Chelsea Flower Show, London, 2022; lunch at Colbert

by Sandra Hutchinson

This May I knocked one big goal off my bucket list — to attend the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show, held annually in May, on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in the Chelsea neighborhood of London. The Chelsea Show was cancelled in 2020 for only the second time since it began in 1912 (the first was during the Second World War), although some form of an online virtual show took place. The 2021 show was postponed and moved to September.

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Stopping by London’s Borough Market; hopping on an Uber Boat to Greenwich

by Sandra Hutchinson

One of the oldest and most famous of London’s food markets, Borough Market, is located on the south side of the Thames, the South Bank, adjacent to Southwark Cathedral. (Note: We were surprised to learn that Southwark is pronounced “suh-thrk”!) William Shakespeare lived and worked in the neighborhood, (the reconstructed Globe Theater is nearby) and it is believed he shopped for food here, since there has been a market on the site since at least the 12th century. It is a lot of fun to wander through the stalls and passageways, and some vendors offer tastings.

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Dining at Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria, UK

by Sandra Hutchinson

We had the distinct pleasure of enjoying a tasting menu lunch in May, at L’Enclume, Simon Rogan’s signature restaurant in Cartmel, in southwestern Cumbria, in what is called the South Lakeland region. L’Enclume was awarded its third Michelin star earlier this spring, making it the first UK restaurant outside London and southeast England to earn three stars.

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Poking around Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, NYC

by Sandra Hutchinson

We made a quick visit to our Manhattan-based son last week, and we enjoyed a day and half of walking around and exploring the city’s Chelsea neighborhood and Meatpacking District.

We took Amtrak to NYC from Albany/Rensselaer (a gorgeous ride along the Hudson — make sure to sit on the river side!), arriving in the recently opened Moynihan Train Hall, now the entry point into the city for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains. What a breath of fresh air after the dank, labyrinthian and underground Penn Station terminal.

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Finding the Grimké sisters in Charleston, SC

By Sandra Hutchinson

It wasn’t until I had read a few chapters of The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd, that it dawned on me that the characters in the book might have some basis in fact. I think I flipped to the book’s prologue, where I was astonished to learn that indeed, Sarah and Angelina Grimké, the protagonists, fierce abolitionists and women’s rights advocates, were real. Not only that, but they were astonishing in their beliefs and bravery, given the antebellum society, and plantation-owning South Carolinian family, that they were born into.

While visiting Charleston recently (March 2022), we took a walking tour focused on the Grimké sisters, led by Lee Ann Bain. The tour took us through various neighborhoods of historic Charleston, where we saw places the sisters would have known in the early 19th century, and learned of some new research that a Grimké biographer has shared with Ms. Bain. Our tour lasted about 2 1/2 hours. Here’s a link to Ms. Bain’s site where tours can be booked: http://grimkesisterstour.com.

Interestingly, when I booked our accommodations for our spring trip at an 18th century outbuilding on Church Street, within the South of Broad neighborhood, I did not realize at the time that it was the kitchen to a home that sat directly across the street from the Heyward-Washington House, which was owned in the late 18th and early 19th century by the Grimké family. It was in this house, at 87 Church Street, where a horrified, young Sarah looked out her bedroom window and witnessed physical abuse of an enslaved person. It is believed that this deeply affecting event helped form her views towards slavery. Sarah lived in this home from age 2 to 11; the family later moved to a larger home to the north, on East Bay, where her sister Angelina was born.

Heyward-Washington House, 87 Church Street, Charleston, SC

This home was build in 1772 for Thomas Heyward, Jr., one of the four signers of the Declaration of Independence from South Carolina. When the British occupied Charleston in 1780, Hayward was captured and imprisoned in St. Augustine, Florida. The house was rented to George Washington for eight days during the new president’s tour of Charleston in May, 1791. In 1794, Heyward sold the property to John F. Grimké, who had also served as an officer during the war.

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Perspectives on the pandemic

by Sandra Hutchinson

One of the wonderful things about hosting a blog is that you have the potential to connect online with people who share your interests. Among my “blogger friends,” as I call them, is Janet Simmonds, an Oxford-educated geographer and art historian, travel consultant and writer who publishes an intelligent and well-researched blog called The Educated Traveler. She offers fascinating insight on places and experiences in Italy, throughout the Mediterranean and England. Here’s the link to her blog: www.educated-traveller.com. I urge you to check out her site. It is a joy to read and I always learn something new! Plus, her photography is stunning.

Janet splits her time between England and Italy, largely Venice. She hosts small bespoke tours in Italy, and leads writing workshops. Here’s the link to her tour site: https://www.grand-tourist.com. I’m dreaming of the possibility of participating in one of her trips.

Earlier this year, Janet reached out to me and asked whether I would contribute a piece to her blog concerning how the pandemic has affected my family in northern New York State. She graciously published my piece on The Educated Traveler and I am grateful to her for her kind comments. While admittedly, some things have improved in my neck of the woods since I wrote the piece last spring, there is still great concern about ongoing infections and the long-lasting impact of the pandemic. Please click on the link below, and comment on either my blog or Janet’s with your own perspectives, from wherever in the world you are!

https://educated-traveller.com/2021/08/16/an-american-perspective/

Lake George, New York

A Yorkshire break — Fountains Abbey, York, heritage trains, moors and more!

A ruined nave at Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

by Sandra Hutchinson

Last fall I spent a magical week taking an adult education course at Oxford University, in Oxford, UK. Following the conclusion of my program, I headed to London and met up with my husband, who flew in from the States to meet me. After a couple of days that allowed him to acclimate to the time zone, we hopped on a train at Kings Cross Station and took the two-hour ride north to the city of York.

After spending a few days in York we rented a car and stayed on the grounds of Fountains Abbey, a World Heritage Site. During our stay, we explored the ruins of the Abbey and the adjacent Studley Royal Park. We spent a day taking a historic steam train through the Yorkshire Moors to Whitby, a coastal town known for its fish and chips, as well as being the location of a ruined abbey that was an inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We also explored some of the beautiful landscape in this part of Yorkshire, which is England’s largest county.

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Missing Martha’s Vineyard


by Sandra Hutchinson

For nearly 35 years my closest friend from childhood, who now lives in New York State’s Dutchess County, has rented a place on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard for an August getaway. She has been generous in her invitations to me to stay with her, and I’ve been blessed to spend time there. This summer, 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, all of her plans, and mine, were cancelled because of concerns of being in crowded spaces in a place that attracts visitors from across the world. 

Aquinnah Cliffs (formerly called Gay Head)

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Peonies galore at Hildene, Manchester Center, Vermont

by Sandra Hutchinson

Each June, the formal gardens at Hildene, in Manchester,  Vermont, overflow with an abundance of heirloom peonies. Built at the turn of the 20th century as the summer home of Robert Lincoln, the only child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, Hildene was saved from development by local residents in the 1970s after the last descendant of the Lincoln family living there died in 1975. The Friends of Hildene purchased the estate in 1978, worked to restore the home and gardens, and then opened it to the public. Here’s a quick history of the property from the Hildene web site.

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