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Random revelations culled during our recent visit to Wincanton, UK

The weather in England isn’t always rainy and miserable.  In fact, while we were there, it was glorious, sunny and perfect!

Climbing to the top of the Glastonbury Tor isn’t nearly as easy as it looks.  The view from the top, while gorgeous, is a bit scary.  It’s windy as all get out.  But it is soooo worth it and IMHO, should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Dorset and Somerset have some of the most beautiful countryside in all of Christendom. Or at least the U.K., based on my limited knowledge of the country. And that of my stepson, a UK native.

Wincanton in Somerset is a beautiful and enjoyable market town, not just a racecourse, although having visited, it does spark in me the desire to re-read Dick Francis and the books by his son, Felix as well.

Visit the Wincanton Primary School schoolyard in the afternoon and watch the parents pick up their children, you’ll feel like you’re watching the start of schoolyear at Hogwarts (minus the wands and book of incantations of course). I have to give my hubs attribution for this observation since he’s the one who aired it as we wound our way through the (mostly) fair-haired youngsters and their equally fair-haired parents, nans and granddads.

There’s an awesome farm store offering local meats, produce, and other great British food treats located between Sherborne and Shaftesbury. It won the gold medal at Taste of the West in 2014, so check it out if you are in the area.

Speaking of Shaftesbury, what a lovely, lovely place!  We took a daytrip there and started with the best “full English” breakfast I think I’ve ever had – it was at The John Peel . Then, we had to work off the meal, of course, so trekked over to Gold Hill, a breathtakingly picturesque hill that’s been dubbed one of the most romantic sights in England. It has been featured in movies, television ads, on the cover of books and more. Don’t miss it if you are in the area.

One final stop during our days in Somerset was a visit to Clarks Village in Street (yes, that’s the name of the town — located just across the river from Glastonbury.)  This pretty outdoor outlet mall was made much better by the great spring weather we enjoyed while visiting. It has more than 90 retail outlet stores including great high-end designer shops, along with restaurants and more. A very pleasant and worthwhile trek if you have the time. Especially, if like me, you are a fan of Clark footwear.

Below are a few of the photos of our trip there. If you’d like to see more, jump over to my Photobucket album.



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"Nearly a month since my last confession"


Or, if you are not Catholic, my last blog posting.  Mea Culpa but you’ll understand when I tell you it’s been crazy busy.  Here’s what’s been going on:

Hung the Paige Simmons Salon and Gallery show November 2.  Here’s what it looks like in the gorgeous renovated former Tennessee Art League building.  Can you say beautiful light? 

Hung the Smyrna show with assistance from my brother on November 18 but was really rushed and too busy to take pictures of the paintings hanging so in today’s blog post are a few photos of the paintings hanging there. 

The very next day, we boarded a 6 a.m. flight to the UK and made it safely to London at 10:45 p.m. local time.  For the next 11 days, we drove, and shot photos, and visited family and friends, and ate, drank, danced and really enjoyed ourselves. 

We returned home safely two nights ago and now, bags unpacked, laundry washed, bills paid, I can put down a few words. 

 I can’t wait to paint that which I photographed.  I did paint one day in the hotel room when David was spending quality time alone with his dad, but the lighting was poor, the room was cold, and it was just a study of something I’ll do in acrylics later on, I think. 

We had a wonderful, if freezing time, and have mixed feelings about being back.  I’m glad, for my studio, friends and family here, but am already profoundly missing all those friends and family we love across the pond.  

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Labor Day = Vacation Time


At least this year in our house. We’d planned a road trip to my sister Patty’s weekend place near Berkeley Springs, W.V. with our dog but life happened and we ended up going further up north as well.  We started Thursday with an all-day drive to New Jersey to visit my BFF who was recently diagnosed with a fast growing skin condition/ cancer.  Though I’d seen her not long ago, hearing the “C” word in relation to my BFF is a game changer.  We also planned to very reluctantly relinquish our rights to Baxter, my son’s beautiful and soulful part Lab part who-knows-what-big brindle type dog with the most soulful eyes on four feet.

The drive up was on its way to being fun until some construction/traffic-from-hell in Pennsylvania added 2-1/2 hours to our already 14 hour drive.  The dogs were wonderful though and it broke our hear to say goodbye — for now at least — to Baxter.  Instead of the usual trip to NY, we stayed close to Bindy’s for some great quality time on her deck. The seashore picture above was painted there on a crisp late-Summer morning on the deck, based on a photo of her lovely daughter Jordy.  A surprise birthday reunion dinner party with some very old friends (fellow members of the Cold Ass Ski Club — a story for another day) topped off the brief visit before we headed to the wilderness of West Virginia Sunday morning.   I did feel reassured leaving Bindy, though, confident she is in capable hands and will come out of this relatively unscathed.

The 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid wasn’t eager to cooperate and what should have taken us 4-1/2 hours took more than 8 and meant riding backroads for safety reasons.  A safety switch on the car would shut the engine down once it heated up to a certain temp.  We discovered the backroads were both safer and made the car less prone to shutting down, and by the last 2 hours of the trip, the car didn’t stall once, even when we went back on the highway.  Still, it was an incredibly stressful ride and we were ready for the cool beers handed us when we got there.  And the beautiful nieces my brother Kev and his wife Les brought along to join us for the day.  Great food, glorious vistas from their deck looking outward at the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the purest river in West Virginia meant a wonderful, soul-healing visit.  We forgot all about the car and David fished, I kayaked and swam, Smokey sniffed and paraded around like she owned the mountains, and I broke out my watercolors for an early morning painting session as the fog eased its veil from over the mountains.

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>We’re going on vacation!

These are from my class yesterday but my mind wasn’t really into it…

The hubby, dog and I are going to Florida Sunday for a week’s vacation in Gulf County where dogs are permitted on the beach all the time… I can’t wait to eat the fresh seafood (Tennessee, as you may be aware, is landlocked), and walk along the beaches, explore the water, take photos of sunsets, and etc. I also look forward to testing my hand at some plein air watercolor paintings and will try my first acrylics, too, in that low-pressure environment, I think.

I have a few books from the library to bring down on acrylic painting, and have learned quite a lot on how to set them up from others in the class who often paint in acrylics instead of watercolors.

Don’t get me wrong, watercolors are nice but I think I’m too rigid to feel too comfortable with them and may have more success with acrylics. From what I understand they are more forgiving. Besides, I have that starter set from my kit. Might as well use it, right?

Well, off I go… wish me luck!