Ciao, ciao, ciao

After a train ride from Windermere to Stanton airport in the UK, we found ourselves flying back to the Mediterranean. We arrived at Pisa airport and were greeted by our favorite soldier who took us home and made us a pizza; hospitality Italian-style. The next morning we were awakened by a very excited 2 year-old grandson Ender.

Certain Italian trees look like they were inspiration for Dr. Seuss’ work.

After considering our options for the day, we decided to take Ender and walk to the beach. Now Ender and his Dad had been to the beach recently to watch wildfire-fighting planes dive into the sea to scoop up water to release over a fire burning nearby. It was a chilly October afternoon when we left the house with Ender in his wagon. He rode for a while and walked for a while. Annie told us that many of the beaches along the shore with privately owned country clubs.

We finally found a beach that was actually reserved for American military personnel. Ender was very happy to see the water.

Ender and Papa enjoy a walk to the beach.

He broke free of Papa’s hand and dove right into the water!

Ender was a fire-fighting plane.

We scooped him up, wiped him off the best we could and wrapped him in Grandpa’s new jacket. We raced home so he wouldn’t get cold and popped him in the shower. After that we didn’t get to babysit Ender again.

Beatrix Potter’s menagerie; a trip to Hilltop Farm

Beatrix Potter is one of my favorite artists and her books have become some of the best-selling children’s books of all time. Her story of creativity and overcoming societal norms is an inspiration. Reared in a wealthy family in Victorian England, she bucked tradition by refusing to marry for money, as was common at the time, instead pursuing a career in publishing and art. She fell in love with a man “beneath” her social class and through the publication of her books earned enough money to purchase her own farm and preserve a magnificent tract of land in the beautiful Lake District for future generations.

Her story is elegantly told (with dramatic license ) in the film Miss Potter. The first time I saw the movie she became a symbol to me of using one’s talents to make a difference.

We boarded a train in London and sped north through the beautiful English countryside to Windermere. Along the way we saw spotted sheep, tracts of emerald pastures, stone walls and storybook villages.

Beatrix Potter’s family stayed in the Lake District during summers while she was growing up. It’s no wonder that she chose to move there after a tragedy shook her world.

Her story is beautifully told in this interactive book published by Frederick Warne.
Views from the train.
Windermere, Cumbria, UK
This reminded us of our good friend Jodi Huddleston

We took a bus to Hawkshead, a village near Hilltop Farm., then a shuttle to Beatrix Potter’s first home she purchased with royalties from the sales of her books. Another famous writer also lived here as a child, we’ll discover his stomping grounds later.

The Lake District is incredibly beautiful. We loved the stone walls prevalent in the countryside.
Hilltop Farm
The Hilltop farmhouse was built in the 1600s. It is furnished with Potter’s belongings and is accurately preserved.

Apparently Ms. Potter wasn’t too interested in cooking. The original 1600-era kitchen was only minimally updated.
These plates were painted for Beatrix’s nursery by her father when she was born.
Potter was very fastidious in the licensing of her characters. She insisted on the best quality for any product that was associated with her brand.
This dollhouse was featured in “the Tale of Two Bad Mice.” It was the home of dolls Jane and Lucinda and was invaded by mice Hunca Munca and her husband Tom Thumb.
Beatrix embroidered the bed curtains while recovering from a illness.
Potter developed her drawing skills drawing animals and nature.
The Hilltop kitchen garden.
Above the village of Hawkshead is a 9th- Century church. It was at the church school that young William Wordsworth studied in the 18th Century. Orphaned at 13, he went to live with his uncle.

Behind the school house at Hawkshead, is an old cemetery. It may have served as an inspiration for Wordsworth’s poem “We are Seven.”

In downtown Hawkshead, attorney William Heelis had an office. In the movie, Beatrix had him draw up the contracts for the farm purchase, they married when she was 43. I don’t know if that is how they met but his former office serves as a museum of Potter’s art.

An interesting discovery: Potter’s delightful paintings were all created to fit into her tiny books. Because the technology to expand and reduce art was non-existent, her watercolor paintings were about 3″ x 3 1/2″.

Tom Kitten looks like he is tucked into Beatrix’s own bed.

After a walk around Hawkshead we were ready to move on to our next adventure – Italy.

A canal version of windsurfing.
Artisan breads at our favorite market Booth’s.
Sunset on the lake.