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

Thinking, breathing

The Hill and Wood Funeral Home

Thoughts, on this first day of October:

  • What a lovely, lovely wedding, Chris and Sallie. We are so happy for you two and delighted that you will remain in our lives in town. Don’t ever leave!
  • I tried to be brave like Maddy, but I’m apparently not over my stink-bug phobia. I looked like a foolish, fretful 3-year-old while Maddy calmly and competently plucked stink bugs off my back and chair and plate all night long. She is a gem.
  • These days, when I look at Pyrrha for a moment, these words well up in me: Thank you thank you thank you.
  • Reading The Second Sex and Rebecca simultaneously is very jarring.
  • Rose and Kemp are coming to visit this weekend! On the agenda: Hiking, apple picking, solving the American political system, and in Rose’s words, “intimate woman-time.” While the boys are presumably doing man stuff, like talking about beer and comparing muscles or whatever it is that boys do when they are alone…
  • Speaking of intimate woman-time, on this day in 2008, this is where I was. Missing it (and them) now.
  • I try to be calm when I look at the calendar. I fail.

Cozy, rainy dinner

Maddy's porch

Dinner party out back

Last night, Maddy and her lovely housemates hosted a cozy dinner party. We all brought warm comfort food. We drank sangria. We ate Maddy’s perfect Guinness–chocolate bundt cake. We talked about how the porch makes you feel like you’re in a tree-house in the Brazilian rain forest.

Mary Boyce
Mary Boyce in the kitchen.
Maddy and Hannah
Maddy and Hannah.

I sat inside with the ladies, where we talked about crazy persons, green fig trees, grammar, futures, and pasts.

I didn’t sit with Guion at dinner, but we got in the car afterward and both said, “I really like those people. Let’s stay here for a while.”

A party on the lake, moving, our future dog??

Whew, what a week! But a good one.

To start the week off, we attended Maddy’s surprise party on a lake. Photo sampling below:

Maddy’s surprise party on the lake.
The party planner and the birthday girl.

It was really marvelous and such a peaceful, happy gathering. More photos on Flickr.

We are in the thick of packing and moving right now, and my brain is too distracted for many eloquent words (I haven’t read a book in a few days, which feels very strange), so this will be brief. We also may have met our future dog on Friday night. But more on that later!

Always have an artist at your table

Blue with the azaleas.
The Walker's hens.

This weekend, we visited the Walker’s mini-menagerie to walk their dogs, Ginger and Blue. (It was so green and peaceful and provincial–even though we were still in the city.)

And then, Saturday night, I was privileged enough to attend the banquet for the New City Arts Forum. As you can see–even from my blurry photos–it was a magical night.

Meade Hall, beautifully transformed for the dinner.
At the table.

Mallory was the creative genius behind the event’s design. Everything looked just perfect; I was so amazed at the scope of her imagination. I never could have done it. A Pimento very generously donated and made the feast and desserts were contributed by our very own Maddy, of Sweet Madeline, among others. And of course, the whole event and conference was the brain child of the perpetually humble, gracious, and accomplished Maureen Lovett, who is perfect in every way.

Designer Mallory and baker Maddy, with Michael lurking.

Even more blurry photos of the beautiful weekend on my Flickr.

Gay Beery, one of the women behind A Pimento Catering, closed her brief speech about the (incredible) menu with this exhortation: “Always have an artist at your table.” What lovely advice. I think we will always be so blessed.