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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Woodstock, Vermont - We Weren't Prepared!!!

Woodstock, Vermont - We Weren't Prepared!!!

Upon learning that we were going to be staying in Vermont, several of our friends told us that a visit to Woodstock, Vermont, should be at the top of our list. They had sung its praises and we had listened. 

That being said, we were still not prepared to be so gobsmacked by this awesome town! The 'oohs' and 'ahs' that were extracted from our depths were only surpassed by the number of photographs we took - some repetitive from every angle - as we appreciated the architecture of the buildings that made up this New England town. 

Every single edifice was unique and it seemed that all inhabitants took pride in their home town. The homes were in pristine condition, and it was a sheer pleasure to walk up and down the main streets. Central Street stretches through the middle of the town and splits into North and South Park Streets at 'The Green' - an oval shaped small park surrounded by the most delightful homes and buildings. 

Windsor County Clerk Courthouse

The Green

We parked outside one that looked like a mini White House, and went off to explore, with cameras in hand.

From the stone St. James Episcopal Church at the south-west end of The Green to the north-east point, the buildings leave you breathless - including the Woodstock Inn and Resort (with its impressive frontage), the County Clerk Office, and the Norman Williams Public Library. Just off to the side was a lovely covered bridge - almost tucked away out of sight. The well-maintained bridge crosses the Ottauquechee River - the same river that courses through the Quechee Gorge, further upstream. (We revisited the Gorge today, on our way to Woodstock, taking the trail in the opposite direction to the one we took a couple of weeks ago). 

St. James Episcopal Church

Norman Williams Public Libray

Woodstock Inn and Resort

The inevitable 'selfie'

This video clip will give you some idea of the beauty of this town...

Moving on to the main street, the first things we remarked upon were the hanging signs outside each of the shops and boutiques evoking memories of bygone days. 

We stopped for a latte and sandwich in the delightful Mon Vert Cafe, and spent some time in The Yankee Bookshop - billed as the oldest independent bookshop in Vermont. It was lovely speaking with the woman assistant with whom we shared our pleasure in finding a unique book store that had not been closed down by the bigger 'Barnes & Noble' type stores. In fact, it seemed to be thriving, which really made us feel good. 

The Yankee Bookshop

What I found of particular interest was the Primrose Garden shop on the main street. This building, once the site of the town's firehouse, is suspended by steel girders over the Ottauquechee River! We didn't have time to go inside but, apparently, many people love to step out to the back porch to see the stream gurgling directly underneath. That would have been neat!

At the other end of Central Street is a memorial statue in a small triangle where the street meets another thoroughfare - aptly named, 'Pleasant Street'. This charming roadway is lined with white houses and trees that end with a beautiful white First Congregational Church at the other end. This church acquired a bell produced by none other than Paul Revere

Pleasant Street

First Congregational Church

Mark often laughs at me when I go on about chimneys! To me, a house without a chimney is not a real house!!! And I'm not talking about the metal cylindrical ones, but the brick or stone varieties. One of the most attractive aspects of New England (at least, the parts that we have seen), is that most of the homes are adorned with these - and they are also unique. 

An old New England tradition was the town crier. Here, in Woodstock, you can view all the local activities by viewing a downtown chalk board suitably named, The Town Crier. Flanked on either side is a clock, and a thermometer. What a great idea!

The Town Crier

There were so many little interesting things to see in this lovely town, and we're so appreciative of those kind people who insisted that we include it in our list of things to do.

First Impressions Salon & Spa

As mentioned earlier, so many pictures were taken today and so we are offering this slide show for those of you who may be interested to take a look. 

Here's the YouTube version (for cell phone and iPad users)

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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Among the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Among the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Sunday, March 6th

The beauty of staying on the border of two states is that you get to enjoy the charms of both of them. Bradford, VT, is a few minutes drive away from New Hampshire - and we're lucky enough to be very near the White Mountains. When we took our hike up the Wrights Mountain the other day, we could see Mount Washington (the highest peak in the range) from the bench where we sat for a while, taking in the spectacular view. 

Blue skies, punctuated by white clouds, beckoned us eastward across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire. Our home-owners had kindly given us lots of pointers with places of interest to visit and today, we decided to start exploring. 

Within half an hour, we were in the pretty little town of Bath, where we encountered the first of the covered bridges (for which New England is famous). 

These small constructions were born out of 19th century America and attract artists and sight-seers from all over the world. We intend to visit as many of them as possible during our 6-week stay in this awesome area. 

Here's a short video clip of us driving through the bridge. 

The town of Littleton, NH, is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. Dubbing itself as 'The Glad Town', it certainly lives up to its trademark! (Zoom in to see the banner on the lamp post).

This picturesque town, which was built alongside the Ammonoosuc River, has some interesting buildings including the Thayers Inn, the Beal House Inn, and Chutters - which boasts of having the world's longest candy counter!!  

Beal House Inn

Thayers Inn

Chutters - has the longest candy counter in the world!

Obviously, we had to go in to take a look - and we did end up getting a few candies for the journey!

A few steps took us down to the riverside and to the pedestrian covered bridge. The river is fast flowing - even though partially frozen over. We thought that the rapids must be awesome to see during the Spring run-off. 

The Littleton Grist Mill and Miller's Cafe and Bakery hug the river and one can imagine what a treat it would be to sit outside overlooking the river and enjoying a coffee and treat in warmer weather. 

Turning south, we bypassed the townships of Franconia and Sugar Hill - reknowned for it's skiing resorts - and made our way to Flume Gorge, as we knew there was a pedestrian covered bridge there.

The vistas on the way were breath-taking (can't think of another phrase to replace this over-used one!)

At last, we had reached an area with an altitude that would give us some snow for our pics!! We had no idea just how beautiful this place would be. The short walk to the covered bridge is surrounded by views of the mountains, and the Pemigawasset River below. 

The bright red colour of the bridge stands out against the snow - the very image we had been hoping to see. Truly wondrous, with Liberty Mountain in the backdrop. 

Some hikers we passed told us that there were some ice-climbers beyond the bridge, further along the Flume Brook, in the Gorge, itself. This was not to be missed! We traveled to the end of the trail where it met the boardwalk. Although covered with snow and ice, we were able to get quite close to watch the climbers do their thing. 

The climbers are part of a group called 'Rockspot Climbing', and this was part of the 2016 Ice Fest. There were times when my heart was in my mouth as we watched them! This video clip will show you why.

Returning along the southern route via Rumney, we got back to Pot Luck Farm in the mid-afternoon, thoroughly appreciative - not only of the scenes we had taken in - but of the gorgeous home where we are staying. The joyful welcome home we received from Sam and Molly, with whom we have the privilege of spending time over the next few weeks, made us feel like a million dollars! 

From left to right - Sam and Molly

(Not to mention the contented purring of Pot, the pussy cat!)

Pot - a beautiful 'apple-faced' Siamese cat!

Honestly... can life get any better than this?

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