Thursday, 21 August 2014

{Quotable Thursdays}

I'm going to take a bit of a vacation from blog land, but see you on the other side!
{power}
xo, 
L

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

{dinner etiquette and hosting}

{fantastic!}
I'm a firm believer that the way we are brought up around the dinner table will affect us for the rest of our lives. It's not simply a matter of eating, rather it's connected to how we approach the ritual of sitting down together which encompasses polite conversation, conviviality, and of course eating-related activities. But eating involves so much more: food presentation and the food itself (is it prefab, a tv dinner, or homemade?) The atmosphere is just as important: is there a tv blaring somewhere? are there candles on the table? do you have proper cloth napkins? is there nice music playing? flowers on the table?
{I'm kind of obsessed with table settings, for more see my board on pinterest}


Linked to this is of course how we entertain and how we like to entertain. If eating your daily meal is celebrating the people around you, appreciating the small details and taking time out of your day to converse, savour your food, and slow down, then your entertaining style will likely reflect this as well.
{my family around the dinner table in the 90s (minus me)}


My mum is very down to earth--spending half of her life aboard ship, she has to be. But that doesn't mean that all of the things listed above are unimportant. Indeed, they are crucial to the running of a tight ship (metaphorically and realistically) and the maintenance of a 40+ year relationship with my father. They sit down for all meals, with cloth napkins & a tablecloth. Candles are lit every night and wine is enjoyed... Food presentation is also essential, so that my mum always provides some sort of garnish--whether it's merely a few pieces of cilantro and a tomato accompanying their scrambled eggs on a Monday morning, or a strawberry on the rim of the orange glass.
Equally important is the quality of food--my mum always makes homemade bread. After a day of sanding and refinishing their hardwood floors, the other day, I called and asked her what was for supper: she was making a roast lamb, rather than ordering take-out like normal humans would do. I love it.
My mum said that she learned these things from her mum--my grandmother Eva would get changed for dinner every night. Similarly, the little things are also important, which she learned from her mum and are now engrained in me, such as the butter knife so you don't get crumbs in your butter dish and of course grape scissors (or at least trimmed grapes) so that everybody can take a little bunch of grapes rather than leaving an ugly carcass on the table (!)

Anyway, I head home this week to visit my parents and they are hosting a little soirée. They've only recently moved to Nova Scotia so are still getting to know people. I simply *love* the invite and their ideas for a good evening:

"We would be delighted if you could join us for a ‘soiree’ on Saturday, August 23rd.  Our youngest daughter, Leah, will be here for a visit from London (Italian Renaissance Art History lecturer) [...]

Another reason for celebration is the ongoing renovations at Gaudeamus which proceed apace.  Who knows? Perhaps a new roof by then but no guarantees of a paint job.  Your constructive criticism and suggestions will be gratefully accepted.

[...]
Musical entertainment of the collaborative kind will be provided, good cheer will flow and conversation of the most scintillating sort is expected.  John and Mary will be on hand and we have invited John to bless our new home.

As I’m sure you know, Gaudeamus in Latin means “Rejoice” so we intend to do this with your welcome company. "

The follow-up email gets even better:

"Dear Friends,

We are excited that you will be joining us a week Saturday (August 23rd ) for a ‘soiree’ at Gaudeamus.
 [...]

Also, in view of a “get to know each” quiz held at some time during the course of the evening, could you please drop us a line about something you (or a family member) did which we are not likely to know about?  Something famous, infamous or somewhere in between!  Tea with the queen? Contended in the Iditarod (dog sled race)? Short-listed for the Booker Prize? Insights of this nature will be greatly appreciated by those of us wishing to get to know you better!
(Please email such nuggets no later than Tuesday, August 19th)

Looking forward to your company.

M `n` M"

Following are some pictures of my own dinner-parties:


{thanksgiving}





{my mum carving a roast when she visited for my knee surgery}

{kisses for the chef}



{cousins BBQ}
well, bon appétit!
xo
L


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

{Mr Darcy country--Derbyshire and the Peak District Part II}


In my previous blog, I discussed travelling to Lyme Park and exploring Mr Darcy country...
But I didn't finish!
We also went for a lovely walk in the Dovedale Hills--with striking views of the Peak District and also visited Chatsworth.
I wish we had had more time, because the Peak District is simply stunning...
You'll probably recall this iconic scene from the 2005 version of P&P with Keira:
{what are men to rocks & mountains?}

{Dovedale}

{this is England!}



{mehhh}





Chatsworth was also stunning--the house that Austen based 'Pemberley' on and also the house where the 2005 version was filmed. To be honest, it was a bit too over the top for me--a bit too Baroque. I think I prefer a little more restrain when it comes to decorating, but then I wouldn't say no to Mr Darcy! Chatsworth is still the residence of the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire, but I didn't have any sightings of these modern day Darcys!
{beautiful Chatsworth!}

{Melissa peruses the artwork!}


{in the main hall}
{the great hall}





{fantastic interiors}


{playing Mrs Darcy!}


My favourite bit was the sculpture court, I think: 
 


{sculpture court}





{romance!}




cheerio,
L

Sunday, 17 August 2014

{Mr Darcy country--Derbyshire and the Peak District Part I}

Ladies and gents, this is a long one. Brace yourself! for those Austen fans, you'll enjoy it. For those not so inclined, just feel free to peruse the pics and picture captions! Since I've pasted a lot from Pride & Prejudice, I've put the quotations in italics, to distinguish from my voice (not the correct form to quote, but easier to read)
...Enjoy!

In Pride and Prejudice, Miss Eliza Bennett accompanies her aunt and uncle into the Peak District. The story goes as follows:

 ``My dear, dear aunt,'' she rapturously cried, ``what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains? Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travellers, without being able to give one accurate idea of any thing. We will know where we have gone -- we will recollect what we have seen. Lakes, mountains, and rivers shall not be jumbled together in our imaginations; nor, when we attempt to describe any particular scene, will we begin quarrelling about its relative situation. Let our first effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travellers.'' '

& so, they embark on their journey, reaching the lovely area of the Peak District. This past weekend I travelled with my second cousin, Great Charles and his wife, Liz (who are like an aunt & uncle to me and so very much like Eliza's trip with the Gardiners) & my good friend Melissa. We stayed in an amazing B&B (Wolfscote Grange Farm) which dates back to the Domesday Book--a fantastic stone house in the middle of their 500 acres of working farmland (sheep & cattle), right in the heart of the Peak district National Park. It was fantastic.
{the view from the room at the B&B}

{lovely old B&B}

{breakfast room}

{breakfast room window seat}

{our B&B, Wolfscote Grange Farm}

{sitting room}


{Wolfscote Dale}


{1649}

What was even better was the fact that we visited Lyme Park, which was 'Pemberley' in the BBC's version of Pride & Prejudice. I felt like Mr Darcy was going to walk out at any moment. Just a few days ago, I was watching The Village, where Lyme Park appears everywhere--and apparently our B&B also was used in the filming of the programme.
We also visited Chatsworth, which is likely what Austen was thinking of when she created the fictive Pemberley (another blog to come on that).

In Pride & Prejudice, Derbyshire is the birthplace of Mrs Gardiner as well as Mr Darcy and it is to this area that they go:
'In that county, there was enough to be seen to occupy the chief of their three weeks; and to Mrs. Gardiner it had a peculiarly strong attraction. The town where she had formerly passed some years of her life, and where they were now to spend a few days, was probably as great an object of her curiosity, as all the celebrated beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak.'

Indeed we did visit Dovedale and Chatsworth, we drove through Matlock and visited the Peak!

'The Gardiners staid only one night at Longbourn, and set off the next morning with Elizabeth in pursuit of novelty and amusement. 
[...] A small part of Derbyshire is all the present concern. To the little town of Lambton, the scene of Mrs. Gardiner's former residence, and where she had lately learned that some acquaintance still remained, they bent their steps, after having seen all the principal wonders of the country; and within five miles of Lambton, Elizabeth found from her aunt that Pemberley was situated. It was not in their direct road, nor more than a mile or two out of it. In talking over their route the evening before, Mrs. Gardiner expressed an inclination to see the place again. Mr. Gardiner declared his willingness, and Elizabeth was applied to for her approbation.


[...] when she [Miss Bennett] retired at night, she asked the chambermaid whether Pemberley were not a very fine place, what was the name of its proprietor, and, with no little alarm, whether the family were down for the summer. A most welcome negative followed the last question -- and her alarms being now removed, she was at leisure to feel a great deal of curiosity to see the house herself; and when the subject was revived the next morning, and she was again applied to, could readily answer, and with a proper air of indifference, that she had not really any dislike to the scheme.

To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go.'

Of course, it is the fateful scene in the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, when they get to Pemberley and the master has come home early, emerging from the lake, to the astonished Miss Bennett! (for the clip from the film, click here)

'ELIZABETH, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation; and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter.
{Lyme Park (Pemberley in the BBC version of P&P}

The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They entered it in one of its lowest points, and drove for some time through a beautiful wood, stretching over a wide extent.

Elizabeth's mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road, with some abruptness, wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; -- and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!

They descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the door; and, while examining the nearer aspect of the house, all her apprehensions of meeting its owner returned. She dreaded lest the chambermaid had been mistaken. On applying to see the place, they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth, as they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was.

[...]
``And of this place,'' thought she, ``I might have been mistress! With these rooms I might now have been familiarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced in them as my own, and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle and aunt. -- But no,'' -- recollecting herself, -- ``that could never be: my uncle and aunt would have been lost to me: I should not have been allowed to invite them.'' This was a lucky recollection -- it saved her from something like regret.

{the Elizabethan façade (very different from the neo-classical façade on the other side)}
[...]

Her aunt now called her to look at a picture. She approached, and saw the likeness of Mr. Wickham suspended, amongst several other miniatures, over the mantlepiece. Her aunt asked her, smilingly, how she liked it. The housekeeper came forward, and told them it was the picture of a young gentleman, the son of her late master's steward, who had been brought up by him at his own expence. -- ``He is now gone into the army,'' she added, ``but I am afraid he has turned out very wild.''

Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece with a smile, but Elizabeth could not return it.

``And that,'' said Mrs. Reynolds, pointing to another of the miniatures, ``is my master -- and very like him. It was drawn at the same time as the other -- about eight years ago.''

``I have heard much of your master's fine person,'' said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the picture; ``it is a handsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not.''

Mrs. Reynolds's respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her knowing her master.

``Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?''

Elizabeth coloured, and said -- ``A little.''

``And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, Ma'am?''

``Yes, very handsome.''

``I am sure I know none so handsome; but in the gallery up stairs you will see a finer, larger picture of him than this. This room was my late master's favourite room, and these miniatures are just as they used to be then. He was very fond of them.''

[...]

As they walked across the lawn towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also, and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road, which led behind it to the stables.

They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance, that it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immoveable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself, advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility.
{ahh the lake where Mr Darcy emerges!}


[...] Oh! why did she come? or, why did he thus come a day before he was expected? Had they been only ten minutes sooner, they should have been beyond the reach of his discrimination, for it was plain that he was that moment arrived, that moment alighted from his horse or his carriage. She blushed again and again over the perverseness of the meeting. And his behaviour, so strikingly altered, -- what could it mean? That he should even speak to her was amazing! -- but to speak with such civility, to enquire after her family! Never in her life had she seen his manners so little dignified, never had he spoken with such gentleness as on this unexpected meeting. What a contrast did it offer to his last address in Rosings Park, when he put his letter into her hand! She knew not what to think, nor how to account for it.



[...] Her thoughts were all fixed on that one spot of Pemberley House, whichever it might be, where Mr. Darcy then was. She longed to know what at that moment was passing in his mind; in what manner he thought of her, and whether, in defiance of every thing, she was still dear to him. Perhaps he had been civil only because he felt himself at ease; yet there had been that in his voice which was not like ease. Whether he had felt more of pain or of pleasure in seeing her, she could not tell, but he certainly had not seen her with composure...

How romantic!!!

{& the walk they go along to chat}

 

{ on their walk!}




 Lyme Park also has this amazing look out point called 'the Cage':



I have much more to report--on Chatsworth and the Peak District in general, but that will wait for another blog.
xo,
L