Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Trip to England, 1999 -- Part Two

Hi Folks!  Did you all enjoy Downton Abbey Sunday night?  I know lots of you were planning on watching the Season Three opener; we certainly did at our house.

Which brings me to the topic for this post -- our trip to England in 1999.  Back in the summer, I wrote about the London part of our trip, and you can read about our visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, as well.  We also went to Ireland at that time, and I've done two posts on that part of the trip.  You can find those Here and Here.  Since I'm still undecorating and putting away Christmas things, now is a good time to do a travel post.

We basically had one full weekend in England, plus the following Monday through Friday afternoon.  My husband had to work the Monday through Thursday that we were there, but we still managed to do some sightseeing.  We took the train to London on the Saturday, and we drove to Stratford upon Avon on Sunday.  In addition, the owner of the country hotel where we stayed kindly offered to drive me to a nearby town one day to see some sights.  Warning:  This post is photo heavy, folks.

I enjoyed seeing London (a whirlwind visit, to be sure), but without a doubt my favorite part of England was the countryside and the small villages.  We spent seven days and nights at the Bellows Mill, in Bedfordshire, just outside the small town of Dunstable.

This is the front of the Bellows Mill. The Bellows Mill dates back to the Domesday Book; it has been occupied by the same family for eight generations and was a working mill until 1955. The mill is tucked beneath the Chiltern Hills and is surrounded by 21 acres of lakes and woodlands.  It was a far cry from the grand splendor of Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey), but it was so lovely and cozy, I couldn't have been more pleased.  I really fell in love with the gardens, and I think there are enough pink flowers scattered throughout this post for Beverly's Pink Saturday party.

This door is the entrance to the owners' private residence, but it's also where we went to check in.  I had to get a picture of the sign above the door; we saw these all over England.  :)

The owners, Rachael Hodge and her husband, Henry, live in the main part of the mill house.

A view of the owners' conservatory in their private section of the house.  I love the colorful pansies in her flower boxes.

And a view from the back of the house -- notice the threatening sky in the background.

We rented the other end of the mill house, which they referred to as a flat, and it was rented by the week.  It consisted of three levels; our front entrance was on the main level, the kitchen was on the lower level, and the bedrooms and bathroom were on the upper level.

These beautiful blue flowers in the border are Forget-Me-Nots; I just love them.  You can see Rachael's ducks on the other side of the fence.

  These pictures are almost 14 years old, taken long before we had a digital camera.  We had a nice camera for its time, and it was perfect for us back then.  I'm not a professional photographer, but I always took a lot of pictures for fun. When I scanned these pictures into our computer, I saw that the outside shots were good (for the most part), but the interior shots hadn't turned out so well.  Online photo editing to the rescue.  :)

There are the ducks again in the left section of the picture.  All her animals were so cute.

I loved this old brick wall with the wrought iron gate.

This is a small conservatory off of our kitchen.  I love the shape of the mullioned windows beside and above it; their sills are really deep because the walls are so thick.

 One of the windows from the inside -- sorry about the poor quality of the photo.  Maybe you can see what I mean about the deep window sills.

Looking out one of the windows onto Rachael's beautiful garden.  This is one of my very favorite pictures of all the ones I took.

 As I said earlier, this was originally a working mill, and the mill stream and water wheel are still there.  It was wonderful because we could hear the water flowing by our rooms the whole time we were there.  Our first morning there, I looked out the window to see two swans floating down the mill stream -- blissful.

The millstream...

...and one of the swans.

This picture always makes me laugh.  Do you see the little black head with the horns and the pointed beard peering around the fence?  That's Rachael's billy goat -- every bit as curious as any cat.  He always watched us whenever we came in or out of our flat.  I'm pretty sure we were lucky we didn't get butted into the mill stream.  We were there in March , and I imagine the water was quite cold.  My husband is standing near the entrance we always used.

These are the original stables, now converted to guest rooms.

The stable rooms shared a common conservatory here on the end of the building.

This was my very favorite part of our flat, the sitting room.  I love these french doors, which is where we entered.  We had to cross a little bridge over the mill stream to get to the doors.

I love everything about this room -- the beams on the ceiling, the elegant drapes, the arrangement of Peonies next to the door, the pretty curio cabinet hanging on the wall, and especially those doors and windows.

Sorry, this picture is really grainy; I just didn't have even lighting inside.  A few of these pics were so dark, this was the best I could do with editing.  I love the chintz fabric on the chair.

That's the staircase to the upper level in the right of the picture.

This is the opposite side of the sitting room, behind the staircase.  On the floor is one of the old mill stones from the original mill, and it's topped with a chess set.  To the right is a hallway leading down to the kitchen.

This is the eating area in our little kitchen.  I like the cheerful mix of plates on the wall, and the painting on the left.  The fresh daffodils were on the table for us when we arrived.  There were also eggs from the nearby farm, and milk in a glass bottle in the fridge.

Here, we're looking out the conservatory windows...isn't that the greenest grass?

Our bedroom was charming and cozy with its sloping ceilings, flowered wallpaper, and down comforter.  The white pole to the left of the bed was used to open our sky-light if we wanted fresh air.

...the other end of the bedroom.

I'm sorry this picture is so dark.  This is the owners' dining room, where Rachael prepared breakfast for us on Sunday morning.  Those are fresh Freesias on the table; they were so pretty and smelled wonderful!

Another angle of the room, and for some reason the light was better in this shot.  You can see the window reflected in the mirror and Rachael's hen and rooster figurines displayed on the black beams.

The black apparatus with wheel that you see above the silver tea service are part of the original mill workings.

This is a view from Rachael's property looking across the field towards some nearby houses.  Rachael was so accommodating to us; she loaned me a pair of her wellies to walk through the field one day so I could look around the countryside.

There were also trout ponds for fishing on the property.  Below in the distance, you can see two elderly gentlemen in their sporting tweeds casting for fish.

I love the farm animals.  :-D

I'll end this post with the remaining pictures of Rachael's beautiful gardens.

These ducks were quite entertaining -- they definitely made their rounds every day.

I love these beautiful swans and the reflection of the trees in the water.  This picture was pretty dull before I edited it -- here it is originally...

I used Picasa editing to add color and drama to the sky and brighten the water a tad.  I definitely prefer the edited picture.

Every time I looked at this picture, it reminded me of an old landscape painting, sooo...I did some more editing in PicMonkey.  It was fun to see how this turned out -- what do you think?

When you travel, in the states or abroad, do you prefer to stay at a large hotel with all the fancy amenities, or do you like to stay somewhere smaller away from all the hustle and bustle?  Judging from this post, you can probably guess my preference.

Thank you for visiting me today.  I'll be writing some more about our trip to England and sharing some info. about the history of the area where we stayed and where my husband worked.  I really enjoyed our trip; if you've ever been I'd love to hear about what part of the country you visited.

*All pictures taken and edited by moi.



I'll be linking this post to:
Pink Saturday, hosted by Beverly at How Sweet the Sound
Seasonal Sundays, hosted by The Tablescaper
Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary at Little Red House 


  1. Oh, Denise. What a delightful post. I felt transposed there and delighted in the beautiful gardens, countryside and charming bed and breakfast you enjoyed. You are a great guide and it was so enjoyable. Thank you for providing this experience of this idyllic scenery and interesting facts about the old mill. On our trip to the lake country in England we experienced just a small part of all there is to see. Thank you for showing us this part of England and I look forward to all your other posts. You did a lot of work and it is appreciated. Yes, January is a great time to be an arm chair traveler. I agree with you the smaller more quaint hotels have greater appeal and you enjoy getting to know the people.

  2. Forgot to say, yes we love Downton Abbey. Also, meant to mention the swans. They were a treat I am sure.

  3. Thank you for sharing this post! I don't know that area of England YET, but I have a little trip planned this spring. I think it is the area Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was filmed. Your photos are amazing - so impressive that they were scanned in. My favorite photo is also the one looking out the window at that GORGEOUS garden. Looks like such a peaceful life, doesn't it?

  4. What a beautiful place to stay....the gardens are magnificent! day, we hope to go to England and Ireland!!!...thanks for the wonderful pictures!!

  5. Oh Yes! More please! I never tire of England.

    Now, let's talk about Mary's magnificent wedding headpiece. Can't wait until Sunday!

  6. Oh Denise, thank, you, thank you for letting us go along with you!! You have some gorgeous photos that just make my heart sing! I love her dining room so much, but everything is hpjust beautiful from the grounds to the inside. Such character. I did not get to venture out very far either time I was in England so I love getting to see your visit.

  7. My friend and I sure hope to take another trip to England and so to answer your question, we want to stay in country inns or better yet rent a small little house and live the life of an English lady in Yorkshire in Bronte Country. Isn't is fun to revisit your trip and share it? I love the sign "Mind your Head" or "Mind Your Step." You were very fortunate to be able to drive yourselves around and not be bound to a tour bus. Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures. And I am glad that you appreciate my Bronco page. Bronco fans were not too sure that John Elway knew what he was doing hiring Payton Manning. They were pretty up set about losing Tebow. Manning was a risk, but John did know what he was doing and Denver has embraced Payton--not to mention that he has lead his team to the play-offs. It will be very cold tomorrow for the game, but did you know that the football field is blanketed tonight and tomorrow the grass will be between 50-60 degrees so that when the players get tacked or fall the grass will be nice and warm. There are miles and miles of pipe underneath the playing field that heat the field with steam. Now isn't that interesting? Loved your post.

  8. Hi Denise, popping over from Ann's blog to see about your visit to this wonderful country. I don't think I have ever been to Bedfordshire. We were in Stratford upon Avon in September, great place. There are so many wonderful places to visit here, well we live in Surrey which is beautiful!! We love Dorset, evon and Cornwall for holidays but this year we are going to Portmeirion and North Wales.You will see from a recent post that my hubby and I went to Windsor to the theatre, have you visited there and Eton?

    Please visit,

    Jackie in Surrey, UK.

  9. Hi, I haven't been to England but certainly enjoyed you sharing the visit. I love French doors too.

  10. It looks so lovely there. I have always yearned to visit England, and so I can through your pictures. What a treat that must have been.

  11. Lovely pictures of England! A lovely house and so "English"!!!! We've been to England several times and got to spend one Spring there in a cottage in the Cotswolds -- a dream come true. Your pictures brought back memories of that visit.
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. What a wonderful visit Denise, I remember your previous posts from your trip! We've never been to England or Ireland, we hope to visit one day! Love the "Mind your Head" sign :) I haven't watched Downton Abbey, I told myself I would the previous seasons from Netflix and then start in on season three but didn't. Thanks for sharing your trip! Love your editing into a landscape painting :)

  13. Oh Denise, what wonderful pics of England and the lovely house you stayed in. I don't now if I told you but the only European country we visited was Ireland. We would love to visit England and Scotland, too. You must've really got the feel of England by staying in the residence of the owners. We were on a tour bus and while it was wonderful, we always had to keep moving.
    Yes, I watch Downton Abbey, also!! I missed last week so I have two to watch this evening. I can't wait!!
    Have a wonderful week, dear Denise!

  14. Lovely photos from your trip, you stayed in a lovely house. The gardens and farm are lovely. I would love to see the farm animals. Thanks for sharing, Have a happy week ahead.

  15. Beautiful photos. I loved England when were were there. It was a short trip but I would very much love to go back and visit the country side. This place looked so wonderful and it's so nice that the owner was so nice and accommodating. I'm sure that made you trip that much nicer. I have to say, the photo looking out the window into the garden is my favorite. It's so beautiful.

  16. Denise, that was lovely! Such an idyllic spot where you stayed...completely charming.

  17. Such a gorgeous place!
    Thank you for sharing.

    Have a nice week.


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  19. Such gorgeous photos!I feel like I just went on a trip from my chair.

    - The Tablescaper

  20. I am heading to England in a month and looking forward to it :) Absolutely gorgeous pictures! I am following you and I hope you will do the same :)

  21. Great post Denise :o) Love the photos.
    We had a Christmas special Downton Abbey here in the UK, I won't spoil it for you but it ended on a real cliff-hanger....Looking forward to the next series later in the year :o)
    Have a great weekend.
    Rose H

  22. I saw that you had posted an England post on my sideboard right after you posted it, and this is my first morning all week to be able to sit down and blog hop. I hope my life takes a slow turn to normal soon.

    I love every single shot because if I ever get to England, that is exactly the kind of place I'd like to stay. My imagination would absolutely run wild there. It looks wonderful.

  23. Thanks for your visit and comments Denise. Looks like you found a charming place to stay. What a difference our digital cameras have made to our photography.

  24. Denise thanks for sending me here. Since I'm a follower I don't know how I missed it, but then my blog reading is erratic with my mother so close to death, I am with her a lot of the time. Your pictures are fantastic and yes, I loved the countryside the best. I should look up my old post about "tea in Dorset" for that was a favorite memory of mine. Such history there compared to our country, and especially the south where we tend to tear down anything historic! (at least in my city). I think all my photos are mostly pre-digital as well, so there aren't so many.

  25. I loved your photos! Made me feel quite homesick.

    I am an ex-Brit living in the USA for some 22 years now. I just wanted to mention that one of your photos maybe 35 or 36 has an interesting 'mushroom' shaped statuary by the pond. As far as I know that 'mushroom' would have been one of 4 -6 and would have had a granary on the top of it (rats couldn't get past the mushroom). FYI. Thought you'd like to know.



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