Leaving behind the zooming traffic of the motorway, we turned from the busy I-110 to a gently curving US Highway 61 shouldered by dark trees and the occasional Mom and Pop business. The late afternoon sun broke over the horizon and our SatNav announced that were almost at our destination, the Butler and Greenwood Plantation.
Having followed the Mississippi River upstate from New Orleans slightly past the historic town of St. Francisville, we steered Bonnie along the curving driveway arcaded with Spanish Moss draped Live Oak trees, parting to reveal the kind of house that only seems to appear on movies. A deep wraparound porch hugged the timber frame and the late afternoon sunshine dappled the lawn.
Disclaimer: We were excited guests of the Butler and Greenwood Plantation but all of my enthusiasms are very much my own…
We were greeted by two of the real owners (a tabby and a grey cat respectively) before the porch screen opened and our friendly host for the evening peeped out. Welcoming our grateful selves to sink into her verandah sofa, Anne Butler gave us a map of the St. Francisville area alongside a few recommendations before telling us a short history of her beautiful family home passed through the generations, before arriving at the current iteration of B&B cabins in the grounds.
Behind the main historic antebellum plantation home, arranged around the pond and pool, the old kitchen (separate from the
main house due to the dangers of cooking over a real fireplace) and several cabins (some 1 bedroom, a few 2 bedroom) have been transformed into unique cottages complete with private double Jacuzzi, perfect for the hikers who summer in the Louisana and road-tripping tourists.
Visiting on the shoulder season, we could have had our pick of unique accommodation – the two bedroom 1796 Old Kitchen, complete with fireplace and porch swing…
…or the the Treehouse with a touch of hunting lodge luxe…
…but in the end we chose the simple beauty of the six-sided gazebo.
Overlooking the pond, our cabin featured nine-foot-tall antique stained glass church windows which set my heart a-flutter, a four-poster bed which was ridiculously comfortable and the double Jacuzzi which we sank into with relief. (In fact, I almost fell asleep in the tub, that’s how relaxed we became.)
The best aspect of our whole stay though? Being prodded awake at sunrise by Mr Kiwi who (thanks to jet-lag) had discovered the golden sun glowing through our windows. Breathtaking.
As the light gradually filled our room, we threw back the covers, popped our croissants into the oven, flipped the switch on a pot of coffee and poured a glass of orange juice for breakfast on our porch overlooking the still pond.
Sadly packing up our belongings, we took one last stroll around the gardens and grounds, simply content to absorb the moment.
Oh how I wish we would have had more time to explore. In the fifty acres of landscaped ground Anne told us how the plantings are timed to almost always have something scented draping the air, Cast-iron urns and benches date from the 1850s plus there is a large wildlife and bird population – herons on the pond, white-tailed deer, fox, bobcats, and chipmunks.
Sadly we didn’t have the time for any hiking (bar the urban kind in a maroon Nissan) but we did manage to potter down to the charming Main Street of St. Francisville, unmarred by kitschy tourist “improvements” that run right down onto the banks of the