Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Visit to Stamford

Just a short stroll from the charming Burghley House, is the delightful town of Stamford, which is certainly worth a detour. Located 100 miles north of London, this beautifully preserved English stone town boasts historic buildings and churches.

A popular setting for movies and television shows, this picturesque and cobbled stone street exemplifies the town's old world charm.

Interestingly enough, this small town was one of the 10 largest towns in England by the 12th century,

coming to prominence in the 9th and 10th century, and prospering under Norman rule as a wool town.

The town is full of warm stone buildings made from the Lincolnshire limestone nearby, and it sports a medieval core of 17th and 18th century stone buildings to admire.

Lunch found us at The Central Restaurant on the market square.

We were first drawn in by the scones and treats in the windows,

and once inside, we were charmed by the medieval oak beams of the tiny restaurant with great market views.

You won't want to miss the All Saints Church, some parts dating back to the 13th century. It dominates the Red Lion square and its market activity.

I was entranced though by the smaller St. Mary's church

whose earliest parts date from the 12th century.

A peaceful cemetery alongside

was the home of many beautiful tombstones, each with a story of its own and the life it was commemorating.

As the sun began to sink, we reluctantly left to make our way to our prearranged destination of Lincoln, wishing we could have stayed much longer to stroll the town of Stamford and enjoy its charm.

Definitely worth a repeat visit....

Monday, January 14, 2013

An Introduction to Grandeur

In late November, Hubby and I went on a little weekend getaway to the Lincolnshire region of England, making a  detour along the way to the 16th century Burghley House. Built between 1555-1587 by Sir William Cecil, who was the Lord High Treasurer for Queen Elizabeth, it
 was constructed in the shape of the letter E for the queen. Since then it has been the residence of his descendants, the earls and marquesses of Exeter, and today is owned by a charitable trust run by the family.
The house has 35 major rooms on the ground and first floors and 80 other lesser rooms. No small place for a treasurer to the queen.

The only downside of touring in November is that the interiors are closed for the season, and so we had to content ourselves with exploring the grounds

and taking a peek through The Orangery restaurant windows

which stays open year around--along with the gift shop, of course.
( A very nice one, I must admit.)

The gardens, landscaped by England's greatest gardener, Capability Brown, are open for free to the public all year long,

and the late fall colors

accented some of the architectural

highlights of the centuries old country house.

Hubby checked out the old truck on the grounds,

while I was intrigued by the rooftop landscape.

The entire estate is made of up 12,000 acres of farmlands, 700 acres of woodlands, 250 residential properties and 60 commercial properties.

Can you imagine the size of that?

Immediately surrounding the house is a 300 acre deer park and its inhabitants seemed quite content to graze in the sun, 

along with the sheep.

As we drove off the estate towards the market town of Stamford, which I'll share with you in the next post, I vowed to make this an upcoming spring day trip. 

If the inside of the house is as half as grand as the outside, it should be an amazing place! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New York Treasures

Continuing with some of my latest finds in NYC, this trip I finally made it to Tinsel Trading Company. Located on West 37th St., just off 5th Ave., this shop is a treasure trove of trims and embellishments, both new and vintage.

Claiming Martha Stewart's recommendation as "my favorite store in all of the world,"

one can spend hours here looking at trinkets and trims. Treat yourself and find this shop the next time you're in town! In the meantime, check out their website.

Have you read Eloise at the Plaza? Then you'd probably love her shop that I found

on the lower level concourse at The Plaza Hotel.

Definitely a shop to suit any young girl's fancy,

along with a tea room, it's a big city escape for girls of all ages.

Santa was waiting for us!

My favorite find at The Plaza, also on the Lower Level Concourse was the Plaza Food Hall.  Twenty kiosks which opened this past year, in addition to the famous chef Todd English's Food Hall make for a unique dining or grazing experience with both counter style dining and seated table space.

Many NY food institutions are located here, including Tartinery, William Greenberg Desserts, Maison du Chocolat, 

Francois Payard Patisserie, Lady M, Pain d'Avignon,

Billy's Bakery and Kusmi Tea from Paris to name just a few.

So with so much to choose from, what was our dinner of choice that night???

Very hard to choose, but the reviews of Luke's Lobster convinced us

that a Lobster Roll was just what we needed.

Of course, there were cupcakes for dessert to take back to the hotel for a bed time treat!

Next time you find yourself in the area of the Plaza where affordable and fun food options are sometimes hard to find, pop into the Plaza and treat yourself. 
I'm sure that you and Eloise will have a smashing time!

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Beginnings

Happy New Year to everyone! I've enjoyed reading your comments and blogs over the holidays, but I've been pretty silent here, as I process what this new year holds. My husband is starting a new job today, based here in Houston, so the dual life we've been living for 5 years with his previous job that took us back and forth between London and Houston, has now come to a close. All good things must come to an end, I suppose.

But I'm excited that this does mean more time here in Houston with my family and friends, and perhaps more adventures traveling to new and exciting places. For the next 6 months, however, and until my London based son and daughter-in-law also move back to Houston sometime this summer, I've going to be taking advantage of my "bedroom" there in England, and traveling back and forth to be with them and to see friends.

London will always be in my heart, and the memories and the friendships that we've made there will be cherished forever. What to do about the blog now, I've pondered. Since I know I've still got some London blog material that I haven't shared yet, and since I know I'll be traveling back and forth for some time to come, you'll still find me writing here for a bit longer. There will be time for a decision about going forward after this season of time.

So how about a bit of change of pace for today? We recently went to New York for a short trip, and I enjoyed a few places that I thought I would share with you, that may or may not be on your radar.

Have you been to Eataly?

You can find Eataly on 5th Ave. between 23rd and 24th.

If you fancy Italian products and quality food, then Eataly is the place for you, a huge market featuring the best Italy has to offer,

where you can spend a couple of hours shopping, as well as eating.  

The selection of cheeses

are abundant, and the staff is quite helpful as you try to narrow down your choices.

Chocolates, gelato,

and Italian pastries will make it hard to keep those good New Year's Resolutions.

If you are in the mood for a panini,

or a selection of focaccia

and fresh breads, then Eataly should be on your list.

Pasta in all shapes and sizes, both dried

and fresh, make for a yummy dinner if you're cooking that night.

Oils and vinegars from all regions of Italy, as well as other condiments, will enhance your dinner preparations

or you may decide to eat in house where there are close to a dozen restaurants and cafes

serving everything from pizza, pastas, coffee, paninis, gelato, charcuterie and desserts, as well as several fine dining restaurants where you should make advance reservations. 

It's on our list for our return trip and I highly recommend it as a mecca of Italian food and products, unlike anything I've seen outside of Italy.

I've been to Fishs Eddy before, located diagonally from ABC Carpet and Home, but this time it seemed even more fun and whimsical.

Good prices on all sorts of crockery and glassware

if you like digging a bit!

There's something here for everyone, I would imagine, from these cow creamers

to fancy cake stands.

How fun are all these glasses!

Plenty of white dishes in the Shape Shack

and you might find grandmother's china if you get lucky enough.

I'll wave good bye for now, and come back soon with another place that we found on our last NY trip, that might interest you as well. Until then, Happy Shopping!