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What a glorious time I had in England last autumn! My travel companion chose some beautiful places to visit; stunning towns and villages I will always remember. In the last week of my visit, I traveled on my own to a little town in East Sussex. It was a town I knew about and had longed to visit, a town known for its literary history and outstanding beauty. I left Brighton on the train the morning of October 18 and within two hours I pulled into the station in Rye. I stepped off the train and my heart swelled to bursting. Within 5 minutes I was at the door to my accommodation, Jeakes House. Being in England gave me the feeling of being home, Rye, even more so.

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For three days I wandered the lanes and paths, enjoying every vista, every shop. I visited Lamb House, a National Trust property, former home of Henry James. I saw sunrises and sunsets. In between the wandering, I got caught up on my painting projects and blogging.

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And there was a cream tea or two! The Cobbles was outstanding!

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I would happily live in Rye, and will be looking for opportunities to spend a lot more time there in the near future!

I was so excited to have an unexpected night in Brighton near the end of my month in England last October. It was very nice to be beside the seaside, and explore this interesting and artsy town. A quick train ride from Brockenhurst brought me right into town and just steps away from the hotel I found near the station: ibis Brighton City Centre. My room was clean and comfortable, and I had a nice view of the town.

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As soon as I had dropped my bags, I headed out to explore the town and find the iconic pier. Brighton Palace Pier, opened in 1899, is an amusement park featuring rides, carnival games, entertainments and restaurants/food stalls. It also offers a lovely view back towards Brighton, which became a fashionable seaside resort in the Georgian era.

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I also had a bit of time to explore the Royal Pavilion, The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, and The Lanes (a car-free area filled with shops and restaurants).

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The food theme for my 12 hours is Brighton was FUN! I met the lovely owners of a wonderful Belgian fries shop called Befries, had a big soft ice cream on the pier, and enjoyed a very nice pizza from Very Italian Pizza.

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All around an exceptionally fun time was had. I would love to spend more time in Brighton!

A quiet and gentle Yuletide Season has come and gone. The gift of a head cold on Christmas Day forced me to rest for a week, which I needed. We ate great food,  completed a puzzle, watched our favourite festive films, and took some naps.

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Victoria was, as usual, decorated and filled with festive cheer. There was no snow this year, but the winter rain made way for many bright clear days.

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We enjoyed two amazing Holiday performances: the Victoria Symphony‘s Christmas Pops concert, and local jazz heroes The Tom Vickery Trio playing the Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas Suite at a private party in Chinatown.

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And now a new year ahead, filled with possibilities! I will be completing the stories from my autumn trip to the UK, and continuing to work on the art projects which that trip inspired.

Wishing you all the best year ahead!

xx

I spent a few days in the New Forest National Park area of Hampshire, staying in a cottage in the charming town of Brockenhurst. Throughout this region, the ancient practice of commoning still takes place. Farmers are allowed to let their livestock roam free and graze on common land. Just outside our cottage was a green space where we saw cattle, horses and donkeys every day.

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I enjoyed one of the best cream teas of the whole trip at Rosie Lea Tea Room. The scone was tender and delicious, and the service was exceptional.

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We spent one day in Lyndhurst – a short bus ride away – which is another charming town, filled with interesting shops and a perfectly old-fashioned candy shop.

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Lyndhurst is home to Saint Michael and All Angels Church. Built in the 1860s and designed by William White, it is an exquisite Arts and Crafts building with a beautiful fresco by Lord Frederick Leighton and windows designed by William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Charles Kempe. The grave of Alice Liddel can be found in the yard.

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Walking in the New Forest was the highlight of this part of the journey. Perfect calm, delicious air, horses and cattle, and a lovely pub lunch. I found an excellent map at the post office in Brockenhurst, pinpointed the nearest pub, and started walking. Trail markers kept me from getting lost.

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My usual: cheese and chutney sandwich and a half pint of Guinness!

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After a fun two days with my sister in London, I headed back to Somerset on an early train so I could spend a few hours exploring Bath Spa. It seems late October offers no rest from tourists, as the town was packed with us. Such a beautiful place! The Roman Baths historic site was very interesting. More than just ruins, it’s a well-presented museum filled with artifacts and information which give visitors a wonderful sense of what life was like in this Roman town. After a bit more exploring and a nice cream tea, it was back to the train station and on to Frome.

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Pulteney Bridge, the iconic view of Bath.

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Bath Abbey, a site of worship since 757 AD, with an Anglo-Saxon monastery making way for a Norman Cathedral, and the Abbey as it stands today.

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A perfect summer’s day… in the middle of October!

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The mineral-rich hot springs below the town still feed the ancient bath.

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It’s easy to see why Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – every building reveals the historical story, from Celts and Romans to present day.

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Detail of the intricately carved wooden door of Bath Abbey.

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The centre of town was decorated for Day of the Dead. Many brightly-coloured skulls accompanied these garlands.

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Sweet Little Things, a very pretty tea house in Bath. Many cream teas consist of two scones, which I didn’t really understand, as one was usually plenty. And, as I love my scone to be piled high with cream and jam, I use it all up on one. The second scone made a nice snack the following day.

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View from the tea house door.

My beloved sister was also visiting the UK in October. As we don’t live close to each other, I took the opportunity to spend a couple days with her and her partner in London. We had a wonderful time exploring the city, eating and shopping. The weather was summer-like and perfect. Here are some of the highlights:

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This intrigued me. I think it is in Soho.

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So many gorgeous hotels.

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Lunch at The Crypt, in St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square.

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I loved all the layers of history and architecture. This is the Liberty building. The animatronics above the clock depict St George and the Dragon.

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Beautiful Tower Bridge. I stayed not far from here.

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Leaving Camden Market for a walk along the canal.

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Last look at the Camden Canal, near St Mark’s Church. Many narrow boats were moored at it’s edges.

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We enjoyed a remarkable dinner at Nopi in Soho. This was the most succulent Burrata with peaches and crunchy coriander seeds with a delicious dressing.

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The Regent’s Park roses still blooming in abundance, in the middle of October! This one smelled particularly fine.

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The Triton Fountain in The Regent’s Park.

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The Regent’s Park has waterways and a boating lake.

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We watched this gentleman feeding the birds. They were all eating from his hand. The grey goose to the right of him was looking at him so lovingly, and patiently waiting his or her turn for a handful of seed.

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Sunset over the Thames, viewed from the bridge on Narrow Street, district of Limehouse, East London.

After our week in the Cotwolds, we traveled to Somerset to the charming village of Mells. Situated alongside the Mells River, the village holds a rich past from Mesolithic flint workshops, Roman occupation, a Saxon village, a 16th century Manor House, wool trade in the middle ages, to more recently an Iron Works and Quarry. The Village amenities include the beautiful Talbot Inn, a lovely café attached to the Village shop and post office, the Walled Garden with it’s seasonal café, walking and cycling trails, and a general sense of serenity.

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Sheep and stone, with beautiful autumn colour.

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Green in every direction.

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The glimpse of St Andrew’s Church from the Walled Garden.

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Through the gate in this stone wall was our river-side sanctuary; the loveliest cottage.

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The Mells River ran directly alongside the patio of our cottage. The sweet and gentle sound was the first to greet me each morning. In the green space across we saw many pheasants, and the view of the stars at night in the dark village sky was spectacular.

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The stone bridge near our cottage which is one of the main roadways into the village.

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The path along the river through deciduous forest.

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A small waterfall along the riverside walk.

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An abandoned building from the old Fussells Iron Works.

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Old walls in various states of ruin are all around the area near the old Iron Works.

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A half of Guinness and some sketching on a rainy day at the Talbot Inn.

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A sweet little jam closet next to a cottage, open most days selling delicious preserves, plants and fruit. I brought home a jar of Strawberry-Rhubarb-Rose jam!