Category Archives: America

Hillwood Gardens, Washington DC

Hi! Fancy seeing you again!

Just thought I’d quickly check in and let everyone know our nomadic adventures continue – and we’re happy to add another pin in the map. We now hang our hat in Washington, DC. Having moved from one capital city (London), we are feeling right at home and have wasted no time exploring this captivating town.

Spring is giving way to summer, and the weather here has been spectacular. We are trying to spend as much time outdoors as we can before the oppressive summer heat sets in.

As we celebrated our third wedding anniversary, we headed to Hillwood Museum for an early afternoon picnic in the gardens.

Hillwood mansion

The estate was founded by the glamorous (and somewhat eccentric) socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post. The mansion is now a museum, home to her incredible art collection and showcasing her wacky eye for interior design.

But the real delight are the gardens!

Hillwood japanese garden

Hillwood bridge1

We set right to work exploring every angle!

Hillwood Japanese garden waterfall

Hillwood japanese rock

And eventually settling in the shade to share a picnic.

Hillwood picnic dada luc

Hillwood picnic

I usually like to have a little lie-down after lunch, resting under the cool canopy, listening to the water babbling and birds crooning, inhaling the scent of freshly mown grass with every breath.

But this guy had other ideas!

Hillwood lawn run

Hillwood side yard

It was the day of the big Hillwood gala and everything was looking in tip-top shape for the evening’s events. So it was a bit embarrassing when we couldn’t keep our child from turning every fountain into his personal paddling pool.

His philosophy is clearly, “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

Hillwood fountina

Hillwood fountain mama luc

Hillwood FOUNTAIN

Hillwood Japanese garden lilypads

Hillwood japanese garden bridge

Hillwood putting green umbrella

A glorious day, impeccable gardens, and the best company a girl could ask for.

Even if you have to chase after it.

Hillwood putting green

 

Jekyll Island Club

Jakyll Island Club frontage

Last weekend we snuck off to the Georgia coast for a little getaway on Jekyll Island. The island used to be an entirely private hunting grounds and site of the members-only Jekyll Island Club, which was once described as “the richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world.”

Notable members included the likes of J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Vincent Astor, and Joseph Pulitzer.

The club has a sinister history as the clandestine meeting place of a group of New York bankers, who met here in secret in 1907 to create the Federal Reserve. But in the bright light of modern day, it is now an inviting and gorgeous coastal retreat.

Jakyll Island Club front

Jakyll Island Club Room

We sprang from bed and headed for breakfast in the Grand Dining Room, enjoying the beautiful grounds bathed in glorious morning sunshine.

Jakyll Island Club

Jakyll Island Club outside

Jakyll Island Club outside walk

Jakyll Island Club Breakfast

Jakyll Island Club Breakfast face

Jakyll Island Club Hotel Fire

Jakyll Island Club walk

Walking back after breakfast we passed several cottages on the island, which would have been luxurious winter homes for members of the club.

Jakyll Island Club chairs

Jakyll Island Club Cottage

Jakyll Island Club Cottage Garden

Jakyll Island Club Cottage front

Jakyll Island Club wicker rockers

Jakyll Island Club wicker rockers gaze

As Savannah is close by, we decided to pop in for a look around and a bit of lunch.

Savannah Steamboat Georgia Queen Kirks

Savannah Zos Tara Kirks

Savannah Collins Quarter_

Savannah Collins Quarter Mirror

Collins Quarter is a great little Savannah eatery on the corner of Bull Street and Oglethorpe Avenue. The menu has a distinctly Australian influence, and is an excellent choice for brunch!

Savannah Collins Quarter E

Savannah Collins Quarter Chai latte

The chai latte was exceptional! And so begins my new addiction to chai….

Savannah Collins Quarter Chai

Savannah Collins Quarter  E Zos

Savannah Collins Quarter Salmon

Poached Egg, House Cured Salmon, Potato Rosti, Cherry Tomatoes, Micro Herbs and House made Hollandaise served with Green Salad

Savannah Collins Quarter Avo Toast

Smashed Avocado served on Beaufort Artisan Bakery Toast with Feta, Heirloom Tomatoes, Micro Herbs, and Shaved Radishes topped with a Poached Egg

Savannah Collins Quarter Aussie Breakfast

Leo’s Aussie Brekkie: Chorizo Sausage, Savannah River Farms Bacon, Eggs, Sautéed Mushroom, Baked Beans & Grilled Tomato served with Beaufort Artisan Bakery Toast

Savannah Collins Quarter S tara

Jakyll Island Club Hotel Side

Back on Jekyll Island, we headed down to the “Rah” Bar on the riverside just as the sun was setting.

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar View

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar Sign

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar View Flowers

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar Paradise

It was such a peaceful setting for a drink and to appreciate the beauty of the waterfront.

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar S

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar E Zos

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar Sky

What a delightful and relaxing weekend away enjoying the stunning scenery of the south!

Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Taste of Savannah was held this year at the Georgia State Railroad Museum. Hundreds of food, wine, and spirits vendors participated in the festival, doling out their goodies to eager foodies and oenophiles.

Any excuse to get back to beautiful Savannah, right?

Savannah Food Wine Festival Park Backdrop

Savannah Food Wine Festival Atlanta Train

What an amazing outdoor venue! I felt like a kid, stupefied by all the big trains, and couldn’t resist the childish urge to clamber up onto some of the carriages to get a better view of the festival grounds.

Savannah Food Wine Festival Train 30

Savannah Food Wine Festival Atlanta Train 2715

There were scads of vendor tents, lots of barbecue grills being fired up, cookbooks being signed, and numerous live demonstrations taking place.

Savannah Food Wine Festival Cooking Demo

But we were careful to prioritize our time – tasting some of the incredible wines on offer…

Savannah Food Wine Festival Wine Tasting

And sampling some southern delicacies, such as honey barbecue grilled chicken wings.

Savannah Food Wine Festival Big Green Egg Chicken Wings

Savannah Food Wine Festival BBQ Wings

Savannah Food Wine Festival Couple

Savannah Food Wine Festival Berkeley's Mill Grits

Other Southern favorites were available to sample. These astounding grits were made with heavy cream and packed quite a punch – ooomf!

Savannah Food Wine Festival Barkley's Mill Grits

Savannah Food Wine Festival Naan Indian restaurant Savannah

We had our first taste of Indian food since leaving London, and it was sweet, spicy relief at long last. Oh, how we miss our old local curry house!

Savannah Food Wine Festival Naan Indian Food Savannah

Savannah Food Wine Festival Naan Indian restaurant Savannah Food

Savannah Food Wine Festival Nicolas Feuillatte Ste Michelle Wine Estates Sparkling Rose

Savannah Food Wine Festival Nicolas Feuillatte Ste Michelle Wine Estates Sparkling Rose Bottle

Savannah Food Wine Festival Sip Nicolas Feuillatte Ste Michelle Wine Estates Sparkling Rose Bottle

Savannah Food Wine Festival Samples

After a glass of bubbles and some pickled crudités, we swung round the tents one more time to try out some new and exciting drinks.

I am going to be filling my shopping cart with a huge supply of this toasted almond coconut sake when it makes its debut at my local Publix grocery store soon – it’s incredible!

Savannah Food Wine Festival Social Coconut Almond Sake

I don’t go for the hard stuff, but there was plenty of it around.

Savannah Food Wine Festival Serpents Bite Apple Cider

And even the most discerning drinker can’t resist a little sip of southern moonshine when it’s offered…

Savannah Food Wine Festival Moonshine shooter

Savannah Food Wine Festival Bill Elliott Dawsonville Moonshine

Savannah Food Wine Festival SoHo South Combo Shooter with Petit Crabcake

SoHo Combo Shooter with Petit Crabcake with mini grilled cheese & tomato bisque

Savannah Food Wine Festival Buffalo Wild Wings Slider

Wild Wing Cafe’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders with fried jalepenos

Savannah Food Wine Festival Georgia Peach Balsamic Vinegar

Lowcountry Gourmet Georgia Peach Balsamic Vinegar over ice cream

Savannah Food Wine Festival Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with Toasted Marshmallow and Raspberry

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with toasted marshmallow and raspberry

Savannah Food Wine Festival Red Train

We finally came to the end of our tour, and took our caboose right back into Savannah to call it a day!

Hilton Head Car Show

Americans love their cars. They pretty much have to. With no thriving rail infrastructure and unreliable public transportation, it’s how most people here get around.

Nowadays most automobiles are imported from abroad, but years ago the United States was the largest and greatest automotive manufacturer in the world. Some of those classic cars are still around, and motorheads across America flock to car shows to get a glimpse of history.

We headed down to Hilton Head, South Carolina for this year’s Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance… Arriving by private plane, of course.

hilton Head Car Show Cirrus

Nah, just kidding!

hilton Head Car Show Track View

hilton Head Car Show Track

The event was held on a golf course – of which Hilton Head has many! It was the first day of November and 80 degrees in the shade. I’m still getting used to this whole not-needing-a-jacket thing down south!

We had gorgeous sunny weather to wander around the greens looking at beautiful cars.

hilton Head Car Show Porsche Hybrid

1966 Shelby GT350H

1966 Shelby GT350H

hilton Head Car Show GTO

hilton Head Car Show RR

hilton Head Car Show Dupont

hilton Head Car Show RR Real

hilton Head Car Show RR Silver Side

1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda Style

1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda Style

1963 Ferrari 250 California Spyder SWB

1963 Ferrari 250 California Spyder SWB

The “Ferris Bueller” Ferrari was particularly popular. As he says in the film,” It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

Lots of other classics were on show. This VW van made me want to grab a surf board and head for the west coast.

1967 Volkswagen Type 2 21-Window Microbus Deluxe

1967 Volkswagen Type 2 21-Window Microbus Deluxe

But if I could have my pick of any car at the show, it would be this wood-paneled Chrysler Town & Country sedan. Isn’t it a thing of beauty?

1947 Chrysler Town & Country Sedan

1947 Chrysler Town & Country Sedan

1947 Chrysler Town & Country Sedan

1947 Chrysler Town & Country Sedan

hilton Head Car Show 1947 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith

hilton Head Car Show RR Blue Interior

Looking at all these magnificent automobiles just brought to my attention how badly I need to learn how to drive a manual transmission! I’m ashamed I’ve made it this far without having learned. I guess that’s what years of living in big cities with taxicabs and subway systems can do to a gal!

There were also some motorcycles thrown in the mix…

hilton Head Car Show Motorcycles line

1968 Triumph

1968 Triumph

But I think I found something small, sporty, and simply perfect for me – a vintage Borden’s ice cream trike!

hilton Head Car Show Bordens Ice Cream

Since I always brake for ice cream!

It was a great end to a day at the car show.

Hurricane Joaquin, Sullivan’s Island

Hurricane Joaquin was in town for the past few days, and left quite a mess behind.

It hasn’t stopped raining for the past four days!

Sunday morning I’d had enough of being cooped up indoors. So we pulled on our wellies and waterproofs and walked round the neighbourhood.

There wasn’t really anywhere to go that wasn’t under water!

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Station 19 Flooded Water

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Station 19 Walking

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Station 19 Flooded Water Level

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Station Back Yard Garden Flooded Picket Fence

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Station 19 Walking Streets

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Ion Drive

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Boathouse

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Boathouse Water

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Ion Lighthouse Flooding

The path to the beach was now a lake!

Even the most serious looking off-road vehicles didn’t attempt to drive down it.

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Land Rover

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Lighthouse Water

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Lighthouse Flooding

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Walk

We simply trudged on, determined to get to the beach.

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Ion Station 19 Beach Path

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Ion Walk

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Ion Station 19 Beach Path Water

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Beach

The sea was a little bit rougher than usual – but the landscape was strikingly serene.

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Beach View

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Beach Water

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Beach Umbrella Wellies

I kicked off my shoes and strolled barefoot alongside some of our neighbours taking the dogs out for a walk.

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Beach Dog Catch

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Beach Dogs

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Beach Sailboat

Eventually the rain began to taper off into the lightest drizzle.

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Beach Sailboat Water

Hurricane Joaquin Sullivan's Island Flooding Beach Sailboat view

We are proud survivors of our first coastal hurricane!

Adios, Joaquin!

Fleurie, Charlottesville

Spending one night in Charlottesville, Virginia didn’t leave us much time to explore – so we headed straight downtown to check out the bustling pedestrian mall and see the sights before dinner.

Charlottesville downtown pedestrian mall

Charlottesville downtown founding fathers

Charlottesville chalk

Charlottesville City Hall had installed a huge chalk wall for the public to celebrate the First Amendment of the US Constitution. We took a moment to exercise our freedom of speech – or freedom to doodle!

Charlottesville chalk writing

Then we hit the shops! I was so happy to come across Caspari’s American outpost (the other is in Paris). I used to shop their products at Partridge’s in London – and this was my first visit to their bricks and mortar store.

Where interior design inspiration abounds!

Charlottesville Caspari store

Charlottesville Caspari dining

Charlottesville Caspari showroom

My little head was on a swivel – so many ways to beautify a home!

Charlottesville Caspari dining table setting

Charlottesville Caspari shelving

I had to stop and coo over these preppy dog accessories – and ponder the question ,“Exactly when will we ever get a puppy?”

Charlottesville Caspari dog accessories collars

As the shops shuttered up for the evening, we traipsed down to dinner at a little French bistro called Fleurie.

Charlottesville Fleurie entrance

Fleurie Charlottesville patio terrace outdoor al fresco dining

The perfect quiet little spot to dine al fresco in downtown Charlottesville!

Charlottesville Fleurie cheers drinks

Fleurie Sip Drink Cocktail Final

Chilled Tomato Soup with salmon rillette

Chilled Tomato Soup with salmon rillette

Lobster Bisque with tarragon

Lobster Bisque with tarragon

Gnocchi, Bleu d'Auvergne Fondue, sweet pecans, cherry tomatoes

Gnocchi, Bleu d’Auvergne Fondue, sweet pecans, cherry tomatoes

Herb Crusted Halibut, summer squashes, white wine sauce

Herb Crusted Halibut, summer squashes, white wine sauce

Wolf Creek Grass-fed Beef Sirloin, Gnocchi Parisienne, Leeks, Bordelaise

Wolf Creek Grass-fed Beef Sirloin, Gnocchi Parisienne, leeks, Bordelaise

I’ve been mostly steering clear of sugar and gluten this summer, but when I’m out at a nice restaurant all rules fly out the window.

Not one to be put off by an imminent sugar crash, it was time for dessert…

Vanilla Bean Créme Brulée

Vanilla Bean Créme Brulée

Peach Pithier, Raspherries, Vanilla Ice Cream

Peach Pithier, raspberries, vanilla ice cream

Petit Fours: Chocolate hazelnut truffles, Lemon meringue tarts, Cherry financiers

Petit Fours: Chocolate hazelnut truffles, Lemon meringue tarts, Cherry financiers

lemon_tart

Summer nights like these are the sweetest!

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

On a recent trip up north, we pulled into beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia – to pay a visit to the fabled home of American founding father Thomas Jefferson.

He was waiting in the parking lot to greet us.

Thomas Jefferson bronze statue Monticello

A shuttle bus collected us from the Visitor’s Center and rumbled up the hill where we got our first glimpse of Monticello.

TJ designed and began building this place in 1769 – at the ripe old age of 26 years old, after inheriting 3,000 acres of plantation land from his father.

Monticello landscape wooded green

Monticello front entrance portico

It’s a truly graceful design. And the views from the top of the mountain aren’t bad either…

Monticello brick path view

Monticello side profile

Monticello deck side view2

I love the side decks branching out from each side of the house. I found TJ’s lime tree, close at hand for those sunset gin & tonics on the terrace I presume.

Monticello deck lime tree

Monticello deck sundial

Exploring the greenhouse piazza

Exploring the greenhouse piazza

Monticello deck sunroom porch window

Monticello kitchen

The Monticello foundation is refreshingly frank about the role that enslaved people played in everyday life. Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves over the course of his lifetime. They laboured on the plantation as field workers, gardeners, carpenters, textile weavers, blacksmiths, and household servants.

It’s astounding that with all that free labour, Jefferson still managed to die with over $2 million in debt. In his will, he bequeathed freedom to only five men – a great hypocrisy in regards to his belief that “slavery [was] contrary to the laws of nature” and that everyone had a right to personal liberty.

Monticello kitchen shelves

I can’t reconcile how Jefferson could advocate the abolishment of slavery, and even eventual emancipation of slaves, but still be a part of society that was growing more and more entrenched in the proliferation of slavery. The sad truth is that he is partly responsible for instilling in white American culture the notion that blacks were inferior. America is still grappling with the wounds of slavery and racism to this very day.

Log cabin dwelling for slaves

Log cabin dwelling for slaves

Monticello back lawn

It was a gorgeous day to stroll the grounds and explore the gardens, which symbolise the pioneering spirit of life in colonial America.

Monticello gardens hill landscape

Monticello gardens tree

Monticello gardens corn

Monticello gardens rosemary

Monticello gardens coupolla view

I could have spent all afternoon in this little brick pavilion with its double sash windows and extraordinary views across the rolling Piedmont countryside.

We wandered down the hill behind the house upon the family cemetery, to reflect on the obelisk marker of Jefferson’s grave.

Monticello grave fence emblym

Isn’t it surprising he didn’t mention being the third President of the United States as one of his accomplishments? Instead, he wanted to be remembered for his writings and for founding the University of Virginia.

Monticello gravestone

And how romantic that he died on the Fourth of July, fifty years to the day after signing the Declaration of Independence! Fellow signer and American revolutionary, John Adams would die on the same day, just four hours later.

Monticello gravestone gates

For all America’s complicated and dissonant history, this place is certainly a part of it.

Back at the Monticello discovery center, we tinkered around with some of Jefferson’s inventions, including a replica of his letter copying device.

Monticello letter copier demo

Monticello letter copier demo discovery

With our heads full of ideas and information, we stopped off at the Michie Tavern to debrief and reflect on our Monticello visit – over a mug of tavern ale!

Mitchie tavern sign

Mitchie tavern

Mitchie Tavern beer

Mitchie Tavern tavern ale

Mitchie Tavern beer sip

I’m so glad we had the chance to spend a day at Monticello and learn a little bit about the life of Thomas Jefferson.

In the words of the man himself, “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”