Tag Archives: Cabbages and Roses dress

Magnolia Plantation

Magnolia Plantation is a mere twenty-minute drive outside of Charleston and it’s known for its beautiful gardens.

When you pull up, you coast down a long drive covered in old oak boughs draped with Spanish moss.

Magnolia Plantation Spanish Moss Drive

Magnolia Plantation Spanish Moss Big Tree

Peacocks greet you on the front lawn of an old plantation house.

Magnolia Plantation Peacock

Magnolia Plantation Exterior Front

Magnolia used to be a rice plantation. The property backs up to the Ashley River, which was used to flood the fields to create the standing water needed to grow rice.

Reverend John Drayton inherited the property in the 1840s. It surprised me that he was a man of the cloth. As the tourguide gestured proudly to Drayton’s large Old Testament book commissioned from a London press, I couldn’t help but picture some creepy old villain, hunched over his Bible reading Exodus verses as enslaved labourers were being whipped (or worse) just outside his door.

I really struggled to separate the beauty of this property from its sinister history. I wonder if that’s what Drayton’s wife tried to do when she arrived at Magnolia from her hometown of Philadelphia. Legend has it that John built all the gardens on the property to please his out-of-town bride. There’s really no denying the refined allure of the landscape here.

Magnolia Plantation Exterior Rear Backyard

Magnolia Plantation Porch Bench

Magnolia Plantation Long White Bridge

Magnolia Plantation Long White Bridge Standing

Magnolia Plantation Long White Bridge Path

Magnolia Plantation Long White Bridge Pond

Magnolia Plantation Hedge Garden

The gardens remind me of the kind of Romantic landscapes you’d see in a Pre-Raphaelite painting. The kind of place a melancholy maiden might sulk around in a bohemian gown writing love letters…

Or maybe just prance gaily through a hedge maze!

Magnolia Plantation Garden Maze

The azalea bushes weren’t yet in full bloom, but there were plenty of exquisite flowers peeking out everywhere you looked. We toured down paths in every which direction, getting lost in the extensive grounds.

Magnolia Plantation Flowers

Magnolia Plantation Daisies

Magnolia Plantation Red Bridge Spanish Moss

Magnolia Plantation Red Bridge Gold Sandals

Magnolia Plantation Bag

Magnolia Plantation Peacock Fan

Part of our admission ticket included a walking tour of the swamp. So with some trepidation, we ventured in…

Swamp Tree Bark

Swamp

Magnolia Plantation Swamp

Magnolia Plantation Swamp Path

Magnolia Plantation Swamp View

Magnolia Plantation Swamp Egret in Flight

The swamp is such a fascinating eco-habitat for so many creatures – especially birds. We saw egrets, red-headed woodpeckers, cardinals, and some others that we couldn’t identify. I would love to go back sometime with a pair of binoculars. It’s a bird-watcher’s paradise!

Thankfully, we were able to get close to some cute creatures in the swamp.

Magnolia Plantation Marsh Rabbit

This little marsh rabbit was not afraid to strike a pose for the camera!

Magnolia Plantation Marsh Rabbit Photoshoot

Magnolia Plantation Marsh Rabbit Swamp

By the time we left, it was starting to get very muggy in the swamp – it’s definitely not a forgiving climate in which to live! But this was a truly special place to visit and appreciate nature in one of its most enchanting forms.

Magnolia Plantation Swamp Bench

We left feeling completely swamped with lots of great memories!

Babington House

Babington House Drive

Miles from London, in a faraway land called Somerset, there’s a long tree-lined lane. It leads to a pocket-sized chapel, St Margarets, and just beyond it, the dour Georgian manor that is Babington House.

Part of the Soho House portfolio, I was expecting a snazzy English countryclub scene, but the other guests were mainly just local mums bringing the kids swimming, and a few other couples in for the weekend from London. But mostly, we had the place to ourselves.

Babington House St Margarets Sign

Babington House Lawn

Babington House Lawn Chapel

Babington House Cobblestone Path

We stayed in the Coach House, in a delightful room over two stories. Sweet touches were everywhere you looked – fresh flowers, vintage books with winsome titles, a silver tin of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Babington House Coach House

Babington House Do Not Disturb Door Soho House

Babington House Coach House Room Velvet Sofa

Babington House Room Coach House Dressing Table

Babington House Room Coach house Spiral Staircase

Babington House Room Coach House Loft Bed

Babington House Room Coach House Bed

Babington House Room Coach House Loft view

Babington House Room Cabbages and Roses Blue Velvet Dress Knit Bobble Hat

Babington House Room Bathroom Tub White Tile

Babington House Room Bathroom Clawfoot Tub

Babington House Room Robes Big Feet Little Feet

Babington House Room Coach House

Babington House Coach house room Flowers

Babington House Room Fresh Flowers

Babington House Eat Sleep Nap

Babington House Room Tea

Babington House Room Tea Treats

We couldn’t resist a spot of tea before heading outside for an afternoon of countryside pursuits – strolling the sprawling grounds, going for a bike ride, and then a swim.

Babington House Wellies

Babington House Walled Garden Green Grass

Babington House Walled Garden Cabbages and Roses Velvet Dress

Babington House Walled Garden Spa Cabbages and Roses Blue Velvet Dress

Babington House Pond Rear

Babington House Backyard Tree Pond

Babington House Bicycle Cabbages and Roses Velvet Dress

Babington House Bicycle Path

Babington House Bicycle Cabbages and Roses Blue Dress

Babington House

Babington House Chapel

Babington House Chapel View

The outdoor heated pool is a perfect warm-up for these chilly February days.

We raced to see which one of us could shimmy back into their hooded robe the fastest, thick clouds of vapor wafting off our poached bodies like a pair of Chinese steamed buns!

Babington House Pool

Babington House Pool Steam Sun

Babington House Pool Swim Bun

Back in the room, we opened a bottle of champers, but before you could say “Pop, fizz, clink!” I was already in a clawfoot tub full of bubbles, where I had a good long soak before dinner.

The bathroom was stocked with shelves of Cowshed products, so no shortage of goops and creams to daub on.

Babington House Bathtub Clawfoot White Tiles

Babington House Bathtub Bubbles

Dinner was A-OK. Candlelight, dainty flowers on the table, the universal Soho House playlist audible above the din of the orangery. It felt a bit like going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, surrounded by other couples.  But we are far too diffident to canoodle publicly at the dining table. (As my husband likes to chide, “We’re English, not savages, Sarah!”)

Instead, we sipped our Babington martinis (amazing, with Noilly Prat, Tokaji and grapefruit oils, by the way) and nearly choked with laughter piling up a tower of mussel shells, a perilous house of cards of molluscs, which eventually gave way and sent a few shells toppling to the floor!

Most-meal pastimes, such as pool, were on hand, but we found we were happiest in the Study sipping Moscow Mules by the fire.

Babington House Lobby Mirror Flowers

Babington House Games Room

Babington House Study Fireplace Light

Babington House Study Fireplace Drinks

Yes, it’s a chain and not really a country club in the true sense, but Babington House is a great choice for a relaxing and romantic weekend.

I can say I was actually sad to leave. But London missed me, I had to get back! Lots more city adventures coming soon…

Off to the Races: Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is one of the most important flat racing events in all of Europe, and is a highlight of the English social season.

The final race day on Saturday happened to fall on the first day of summer, which as far as I’m concerned is an event in itself!

With the sun shining down, the Brits totally go for any excuse to get outdoors, dressed to impress, and pop bottles!

Royal Ascot Royal Enclosure

Royal Ascot Girls

Royal Ascot Parade Ring Hat

Royal Ascot Ladies outside

The dress code for Royal Ascot is part of what makes this event so glossy – day dresses and hats for ladies, and top hats for the gents.

Where else would a top hat ever be appropriate?

Royal Ascot Parking Lot

Royal Ascot Phone

It all kicks off with the royal parade – the Queen in all her pastel splendor trotted out in a horse-drawn carriage.

Royal Ascot Queen Carrige

Adoring eyes all look to the country’s beloved monarch!

Before the races, we all slip into the paddock to eye up the contestants.

Royal Ascot Paddock Stables

Royal Ascot Paddock

Royal Ascot Paddock Standing

Then the horses are saddled up and led into the Parade Ring to warm up just before the race.

Royal Ascot Ring

Races

Royal Ascot Horse

Royal Ascot Parade Ring Shot

Royal Ascot Time Check

The boys study their race cards and check their watches to make sure all bets get placed in time.

Royal Ascot Tote Betting

Then it’s out to the track to watch the race!

Royal Ascot Commissioners Box View

1Hat

Royal Ascot Track

It’s impossible to describe the drama of the actual race – the cheers of the crowd reverberating off of the grandstand, the thundering of hooves pounding down the track, and the precarious business of jumping up and down when your horse wins without spilling your drink on some poor unsuspecting spectator!

We applaud the winning horse as he is proudly led into the Winners’ Enclosure to cool down and be celebrated.

Royal Ascot Jockey Winning

Royal Ascot Parade Ring View

Royal Ascot Richard Pankhurst

Royal Ascot Parade Ring John Interview

Royal Ascot Parade Ring Trophy Steven Fry

British television personality Stephen Fry was on hand to present the trophy and probably make a witty remark or two… He seemed to be enjoying himself as much as the rest of us.

Royal Ascot Couple

Royal Ascot David and Serena

Royal Ascot Jockey

Eventually, we tumbled into the winners’ box for a toast to the victorious steed!

Royal Ascot Winners Box

The room buzzed with positive energy, the air sticky with excitement.

And that was before the Queen showed up to dole out prizes to the champion of the next stakes.

Royal Ascot Queen

Royal Ascot Queen Pink

Royal Ascot Queen Stroll

The Queen absolutely loves horse racing, and is practically a fixture at Royal Ascot.

We drifted around the Royal Enclosure for a while sipping champagne until we were led up to the Commissioner’s Box. It’s not quite clear who was crazy enough to let a couple of ragamuffins like us through, but believe me when I say I strode right in!

Royal Ascot Commissioners Box Bar

Royal Ascot Commissioners Box Hat Shelf

Royal Ascot Commissioners Box Hat Shelves

The best bit was the adorable little tea cakes shaped like crowns.

Royal Ascot Commissioners Box Petit Crown

Completely befitting the royal theme!

After the final race of the day, all of our friends gathered in the owner’s and trainer’s car park for refreshments.

1Carpark

Royal Ascot Trophy

Royal Ascot John and Rachel

Boujis nightclub hacked in all the way from London and set up a tented outpost among the parked cars – including a dj and bongo player – and passed around free food and drinks to us weary racegoers.

Royal Ascot Carpark Bongos

Royal Ascot Carpark Crack Babies

I highly recommend the curative powers of a cool Crackbaby after a long day in the sun at the races!

Although all this horsing around had left me feeling a little un-stable.

And I clearly needed to giddy-up back to London.

Royal Ascot Carpark Boujis Crack Baby

Royal Ascot Boujis Carpark

We savored the last few golden hours of sunlight, then piled into cabs to go home, leaving Ascot in the distance.