Holiday House Tour-The Dining Room

Judy did such a beautiful job with the Dining Room table. She took white roses and greens and put them in 6 of  my Waterford “Lismore” brandy glasses. She then weaved in a serpentine shape the mixed greens,gold ribbon,white pine, cedar, seeded eucalyptus and magnolia leaves in the center of the table. We used my antique Johnson Brothers plates,Waterford “Lismore” wine and water glasses and my Cristofle flatware.

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These beautiful bubble trees are from Simon Pearce.img_4974We used mixed greens,winter berries and pine cones to surround my silver tea set. The little trees I made in a pottery class in Zurich.img_4953

Zaha Hadid 1950-2016

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Swim Center at the 2012 London Olympics

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Guangzhou Opera House

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Riverside Museum in Glasgow

Zaha Hadid became the first female recipient of the Pritzker architecture prize in 2004 and twice won the UK’s most prestigious architecture award, the RIBA Stirling prize. Other awards included the Republic of France’s Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale.

Hadid won acclaim in Scotland for designing the popular Riverside Museum in Glasgow, known for its distinctive roof structure. Muriel Gray, chair of the board of governors at the Glasgow School of Art, tweeted a picture of the Riverside museum with the message: “Horrible shocking news that Zaha Hadid, incredible architectural trailblazer has just died. Huge loss to design.”

Hadid was recently awarded the RIBA’s 2016 royal gold medal, the first woman to be awarded the honour in her own right.

Architect Sir Peter Cook wrote in his citation at the time: “In our current culture of ticking every box, surely Zaha Hadid succeeds, since, to quote the royal gold medal criteria, she is someone who ‘has made a significant contribution to the theory or practice of architecture … for a substantial body of work rather than for work which is currently fashionable’.

“For three decades now she has ventured where few would dare … Such self confidence is easily accepted in film-makers and football managers, but causes some architects to feel uncomfortable. Maybe they’re secretly jealous of her unquestionable talent. Let’s face it, we might have awarded the medal to a worthy comfortable character. We didn’t. We awarded it to Zaha: larger than life, bold as brass and certainly on the case.”

Fifth Season- Final Downton..sigh…..

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Even though Downton Abbey’s fifth season got off to a shaky start, it ended up being so eventful that the estate’s fearless leader suffered a cardiac scare tonight from all of the activity. Among the year’s high and lowlights inside our favorite Yorkshire household: Mary got a haircut, a weirdly inconsequential fire ravaged Edith’s room, Isis died, a creepy art critic preyed upon Cora, the Dowager toyed with the idea of running off with a long-haired Russian refugee, Daisy quit the kitchen George Costanza-style only to revoke her notice, the Bates family was subjected to a tired retread of that whole falsely-accused-of-murder-and-sent-to-prison plot, Lord Grantham took in an orphan only to realize it was Edith’s illegitimate child, and Rose married a Jewish fellow. And during tonight’s two-hour season finale—which aired in the U.K. as the show’s Christmas special—the gang joined the Sinderbys at Hogwarts for grouse hunting before ringing in the holidays at home. (We are serious about Hogwarts—Downton filmed the Brancaster Castle exteriors at Alnwick Castle, which doubled as Hogwarts in the Harry Pottermovies.)

Let’s Review:

Carson Makes It Official by Proposing to Hughes (Believability: 3)

We are not monsters—we all want Carson and Hughes, longtime work husband and wife, to continue their march to full-on coupledom. They are far better suited for each other than any other couple in the house. But if we did not love these characters so much, and already have their housewarming gift ordered (a lovely calendar to remind Carson on a daily basis that it is no longer 1890), we might be dubious about Carson’s decision to commit to Hughes after her red-flag filled confession. In the course of a two-minute scene, Hughes reveals that she has possibly psychotic family members whom she will need to support financially for the rest of her life . . . and no money. And somehow, Carson is still like, “‘Das cool. Here are the keys to the house I bought in both our names.”

While Suze Orman may not approve, Carson goes ahead with his plans and proposes to Hughes on Christmas Eve while she awkwardly holds two drinks in her hand. The moment is perfect though—who would have thought that last season’s hand holding would lead to this?—and our hearts swell when Carson tells Hughes, “I am not marrying anyone else.”

Anna Is Thrown in Jail Because One Man Thinks He Saw Her Throw a Serial Rapist Into Traffic (Believability: 0)

We know this happened last episode but we still can’t wrap our minds around this plot twist, even though we’ve spent five seasons systematically lowering our expectations for Downton Abbey storytelling logic. We’ve been through this whole a-Bates-family-member-is-falsely-imprisoned-for-murder plot before and it doesn’t make much of a difference to us that Anna is now goingOrange Is the New Black instead of Bates this time around. (We will say that Anna’s miserable-in-prison expressions are not much different than her everyday expressions and Bates’s worried-about-Anna faces aren’t any less creepy than normal.)

Mary Still Has Not Realized That Marigold Is Edith’s Daughter (Believability: 3)

It seems insane to us that Mary has not noticed that Edith, her blood sister and chief antagonist, has birthed a daughter who is now living in their household. She certainly notices the bizarre fixation that Edith has with Marigold, is annoyed by it, and puts Edith down on the subject whenever she has the chance. Mary’s most immortal line about parenting arrives tonight, and chills us to our core: “Why don’t you just shut [the children] up in a box in the attic and let them out when they are 21?” For once, Edith sees a way in which Mary’s cruelty can be used in her favor: “[Mary] is completely uninterested in me which should keep [my secret] safe.”

Barrow Manages to Uncover Sinderby’s Darkest Secrets, and Lure Them to Hogwarts Within Some 72 Hours of Being There (Believability: 6)

Barrow only uses his vengeful skill set for good these days, not evil. And in tonight’s episode, we see Barrow take up Lady Mary’s invitation to bring down Sinderby’s butler, and then go one step farther, raiding Sinderby’s own closet for the perfect skeleton that could completely undo him—and manages to find it, or “him” specifically: the illegitimate son he sired with another woman. Barrow lures both to Hogwarts during a party, but Rose thwarts his plan and saves the unsavory Sinderby. Why exactly? I suppose to forge a good relationship with her father-in-law on the foundation of his extramarital sins. But we would have loved to see how the episode would have played out Sliding Doors-style had Sinderby’s illegitimate son been discovered.

Lord Grantham Knows Exactly What to Say to Edith in a Tender Moment (Believability: 2)

Who is this new and improved Lord Grantham, who not only detects emotional nuance but is able to appropriately reciprocate it? Last week, we watched as Lord Grantham surprised everyone by going out of his way to do something thoughtful for Mrs. Patmore. And now, when he decides to tell Edith he’s learned of her secret, he does so with sympathy and understanding. “I’m sure I need your forgiveness just as much as you need mine,” he tells Edith after she apologizes. The line is so Oprah-level spot-on, that we half expected Lord Grantham to suddenly rip his face off, Mission Impossible mask-style, revealing that Dr. Phil had been there underneath the whole time. It will be interesting to see how Mary reacts to the news that her sister is Marigold’s mother, and see whether this news will finally soften their relationship as cartoonish enemies.

Branson Says Goodbye to Downton (Believability: 4)

In what was surely the worst moment of the episode, Branson stares off in the children’s nursery and, when Edith asks why, he says because he “is taking pictures in his mind” so that he has memories of the home when he is in Boston. Later, he tops himself for stiff line readings when he tells Lord Grantham that he will not consider leaving Sybbie at Downton but adds this as some weird consolation: “I love the way you love her.” Farewell, Tom.

Lady Mary Essentially Informs a Stranger How Much He Has Unknowingly Inconvenienced Her Extended Family (Believability: 9)

Well what else should she do during the course of the episode? Break Anna out of prison? Mother her child? Forge a relationship with her last living sister? Ha! No, Mary played etiquette police on tonight’s episode, informing Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode) that he had rudely (if unknowingly) crashed their hunting party. Of course, Mary can segue any awkward introduction with a handsome man into a flirtation, and manages to do just that, showing us that she has better chemistry with him and his fancy car than she had with either Blake or Gillingham.

Spratt Challenges Denker to a Broth Off (Believability: 4)

May we never forget that this was actually a storyline in tonight’s Downton Abbey. Spratt nurtures his inner Barrow this episode, suggesting that Denka prove herself as a lady’s maid by making broth. Alas, the challenge only unites Denka and the Dowager and wastes valuable screen time that could have been spent on the surprisingly crafty Molesley.

The Dowager Sends Prince Kuragin Away with His Miserable Wife (Believability: 7)

“I will never again receive an immoral proposition from a man,” the Dowager tells Isobel after reuniting her suitor with his far flung wife. “Was I so wrong to savor it?” After getting a glimpse of the wholly unpleasant Princess Kuragin (who follows Larry Grey and Susan MacClare in this season’s procession of awful Downton guests), we understand why the prince was so eager to leave her. Later in the episode, the Dowager confides to Isobel that the princess once physically wrestled her out of running off with the prince. Asked if the Dowager’s husband realized, when she got home, that she had been ruffled up, the Dowager offers the best-timed retort of the evening: “Men notice nothing.”

Yes, the same man that dyed his hair shoe-polish black earlier this season finds a way to free Bates from his self-imposed Fugitive sentence. (Where were these two back when Bates was wrongly accused of murder the first time around?) While the rest of the house wrings their hands over the criminal drama-prone character—who foolishly confessed to a murder he did not commit to free Anna, and then ran away Dr. Richard Kimble-style—Molesley finds a photo of Bates and then recruits Baxter to travel to each and every pub in York until he finds a witness who can confirm Bates’s alibi. And it is a good thing too: I don’t know that any of us were as invested in this plot retread to purchase “Free Bates” T-shirts this time around. The episode ends with Bates sneaking into Downton Abbey on Christmas Eve and surprising Anna, which is nice for them. But of all the characters on the series, these two need a plot makeover most. Maybe next Christmas.

Julie Miller is a Hollywood writer for Vanity Fair‘s website.

Working on Downton

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The only thing that is good about this terrible period of time with no  new Downton is that more is coming in January 2015 and that they are working on the scenes as we speak….

When last we left Downton Abbey, the Crawley family was teaming up to rescue the Prince of Wales from a royal scandal, while Paul Giamatti was making his first appearance as Cara’s boorish brother.

From the looks of it, the British drama is about to enter its P.G. Wodehouse years, with the ornate finery of the pre-war era giving way to a more casual definition of elegance. (That means tweed. Lots and lots of tweed.)

To pass the time without smartphones, the cast relies on classic English parlor games to pass the time, just like the aristocracy of yore.

“Playing Wink Wink Murder – that helps at dining room table scenes,” revealed Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary.

Dockery was also keen to dispel reports that, as her TV husband Dan Stevens did, she’s about to leave Downton.

“I’m here ’till the end,” she told the magazine, “whenever that may be.”

Downtown Abbey‘s fifth season will premiere in America in January 2015, according to PBS Creator Julian Fellowes has said he hopes the show will be broadcast simultaneously in the U.S. and the U.K.

“It’s mind-boggling to me that now we have 16 million viewers in China,”  says Joanne Froggatt (who plays the maid Anna) at a panel discussion on the Paramount lot hosted by the TV Academy in May.

Among their fans you can count Julia Roberts, who hugged Julian Fellowes at a party (“it’s the highlight of my life so far,” he joked); Mick Jagger, who told Laura Carmichael he loves the show, per Robert James-Collier (under-butler Thomas Barrow); and Jon Hamm, who thrilled Phyllis Logan (housekeeper Mrs. Hughes) by giving her a kiss.

Among the common folk, Fellowes related how a woman followed him at a Barnes and Noble and begged, “please make Lady Edith happy.”

-excerpts from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter

 

Beatrix Potter

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If you ever wondered how Beatrix Potter got the inspiration to draw such incredibly adorable animals in such beautiful, charming settings you need only go to the village Near Sawrey in the Lake District where she lived in a house called Hill Top Farm .

Born into a wealthy Unitarian family, Potter, along with her younger brother Walter Bertram (1872–1918), grew up with few friends outside her large extended family. Her parents were artistic, interested in nature and enjoyed the countryside. As children, Beatrix and Bertram had numerous small animals as pets which they observed closely and drew endlessly. Summer holidays were spent away from London, in Scotland and in the English Lake District where Beatrix developed a love of the natural world which was the subject of her painting from an early age.

She was educated by private governesses until she was 18. Her study of languages, literature, science and history was broad and she was an eager student. Her artistic talents were recognized early. She enjoyed private art lessons, and developed her own style, favouring watercolor. Along with her drawings of her animals, real and imagined, she illustrated insects, fossils, archaeological artefacts, and fungi. In the 1890s her mycological illustrations and research into the reproduction of fungus spores generated interest from the scientific establishment. Following some success illustrating cards and booklets, Potter wrote and illustrated The Tale of Peter Rabbit, publishing it first privately in 1901, and a year later as a small, three-colour illustrated book with Frederick Warne & Company.
With the proceeds from the books and a legacy from an aunt, Potter bought Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey, a tiny village in the English Lake District near Windermere, in 1905. Over the following decades, she purchased additional farms to preserve the unique hill country landscape.

Potter published over 23 books: the best known are those written between 1902 and 1922. She died of pneumonia/heart disease on 22 December 1943 at her home in Near Sawrey at age 77, leaving almost all her property to the National Trust. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.

Ambleside in the Lakes

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We drove up to the Lake District for a few days and stayed at a hotel very near to Ambleside called Holbeck Ghyll. It was a beautiful hotel and the food and service was amazing. The first day we hiked to Ambleside along a beautiful path-saw sheep,beautiful stone houses and had gorgeous views.
Ambleside, one of the jewels of the Lakes, is set in the center of the Lake District at the head of Lake Windermere. Blessed with beautiful scenery, this bustling market town provides everything a visitor could want from the numerous shops offering wares for walkers and climbers, to the many drinking and eating establishments.Ambleside is rich with history and heritage. Originally containing a Roman fort (Fort Galava, the remains of which can be seen in Borran’s field, Waterhead), Ambleside has always been an important area of the Lake District.Buildings such as the 17th century Bridge House, one of the smallest houses in Britain, jostle with the Ambleside Museum (home to many Beatrix Potter artefacts) to hold the attention of visitors and offer an interesting insight into local life. Nearby is Stock Ghyll Force, a beautiful waterfall,  which provides another stunning natural attraction.An ideal base for a walking holiday, Ambleside has easy access to the surrounding fells and breathtaking mountains. For the less energetic, there are strolls along the shore, boat trips on the lake and a fantastic collection of interesting visitor attractions. Shoppers are well catered for also with an abundance of outdoor retail outlets, craft shops and galleries.

Punting On The Backs in Cambridge

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Behind the main line of colleges in Cambridge, along the River Cam, are the Backs (so-called from being the backs of the colleges). Each college owns its own part of the river banks, so it is not possible to walk along the river by the Backs, but you can walk through the college  and cross the river by their bridges. The public  bridges are Magdalene Bridge (pronounced ‘maudlin’), Garret Hostel Bridge (pedestrian and bike only) and Silver Street Bridge. You can walk along Queen’s Road, catching glimpses of the colleges through the trees. The best way to see the Backs is from a punt, a flat bottomed boat which is poled along.

Many tourists visit Cambridge each year to see the historic university, its buildings and the beautiful Backs. King’s College Chapel is the most famous building in Cambridge.

Cambridge University is made up of different colleges, some of which have old and beautiful buildings. The colleges’ buildings are usually arranged around courts. It is possible to walk round some of these and visit chapels and halls.  There are also many fabulous restaurants and great shopping. It is a wonderful day trip if you happen to be in the area!