Country Inn Days at my favorite Country Inn

 

The Red Lion Inn and I go back a long way, not all the way back to 1773 when it first opened, but back to my single days.  I happened upon it quite by accident as I was driving to Boston. I was on my way to a house where I was renting rooms for the Summer.  The house was in Cambridge.  There I would meet up with friends I knew from Boston University.

I didn’t know a thing about this Inn when I first saw it but I later learned it began as a simple tavern.  During its first 120 years the Inn expanded several times and went by several names, but it always featured a red lion in its sign, and it has been known as The Red Lion Inn since the 1890’s.

The formal dining room
The formal dining room

I remember walking into the Inn back then and straight ahead was this dining room. Someone was at a grand piano playing light classics and I was immediately enchanted.  I took a seat and enjoyed a lovely fruit salad.  That was the beginning of my relationship with this Inn.  I returned many times over the years and very recently I was there again, not for one, but for a few extremely delightful Country Inn Days.

What are Country Inn Days?  They are days where I step out of life’s usual routines and simply enjoy my favorite things.  No matter how good one feels it’s always wonderful to make time for favorite things, and if one needs a little boost, well, you know how that famous song goes – “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”  It’s true.

One of my favorite things are flowers and this Inn has lovely flowers everywhere. There is a feeling of informal formality in every corner.  There are so many places to sit here at the Inn enjoying  a book or writing a letter with a cool drink at one’s side, all in the presence of beauty.  Delightful!

 

Sometimes it is nice to have an action-packed getaway, and a Country Inn Day can involve action and sometimes does, but I love slow Inn Days too, days filled with simple quiet pleasures – dreaming dreams, people watching, chatting with strangers who could become pen friends, taking leisurely walks in the country past old houses, down country lanes and through historic cemetaries.

 

The Red Lion Inn is located in the town of Stockbridge, such a pretty little town with many old charming sites.  There are shops to investigate, a number of little coffee houses and restaurants, and important historic houses belonging to famous people of the past.  These houses are in Stockbridge or in Lenox, the next town over.  I’ll share some of these places with you in another post.

When it’s time for dining there are three options right in the Inn. This is Widow Bigham’s Tavern.  It’s named after Anna Bingham, one of the Inn’s original owners. She is believed to have been the first business-woman in the country. This tavern reminds me of some of the oldest places I love in Boston.

But when in the mood for a little more informal formality I dined in the main dining room, usually by the window, so I could see the flowers outside. This was the room I first dsicovered all those years ago so when I’m here I feel 40 years younger.  It’s funny how returning to places from our past can make us feel we’re back in time.

But on a lovely Summer’s day it’s also great to enjoy a meal on the Inn’s open porch.  I got here early so I could choose a table near the railing.  Sitting here made it possible to people watch all the diners below at the umbrella tables.  I do always bring a book with me when dining alone, but people watching is great fun too.

And here I sit waiting for my pasta meal to arrive.

YUM!

Of course there’s a swimming pool and sauna and all that jazz, but I’v never been one for baking in the sun.  I’m more the porch type of person with my books, letters, pens and paper. But you never know, maybe on one of my visits here I’ll surprise myself and take a dip.

This trip you could usually find me on the porch.  I would come very early in the morning with my coffee.  I remember one man taking the rocker next to me saying, “Isn’t this wonderful?”  I had to agree.

After an hour or two of sipping and writing or reading I’d take off for an outing, then it would be lunch, and around 5 I’d be back on the porch with a cocktail until dinner.  I met a number of very nice people and had quite a few lovely chats.  All this is great fun for a person who likes people, and that’s me.

Of course the Inn has a gift shop.  Over the years I’ve bought all sorts of fun things in this shop – paintings, rugs, shawls, books and this trip was no exception.  I bought 6 Red Lion Inn mugs and two Red Lion Inn cocktail glasses… oh yes, and a Red Lion Inn cookbook.  I’ll enjoy testing lots of the recipes in this book.

Before leaving The Red Lion Inn I spent some time in the patio garden.  What did I tel you about flowers everywhere.  My flowers at home should be so robust.  How do they do it?

Don’t you love the cute little patio bar?

My last meal at The Red Lion Inn (this sounds so sad)  was a tasty fish fry with a glass of wine from that cute little bar, then coffee for the road as I made my way from the Bershires into Boston proper. It was a lovely few days here.  I have memories which will last me until I return. But now, simply to close my eyes and remember beautiful things I saw and moments I experienced will be a creative visualization exercise capable of refreshing my spirit whenever refreshemnt is needed.

Until I can return to The Red Lion Inn I will be enjoying lots and lots of my very own County Inn Days back in Hudson, Ohio.  The Red Lion Inn inspired these days and I’m working on a book explaining just how these days work.  The outline for this book was created right here at the Red Lion Inn.

So if you’re looking for a getaway my suggestion is to visit a Country Inn and not just any Inn.

Visit The Red Lion Inn.

Tell them Carol Ann sent you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Country Inn Day – Hudson Day

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The Hudson Clock tower
On some Country Inn Days I like to stay close to the Inn, only venturing out into the neighborhood if and when I need to stretch my legs.  After all, there’s a time for adventure, but there’s also a time to lay low.  A day spent at the Inn, stepping out of regular routines and enjoying quiet pleasures with just a little larking about in town is exactly what I need every now and then, like today on this Country Inn Day, this Hudson Day.

Hudson, like my beloved Boston, is a mixture of old and new.  The town was founded in 1799 so there’s a lot of historic architecture to enjoy here and this I happen to love, but Hudson’s downtown area bustles with new establishments.  These establishments offer a nice mix of shops, restaurants and culture.

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The new Hudson Library and Historical Society

The culture is found at The Hudson Library and Historical Society. It’s here I begin Hudson Days and most other Country Inn Days as well.  The library is a wonderful place to meet  my beloved “dead friends” by way of books and old letters kept in the library archives.

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Here at the library spirits come alive.  I bring many of them back to the Inn with me so at tea time or cocktails I can visit with them and hear the tales of  their interesting lives lived long ago or sometimes lived right in our present day.  On this Country Inn Day I connect with C.S. Lewis, Claude Monet and the Duke of Windsor.  The aisles of the library are full of wonderful biographies just hoping people will pick them up in order to discover the lives described on their pages.

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Just imagine  each of these books to be a live person dying to tell you his or her story.  And with a little imagination that’s exactly what happens for me .  Country Inn Days are  days full of imagination you know,  the perfect time to get to know all these interesting personalities captured in books.

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I love to stroll around The Hudson library and its  many different areas.  It’s a very big place. One could spend the whole day here enjoying different rooms.  This is the main floor open space with magazines on the right, cd’s on the left, a seating area for reading at the windows and beyond the windows there is a great outdoor patio.

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Of course today it’s a bit too snowy and cold to sit on the patio, but come May you’ll know where I will be regularly.

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Today it’s a lot more comfortable reading and sipping a cappuccino here in the library cafe, and if your cup is covered you can take it up to the reference library.

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This reference room is beautiful with windows looking out over the town. How lucky we are in Hudson to have such a facility. There’s an archivist on duty most days too.  Any library is a grand place to hang out, but for a small city like Hudson this library is quite stupendous… and it’s free!  What a treasure.

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But after a nice time at the library I decide to walk through the new Village Green and pop into a shop or too.  This Green (now quite white with snow) is lined with shops and restaurants. There’s even an ice skating rink to the front of the pergolas.

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I first come upon a Talbots and it’s quite nice  that the store happens to be having a big sale just in time for my Country Inn Day visit.

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I take a few garments into this very lovely dressing room and end up with a new cashmere sweater, co-ordinating sweater jacket, plus a very nice blouse.  Every now and then a girl likes something new to wear.  Don’t you agree?  And who doesn’t like a sale?

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From Talbots  I stroll down the lane and pop into another nice shop.  This one is called Heather’s Heat and Flavor.  At this shop I find a most interesting cookbook.  It’s called “The French Slow Cooker” by Michele Scicolone.

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Did you think it was possible to make Creme Anglaise or Creme Brulee or an Orange Souffle in a slow cooker?  I certainly didn’t, but this book promises that even a novice can turn out dishes that taste as though they came straight out of the kitchen of a French grandmere.  I love French food so I had to buy this book.  I’ll let you know if my results are as magnifique as the book promises.

Well, with those purchases I decided I spent enough money for one Country Inn Day so I moved along deciding to take a little walk around the neighborhood before returning to the Inn.  Let me share with you some of the sights along my way.

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There were quiet streets lined with old, charming houses.

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Big houses

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Smaller ones

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and all sorts in between

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Beige ones

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And white ones

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And brick ones too,

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but the quiet streets also have  lots of public buildings which are fun to view  while strolling along.

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Churches

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Buildings on the Western Reserve Academy Campus like the Chapel

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and historic Main Street with the older shop buildings that have been around for more than a hundred years.

Hudson is a great town for walkers and that’s me, so a Country Inn Hudson Day is great fun any time of year. But it is getting late. These Country Inn Days just fly by.  It’s time to get back to the Inn.

IMG_6368[1]And here I am

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 stepping through the garden  all covered with snow and entering the Inn itself.

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After all that walking in the cold it’s nice to be all cozy and warm inside sitting at the piano where I decide to play for a while as cocktails are being prepared.  Playing the piano is one of my favorite things and Country Inn Days are devoted to the enjoyment of favorite things. You know what that famous song from “The Sound of Music”  says  – “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad”.  But it’s not just when we’re feeling bad that we should enjoy our favorite things. We should take time for them regularly in order to prevent feeling bad.

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So as I play the piano a fire is lit and my husband acts as Innkeeper setting out crackers, cheese and drinks.  Here, just as in the lounge of my favorite Red Lion Inn, we relax, chat, and make dinner plans. We decide to dine out of the Inn this evening, going to a fairly new Hudson establishment called The Three Palms.  It’s a gourmet pizza place.

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This is  the exterior of The Three Palms restaurant by day.

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And this is the interior of the restaurant by night. My husband and I sit at the bar so we can look right across the way to the kitchen where the staff is working busily.  Sometimes on Inn Days I am the one-woman kitchen staff, the Inn chef, but on other Inn Days like today I am pure Inn guest.  It is nice to be served now and then.

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It’s fun watching this fellow prepare the pizza dough,  throwing it into the air.  He’s good, never dropped it even once.  A little entertainment while we sip our wine.

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I enjoy the food here and I enjoy the setting too.  The lighting is very pleasant creating  an  ambiance just right for a romantic Country Inn Day.

So all in all I’d say this Country Inn Day was quite the success. Though it was too short, as all days seem to be, it did provide  rest, relaxation, imagination  and sights and experiences outside of my regular routines. That’s all I can ask for on any Country Inn Day so I’m quite content.

I hope you’re happy too, having your own Days of Imagination and Fun,   your own version of my Country Inn Days.  You are the artist of your life.  Only you can create the sort of days which will make your life glisten and glow… so seize the day  and remember…

If you can imagine a perfect day you can make it so.

Enjoy!

It’s a Country Inn Day

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Today I’m enjoying  a Country Inn Day.  Country Inn Days are a little invention I created more than twenty years ago.  I had to invent them because I absolutely love Country Inns and my very favorite Country Inn is about 600 miles away situated in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  Though Ohio has a few here and there I needed to  come up with something that would satisfy my craving for regular  inn experiences.

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Luckily I have a wonderful imagination so this was not a difficult challenge for me.  Also, it happened to be very convenient that my husband, an avid golfer, seemed to need a handy place to play golf most every day.  He therefore joined The Lake Forest Country Club in my Hudson where he happily enjoys his golf and  I am able to enjoy the clubhouse, its gardens and amenities.

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I do love historic preservation, and lucky for me, Lake Forest is an old place and looks even older  because of its architectural style.  It’s also quite nice that it sits at the edge of a lake, Lake Forest.  There’s nothing quite as refreshing as viewing a body of water, well,  except for viewing beautiful gardens and Lake Forest is truly endowed with beautiful gardens.

 I love flowers, don’t you?  I love flowers  almost as much as I love letters so Lake Forest  is a very good place for me to spend time writing  letters.  Just look at some of the flowers I can feast my eyes on as I write.

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I keep telling my husband I need  the Lake Forest gardener to help me with the garden at our house.  He seems to really know what he’s doing.  The view from every window here is a vision of natural beauty.

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And though my Country Inn days take me on all sorts of adventures in and out of Hudson, as well as all over the world, having Lake Forest right here in my own neighborhood helps me enjoy some of those very nice inn experiences I love so much – experiences like being served food and drinks in a beautiful old world setting.

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The Jeremiah Brown House

Of course many of my inn days are had at my very own home, The Jeremiah Brown House.  This house was built in 1853 so it has what many of my favorite inns have, a historical feeling.   Here at the house I have the fun of playing the part of inn chef, inn gardener, inn maid and innkeeper – inn guest too, but it is still nice to have Lake Forest in the picture.

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I do like to remain at my home for many inn days though, because the Jeremiah Brown House is personal and very private.  Any inn guests that do appear must be invited by me.  Sometimes these guests appear for tea or intimate dinners.

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 Sometimes I plug in my imagination and the Inn hosts my “dead friends” – so many –   Chopin will be at the piano in the next room playing his waltzes (via cd),

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Agatha Christie will be telling me stories of her life on the porch over cocktails (via biographies)… so many wonderful inn experiences are powered by my imagination.  So you see, staying at The Jeremiah Brown House can be the setting for a wonderful inn day.

Still

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popping over to Lake Forest for lunch, dinner, or some letter writing adds a little spice to any Country Inn Day.

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Step inside with me.

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I’ll take you for an interior tour on some cold, rainy Autumn day. but the weather is so nice today, we’ll cut through the building and go out to the terrace.  Here in the entrance you see the staircase that goes up to the women’s locker rooms.

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And in this picture you see a bit of the living room looking into the entrance and up at the very high ceiling overhead.  It’s here at Lake Forest Country Club that I  give talks on The  Art of Letter Writing to interested groups while they enjoy lunch, dinner or tea.  If you belong to a club and have interest in such an event contact me via my website (carolannmccarthy.com)

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See out the window where we’re headed?

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Now, standing on the patio we are looking out over the pool to the lake beyond.

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And a  nice pool it is too, quite peaceful now that most kiddies have gone back to school.

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 But I prefer the lower terrace where food and drinks are also served, but where the view of the lake is so much better.

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I rather like the tables way at the end of the terrace for here I have solitude yet the society of my letter friends – and here it is I write today’s letter,

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I’m answering a letter from Candi.  She lives in Mankato, Minnesota.

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I am so behind in answering Candi’s letter, but she is a darling and I’m sure she forgives me.  I haven’t even sent her pictures of my son’s graduation from UCLA in June.   Well, better late, than never.

So I write Candi and you from my Country Inn Day.

Country Inn Days happen regularly for me –  every week.  After all, everybody needs to get away from it all now and then, don’t they?  Don’t you?  And what’s better than getting away without having to pack a suitcase,  spend a lot of money and get all tired out?  Country Inn Days grant us adventures, if that’s what we want, or rest and relaxation.  We have the power to design our Inn days  any way we like.  How would you design yours?  Plug in your imagination and  see what you come up with …create some Country Inn Days for yourself.  You’ll be glad you did.

So till we meet again I’m signing off from the Inn.

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Love, Carol Ann