It is strange this week to be in England as Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Here there is no ‘Thanksgiving’ anywhere, just lots of ‘Christmas’! I’m not rushing around food shopping or thinking about how I am going to decorate my table (my favorite part!), nor am I gathering piles of burnt umber leaves or an assortment of gourds and pumpkins. As an English girl living in California, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday that our family has fully embraced, although sadly we seldom have any of the rest of our family with us. However, this week, although not officially celebrating, no turkey or pumpkin, we are in fact enjoying the very essence of the occasion, spending time catching up with our family who are all normally an ocean away.
On Monday we followed the twists and turns of the local country lanes through the woodlands by the Fleming Estate (as in Ian Fleming of James Bond fame!) where brilliant sunshine dappled through the few remaining leaves,
to Woodstock, Oxfordshire and the home of Blenheim Palace where Sir Winston Churchill was born.
It was a crisp, winters day, requiring gloves and wooly scarves; a morning which made your cheeks glow and your nose turn pink. It felt good to be out in the chill as leaves scrunched underfoot and we strode round the splendid Blenheim Grounds, laid out centuries before by Capability Brown.
A veil of mist hung over the lake by the bridge.
In the far distance, the First Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, still oversaw his grand estate from his lofty pinnacle,
A group of feathered friends, unperturbed by the visitors, waddled their way across the grass.
As we took in the opulent grandeur of the palace, one could not help but imagine what it must have been like to be a guest here, arriving by carriage in great pomp and splendor.
In charming, adjacent Woodstock we browsed the antique shops, amazed that the teacups at The Feathers Hotel didn’t topple over!
Christmas temptations were profuse, especially at the Blenheim gift shop.
The local, honeyed Cotswold stone was everywhere.
We peeked into the Bear Hotel from this archway. It has been welcoming guests for over 700 years, including one night in the 1960’s, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Taylor!
By twilight we were in Henley-on-Thames, the famed summer regatta course barely visible in the fading light.
The streets, almost deserted at 5.30pm, twinkled with Christmas sparkle, which was after all just around the corner.
So not preparing for Thanksgiving this year but enjoying my time in England and wishing all of you in the USA a happy and joyful day on Thursday as you celebrate this, your special American tradition!
Where to find Woodstock and Blenheim ~ Oxfordshire, England
Where to find Henley-on-Thames ~ Oxfordshire, England