January 24, 2019
In early 2018, our family was living in London for my husband's academic work. We were invited to spend a weekend with friends in a charming town in the Cotswolds called Chipping Campden. After several months of urban dwelling, we were happy to set out for the countryside.
Britain has an amazing history of welcoming, even encouraging, people to explore. Laws in England and Wales protect the public right of way to walk, and sometimes cycle or ride horseback on public footpaths, bridleways, and byways. In Scotland, everyone has the right to be on most land so long as they act responsibly. All across Great Britain, weathered wooden signposts mark public footpaths, and clever steps and gates enable walkers to pass from field to field over charming fences and ancient stone walls.
With this in mind, and properly equipped with our new Wellies (aka rubber boots) from John Lewis, we marched out of Chipping Campden with very careful instructions -cross the creek, pass the ruins, go out through the sheep gate, through the field to the top of the hill, turn right at the Quaker church, and ask for the pub. Somewhere near the ruins (of a medieval castle?) my children formed a gang of Superheroes- the Supa Chupas! We first discovered Chupa Chups (the best lollipops ever) in Italy and had been delighted to find them in London. My husband and I held hands as we celebrated this moment when our children became friends and set off on their own adventures. It involved a secret handshake, sweatshirts turned into capes and lots of running, punctuated by the occasional Supa Chupa Meeting and many frightened sheep!
We eventually arrived at the Bakers Arms, enjoyed a delightful pint along with a classic British pub lunch, and mucked our way back through more sheep fields (there's a theme). It was after this charmed walk that I changed shoes and headed up to the High Street in town to browse the shops. I visited the cheese store where I picked up "Stinking Bishop" at the request of our host, and wandered into Sam Wilson, a charming homeware & gift shop. They basically had me at hello- or at least the window display.
Sam herself was in the shop, helping to style a table. I loved the printed fabrics that featured the same fields and pheasants I'd just encountered. I heard her story, that she began her career as an illustrator, lived locally, and designed the prints by hand using Linoprint. Everything was beautiful, cozy, and made by real people, just down the street! Wishing I could bring home everything, I limited myself to a few small prints that live in my kitchen today.
Fast forward six months... We're back home in North Carolina, and I'm working in an office, driving my mini-van around town, and fetching necessities from big-box stores. As grateful as I am for our health, comfort, friends and family here, I have grieved the loss of a sense of place. My mind often lands on that walk along the "Heart of England Way" outside Chipping Campden, and I long for the fields in those prints in my kitchen. I miss the cold, damp streets of London, where even a walk to pick up groceries was a sensory experience and an encounter with piece of history.
I am learning to seek more adventure in our lives here. We’ve started walking more, visiting new local places, and using our good silver for everyday meals. I’ve noticed a moment of joy when I use the coffee mugs I bought in London, and every time it rains the kids pull out the Wellies with delight, inviting another adventure of the Supa Chupas. I wondered, How can I bottle this up and share it? I toyed with writing a book but discovered that what I really get a kick out of is helping other people have their own moments of delight.
The stars aligned, and with my children's joyous sense of adventure, I started Briton Home in November 2018. We traveled back to the UK for a week, and I met with Sam Wilson and London-based Thornback & Peel to discuss bringing their products to the States. I picked up a few other things to try, and hosted my first “suitcase show” just before Christmas. My hope is to offer an evolving collection of things I love, all made in Great Britain. I want to tell the stories of the makers and the places that are meaningful to me, and I hope they resonate with you. I’d like to think I’m offering more than a tea towel; it’s actually a piece of Britain and a touchstone for you to experience your own sense of delight, abundance and joy!
As I share about our travels and the quirks of British culture, I’m aware that it is a blessing to have been able to live there and to enjoy these luxuries. Spending time in new cultures has been life-changing for my family, but the vast majority of people do not have this opportunity. My goal is to donate 5% (at least!) of profits from Briton Home to open doors to young people to travel or study abroad, so that they may have their own adventures and aha moments. So buy lots of tea towels!!!
May 01, 2019
I love your sense of adventure and your evident joy in sharing the treasures you’ve found!
Thank you so much for sharing from your experiences in Britain and Scotland.
You inspire me to see more of “- the big beautiful world that exists beyond our everyday.”:)
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December 03, 2019
September 05, 2019
Welcome to September. The children have started school and us parents can breathe again, at least until the afternoon, when activities and homework fill the hours with hurry once more.
Amidst the many emails from this year’s teachers and coaches, I still receive notices from the school our children attended in London several years ago. I could un-subscribe, but I secretly cherish this little ongoing window into life there! Today I indulged and opened the St. Barnabas & St. Philip's emails, checked the website, and read the upcoming events from our church in London...
July 22, 2019
Dawn Landes is a singer-songwriter based in Nashville, TN who plays “Americana” rock/folk/country and recently released her fifth album, Meet Me at the River, and an EP, My Tiny Twilight, inspired by becoming a mother. While she lives in the Country Music capital of the world, she recently returned from a European tour spanning three countries. I am lucky to call Dawn my sister-in-law, and on her most recent trip to the UK, she even went on a buying mission for Briton Home! Check out these amazing silver teaspoons- chosen with care by Dawn in Exeter during an outing between shows.
When she got home, Dawn was generous to let me interview her about her experience in Britain, as she has gotten to know England, Scotland and Wales over the last fifteen years through the lens of a musician. She has toured in the UK over twenty times, on her own and with other performers, including Sufjan Stevens, Hem, and most recently, Nick Lowe. From Cardiff to Dorset, Glasglow to London, Dawn has met other musicians and performed in venues large and small, iconic and idyllic. She has had a window into a side of British culture many of us never see.
Read our interview here!
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