Rousham to Provence

Waiting to see a Dr. any Dr. it would seem can take an eternity, so I always take a book with me. Well that’s not quite true, I take a book when I remember to. I am not sure who left the book by John Bailey behind about his beloved wife Iris Murdoch but I am very glad they did, It is poignantly and lovingly written. Of course it makes me think of them. John and Iris lived in Steeple Aston in Oxfordshire our next door village. The village that actually had a few shops and a post office in it. We didn’t have those luxuries in Rousham. Although the breadman used to come down three times a week in his white van selling fresh warm white bread with a very crispy crust which was perfect to slather butter on and let it soak up the yummy Sunday lunch gravy. The butcher John Walton came down, the local library visited, the green grocer came down twice a week, the milkman came every morning with gold top milk and silver top milk. We would all rush for the gold top so we could have the  creamy top of the milk on our cereals. Amd last but not least the everything van came down. From nails to paper to envelopes and pens and sweeties. We used to love it when the vans came down.

Back to Iris and John, they were friends of my parents and the boys Bill and Micheal ( Micheal Campbell Lord of Glenavey author and brother of Patrick Campbell) I loved visiting John and Iris they had a pretty garden that had a tiny stream running through it at the bottom. Iris told me that fairies lived there and I used to go down and wait for them to appear. They didn’t come out often only once or twice!

One famous New Years Eve when we were playing cherades at the boys house and hoping that John and Iris had stayed at home as there was a storm of giagantic proportions raving outside. Trees falling, cracking lightening, torrential rainfall, really ghastly weather we were well into the game and the champagne, when appeared at the door two soggy human beings apologising profusely for being late. Bedraggled and weather beaten, a tree had fallen in front of their car in Steeple Aston, and rather than walk home to the warmth. They clambered over the tree and braved the storm for 2 miles to arrive at the boys house. I will never forget this evening. The fact that they arrived at all and said they were sorry will be imprinted on my mind as long as my mind lasts!


We live in a tumbly down old farmhouse in Provence, we don’t live in a village with a big house and landscaped gardens and dovecots and a river running through the feild, but we do live in the land of poppies and lavender fields and vineyards and great beauty.

Our house in Provence and the Medlar full of fruit.jpg

Our house laden in roses and the medlar tree laden with fruit. I make a yummy medlar and pink pepper corn jelly with this quite acidic fruit.

Our terrace in the shade of the linden tree.JPG

The terrace in the trees.

When I was a teenager I liked to paint plein air, I used to paint the cottage with the roses growing up the front and the clematis and honey suckle, a riot of colour all tangled together in divine inspiration. My mum was an amazing gardner and of course artist and she would help me with my drawing and painting. I loved to wear Laura Ashley dresses and we all wore barefeet, much to the consternation of one of the villagers who was forever complaining that the Baker girls were being bought up as bohemians, something that we were very proud of. I still like to wear long cotton dresses and  bare feet. Maybe I am still a bohemian.


That’s all for now folks come and visit us in Provence and paint en Plein air with Paint Provence with Tess

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