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April 3, 2012

Mid-Atlantic Girl: Country Strife

By Spear's

Country Strife

Dangerous roads, sleeplessness, cranky neighbours with guns, more sleeplessness… Daisy Prince on the joys of a weekend upstate with a baby and without a nanny
Sunday, 5.15am:
Millbrook, New York

The last time I was up this early I was in Ibiza for Vanity Fair in 2006 and it wasn’t because I was doing yoga… wait, hang on a sec… Harry’s up and needs his milk.
As I was saying, Hugh and I have rented a cottage about an hour and half out of New York City in Millbrook, New York. We left in our usual style, having rented a car that would comfortably seat a traveling circus or a troupe of Sumo wrestlers but now holds just Harry, Hugh, me and Harry’s stuff. The Taconic State Parkway’s twisty turns had already grabbed a few victims and the snowploughs were out in force on the white roads.

Of course, we were going along just fine when… wait, Harry needs a change. Back in a sec.
The car nearly hit a huge herd of deer that came galloping through the forest on to the highway. Sweating slightly after our swerve, we just managed to have a late lunch at a deli in Millbrook called the Slammin’ Salmon. Munching on his BLT, Hugh looked around and happily pronounced that several ladies there ‘could have walked right out of the Cat and Custard Pot’ (one of our local pubs in Gloucestershire.)

The moment we drove up to the house we spotted a girl cantering in the snow on a large bay horse — with her younger, pink-capped sister being pulled on skis behind her. It was like arriving in a Winslow Homer painting. The cottage was charmingly decorated, with only a hint of the inescapable American tweeness. A large fireplace, comfy sofas and warm duvets abounded, with the freshly fallen snow outside; it was the picture of pastoral seclusion. Gosh, what is it now? The baby needs his lunch. Yes, yes, I’ll hold him if you make that fish face he likes.
Harry is asleep, so now I can finish this column, sorry. As I was saying… We took a blissful walk in the country, seeing all the friendly signs our new neighbours had posted on their trees like ‘If you can see this, you are in range’ and enjoying being away from the screaming noises of Manhattan for the first time in a month.

Harry loved his first experience of snow — he ate quite a bit of it, which is always a pretty good sign that he likes something. We arrived home, immediately made a large log fire and started watching The Blue Angel, the Marlene Dietrich movie that was the toast of the Weimar Republic.

I’m just going to finish reading the papers before starting on my column again… It’s so nice and cosy in here…I’ll just close my eyes for a minute…
jkl;y gy spt Sorry about that — Harry’s on my lap, helping me write. I can only type about three words a minute as I have to stop to hug him. That’s the weird thing about babies — one minute you feel utterly confined because you know the responsibility is there for ever, and the next you get such a sense of peace and contentment that you can’t believe you could have ever been happy without them in your life.
Bedtime was a battleground tonight, maybe because I got the solids wrong — I picked up the wrong box on the way out of town. (Who can tell the difference between rice cereal and oat cereal? Both are grey and taste like sweetened sawdust.)

Finally, the monkey has calmed down and I’m having a small glass of wine for my efforts. Yay! I’ll finish this column after this one, tiny glass.
Monday, 2.32am

Just got to sleep and now I’m up… again. Maybe I can sleep while I’m sitting up and holding Harry. I have friends who did that for months with their first child — for four-hour rotations in the night they each held their child. I think one of them finally collapsed with exhaustion and had to go to A&E. I wonder if I went to the emergency room now they would let me sleep…
Argghh!! When to sleep? When?
Hugh came in and relieved me just after 7am. I still feel as if I’m drunk or in an alternate universe somewhere. Harry finally decided to rest his little head at 5.45am, woke up again at 8.30 and now he’s up again. So it goes…
Manhattan. We arrived back in the City and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy. Odysseus himself wouldn’t get a warmer welcome than the one I’m about to give the nanny when she arrives. Harry saw his crib and did several kicks of joy.

Perhaps we’ll save our next visit to the country for a weekend when nanny can come with us. Now that would be what I call a weekend away. 
Daisy Prince is a Spear’s columnist

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