Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Picture Gallery - English Cottages

     I don’t live in the midst of a deep wood, or on top of a mountain, or on a cliff overlooking the sea. I don’t live on the edge of the shore, the edge of a meadow or the edge of a moor. I live in an ordinary suburb of tract homes in one of the many towns that bunch up to Chicago like a flock of sheep in a snowstorm. We do our best to make our houses unique, to invest them with elements of our own style, but you know the saying: if it looks like a duck…

     So a tract home is a tract home.

     Perhaps that is one of the reasons I am so drawn to the artwork of Tom Caldwell; he paints the kind of houses I would like to live in. Houses with years and years of character. Houses that really exist in this world, yet pull me into another.

     In Groombridge, I know there is a kettle on the hob just coming to a boil and teacups painted with white trilliums laid out on the table. There is a layer cake with coconut icing on the sideboard and a gentle old woman with stories to tell waiting for me in the kitchen. An upstairs window is open, and the curtains are flirting with the wind.

Teffont Magna
     It is a chilly spring evening at Teffont Magna; the fire has been lit and has drawn me into the circle of its golden embrace. I have pulled an armchair up close to the hearth to warm my knees. A dozen ivory candles, burning brightly in their bronze holders, chase shadows around the room. I have a cup of chocolate beside me on the table with a book I have just borrowed from the library in the village. My husband is sitting on the sofa by the window sipping wine and reading Sherlock Holmes.

Castle Combe

     We cross the bridge on on our way to the village at Castle Combe. Sometimes, especially when the grandchildren are visiting, we stop to play Poohsticks. The woman with the red door steps out as we approach and stands in the road to chat. She gives us the village news, advises us what not to eat at the pub and slips packets of chocolate buttons into the children's pockets. We pretend not to notice her covert kindness.

     Even though I already have these three paintings, and one more besides, there are half-a-dozen others by Tom Caldwell that I would like to own. Alas, there isn't space on my walls to hang them all. Sigh. I am still tempted.

photo of Castle Combe and By Brook


  1. This post is a perfect example why your 'place' is on of my fav's. its loveliness had me brushing tears! These paintings really do tell a story and you capture it perfectly!

    1. What a kind comment, Janet. I do love writing for people who seem to feel things the way you do. It is a kind of kinship and the most satisfying kind of sharing.

    2. I agree...and this kinship can be shared with authors ancient or present!

  2. Oh, what pictures you paint inside these dwellings (my favorite kind of architecture)...I'm so in love with stone and half-timber architecture...spent 11 summers in our own handmade little crafts cottage at the Renaissance Festival in Chaska, Minnesota :) Sooooooooo much fun with the imaginings...!

  3. I like the people you describe even more than the architecture. Perfect neighbors.

  4. Very charming images! Very different from where I live too, but the way you describe them makes me want to move right in! =)

  5. I live fairly close to Castle Combe and I can confirm it and it's surrounding villages and countryside really are as pretty as can be. Sue.