Tag Archives: outdoors

Getaway DC

This year has been full on. Summer slipped by in the blink of an eye. And since Lucas started nursery downtown, we’ve hardly had a moment free. We needed to press pause.

So we booked ourselves a little cabin down in the Shenandoah Valley, and took off for a much-needed getaway.

Sans child. Sans wi-fi. And after a few glasses of wine, sans a care in the world.

SN IG

Trees Forest Trail

SN IG3

SN IG2

Leaves

getaway view

Our cabin for the evening was tucked into the most gorgeous woodland setting, where you couldn’t hear a car horn or siren for miles. The only sounds were just the lone crow, squirrels scampering across the crunchy leaves, and the swoosh of an occasional breeze across the treetops.

We settled into our cabin and lit our campfire.

getaway cabin IGGGGGG

getaway cabin ig bed

getaway cabin side

getaway cabin hat rack

getaway cabin phone

getaway cabin

getaway fire eddie

One thing we didn’t need a break from was a good meal. But unlike our usual dinners at home (which usually involve lots of prep, tons of stress to get it on the table in time, and then a forensic amount of clean up after), this time we did things differently.

getaway cabin beef bourg basket

getaway cabin beef bourg basket3

A one-pot meal we could throw in a dutch oven and kick back by the fire while it stewed for a couple of hours.

getaway cabin table

And like any recipe that calls for a whole bottle of wine – you know it’s going to be good!

 

getaway beef bourg

getaway beef bourg vlose

Beef Bourguignon over potato gnocchi

It definitely took a while, but when you’ve got nothing else to do but sit and talk, and sip wine and look at the moon rise, you don’t really notice! Well worth the wait, we ate late and stayed up much later.

The next morning, we slept in. I know a lot of parents probably complain about a lack of sleep, which I never really understood. I have always been such a high energy person, I never missed the hours of lost sleep when I had a baby.

getaway cabin bed IG

But being here, I now realise how a nice, long lie-in is such a luxury for mums and dads. You don’t have to get up. That’s when it feels so good to be lazy.

getaway view high

getaway socks

Walking

Breakfast was another easy skillet on the grill. My campsite take on huevos rancheros, we felt like a couple of cowboys as we sipped our mugs of coffee waiting for the chow bell.

getaway breakfast

getaway breakfast table

Breakfast Camping Picnic Autumn

breakfast

breakfast remnants

With the last bits of breakfast mopped up, there was nothing to do but snuggle up and just chill until checkout time.

reading IGGGGG

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Play Ball!

“Is there anything that can evoke spring -the first fine days of April-  better than the sound of the ball smacking into the pocket of the big mitt, the sound of the bat as it hits the horsehide?”

– Thomas Wolfe

Baseball is America’s pastime. It’s more than a game; it sums up the very character of America, the fabric that defines our lives, an expression of our cultural values: hard work, social mobility and teamwork.

I grew up in a baseball-loving family. It has always been a part of life, and I couldn’t wait to share the experience of a day at the park with my sports-crazy English husband!

Inner Harbor View Water Aquarium

Inner Harbor View Constellation Ship

He’s already a fan!

Inner Harbor Orioles Fan Hat Sweatshirt

So we headed to the beautiful Inner Harbor to catch a game at one of the country’s most iconic stadiums, Camden Yards – home of our treasured Baltimore Orioles.

Welcome to Orioles Park Camden Yards Brick

Orioles Park Camden Yards Babe Ruth Statue

Orioles Camden Yards

Orioles Park Camden

The park was buzzing with the excitement of Opening Weekend. We were attending the third game in the home opening series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

And we couldn’t have picked a more gorgeous spring day.

Orioles Take the Field

As the Orioles took the field, the sun shone down and blessed us with a perfect day for baseball.

Orioles Grandstand Camden Yards

The only thing you really need now is to flag down “Beer Man” – a roaming seat vendor who humps up and down the aisles calling out “Heeeyyyy, ice cold beeeeer here!” 

Another one of the beauties of the game: you don’t have to leave your seat and miss a minute of excitement waiting in line for a beer.

Orioles National Bohemian Beer Man

National Bohemian (or as it’s called locally, Natty Boh) is a Baltimore brewery with a cult following. They were the first brewery to introduce the six-pack of cans, back in the 1940s. They are now owned by Pabst Brewing Company, and ninety percent of Natty Boh sales are in the Baltimore area.

Orioles National Bohemian Beer Can

There are a couple staples of the ballpark diet – Esskay hot dogs, and of course, a good old-fashioned box of pop corn.

Orioles Esskay Hot Dog Man Baseball

Orioles Esskay Hotdog

Orioles Vintage Paper Popcorn Box

Loaded up with traditional snacks, we sat back with our feet propped up –  patiently explaining all the subtleties of the game to our newbie. Although, to his credit, he caught on to it pretty quickly!

The game was not short on action. A few innings in, and the Orioles hit a homerun, sending the fans into a frenzy.

Orioles Homerun Fans

Orioles Homerun Run Homebase

Orioles Hat Fan

Orioles Fan Cheering Hat

Including yours truly!

Nothing beats a day out at the yard! Although the O’s lost the game in the end, it didn’t diminish the fun and excitement of being at the game, spending a day in the sun in the stands. We already can’t wait for our next trip to the ballpark.

Fireworks Festival at Catton Hall

This weekend we spirited ourselves away, up to The Midlands to visit friends at their country pile.

We had a beautiful afternoon to see the sights of the Leicestershire countryside, including a gentle stroll around Bradgate Park.

Leicester Hill Old John

Leicester Old John

The stone folly which sits atop the highest hill is called Old John. Legend has it the man who built it was fond of a pint, and hence the mug-shaped design.

Old John, Bradgate Park

Old John, Bradgate Park

Leicester Old John Arch

Leicester Old John Hill View

From the top you can just see the skyline of Leicester in the distance. We lingered for a while, people-watching and enjoying the vista and the cool breeze fluttering up the grassy hillside.

Liecester Hill

Come evening, we bundled up against the late summer chill, grabbed our picnic hampers, and trundled over to a nearby country estate. Brits love any excuse for a festival, and I’m a red-blooded American who can’t resist a good fireworks display, so we had the perfect activity planned.

The Catton Hall Fireworks Festival happens every year on the first Saturday in September. It’s basically a competition as several companies showcase thier pryo-musical displays.

Catton Hall Side View Front Lawn

Catton Hall Walking

Catton Hall

Catton Hall Hugs

Catton Hall Silliness

Once we found a perfect spot, we plunked down with our baskets and began unpacking our goodies. But not before pouring ourselves a glass of bubbly for the task!

Picnic Basket Hamper

Picnic Blanket Food Champagne

Picnic Blanket Talking

Picnic Blanket Food Cheese

Picnic Blanket Food Apricot Tart

Picnic Blanket Food Cherries

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We nibbled and chatted as we waited for darkness to settle in, the crowd growing more and more antsy for the festival to kick off.

Until finally, it did.

Fireworks Purple

Fireworks

Each of the four displays were set to music. A lot of thought and planning goes into these pyro-musical designs, and the sounds can really enhance the drama and awe of an already visually stunning spectacle.

Fireworks Dim

Fireworks Golden

Fireworks Glow

Fireworks Smoke trails

Fireworks Face

Fireworks Smoky

It was a good old fashioned night of friends, wine and fireworks – and a reminder to visit the country more often!

Kew Gardens

If you ever find yourself in London on a gorgeous sunny day, hoof it straight to my new favorite place – Kew Gardens.

It’s a beautiful spot to get off the beaten path and spend the day wandering through some truly stunning English landscapes.

kewpavilion

kewpodoga

kewpadoga1

kewweepingwillow

We started off stumbling through the forest, until we arrived at the Treetop Walk. We bounded up the stairs onto the elevated walkway and strolled around through the canopy enjoying the views.

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kewtreetopwalk

kewglasshouseview

kewtreetopviewcouple

Back down on terra firm, we paced over to the Azalea Garden to admire all the vivid blooms.

kewazaleagarden

kewazaleaorange

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kewazaleapink

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Trouncing down the path a little further, we came to a grove of towering rhododendrons.

I had to whip out my camera phone to take a few mobile pics.

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kewazaleapinkcluster

kewgardens

kewbluebells

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kewbluebellsclearing

After finding our way through a clearing of bluebells, we emerged onto the lawn of Queen Charlotte’s 18th century thatched cottage.

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And we were quickly welcomed to have a peek inside.

kewgardenscottage

kewgardenspink

The grounds were so lovely, I had to do a few little bunny hops of excitement.

kewgardensskip

kewgardenskip

Until I got a bit breathless and flopped down on a soft bed of daisies to take ten.

kewdaisieshair

kewdaisies

kewgardensdaisies

There were bamboo gardens to stroll through.

kewgardensbamboo

kewpondbridge

And bridges to cross the pond.

kewpondbridgecouple

kewpondtree

The old glasshouse was filled with exotic flowering plants from every continent.

kewglasshouseredsweater

kewglasshouseentrance

We climbed the wrought iron spiral staircase to walk around the rafters above.

kewglasshouseview1

kewglasshouseredsweaterfront

And generally just larked around looking cool.

kewgardenpond

But this guy gave us a run for our money with his posing!

kewpondgoose

kewgardengoose

I guess what’s good for the goose is good for the gander!

A jolly good day at Kew Gardens!

 

Secret Beach: Plage des Graniers

Today I discovered a secret beach! And thank goodness I did because Saint-Tropez gets unbearably hot and muggy by late morning. I was practically wilting in the heat, so we high-tailed it to the hills above town seeking the relief of a cool Mediterranean breeze.

St trop

view

The summit above the port is crowned with the ruins of a magnificent 17th century citadel – and breathtaking views of the sea below. As lunchtime draws nigh, yachts are already starting to jostle for space to drop their anchors just outside of town.

Citadel

cove

cove2

Beyond the ancient stone walls of the citadel, a dusty path winds down through the woods to a glimmering sandy cove. It’s the secluded location for a hip beachside restaurant frequented by locals and those lucky enough to hear of it by word-of-mouth. Surrounded by an overgrowth of bamboo, this free patch of beach is a discreet alternative to the ritzy beach clubs further down on Pampelonne.

path

Cove3

ent

Seated beachside under white tasselled parasols with my toes in the sand, I followed recommendations to try the grilled fish. So glad I did! Lunch was fantastic – and the view was mesmerizing. Afterwards, I took a snooze on the warm beach and observed the 30-minute rule before a post-lunch dip in the crystal blue water.

tassels

menu

I've got sole but I'm not a soldier.

I got sole but I’m not a soldier.

med head

On the road back from Graniers beach, at the base of the citadel, sits the Saint-Tropez Marine Cemetery facing out onto the Mediterranean. It is the final resting place of many a brave seaman and a few notable Tropéziens. The beauty of this site stopped me in my tracks and, for a few moments, was a place for quietude and reflection. I’m not sure what happens after our lives on earth, but I couldn’t think of a more heavenly place for a soul to rest through eternity. I threw out a few silent prayers to catch on the wind, and continued on my traveler ways.

grave

cem

crosses

One final look back at the striking blues of the sea and sky against the pure white of the sun-bleached crosses. I’m so glad I happened to discover this side of Saint-Tropez.

The Simple Life

Sometimes you just need a pool day. Lathering up with sun cream and laying out in the golden heat until your brain gets fuzzy. It’s like therapy for me.

hat

In the afternoon, it’s back up to the house for lunch on the terrace overlooking the rolling Provençal terrain.

Steps

House

Deck

melon

artichokes

pate

salami

celeriac

View1

Afterwards, I make myself swim sets of twenty laps to burn off all the cheese and paté!

Swim

Swim1

Eddie2

I don’t drink alcohol in the day. With the sun’s heat, I find it’s just too much. Instead, we usually wait until dusk and enjoy a drink or two before dinner watching the sun slip down behind the mountains.

Terrace

Flower

Eddie

poppy

Terrace1

Pool

Eddie n Me

View

Table

Spending time here reminds me to savor life’s simple pleasures: warm sun on tanned skin, the bliss of getting absorbed in a good book, the shock of hot skin plunging into a pristine pool, the juicy zing of a ripe melon, a gauzy linen shirt wafting in the summer breeze. This is French summer – wholehearted and pure.