I love England and visit a lot. The first time I came here and spent any amount of time, I came without my family but then they came over to join me for a week. It was during the ‘off’ time on a film that I was doing and we rented a car – which is the scariest thing to do when you are not used to driving on the wrong side of the road - and we drove up to Oxfordshire.
A friend who lived here in England had suggested we see some of the Cotswolds, which we discovered was an area scattered with little stone cottages and fabulous churches. Based on this friend’s recommendation, we found a little bed-and-breakfast -type place – I don’t even know what you call them here – but it was straight out of a Dickens story kind of place. It was called ‘The Feathers’.
In villages like Woodstock you can still imagine how life must have been back in the Middle Ages. I remember it all seemed so timeless. All this was a while ago now but I remember it so well.
Once you get out of London, if you’re looking for that England countryside thing, that’s when it becomes magical; the leafy, winding lanes that we drove down to reach ‘The Feathers’ – just enchanting! We stayed there three nights. We took all the excursions: Oxford was just a few miles away and so was Stratford upon Avon – where Will Shakespeare was born and lived. It was just like stepping back in time!
We made a point of visiting Blenheim , that magnificent 18th century Baroque Palace. It’s set in an enormous park, and was where Sir Winston Churchill (whose mother, incidentally, was an American) was born, but of course you already know that.Blenheim was extra special for us because my wife was a student of horticulture and Capability Brown. You know, he is just about the most famous horticulturist and landscape designer in the history of this country, and nature designer – he simply reinvented nature. Back in the 18th century he re-designed the landscape for Blenheim Palace and she being a student we chose to focus on that area so that she could see his famous work.
I really like the name ‘Capability Brown’, don’t you? A name like that would give a kid a real head start at school, don’t you think?
Although Blenheim Palace is beautiful I would not fancy living there. The Ewings of Dallas might have enjoyed it but not me. The upkeep would destroy me and I’m just not a big fan of that kind of life. I’m a much fuzzier, comfy person. Those huge castles and palaces are so non-friendly, so cold, no matter how oppulant. If, like me, you like padding around in your jammies … well Blenheim definitely is not that kind of place at all.
But I am stunned by those Stately Homes all the time. When I pick up a magazine and turn to the page at the back there are all these kind of places and they are now for sale. The fourteenth earl of somewhere is selling it or if he is not selling, he has been forced to live in an apartment, in the upper corner somewhere, while the rest of his home becomes a tourist attraction, with hoards of strangers tramping though the rooms. It must be heartbreaking for them. I would hate that. No, that life is not for me, I’ll stick to my ranch in Oregon.
Travelling through Oxfordshire was like a fantasy that we could participate in
because it was something I only knew by virtual of film or that kind of stuff. I just
loved seeing all those wonderful cottages and Pubs and buildings – all madewith that sunkissed coloured stone.
Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing in 'Dallas') 'My Bit of Britain', complete interview,was featured in Jan/Feb issue of 'In Britain' magazine.
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