Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Salon - A Weekend in the Berkshires


This weekend my husband and I traveled to Stockbridge, Mass., for his family's annual retreat at the Red Lion Inn, a beautiful and historic hotel in the heart of the Berkshires. Not that I sound like ad copy or anything. Usually he and I go with his parents and two other couples, along with their children, for a weekend of family time, shopping and holiday tradition. This year it was just his parents and us, and that was fine. We still had a great time. The photo on the right is the candy castle in the main dining room of the inn; it sits at the very back, near a long table. It's been there for years.

The living room is also the entryway; there's a wonderful fireplace and lots of comfortable places to read, sit and relax; I used to bring little handcrafts to do during our visit, but this time I just brought a book to read, Peter Manseau's Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, which I'm enjoying very much.


Any time we didn't spend in the dining room or the living room we spent exploring the area's shops and scenic vistas.

I have a few favorite stores to visit- T.P. Saddlebank in Great Barrington, home to designer Tasha Polizzi's beautiful clothes, The Yellow Barn bookstore, also in Great Barrington, a wonderful used and rare bookshop, and Berkshire Books, in bucolic Sheffield, another used and rare bookstore. I also love Inspired Planet in Lenox, home to a truly unusual and varied mix of artifacts and artwork from all over the world- not to mention a very friendly and chatty shopkeeper who we enjoy visiting every year. I picked up a silver pendant from India that I had seen last year- I can't believe it was still there after a year! I think it was waiting for me. At Berkshire Books, we saw some great things- a gorgeously illustrated, very old version of Alice in Wonderland with incredible illustrations by Harry Rountree that reminded me of Hayao Miyazaki, and an old book of Irish folktales, and more.

I bought a little stash of Margaret Atwood stuff- a first edition of The Blind Assassin, a copy of The Journals of Susanna Moodie (a collection of poetry) and Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, a children's book of all things. I would have loved to buy the Alice book but I didn't have the necessary $350-plus-tax in cash. Probably just as well. Oh well! A pretty successful weekend, I'd say!

We've been decorating the house this afternoon and tonight we're headed to the Brattle Theater in Cambridge for their annual showing of "It's a Wonderful Life." I've been going every Christmastime since I was 17!

You can read more Sunday Salon here.

28 comments:

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

I love bed and breakfasts like this. Looks wonderful!

Literary Feline said...

How fun! It sounds like a wonderful place, Marie. I am glad you had a good time. I love exploring the bookstores of towns I visit if I get the chance. I look for bookstores and my husband looks for comic bookstores. :-)

I hope you have a great week!

caite said...

Sounds like a lovely time!
I envy your book shopping and your little Atwood finds. Cool...

Pam said...

I'm so jealous. I've been wanting to go to Stockbridge and stay in the Red Lion Inn for years. My goal is to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. I'm going to print out your post and save it for future reference. Those bookshops are calling my name.

wisteria said...

What a perfect trip and a great time to visit this part of MA.
I love Stockbridge and have travelled their many times with it only a short distance due north from the western side of CT up RT 7.
So glad you had fun and got in a bit of book shopping of course.

nomadreader said...

I love Stockbridge and Great Barrington too, and we don't make it there often enough. I would love to see The Red Lion Inn at Christmastime. What a wonderful family tradition!

readerbuzz said...

Oooo! Lovely! What a wonderful spot!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

What a wonderful-sounding trip. The candy castle looks amazing - I love stuff like that done in miniature. And your book-related purchases sound great!

bermudaonion said...

That sounds like a wonderful way to spend a pre-Christmas weekend.

dolcebellezza said...

Oh, what a lovely get away. The candy castle brings me back to my childhood when I got such pleasure from edible domiciles: gingerbread houses, and all.

Lucky for you to have the Margaret Atwood treats! The Robber Bride, and Cat's Eye, are two of my favorite works of hers. I'm a little worried about her latest book, which I've purchased, in that it seems to resemble Oryx and Crake. In a word? Ew.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

What a fantastic weekend - topping it off with It's A Wonderful Life on the big screen (I've only ever seen it on our TV on Christmas Eve ... we have it going while we assemble and stuff stockings)

You must be especially pleased to find that pendant after a full year - I agree, it was meant to be.

Diane said...

Sounds like a great weekend Marie. The Red Lion Inn and the Rockwell Museum are places I like to visit. Lenox is a favorite town to visit and we like the Cranwell Resort too.

The bookstores you visited sound fabulous :0

Marie said...

Dolce Bellezza- I feel your pain re: the new Atwood. I liked it a lot but I approached it with a fair amount of trepidation. I was not a fan of Oryx & Crake. It's better- if anything more gruesome in some respects, but more of a page-turner and with more interesting characters.

JoAnn said...

Oh, I love the Berkshires! We were in Williamstown last weekend.

nicole said...

Ooh, I love Great Barrington and haven't been in ages. And I was all excited to ask after the details of that Alice in Wonderland until I saw the price, oof!

jewwishes said...

Your weekend sounds lovely. The Red Lion Inn is a wonderful place.

Aarti said...

What a FABULOUS weekend! Hope you enjoyed the show :-)

Kathleen said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend and a fabulous way to get into the holiday spirit. I love the candy castle!

Alayne said...

Maybe the Alice book will be there for you next year like the pendant was. Except it will be on sale... 90% off! :)
Alayne
The Crowded Leaf

Care said...

oh! sounds perfectly lovely...

dolcebellezza said...

Well, at least it's a bit better than Oryx and Crake. ;) I'm glad to find someone who shares my opinion, it seems almost everyone loved the Armeggedon stuff she wrote. To me, she does a far better job exploring the heart of a woman.

John A. Walsh said...

That's a nice holiday tradition. Being Irish, my family just sinks into misery during the Holidays while we pray for salvation. Luckily, I married a Jew who has "real" Christmas spirit.

I'm not even kidding.

Marie said...

John- Nice. :-) Nollaig Shona Duit. :-)

John A. Walsh said...

Happy Christmas to you too, Marie!

Zibilee said...

It sounds like you had a lovely weekend and got to visit some awesome stops! I really like the candy castle and I'm glad that your pendant was waiting for you!! I hope you are enjoying the weeks leading up to the holiday season!

Mim said...

This post is such a treat. We have visited Great Barrington and Stockbridge often, while staying with friends down the road in South Eggremont, where they have a sweet little antique shop. While shopping at the used bookstore in Great Barrington, I found an old copy of Le Petite Larousse and bought it for one dollar for my friend, who is a Francophile. Turns out it was HIS book that he no longer wanted. What a riot! So, oh horrors, I've been using it to create collages. Yes, I do cut up old books.

Bonnie said...

Thanks for sharing this post and the pictures! I love the Red Lion Inn...I was there years ago with my husband and loved it along with the resident cats. Do they still have them? We didn't have much time then and missed out on the shops. I really want to go back with our son. I love New England!

Marie said...

Bonnie, there is still one cat. I forget his name but he's a pretty, friendly tabby and who slinks around and says hi to the guests. :-) I'm glad you enjoyed the post and I'm glad to hear you're a fan of the hotel too! :-)