Before she was Lady Dawn Russell – technically, Lady James Russell after marrying her husband, Lord James Russell, in 2005 – American Dawn Russell had spent most of her time traveling the world with her "free spirit" mom and attending various boarding schools.
But after she and James (who goes by Jamie) got serious, she was introduced to his family home: historic Woburn Abbey, where he was born and raised.
(Sidenote: The estate, which has ties to King Henry VIII, features a safari park with more than 80 species. When Jamie was a baby the family took in an orphaned lion cub. Named Tigger, he shared a stroller and playpen with Jamie!)
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But for Dawn, 41, there was a learning curve. Now a mom to two boys (5-year-old Alexander and 2-year-old Leo) and the founder of 8G, a supplement tablet featuring 8 essential greens, she has picked up a few tips for life as an American-turned-aristocrat. Among them:
DO be on time."Everyone in England is extremely punctual," she says. "My husband and I used to take different cars to the airport. He likes to check in, have a wander, eat, buy magazines, and – as I like to poke fun – arrive before the plane has taken off from the previous destination. Whereas I like to sprint to the plane as the door is closing.
"I was so unpunctual once that everyone left for Woburn leaving me to take the train!"
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DO bring a portable heater to castles."After my first weekend in another castle, Jamie wanted to know what was this new little bag I was now taking everywhere we went to stay. It was my new portable heater. The English like their bedrooms cold.
DON'T zip up your Wellington boots.No, it's not a mistake. The style is to leave them unzipped!