Welcome! Grab a cup of tea, and enjoy browsing some of the photos and stories. As the 'teawife,' it is my duty to watch and listen and be a supportive friend, and a loving mum and wife. I should post more often, but sticking my nose into everyone's business keeps me busy! Kathy the teawife

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Back in the U.S.A.

Three months have passed since my transatlantic move from the south of England to the foothills of Colorado. Furniture was packed up on one end and shipped to the other, with most items arriving unscathed. Whether I can claim that my mind and body weathered the journey as well is still unknown! 

Currently, I'm here in Colorado, with my dog Sophie, experiencing the wonders of Colorado and wishing I could share it all with my family, who are strewn in all corners of the world. My 18-year-old son left for Lancaster University in England to study biochemistry, and my husband is working and 'commuting' from Moscow. I realize our family life is not the norm, but these are the consequences of choosing an expat life. Our son straddles both the UK and US worlds and seamlessly moves from one to the other. I'm just very very grateful for Skype, which keeps me connected with both son and husband! Looking forward to having them both in Colorado at Christmas. 

I have had some other visitors while living in Colorado, including a family of raccoons scrounging around the bird feeders on the balcony AND a bear! I encountered the bear in our driveway as Sophie and I returned from a walk. Bear had come up our flagstone steps from the lake. Perhaps it was interested in our peach tree, which was heavily laden with ripe fruit. Sophie growled at bear, my heart stopped, bear looked at us, and then turned tail and ran back down the steps. Whew! Bear eventually swam the length of the lake to get away; I didn't know my dog was so frightening! 

Fortunately, I enjoyed a long summer with my son before left for school. While he was here, northern Colorado experienced one of the worst floods of its history. The damage to local infrastructure was horrendous. 

You can see some of the photos, which I posted on my Teawife Facebook page, taken from our neighborhood during the flood.

I'm slowly starting to settle into my life in Colorado, and I'm trying to document my experiences through photos and words. This is the first autumn I've spent in Colorado, and I've been enjoying all the changes that come, from golden and russet leaves to early snows that temporarily blanket the landscape in white.

For example, last week, we had a cold system blow through, and our area had the first hard freeze of the season. Having freezing weather in the Front Range of Colorado is not unusual, of course. Because we have freezing temps every morning once it's winter, the weathermen only warns us of a hard freeze once. A meteorologist the other day explained that once we have one hard killing frost, everything is dead, and there is no reason for the weather service to continue to issue warnings! This is not Texas, where I grew up. 

The extreme temperatures of Colorado, along with its plentiful days of sunlight, are unique to a mountainous region. While living in England, it was common in the autumn to have 24-hour temperature ranges of 44 to 54 degrees. In Colorado, the autumn averages 34 to 64, but the spread can be even wider, with a hard freeze in the morning and bright sunshine in the afternoon. My friend the sun greets me almost every morning in Colorado; in England, the weather

The frost also affected tree leaves in such a strange way. In England, the leaves color and gradually drop to the ground (unless there is a big gale). In Colorado, we had beautifully colored gold, rust, red and yellow leaves on trees until the hard frost when they promptly fell off! Some leaves are still 'sticking' around, but the image of the leaves suddenly dropping to the ground reminded me of the Whomping Willow tree of Harry Potter fame. During autumn, it would violently 'poof', and all the leaves would fall off. 

A couple of days later, Loveland had its first snow of the season. This is what fall is like in Colorado! You can see more frost and October snow photos on my Teawife Facebook page.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sunset on the golf course

A couple of evenings ago, I got a call from our neighbor that there was a family of elk lounging in the Mariana Butte Golf Course. Lately, I had been so inundated with moving boxes, unpacking, and finding cubby holes for all our stuff that I had not done much walking or found my camera to take photos. I thought that grabbing the camera and having a wee walk in the neighborhood would be some much needed therapy. As I was walking toward the elk family, I also caught some amazing cloud play with the sunset. I think I need to get out more often!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bettys of Yorkshire

Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year. I know that my friends in the United Kingdom are probably lamenting the near-future passing of long summer days, but I get giddy when the first cool breezes blow in. I suppose this comes from growing up in Texas, where the summers drag on and on, and we all eagerly await the first Nor'easter.

I have no idea how I will feel about all the seasonal changes now that I am in Colorado! We are much closer to those cold fronts that blow out of Canada, don't cha know! This will be the first autumn that I am at my new home in Loveland, CO.

Today, I received an email from Bettys, a Yorkshire-based tea-cake-biscuit-sweet-pudding purveyor, in operation since 1919. I love some of the Taylors of Harrogate teas that you can buy at Bettys. If you happen to be in the Yorkshire area, you can have an afternoon tea at Bettys. The photo above, of this scrumptious autumn spread, just makes me want to be in Yorkshire, right this minute, having tea. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Proud Robin

We've had so many robins, which are normally very territorial, diving into our bird feeders for suet pellets and sunflower seeds. They wait for us in the morning to fill the feeder. They will even come up to the kitchen window and look in if we are running late. Then they practically fly on top of us as we come out with the goodies. I will miss the English robin when we move to Colorado. 

Bluebells in Norbury Woods

 As the pages of the calendar are turned, the flowers of the seasons also change here in Surrey, England. Snowdrops in January, crocus in February, narcissus in March, daffodils in April, and bluebells in May.

Okay, so it doesn't always go as smoothly as flipping a calendar page. In fact, this year's British winter was long and chilly, and spring seems stuttering to take off. I've run heaters and used the fireplace in this month of May. I have the heaters running again today.

When hubby and I walked in Norbury Woods two weeks ago, we didn't know if there would be any bluebells because it has been so chilly, gray and wet. We were gleeful when we approached the meadow, where the bluebells usually bloom, and saw the blanket of blue!

In addition, March and April are the lambing seasons, and it is wonderful to see the new lambs in the fields. By May, these lambs are a little braver and curious. There are fields along the Norbury Woods and we enjoyed seeing mum sheep with their offspring.

Living in a land that changes with the season makes each walk in Norbury Woods a treat and mystery: what will we see today? Here are some photos that hubby and I took on our early May stroll.

If you like our photos, I invite you to 'like' my Teawife Facebook page, where I post even more photos! In particular, you can see more photos of our stroll in my Facebook album.

Our five-year expat experience in Surrey, England, is coming to an end in about six weeks when we relocate back to the US. I'll then be posting photos from Colorado and other places that we travel. Dear son will be returning to the UK to go to university in October. Hubby will be traveling a lot to Russia. So who knows what kind of photos you will be seeing from us. We hope you enjoy sharing our journeys.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Black Fox, White Snow

I've crossed the 'big ole pond,' from our Hillside home in England to our lakehouse in Colorado. Although Easter is just around the corner and it's officially spring, I was surprised that we had a snow storm and about 8 inches of the white stuff. Looking out yesterday morning on the expanse of white on our lawn, I saw a magnificent black fox run across the property. Unfortunately, it was too quick for me to grab my camera. This morning, after the snow had stopped, I decided to walk down to the nearby golf course to snap some shots of the snow-capped mountains. As it turned out, they were well-hidden behind the mist and clouds; only the foothills were showing. As I was snapping some photos, out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. It was the gorgeous black fox with its thick rich winter coat. 

He didn't look too pleased to see me, and he dashed across the golf course. Too bad I didn't have the zoom lens, instead of the wind angle; but I still very lucky to capture this rare encounter.

You can see more photos of the black fox on my Teawife Facebook page

The snowy conditions also were also encouraging the birds to grab some grub at our neighbors' feeder, which they have attached to their upstairs balcony. The red-breasted house finch is especially pretty!

 Below is a bird perched on a snow-covered branch on the lakeshore.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chaffinch sitting in a tree

Five Chaffinch sitting in a tree . . . can you spot them below?
Although the Chaffinch is a common garden bird in England, I don't think I ever grow tired of watching them, with their sort of hopping motion on the ground, looking for a bit of seed or goody. They sport earthy and warm colors, spiked with white and black on their wings, and the males have a rich color of rust on their bellies. The colors brighten and fade throughout the year, depending on the season.
Even though we have an easy-to-access raised table feeder filled with enticing seeds and suet, the Chaffinches always peck for food on the ground, along with the greedy wood pigeons. Seems that life would be easier and more fulfilling if they could just manage hopping into the raised table feeder.
These photos were taken on a blustery February day, as the Chaffinch hung onto a naked plum tree. Once the leaves fill in, our garden birds are much harder to watch and photograph.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Garden Guests

We keep seed and suet feeders in our back garden in England. We attract a wide range of birds, including Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Parrots (Ring-Necked Parakeets), Starlings, Pigeons, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long-Tail Tits, Robins, Nuthatches, and more!

Here is a little stop-motion movie I made of a Blue Tit visiting our feeders today.

Taking Time for Tea

I've been at the auction house again! Well, not physically. I've discovered that bidding online during a live auction is so much better than being in the room. First of all, you can shop in your jim-jams, and you don't have the same pressures of bidding and competing in the sale room.

The only caveat is not going to the auction house to check out the merchandise beforehand. Looking carefully at the images online can be misleading. Sometimes, you can end up with a sensational buy and high-quality pieces, and other times you can come away with buyer's remorse and a less-than-desirable piece. Both things happened to me this week when I participated in the latest Crow's Auction, which is just up the road from me in Dorking.

One of the best buys was this Aynsley Rust and Cobalt Blue part tea service (No. 407101). After some initial research, it appears to be Edwardian, made between 1905-1910. The pieces are the most delicate of bone china, the type you can see through when held to the light. The pieces remaining of this set are in pristine condition with bright gilding.

We would have loved the teapot to go with the set, but I think it would be a rare find, indeed. I scope out the pottery very carefully before the auction, and I am pretty particular about what I want. I don't usually have a lot of competition on bidding for pottery (a sad state of affairs for the remaining pottery manufacturers in England). However, I found I was bidding against some other keen collector (or trade vendor) with this set, and I had to pay £42. However, once you check out ebay, and discover one teacup with one saucer in this pattern for $200 in the US, you know that you have a great find! I do think it is unfortunate that pottery in England isn't valued as highly as it currently is in the United States or Asia. After so many companies have exported manufacturing to Asia or have shut their doors here in England, I know one day that we all will regret their extinction.

A few months back, I had another spectacular purchase of a Wedgwood Columbia Powder Ruby part tea set (along with a Paragon Holyrood part tea set) for a mere £22. The lot contained the most luscious teapot and two adorable teacups with saucers (sadly, I've already managed to break one of the tea cups :-(. I am a strong believer in using these items after buying them, and there is a risk of breakage. However, I won't be able to enjoy the pieces from the grave! I later found the Columbia Powder Ruby teapot being sold online in the US for $500. Okay, so I use the teapot less frequently than I did when I first acquired it from the auction!

The Columbia edge of the Wedgwood pottery features a motif of mythical beasts that face each other and the style is available in several color combinations. I still have not been able to ascertain the age of my acquisition except to find that the Powder Ruby began production in 1920 and was discontinued in 1999.

Whenever I see some of the prices of these pottery pieces sold at replacement online sites, I always hesitate, take a deep breath, and question using my finds. But my hubby Niall and I seem to be of like minds on this, and we've decided to enjoy the subtle pleasures of part-taking in a tea experience punctuated by these exquisite pieces of history and culture.

This morning, we used our Birmingham silver teaspoons and our silver plated Victorian tipping teapot (one of my first antique purchases), and we 'broke in' (sorry :-) our 'new' Aynsley teacups, which probably hold about 4 ounces of liquid. They are smaller than our modern day teacups, and that reflects how our current culture seems obsessed with 'more is better' instead of pausing to enjoy the art of conversation and ceremony. The tipping teapot, with its stand and wick burner, can keep the tea warm through a luxurious long breakfast. Each time we refilled our tiny teacups, the tea was piping hot.

I hope you find your special time today, too, to slow down and enjoy gentle conversation and companions.