Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, October 2018

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to New York City for the weekend.  New York, while incredibly urban, does have some amazing gardens to visit.  One of those is the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. (This a link to a fellow bloggers page which shows the gardens in summer.)

The outside area is several acres in the corner of Prospect Park and contains many wonderful greenhouses and outdoor spaces.  There are several large interconnected greenhouses which are partially below ground- each is entered from a central gathering area.  The rooms are separated into different climate zones which contain plants from all over the world.

the tropical room
the sub-tropical room

There are various tropical, temperate and desert rooms, all with amazing plants.

Outside, there is a spectacular rose garden built in 1927.  There seemingly hundreds of varieties of roses from all over the world.  Many of the varieties are decades old.


I have seen some wonderful roses in England, but this garden is truly an equal to anything I saw over there.  The range and variety was stunning.  (I will also point out that it was October, and several bushes had finished blooming for the year, but even so, it was totally stunning.)

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If you are in the area, this is a can’t miss experience.

Happy Travels!

“Trained” fruit tree
A sample of the Bonsai Collection



Maya’s Breakfast Friends!

My little cat, Maya, who I have mentioned here, does this funny thing with her cat food and toys…..


She carries them with her and drops them in her food dish! I don’t know if its because they have catnip in them and that makes her hungry, but almost every day I take them out and put them away only to find they have returned!

What a funny cat I have! Do any of you have cats with similarly peculiar habits?

White Mountains, New Hampshire, September 2018

Hi! I have taken a bit of a break from posting lately as life has become slightly busier with the start of fall.  I did have a great trip up to the White Mountains a couple weeks ago which I would like to share.

My family and I have been members of the Appalachian Mountain Club for a number of years.  They have several huts in the Presidential range which you can stay at if you make reservations ahead of time- they are wonderful.  A crew (or “croo” as they are called historically) makes you dinner and breakfast and you sleep in bunk rooms.  We hiked up to one of the huts, Mizpah, on Friday.  (Below is me outside the hut on a previous trip.)


We then went up a very steep trail which lead us to the top of Mount Pierce with spectacular 360 degree views of the White Mountains.


The trail to Mizpah is perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  I remember this moss garden from childhood and feel so lucky to be able to return as an adult and see it still in tact the same as I remember it being.


The hikes in the Whites are hard and steep- but well worth the views.  On Saturday, my boyfriend and I decided to hike down from the top of Cannon Mountain after taking the tram up…


As you can see below, it was quite a steep mountain!


The hike down was one of the hardest I have ever done…. there was some serious scrambling and several times I had to abandon all dignity and slide on my bum.

(As you can see from Matt’s height above me here, it was quite formidable.)IMG_9807

We successfully made it down however in good spirits.  I would recommend this hike with a caution- it is hard going and you should bring plenty of water and give yourself plenty of time.  If you are planning on taking the tram down, make sure to start no later than 1 pm or so.  The last tram leaves at 5pm, and it would not be fun to get stuck on this mountain if you are inexperienced.

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Chatsworth Gardens, July 2018


On the day we went to Chatsworth, I spent some time exploring the gardens.  They are world famous- the fountain (above) is one of the most interesting features, but there are many….


Surprisingly, unlike many other gardens we have visited in England, there were no flowers which were apparent.  (It seems that they were in another part of the garden which I missed) but I did get the chance to see the spectacular water features everywhere..


As well as an odd collection of Yew bushes…IMG_9283 (1)

The Serpentine walk (one of symbols of the Devonshire family is the serpent.)


And my favorite part- the Tree of Brass which spouts water from its branches!


Finally, there was some lovely park land with gravel roads to walk along.  I even came across this beautiful Elephant sculpture.

I throughly enjoyed the Chatsworth Gardens.  *It is worth noting that when in England this summer, it was clear that they were experiencing a massive drought… everywhere which would normally be green was brown, and the fountains at Chatsworth were at perhaps 40% the normal capacity.

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The Orangery

And finally, an homage to the great Joseph Paxton Green house of the 19th century- which was sadly pulled down due to the exorbitant  expense of coal heating it required.  It still does, however, maintain the famous Lily pads!

If you have any more interest in Chatsworth, as I did, I highly recommend this documentary:

Chatsworth, Interior July 2018

Greetings! I have taken a slight hiatus from writing to do some traveling.  Now that I am home again, I thought I would start to share some of my latest adventures.  I was fortunate enough to get another chance to travel to England in July.  During our trip, we went to Chatsworth.  Now Chatsworth, is, frankly,  the epitome of the stately home.  It is the gold standard of country houses.  (Sorry to the other beauties out there: Blenheim and Burghley.) 


There is so much to cover, that I know I will not do Chatsworth justice.  It is hard to get a photo which accurately shows the the magnificence of this house, but  you can see above the view from the gardens which somewhat conveys the scale.

The painted entrance hall alone is breathtaking…


I think one of the aspects of this house which makes it stand out, is the vast collection of treasures it still contains.  It has a very personal feel, there are small objects as well as famous paintings which are displayed everywhere and the attention to detail is extraordinary.


The gold leaf window frames and the contemporary art in the interior court yard show how this house seems to mix the modern seamlessly with the past.


Above is a picture of one of the state rooms.  The gold is really breathtaking.  I believe that these rooms rarely inhabited, which is a pity.  Below is a portrait of Georgiana Cavendish, the wife of the 5th Duke.  I read the biography by Amanda Foreman before coming to see Chatsworth, which gave great insight into what life was like in this house during the Georgian period.



The amount of art is also really staggering.  What I will call the “secondary staircase” is nearly covered with portraits….(and of course the two malachite urns are stunning.)

Chatsworth boasts 40 bedrooms which might seem excessive, until you remember that these country houses acted largely as hotels for invited guests, and they are, in many cases in the middle of nowhere.  (According to my good friend Wikipedia, more that half of the house is closed to visitors, which, considering the number of rooms on display to visitors means that this truly a giant.  Interestingly, it did not feel as vast as it actually is…I myself could live there quite comfortably 😉


So many small details were what made this place special.  They had put down special foam rubber matts on the floor which looked exactly like the floorboards and matched the real rugs on display.  The servants staircase, which we took at one point in the tour, was decorated with empty picture frames to illustrate, in my opinion, the number of works of art which had been sold. (*Note: I have no basis for this, it is just my opinion.)


The library (above) was also spectacular.  We were not allowed to enter, but as you can see from the doorway, it is really stunning.


Finally, we saw the dining room.  The ceiling was, again, gold leaf.  The silver service, I think speaks for itself.  The detail on the candlesticks was astounding- there were intricate figures and representations of stags as well as tiny curled leaves.

I loved Chatsworth.  IT has been called “Britain’s favorite country house” and it is easy to see why.  In addition to being very grand, it also has a personal feel, and the visitor gets the feeling that they are visiting a home in which people actually live (albeit on a very grand scale.) Until next time!

The Maine Coast, July 2017

In light of the holiday yesterday, I thought I would share some pictures of a trip my boyfriend and I took along the coast of Maine at this time last year.  We had no plans, but we had a tent and a Jeep and an idea that we wanted to explore the Maine coast a bit.  We ended up spending one night in Bar Harbor which was beautiful.IMG_6713


The next day we took a hike up a trail in Acadia National Park called the Beehive.  It had spectacular view overlooking the ocean….

The cliffs were very precarious and steep, but the breeze coming off the ocean was not to be missed. We then went to the beach far below for a quick swim…


I was not brave enough to go swimming- the water was FREEZING, but my boyfriend did and found it to be really refreshing.  Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the Northeast.  It was a pleasure to explore-  full of fun interesting roads to drive, and hikes through Pine forests.  The trails are well maintained and easy to traverse.  (Be sure to take plenty of water, though, I made the mistake of not bringing enough which caused us to prematurely end our hike.)

We then drove along the coast to the picturesque town of Camden.  It was very quaint and typical of towns along the Maine coast: full of cute little stores and restaurants. We had a delicious dinner on the dock overlooking the harbor.  (Below).


This was a magical trip that we took last summer.  I hope to go back sometime soon!
Happy Thursday!

An note on inspurration…

Happy Friday!  I wanted to take a moment to mention a blog that has been truly inspiring to me-  I stumbled across it a few years ago when I was doing a Google image search of cats wearing life jackets.  The reason behind this has to do with my Dad, a sailor who loves to take his poor cats out with him…we were debating the likelihood of a cat wearing a life jacket happily.  His cat, unlike Bailey, is not a born sailor as maybe you can guess from this picture:


Bailey, who is a Siamese cat, and happily wears a life jacket,  looks quite similar to my own Tonkinese cat, Maya, (seen below) which further interested me.   The writing and pictures were so engaging and funny that I was soon totally hooked.  “Bailey” would post almost every day, giving updates on his sailing adventures and his life in general.  When thinking about beginning my own blog, I drew a lot of inspiration from Bailey (and his “Mom”).  The writing is so fresh and fun that I always felt happier after reading his blog posts.  While my cat will NEVER be a floating feline, we love hearing all about your adventures.  Thank you Bailey for sharing your experiences with me and all your other furry furriends!


Chartres Cathedral, France May 2018

During our recent visit to France, we spent an afternoon at Chartres Cathedral.  This sleepy little village was our first taste of the French countryside and it did not disappoint!

The village surrounds the cathedral and is very quaint and has a medieval feel to it.  The streets are narrow and crooked and are built onto the steep hillside, at the top of which is the cathedral.  It felt very quiet as we walked to the top of the hill. Once there, we had, in my mind, one of the best lunches of the entire trip.  I had a sandwich made entirely of Camembert and French bread.  I will remember it for the rest of my life.  It was surreal.  (Sadly, I did not take a picture of the sandwich or the restaurant.  Worth noting, is that the restaurant featured an interesting collection of teapots. It was full of them.)

The interior of the Cathedral was breathtaking. The soaring ceilings and stained glass windows were spectacular.  The exterior of the cathedral looked like it was due for a cleaning, as some of the more elaborate details were masked by a layer of black…IMG_8967

(Please excuse the dorky picture, it was the only one I had close enough to see the covered in black soot.)

The front of the cathedral was also surrounded by beautiful flowers and gardens…

Finally, the highlight (apart from the excellent sandwich) was the French cat we discovered enjoying the flower garden behind the cathedral.

IMG_8418 On a rainy weekday, remembering this visit has been fantastic.  I wish you all a happy day and safe travels (hopefully with frequent cat sightings!)

Blois, France May 2018


In celebration of a speeding ticket we got going from Tours to Blois (the second we got via mail from the French highway system a month after our return) I thought I would post about our visit to Blois which caused this infraction. * (A note about the French Highway system- the roads are very smooth and immaculately maintained.  However, they have a challenging ticketing booths on the road, and if you ever need to pull off- to, say, use the facilities, they charge a fee.  There are no rest areas like we have here in the US. Also, there seems to be an elaborate way of monitoring speeding, whereby you are not pulled over, but your speed is periodically checked. If speeding they then find you and send you a ticket.  A waring to lead-foot drivers traveling to France! BE CAREFUL.  Figuring out how to pay these French tickets is almost more painful and difficult than actually the fee itself.


Blois itself is another royal residence of our friend, Catherine De Medici.  For a time, this was the center of French government. The staircases you can see, were copied by the the Vanderbilt estate, the Biltmore in North Carolina.


The castle is full of history and peculiar paintings…. The one on the right is of a person with hypertrichosis who was under the protection of the royal house hold at one point.