Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Eloise and Weenie go to Durham

February 28th, 2019
Durham, North Carolina

Last weekend I went to the cultural hub of Durham, NC to visit my beloved youngest Julia. For anyone who doesn’t follow me on Instagram (shame on you), I brought our pug Josephine with me.

I am ALWAYS channelling my inner Eloise, even in North Carolina, and I think I found the state’s equivalent to the Plaza Hotel  – the Umstead Hotel & Spa. Alert to all Duke parents – if you want a hotel with a nice spa – this is the only game in town. And the Umstead takes dogs, welcomes them in fact –

I learned a lot this past weekend:

It rains a lot in Durham – the pelting, hurling, why didn’t I pack my galoshes kind of rain. London has nothing on Durham.

Any pug suffering from loneliness and depression should save on shrink bills and buy a one-way ticket to this state. Here are just a few of the new pals Josephine made …

Total Strangers…

Mixing with some Pi Phi sisters…

Checking out frat life…

Providing emotional support to this lady who lost her pug three weeks ago. She wears its ashes in a heart charm around her neck. Must have been an awfully small pug.

I learned that it’s possible to order a fried egg to be delivered – #collegelife #takeout #sunnysideupplease

Nothing beats a Friday night than ordering in room service and watching “Green Book” with Julia and Josephine. (I already knew this)

When your chauffeur’s driving apparatus looks like this,

probs best to keep all eyes on the road (this I keep forgetting and then re-learning)

When your chauffeur’s car starts beeping loudly to let the driver know that she’s low on gas, you can ignore it “at least like four more times.”

I learned that I can multi-task with the best of them  – From looking at complicated Excel spread sheets of who my octogenarian mother has invited to stay with her in St Barth’s this spring (sun loungers will have to double as beds) to coaxing Julia into writing summer job letters when she’d rather watch “Grace and Frankie”, I was on it.  I was in the zone. Nothing was going to distract me, not even Josephine and her disconcerting habit of staring at me, no blinking. She gets a little weird  when I leave her soul-mate Antoinette behind. Maybe she’s next?

Late Saturday afternoon, Julia remembered that she needed to wear ‘business attire” for an interview the next morning. We went to a mall that reminds its visitors to leave their firearms at home.

Needless to say, “business attire’ pickings were rather limited, and Julia’s mood rather grumpy. Leaving the mall she chose to drive on the wrong side of the road with oncoming traffic.

These roads are SO narrow.

Despite these challenges, I remained in the zone.

It’s ok, we’re in the correct lane now.”

I did leave the zone briefly Saturday night when the blonde manager of Kipos Greek Taverna in Chapel Hill refused entry to Julia, 4 friends, Josephine and me.

Only service dogs allowed, she said smugly.

Please exit my space, I heard myself saying  in reply. I will be writing her manager.

I learned that I want to be born again- not like a Christian, but like a baby. When the masseuse at the hotel spa cradled my head with her hands and all was still, I realised I could happily stay in that position all day, maybe forever. Hotels with spas lull me into thinking someone is taking care of me. Anyone who doesn’t talk and is willing to hold my head in their hands will do.

I want to pad back to my room in a robe and slippers, all greasy and calm, extending that wee escape from reality just a tad longer. It’s tough being a princess with no ladies-in-waiting. When I got back to Greenwich, Stretch was standing in the kitchen having bought the ingredients for dinner. Could this possibly be a soft landing?

Look at you, I say, what a chef!!!

You’re cute, but not that cute. You’re in charge of the chicken.

Nope, just a mirage. Note to self: Return to Rancho La Puerta next year. It’s as close to feeling born again as I’m going to get.

February, 2019