Mr. & Mrs. H’s UK Adventure: Part I

May 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

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The beginning seems like a very good place to start sharing some of the highlights of our recent trip to England. We basically covered the countryside in the west and south. Our goal was to see as many manor houses and gardens as we could in twelve days. And with the help of the the U.K.’s National Trust (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk), the Lonely Planet Guide to England and my own research about some of the more famous houses between the wars, we came up with a rather excellent mix of grand, eccentric and simply lovely places to visit.

After arriving at the airport, we drove out to Bath, where we stayed while touring that part of the country. While the narrow, twisty streets of this beautiful old Roman city made the Car Thing a little treacherous, one cannot help but appreciate how beautiful it is…

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Unfortunately, we didn’t get a ton of time in the city itself. However, we did find this excellent lunch spot for our first non-airborne meal of the trip:

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If memory serves, this is one of the places we found through the Slow Food U.K. site (http://www.slowfood.org.uk) and it does have an emphasis on local and sustainable food — which didn’t rule out proper English fare, including fish & chips, ploughman’s lunch, shepherd’s pie and pints. I kind of loved the spare entry and table up front, and the bar has just what every woman wants in a good one: bag hooks…

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I opted for wine and a delicious sandwich…with chips (fries, really…I had the difference explained to me…chips are bigger). Mr. H went for a shepherd’s pie with his wine. It was exactly what we needed after two hours of driving and time zone adjustment…

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Also much needed was a post-lunch nap in the sun-filled room (yes, we were in England) at our hotel. To get to it, we had the good fortune to cross this garden every day…

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After the bustle of the city streets and the slight chaos of getting around those first few days, this was the perfect hideaway to begin and end each day. Especially when breakfast was served here…

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And Tea here…

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Which included one of the most delicious New Things I’ve Eaten: The Bath Bun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_bun). They are those sugar covered buns in front of the scones and I could have eaten a mountain of them. Yum!

And I think that is all I have today, especially since I totally want one of those buns now, which means I should see about getting dinner together before I run out and eat a pile of donuts. (Which I think I’ll call Beach Buns from now on.)

Next up: Kingston Lacy, Dryham Park and maybe Cliveden.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Mondays

May 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

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OK, I swear this isn’t a placeholder post, even if I am still trying to get my photos from the beginning of our trip off of my camera. (Who knew the battery needed to be charged to do that?? OK, maybe the people at Leica and those that read the manual, but I digress….)

So, Mondays. I think we can all agree they can be a bit of a drag. Especially the Monday you are coming back after two weeks of (chilly, windy and at times rainy) bliss. I find it very difficult to be productive on a Monday. And for a long time, my mood after work on Mondays was kind of low, feeling like I had simply wasted a day, leaving myself with even more to do the rest of the week. Not a good feeling.

Then one day a few months ago it hit me:  Make Mondays about getting other people rolling. So, I decided to make this the day of the week that I meet with each of my direct reports to go over their progress, what they need from me, and give them direction on what to focus on, what to hold off on and the like. And you know what? It works like magic! Seriously, I sit in my office and answer questions and catch up with some of my favorite people all day. And when each person steps out of my door, they leave knowing what to do (I hope), and I leave the office feeling as if I got tons done. That’s a much better feeling.

Now, I know that not everyone has a job that includes direct reports, status meetings and the like, but I think what is really at play here is the feeling that you are being productive by getting things in motion. And if your Monday To Do list is filled with things like “Talk to So-and-So about next steps on X”, it is actually a little easier to accomplish than the line item that says “Renovate House”. “Renovate House” is going to be on your list for quite some time. “Talking to So-and-So” may really get crossed off Monday.

Yikes! I have another meeting.

xx

(Photo: Some Cozy Night)

Not Too Shabby

May 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Before I begin bombarding you with the gorgeous English Countryside, where they make scone eating a way of life, I wanted to remind myself and you all that natural — and created — beauty is everywhere…

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A quick snap of Prospect Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and said to be his favorite of this and Central Park (which he also designed). I love this park and on a beautiful day, nothing is better than taking our terrible terriers out for a walk through its winding paths and open fields.

So, just a little reminder that you don’t always have to go far to get away.

xx

(Photo of Friday’s walk: Some Cozy Night)

The Last Tea

May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Very English weather today, but armed with hats, wellies and a map, we set out on a five mile walk around this beautiful estate, Gravetye. There was rain. There was mud. We may have taken a wrong turn or two, but we made it back quite pleased with ourselves.

Given the rather challenging terrain — many hills, rocks, and stiles (more on these later) — I came to believe that we were entitled to two treats for our efforts. First, we hit the pub…

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I didn’t care that it was all fried. It was just what I required, including my Half Pint. However, that Half Pint along with the walk made me a touch sleepy and an Epic Nap ensued. But my body is now fully on English Time, and I woke up just a few minutes before 4, just in time for Treat Number Two, tea…

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Served by a nice fire…

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The perfect ending to a rather perfect — and filling — day. Now it is upstairs to pack, and down to our last dinner of this wonderful trip.

More to come.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Beautiful Birds

May 13, 2013 § 2 Comments

Just another taste of posts to come…this bird of prey was one of several we enjoyed meeting today.

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xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

My Reward

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

So, today the weather had taken a turn for the English, and rain and wind were on the agenda. Alas, Blenheim Palace (the birthplace of Winston Churchill) was also on the docket. So, off we went in the wind and rain. Regardless, it was lovely…

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This was the most sun we had while there, so you can imagine my deep need for tea when we got back. I’ve become quite addicted to tea here, as I have always been a scone head and the little sandwiches are delicious. So I am taking today’s tea as a reward for getting my English on and walking through the weather rather than giving up the goat. (Or is it “ghost”…whatever.)

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I DID NOT eat it all, or even half, but it was delicious and now I am ready for my bath (showers appear to be a No Go here) and a nice evening out, including treacherous driving and some dinner.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Lovely in England

May 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Greetings from the English Countryside, where Mr. H and I have been powering our way through various manor houses, gardens and other grounds. A small driving incident in Bath aside, we have been having the most wonderful time. And while I plan to elaborate, I thought a little taste would be cheering.

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Above, some of the gardens at our hotel in Bath. Sitting out here for tea is heaven.

Below, a bit of a pink Japanese Maple on the grounds of Kingston Lacy. A most beautiful property. And trust me when I tell you it is impossible to capture the actual shade of pink…for me, anyway…

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A view on the grounds of Whatley Manor, where I had one of the best meals of my life (from a list that includes The Bristol, Chez Panisse, Per Se and Franny’s). And yes, it is in England.

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The view from one of our windows in Cliveden, where I am still pinching myself that I am actually here…

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And some of the grounds of Grays Manor, where even the cows were beautiful.

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Tomorrow we have a longish drive to Highgrove, where Prince Charles has created one of the most interesting Gardens I Must See. Naturally this requires proper footwear, which Mr. H and I were able to conjure up without having to take up too much room in our suitcases with full blown wellies…

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More to come!

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

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