A magical wedding in Cape Cod

Despite somewhat harrowing travel misadventures (barfing in air, bag losing, etc.), we were thrilled to be in Cape Cod this past weekend for the wedding of our dearest Charlottesville friends. I only took a tiny handful of photos, so you’ll have to excuse the quality/quantity, but I exhibit them here as proof of the magical weekend.

Grace and Lu Say I DoThe brides with L’s nephew, at the rehearsal dinner

Grace and Lu Say I DoThe glowing brides at the rehearsal dinner

OfficiatingAnd a shot of me officiating (barefoot! Forgot my shoes, whoops) the ceremony, taken by Guion (who provided the sweet ceremony music with our good friend Julie)

We are so ineffably happy for these two and feel so honored to have joined in the celebration. They are some of our favorite people on Earth, and we are full of joy that they are finally married. Pure delight.

And now we are happy to be back in London, back “home,” where the roses in Regent’s Park are winding down but the days are steadily getting warmer.

Regent's Park strollRegent's Park strollRegent's Park strollRegent's Park strollRegent's Park stroll

An emptiness about the heart of life

I will share a few photos from our weekend in London with Grace and Jack, but I feel like I can’t post anything without saying a few words about Sunday’s massacre in Orlando.

I am so heartbroken and grieved for our country. We are such a disaster right now. I grieve for the LGBTQ community in Orlando and in the United States at large. I have ignorantly and naively believed that homophobia is passé, that we have progressed beyond such hatred and bigotry, and that gay people can finally exist, on the whole, in freedom and safety. Sunday was a horrific reminder that they cannot and do not.

And our country cannot and does not dwell in safety — but rather wallows in paranoia — because we are ignorant. Because the NRA lines the pockets of our legislators. Because we have chosen to believe that more assault rifles, legally, in the hands of civilians is a virtue. Because our elected officials would rather give people on terrorist watch lists access to guns than curtail the expression of the sacred (and I declare, fraudulently interpreted) Second Amendment. Because we would rather prop up a military state controlled by a reality TV star-cum-tyrant than live in freedom. We seem prefer this world of terror to the humanist and democratic ideals that the United States of America was supposedly inspired by.

Racism, fear, and ignorance will never make America great again. Trump and the Republican party seem to believe that they will.

But I can only hope — with no small degree of desperation these days — that the majority of Americans will look to Orlando, will look to the monthly mass shootings, will look to the faces of refugees and imprisoned black men and transgender people in North Carolina, and say: We reject fear. We choose freedom.

HoodGrace in a windowYoung loversGrace and AmirahRainy Sunday"Ecce Ancilla Domini," Dante Gabriel RossettiOver the ThamesRainy SundayDirty BurgerRainy Sunday

The most charming pub in the world, probably

On our drive back to London from the Lake District, we decided to take the tiniest tour of the Cotswolds, which was well worth it, even if we were only there for a few hours. Guion found a 17th-century pub called the Ebrington Arms and it, and its general village, did not fail to enchant.

The Ebrington ArmsThe Ebrington ArmsThe CotswoldsWe ate out here, in the gardens:

The Ebrington ArmsThe Ebrington ArmsAfter dinner, we strolled around the village for a bit.

The CotswoldsThe CotswoldsThe CotswoldsThe CotswoldsThe Cotswolds

I left with a very powerful urge to get back to my garden (and to acquire some of those climbing English roses) and with the thought of how much my mom would love this place (Mom, let’s go!). The CotswoldsSam, looking forward to getting back into our (temporary) Mercedes:

The CotswoldsThe perfect ending to a perfect holiday with the Bushes.

The Ebrington ArmsThe Cotswolds

Catch the heart off guard and blow it open

Dear Maddy and Sam came to London for the week, and then we took off for the Lake District for an absolutely stunning weekend. Turns out the northern part of the UK is not kidding around when it comes to outrageous beauty. We were tremendously lucky with the weather, too, because everyone had warned us that it would rain the entire time. Instead, we got this all weekend:

Catbells summit(We met several locals who told us, “This is the first sunshine we’ve seen in nine months.”)

We stayed in this charming (if mildewy) cottage in Kirkby-in-Furness, in a quiet and secluded hamlet at the southern edge of the Lake District:

Kirkby-in-Furness

Kirkby-in-FurnessOn our first night, Sam (very expertly, considering that this was his first time driving in the UK) drove us all up the gorgeous/treacherous little roads to Kirkstone Pass, where we had a hearty supper at the Kirkstone Pass Inn, which is the second-highest pub (in terms of elevation) in the United Kingdom.

Kirkstone PassKirkstone Pass(Sparking so many geographical flashbacks to Iceland…)

First night in the Lake DistrictWindermereAs we descended, we stopped in Windermere to enjoy the sunset.

WindermereWindermereWindermereOn Saturday, bright and hot, we took on the Catbells hike, which did not disappoint, with its 360-degree views of the mountains, lake, and surrounding loveliness.

Catbells summitCatbells summitLake District day twoCatbells summitCatbells summitCatbells summitCatbells summitCatbells summitAfter hiking down, we timed the ferry around the lake poorly and spent £8 on a five-minute ride, but then we got to walk around the lake, so it was not entirely a loss.

Lake District day twoKeswickOn the drive home, we hit the golden hour in this stunning valley and felt so delighted to be there, together. We rolled around in the grass, Maddy (mildly) terrorized some sheep, and we marveled at our good fortune.

Lake District golden hourLake District golden hourLake District golden hourLake District golden hourMaddy terrorizes some sheepQuite possibly my favorite photo from the entire weekend:

Favorite pic from the Lake District

We said goodbye to Kirkby-in-Furness on Sunday morning by walking to the coast. Guion and Sam were nearly washed out to sea when the tide came in (and covered all of that strange, spongy grass you see below).

Kirkby-in-FurnessKirkby-in-FurnessKirkby-in-FurnessGuion read us this Heaney poem on the first night of our stay and it served as the perfect sketch of our general feeling about being in the Lake District (even if it is about Ireland).

Postscript
Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Lake District day two

A dreamy weekend in Berlin

We had a gorgeous, relaxing weekend in Berlin with my sister and her boyfi, Jack, during which we commemorated our sixth wedding anniversary. Grace and Jack were such generous and fun hosts, and we can’t wait to see them again soon in London. Phone pictures follow; haven’t had time since returning to grab photos from my real camera.

Berlin againBerlinBerlinGörlitzer ParkSt. Marien LiebfrauenWandering around BerlinWandering around BerlinWandering around Berlin

BerlinBerlinBerlinBerlin'sa dudeBerlin againBerlin

A match burning in a crocus

Walk home from the office
My walk home from the office.

Thought: Perhaps part of what makes city-folk aggressive is the anonymity of urban life. I was thinking about this while watching people gripe and shove on the Tube (a few weeks ago, a large woman actually pushed me, as in, a hand flat across my back, into someone else so that I’d get out of her way). In little Charlottesville, I wouldn’t attempt much public rudeness, because the chances are strong that I could run into that person again. Maybe she is my postal office worker. Maybe she is my future financial adviser. But in the big city, cause a scene, yell, or shove, because you’re a free agent; no one knows your name; you will never see these people again. You’re not accountable to anyone. Anonymity, I surmise, tends to make people assholes (see: almost every comment section on the internet).

Correlated thought: And YET. I think London is an infinitely more polite city than New York? So far? At least, it is quieter. People stick to a strong sense of silent decorum on the morning commute.

Neighborhood strolling(The title: Love this line from Mrs. Dalloway. I think, if I recall correctly, it’s from Septimus or Lucrezia looking at newly sprung flowers in Hyde Park.)

Strolling through those colleges

Oxford

Strolling through those colleges past those ancient halls the roughness of the present seemed smoothed away; the body seemed contained in a miraculous glass cabinet through which no sound could penetrate, and the mind, freed from any contact with facts (unless one trespassed on the turf again), was at liberty to settle down upon whatever meditation was in harmony with the moment.

— Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (read on)

OxfordSpent a really charming day in Oxford with Caroline and got to attend a sweet baby shower for Emily. It is a majestic, lush place. Woolf was on the money (and yet you can still feel those remnants of exclusion and separation).

OxfordOxfordRadcliffe Camera(The sky really was this insanely beautiful. This is not a joke.)

OxfordOxfordOxford CastleOxfordBroad Street, OxfordOxfordOxford

Collect, overbalance, and fall

Camden and Regent's Park area

So on a summer’s day waves collect, overbalance, and fall; collect and fall; and the whole world seems to be saying ‘that is all’ more and more ponderously, until even the heart in the body which lies in the sun on the beach says too, That is all. Fear no more, says the heart. Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall. And the body alone listens to the passing bee; the wave breaking; the dog barking, far away barking and barking. 

Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

Camden and Regent's Park area

Cold city of beautiful giants

Charming AmsterdamDespite the cold, we had a lovely past weekend in Amsterdam. I’ve always wanted to visit, namely because my dad is half Dutch, and I bear a vague sense of family longing for this place I have never seen. We had just the briefest introduction to Holland, but it was certainly a charming one. Such gorgeous, friendly people living peaceably in such a gorgeous, friendly city.

AmsterdamCharming Amsterdam

Red light district
The red light district is really not that shady in the daytime.
Vondelpark
Gazebo and tulips in Vondelpark.
Vondelpark
European ducks are flashier than the ones we have in the US.
Amsterdam
Husband in Vondelpark.
Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum
Obligatory windmill painting.
Rijksmuseum
Library in the Rijksmuseum.
Rijksmuseum
Rembrandt’s “Night Watch.”

Hope to see you again, (distant) homeland.

Amsterdam