29 September 2012

RMS Titanic Walking Tour

Posted By Happy Homemaker UK

I jumped at a recent opportunity to visit
the Titanic exhibit at Southampton's SeaCity Museum

Having sunk 100 years ago,
this temporary exhibit is timely
( no photos allowed, again )

Did you know the Titanic was discovered only in September 1985?

RMS Titanic

To manage your expectations,
this exhibit was quite small and had few, if any, actual artifacts
from the sunken ship

The exhibit did showcase replicas of items,
original documents from the White Star Line office,
interesting facts, theories, and displays

It gave an excellent glimpse into the Edwardian times of 1912,
with its clear class division, high unemployment, strikes,
emigration, and extravagant wealthy

As the museum pointed out,
the Titanic was a microcosm of society at that time
Its cargo serves as an interesting time capsule

Displays posed the ethical question
of leaving the site sacred as an underwater grave
salvaging artifacts to be sold 
to help fund the undersea excavation
(thousands of items sold already)

SeaCity Museum, Southampton

Controversy continues
as to if they should resurface the Titanic
or leave it alone

The exhibit was an excellent starting point
for our self-guided walking tour

The sinking of the Titanic devastated the town of Southampton
There are 220 Titanic memorials throughout the city

549 persons from Southampton lost their lives on April 15, 1912
3/4 of the crew were from there
- Staggering -

Titanic Memorial Fountain

A few more stops along the tour...

Platform Tavern (purple)

If you were looking toward the water from the Platform Tavern in early April 1912,
you would have seen the Titanic dominating the view
This was a popular tavern for dockers and seaman, 
and provided lodging for Titanic passengers and crew

In the 1997 blockbuster Titanic by James Cameron, 
Jack (Leonardo Di Caprio) won his passage ticket in a game of poker in a tavern
which was filmed there
(Needing to see that film again)

Dock Gate 4, Titanic Berth

Beyond this brown building
the Titanic awaited her maiden voyage

Only authorized persons were allowed to proceed past this point on our visit,
so we'll have to use our imagination :)

Admiralty House/ previous Post Office

Saving the most interesting tidbit for last,
the very important 'RMS' prefix to Titanic refers to Royal Mail Ship(!)
which was carrying 1,300 bags of mail with five postal workers on board

Wanting more? 
Currently the Titanic exhibit plans to remain open until August 2013
Check out one of the online walking tours such as this one

I purr at the history that surrounds me in England
Just pick a time period and throw a dart at the map

Do I appreciate living here?
You bet I do

all photos by me
unless otherwise indicated

26 September 2012

Preparing For Autumn

Posted By Happy Homemaker UK

In England, it is called Autumn,
not Fall
Do you know hard it is to not say Fall?!

So here's a little peek into my world

In front of my house
the leaves are subtly changing

And as I drove through the Cotswolds last week,
final harvests were being made in the fields

In a Herculean feat,
I took this photo with my camera pointed backwards as I drove away
(so I wouldn't look too suspicious)

Hedge-trimmers were busy

And you know I'm a sucker for an interesting sign :)
This one indicates a lack of reflectors on a single carriageway
as roadworks continue

Shot during the Olympics,
this image well reflects the rains we've encountered lately

'Brollies' are a must this season

There's definitely a chilly nip in the air
and more darkness surrounds my morning and evening routines

Yep, Autumn has arrived
(I'm dying to say Fall!)

Wishing you a wonderful new season,
wherever you are

And however you may say it :)

- all photos by me -

P.S. If you have signed up to receive my posts via email, thank you! I apologize that it may send you random old posts from time to time (like last night). 

22 September 2012

A Visit To Prince Charles's Highgrove Garden

In 1980
Prince Charles bought Highgrove in Gloucestershire
as his home

The following year
he moved in and
proposed to Lady Diana Spencer

With easy access to London, Wales,
and other Western counties where the Duchy has most of its properties,
Highgrove continues to be Prince Charles's primary residence today

Lucky for me, the gardens are open to the public
a few times a year :) 

- sadly, no photography allowed -


Prince Charles is widely known for being 
an 'environmental ambassador' (my words)

So not surprisingly,
his garden is chemical-free & organic
with many sustainable features

The Carpet Garden

The Prince of Wales saw the property as a blank canvas
and was keen to create a garden that would
'feed the soul, warm the heart, and delight the eye'
as well as a space to experiment with some of his ideas

Although his 15 acres of cultivated gardens are managed by 15 gardeners,
you can definitely sense he has a strong role
in the planning and upkeep of the gardens

The property holds a national collection of ferns, hostas, and beech trees

And there are many different garden 'rooms' which hold exotic plants and flowers
as well as gifts from famous people and heads of state

I couldn't wait to see what surprise was around the next corner!


Although quirky,
each gardener has his or her own yew topiary to clip as they please (above)
They have a bit of a competition among themselves
Just one example of how this garden is quite unique

Another interesting feature is the stumpery
which was popular during the fern-crazed Victorian era
but rarely seen in gardens today

A stumpery is an area of placed dead trees and stumps
providing natural vessels for plants (i.e. ferns & hostas)

The Stumpery

Other unusual spaces include
the Carpet Garden that looks like an oriental rug,
a potager designed in a St George's Cross and St Andrew's Cross,
and the delightful playhouse built for Princes William and Harry

We finished our tour with yummy lunch and tea in The Orchard Room
and nosed around the shop

I walked away with this onsite quote (in hieroglyphs) buzzing in my head:
'The flowers in the garden are a reflection of the stars in the sky'

If you are a gardener, this innovate garden is a must see :)

Tour information: Highgrove
Alternatively, buy 'The Garden At Highgrove' book here

20 September 2012

Images Of England

Posted By Happy Homemaker

My kids are away for the week on a school trip,
so I've had a chance to see more of England
at a more leisurely pace

Here's a few photos from the week
that to me
seem unmistakably British

A tour of Prince Charles's private garden at Highgrove
brought me to the charming town of 
Tetbury in the Cotswolds

And I wandered York for the day,
a beautiful, historically rich walled city in northern England,
 easily accessible by a 2 hour train ride from London

The weather has been good this week
and since I have time to eek out one more day trip,
I am off to fulfill a garden quest today

Hoping to return with some wonderful photos to share with you
: )

- all photos by me -

14 September 2012

Camping In England

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Long shadows of Autumn
The New Forest, Hampshire
(which is actually an old forest, btw)

In the US,
you can pitch a tent in any public forest
wherever you like
for free

Many will backpack for hours to find just the right spot
with complete privacy and desired view

Some forests don't allow campfires due to danger of wildfires,
and it is advised that you sign in so there is record of you being there in case of emergency

A thin blanket of smoke suspended above the heather was actually very serene
(I think a house nearby was burning leaves)

In England
if you can't find a local farmer who will let you camp on his/her property,
you'll need to find an official campsite and pay a nominal fee

A campsite is often a tight cluster of RVs and/or tents
usually with full toilet & shower facilities

So we thought we'd won the lottery when we found the rare campsite
that didn't offer toilet facilities
which we took as an indicator we'd have the place to ourselves

But then we learned we wouldn't gain entrance to the site
without purchasing one of these babies...

Yep, that's a portable camping toilet
that looks like an oversized potty training loo for kids ;)

One of our kiddlewinks didn't feel well
so we packed up the tent after a round of s'mores
and headed home 

All was not lost though
as we returned home with
one toilet (unused),
a good story,

and a handful of photographs :)

- all photos by me -

12 September 2012

About 'Keep Calm And Carry On'

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

countless variations of this popular slogan
can be seen throughout the UK and US

Available on Etsy

Although it is well known to have been a WWII morale-booster poster in the UK,
it actually was not well distributed at the time

It wasn't until the year 2000
that it was rediscovered in a used bookstore in Northumberland
which started to make reprints for customers
And the rest is history

My favorite version :)
via Decal Happy

But what I find most interesting is that it encapsulates 
both the English and American cultures

For the Americans it means
be 'zen'
while persevering

While in England it means
keep a stiff upper lip
while trudging on, 'get on with it'

Described by The Economist,
it 'taps directly into the [England's] country's mystic image of itself:
unshowily brave and just a little stiff,
brewing tea as the bombs fall'

How does the expression speak to you?
Source: Wikipedia

08 September 2012

Identity Through Sports

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Displayed during the Summer Olympics

A local taxi driver recently mentioned
the county of Middlesex disappeared in 1965
when divided among counties Surrey, Hertfordshire, and Greater London

And then he said, 
I guess it would be like one of your American states
becoming part of another one

That idea blew my mind
Two US states combining as one?

Chalkboard Map for sale via Etsy

Each US state has its own laws and even driver's license tests,
their own flag, motto, and state flower
I love all the different state licence plates seen on the highways

In most schools, months are dedicated to study the history of their state

Even stronger still
each state has its own 'patriotism', if you will

Now I'm not a huge sports fan,
but really, sports is a huge community unifier
whether you rally behind 
the state's university or professional team

The most popular spectator sports in the US
are American football, basketball, and baseball

Customized print by Shawn St Peter

And in a way, America is on a bit of a sports island as
we rarely play other countries in these sports
for few share our enthusiasm

So we compete against each other within our American borders
and have friendly rivalries with other states

On the sports page,
this makes us look inwardly
not globally

In contrast, 
by sharing an interest in more globally popular sports
England's sports page has more of an international scope
increasing their worldwide connection

A UK reporter recently said they feel a kinship (and rivalry) with Australia
because they share enthusiasm for similar sports,
including rugby and cricket

Furthermore, most countries have a bond 
over the love of soccer/football and play against each other

English (or British) patriotism peeks its head
during the Olympics, FIFA World Cup,
Rugby World Cup, and The Ashes
to name a few

To my knowledge,
English counties don't have their own sport teams (except for cricket)
so they cheer their favorite football team (often not local)
and their national teams

As a result, you never hear a 'Rah, Rah Surrey!' as you would in the US
partly due to not having a county team to get behind

So could Oklahoma become a part of Texas one day?
(with their huge college football rivalry)

or better yet,
Texas become a part of Oklahoma?!
( now I'm being cheeky )

No, that just wouldn't fly :)

Women's Olympic Road Race

I must say
the Olympics is one of the few times most Americans 
watch athletes from other countries compete
And they love it!

01 September 2012

Peacocks In My Garden?

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Clever poster seen on Underground
(my only peacock photo on file)

I recently received a mass email 
addressed to my neighborhood

'Has anyone lost a peacock?
There is a big one in my garden, and he's not very friendly'

Isn't that a hoot?!

Turns out escaped peacocks now are breeding in England

Like other exotic birds such as the black swan from Australia,
the Egyptian goose, and ring-necked parakeet,
peacocks can now be spied going native on our island

{ It is thought
the one in my neighborhood escaped from
a local National Trust site }

Happy Weekend, y'all!