Sunday, August 7, 2016

Blueberries are Abundant in the Monadnock Region

Early August is the perfect time for blueberries in the Monadnock Region. There are numerous places to pick blueberries in the region. It's fun and quite easy because the berries are quite abundant. We use fresh blueberries in blueberry buckle, muffins, pancakes, and more. When we have too many to use, we freeze them.

 

We recently went to Monadnock Berries in Troy, twice, and picked blueberries and raspberries; the raspberry picking season has now passed. The setting is spectacular with a picture perfect view of Mount Monadnock. They provide containers. Monadnock Berries is also the home of Mooselick Brewing, which makes blueberry beer ("Blue Moose Beer"). (545 West Hill Road, Troy, NH; call 603-242-6417 for hours and details.)


Another great place to pick berries is Crescendo Acres Farm in Surry. Bring your own container, and while you're there, don't forget to see the alpacas. (21 Carpenter Road, Surry, NH; call 603-352-9380 for hours and details.)

 

A short hike up Pitcher Mountain is well worth the trip. Pitcher Mountain Wild Blueberries, located on Andorra Forest, a private property with wild high bush blueberries to pick your own. Beautiful views and hiking trails open for public non-motorized use. Part of the Monadnock­-Sunapee Greenway Trail. (Route 123 North Stoddard, NH 03464 603-446-3655)

Richmond Blueberries in Richmond, where you'll find several varieties of high-bush blueberries, is another great place to pick your own. (44 Monument Road, Richmond, NH 03470, 603-239-4948)

   

And if you don't have time to pick blueberries, many of these places sell already-picked berries by the pound or the pint. Fresh, local blueberries are also sold at the Keene Farmer's Market (Tuesday and Saturday) and many grocery stores. For example, Gomarlo's Food and Circus on Route 10 in West Swanzey typically gets local blueberries in daily. Wherever you get them from, enjoy! 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Chocolate Lovers

Did someone say "chocolate"?

If you like chocolate, then you'll find some treats at the Bridges Inn and in the Monadnock area. It would not be hard to spend a day visiting chocolate shops and indulging in this delicacy.

Each guest room at the inn has a complimentary bowl of individually-wrapped bite-sized chocolates, typically Ghirardelli chocolate squares and Hershey's kisses. We sometimes have Lindt and other fine chocolates. We have sugar-free chocolates upon request and we do offer free refills upon request. Just say "chocolate"!


  

You might start your chocolate excursion at Ye Goodie Shoppe in nearby Keene. At 49 Main Street in the heart of downtown Keene, Ye Goodie Shoppe has everything from dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate (my favorite), truffles, turtles, fudge, and sugar-free chocolate, plus numerous hard and soft candies, taffy, and other confections. "Since 1931, Ye Goodie Shoppe... has been making candy of the highest quality, from the best ingredients, fresh butter and cream, and the finest chocolate... See it made!" After you see it and smell it, you'll definitely want to taste it!

  

If you head to Peterborough, you'll find two chocolate shops worth visiting. We have been getting chocolate for years at Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates on 43 Grove Street and love their delicious chocolates. “Providing outstanding gourmet chocolate creations throughout New England since 2003, … Ava Marie is a growing company where customers value and depend on the uniqueness of [their] chocolate creations and the freshness of [their] products." Some of their specialties are "award-winning milk and dark chocolate pecan turtles, truffles, coconut clusters, toffee, caramel centers, chocolate covered cherries and more.” They also make hand-painted artisan chocolates and serve ice cream and an assortment of different pastries.
 
  
Also in Peterborough is Vicuña Chocolate Factory & Cafe on 15 Main Street. I have not actually been there yet but their handcrafted chocolate bars, pastries, chocolate chunk cookies, cocoa nib brownies, and sipping chocolate have earned them an excellent reputation. "Vicuña's 70% dark chocolate is made from organic, Fair-Trade cocoa beans & cane sugar. Varieties include Ecuador, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Belize, Maras Salt, and Cocoa Nibs." 

 

And you won't want to miss L.A. Burdick's in Walpole. "Burdick’s European-inspired chocolates are made from the freshest ingredients with no artificial coloring and no preservatives. Each bonbon is hand-cut or shaped, hand-garnished, hand-finished, and hand-packed. Intentionally small and elegant, these fine chocolates are the gastronomically-correct size for tasting the complexity of flavors." Burdick's has shops in Boston, Cambridge, New York City, and Walpole. It is definitely worth the 1/2 hour trip to Walpole, not only for chocolate lovers, but also for the scenic drive! 

If anyone says "chocolate" at the Bridges Inn, chocolate it will be!

             

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Christmas Cactus

I have never had a "green thumb." In fact, I sometimes did so poorly with my house plants that we used to jokingly call them "disposable plants." When I bought the Bridges Inn almost 10 years ago, the house was totally furnished, including house plants.

Among the plants I inherited, was a gigantic Christmas cactus that is now about 70 years old. I was given instructions on when to water it, how much, and also to occasionally give it plant food. In addition to diligently feeding it, one of the secrets is to leave it where it is -- it obviously likes its spot on the east side of the house near a window.

Every year, the Christmas cactus starts blooming in early December and typically stays in bloom through January. Some years, like this year, the cactus stays in bloom longer -- it still has many flowers as I write this on February 20th. The cactus typically blooms again around Easter time, too. It's become an annual tradition to take photos of my two grandchildren at Christmas time when the cactus is in full bloom.
 



When a branch/piece of the cactus falls off, I replant it. These cactus offspring are thriving in a pot on the second floor, directly above the giant cactus, in the same eastern exposure. Over the years, I have repotted and given away many cactus offspring. Shown below, the offspring have buds.

Brought the offspring downstairs for the photo
Replanted offspring, upstairs
A bud on one of the offspring (2/20/16)
The cactus is a conversation piece and a photo opportunity -- most guests who come here have never seen a Christmas cactus so big. It has not only survived, it has thrived.




Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Landscaping Improvements at the Inn - update

Summer of 2015 has been filled with landscaping projects at the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House. We began last year with pruning the large maple trees and many of the large shrubs on the perimeter of the property. 

Today, August 13, we added a new bird house -- it's actually an owlhouse! And not exactly considered landscaping, but part of the property improvement project, is a new American flag. It wasn't intentional but the owlhouse and the flag match!

 

This year, we cleared out the pathways and brought in pine bark mulch on the east side of the house near the gazebo. We planted many new flowers.

 

 
August 11, 2015
An abundance of flowering plants are in bloom now, such as black-eyed Susans, many types of lilies, pansies, hydrangeas, roses, phlox, lucifers, and Shasta daisies.

 
                       Lucifers                                   Shasta daisies
We continued work along the front, Main Street edge of the property. We pulled out overgrown shrubs and plants and planted some dogwoods and small maple trees. We filled in much of the area with pine bark mulch.  Perhaps our biggest accomplishment was to remove the old, uneven granite steps that went to the front of the inn (which no one used). This required work on the old stone wall to make it continuous, closing the opening to Main Street.



 

Masonry work on the stone wall will be done in the near future. Meanwhile, there's ongoing upkeep, such as mowing the lawn, watering the plants, and weeding. And David takes care of all the upkeep (shown weeding below)! We love the sunflowers that he planted and have sprouted around the yard!

                    

Shown below are flowering plants and bushes from earlier in the season.
        Late spring rhododendrons             Lilacs the last week of May
Lupines




Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Local Places to Swim

If you're looking to cool off or have some fun at the beach without having to drive very far, take advantage of the lakes and ponds in the Monadnock region.

The closest to the Bridges Inn, and our personal favorite, is Richardson Park, on Swanzey Lake.
Open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, daily, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. It's a shady beach with a nice view and water quality is generally considered good. There's no charge to get in and plenty of parking. Shown below, Richardson Park is for Swanzey residents only, including guests of the Bridges Inn.


Otter Brook Lake Recreation Area in Keene and Roxbury and Surry Mountain Lake Recreation Area in Surry (shown below) are operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. Both are picturesque, family-friendly places for swimming, picnicking, and canoeing. There's a sandy beach, roped-off swimming area and plenty of grassy areas to set up games throughout each park. There are also picnic tables and rest rooms.


On Spofford Lake in Chesterfield is Wares Grove is on Route 9A. The water is shallow for a long way out and is great for young children. The large sandy beach has a grassy area in the shade with picnic tables, a concession stand and a volleyball court, basketball, tetherball, and a swing set. There are bathrooms and grills. There are resident and non-resident fees.

For more information about swimming holes in the Monadnock region, click here.

In addition to directing Bridges Inn guests to places to swim, we can help you plan other activities to fit your particular interests.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"New" Chairs

Owning a house built in 1792 means that we continually make improvements, both inside and outside. We have updated the plumbing, electrical, and heating systems; we have replaced windows; done significant work on the slate roof; and landscaping. We have replaced ceilings, floors, walls, and wallpaper in various parts of the house, carefully striving to retain the antique character of the house.

Redecorating is one of the improvements that's most fun for me. By redecorating, I am referring to the aesthetic side of things, such as wallpaper, new curtains, furniture, antiques, and the like. Recently, we succeeded in blending the new with the old by purchasing a set of four chairs-- two with arms, two without -- from Attic-Antiks, a local antique store. We had the chairs reupholstered by Debbie Does Divans with fabric that matches existing dining room drapes and chairs and also fits in with the color scheme in the living room.

The two chairs with arms (shown below) fit in our living room beautifully and are quite comfortable, too. When we have a large group at the dining room table, we use them to increase the seating.

"New" chairs in the living room in front of the 70-year-old Christmas cactus
We only had six dining room chairs and when we had more than six people at the dining room table, we used a variety of unmatching chairs. The chairs without arms are now part of our dining room (shown below).


Below are two of the six dining room chairs that Debbie Does Divans reupholstered a few years ago. The original and "new" chairs match so well. Debbie has reupholstered many beautiful pieces of furniture in the inn and we value her precision and skill.


Shown below is the dining room table, set for breakfast. The runner on the table is made from the same fabric as the chairs. The dishes were a set we bought at  Attic-Antiks a couple of years ago.


Dishes shown close up
Our guests appreciate the details and extra little touches that we put into the inn. And we appreciate doing business with local companies that we can rely on. 

(Note that the fabric on the chairs and runners is from the same bolt of fabric. The lighting and time of day make the colors look very different in the photos.)