Tag Archives: picnic

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!

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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.”

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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

 

Fulham Palace Picnic

Summer is fleeting. Before we know it, August will be gone and with it those sunlit balmy days perfect for an afternoon playing outdoors. Saturday I woke up with the curtains fluttering in the breeze and a radiant blue sky peeking through the window. It was a day so glorious, practically tugging me out of bed – a day that screamed “picnic”!

So we packed up the hamper and made a break for Fulham Palace to claim our perfect grassy patch in the sun.

Fulham Palace London

Picnic Fulham Palace London

Blankets laid out, we plunked ourselves down, cranked up BBC Radio 6, and uncorked an icy bottle of rosé. As if the planet’s hottest supercouple Brangelina haven’t done enough to better this world, now they give us this beautiful pale pink vintage from their Provencal estate.

A tip for judging rosé wines – the paler pink the color, the better. Pale peach and blush colored wines (like Provence and Pinot Noir varieties) are crisp and dry, while the bright fuscia and coral tinted ones (such as White Zinfandel) contain extra sugar making them sweet.

Picnic Roberts Radio Miraval Rose Wine Fulham Palace

Toasting the Jolie-Pitts, I scurried off for a glimpse inside the Palace’s walled garden. I felt like I was sneaking in, despite it being open to the public, because there wasn’t another soul in sight! I admired the flowering beds of this beautiful oasis before scampering back to headquarters and flopping down in the sun.

Miraval Rose Wine glass Fulham Palace Picnic

Fulham Palace Walled Garden

Fulham Palace Walled Garden Beds

Picnic Fulham Palace Walled Garden Flowers

New Yorker Picnic Blanket

Looking up at the sky, watching the clouds drift by, I took turns browsing my magazine and catnapping.

Picnic Clouds Blue Sky

Picnic Reading The New Yorker

When we got hungry, we cracked open the hamper and tucked into some summery British foodstuffs – chargrilled, lemony asparagus starter…

Picnic Open Hamper Fulham Palace London

Picnic Asparagus

Followed by something a little more American (well, South American)… chimichurri bavette steak with southwestern quinoa salad and fresh sriracha gaucamole.

Picnic Steak Bavette Guac

And something unquestionably American, bold and spicy Buffalo wings!

(I’m not the biggest fan but my redcoat hubby loves them!)

Picnic Whole Foods Wings

Picnic Watermelon Fulham Palace

Picnic Watermelon Break Share Fulham Palace

Picnic Watermelon Sunny Fulham Palace

Picnic Watermelon Fulham Palace Bite

We spent hours out in the sun. When we ran out of things to read and nibble and chat about, we staggered up and slowly strolled back home.

Picnic Dress Fulham Palace

Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Glyndebourne is an English country house in West Sussex which hosts its opera festival every summer. It has been on my social radar for such a long time. I was beyond giddy to finally nab tickets to a performance. It meant sneaking away from work early to attend – shimmying into my satin gown and jewelry in the office toilets and then slinking off to catch a midday train from Victoria Station. But the journey just added to the thrill of appearing at one of England’s most distinguished and elegant affairs.

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The London artistic community was out in droves, promenading the grounds before the performance. A porter assembled our table on the lawn and we tucked into our hamper for a few glasses of fizz, then ambled coolly through the landscaped gardens.

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Glyndebourne grounds are dotted with garden sculptures

Glyndebourne grounds are dotted with garden sculptures

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Bumping into familiar faces is a welcome surprise at Glynebourne

Bumping into familiar faces is a welcome surprise at Glynebourne

The opera was an incredible contemporary production of Rameau’s French baroque Hippolyte et Aricie  a vividly choreographed Greek drama. The towering scale of the stage production dwarfed me in the third row – stunning and overwhelming. The music was breathtaking, the dancers mesmerizing, and the characters occasionally humorous. I watched with rapt attention every little flick of the conductor’s baton – sometimes he abandoned it altogether and just directed with his hands.

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By the interlude, I was dizzy with operatic fervor… or maybe it was the champagne, or perhaps hunger. In whichever case, we retired to the lawn to dine on our Leith’s-catered picnic supper.

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Smoked Scottish salmon |capers, gherkins and lemon

Smoked Scottish salmon | capers, gherkins and lemon

Lobster salad |chicory and artichoke salad

Lobster salad | chicory and artichoke salad

Lemon tart with raspberry cream

Lemon tart with raspberry cream

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The interval bell tolls at Glynebourne

The interval bell tolls at Glynebourne

Heading back inside for the final acts, I couldn’t help feeling like my evening at Glynebourne went by far too quickly! Its luxurious atmosphere embodies the epitome of civilized and cultured English tradition. This goes down as one of my favorite opera moments.

Henley Royal Regatta

Henley

A heat wave hit England this weekend so it was perfect weather to enjoy the boat races at the Henley Royal Regatta. Every year since 1839, society descends upon the picturesque town of Henley-On-Thames to picnic along the river and watch the historic event. It’s also somewhat of an Anglo-American contest with many American universities competing – I proudly cheered on crews from Harvard, Columbia and University of Virginia.

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Henley13

The Regatta Enclosure is a formal tented area along the riverfront where spectators can enjoy lunch or tea, traditionally accompanied by champagne or a glass of England’s favorite summertime drink Pimm’s. The atmosphere is very social and we settled back along the water chatting with new friends at our table.

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Outside of the enclosure, racegoers gather along the Thames to share in the spirit of the competition. Corporate hospitality tents, private rowing clubs, and pop-up outposts of London nightclubs Juju and Mahiki line the riverbank. I browsed in a few of the shops and stalls to escape the blazing sun – and managed to resist a few impulse buys, including this fun feathered topper.

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After a cloudless day by the water, I returned to London sun-kissed and happy. With Henley and Wimbledon finals taking place on the same weekend, there’s no beating England for summer sport at the moment.

Cotswolds Comforts

Spring has been categorically lousy this year, but with high hopes for summer just a few days away it was time for a visit to my favorite Cotswolds nursery to stock up on flora and fauna to beautify my terrace.

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But first thing’s first – a piping hot cup of java from my dear Jaffé & Neale bookshop and cafe in Chipping Norton (or Chippy, as us locals call it). I could browse the shelves in here endlessly! There is always a recommended title or two that beg to be added to my reading list – and I make a point to follow their monthly bookclub picks.

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Stopped to pick up some breakfast supplies at Hampers Food & Wine Co in Woodstock. The deli is to die for. If you ever fancy a picnic in Oxfordshire, they make gourmet hampers for collection. Just order online and pick up when you hit town!

Woodstock

Woodstock

Cool vintage Morris Minor - love the wicker hamper on the back!

Cool vintage Morris Minor – love the wicker hamper on the back!

hampers

My country breakfast staples

My country breakfast staples

Fresh bread from Wyatt's farm shop

Fresh bread from Wyatt’s farm shop

Wyatt’s Plant Centre & Farm Shop in Chippy is your one-stop shop for all your gardening needs – and you can tick a few things off your grocery list while you’re at it. Every time I go here, I’m like a kid in a farm shop – I had to grab a doughy ball of this freshly baked bread to whisk back to London with me.

And now for flower hour!

And now for flower hour!

Discerning eye for inspiration

Discerning eye for inspiration

Honing my hanging basket arrangement skills

Miss Greenthumb (I hope!)

After carefully honing my hanging basket arrangement skills, I’m well on my way toward domestic goddess status! Just need to remember to water them occasionally, right?

Sunday Picnic in Paris

Don’t go to Paris on a Sunday. Don’t waste your time. Why bother? None of the Parisians do – everything is closed (at least the authentic bits are). The only places where people show up to work on a Sunday are the Louvre and the d’Orsay. I wouldn’t deign to step foot in either. The queues are an English person’s heaven – lampoonish queues – literally queues without an end in sight. Hey, I love art probably more than the next guy, but I am so over cold, cavernous galleries and corridors filled with the same plundered antiquities. Frankly, it’s a bore and it has been for some time. Those limp hoards queuing for hours don’t know what they’re looking at once they’re in. It’s a mess.

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As long as the weather was going to hold out for us, we were determined to take Paris by foot and cover as much ground as we could. After a prolonged roam through the Latin Quarter trying to seek out a mind-blowing petit déjeuner when everyplace was closed, we settled for a cafe across from St. Sulpice on the corner of Rue des Canettes. It was all locals. We ordered an emmantel omelette to share – but our garçon informed us they were already sold out of the croissants we’d desperately been craving. “You slept too long,” he told us. Touché.

The sights of Paris gleamed a little bit brighter after a strong coffee had awakened our senses.

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We took in the ancient streets and alleys, the monumental architecture, the views from the Sienne, and a few artisan vendors who graced us with their sheer availability to conduct business. Here’s a run down of our foodie finds:

a gooey pot of St Marcellin from the Marché Saint-Germain

a gooey pot of St Marcellin from the Marché Saint-Germain

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Warm baguette and artichoke quiche from Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger

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And an assortment of fresh salads from the sweetest lady at deli-of-the-gods Le Traiteur on Rue Saint-Dominique.

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Oh, everyone should go here! Treat yourself to everything. Then go picnic on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower and feel fully and completely indulged.

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It was a wicked whirlwind of a weekend, but by the end of it I was a bullet in the chamber, ready to be shot back across the English Channel.

An exciting week ahead in London – stay tuned!