Monday, October 30, 2017

Our Healthy Eating Journey

I've been meaning to write this post for ages. Ever since Hubby suggested it. Because food is such an important part of our lives, and always has been. When Hubby and I first met, I used to laugh that we spent most of our dates deciding what to eat, preparing it, eating it, and then talking about it. When we weren't skiing or canoeing those first months together, we were eating. At least that's the way it seemed. 

man and woman leaning against a tree in a field in winter
Cross country skiing in Marlboro Forest, 1987, or so.
We've always eaten what we thought was a healthy diet, exercised regularly, didn't smoke. And despite all that Hubby was still diagnosed with heart disease in 2013. That was a huge shocker. And not just for us. Hubby's hockey buddies who knew how hard he worked on his fitness were flabbergasted. Even our doctor was blown away. But there it was. He had open-heart surgery in March 2013, and we set about trying to figure out how we could change our lifestyle to mitigate against his ever having to go through that again. 

I'm not going to go into too much detail here, but one thing we did during Hubby's months of recovery was attend a really helpful seminar on healthy eating at the Ottawa Heart Institute. The dietitian was excellent. Very knowledgeable. And sensible. She was up to date on all the latest research and even on the latest diet books, Wheat Belly being very big that year. She ably responded to questions regarding new developments in science, and debunked some of the pseudo-science too. She helped us enormously. She helped me to stress less, to research less, and to make some sensible decisions. At Hubby's suggestion, when we got home, we shared what we took away from the seminar, and made a list of ten things on which we would focus. 

tilapia with tomatoes, mushrooms and olives, baked potato, and carrots and peas
My favourite easy fish recipe: baked tilapia with pesto, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, and olives
Most notably we focused on eating fruit or vegetables with every meal. We've always eaten a lot of vegetables. I grew up on a farm; meat, potatoes, and two veg was the norm for suppers at our house. But Hubby and I now focus on smaller portions of meat, we eat mainly white meat or fish, and we've tried to increase the portion of our plate taken up by vegetables. It's not hard to do. For a while we measured our vegetable servings to see if we had eaten 5-7 daily servings. A cup of raw vegetables or a half cup of cooked comprises a serving. Now, it's become intuitive. 

chili lime basa, stir-fried vegetables, carrots and rice
Basa in chili-lime sauce with Hubby's stir-fried fennel, pepper, zuchini, and kale, carrots from the garden, and mushroom rice.
We cut out processed foods. Not that we ate much processed food anyway, but Hubby did like his canned soup and the occasional lunch of Kraft Dinner. And no more luncheon meats for sandwiches. We tried harder to eat only "good fats." And we focused on salt. We try to use mostly frozen tomatoes from our garden, but they don't last all year, so now we purchase only "no salt added" tomatoes. And only "no salt added" chicken broth, or beef broth for cooking. Hubby measured out into a small bowl his recommended daily limit of 1500 mg. of salt for heart patients. Then he sprinkled salt from the bowl on his meal or in his cooking each day to see if he was under the limit. He always was, so we stopped worrying about that. 

plate with stuffed peppers, pork tenderloin and carrots and peas
Pork tenderloin (considered a white meat because it's so lean) with stuffed peppers from our garden.

 pork tenderloin recipe from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry cookbook
Our favourite pork tenderloin recipe. Sometimes we do the grilled veggies, sometimes not.
Sometimes we supplement our vegetable intake with what Hubby has foraged. Seriously, in a previous life, I'm sure he was a hunter-gatherer, mostly a gatherer. He loves to harvest wild edibles. Meadow mushrooms, wild garlic, fiddleheads in the spring (see below), and wild asparagus. He has several routes he travels on his way home from country golf courses in the spring which take him past his favourite asparagus spots. We eat a lot of asparagus in June. Good thing we both love it.

a big pot of fresh fiddleheads
Picking fiddleheads in the spring is a ritual for most New Brunswickers. And they grow in Ontario too. 
Changing our eating habits has been a journey, really. And lucky for us it's one we've both enjoyed. We've tried new dishes, searched the internet for different ideas, and adapted old favourites to cut down salt, use less meat, and increase vegetable content. Sometimes we've eaten dishes in restaurants or purchased things we've tried to replicate. I love the Asian Kale salad at Farm Boy, so we found a great recipe on the internet and now it's a summer staple for us. Same with tabbouleh. 

salmon, Asian kale salad, fresh asparagus, rice and tomatoes
Barbequed salmon steak with Asian kale salad and fresh wild asparagus, rice, and tomatoes.

man chopping carrots
Shhhh. The cook is concentrating
Hubby has always made homemade soup. But now he eats it exclusively, no more cans. And has tinkered to use almost no salt, more herbs, and just about every vegetable imaginable. Last winter he experimented with mulligatawny soup and vichyssoise. 

 a big pot of homemade chicken soup
Hubby's homemade chicken soup with everything but the kitchen sink
Thanks to a good friend who is a wonderful cook, I've discovered the joys of specialty oils and vinegars. My favourite salad dressing is one tablespoon of cranberry pear balsamic vinegar, combined with two of Persian lime olive oil. Yum. 

bowl of tomatoes, and a bottle of oil and vinegar
My secret weapon: Persian Lime olive oil and cranberry pear white balsamic vinegar
I've made my own pasta for many years, and lately we've tried to replicate some dishes we've eaten in our travels. When we were in Charleston in 2016 we had a fabulous pasta dish at a bistro near our accommodation in Mount Pleasant. 

making fresh pasta
Pasta in progress
The pasta was delicious and the menu one of those that conveniently lists all the ingredients in the dish: shrimp, grape tomatoes, arugula, onions, lemon zest. I asked the waitress if there was anything else I should know about how to make the dish, and the chef generously responded with comments about a splash of white wine, a dollop of butter, and the order in which to cook the tomatoes, shrimp and arugula. So now we make it for ourselves at home. We've even experimented with a heart healthier version of the shrimp and grits dinner Hubby had at the Old Post House Restaurant in Charleston. We have had this several times, minus the ham, and the butter, and cream. We're currently trying to find on-line some version of the wonderful vegetarian dishes I ate recently at the Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen in Bath. 

Shrimp, grape tomato, and arugula pasta
My shrimp, grape tomato, peppers, arugula, and lemon fettucini
I've included a couple of our favourite recipes below. Including Hubby's "Shiitake Basa Packets" to which he adds slivered carrots and celery. He never doesn't adapt a recipe.  Ha. I follow recipes; he sees them as guidelines.

Shiitake Basa Packets recipe
My fav of Hubby's fish dishes

Thai Green Curry Baramundi recipe
My fav poached fish recipe. I use any white fish for this.
We do our best to eat healthy most of the time. We are not experts by any means. And we found that we were turned off by so many books on how to eat a healthy diet, all making dire predictions, and then offering the one solution. The dietitian at the Ottawa Heart Institute helped us be more sensible about everything. She said, if we eat healthy meals 80% of the time, we can afford to treat ourselves sometimes. I think we actually eat very healthy meals more than 80% of the time, so when I'm out with friends I still indulge in steak and frites. And the occasional sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. Hubby is more cautious than me, but then he has more reason to be cautious. Making the right choices about food makes him feel confident that he's doing everything he can to mitigate the chances of having another heart blockage. And really, that's all we can do, eh? Just whatever we can. 

cartoon about reducing the wine

As I said, it's been a journey. And it's all about the journey, isn't it? Hubby's blood work over the past few years has been so good, that he's been able to decrease some of the medication he had to take post surgery. So that's great. And I've benefited too. Or at least my yearly check-up tells me that I have. And it's been fun. What we eat is a collaboration. Mostly.

Except... well... this time of year... when the weather outside is frightful, but what happens in our house is delightful. At least to me. When there's no golfing, or skiing... Hubby gets bored and takes over the cooking entirely. I just have to act as consultant. And of course, taste tester. 

Ha. It's a tough job. But I'm ready for the challenge.

By the way. I'm not a "food stylist" in any way. These shots are of my plate, just before we've tucked in... so to speak. 

Now, how about you, folks? Have you ever had to change your lifestyle, or your diet? Hubby and I like lists and rules that applied over many months become habits. But what works for you?

Joining Thursday Favourite Things Link Party  and  Saturday Share Link-up

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wrapping Up England: Peaks, Valleys, and Friendship

So. England. Now, where was I? Better settle in with your coffee or a glass of wine, depending on which time zone you live in, folks. This is going to be a long one. 

Our UK trip continued apace after Bath. To Stratford-Upon-Avon, and then north to the Peak District. On our day out with Jules in Bath, he'd offered to drive us to Stratford, and show us the Cotswolds at the same time. But we demurred. We were tempted, believe me, but really couldn't justify the extra cost, especially since we had rail passes. So on the Saturday morning, we were up early, packed, breakfasted, caffeinated, and boarding the train along with a myriad of other passengers all seemingly out for a weekend of fun and... well... not to put too fine a point on it... drinking. 

Everyone, it seemed, was breaking out the pints, or the wine, or even the champagne. A group of what looked to be three middle-aged sisters and their mum, further up the coach, had brought breakfast snacks, balloons announcing that one of their party was enjoying a fiftieth birthday.... and champagne. A party of young men were well into their pints by the time we pulled into Oxford at mid-morning. And across the aisle from me, sat a wonderfully voluble young woman who sipped mini-bottles of Chenin Blanc the entire trip, and entertained her dad with family stories, and memories of what she and her friends had got up to in their teens. After a few minutes, I gave up even trying to focus on my book, and shamelessly eavesdropped. At one point, she pulled a fresh bottle of wine from her capacious handbag, and announced, "Now then, Dad, time for a swallow. It's the start of me holiday." Her dad chuckled, but wisely stuck to his tea. The better to be able to handle both their luggage when they reached wherever they were going, I suspect. I haven't been on such an entertaining journey for ages. Not since Hubby and I took a bus in New Lanark, near Glasgow, years ago. And listened to an elderly woman in the front seat as she greeted every single person who boarded, asked after their family, and eventually gave Hubby and me specific directions to our destination once she had ascertained who we were, where we were from, and where we were going. We still laugh at that memory. 

old cottage with stone paving stones outside and wooden bench
Anne Hathaway's Cottage
In Stratford, of course, we made the rounds of the Shakespeare landmarks, and historic sites. Like Anne Hathaway's cottage, which was a short stroll from our B&B. Because we were fairly early, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. So we were able to get pictures without people in them. And could linger in each room, chatting with the guides. That was lovely. I liked how the cottage was set up to reflect the daily lives of the Hathaway family over the centuries.

antique bed in Anne Hathaway's cottage in England
I love how the house was set up to show the life of the cottage across the centuries.
I must admit that despite teaching English for decades, I'm not much of a Shakespeare devotee. What I found most interesting were the guides' stories of how the mythology of the man has built up over the centuries. Aided and abetted by generations of Hathaways, whose fortunes having declined, took full advantage of having a celebrated in-law to make some much needed cash from gullible tourists. One can hardly blame them, eh?

picture of a woman, 17th century
Mary Baker, an enterprising descendant of Anne Hathaway

book with text
The much "whittled" settle, where Shakespeare and his bride did NOT sit courting. 

thatched cottage and garden
The garden was equally interesting.

list of plants in a garden
This sign had my name on it... literally.

Hedgehog campsite
How can you NOT love a garden with a "hedgehog campsite?"
Just before we left Anne Hathaway's cottage a large bus drew up and disgorged a ton of other tourists, along with their cameras and selfie-sticks. Gad. I was beginning to hate those things. By the time we had walked downtown to Shakespeare's birthplace, a seemingly identical group was there before us. Sheesh. Was this the same bunch? It hardly seemed possible. I'm not good in crowds, and hate to shuffle behind a long line of people through rooms which might be interesting if I could actually see anything, other than the people in front of me and on either side of me. So we beat a hasty retreat, made for the nearest exit, and wandered down to the Avon River, and along the river to Holy Trinity church where Shakespeare is buried. This was much better. 

stone church and old graves, fallen leaves
Holy Trinity Church. Shakespeare's grave is inside.
On our last morning in Stratford, Rosie who reads this blog and lives in Stratford, picked us up at our B&B, and drove us to this lovely village in the Cotswold countryside. Broadway, she says, is her favourite village. A little jewel of Cotswold stone houses, with the perfect place for morning coffee and a catch-up chat with friends. I met Rosie last summer when she and her family were in Ottawa on holiday. As she said, wasn't it cool to be seeing each other again so soon? What a small world we live in.

street in a Cotswold village
The village of Broadway, in the Cotswolds
Rosie and I laughed that we looked as if we had co-ordinated our navy and grey outfits for the meeting. After coffee, a wander around the village of Broadway, and a lovely drive back into Stratford, Rosie dropped us and our luggage at the train station. Wasn't that kind of her? Especially as she and her husband had arrived home from Spain late the night before, and she had yet to unpack, or do anything really. Except rush out the door first thing to meet us. 

two women in a cafe with stone walls
Rosie and at The Broadway Deli. As you can see, I was still talking when the picture was taken.
Then it was time to head north. Through Birmingham, Derby, and Chesterfield to our accommodation near Chatsworth, the Devonshire Arms in the tiny village of Beeley in the Peak District. I have long wanted to visit this area, to see the countryside which I've read so much about and, of course, Chatsworth House itself.

table and chairs next to a roaring wood fire
A cosy table near the fire at The Devonshire Arms

stream with stone walls, and a small stone house
Our room was not in the inn itself, but nearby, alongside this small stream
We spent two nights here, and thus had one full day to explore. At first I was a bit flummoxed to find that there was no transport offered to guests who stayed here, and who had purchased "The Chatsworth Experience" which included bed and breakfast accommodation, dinner, and tickets to visit Chatsworth House. "Nope," said the girl in the pub who checked us in, when I asked if there was a shuttle bus or something similar. "You can drive, or you can walk. Across the fields it's forty minutes to walk." We-ell. Since we didn't have a car, and she said taxis would have to come out from Chesterfield, I guess walking it would be. Don't get me wrong, I didn't mind  the idea of a 40 minute walk. We'd walked much more than that in London, and the scenery would be beautiful. It was more the idea that we'd be tramping along trails, through fields, probably muddy... we were told.... with no hiking boots. My good Stuart Weitzman boots were already whimpering. 

green grass, blue sky, stone houses, drystone wall
The view while we waited for the bus to Chatsworth House
The next morning after breakfast when we picked up our tickets we discovered that the answer to our question about the best way to get where we were going depended on whom we asked. The girl who gave us our tickets to Chatsworth, pointed us in the direction of the footpath (no maps? nope), and assured us it would be dry (maybe, she thought.) Then another staff member, who stood nearby, interrupted. She said the trail was underwater in places where it ran close to the river, that we'd be up to our ankles before we knew it. Then she took us outside, pointed out where to catch the bus that could take us to Chatsworth, when it was likely to arrive, and wished us a great day. Phew. Now why, oh why, didn't everyone who worked there know that? Or, since some of the girls were waitresses, and gamely doing double duty checking in guests, why didn't The Devonshire Arms provide a little information sheet, with a map of how to get to Chatsworth House, and include bus times etc for those who didn't have a car? Wouldn't that be an easy fix? Ah well, never mind, we found out about the bus in time to catch the next one to Chatsworth House, my boots were saved, and it was a fabulously sunny, crisp day. And I was going to finally see the home of one of the Mitford sisters. I may not be an expert on Shakespeare, people, but Mitford-mania is something I do know about. 

Chatsworth house from a bridge
Chatsworth House from the bus window.

a lake and a stately home on the other side
From inside the beautiful grounds. 

woman standing beside a lake with Chatsworth House in the background
A shot taken by a kindly student, after I did the same for her
Chatsworth House did not disappoint. Okay... well, maybe just a little. The house itself was unquestionably beautiful, as were the grounds. But it was very crowded inside. And this made it difficult to get a feel for the grandeur of the house. And the fashion exhibit which I was so excited to see, was also hard to get a handle on, I thought. The displays were spread over many rooms, cleverly arranged by theme: wedding dresses, mourning wear, party dresses in the dining room where a dinner table for goodness knows how many guests was set. But it was difficult to find the cards or labels which explained what we were looking at, and many of the rooms were so dark, and so crowded, that we eventually just floated through, carried by the momentum of the crowd, not really understanding what we were looking at. I read this article in the New York Times after I came home, about how Hamish Bowles, an editor for American Vogue, curated the show, and what his vision was. I wish that had been communicated more clearly when I was there. 

We were not alone here, folks.
But, you know, somehow it seems fitting that after a bit of time my interest in the luxurious fashions began to take second place to my interest in all the Deborah Mitford memorabilia. Clothes- fashionable, stylish clothes- were never important to Debo. She once famously quipped that she bought most of her clothes at agricultural shows. I recognized her wedding dress in one of the displays, and the dress, below, which she wore to Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. I saw a straw handbag with Debo, embroidered on it. And of course her famous Elvis slippers. Ha. The former Duchess was a true fan of "the king." 

mannequin in a red velvet dress with white fur trimmed train
The dress Debo wore to Queen Elizabeth II's coronation
I particularly loved seeing evidence that Debo was not the only eccentric in her marriage. The collection of wool sweaters owned by Andrew, 11th Duke of Devonshire, husband of Deborah Mitford, was a hoot. Embroidered with odd sayings, this one was my favourite. I had a lovely chat with a guide about the sweater collection. She chuckled and said this one was her favourite too. 

sweater with "Never Marry a Mitford" written on it
The former duke had a quirky sense of humour
Despite the lack of reliable information about transport, I really enjoyed our stay at the Devonshire Arms. The food was fabulous. The room lovely. And after dinner in the pub, coming back outside to head to our room, into the crisp fall air, surrounded by darkness, and hills, and stone houses on narrow twisting streets, well... it felt wonderful. The scenery in the Peak District is stunning. Bucolic. Peaceful. Calming. I loved it there. I'd go back in a heartbeat. To stay a few days and just wander, do some walking, drink a few pints in a pub, just breath. 

green countryside, with a river in the distance

We had one more stop to make before we headed back down south to London, Heathrow, and then home. Bakewell is a village which came highly recommended, by guide books and friends alike. A short taxi ride from Beeley, we had time to explore before my luncheon date. This is a small street of cottages that I wandered down on my way to our hotel. The cottage on this end is the one I picked out for myself. If I had to move here tomorrow... this would be the place for me. As I stood there taking the shot, I committed the name of the cottage to memory... but... well, that's not a very safe place to store things these days. Ha. Was it Dove Cottage? Surely not. That name's already taken. Let's just call it Sue's Place, shall we?

street of small stone cottages with a church spire in the distance

This is a shot of  my lunch date and me at the Lavender Tea Rooms in Bakewell. Wendy (from York), who many of you know as a longtime reader of  this blog, drove with her husband all the way down from York for our get together. Her husband took their dogs for a run or two, drank his flask of coffee, and generally cooled his heels, while she and I ate and talked. And walked and talked. And sat and talked. How lovely to meet someone you've known only as words in a comment box. And how lovely to have that person be exactly as you'd imagined them. A funny, smart, sensible, stylish, plainspeaking, self-deprecating kindred spirit, as Anne of Green Gables always says. 

two ladies in sweaters and scarves at an outdoor cafe table, under a green umbrella
Wendy and me at the Lavender Tea Rooms
You know, this trip did not turn out to be the trip of my dreams. I struggled many days, with fatigue, with sadness over my brother's death. I had a couple of melt downs. Maybe it was too soon to travel. Maybe I should have delayed the trip. But that was a tough call to make. Especially when everything happened so close to our departure. The stressful, anxious weeks leading up to my brother's death, Hubby's and my flying trip home for the funeral, my back problems three days before we were due to leave. I was so busy just getting on with things that I never had time to process. To really grieve. But it's pointless to second guess myself, now. It's all water under the bridge. And as a wise woman from York said to me, think of all the wonderful things I've seen that I will store away, and reflect on later. And I'd add to that, the friends (like Rosie and Wendy) who I've been able to meet up with, and get to know in real life. My friend Frances recently wrote a post on her blog about friendship. I've been thinking about it quite a bit as I've been writing this post. How wonderful this weird world of blogging can be when on-line acquaintances cross over to become real life friends. 

an empty train platform in the countryside
The platform at Matlock Bath, where our train never arrived
Before I end, I just want to say a word or two about the kindness of strangers. In strange places. This is the platform where we stood in Matlock Bath our last morning, waiting for a train that never showed up. Finally seeing the announcement that it had been cancelled, we stood there on the empty platform, at an unmanned station, wondering what to do. When the driver of a bus parked on the other side of the parking lot that was gearing up to leave, jumped off, ran down to where we stood, and explained how he was the driver of the "replacement bus." Huh? We didn't even know there was such a thing as a replacement bus. He just had to drive down into Matlock, he said, but he'd be back to pick us up in no time, and would take us all the way into Derby. Now wasn't that nice? He could have driven off, no doubt wondering why those two ladies just stood on the platform, too stupid to get on the bus. But, instead, he went out of his way to be kind. 

I loved that. Made me feel all warm inside.

Now that I've wrapped up my trip, I really must wrap up this post. It's gone on far too long. If any of you are still reading, I'll say good night. Next week, it's back to fashion and books, folks. Enough about travel for now. 

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Doings in Bath

Bath. How many years have I longed to visit Bath? And by Bath, I mean the one in Somerset, in England. Not the one in New Brunswick, which is lovely, of course. Nor the one in Ontario, which is lovely too, of course. No, I mean the one in Jane Austen's novel Persuasion. Ever since I read Persuasion, and then saw the 1995 movie with Ciarán Hinds and Amanda Root, much of which was set in Bath, I've longed to go there. And unlike many things long wished for and finally achieved... Bath did not disappoint. Not in the least. 

From our accommodation at Three Abbey Green, seen below, with that huge sycamore tree right outside our window, and the abbey just across the square and around a corner, to the town itself, the people, and the food.... everything was lovely.

historic stone building beside a huge sycamore tree
Our B&B in Bath. Three Abby Green.

The first morning, we took advantage of the free walking tour offered by volunteer guides and saw many iconic sights, familiar to me from films like Persuasion. The Circus below, for instance, three terraces of beautiful Georgian houses curving around a central garden. 

Georgian terraced houses built around a circular garden
The Circus
And Pulteney Bridge, below, which crosses the River Avon, and is lined with shops. Built this way, our guide told us, so that well-heeled, and socially conscious, Bath residents of the eighteenth century could cross the river on a bridge that didn't look much like a bridge. And thus move out of Bath proper into the less fashionable part of town, the suburbs, so to speak, without actually being conscious that they were doing so. Or at least not admitting that they were conscious of doing so.  

historic stone bridge across the River Avon
Pulteney Bridge
Walking tours are a wonderful way to get to know a city. Hubby and I have taken them many times. We loved our tour of Savannah, Georgia, where the guide was legally blind but knew his city inside and out, imparting equal portions of history and gossip. And we were deeply affected by our tour of Derry, Northern Ireland, where the guide who had grown up in Derry in the seventies pulled no punches about the city's troubled past.  

On our second day in Bath, we visited the Roman Baths which were fascinating. You can see Bath Abbey in the background of my shot below. It seems funny to a Canadian to think of the Abbey, built in 1499, as a comparatively "modern" building. But next to the Roman Baths which date from 70 A.D., I guess it is.

pool at a Roman Bath, with Bath Abbey in the background
Roman Baths with  Bath Abbey in the background
One afternoon, Elizabeth and I split up to pursue our separate interests. First I ogled the creations at the Fashion Museum in the Assembly Rooms. Don't I look pleased to be doing so?

woman smiling and leaning against a stone building
Happy to be indulging my passion for fashion
I wish I could have taken a peek into the Assembly Rooms themselves, but there was a conference taking place and they were closed. Still, I enjoyed the history of fashion exhibit. And when taking pictures through the glass cases became a bit of an exercise in futility, I stopped snapping, and just looked and admired. The temporary exhibit on the history of lace making was the best part for me. I particularly loved these modern ensembles, below, created by Grace Weller in 2014. Weller, then a student of fashion design at Bath Spa University, won a prestigious award for her lace collection and now works in  the studios of Alberta Ferretti in Italy. That's pretty cool, isn't it? Maybe we'll be hearing about Grace's own label one day. 

three mannequins in red and blue lace gowns
Grace Weller's 2014 lace creations
And then I moved on from one passion to another. I visited the Jane Austen Centre, and took tea for one in the Regency Tea Room there. As you can see I wasn't the only solitary tea-taker, sipper / reader in the room. You know, I think I enjoyed my tea here even more than the far grander version at the Hotel Café Royal in London. Did you catch sight of Colin Firth as the quintessential Mr. Darcy photobombing my shot?

tea cup, plate, and two-tiered sandwich plate
Tea for one at the Regency Tea Room
Finally, on the steps of the center as I left, I had a lovely chat with Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, decked out in full Regency costume. I took this shot for my mum. We have a little family joke involving Mr. Bennet, and my Hubby. Mr. Bennet sends his regards, Mum.

man in Regency costume, and woman smiling
Mistah Bennet, and me.
We had one more day in Bath, and we chose to take a bus day-tour, thanks to a suggestion from a reader many posts ago. On the recommendation of our hosts at Three Abbey Green, we spent the day with the very personable, and knowledgeable Jules of Around and About Bath. We saw Stonehenge, visited small villages and old churches, had lunch in a beautiful old pub, and tea and cakes at a garden-cum-tea shop.

stone circles at Stonehenge
Stonehenge, complete with moody skies

woman in raincoat, holding down hair with Stonehenge in the background
Windblown, but, who cares?

road across farm fields,with blue sky in the distance
Across the Salisbury Plain

stone steps leading up to small stone church
The ancient church of St. James in Tytherington

stone-flagged floor, and wooden beams of old inn
Talbot Inn pub, in Mells, where the fish and chips are divine
But the pièce de résistance for me was the graveyard at St Andrew's Church in Mells where one of my favourite WWI poets, Siegfried Sassoon, is buried. I don't know if you know about, or remember, Hubby's and my almost fruitless search for Wilfred Owen's grave when we were in France in 2015. Or how thrilled I was to finally find it, tucked into a community cemetery in Ors, with about twenty other British war graves. And now it seemed almost like kismet, like fate, to be visiting Siegfried Sassoon's grave. Sassoon who was a mentor to Wilfred Owen when Owen was a young soldier recovering from shell shock, and trying to find his true poetic voice. Owen went on to write his finest poetry with Sassoon's support, and then, recovered enough to return to battle, he rejoined his platoon in France, and lost his life in the last weeks of the war. That story never fails to move me. 

gravestone with old church behind
Siegfried Sassoon's grave at St Andrew's Church, Mells
Seriously, what an amazing final day in Bath, or around and about Bath, we had. Beautiful countryside, historic monuments, old buildings, amazing fish and chips... and poetry. Sigh. Brought a tear to my eye. Literally, it did. 

flowers planted to spell out a quote from Jane Austen
Parade Gardens, Bath
If you're ever in Bath, I'd highly recommend Three Abbey Green, for its lovely rooms and wonderful breakfasts. And Jules' tours at Around and About Bath, for the sheer fun, the conversation, and the interesting sights and information. And for fabulous food, you have to check out The Acorn vegetarian restaurant, which was just around the corner from our accommodation. We ate there twice in four nights. Such a cozy restaurant, with yummy food, and really friendly service. 

Okay, that's  my two cents worth about Bath. We were soon to head off to Stratford, and after that parts north. To meet up with friends, and see lots more sights. And hopefully even catch a glimpse of some Mitford memorabilia.

I was sad to leave Bath behind. Long anticipated, my visit did not disappoint. But maybe Jane Austen said it best, "Oh, who can ever be tired of Bath?"

Not me, my friends. 

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