Friday, 19 September 2014

House Swap Summer Holiday in New England: Part III, Vermont

Without wishing to offend any of the other states that make up New England, I think Vermont is my favourite. I can't put my finger on exactly why that is, perhaps it's a mix of lots of things like the pretty villages and towns, the people, the green-ness, the vistas. Who knows? But whatever it is, I like it.

As with New Hampshire, this was a fairly fleeting visit as we spent just three nights in Woodstock (a favourite town from our previous visit to Vermont) before moving on to Massachusetts.

Yes, it's a year-round Christmas shop

Hours of fun splashing in the river


There was a book sale at the library and I may have bought just a couple
Three billy goats gruff

View from the maple syrup farm

Old school diner

Hubby and I were VERY excited to make a return visit to this fantastic bookshop - Mystery on Main in Brattelboro
The weather in New England sometimes mirrored that of old England!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

House Swap Holiday in New England: Part II, New Hampshire

Saying 'au revoir' to Maine
After spending two nights with our friends on their return from our house in the UK, we set off on a road trip through New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. Here are the photos from the New Hampshire leg; we spent just three nights in the state, all based at Christmas Farm Inn & Spa in Jackson, which was absolutely lovely. We had a little two-bed cabin set up high on the property (but handily located close to the spa where I had a fabulous facial one evening), which was just right for us.

Our first stop in New Hampshire was at the fabulous Castle in the Clouds, a large Arts and Crafts style country house built by a millionaire shoe manufacturer in 1913-14. We all absolutely loved our visit, and we were so glad to have fitted it into our trip. The grounds, house and, probably above all, the views were all stunning. On the way up to the house you drive through shady glades with the opportunity to stop off to visit 'The Pebble' and the waterfall; a little further along there's a scenic spot where you can look out over some of the 5,200 acres that make up the estate.There's a lovely restaurant with fantastic views in the old carriage house; we had to give it a try. Then it's a short journey in a trolley car up to the main house, which was just stunning. I love the Arts and Crafts style, and ooohed and ahhhed my way round practically every room, suggesting to hubby that perhaps we should move to a house built in that period and style. DC had fun filling in the scavenger hunt card and collecting his prize at the end from the treasure chest. All in all, it was a great day and I'd thoroughly recommend a visit if you happen to be in the area.

And now I'll shut up and let the photos do the talking!
This is 'The Pebble', a lesson in understatement

The beautiful 'Castle in the Clouds'

Imagine that view from your back garden!

Someone took a shine to his reflection
This made me want to put a table in our bedroom for breakfasting in style!

Our place of lodging in New Hampshire

Making 'smores round the nightly campfire

Yup, it's steep

The weather changes by the second

At the second time of trying, we made it to the summit!
I'll explain the caption to the photo above that says 'at the second time of trying, we made it to the summit'. Back in 2008 when hubby and I went travelling for six months (oh, to be able to do that again!), we spent some time in around New England. One day we decided to drive up Mount Washington, except that not far into the journey along the very narrow, gravelly, hair-pin bend-y road I had a bit of a funny turn/major meltdown and insisted that we turn the car around and head back down pronto. Unbeknownst to be, but clearly well known to my hormones, I was pregnant. Looks like my body had gone into 'protect the baby at all costs' mode and realised that we were undertaking a perilous mission.This also happened again when we were due to get on a flight to Australia about four weeks later, bags checked in, waiting in the departure lounge, etc, but that's a whole other story...

Monday, 25 August 2014

House Swap Summer Holiday in New England: Part I, Maine

This summer we were fortunate enough to spend three weeks in New England, visiting Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.

We spent the first 13 nights house-swapping with some friends near Kennebunk, Maine while they spent time at our house in Somerset. We were lucky enough to be able to overlap at the beginning of their time in the UK and at the end of our time at their place in the USA. Here we all are (minus hubby who was taking the photo) at our local pub on the day they arrived - hence the somewhat bleary looks!

Rather than schlepping up to London for a flight to the US, we flew from Bristol to Dublin and from Dublin to Boston. There were several advantages to taking this route: 1) it's only an hour's drive from our house to Bristol airport (compared to 2-3 for the London airports); 2) parking at the airport is WAAAY cheaper and so much easier than at Heathrow or Gatwick; 3) being a small airport, Bristol is much easier to navigate and much less crowded and, best of all, 4) during the time between arriving in Dublin and taking off for Boston we were able to complete US immigration which meant that when we landed we simply walked off the plane, collected our luggage and we were on our way. Anyone who has flown to the US will know what a rigmarole the immigration can be - huge queues which move so very s-l-o-w-l-y, so it was nice to have that all out of the way.
This was the little puddle-jumper that took us from Bristol to Dublin
We had a fantastic time in Maine; I think I'll let the photos do most of the talking because otherwise this could turn into a very lengthy post!
Nubble Light, Cape Neddick

I only bought a *few* books, honest

My new favourite photo of DC

'Driving' a submarine, fun for boys of all ages
So very true
The House of the Seven Gables (it's in Massachusetts but we went on a day trip from Maine, so it's in this post)

Oh, how do I love thee?
Brave hubby!

Dinner on the last night of our house swap

We learnt how to eat lobster properly; it's quite an art form

Apologies for the strange formatting in this post; I had a rare old time trying to get the photos to stop misbehaving.