Autumn and Art

While my internal calendar is inching towards the end of June or perhaps the beginning of July, the world outside has clearly moved into autumn. Shorter days, colder temperatures, and brightly coloured leaves are making their presence known, encouraging MrElaineous and me to embark on one of our favourite annual traditions: a trip to Westonbirt Arboretum. I can’t really say…

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MissElaineous and the Very Proper Adventure

The M4 is a British motorway that snakes its way across the south of the country, starting in London and passing near a number of major towns and cities before petering out just past Swansea. Chippenham is one of those towns in the middle, located just a few miles south of this main artery that ferries people east and west…

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Touch Wood: An Interview with Simon Webb

George Bernard Shaw is said to have written that England and America are two countries separated by a common language, and there is perhaps more than a kernel of truth in this statement. Some are obvious: in August I wrote about how American buttermilk biscuits are nothing like British biscuits. The latter tend to be more hard cookies, perfect for…

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A Walk on the Wild Side (Plus Sheep)

There are a few things you might expect to see when you go for a walk in the British countryside: Sheep? Most likely. Cows? Probable, especially in the area around Barbury Castle. Horses? Always a possibility. Intriguing architecture? Chances are good. Stunning landscapes? Guaranteed. But an elephant? Or a herd of zebra? These slightly more exotic creatures do not instantly…

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Wildlife at the Tower

MrElaineous and I arrived back from a trip to Florida in mid March, and we had just about managed to unpack when we found ourselves in lockdown. We were used to working from home, but we suddenly found that rather than taking breaks with day trips, walking adventures, and weekends away, our world had shrunk to no more than the…

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CSI Garden Edition: Who newt this was a cold-blooded killer …

A few weeks ago I was saddened to step into the garden to find a puddle of black feathers near the base of one of the bird feeders. It didn’t take a forensic team to determine what had likely happened: a sparrowhawk had snatched a blackbird in mid-air. These speedy raptors are masters at navigating hedges and trees and, just…

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The Colours of January

Blue Monday is the name given to the third Monday in January, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. The idea is that the relaxation of the Christmas and New Year holidays has worn off, the credit card bills are due, and the Easter holidays (and warmer weather) are still a long way in the distance. While I tend…

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A WINTER RETREAT

“We are addicted to busy-ness,” Olivia said as I focused on contorting my body to match the yoga pose that she demonstrated. She wasn’t wrong. Indeed, it was the very reason that MrElaineous and I found ourselves at a yoga and meditation retreat in the Welsh countryside. When I was in the grips of burnout several years ago, we made…

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THE THREE Ms OF GLASTONBURY

Outside of the UK, the word “Glastonbury” is synonymous with music and mud. Within the UK, the definition is pretty similar, with the annual(ish) music festival regularly dominating headlines. Tickets for the 50th anniversary in 2020 recently sold out in under forty minutes, and even I took the time to brainstorm how litter could be reduced at future festivals after…

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BANKING ON IT (PART 1): BARBURY CASTLE

Outside of the UK, the term “bank holiday” is likely to be met with a puzzled expression. Is it a day to celebrate banks? Or a day that they’re closed? Or something completely different? After all, the UK is the country that also gave the world Boxing Day, which has nothing to do with pugilistic endeavours! The reality is the…

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WEIRD. WONDERFUL. WALES.

Great Britain is composed of three nations: England, Wales, and Scotland. The United Kingdom adds Northern Ireland to the mix, and hence the official name of the country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The point of mentioning this terminology is that both Scotland and Northern Ireland are parts of the UK that are some distance…

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OF LIONS, LAMBS, AND A WALK ALONG THE BOW WOW

In like a lion, out like a lamb. This familiar quip about the month of March actually seems quite logical. After all, the beginning is still winter, with the spring equinox arriving at the tail end of the month. Which is, I admit, no guarantee of good weather, but this year it proved to be more accurate than anticipated. Early…

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BLOSSOMS AND BLUE SKIES: A CHIPPENHAM MINI-ADVENTURE

It’s a common joke, and one I’ve made before myself, that one of the best things about Chippenham is how easy it is to get to other places. From having the picturesque villages of the Cotswolds on its doorstep to train links to London, Chippenham tends to be viewed as a place you live, not visit. However, a recent morning…

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THE “OTHER” LAKE DISTRICT

The English Lake District is one of the most visited (and beloved) regions of the country. Located in the northwest county of Cumbria, it is a dramatic landscape of rocky fells, steep valleys, picturesque villages, and, as implied in the name, lakes. It was a favourite haunt of the Romantic poets in the early 19th century, and it became a…

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POSTCARDS FROM FEBRUARY

Postcards feel like a modern day anachronism: bits of paper covered with photographs, a scribbled line or two on the back, and sent through a postal system that operates at human speed rather than almost instantaneously. Why bother with all this when you can pop a picture on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter in the time it takes to hit a…

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A ROYAL VISIT TO THE COTSWOLDS

Okay, I admit it: I am addicted to snowdrops. If you have been following along with Facebook or Instagram over the past few weeks, you’ll have seen these little white flowers have had a starring role in my February travels. One of the first things I learned as a novice snowdrop hunter is the importance of sun to bring out…

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A Simply Stunning Seasonal Spectacle

Japan is known for its sakura, ornamental cherry trees that cover the country in billowing clouds of pink and white blossoms. Their blooming is considered an annual event, not just a sign of the season. There are daily forecasts that track the developing buds and, once open, families, friends, and work colleagues participate in hanami, viewing parties to enjoy the…

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PSA: Public Science Announcement

I grew up immersed in science. From class projects as a kindergartener to individual science projects with my own custom-made backboard (thank you, dad!), I loved having the opportunity to delve into any topic that interested me and figure out how it worked. Being exposed to the scientific method at a young age was perhaps one of the most important…

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There’s Something about Wales

I don’t usually write book reviews (book lists on the other hand …), but in a stroke of serendipity I recently finished reading Kate Humble’s Thinking on my Feet: The Small Joy of Putting One Foot in front of Another, an elegant meditation on the power of walking to both calm the mind and challenge the body, enlighten the spirit…

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MissElaineous Travel Blog: Escape, Explore, Discover, Enjoy