Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marcy's Travel Blog- The Castle! The Food! The Friendship!

When I last left you, I was snoozing happily on my first night at the Henderson Castle. I had met up with my dear friend, Gail Wyatt for a bit of R&R, and a time to connect after a year's absence from each other.

I will again apologize for the lack of pictures in some places! The food was gobbled before I thought of pictures, and often our "girl chatter" overtook us- but that in itself is a part of a reunion with a best friend! Still- I hope I did the Henderson Castle proud with some pictures of it's beauty!

Since The Henderson Castle is a Bed and Breakfast, one of the delights of this place was that wonderful breakfast- ( our choice was the chef's speciality: French Toast)- cooked and served by our wonderful French Chef and host, Francois Moyet! The whole morning was a culinary delight! Served with fruit in season, rich whipped cream, freshly baked banana bread, orange juice, and wonderful coffee- well, I knew I'd be starting a weight loss program when I returned home! The French Toast itself is two large slices of French bread- drizzled with a light touch of syrup. Yummy!

Another fun aspect to a bed and breakfast: meeting the fellow guests! Gail and I sat at the long table in the breakfast room. As people came in, we encouraged them to sit with us. Lively conversation was the extra bonus to the breakfast- as we met fellow travelers and exchanged our places of origin. What fun!

My friend Gail had booked a full Body Massage for us at 11 a.m. (a wonderful gift from her to me). Yes- along with all the other amenities, the Castle also includes a spa! (Massage therapy, facials, steam room, sauna, as well as a roof top jacuzzi!)

Gail is a real estate agent, so after breakfast she needed to make and take some phone calls. I left her to her business while I wandered the grounds a bit.

We could fine no explanation for the white swirls.
If you had read my Grandson's Guest blog about our visit here, you will remember that there's a garden with a fountain that he calls his "sacred garden"- named that for his unique experience there.

I revisited this garden, sitting for a moment to enjoy the feeling of peace and mystery of the place. It's an interesting combination, for sure-  an intriguing one!

I want to express in words the feeling that the past and present were both there at the same time- but words seem to escape me. So let me just say that I felt the past history very keenly in that garden.

It was time for our massages. At 11 o'clock there was a knock on our door. The tables for our massage were set up in the upstairs lounge, next to the ball room. Gail and I slipped into our robes and climbed the stairs to the third floor.

Casey on the left- Jane on the right.

The young ladies doing the massage were Casey and Jane. (Jane also had served our dinner the night before! I guess she wears many hats at the Castle!)

Soft music played. As I lay on the table and totally relaxed, Jane went to work finding any tense or sore spots.  I was intrigued at first by the massage methods of acupressure- and asked several questions- then realized I needed to BE QUIET (hard for me! Ha!) , relax, and just let the healing begin! By the end of the hour both Gail and I were almost asleep! These young ladies did have magic hands!  All tension gone!! A bit of time in the steam room afterwards made the experience complete! I felt like a million! Thank you, Gail! Wonderful gift!!

We were planning on taking a nap after our hour of massage- but that somehow never occurred. Instead we got ready for a bit of exploring.

We wandered the castle a bit- looking at the beautiful rooms and decor.

Beautiful stained glass window at the stairway landing

I love the butler's pantry with the ceiling to floor cupboards!

Fireplace in the foyer

Beautiful ceiling in the main floor bedroom- I believe called the "earth and Sky" room

Stairway going from the third floor to the roof and jacuzzi

To go onto the roof, you push a button that slides this glass ceiling back!

We decided to look for a little shop or even a mall to wonder - but ended up sort of driving in circles. I will say we saw more of Kalamazoo than expected- having gotten a bit lost a few times- but even that was fun when you had laughter and friendship keeping you company.

We were having so much fun!!

I was hungry (again) so stopped at a place called "Oakwood Bistro" for what was originally suppose to be a snack. There- posted right on the wall- they advertised Risotto!

Did I resist temptation? Nope. I ordered it! Gail ordered pumpkin lasagna. All was served graciously by our server- Audrey! Yum! Of course- we both felt guilty. Francois was cooking our 11 course meal that evening! What to do! Jumping jacks? A run around the Castle to burn off our lunch? There were plenty of ideas, none that were done- but it was fun thinking about it!

We did wander the grounds for a bit. Being with Gail was like being teenagers again! There was a time in our history when we would go for a drive, to the beach, or just "hang out" and have the most marvelous time! It was just like that- all over again!

This is Jen- who waited our table and took excellent care of us!
Dinner! We decided to get one 11 course meal and split it- since we had already had a whole weeks calories that day, But- Francois sent word that he would like to have us each enjoy all the courses- but would serve smaller amounts. We gave in and said OK!  

Jen snapped our picture before the "feast"!

We started with a cream filled puff pastry. Then came the wonderful vinaigrette salad with pecans and blue cheese. Next was the "Lobster Bisque" - voted by Gail and I to be the best anywhere! Fantastic!

Now- I want you to know that Gail is up for most anything.....up until the snails came out. I was showing her how you take the pic and pop the snail out of the shell. When I looked up- I saw a look of horror on her face!! I'm sorry- but I laughed!

It was funny! I COULD NOT persuade her to even try a bite! That's as close as I've ever seen.. (in 47 years!!) to a panic attack. She would not--could not try one! As I cut one up in bitsy pieces, mixing it with the garlic butter and encouraging her, I thought she'd flee the table! OK- I'm done talking about it. The bonus was I got both snails!

A little side note here: I asked our waitress- Jen- to encourage Gail to try the snails. She shuddered and informed us she had pet snails at home! (Oops! Ha!)

Next came Scallops and cos cos with a rich cream sauce. Gail and I looked at each other with that "why did we have lunch??!!" look. But could we stop? Francois was in the kitchen- slaving away to make sure we had a wonderful meal! We COULD NOT let him down!

Jen brought watermelon sorbet. Wow! Wonderful! But wait! There were three more courses coming! If one can get drunk on food- I think the two of us were getting there! With each course that came we were getting the giggles. (Or was it hysteria?!) More food? Oh dear! (Giggle)

Next came chocolate mousse! (Drizzled with a bit of raspberry sauce and topped with a touch of whipped cream!)

But we're not done yet! Carrot cake with vanilla ice-cream !

The finale! Baked Brie and coffee! Oh- my! Thank goodness we could take our time! I think we ate for about two and a half hours! This is the only time I was sorry there was no working elevator!

What a wonderful meal! My compliments to Chef Francois! Excellent!! And Thank You, Jen! Wonderful service!

I will add that while we ate our meal, the rain began to fall. Then the wind came. It rattled the windows a bit. As we settled in our room for the night the wind picked up. Howling around the corners of the Castle, it  added a slightly eerie feel that was sort of fun. I didn't mention this to Gail. (Remember the snails. One look of panic for the evening was enough!. Ha!) All jesting aside, Gail is up for about any experience--- except eating crawly shell creatures. (Hmm. I did say I was done with that subject- sorry Gail.  :D)

On one hand, we bemoaned our over full belles. On the other hand, what a culinary experience!! Note to self: Next time- NO LUNCH!!

As we turned in for the night we chatted about our families, our day, and future travel plans. I felt a pang of sadness that tomorrow we would again say goodbye for a while. But I put that sadness aside. It was o.k. Goodbyes are part of life. Besides, we had future travels to plan! I fell asleep dreaming of future adventure for us to share.

The adventures in life are seasoned to perfection when one has a fantastic chef and host, a Castle, and a best friend to share it all with!


sandy said...

sounds like such a wonderful time

Marcy Padrta said...

Thanks Sandy! Fantastic to be at the Castle with a dear friend! Hey! Would be a GREAT spot for a Card Club get-a-way!!