There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Succumbing to 'Downton Abbey'

That long awaited moment arrived today when I set up our DVR to record the new season of Downton Abbey. We've waited months and months for all the burning questions to be answered. Will Lady Edith find happiness and be back in the arms of her baby-daddy? Will Lady Mary stop playing the coquette and actually choose one of her suitors?  How will the first ever Labour government affect the lives at Downton? (I  think that answer is a no-brainer.)  And now I wait for tonight with bated breath, and I also wonder how I got to this point.

When 'Downton Abbey' first aired in 2010, I tried to watch it and I tried very hard to like it, but I just couldn't. It seemed like the biggest snoozefest on television.  But now I'm happy (or ashamed depending on your viewpoint), to report that I was taken in by it, hook, line, and sinker, and am firmly a Downtonite.

My downfall came two years ago when I was back home in the U.S. and after a few weeks, started feeling very homesick for England.  I thought the perfect antidote for my homesickness might be to give Downton just one more try.  I hesitatingly downloaded the first episode of the first series on my iPad, and by the time I was done watching it, I was hooked.  

I know it's a posh, Edwardian version of EastEnders (or for Americans General Hospital), and simply put it is a soap opera, just with better accents, Once you're hooked though, that doesn't matter. All you care about is whether or not Mr. Bates will finally be out of jail or if Matthew and Lady Mary will ever overcome the odds and finally be together?  How Mary will recover after he's gone, if Thomas will ever get his comeuppance, or if the dowager Countess of Grantham will ever crack a smile?

And now with Season 5 starting this evening, there are so many more questions to be answered and I'll be glued to the telly, waiting for the answers. Americans will have to wait four more months to have their burning questions answered, but you won't find me spilling the beans here--Downton's secrets are safe with me.

Downton's Oxfordshire Connection
Each year we get more and more Downton pilgrims staying with us, since Highclere Castle is just a half hour south of Oxford.  Highclere plays the part of 'Downton Abbey' and is well worth a visit, but tickets sell out quickly so make your plans early.  Highclere also sponsors a Christmas Faire every year, with vendors setting up in all the rooms downstairs, carollers and a Christmas tree in the front hall, and a special Christmas lunch served either in the servants quarters or in their tearoom.  Stuart and I never miss it and tickets normally go on sale in October.

The village scenes are filmed in the little Oxfordshire village of Bampton.  It's official name is Bampton-in-the-Bush, and it's claim to fame used to be that you could actually do quite a decent pub crawl in the village because there were 8 pubs-- which is a lot for a small village.  There are only 2 or 3 pubs now, so Bampton has a new claim to fame, serving as Downton's village.

St. Mary's Church, Bampton

Bampton village library -- aka Downton Hospital

Cottage door in Bampton.

It doesn't take much imagination to picture
this as Edwardian England.

A cottage on Bampton's main thoroughfare.

Both the church and the library
 proudly displayed pictures of behind the scenes.


  1. Absolutely adore your blog and am a great fan/friend of Susan Branch, and. . . Downton Abbey, of course! I'm a fellow Yankee from Boston currently living in the very Northwest corner of Arkansas, but feel like my boots should be stuck deeply in the heart of England! Have always loved everything about the English countryside and so glad to have stumbled upon your online home, through Susan, actually! Will come back often and catch up on my reading!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and glad you've enjoyed reading about us. Keep in touch and hope to see you in Oxford one day!