Monday, July 21, 2014

Stourhead: The Home and Gardens

 The Palladian Mansion
 The View of the estate from the entrance

Stourhead Landscape Gardens 

 The Palladian Bridge
 The Gothic Cottage

England is a living piece of art and an old, old country filled to the brim with beauty!  Just a little over three years ago, I visited England for the first time and have been back each year since, for a total of three times. I feel blessed that my wonderful son in law, Philip, has such a rich British heritage and many of the places I have visited, he has driven me....very patiently as I asked him to stop so I could snap a photo! He drove on tiny one lane roads to show me villages that are in fairytales....or so it seems.  There is still so much I hope to still see and experience in other visits. One of my favorite experiences in my travels there has been visiting homes and gardens of The National Trust of England.  The National Trust is a registered charity and is independent of the British government and was founded in 1895 to preserve places of historic interest or natural beauty permanently for the benefit of the nation.  The national trust relies on the generosity of its supporters, through membership subscriptions, gifts, legacies and the contribution of many thousands of volunteers. There are over 300 historic houses and gardens.

I was invited by my daughter's husbands grandparents, who are British citizens and hold a membership in The National Trust to tour the beautiful Stourhead Landscape Gardens.  I was enthralled by its beauty, a true paradise!  We visited on a beautiful spring day and walked the gardens around the beautiful clear lake which is tastefully surrounded by classical and Gothic buildings set against wooded slopes.  From the beginning, I was in love! It is such a well designed landscape garden full of formal and native plantings and well maintained today as a park like setting around a fourteen acre lake. It's hard to believe that it was one man's vision.

The entire Stourhead estate consist of 2,650 acres at the source of the River Stour near Mere, Wiltshire, England. On our visit, we arrived by car and the winding roads which take you to the entrance seem to have a way of drawing visitors in..... immediately!  The vast beauty of the setting and the landscape attracts visitors daily.  This past Spring when I visited England again, I wanted to visit the beautiful Palladian mansion on this visit as well as the gardens. I was not disappointed!  The history of Stourhead manor house is just as interesting as the gardens. The original estate is 800 years old and passed from the original family, the Barons of Stourton, to Sir Thomas Meres in 1714 and he sold it to Henry Hoare i in 1717.  The original manor house was demolished and new house was build in 1725.  Over the next 200 years the Hoare family collected many heirlooms, a library of books, and an art collection.  In 1902 the house was gutted by fire but many of the collections were saved.  The house was rebuilt but in 1946 the only remaining son gave the home to the National Trust. On our visit, the house seemed neglected and in need of paint and restoration in comparision to other National Trust homes I had visited, but still the beauty of its setting and the beautiful antiques were interesting. Once I understood about the loss due to the fire and the early death of the last owner, I understood more and appreciated its place in the history of Stourhead and Wiltshire.  On the day of our visit, volunteers were cataloging the antique books in the library. They wore gloves in order to preserve the delicate papers of the volumes and volumes of books.  It was as though they understood they were being entrusted with a valuable piece of history. They spoke quietly among each other with their findings as we watched in awe. These volunteers are another resource that makes England so very special. British people love their country and their heritage in honored by one another and those of us who appreciate the joy of visiting.

These beautiful estates scattered all over England are well worth a visit if you plan a trip abroad. The city of London is beautiful and rich in history and modern as well however..... it's in getting out to the countryside that one truly sees England and its history. It is beautiful. indeed!!!

If you've seen the 2005 period film Pride and Prejudice then you've seen some of Stourhead.  The Temple of Apollo which stands high on a hill at the western end of the garden is where Mr. Darcy declares his love for Lizzy.  The Palladian Bridge is where Lizzie runs in the scene hoping to run away from her fear that she is falling in love with Mr. Darcy.  

Stourhead is to be enjoyed over and over again!
 The Temple of Apollo
 Beautiful hybrid rhododendrons fill the landscape planted in the
20th Century!
 The gorgeous 14 acre lake!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Moving......A Home Filled with LOVE!

Every home seems to have an ambience!  We have lived in our current home longer than any other we have ever owned.....six years and five months. The longest was six years, until now.  As my husband took on new career changes and challenges, we moved.  We have lived in twelve different homes in forty one years! Yes, we were babes when we started the marriage journey!  Two of those were rentals until our homes were finished in Los Angeles, California and Jackson, Mississippi.  It could seem mind boggling if you've never moved but for us well, it was wonderful! I loved each place we lived.....well, I take that back. One was deleted from my memory! :) our children took on the nomadic life well and each one has never been held back by is an adventure.

Finding personal style in the home can be a daunting task when moving but it is also a great time to purge of things you do not wish to keep.  Over the years, I have learned to keep things neutral and more simple when it comes to collections. I do not add to them anymore and have actually given away or sold lots of things I thought were necessary at one point. I do have a love for all things French now so some of my French decor I am planning to always live surrounded by!  I hope my husband doesn't mind.

Four of our five children, who are now grown, have moved this summer. Two in California, one in Colorado, and now our youngest will be making the journey from England to the states, and on to California as well.  Each one of them have lovely taste in decorating.  I look forward to visiting each one.  Each of our children inherited a collectors and artist style of sorts.  This, to me, is what makes their homes each unique to who they are individually.  I also think they really enjoy each others company and just hanging out together in their homes always filled with love and laughter.
I have prayed for their empty homes before they arrived. I have prayed today because one is moving into her new home with her family. I pray for the rooms to be filled with love, with laughter, with joy, with happiness, with health, with peacefulness, with forgiveness, and with protection.  In all my moves, I have learned that where God dwells there IS blessing and there is goodness and LOVE!  May love abound in each of our homes and be a place of refuge and comfort for all who need us in this journey of life.  It's really quiet simple and short! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Living A Healthy Life: Wellness

Having reared four daughters, and now interested in the well being of my three granddaughters, I wanted to share this information! Listed below are six wonderful examples of how we can all promote well being in young women and young girls and also, ourselves, as women. Wellness or well-being is essential in today's world. The all girls school that our youngest daughter, Kara, attended 7-12 grade in Nashville, Tennessee has opened a beautiful new wellness center for the students.  They list these examples of proactive things we can do and they are SO worthy of sharing!

1.  Wellness is physical health, well-being is emotional health, self esteem comes from doing things that we feel good about.

2.  Close friendships rather than large groups of friends are more predictive of psychological well being than popularity.

3.  When we over praise, girls do not believe us.  Authentic praise is better than inflated praise.

4.  Optimal sleepers show many benefits: Improved mood, relationships, personal growth, and more.

5.  Exercise gets the blood pumping and makes the brain function at its best.

6.  Time with an adult can have positive results.  For example, eating dinner with at least one parent at night has a high influence on school performance.

I would add one more....teach them that their body is a temple created by God for His glory and His purpose.....He has a beautiful plan for each and every life!  Everyday is a gift!

In today's world, I pray we as mothers and grandmothers continue the legacy of sharing with our faith with the next generation.  God is very much alive and with us each day. His very name Immanuel means God with us!  Immanuel is with us at all times, in our every waking and sleeping hour!  His desire is to teach us how to live full and healthy lives.  Trials will come, days will be long, but our God has given us all we need to sustain every circumstance! strong my friend and get moving and find that connection between your body, mind, and spirit! Be healthy! Have a great weekend!

"Exercise provides an unparalleled stimulus, creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing , and able to learn."  From the book SPARK by John J. Rakey