Martha’s Vineyard

Living in eastern Massachusetts, I am in close proximity to bucolic Martha’s Vineyard and yet I don’t get there very often.  When I do go, I make promises to myself that I will return soon.

It really is quite perfect- an island – that alone makes it special – rural and natural with appealing architecture, stunning beaches, good food, art, books, music, trails, and a sense of calm even when jam-packed with tourists, day-trippers and summer visitors.

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Belfast, Maine

A charming, waterfront town on Penobscot Bay with a vibrant downtown, Belfast is walkable, comfortable and full of interesting architecture, art and history in a very relaxed, low key setting.

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I happened upon their Classic Small Boat show as a part of the Belfast Harbor Fest while visiting last August.

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Wouldn’t you want to get your fuel from a company that looked like this?

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And then…I discovered the Moonbat City Baking Company…with the most wonderful cinnamon rolls and croissants made by the welcoming master pastry chef owner, Michelle Berry, who graciously invited me to tour around as she spoke of her life changing move to Belfast as a baker, from her former career as a culinary arts instructor in the Boston area.

After spending some time there, I could easily see why one would enjoy living in Belfast.  It’s on my list.

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And…the view to Penobscot Bay…perfect.

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Hyannis Ferry View

I love ferries.  This is one of my favorite views as the Nantucket bound ferry departs Hyannis Harbor.

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Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light

On a recent visit to Rockland, Maine I noodled about on the breakwater hoping to reach Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light.  The waves crashing up on the rocks as the tide was coming in made for slippery footing and soon to be treacherous conditions.

I chickened out and turned back to the shoreline.

Completed in 1900, the keeper’s house was vacated in 1963 and the light subsequently automated in 1964, the light is visible for up to 17 miles, and offers a spectacular view of the harbor.

There is something so appealing to me about the life of a lighthouse keeper- well, until the first big storm and running out of supplies.  Then I may have a different perspective.

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British Motorcars, Rhode Island

On a beautiful, Sunday afternoon last weekend I noodled south to charming Bristol, Rhode Island for the British Motorcar Festival-a low key, laid-back car show featuring some fantastic cars on the scenic grounds of Colt State Park overlooking the ocean.

I love cars.  Always have.  Although my knowledge of repair is just about limited to a basic oil change, I do appreciate the care and love of detailing by true car enthusiasts.  Vintage cars seem to be better designed than later models-less bling, fewer gadgets, simplified mechanics, cleaner lines-maybe that’s just a nostalgic yearning.

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I do think I could use this wicker, trunk mounted, picnic basket, if for no other reason than just charm.britishmotorcarfest2015 (20)

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A Land Rover Defender 90 is on my wish list.  It’s been on the list for quite some time as I really can’t wrap my head around the price for a vehicle that would be too conspicuous to drive in metro Boston.  Guess I will have to wait until I get to my much-wished-for lifestyle change to a more rural place complete with a dirt driveway.

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A little red scooter is the epitome of a good time.

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London-love

Over the winter holidays, I spent a few days in London.  The past few visits have been busy with work, or just passing through, but this trip was more touristy, hitting some of the big venues.  The mobs were a bit challenging, but the easy to navigate, London Underground, made getting around the city fairly swift despite line closures for maintenance.

The quiet of the city that literally shuts down for Christmas was wonderful.  Boxing Day was akin to the post-thanksgiving black Friday with shoppers everywhere.  I don’t need anything and for the most part don’t enjoy shopping as a sport, so the frenzy was a bit wearing, but ducking out of the fray for a good cup of tea midday, and a quiet dinner made it tolerable.

There is so much to see and do in the city and the environs to satisfy nearly every interest-the arts, architecture, parks, museums, history, and all sorts of international influences.  Just walking through little neighborhoods is enjoyable entertainment.

British sensibilities are very appealing to me as I am a bit of an anglophile.  I enjoy tea, the BBC-at times watching repeats of my favorite programs just to see it one more time, the look of the Union Jack, even though on the whole I am not big on nationalist symbols of any country.  I drive a little, British designed car and dream about living in a place where driving an old Rover would be a practical choice, not just another suburban, SUV.  I love rugged, and sometimes referred to as scratchy British wool, classic tana lawn, Liberty prints, a freshly baked scone, lemon curd, the wilds of the Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland, Cornwall and the southeast.  And, although technically part of Britain, yet deeply rooted in their own cultural traditions-I am absolutely smitten with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  I see myself living in the UK at some point, just haven’t figured when and how that will happen, but it will happen.

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Fortnum and Mason, an icon, for all sorts of essential, and non-essential provisions was all decked out for Christmas. london (26)

The Liberty of London flagship store is beautiful.  london (2)

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Westminster Abbey is spectacular. london (5)

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Big Ben-makes me feel at home for some reason. london (11)

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Spent an evening at The Britannia in Kensington-great upscale pub fare and this very, interesting book wall.london (13)

Pinecone graphic wallcovering.  Love it.london (14)

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I liked the London Eye more than I expected I would.  Although I didn’t enjoy the big crowds or the big ticket price, the big city views were fantastic especially on a brilliantly clear winter day.london (18)

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The British Museum is vast and wonderful.  It would take several visits to cover all of the ground here.london (23)

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Much ado with the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace-more crowds.

Need to plan my next visit.

Cheers.

 

 

Mindful of Ireland

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches I am mindful of Ireland.  Yet, the celebration of all that is Irish here in the US is a big stretch from my thoughts of Emerald Isle.

Have you been?  If not, put it on the must-do list.  It’s lovely with the perfect blend of a few cosmopolitan, yet small scale cities, charming villages, stunning, rural landscapes, views to the sea, fantastic food, cultural richness and engaging people.  Oh, an of course, there’s great beer too without the goofy, green plastic hats.

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Gardner-Pingree House

A few weeks ago I treated myself to a day off and in the company of a dear friend and visited the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

One of the museum’s highlights is a tour of the Gardner-Pingree House, an early nineteenth century, Federal style house within the Salem historic district and short walk from the museum.

I enjoyed stepping back to an earlier time in this lovely home with a storied past.

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Winter Wonderful 25% off

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Enjoy 25% off your entire purchase until January 1, 2014 11:59 pm EST by entering coupon code big25 at checkout.  We offer free ground service shipping in the contiguous USA.

For Christmas delivery, place your order by Wednesday, December 18, 2013 11:59 pm EST and select Free Ground Shipping-contiguous USA only in the shipping drop-down list on the checkout page.

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Woodstock, Connecticut

Have you visited Connecticut’s northwest corner-the quiet corner as it is known by some?  If not, swing through the quintessentially New England town of Woodstock.  Steeped in colonial history and offering glimpses of subtle, hidden Yankee wealth, it defines a quiet town with little commerce yet a fair amount of lovely open space.

In full disclosure, I am sentimental about this town as my mother lived here as a girl.  I find it bucolic and beautiful.  My mother and grandmother were brought here by her father during the depression to stay with his family while he went off to Boston looking for work.

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I really like classic colonial homes in traditional colors like this with little to no foundation plantings.

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I’d like to paint this house another color, but it has really good bones.

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Roseland Cottage, a Gothic Revival house built in 1846, is a National Historic Landmark and open for tours in the summer months.  My mother had tea here as a girl with the Bowen family, the original owners of the property.

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The Inn at Woodstock Hill offers dining and lodging in a beautiful setting.  Also, a former private home of the Bowen family, my mother visited here as a girl.

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Each fireplace had a different theme for the hearth tile.

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My mother lived above the garage in this simple brown farmhouse.

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Woodstock Academy on the village green serves as a high school for the surrounding towns.  My mother is a graduate and played on their basketball team.  If you know her, you may find that a bit hard to believe given her diminutive stature, but she always qualifies her participation by saying that anyone could join the team.  Go Mom!