By Sandra Hutchinson
I know there’s no shortage of people ruminating on the Web about being stuck at home and the various ways they are trying to cope during the Covid-19 shutdown. I am intensely grateful that I can do my work for our business from home, I don’t often have to venture into public places, and I don’t have young children at home who need help with schoolwork! Above all, I am thankful that most of my friends and family seem to be healthy and weathering the storm.
The line up on our kitchen counter. Grateful to have a can of Lysol spray.
But since we can’t physically travel, and are pretty much confined at home, I haven’t published an article on my blog since January, when I wrote about our visit to Frida Kahlo’s home in Mexico City. So even though I can’t share some wonderful destination, I can share what’s been happening in my house in northern New York State.
One of my “blogger friends,” Janet Simmonds, who publishes an elegant blog called The Educated Traveller, recently posted fascinating material about the origin of the word “quarantine.”
Janet splits her time between her native England and Italy, primarily Venice. She explains that beginning in the 14th century, various “plagues” arrived in Venice, decimating the population. In the early 16th century, the Venetians set aside an island in the lagoon where arriving ships would be isolated for forty days, which was the length of separation believed to be necessary to be prevent the spread of disease through the population. The Italian word for forty is “quaranta.”
I hope you will give Janet’s blog a read. Here is the link to her fascinating article entitled Venice — Health, Quarantine and Santa Maria Della Salute.
Venice – Health, Quarantine and Santa Maria della Salute
In early January, we made a visit to the home of famed Latin American artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), in Mexico City. Also called La Casa Azul (“The Blue House”), the property is operated as Museo Frida Kahlo, and much of the home has been left furnished as it was when the artist died. Judging by the crowds, and the difficulty of obtaining tickets, I would say this is a pilgrimage for fans of the artist.
Front entrance of Middlethorpe Hall, York.
This fall, my husband and I had the great fortune to stay at Middlethorpe Hall, one of three National Trust UK’s country house hotels. Middllethorpe Hall is just a few miles outside of downtown York; the other two National Trust hotels are located in North Wales and Aylesbury, the latter being about an hour from London. All three hotels were acquired by the National Trust by donation.
I recently managed a quick, two-night, mid-week, pre-Christmas getaway with my best friend at the historic Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass., in the heart of the Berkshires. The Inn is shown at the right of this 1967 illustration done for McCall’s magazine by Norman Rockwell, titled Home for Christmas (Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas). Rockwell’s own South Street home appears at the far right.
This September, I had the privilege of spending a week in Oxford, England, while taking a course on the history of the British/American relationship. The program was a collaboration between the University of Virginia and Oxford University.
Radcliffe Camera, Oxford.
by Sandra Hutchinson
The Victorian, Mansard-roofed Fuller House, is where guests check in and have their meals. There is also lodging on the upper floors.
Nestled along the southeastern shore of Lake George, in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, is the oldest continuously operating women’s retreat center in the United States. Wiawaka Center for Women was founded in 1903, by Mary Wiltsie Fuller (1862-1943), the daughter of an industrialist from Troy, New York, as a place for the female workers in the textile factories and laundries of Troy and nearby Cohoes, to enjoy an affordable summer respite.
by Sandra Hutchinson
I’m constantly getting notified of posts on blogs and on Pinterest that list writers’ travel tips and hacks. They tend to be repetitive, in my opinion, so I’ve decided to share my own.
Apps and websites for booking airline tickets and planning your trip (these are just a few of my favorites):
Seat guru: check this site — seatguru.com —before you purchase your airline tickets — enter the flight number and airline, and you can find detailed seat maps of your particular aircraft. What looks like a great seat on the chart when you book online through your booking site, may in fact be less than optimal. It may be lacking a window, for example, be next to a bathroom, or not recline for some reason. On the seat guru site, hover your cursor over a particular seat, and a description pops up telling you whether there are any issues. Just make sure you have the correct seat map for your particular aircraft. This image is a portion of a seat map for a large aircraft.
by Sandra Hutchinson
One of my favorite events anywhere, Virginia Historic Garden Week, the oldest house and garden tour in the United States, takes place this year from April 27 through May 4, throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Multiple private homes and gardens are open to visitors, with the purchase of tickets. The 31 tours are organized and hosted by 47 member clubs of the Garden Club of Virginia. Click here to access a PDF of this year’s tour book.