For many people who live and work on Radford Mill Farm, this was their first Thanksgiving dinner. Common Questions: So why do you have this tradition? Why is it so similar to the Christmas feast in England? We could only offer that it is celebrated in the States as a way of giving thanks for all your blessings. Many include being grateful for an abundant harvest, your health, your family and friends. We asked each person at the table to share what they are currently grateful for. It was very connecting and Paul and I were so happy to share our family tradition with others.
The feast included a turkey roasted by Richard (the farm owner)
Paul and Helga made the remainder of the feast which included stuffing, gravy, sweet mash, roasted potatoes and veg, brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce.
And let us not forget the pumpkin pie! With fresh whipped cream of course. We had a wonderful time and here are a few more photos of the day.
The first week of farm work is always the hardest. I have cleaned many onions at this point. I work in Polly tunnels which we call green houses at home.
I met a really nice young woman from Mexico called Beatrice. She is on the farm for a few weeks then she will travel to Ireland.
I found that after two days of weeding my back was pretty sore. Paul was nice enough to give me a back massage which helped a lot. I did go up to Timsbury to do yoga but found the YMCA there chilly and not really worth the 20 minute hike up the hill.
Wednesday night is community dinner night and its enjoyable to sit around share food, wine and conversation. I talked with Frank who is a fiddle player who lives on the farm and plays in a few bands. He asked me if I would like to sing on a song. Paul McBeth is a songwriter/guitar player who also lives on the farm and was looking for a female voice on a new song. They were planning on recording in a few days and would I be interested? Why not? I practiced some harmonies and we did a run through Thursday night. Friday morning we headed to The Rec House to record.
I loved singing with Paul and his family. His dad, who is also named Paul, played bass and his brother Daniel sang the main chorus. The song is called “A Donegal Tale” and it is about Paul’s grandparents who came originally from Ireland and met each other in Glasgow.
We spent the weekend in Bath. We saw some music (Tori Freestone jazz trio), a movie (Doctor Strange), had dinner with Lynda and Derek, and ran for about two hours on the Cotswold Way. We then headed back to the farm. The weather was looking bleak and rainy but the animals are still out and about.
Paul and I both felt a bit wobbly after being on the ship for so long. It took time getting used to the land but we finally felt level ground beneath our feet. Bath is our home for a week while we wait for the van to arrive. We enjoy the cozy home of Paul’s parents, Lynda and Derek. Nick, Paul’s brother, is there also and we share many nice meals together. I love Lynda’s cooking. Paul and I enjoy running and walking on the canal. Fall color is still reflecting from the trees.
We are in England on the 5th of November which is Guy Fawkes day or Fireworks night or Bonfire night as they call it in various different places. We enjoy the celebration in Bath on a cold evening.
The van finally arrives and although I will miss the city of Bath, its time to move on to the farm. Radford Mill farm is just outside of Timsbury. We arrive and find a nice place to park the van on top of a hill but its on a slope and we will have to move it soon enough. There are many people who live and work here and some are wwoofers like me. I’m excited to get my hands in the dirt and be a member of this small community. I am finding England pleasant and even the rain has some charm. Maybe a bit less mud would be alright.
Our morning view from the van window as Paul crosses the field.
Paul and I had never thought of taking a ship across the Atlantic ocean before but we had time to spare. Our van was making its way to England on a containership that would arrive days after us. We also had good recommendations from two of Paul’s siblings so, why not?
On arrival we were greeted and shown to our room with champagne and glasses courtesy of the Captain. Our room is cozy enough with a nice large bed and a small balcony. We found the food to be delicious and with many options throughout the day. My favorite was breakfast in bed where you could order anything you wanted and it would arrive whenever you requested. Heaven!
Dressing up was a big part of the fun on The Queen Mary. You had two formal nights and the rest were dress casual. We loved getting all glamorous and it felt appropriate with the white glove treatment at dinner. Paul and I also took dance lessons during the day and were able to pull off two waltzes on the main dance floor.
Out of sheer luck, our voyage was a Blue Note Jazz crossing. Headliners were Gregory Porter and Dee Dee Bridgewater. The concerts were both fantastic but the real treat was to hear the intimate breakout performances around the ship. Dee Dee’s band enjoyed playing their own gig where she sat in of course. Our last evening was spent in the chart room enjoying band members and Gregory Porter even sitting in for a song.
I couldn’t resist the chance to sing and did karaoke one night in the Golden Lion Pub and I also signed up and performed in the Queens Room for guest talent show.
Besides the 36 hours of heavy swell and many of the passengers feeling sick (including Paul), the voyage is a big success. We loved the Canyon Ranch Spa where we spent most afternoons before dinner. The crew performed a “Thriller” dance show for Halloween and the chef’s carved some creative pumpkins.
The wooden deck on level 7 where you could walk or run around the whole of the ship. Intimate lounges, poetry, jazz, cheese any time day or night, comedy show, planetarium, lectures, there was never a shortage of things to do.
Arriving in Chinatown we took a cab with all our luggage to Red Hook. I found an air bnb on line that was close enough to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. We spent the afternoon walking around the place and checking out the waterfront.
There was an art exhibit about the time capsules of the Ant Farm at Pioneer works we really enjoyed. Wonderfully large exhibition space and it also included loft offices filled with a variety of artists including a radio station.
We both were floored by a grocery store called Fairway that has high end foods, olive oil, teas, and regular stuff. We drank some wine we bought back at our place and headed to hear some local music at Sunny’s. (a very authentic red hook bar)
Next day Paul enjoyed running across both the Brooklyn ad Manhattan bridges. We found it very easy to rent Citi bikes and used them to do errands and sight see including the Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo, and Prospect Park.
Had a delicious dinner at a Middle Eastern BYOB, Zaytoons. Freshly made pitas, delicious hummus and cozy candlelit setting. Return to airbnb and take a salt bath in the wonderful claw foot tub.
Departure Day!!! Wake up and take citi bikes to get masks for the ship. Get back to airbnb and Amy our gracious host lets us keep luggage there till departure. Buy some wine then enjoy lunch at Hope and Anchor.
Grab our bags and drag them ever so slowly to the terminal where we receive white glove treatment on arrival. Oh yea, now were talking.
We arrive in Philly the evening of October 8th. Our good friends Baily and Chip let us park our van outside their home and we are welcomed with food, wine and lemoncello. They have other guests and we have an interesting, memorable evening of conversation. We wake the next day and start preparing the van for its departure out of Baltimore. It will eventually meet up with us in England. We stay a few nights with my friend Carole who has a nice guest room in her condo near Suburban Square. We enjoy walking to Trader Joes, Ardmore farmer’s market, thrift stores, and restaurants. Since we are back in Philly for a few weeks Paul sets up his work space at Jim Hamilton’s studio and uses Evan’s bike for transportation. Strange not having our home to go to. Our lovely children and Ozzy open up their house and we camp out on the third floor. Very comfortable really and nice to share meals together. An added plus is that I am not allergic to Delores their cat, yay!
Here are some highlights of our stop in Philadelphia:
Running with Paul in the Wissahickon
Spending time with Baily which included doing yard work, visiting Chanticleer in Wayne,sand having lunch at Whole Foods.
Movie with Gene and dinner/orchestra with Gene and Olivia
Evansburg 10 mile trail run with my team Greater Philadelphia Track Club
Doing yoga with my both my children
Walking down to Manayunk and along the Towpath, I bump into artists Paul Santoleri and Beth Clevenstine working on a mural:
Book club gals dinner at Adobe Cafe including Susan, Sally, Paula, Nancy, and Laura
The weeks go by fast and we are picked up by Baily and Chip for a delicious goodbye breakfast at Silk City diner.
Afterwards we are dropped off at the Chinatown bus location and head to NYC.