Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Saturday, 8 February 2014

{Constable country}

Last weekend we celebrated my cousin's birthday & went for a walk in the Stour Valley. The area around Dedham is where Constable lived and painted. Indeed, he is known for saying that the natural environment of his rural life in Dedham made him a painter before he even knew it.

{water levels were pretty high with all this flooding}

I walked along this river about 7 years ago with my cousins and great Aunt Rita. When I used to teach Constable to my students in America, they would always be astounded at the beauty of the area and the fact that it hasn't changed much (even though I was teaching them how lots was changing due to the Industrial Revolution). I'd show them this pic of me and my great Auntie Rita and compare it with The Haywain or the White Horse:
{Dedham, 2007}

{Constable, The White Horse, 1819, Frick Collection, NY (photo from Tate's website)}

To get a feel for Constable's paintings and sketches, check out this exhibition of his great landscapes at Tate.
The lovely walk was then followed by an amazing afternoon tea at The Swan in Lavenham, a fifteenth-century building that is now a hotel. Simply lovely!

The Swan has a number of areas for dining--large sofas in numerous rooms around big inglenook fireplaces to have a drink or tea, a cool old bar, a formal dining room, and a more casual restaurant....
We sat near a big fireplace and near a window, enjoying the treats displayed: 

{birthday girl!}

{reflection of the fifteenth-century rafters in the shiny tea pot}

{ & finally, at C&L's, a lovely dinner where we read a poem written by my Dad (see below) in honour of the birthday girls (it was Mrs W's bday too!)}

The Birthday Party

Great Charlie shone the silverware,
He bought a new cigar.
“We’re going to celebrate”, he cried,
“With Pimms and caviar!”

Then Lizzie laid the table
With a cloth both rich and rare.
“Only the best will do”, she smiled
As she set the tableware.

And Leaps, the Italian scholar,
One of England’s treasured daughters,
Wore her boots of finest leather,
She had bought across the waters.

Mr. Weatherup doffed his new top hat
He smiled a secret smile.
“I’d like to propose a toast or two
“In just a little while.”

When all the glasses were raised on high,
“Maid Marian, here’s to you!”
And then he toasted his charming wife,
“My dear … your birthday too!”

Great Charlie pulled out all the stops,
Became quite the charming fella.
He recited all the poetry he knew
And the story of Plonka’s umbrella.

Our scholar sang of Danny Boy
In voice both sweet and able.
The birthday girls could resist no more
And danced upon the table.

The party ended late that night
With arrival of the fire brigade.
Charlie sent a cracker off
“In honour of the Maid”.

It sputtered and fizzled then bolted
Through the door and lit up the town.
“Now, that’s enough” said the firemen
And quietly shut them down.

lovely times!

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