Saturday Snapshots: Come Away to Fairyland

Come away, O human child: To the waters and the wild with a fairy…” – William Butler Yeats

Spring has begun this month, and with it, the Once Upon a Time Challenge on Stainless Steel Droppings (my launch post here)…and so I have fairyland on my mind.  I’ve never climbed through a wardrobe, been abducted by the Green Wind, or fallen through a rabbit hole, so I can’t share photos from the various places those routes would take you 🙂 and cameras probably wouldn’t work anyway.  But as regular readers know, I have gone rambling about Kensington Gardens, where Peter Pan flew to when he “ran away from home and lived a long, long time with the fairies.”

Part of the fun of the Gardens is that there are no plaques or ceramic fairies or touristy things to point out the different sites of interest.  You have to take a quest, with J. M. Barrie’s The Little White Bird as your guide, and find the magic spots yourself.

Fortunately, the fairies seem not to object to cameras!

P1010296If you look closely, you can see one of the “paths which make themselves”–at night, of course, which is when everything really magical happens in the Gardens.

P1010608These are flowers along the aptly-named Flower Walk.  Barrie tells us that fairies caught abroad by humans will pretend to be flowers.  His advice on the best way to spot a fairy is to stare at a “flower” until it can’t help winking at you.  (I don’t know what that would look like either!)

18 Branch of BeechThis is the branch of the Weeping Beech in the Flower Walk, where Peter Pan spent the night immediately after running away from home.

P1010308If you can’t find some fairy dust, and reliable directions on how to fly past the second star to the right, you can at least go see the island in the middle of the Serpentine.  Peter spent some time living there too, until he built a boat and (eventually) learned how to fly.

The Gardens are not the most exotic or showy of fairylands, but they’re certainly the most accessible–and they are every bit as charming as J. M. Barrie.

If you feel like visiting fairylands, even in books, why not join up with the Once Upon a Time Challenge?  And of course, you can also find more Saturday Snapshots on At Home with Books!

Saturday Snapshot: “Do Sit and Enjoy Life”

Whew–I don’t know about you, but 2013 seems to be starting crazy busy!  With very good things…but BUSY!  So for Saturday Snapshot today, I thought perhaps a few peaceful pictures from one of my favorite places.

You were already guessing Kensington Gardens, right? 🙂




The inscription reads: “Pam Weisweiller was here – do sit and enjoy life”

So this weekend, I hope you take some time to just sit and enjoy life!

Saturday Snapshot: Teatime

It’s raining all this weekend.  I thought about sharing rain pictures, but found out that it’s not so easy to photograph rain.  But rain makes me want to curl up somewhere cozy and drink tea, so I thought I’d share tea pictures–particularly fun tea pictures, from my London trip.

Tea at the Orangerie (4)This is the Orangerie in Kensington Gardens.  If you’re ever there, it’s off the Broad Walk near Kensington Palace.  They’re known for their excellent afternoon teas–two different friends who had lived in London recommended them to me!

Tea at the Orangerie (5)

This was my experience of tea–not actually the fancy version, which they serve on a pretty tiered tray and has cakes and sandwiches and enormous amounts of food.  But I wasn’t that hungry and they kindly let me just have very tasty tea and scones, even though the option wasn’t on the menu.

Tea at the Orangerie (3)

This is the view from the Orangerie’s patio.  Somewhere beyond that path is Kensington Palace.

Tea at the Orangerie (1)I also had breakfast at the Orangerie another day–the eggs tasted better than they look in the picture!  That day I ate inside, and got this picture…

Tea at the Orangerie (2)It’s a beautiful place–and not as busy Sunday mornings as it is for afternoon tea.  If you’re in Kensington Gardens (where you MUST go if you have any interest in Peter Pan), then the Orangerie is an excellent place for a very charming breakfast or tea!

Visit At Home with Books for more Saturday Snapshots.

Blog Hop: Autumn Books

I’m participating in the Book Blogger Hop again this week, which invites book bloggers to answer a bookish question and visit each other’s blogs.  Hosted at Soon Remembered Tales this week, here’s today’s question:

With Autumn upon us and Halloween drawing near, what books remind you of fall? What ones do you enjoy reading that are about autumn?

My first thought was that Autumn doesn’t seem to get that much play in fiction.  Summer and winter, with their more dramatic temperatures, seem to be more usual choices–and then of course, spring is the traditional setting for love stories.  (Also for L. M. Montgomery books, which while not all in the spring, all have that feel.)

But perhaps I don’t think of Autumn as a frequent setting because I don’t read the right books.  Perhaps Autumn comes up all the time in ghost stories and horror novels.  I wouldn’t know.

Anyway, I thought a bit more, and I did hit on two favorite books where Autumn plays a role.  First, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente features a heroine named September.  While not entirely set in Autumn, there is a scene where September turns into a tree–and begins to dry and crumble as Autumn comes in.  It’s truly frightening, and one of the most striking moments of the book.

Second, I thought of Peter Pan in Scarlet, Geraldine McCaughrean’s sequel to J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.  I imagine there are all seasons in Neverland (probably delightfully crammed together), but in a metaphorical sense, Neverland exists in a perpetual summer time.  This book explores what happens when the magic begins to crumble, and Autumn comes to the island.

I was in Kensington Gardens this September, where Peter Pan lived before going to Neverland.  True to the magic of the Gardens, Autumn seemed to arrive over night.  My hotel was nearby so I was visiting daily–and one day it was warm summer, the next it turned cold and drifts of leaves covered the ground.  It’s not hard to imagine that the fairies decided it was time for a season change, and went to work!

Autumn in Kensington Gardens

Saturday Snapshot: Fish and Chips

This may sound strange, but I love British food.  It gets a bad reputation–but what’s not to love about fish and chips, meat pies, yorkshire pudding and jammie dodgers?  I made a particular effort (and it wasn’t that hard) to find British food while I was in London.  After I got home, I started thinking about where I could find British food here–and what I could try making myself.

Meat pies seem complicated, but I thought I could handle fish and chips.  On my trip, I had fish and chips for lunch one day at The Black Lion.  First picture, here’s the pub:

It’s a great old place that dates back to the 1700s.  It’s on Bayswater Road, across the street from the Black Lion Gate, which opens onto the Broad Walk in Kensington Gardens.  I like to think J. M. Barrie may have eaten here, considering he lived just a few blocks away.

Here’s The Black Lion’s fish and chips:

The book, incidentally, is Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig, and very good.  So was the food!

And here’s my version of fish and chips–which also turned out tasty. 🙂

Check out At Home with Books for more Saturday Snapshots!