"Welcome to Hill Top," the robin chirped (I think). "Miss Potter left the garden gate unlatched."
The little red-breasted robin trilled a welcoming song to us as we walked into Beatrix Potter's Hill Top cottage. Inside, a fire crackled, children wandered wide-eyed through the rooms, and a little girl asked, "Is Beatrix Potter here today?" "I'm sorry, she isn't," the blue eyed docent answered. "But is it still magic here," the little girl asked as she fondled her Peter Rabbit book. "Oh yes, it is still magic here," the docent replied. And it is...a hundred years of magic for millions of children, and, yes, for all of us who will always be children at heart as long as we live.
The original iron gate leading to the walled garden.
The parlor window.
What am I photographing? Clusters of Sempervivum tectorum, also known as houseleeks or live forevers. They are believed to protect a home from lightning.
But I love the ancient name for these plants, which is "Welcome home husband, however late and drunk thee may be."
In the caretaker's window.
The gate that opens from the walled garden to the orchard.
Inside the walled garden.
Hill Top behind me, but I felt like it was really heaven.
Love the old trough in the garden, which was a magnet for birds. Look to the right and you can see the poacher's spade stuck in the ground. It is just like the one that is pictured in Peter Rabbit with a robin sitting on the handle.
A feast for my eyes wherever I looked.
Jemima Puddleduck's egg tucked under a leaf in the walled garden.
You will see this wooden beehive in many of her books. I love the cloche next to it.
The bee hive with shallots drying beneath it.
The old rhubarb forcer has seen many years of service.
Ok, I'll take this wheelbarrow, but HOW do I get it home?
The front entryway to Hill Top
Looking into the apple orchard and beyond.
Beatrix's beloved Herdwick sheep.
Our new friend Gillian, the gift shop manager, shared some rare insights with us. The white house with the bay windows to the right is "Miss Potter's marital home with Mr. Heelis." She passed away in that room looking out to the hillsides and village she loved beyond any others. See the sinuous walled pathway behind the house? We were told that Beatrix and Mr. H. always walked this pathway up to their beloved "tarn" (Cumbrian for pond) at the top of the hill. Quite a hike. It took us about 50 minutes to make it to the top. I know that Beatrix's feet gave her problems in her late 50s, and I'm sure she couldn't have walked up there with bad feet.
Jeff photographing the hillsides on the walk up to the tarn.
Looking back to the village of Hill Top from the pathway.
Twist my arm and I'll stay here for a life time. Beatrix Potter bought over 4,000 acres and a few farms and donated them all to the National Trust. They're preserved forever all thanks to a determined lady who wrote her "little books" for children.
Peacefully hiking the pathway and doing close up photos of lichen...
See the beautiful lichens and mosses. A miniature world inhabited by a red jacketed British Soldier lichen. I love them.
I loved these words from Beatrix's journal: "All the little fungus people singing and bobbing and dancing in the grass and under the leaves all down below, like the whistling that some people cannot hear of stray mice and bats." Beatrix believed that the faerie fungus people "laugh and clap their hands, especially the little ones that grow in troops and rings amongst dead leaves in the woods."
I'm hiking down the pathway, minding my own business and quietly enjoying the countryside when I hear...
...the thunder of little hooves. I moved against the wall, and they ran past me.
This is Buckle Yeat B& B, which is next door to Hill Top. This lovely building was often pictured in her books. You can stay here, and we wanted to, but the entire inn was booked for a wedding.
Right alongside the road there was this wonderful display of squash.
Nice woodpile cloaked in sweet peas and topped with a green roof.
The tarn where Beatrix and Mr. Heelis picnicked and fished. Can't you see why she so loved it there? I heard many rumors about where she was buried, but particularly liked the one that her ashes are scattered here in a spot she loved.
I sketched above the tarn and could see Miss Potter choosing the exact spot, which was a perfect look out over everything.
Me and my best friend having a wonderful adventure together.
I hope this isn't too long for you, but I wanted to somehow repay you for the dozens and dozens of well wishes and loving thoughts. I am so sorry that I am behind in answering you, but we've just returned and now I am preparing to give my talk ("The Artist in the Garden and the Garden in the Artist") at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, which is a world class jewel. It would be wonderful to see you there Thursday, October 7th at 6:00 p.m.. Tickets are $15.00 for non-members, $10 for member. A booksigning with refreshments will follow my talk and all proceeds will benefit the garden. If you come early take the time to enjoy the amazing Children's Garden. It is breathtaking.
I'll be working on my slide program and also more blog entries. Look for our two visits to the fabulous and historic town of Oxford where we walked in the tracks of C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, Tolkien, and more. Also two meals at Jamie's Italian, the masterpiece of Jamie Oliver. Wow! Won't you drop by again in a few days for a visit?
All love and best wishes to you,
P.S. We had a chance to visit the adorable Rachel Lucas (Mozart's Girl). She is "The Queen of the Blue Angel Bakery" and now has a stall in the Aylesbury Farmer's Market. I'll tuck her into one of the next blog entries. Rachel's creations are beautiful and scrumptious. We were so happy to witness the legions of fans she has amassed through the years. Please visit her blog and get to know her better.