Much Madoo

July 16, 2015 § 5 Comments

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Charlotte Moss and Frances Schutlz were at Madoo to talk gardens and read from their excellent new books. Get them both — they are wonderfully diverting.

One of my favorite gardens by the beach is Madoo, which was founded by the artist Robert Dash back in the late sixties. I’ve been visiting this place for years and never tire of its extremely personal and heartfelt design. Mr. Dash died a few years ago, but The Madoo Conservancy has kept the spirit of the place very much alive, and they always have a number of events throughout the year to celebrate all that is wonderful about life in the garden.

Most recently, Mr. H and I attended a lunch featuring a talk with Charlotte Moss and Frances Schultz about their love of a good garden and making a home. Since these are two of my favorite topics by two authors and designers that I adore, I was pretty excited at the get-go. And the day didn’t disappoint….

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Who gives out corsages anymore?!? More importantly, WHY did we stop??  I think I would have left mine all day if the rest of my day didn’t include dog walking and making dinner.

Upon arrival at the lunch, everyone was given one of these delightful corsages. Almost all the attendees were game enough to wear them, even the men, some of whom who nattily tied them to their belt loops. (Very chic.) Talk about setting the mood! It was the perfect, transporting little detail that is a hallmark of the place.

Then we were treated to wine and nibbles under a tent-covered pergola (it was a slightly rainy weekend) that looked out onto one of the more formal parts of this rather informal garden. After some book buying and chatting, Charlotte and Frances  read a bit from their excellent new books and then had a fun panel discussion about their life in the garden, which really isn’t very different from anyone’s  — in the good way.

Next up was tucking into our delicious lunch that concluded with these cuties…

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I don’t really eat many sweets, but the pot de creme in a terra cotta pot could not be resisted.

Totally charming and awfully tasty. So much so that I almost forgot to get my book signed by Charlotte Moss. Thankfully I did not but I did turn into a complete Nutty Fan who just had to tell Charlotte Moss how much I loved Winter House — to be truthful, my actual words were “that one killed me”. She looked up, concerned, and then asked “how?” And I fumbled and just said something like “oh…just the whole thing…the perspective on lifestyle…you know…detail…”. I mortify myself sometimes…

Charlotte was cool about my complete un-coolness and somehow I felt like it didn’t matter because (aside from the fact that there was probably some kind of security) we shared a love of gardens. Which is was what makes visits and events at Madoo so wonderfully different: There is no posturing, no looking to see “who’s here” or deciding who was wearing the best or worst outfit. It is always about the garden…learning, sharing and connecting with people who have this one, marvelous thing in common. Given how easy it is to feel disconnected in these highly “connected” days, I find this to be a hugely comforting thing.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Lady Who Lunches

October 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

I was recently looking at my customized Seamless* homepage trying to decide which recent order I was going to reorder for lunch. As I scrolled down, I was kind of shocked to see that I use them almost every day. While it is a great service, I couldn’t help but put together that fact that ordering from them that frequently means that I almost never leave my office once I arrive there. I live in one of the greatest cities on earth and I spend most of my days in my (nicely appointed, but still) office. Dislike!

I also noticed that there are many nights when I have plans with girlfriends and find myself a little less than peppy at the set meeting time. While I am not a chronic canceler, I was curious to see if maybe I could make my day more chipper and be better company if I did something that I never thought I’d “do”: Lunch.

I started out with a friend who lives right around the block from my office. In all the years that I have known her, and all the years that she has lived up the block from my office, we have never met for lunch. So a few weeks ago, we went to nearby Lupa and had a lovely, lovely time. While it took more than the fifteen minutes it usually takes me to scarf down some weird vegan thing at my desk, I came back feeling so happy and refreshed that I actually think I may have been more productive overall.

The following week, I randomly called another girlfriend to see if she was free for a quick lunch. The stars aligned and we met at our usual nighttime hangout, Cafe Cluny**. Another fun meeting that didn’t blow my schedule out of the water and left me peppier in the afternoon.

Today, I took this morning’s copy of The Financial Times to lunch with me at Mercer Kitchen. Turns out that lunch with a newspaper leaves a little extra time for a bit of shopping and so I now have a new favorite lipstick to boot! And once again, I found myself able to hammer through some things with my General Counsel that I would never be up for in the latter half of the day.

Are you seeing a trend here? I certainly am.

I think it gets back to that fact that it really does not take a lot of time to have a little fun. And injecting some fun into the workweek is — if you can get past the guilt — a great way to keep yourself from getting The Blahs. So, until further notice, I consider myself not only a Lady Who Works, but also one that Lunches. (Except that I actually eat.) I suggest you try same.

xx

*Seamless (seamless.com) is an online food delivery service that allows you to order from about a zillion places. So, in theory, you never have to leave your desk for lunch. Decide for yourself whether this is a good or bad thing.

**Great for making sure you are inexplicably dining next to a Vogue staffer. This actually keeps you from eating too much of their delicious cavatelli, to which I am thoroughly addicted.

(Photo: Some Cozy Night. And The Crosby is also great for lunch…and drinks…and dinner. So cute!)

Indoors-y Girl Goes Outdoors

August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

In hopes of keeping things fresh for some house guests this past weekend, I arranged for us to all go kayaking. Now, if you know anything about me, this is not the kind of thing I would normally get myself mixed up in. (Unlike the Duchess of Cambridge, I lack a general interest in the Sporting Life.) But Mr. H had recently purchased a really beautiful kayak for himself and my friends love all manner of outdoorsy activities. And then there is the fact that when you are staying at my home, I want you to have a good time. So, I decided to give Outdoorsy a try.

And you know what? I liked it!

I think preparation was key…

The destination was the beach on the other side of the “pond”, which after paddling myself across it, I would like to say that “lake” is a better description of this particular body of water.

Even though I knew this was more of a Roughing It kind of day, I did make sure that we stowed away some lobster rolls, chips and cookies for lunch. And Mr. H made sure that the ladies of the party had little chairs to sit on when we reached the beach. During some headwinds, this was a very motivating bit of knowledge.

It was also an extremely motivating fact when I was confronted with how one gets into the kayak. Basically, you have to step into the water and then into your boat. Stepping into water that isn’t heated, chlorinated, or the ocean isn’t really my thing. Especially with shoes on, even if they were the rubber ones I garden in. Still, I did it. (And no, those pink flip flops are not mine. In fact, they shouldn’t be anybody’s.)

To be truthful, that little bit of discomfort was totally worth it for views like these. And an hour-long arm workout getting to the beach made that delicious lunch totally guilt-free!

Best of all, though, was doing something with friends that I’ve never done before. Seeing a new side of each other deepens good friendships, I think, and makes the whole experience of trying something new even more memorable. Definitely a reason to get outdoors.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

FOMO versus LTLYW

June 25, 2015 § 2 Comments

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Our Not Outside As Planned Father’s Day Tables

Mr. H and I hosted Father’s Day this past weekend for a total of thirteen people (including us and our two young nephews — and two dogs, who opted for chilling in our bedroom). In spite of the rain that put the kibosh on my tent and outdoor lunch in the garden plan, the day went off well and it even cleared up enough for our party to spend a little time outside later in the afternoon. So, overall, a win. But over dinner that night, somehow Mr. H and I got on the topic of how within just a few minutes, going to a place like Facebook can make you feel like your life is really not what it should be. This is a well-covered topic, and one that has given more prominence to the concept of the “Fear Of Missing Out” (FOMO), from which I suffer more than I care to admit.

Some of that has to do with my only hitting certain milestones that are universally relatable. I am married, but Mr. H and I don’t have the common problem of not being able to spend enough time with each other on account of our jobs. We also have the unusual situation of running our own company, that sometimes feels more like an episode of a fake Aaron Sorkin show than a regular work life. I don’t have children, so I don’t have photos of my kids doing adorable things to post on Facebook, or to talk about at social gatherings and the like. And Mr. H and I are pretty private people (which, yes, makes one wonder why I write this blog at all), so there are few, if any, photos of us with our friends and family doing the things we enjoy doing. I don’t even post selfies! The result is that sometimes I look at all the things that others are sharing online and feel like I am doing it all wrong. (Sounds familiar? I hope not, but I guess that maybe it does.)

My life is largely — though not entirely — the product of choices that I have made. Choices of how I wanted my life to be. And when I am not busy looking around at other people, they are choices that I feel content with having made.  So what’s up with feeling like I am somehow not “living up” to life??

I wish I knew. But what I do know is that when I feel a FOMO attack coming on, I try to remind myself that the digital world is not the real one, which is where I find the most comfort and happiness, even in its unedited version. And that really, Living The Life You Want (LTLYW…yeah, I made this up) is generally the best course of action if you have the privilege of doing so. It still doesn’t keep the FOMO away, but it certainly makes my time off of screens feel like I am exactly where I want to be*.

xx

* Unless I am somewhere that is really cold, really hot, smelly or otherwise unpleasant.

(Photo: Some Cozy Night)

The Season

June 20, 2015 § Leave a comment


June by the beach brings rain. Lots of it. So much so that my Father’s Day plans have been moved from the garden to the indoors, which is a bit of a bummer. That said, all this rain helps (I hope!) yeild the most lovely strawberries, which are now in their fleeting season. And while we have these berries every year, like wine, there are good seasons and less than stellar ones.

The last year that was truly remarkable on the strawberry front was — wait for it — 2007. We had a different President and Facebook was just getting going. That is how long this non-fruit lover has been waiting for another incredible strawberry. But finally, in 2015, the time has come. Just the scent of them is dazzling. And apparently I am not alone in believing that 2015 is a very high quality year for our local strawberries: At a luncheon at our local garden conservancy today (featuring a talk with Charlotte Moss and Frances Schultz — post TK), my table mates and I were all marveling at this year’s crop…and also wondering aloud if maybe this season’s peaches would rival the ones of ’05. Only time will tell. I guess we’ll all just have to be patient and savor what we have in the meantime.

xx

(Photo: Some Cozy Night)

Walking on the Moon and Other Places…

June 9, 2015 § 2 Comments

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As a Christmas present this year, I gave Mr. H a trip to the Grand Staircase in hopes of seeing the desert and an incredible night sky. We went this past April and while we didn’t see as many (okay, any) stars on account of cloud cover, there were many things that must be shared.

After a longish day of travel, we arrived at a rather remote town twenty minutes outside of Page, AZ, in Utah. The traveler in me wanted to get out right away and hike, but the girl in me won and we had lunch and took a nap out on the patio of our room with a view. (I may have also had a massage.)

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But the next day, at around 7AM, we were up and ready for our first adventure: A tour of some local Slot Canyons. “What are those” you ask? I had the same question. And according to Wikipedia, a Slot Canyon “is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. They are significantly deeper than wide. Some slot canyons can measure less than 1 metre across at the top but drop more than 30 metres to the floor of the canyon.”

I think Wikipedia is kind of missing the point in its accurate but dry entry. THESE are slot canyons, and I am thinking it takes A LOT of water rushing through to create them…

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So we are already at truly beautiful, but do you see the top of that ladder? You must climb down into the canyon and then you get to walk around this…

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Pretty wonderful and honestly like nothing I have ever seen before.

As you would imagine, walking around these for a few hours can stir up a girl’s appetite, so it was back to the resort for lunch and then a hike around the preserve there…

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Rather grand from far away, and yet totally different as we kept moving upwards. When we arrived at the top of the main mesa we were climbing, it was like being on the moon (as I imagine it, as least)…

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Very cool.  (And I am fairly certain that much of this is also created by “the wear of water” — there are monsoons in this part of the country twice a year.) Also, very grand, but there are also smaller moments to be enjoyed…

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You know what they say about the desert being dusty as well as cold at night? It is true. Extremely true. So after this hike, I was cold and in need of a single malt and a bath. So a tipple and a bath commenced, followed by dinner and an early bedtime since the next day we were off to the Grand Canyon at 6:30AM. All I kept thinking was that this better be good. It was…

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So this is where we had lunch…it seemed a little wrong to chew around all of this, but you know, I did. And it was fantastic.

It was also cold and rainy! So after we got back — it was almost a three hour drive both ways — there was a little more single malt for its warming properties and another massage. Much needed because the next day was Bryce Canyon at 7AM. It was still cold and rainy, but off we went…

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We walked down to the bottom and then back up to the top. It was completely different from the other places we had been and let’s just say a very good workout. And an excellent last stop.

Next morning, we were off into the clouds…

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And circling the city…

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And finally back home…

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Which was definitely not the desert. And while I was thrilled to have visited, I was also quite happy to be home.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Not That One)

October 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

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It is hard to make new traditions sometimes, but one that I am a stickler about is Pumpkin Day. As I have mentioned before, I have an odd, deep love of pumpkins…they make me really, really happy. So getting my stash each year — A.K.A. “Pumpkin Day” — is pretty much one of my favorite days of the year. And for the last three years, our adorable Nephew has hit the patch with us, making PD even more fun and a sort of new tradition in our family that is blissfully prep and stress-free.

This year, Nephew — now older, wiser and more choosey — went though the field with gusto and also insisted on rolling his cart himself (with the help of my Brother and Mr. H., as he is, you know, only two). He also seemed pretty particular about which pumpkins were up to snuff, which I see as a good skill to cultivate early. And as you would imagine, he was pretty devastated when we had to put his cart away. Seriously, the child was upset. Thankfully, all was forgiven during the dessert course at lunch, where chocolate pudding was served. Nephew may have had ice cream before, but to our knowledge, never pudding. And heavens, did he enjoy it! The All-Over-My-Face kind of enjoyment that you can only have when you are this age.

Needless to say, we’ll be making this particular pudding another part of Pumpkin Day from hereon in.

Here is to Pumpkin Day and making your own traditions.

xx

(Photo of our haul: Mr. H)

One Last Hurrah…

August 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

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Oh my goodness! How did it get to be the beginning of Labor Day Weekend? (AKA: The End of Summer.) I know that it was busy, but really, this one went way too fast. Thankfully, I think we made the most of it, especially over these last couple of weeks. So, before we start thinking about fall and Fashion Week and All That Work We Need to Do, some last bits of summer, which in my book is at its best by the beach…

One of my favorite things about the season is the flowers — I know, this is not new information. And I especially love these particular roses when they greet me each day…

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The Village Improvement Society’s Annual Geranium Planting (I am not kidding about this, even though it sounds very Star’s Hollow) makes dog walks* a little bit more inviting in the morning, when I pretty much don’t want to be walking at all.

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Also making dog walks and other activities more enjoyable is our town itself, which I find to be quite charming. Pierre’s is our year-round spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and the best fries around), and the library next door is very high on the Adorable Factor, as is their library card, of which I am a proud holder. (But I am pretty sure I owe them a late fee for a Mary McCarthy biography. I feel bad about that…I really do. But somehow, I still haven’t made it back in to pay it. I think it is shame that is keeping me away.)

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And then there is the beach. I don’t think there is a better place to take a nap than on a beach. And nap I did this summer. Quite a bit. This was my typical view when I woke up from one of said naps…

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Unless I was opted for the shade of our beach camp…

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And sometimes, after napping, walking would happen. I know, everyone says it, but that is because it is true: A walk on the beach clears the mind, lifts the spirits and sometimes gives you ideas for interior design projects. (OK, that last part is probably just me.)

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(And this shell below has me thinking of all sorts of masculine colors for our kitchen project….but that is for another post.)

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Then there is eating. One of my favorite things to do. Ina always talks about them, but this place really is yummy…

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As is Navy Beach, which has been GOOP-ed, but I like to think that I knew about it first…

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If only they were a little more forthcoming about the availability of tables outside…

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Not that I am complaining. Well, actually, I am. Seriously, that was just a few of the open tables outside. Grrr.

Anyway, one thing I could never complain about is Mr. H’s annual Birthday Dinner with our dearest friends. As always, this was one was excellent — and included doughnuts from Dough!

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Naturally, this kind of eating requires a little more movement than just rolling over on my beach towel. So, I did attempt a jog or two and either I hallucinated it, or there is an amazing cobweb in this photo that I cannot see. If you can, I am very happy for you.

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And just in case you were concerned, A+O also had a very restful summer, including lots of time on the down cushions of our sofa. This does not please me, but they are so darn cute that I let it slide…

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And this year, we had an extra fun treat in the form of a fantastic sail on the most lovely boat…

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I am not a sailor, but I think this one is pretty “yar”. (Watch The Philadelphia Story, please.)

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So, even though I hate to see it go, I think that we did summer quite well this year, and hope you did same. And don’t forget to savor this long weekend — whatever your plans may be. I will probably still be napping and eating, if only for the sake of consistency.

xx

* In all fairness, Mr. H performs this duty far more frequently than I do. But, I am the one on teeth brushing and managing their schedules. Yes, they have schedules because parts of my life are ridiculous.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H)

The Sunday Ritual

July 21, 2013 § 2 Comments

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I grew up in a rather traditional Italian-American family (surprise!), where Sundays were kind of a big deal. Every week, tomato sauce, meatballs, sausages and other delicious things were prepped before my last Lucky Charm was eaten. And my Grandparents always came over for Sunday Dinner, which was often eaten in the middle of the afternoon and kind of stretched out until the early evening. That was “Sunday” to me. I never questioned it. It was just how it was and it was pretty nice.

When I went to college, there was no “Sunday Dinner” so-to-speak. But I did notice that early in my freshman year, my then-boyfriend and I always went to a very late lunch (seriously, like 3pm) at the same Chinese restaurant every Sunday, where I ordered the same exact thing, week after week, pretty much until we broke up. I suppose I had replaced one Sunday ritual with another.

Once out of college and living on my own, I found myself inviting my friends over for dinners on Sundays, rationalizing that if we didn’t get together, we were essentially tossing away part of our weekends. Another ritual. But that one was hard to sustain on account of Life Events, and everyone eventually becoming too busy to make it stick. And honestly, I didn’t feel like I’d “lost” anything. This was life and things change. Right?

But this past winter I was at a dinner party being thrown by a fellow Italian-American woman and as the evening went on, I was surprised to find myself confessing to her that I actually missed those more special Sundays. And her reply was simple: “You just have to make new rituals.”

Hmmm…that sounded too easy. And while I haven’t yet figured out how to create a Sunday of my childhood, I have noticed that Mr. H and I do have a few Sunday rituals which vary, but still count. One of these is lunch or an early dinner at Almond, which has an outpost by our house at the beach.

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There is always a warm welcome to be had here, as well as a delicious mac-and-cheese and something called the B.A.L.T., which is a BLT with avocado and some kind of heavenly spread to which I am thoroughly addicted. They also have that fabulous Scalamandre Zebra wallpaper that I adore, but have nowhere to use…

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There is also the Sunday Flower Run which not only keeps the house cheery during the workweek, but can also result in an excellent education in the various varieties and care of the things we pick. (The Watering Orchids session was one of the most useful in my Floral Life.)

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And when we are in the city, trips to Larder to make sure we have a treat or two to help us through the week is a pretty regular thing…

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As are walks with A+O,  especially when we are at the beach, where things are a little slower and we can take it all in…

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And watch A-dog flip out over the horses…

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And O-dog judge the quality of the plantings…

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And then there are days when I simply crave the scent of garlic, tomato and basil in the house. Those are the days, like this one, that I pull myself off the sofa and just make a simple tomato sauce with some pasta and call it a Sunday. Sometimes those are the best rituals of all.

xx

(Photos, including one of this evening’s early pasta dinner: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H)

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)

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