June 28, 2013 § 4 Comments
I hope you aren’t getting too sick of these posts, but there was so much to see and each place was so different, that it is hard to control myself. These next posts are firmly mid-trip and contained some of our busiest and most beautiful places. And what I loved the most was how different they all are — not once did I get that “oh, another one of these” while on this trip. Quite a nice surprise, I must say.
First up: Grays Court, which had a little guest appearance on Downton Abbey last season as their Scottish Residence. Yes, it is in England…and only the exteriors were used, as the interiors were in use as a rather low-key family home until just a few years ago. (And for the full DA Experience, just replace the tourist and late-model cars with Lady Mary and Matthew and you’ll see it.)
Of all the places we visited, this one was the most relaxed and my absolute favorite part was the walk in the bluebells…
It all started rather innocently enough, with a modest gate between us and what we thought we be a typical walk with the usual bluebells. Only, we simply could not have imagined the magnitude of the bluebells…the path was a dense carpet of them, and as your kept walking, it got to be downright trippy!
The path though the bluebells — which photos cannot really do justice to — left us at a most lovely clearing, and in the distance, you could see the beginnings of the house. But really, that landscape was the star of the show…
As you may have noticed, things had become cloudy and I am here to tell you that it was also somewhat cold. I had a choice to make: Be a baby and try to get the the house as quickly as possible OR Get My English On and just keep walking and enjoying. I chose the latter. As did Mr. H — being half English, he is always game for a good walk.
And soon enough, the house was in view, which I greeted with extreme pleasure, as that meant we were close to a Tea Room…
But not that close. Another garden with an odd little bridge was to be crossed, and it had rather entertaining entry gate…
Is it me, or is this discovery crying out for new nicknames for my besties?
Onward we walked, me thinking of little else but tea and not being rained on (I am not half English, so I still feel I did well given the circumstances). Sadly, by the time we arrived, there was very little in the way of nourishment beyond some tea in a paper cup, which we drank outside, in the rain. Still, I happily waited for our tour to begin and even had a chance to visit an outbuilding that has a really charming vegetable garden, where it was too early to grow food. But is was pretty to look at from indoors…
And then it was finally time to get into the house. As I mentioned, there wasn’t much to see, as it was a family home until around 2003. But heavens, upon leaving the house, we were treated to a psychotically lovely situation…
And that was a perfect ending to our visit. And what made it extra perfect was that Mr. H and I did it together. As we were on this trip, running around from place to place, being fascinated by so many things and having such hilarious (to us) conversations in the car that music was not needed, I’d like to always think of this gate as ours…
And really, that is what makes a trip around the world and in life. May you always have a good companion by your side.
For more information on Grey’s Court, including a snap of Matthew and Mary: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greys-court/
(Photos: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H)
May 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
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…
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:
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…
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…
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…
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…
And Tea here…
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.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
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…
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.)
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.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
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.
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…
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.
The view from one of our windows in Cliveden, where I am still pinching myself that I am actually here…
And some of the grounds of Grays Manor, where even the cows were beautiful.
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…
More to come!
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
March 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
Today was one of those days when the weather is just too good to stay indoors, even if you need to borrow your husband’s scarf to be completely warm. So, Mr. H and I walked the Highline and spied some very good signs that Real Spring is almost here…
Small blossoms and other signs of life were everywhere. Alas, it wasn’t quite enough to make it feel as if winter were completely banished. So, we stopped a nearby florist to pick up some blooms to tide is over.
I am fairly certain that I’ve made no bones about how horrid the weather has been of late. But today felt like a sign that we’ll be snipping our own buds in no time. In the meantime, we’ll take these teaser days whenever we can. I hope you can do the same.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
February 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
Happy Thursday! I’ve been back home for almost a week now and I must say, things have been not too shabby.* As always, a combination of planning and being open to whatever has been key.
On the planning front, I made sure that the house was in Ready Mode when we arrived with a stocked fridge c/o Fresh Direct and some lovely flowers from Emily Thompson (http://www.emilythompsonflowers.com/):
There is also the matter of making sure that my agenda for the return week was set to a certain degree. Before I left, I divided my “Work”, “Home” and “Personal” To Do lists into “Before You Leave” and “Upon Return” segments. I’ll spare you the contents, as many things were as mundane as “order diverter for shower” and “complete the E&O Insurance Application”, but every list feels better when you have it in something pretty. I count my blue diary with refillable inserts among one of those things, even if the checkbook sticks out:
And in the diary, I reminded myself to schedule some fun and some maintenance. So, brows and facial this afternoon with the lovely Robin Evans who keeps me from looking like a teenage George Whipple (http://robinevansskincare.com/) and dinner at The Modern (http://themodernnyc.com/) last night, with a wonderful view of one of my very favorite gardens in the city…
Nothing like this kind of view to make you feel less glum about leaving the sparkle of the sea and unlimited amounts of guacamole. Also, the wine and painstakingly prepared and served food helped.
And this evening, dinner with a Bestie — just us girls — as the most excellent 606 R&D (https://somecozynight.com/2012/06/12/cool-places-606-rd/). Donuts may be consumed, so I was good and had some steamed broccoli for lunch.
As for the unexpected, I managed to unpack on Saturday (this almost never happens to me), leaving me with a free Sunday. So, I decided to head uptown to buy some hankies for the upcoming and dreaded allergy season. In addition to discovering that the watch repair place was open (ON A SUNDAY!!), I also happened upon the last few boxes of my absolute favorite plain note cards by G. Lalo. I am a great fan of the handwritten note and these could not be more stylish…
They are still on my dressing table because the boxes make me happy. I will put them away, but not until a trip to Ladurée occurs, I think. Macarons are immensely cheering, no?
The weekend will be at the beach, where large amounts of working out will hopefully occur, as will the consumption of a fabulous Saturday lunch c/o Topping Rose House (http://www.toppingrosehouse.com/), one of the best additions to our little town out there.
And that is about all I have for now, except to say that I have more to say about the Fall Collections, but for now, I will leave it at this: Is it me, or was there WAY too much fur?? (For me, “none”, is best.)
*Except for my inability to rise at a decent hour to work out or meditate. Hoping to re-set on that one this weekend.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
May 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
I was recently in Chicago and just knew that aside from catching up with my good friend and getting a massage, I needed to do two things:
(1) Visit The Art Institute of Chicago and
(2) See Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Walk”, which I like to think of as The Giant Silver Bean.*
In spite of a very early flight, my friend and I did a good bit of walking on Day 1, but alas, no Bean. We did however have a wonderful meal at MK that evening, which included a homemade gnocchi with fava beans and a poached egg that we were both still thinking about during lunch the next day. I also had truly memorable carrot soup — and how often does that happen? Do visit: https://www.mkchicago.com/index.swf
The next day was a little work focused and I didn’t have time to visit The Institute or the Bean. But I did make sure to perk up my room while working, and the hotel did their part as well:
Flowers on my desk, courtesy of me. And chocolate, which I did not eat, courtesy of the fine people at the Peninsula. An excellent massage was also to be had at their spa. All work and no play makes Mrs. H a grumpy lady.
That evening, my friend and I went to Sepia which reminded me of some of my favorite restaurants in Brooklyn: Food and wine focused, with a mellow vibe and a delightful interior. (Another must: http://www.sepiachicago.com) And it should be said: Chicago has that Big City thing going on at night…
Finally, on a rainy Wednesday and in spite the early signs of a migraine, I ventured out in search of both The Institute (as I am told it is referred to) and the Bean. I hit the museum first:
The steps outside…not quite as grand as the Met, but I would still eat yogurt on them if I went to school nearby. (No headband, though.)
And it must be said that the brand guidelines are meticulously followed throughout the museum…not a napkin or sign wasn’t set in this typeface above. As a marketing type, this pleases me. But enough about branding…
Recall that I am really into pottery, and imagine my delight at finding such an interesting and beautiful collection on view toward the entrance. What really caught my eye was a number of pieces that looked positively mid-century Danish, and turned out to be from the 1600’s and made in Korea. Obviously, I still have tons to learn about pottery. But that keeps Life interesting, no?
Since post-war and contemporary work are two of my favorites, after my time with the pots, I made my way straight into the modern wing, which had a wonderful, airy staircase…
It looks out onto the Pritzker garden, over which Ellsworth Kelly’s “White Curve” presides, even in the rain…
The Institute also had one of the most beautiful Clyfford Still paintings that I have even seen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyfford_Still), a wonderful, smaller Pollack and a very nice Motherwell. I just love when I happen upon things that send me, so this was a real treat. (Less of a treat was the increased migraine pain brought about by a Bruce Nauman flashing neon work…love him, but that was not a good idea for me at that moment.)
In addition to the art, I also enjoyed some lovely views from the inside the museum, looking out onto Millennium Park, also know as Home of The Giant Silver Bean.
With the head beginning to go Full Migraine, I decided I best get myself to that view before it was too late. You can read all about Millennium Park on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Park) and on their own website (http://explorechicago.org/city/en/millennium.html). As far as public spaces go, this is a good one…beginning with “Crown Fountain”:
It is actually an interactive work of public art and video sculpture, and made of glass bricks. There are two of them as you can see in the photo below, and one of their highlights is that they feature video of local residents. (Hopefully not while they are doing anything embarrassing.)
If you keep going, you will come across a delightful trio of sculptures. (The blue is barely visible at the end of the line…but I swear it it there.) Even though they are white, yellow and blue, I could not help but be reminded of “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?”, by Barnett Newman. But that is probably just me.
I kept going, and finally, pay dirt: my first view of the Bean…
I swear I didn’t run, since I am an adult, but I did get to see the Full Bean pretty quickly…
It is pretty thrilling up close…
Especially when you get to see the reflection of the sky and cityscape on it. As for how if felt to walk under it, I cannot tell you. The only time it occurred to me to do that — in spite of that fact that everyone else was doing it — was when Mr. H asked what it was like underneath. Yeah…this was not my A Game. The head was really beginning to become a problem. But at least I did get to admire the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which was just cool to look at from the side…
So the next time I am in Chicago, I will make a point of seeing more if it.
With both missions accomplished, it was time to get back to the hotel to gather my things and head back to New York. And getting back home was made much easier courtesy of this fantastic service:
You give them your flight info and they check you in and print out the boarding pass. Since I always have trouble using Business Center computers (I am a mac girl), this option neared Miraculous in my book. Needless to say, a most civilized way to begin the uncivilized experience of Air Travel.
And that is all I have for now. Thank you, Chicago, for a most lovely visit.
* My research on the internet tells me that I am not alone in referring to it as The Bean. That said, if I were ever in the company of Mr. Kapoor, I would call it Cloud Walk….he looks awfully serious.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
April 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
No, this isn’t a made up place. It is in Holland and according to Wikipedia it is the world’s largest flower garden, with over 700,000 bulbs planted each year.
That’s a lot of bulbs. An irresistible amount by my standards. So on a rainy April morning, Mr. H and I left our cozy hotel room in Amsterdam to see what we could see. And even though it was early in the season, which lasts about five weeks, we saw quite a bit.
First, we wandered into what I can only describe as a “Fairy Princess Garden”. While it wasn’t yet in full bloom, I could not help but imagine myself wandering around this place in one of those purple velvet princess dresses and the pointy hat with coordinating chiffon flowing from the top…
After the wandering and looking up wistfully at the sky, I would jump over this lovely rose-covered wall to meet, oh, I don’t know, some kind of Prince disguised as a Beast or something. But let’s face it, I don’t jump over walls and I have Mr. H, who I wouldn’t trade for anything. But if you get your Princess Head on, I am sure you get where I am going here.
See? These roses are right out of a story book. Total Princess Flowers.
Onward we walked, and found ourselves in a little petting zoo. There were adorable rabbits, fabulous guinea pigs, a pony (!), that cool pig from the post below and several lovely lambs. I haven’t a clue as to where these animals spend the other 47 weeks of the year, but they seemed to be having a fine time while we were visiting.
I have to say, these two have some seriously chic coloration going on. The photo does not really capture it, but trust me, they are beautiful.
At this point, Mr. H and I were beginning to wonder if maybe we were going to miss the insanity that is 700,000 bulbs in bloom. While I don’t think we got the Total Bulb Experience, the fine keepers of The Keukenhof managed to deliver on some serious floral viewing in their rather extraordinary greenhouse.
One bloom in a sea of tulips.
This is a real tulip, not CGI trickery.
These were almost iridescent.
And these reminded me of some Van Gogh paintings I saw earlier in the week. They are also oh-so-lusty-and-gorgeous, no?
Seriously, how do they get that red outline on these yellow tulips? They were stunning.
Get me a flowing summer dress in this print, pronto!
Once we left the greenhouse, we were able to wander around the rest of the garden where the cherry blossoms were showing off their stuff and the winding trails promised days and days of blooms ahead…
(With my Princess Head on, I was seeing swans here.)
Aside from the amazing plantings, what I loved most about The Keukenhof (which I can now type without checking the spelling!) is the notion of the enormous effort taken to create something ephemeral simply because it is beautiful and makes people happy. There were many moments on our trip where I found myself marveling at experiences just like this one, where the care and pride taken in each and every endeavor made me sit up, put down my iPhone and appreciate real, live Life.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night, with my most excellent new camera. Thanks, Mr. H!)