the flags are flying at half mast for both Jacks. 

photo credit: <a href=""></a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Friends Along the Way

The following is an expansion of the blog post from October 1 - 'The Way Is Clearly Signposted - You Can't Miss it':

In the anticipation of a walking tour of the Cotswolds, one has many preparations to attend to. Especially when walking alone. But what I did not realize is that I would not feel alone. There would be other walkers along the way. Perhaps not crowds of them, but here and there, I found them. Or they found me.

One such couple made a good deal of difference in my first day. I recall being in the middle of a paddock, searching for a tree stump. The stump was to have the waymark sign on it, and that would be my direction. But first I had to find the stump! And I wasn't finding it. Quite a lot of time was spent searching, but before I became completely desperate I saw a man and woman walking toward me with a map and directions in hand.

It was such a relief to see two friendly faces - my first traveling companions! When they spoke, I knew them to be from the UK so they might know where my stump was.

They did know, and led me to it. The tree stump did have the waymark sign on it. The trouble was that there was more than one waymark sign. There were three.

Nevertheless, these two lovely people walked with me, first one direction, and then the other, and it didn't matter because I was not alone!

Peter and Carolyn, as I came to know them, stayed with me until we knew where we were. They gave me their phone number, and asked me to call when I reached my B&B because they wanted to be sure I made it. 

This is the essence of a good UK walking tour - the people you meet along the way. And we three will stay in touch! because you never know when you might need a friend.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Day We Met Diana, details

The day had not yet dawned as we quietly left the house, and locked the door behind us. The cold struck us like a knife when we scurried to get the car out of the garage. My small daughter was not even properly awake yet, but her mother and her aunt most certainly were. And we were ready.

American citizens do not often find themselves in the near vicinity of royalty such as Princess Diana. I was in that category until someone, the flower lady in our village, told my sister and I that seeing the princess was a must. A rare opportunity. A requirement! This came as News, but we soon saw it her way and laid our plans. We would take the Flower Lady with us!

We found Sandringham in the darkness, noting the crowds already pressing against the gates. The buzz of conversation greeted us as we insinuated ourselves as near as possible to the gate. That morning we learned more than we had ever expected to, about all things Royal!

We know now that there is a cadre of royal watchers at every entrance of every possible sighting spot in that land of the Windsors. If there were to be an appearance in the north of Scotland, these people would be there. If at Buckingham Palace, they would find their way. They knew each other well, and hugged as though they were family.

At long last, the gates were opened, and we, like crazed horses, tore out across the meadow to where the ropes were set up as a sort of corral. We four streamed out ahead, in our acute enthusiasm to be in front. We could feel the crowds behind us, scratching and clawing to get there first!

We were in the front! Within inches of the path! Hurray for the Americans!

At long last, we had our fabulous look at the royal family (blog post November 19). We heard the baby christening. We met and shook hands with Diana. And we got to watch as my small one gave her flowers to the Queen Mum. 

It was all very satisfying.

There is one last bit of interest here. Remember, this was December 23, 1990. Within a week, the television stations were playing their 1990 Year in Pictures. We did not have a television, but our Flower Lady told us that she had been watching the news that night, and saw my daughter giving her flowers to the Queen Mum!

A little later, she saw the Decade in Pictures on the BBC. And once more, my young daughter was there, giving her flowers to the darling Mum. How fun is that!?

It is a lot of fun being an American in England. There is so much to see, so much to learn. We were treated kindly, and we were included in all neighborhood functions during our time there. They called us their 'cousins from over the sea'. It was sweet.

I highly recommend that you go. Truly! Go! You won't be sorry, my dear scone-loving readers.

And I hope to see you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">Leshaines123</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">blacque_jacques</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Day Like No Other Day

Each of the memories I have of living in England, indeed of being in England, seem almost timeless. One in particular is clear as crystal, even though it happened 23 years ago.

The gorgeous lady in the photo above is this memory, this up-close-and-personal memory we have of December 23, 1990. The day was significant because it was the day Princess Eugenie Victoria was to be christened. And we were there.

On the Sunday prior to Christmas Day, the royal family attends St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham. My sister and I wanted to be among those crowds on that day. We decided to wake in the wee morning hours, take my small daughter, and rocket north toward Sandringham. We were going to see the Queen!

The three of us had a front row spot along the roped in area, near the church. Suddenly we were all electrified to see the royal family making its way down the path, and into the church. The crowds were able to hear the christening through the PA system, singing along with the hymns, listening to the words as the family promised to raise the child in the faith of Christ. A moment we won't soon forget.

The family all came out afterward, for pictures and to greet the public. 

It is the tradition for children to be allowed to approach and present their flowers to any royal they wish. Although almost everyone was heading toward Princess Di and the Queen, my sweet darling went the other direction, and handed hers instead to the Queen Mum. It was the sweetest thing!

We did not have a twig's worth of hope that any royal would approach us on their walk back to the House. But suddenly, we saw - could it be? - Diana heading our direction! She was sensational. She was stunning! She came, unbelievably, up to us, shaking our hands, and saying, 'Wasn't it a lovely service? We all sang our hearts out!'

I do not kid you when I use the word stunning. Everything about her seemed to shine, that day. Her eyes especially communicated with those around her as she greeted them kindly. 

The three of us counted it a privilege to be there, to see Diana, to be spoken to by her, and to shake her hand. Just 7 years later, we were tremendously saddened to hear of her death. The tragedy has sometimes been spoken of in words that convey something different than the person we met, on that one special Christmas. 

I, for one, believe in the Christmas Diana.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">Jim Linwood</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">ell brown</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Monday, November 18, 2013

Unique and Welcomed

Dear scone lovers, just feast your eyes on that. Ten scones, hot, fresh, and made with love. A reliably satisfying feast.

When you produce your own home-baked scones, you know that they will all taste scrumptious. But no matter how hard you try, they won't all come out looking alike. This does not nullify your love for, or anticipation of, the scone fest. Each is unique and welcomed in this world.

If you wanted perfect and equally formed scones, I suppose you could go to some kind of production plant that has focused on conformity, if not taste. For some ingredients must be altered in the quest for outward perfection, and the results can leave you unsatisfied.

We humans are utterly different from one another, as well. We are colorful, and contrastive. Yet there is a movement afoot to encourage ever younger people to lay down their dollars and have themselves altered in some way. To strive for an ideal of perfection, even though the perfection will not itself last more than a few years.

I wonder if we as a human race have forgotten that we each are Unique and Welcomed in this world. A singularly blessed someone-who-Matters.

Now. Would somebody please pass the butter?

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Don't Forget the Cream

We were about to take a first bite of lunch at McKay Cottage, when suddenly I heard my husband say, 'Aren't you going to have cream on that scone?' I glanced down at the item he was referring to and realized that no, I had not been going to have cream on that scone - and worse, that I had forgotten all about cream! 

Whatever has happened to the SconeLady?

I can't explain. And to think of consuming a scone denuded of its great potential, is - I admit - lame.

So we caught the eye of a server, requested the cream, and shared the result. How was the scone? I believe that if it had been served next to a porcelain pot of tea, and if there had been a white tablecloth, and if I had been anticipating these tastes, this scone might have scored an 9 or 10. 

The score of 8 was not the fault of McKay Cottage, where every bite is dreamy. I'm afraid the fault must rest with a SconeLady who has been away from the Motherland for too long.

But the most memorable part of that day was eating somewhere fabulous with a lovely man, once again. Good husbands (who are helpful and think of things like cream!) are a rare and extraordinary blessing, and I am daily thankful, for mine.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Exquisite Planning. Half of the Fun (part 2)

When a girl is reunited with her iPhone, all can be right with the world. And so data, phone calls, texts, podcasts, streaming, iTunes, and face timing were once again at my fingertips. In a word, connection. I can't tell you how essential this was to the well-being of this lonely pilgrim. Family can't be replaced.

And so right away I was in downtown Cambridge seeking a wifi hotspot. Store to store, door to door, no joy! Although I was surrounded by people (they do have a night life there), I felt entirely alone. I stepped expectantly into a shopping center - really, it was a sort of covered-outdoor-mall - trying the iPad again for coverage. If I didn't find it soon, I would end up back at Sydney Sussex College in a tearful pile on my bed.

But suddenly the wifi icon materialized, and I instantly hit FaceTime. All at once the kindest face peered back at me from the iPad! My husband looked exceptionally relieved, as there had been no indication that his wife had safely been deposited and was still breathing.

But I have one thing to say about Data: it wasn't as important as I had given it credit for. You see, back home I used Data a lot while walking 10+ miles each day; listening to the BBC, NPR, All Things Considered, even watching youtube while walking the hours away.

But I found that once in England, I did not want to listen, to watch, to hum along with iTunes.  It was so pretty, and there was so much to look at that I dared not be distracted by someone prattling away into my head.

Also, in another country one must have their wits about them. All eyes must be on deck, or who knew how far off course I might have become!

I am supposed to be discussing how effective good planning is. Well, it is! I can tell you that virtually everything was payed for before I ever went to an airport. And the months of pouring over the possibilities were bliss. I hope to do it again, to find that oh-so-perfect scone again, and to perhaps be less alone when I do it. Already plans are afoot for a duo, or perhaps a trio of travelers, planning, scheming, and dreaming the months away, in anticipation.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Friday, November 15, 2013

Exquisite Planning. Half of the Fun (part 1)

When a person is dreaming out a plan of travel, that person becomes immediately submerged in the flood waters of choice. Where to go, how to get there, how to get around once you are there, what to do about money, about lodging, sightseeing, and mostly, about communication.

Rather than all of this choice presenting a burden, it is actually the opposite of burdensome. It is delightful! Are you hearing me? It is In my very first blog entry, entitled 'Countdown', it was expressed in this way:

'It is hard to imagine how any trip could possibly be as enjoyable as the anticipation and planning of it! I have had so much fun scheming and plotting that I feared the actuality must fall short somehow.' 9/15/13

All of this planning took about a YEAR. But it was, truly, a large portion of the fun!

Arranging effective communication was of high priority, in order to be as close to family as possible. With an iPhone and an iPad, surely there was something, some plan we could set up that would avoid gargantuan roaming charges while using the phone just as I did at home.

The final decision was to purchase a UK SIM card at London Heathrow. Remove my US SIM card from the iPhone. Insert the UK card in its place. Ring the UK phone company that would supply 30 days of usage, including all-you-can-eat Data. Voila! It worked, and I would use the iPad for FaceTiming on Wifi. It was all soon sorted, and I was off!

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">Scorpions and Centaurs</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lest We Forget

We have recently marked Veteran's Day, here in the US. Since our family has more than one Veteran, this day holds a deeper meaning as we approach it each year. But more than any other time, I will always remember the day we celebrated Remembrance Sunday, with the English.

It was 1990. We arrived in Norfolk in the fall, ready to find a home and move in. This we did, not long before Remembrance Sunday. We attended one of the village churches that morning, and saw that the townspeople had decorated the church with wreaths, flowers, and children's drawings depicting the veterans who had risked all for the freedoms so dearly won.

As the congregation sang the hymns that morning, every voice was raised, but none more than the elderly gentlemen who lined the front rows. These, my friends, were the precious veterans of the First World War; the War to End all Wars. The men were in their 90's, but their heads were held high as they were honored by the town.

The eldest of these gave the reading, that day, from Psalm 91. Before he read, he told of the time he and his comrades in the trenches gathered around their chaplain. It was the night before they were to go 'over the top', crossing no man's land to face the enemy. As they stood in the rain, the chaplain read the whole of Psalm 91 to them, blessed them and prayed over them.

The words of that Psalm were to give him the calm courage to do his duty that next day. Many of his comrades were to die, it is true. The Great War was cruel in that way. But this elder gentleman did live,  and on this Remembrance Sunday the words were not read, they were spoken. He never glanced at the Bible in his hands. As he spoke, he let the silent tears fall for those who had not come home with him.

All over England, no matter how small the village, there are memorials to the 'glorious dead'. You will see on the War Memorial in St Ives, the words 'Lest We Forget'. 

Let us not.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Psalm 91
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day...

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Memories can be positive and uplifting - although not all of them are. The sadder memories may have been planted in our minds by events or people we were unable to control. And those are the tough ones to forget.

However, there is a sweet memory that holds my heart as well as my mind. The place we children were loved and encouraged. Our town church.

Because that place has lingered as a positive and uplifting memory, we have always found a church to attend, wherever we may live. My family of four has lived many places in this world, and in each there has been a church to welcome us. They have become our family, in the finest sense.

In the old church of my childhood, the children were almost always with the grownups, sitting in the same church pew, singing in the same choir, learning to play the organ or the piano, or the french horn, from a grownup who cared and took the time. They all knew us, and because of that, there was a network of encouragement that became a web strong and unforgettable.

Have you also found a church that almost seemed a second home, to you? Did you grow up in the company of old and young, who smiled when they saw you coming? I did. And I count myself lucky, oh yes, I do.

On my recent travels to England and back, I made it a point to find and attend as many churches as I reasonably could within the time frame. It was uncanny to walk in and immediately feel that old familiar support coming from the people inside. That same Light was in their eyes, the recognition of Someone bigger than ourselves; unashamed to bend the knee, together acknowledging our need of Him.

May you find that kind of welcome. If you have not yet found it, don't give up; such a place does exist, and you might as well just get on with it. Walk in, shake hands, laugh at a joke, open yourself up to the possibilities.

And I'll hope to see you along the way!
the SconeLady

Monday, November 11, 2013

Too Close For Comfort

I have a deep appreciation for the London Underground.

Have you experienced this rabbit warren of tube-like passageways beneath the city? You haven't? Then you've not really experienced the proximity breach that you come across only in that unique setting. If you are a person who must maintain a 'bubble' around you, perhaps you would prefer a taxi.

But most Londoners do not very much mind this uncommon crush of humanity around them. Perhaps the closest I can get to an explanation here is that they are, quite simply, patient.

When I walk through the London Underground, I can't help but think of the safe haven it provided during the Blitz of WW2. Few people had access to a bomb shelter, and the tube became the go-to place when sirens began each night. People who were there have stated that there was a camaraderie between those who gathered, night after night, listening to the unspeakable bombing above them.

Songs were sung, games were played, and someone usually had some food to share. Although they might not have said this experience was 'fun', it certainly was something they long remembered, and later treasured.

So, I hope you will find your own way to the England I love; that you will scurry onto a Tube, for the Tower of London, or a show at the West End, or the Houses of Parliament. It will give you a new appreciation for Camaraderie.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Sweetest Lady!

Every now and then, you come across someone who is truly remarkable. You did not even know that this remarkable person existed, and then you meet them, and things feel differently after that.

The Sweetest Lady is one such person ('Staying at Magdalen, part two', November 3). To expand on the story, I had heard about a certain Church of England in Oxford, for years. I knew it to be a place where the lively life in Christ is taught; where Oxford students come in high numbers; where you can be confident that bringing a friend will not threaten to be an embarrassment to either of you.

So I found this place, and as I approached, the sound of clanging and banging drifted out to where I stood. Hmm. Odd, I thought. Clanging and banging, whatever could that be. I was to discover its source immediately upon entering the place. Everywhere there were people; laughing, hugging, chatting amicably. Along with all this laughing and hugging, there was the clanging and banging of little ones, seated in groups on the stone floor. Each held an instrument of noise upon which they delightedly issued the loudest of possible noises. 

These tiny people played throughout the first hymn, and then were scooped up by mums and dads, to their Sunday School classes. A relative peace reigned.

There was an empty seat next to a lovely, white haired lady. I sat, and we began to talk as the tiny ones made their exit. I now call her The Sweetest Lady.

'How long have you attended here?' I asked her. 'Oh, about 50 years now, I suppose.' '50 years! Well, I'll bet you have seen a lot of changes over the years.' 'Oh, yes, there have been some changes.'

In the few minutes I spoke with her, she spoke kindly about these 'changes'. They were all things that could have disturbed the traditions of some, but she was upbeat and accepting of it all. She had stayed, and not left to find some more conventional environment elsewhere.

And there was not a moment that morning that her smile faded, even the least little bit. Long had she walked the Road, and in her eyes was the Light that had had time to settle in, and make itself at home.

I won't forget this sweetest of ladies. And I hope I will see her again, back in that C of E sanctuary, among the laughing and hugging, the teaching, and the clanging that takes place within those walls.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Graceful Life

I am sitting here in front of a cheery fire, surrounded by woodland beauty, blue sky and deer wandering past. The other half of 'we' is out just at the moment, but will soon stroll back in and we will then be two again, sitting in front of the cheery fire. 

Cheery fires, togetherness, a peaceful home, these are all things that can go into the Graceful life. It is happening all over this world, little outposts of generosity. No one really advertises these ongoing Graces; they are just lived out. And the Graces don't depend upon one's income, apparently. They can be present in a hut or in a mansion.

Usually it helps if the people in the hut, or the mansion, are graceful toward one another. If they lean toward each other and toward thinking of the other first. Sounds simple. Needs to be practiced.

I know of one especially Graceful spot, in England. The home fires are kept warm and inviting, and others come a great distance to gather round them. I know, because I was invited to do just that; and the resultant glow hasn't faded, yet. 

Let us think about this, and about how to build it. How to keep it built whatever the difficultly. 

The wellbeing of this world depends upon it.


*('the other half of we' is a quote from dear friend VL)

Friday, November 8, 2013


I admit it! Tonight I found myself back in the kitchen, pondering whether to have just one more scone. Last night, I had resisted this move. Tonight, no.

But it was so good that I do not care! And the taste reminded me of a time in the past when I made scones in a most wonderful stove - an AGA. Do you know what an AGA is? Look it up, if you like - and I will talk more about it soon.  Here is a photo of one of their newer models, which I saw during a London trip:

It is so cute!

If you read any Rosamunde Pilcher novels, you will not only know the AGA, you will love it and want one for yourself.

I will get back to you on this. But while you wait, why not run to the Library and find The Shell Seekers? You won't be sorry.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Pinnacle of Scones

The culmination of scone tasting has at last taken place, with the baking and consuming of Rosie's Scones.

I promised you this on November 5, and now, I have achieved a stunning result. My only regret is that I did not have a white table cloth or porcelain to use in the serving of these delightful treats. The experience, however, was not in any way hindered.

The recipe I gave you worked exactly as expected. Just the right amount of sweetness for the scone lover to savor; of perfect warmth, from the oven; a scone of substance, and none of that annoying dryness so many scone recipes produce. And, the ultimate wow factor: whipped cream. Applied generously. Atop my mother-in-law's homemade strawberry freezer jam.

It is now 9:30 p.m., and I am thinking about venturing into the kitchen for just one more. But, I will wait. A good sconing experience must not be beaten into the ground by over-indulgence. It must be savored, not binged.

Today, I baked and ate scones on my own, in this sweet woodland cabin. But I believe having someone to share them with would have heightened the enjoyment. Please, if you do try baking these Rosie-ish scones, invite. Welcome. Hug. Serve. Laugh!

And, I'll see you along the way!
the SconeLady

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Literary Cafe. More Than Just a Hangout.

Every weary traveler looks for, and hopefully finds, a place both soothing and untroubled - with Wifi. And good coffee. And a fresh croissant.

I found such a place, in Tufnell Park, London. Rustique is a civilized and welcoming spot that, as I quickly found, appears to be becoming known. I stepped in one evening after coming off the tube, looking for somewhere to finish a blog entry, and perhaps grab a bite. Immediately I was charmed by this sanctuary, this bookish abode, this - well, literary cafe.

Along with the free Wifi you will find electric wall outlets near each table; you will find books lining the walls; you will find the patience of the proprietor, who never hurries anyone out. Ever.

When you are far away from home, you want to find places that make you feel at home. You wish for them to offer you the possibility of reaching your home, through Wifi. I was astonished to discover that such a place existed at just the right time, for me. I returned more than once. Not only was the ambiance dreamy, with its cozy tables and individual lamps on each, but the leather couch and the kindly host would present a complete welcome to any weary pavement pounder.

I wish I'd had the chance to go there more. But soon it was time for me to turn away from the home-like spot to the Real Thing. Rustique will remain in my memory as one more of those gracious moments-in-time to go back to - one day.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

At Last - Rosie's Scone Recipe!

Tonight, I shall tell you about her scones, and tomorrow I shall bake them. And take pictures of them. And eat them.

You may read about Rosie and her scones in the 10/29 blog entry, where I discuss the complete superiority of this lady and her baking results. Below is the 1992 scrap of paper, upon which I scribbled the conversions from Rosie's metric measurements, to measuring cups and spoons!

Here it is in readable form:

Rosie's Scones

Set oven to 425F

Mix together:
4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, with enough milk to make 1 1/2 cup liquid  
(Save a small amount of the egg mixture for brushing tops)

Stir together all ingredients until dough is sticky.

Sprinkle flour on counter, and knead dough until ready to roll out.
Roll to 1 inch in height, and cut approx. 2 inch rounds.

Place each round on a flour covered baking sheet.
Use leftover egg mixture to brush over tops of each round.

Bake 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm, with butter, jam, and whipped cream.
And tea!
(May also be served with clotted cream rather than whipped.)

Be ready for a fabulous taste treat!

I hope you bake Rosie's Scones. I hope you eat them with the full amount of goodies on top. I hope you invite someone to enjoy them with you. And -

I hope I'll see you along the way!
the SconeLady

When a Chestnut Becomes A Conker

No story of life in England, as a mother, as a fall Weather lover, would be complete without a story about Conkers. Our daughter and son will know exactly what I am talking about, and maybe you do too. I think the chances are, however, that you may not.

Our children attended a British school for two years. We arrived in England in the fall, little knowing that a phenomena which takes England school children by storm each autumn would soon captivate us.

Our children came home from school, chattering away about Conkers and Conker fights. I wondered if it might be some strange new alien drug usage. But I was to discover that Conkers were a commodity, greatly coveted by school children everywhere in this gentle land. My children patiently explained that a Conker is a horse chestnut with a hole drilled through it, and a string (with a knot at one end) threaded through the hole. With this Conker, a game of Conkers takes place. Following is an explanation, with info on how to read more:

The game conkers is played by two people, each equipped with a conker threaded onto the end of a piece of string. Players take turns at whacking their opponent's conker with their own conker, with the aim of smashing their opponent's conker to pieces. The winner is the player whose conker is still attached to the string. 

Read more: 
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Any two boys having a Conker fight clearly enjoy themselves. And gradually, as I watched our children in a relentless search for chestnuts, I joined gleefully in this relentless search.

Each day on our way to school, the children and I walked with heads down, searching eagerly for any Conker we could find. We were unusually protective of our finds. If a small school boy happened to see a Conker we were approaching, and if that small boy tried to reach it first, the scene was not pretty.

And so, as I recently strode along Addison's Walk at Magdalen College, imagine my delight upon seeing loads of horse chestnuts along the path! Soon my pockets were bulging with large, shiny, sweetly brown Conkers.

Now, to find the string...

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">Mark Seton</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Staying at Magdalen, part 2

The Porter handed me the keys, pointing me to the room that would be mine for four days. My first glimpse of this new abode is just after leaving the Porter's Lodge, walking toward my little room:

That first afternoon was spent wandering Oxford, finding my way, planning what to pursue during these four days here. The essentials would be:

-A tour of Oxford
-A tour of the Kilns
-A visit to several churches
-Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill

I am happy to say that each of these hopefuls were in fact visited!

Upon arriving at a certain Church of England on the Sunday (you may learn more about this in the entry Churches and Churchill, September 29), I was greeted by many small, even tiny, and sweet, children sitting in groups on the floor; each had an instrument of noise, which they were given permission to bang upon. These babies, toddlers, and preschoolers joined in the first hymn with gusto, perhaps knowing this was their one noise-permitted moment. At the end of that song, they were escorted to their classes, and big church commenced.

I had found myself seated in the second row, next to a smiling and gentle lady whom I cannot help but call The Sweetest Lady. She will be introduced more thoroughly in a blog soon to appear. May I just say? she is a superior human being!

The Sweetest Lady!

That Sunday ended with Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral, and a visit to the Eagle & Child. 

           Christ Church Cathedral


Eagle and Child, October 2013

Thus, an Oxford day finished with satisfaction, and with the bells of Oxford, ringing me home to Magdalen.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady