Friday, February 14, 2020

Antiques, Antiques, Antiques

Until I bought the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House over 13 years ago, I had little interest in antiques. I had always lived in a newer home but moving into the fully furnished inn, built in 1792, chock full of antiques and vintage items, gave me new reason to be interested in antiques. Over the years, antiquing has become a passion.

As much as I like antiques, I’m definitely not a connoisseur, because I primarily judge the value of a piece by such factors as how well it will go in the room, the condition of the piece, and whether I like it, not by how much I could sell it for some day. Sometimes functionality matters but some beautiful antiques are meant to be observed, like a museum piece, and not used. My collection of antiques might be considered eclectic.

My favorite piece that I have acquired thus far is the four-poster king bed frame, with detailed woodwork and inlaid wood in the headboard, that graces the Thompson Bridge Room. I bought this from the Cheshire Curio Shop on Route 12 in Swanzey, at the Cheshire Fairgrounds. I have since bought many items there, such as a bureau with mirror for the Coombs Bridge Room.
Four-poster king bed in the Thompson Bridge Room
I love this king bed frame, not because of its value as an antique, but because it looks like it was made for the Thompson Bridge Room. If you think about it, there’s probably no such thing as an antique king bed frame – it’s an antique reproduction – because “historically most beds were ‘twins’ or ‘doubles’ but in the mid-1940s larger mattresses were introduced by manufacturers. These were later standardized as ‘queen’ and ‘king’, and first made a significant impact on the market in the 1950s and 60s." [Bed sizes/North America,Wikipedia]

In our first-floor bathroom, we have a functional antique tin tub built into a wooden enclosure. It came with the house and I do not know how long it has been here – I’m guessing it was installed in the mid 1800s but I have no information on its history other than being told it’s “the oldest tin tub in Swanzey.” I suspect that’s true and that it’s likely the only tin tub in Swanzey. What I do know is that people love filling it with hot water and bubble bath (and sometimes rose petals) and soaking in there. A glass of wine is a nice accompaniment, too.

Functional antique tin tub
Another little gem that came with the inn when I bought it was this antique ice cream maker, patented in 1910. While I’ve never attempted to make ice cream using this hand-cranked ice cream maker, I appreciate such antiques as a reminder that it wasn’t until the 1940s that refrigerator and freezer units became common in homes, and as technology advanced over the years, ice cream became readily available commercially.

Hand-cranked Ice Cream Maker 

Inside the ice cream maker says, “Pat. June 21, 1910 Made in USA”

The dining room might be my favorite room in terms of antiques. Not only did the inn come with several sets of antique and vintage china that we use daily for our B&B breakfasts, but also an antique tea wagon (shown below, on the left of the highchair) and an antique sideboard buffet with mirror (shown below). A few years ago, I bought an antique wooden highchair and stroller combination chair with cane-woven seat (shown below, on right) from Colony Antiques in Keene, where I have found many treasures over the years.

Bridges Inn dining room 

And there's also our old Christmas cactus that came with the inn when I bought it. The giant Christmas cactus is about 75 years old now which I think qualifies it as an antique. I do not have a green thumb, so it is a bit of a miracle that after over 13 years of living at the Bridges Inn, the Christmas cactus is thriving. When a branch falls off, I just stick it in dirt and water it; it forms roots and the offspring become beautiful, blooming plants. We have given away numerous plants over the years. More information about this amazing plant can be found on our blog.

The giant Christmas cactus (rear) and the offspring in a separate pot (front)

To observe the antiques and vintage items at the Bridges Inn, please visit us. You can reserve by booking direct at (you can Check Availability first) or by calling us at 603-357-6624. You’ll find treasures throughout the inn, some vintage and some antique, such as doll carriages (prams), saddle shoes and old clothes, a handmade wool quilt, marble-top bureau with mirror (in Coombs Bridge Room), and a Magee Oxford wood stove which is now used as our our "desk" and rack card display. 


The Monadnock Region has numerous antique shops. If you’re interested in antiquing, refer to the list below for some of our favorite antique shops in the area:
  • Bowerbird & Friends, Peterborough, 18th through 20th century antiques and furnishings, a selection of new accessories and décor; a unique collection of casual farmhouse style furnishings, ironstone, glassware, linens, uncommon accessories, re-purposed & painted furniture, glassware, jewelry, rare books and ephemera, illustrated children's books, and unique and hard-to-find trees, shrubs and perennials (Spring through Fall)
  • Cheshire Curio Shop, Swanzey, offering unique and special items, from furniture to antiques to new items and artwork; often offering collections from estate sales; new acquisitions posted on Facebook weekly
  • Colony Antiques, Keene, multi-dealer antique shop offering a variety of items including antiques, vintage items, collectibles, books, jewelry, and eclectic items; note that Colony Antiques will be closed for renovations until April (2020)
  • The Simple Nest, Keene, offering antiques, furniture, home furnishings, timeless décor, dwelling essentials, new and vintage finds, gifts, jewelry, and linens
About an hour from the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House are two of southern New Hampshire’s largest multi-dealer antique shops that antique lovers won’t want to miss. The New Hampshire Antiques Coop and the Antiques and Collectibles Mall of New England, LLC are about 15 minutes apart, and could easily be visited on the same trip.
  • New Hampshire Antiques Coop, Milford, NH, offers period furniture, fine art, country antiques, porcelain, silver, jewelry, coins, vintage, collectibles, books, mid-century modern, affordable home furnishings and distinctive décor; featuring more than 200 dealers and 2,000 consignors selling quality merchandise in showcases, room settings, booths, display spaces, and fine art gallery
  •  Antiques and Collectibles Mall of New England, LLC, Greenville, NH, multi-dealer antique and vintage collectibles and home décor, such as furniture, hunting, fishing, militaria, gold, silver and costume jewelry, artwork, toys, coins, glass, pottery, hardware, musical instruments, tools and lamps 

Written by Susan Karalekas, who owns the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Scrumptious Breakfasts at the Bridges Inn

Aaahh, the joy of waking up to the smell of Chef David’s homemade bread and his delectable breakfast is one of the reasons our guests keep coming back to the Bridges Inn! We take pride in our acclaimed breakfasts, which are bountiful, varied, healthful, and tasty; and the presentation is part of the experience. Many first-time guests choose the Bridges Inn because our guests rave about breakfast in their online reviews.

Chef David taking a loaf of bread out of the oven
Chef David taking a loaf of bread out of the oven
Two loaces of bread cooling on the counter
We can never have too much of David's homemade bread
The word “scrumptious” comes up in many of the reviews of our multi-course breakfast, which we serve in the formal dining room on bone china with sterling silver and cloth/linen tablecloth and napkins. We have enough sets of china that you’d have to stay here quite a few days to see the same china twice. The abundant breakfast fare is typically served buffet-style with fresh flowers as a centerpiece.
A different set of china with a beautiful floral arrangement, ready for breakfast
Dining room table set for breakfast with a beautiful floral arrangement

Dining room table set for breakfast (different set of china) with dahlias as centerpiece the pitcher of dark orange juice is freshly pressed carrot juice
Dining room table set for breakfast with dahlias as centerpiece;
the pitcher of dark orange juice is freshly pressed carrot juice
Coffee and tea are available 24/7 at the Bridges Inn, and guests typically come down early for freshly brewed coffee. Plus there are plenty of fruit juices from which to choose. (Shown above, freshly pressed carrot juice, sometimes served in addition to orange juice, tomato juice, and cranberry juice.)

Breakfast is typically served between 7:30 and 9:30 AM, determined the night before, based on the guests’ needs/schedules. We also take guests’ dietary requirements and preferences into consideration. Arrangements can be made for something to go for those who must eat outside of regular breakfast times.

We use many locally produced ingredients and products, such as local maple syrup, locally roasted coffee, and in season, fresh vegetables and herbs from our own garden and locally grown produce. We always serve plenty of fresh fruit, frequently in Susan’s carved watermelon basket, which is a favorite. We also make the best of seasonal fruit by making fruit breads, apple crisp, blueberry muffins, cherry or peach cobbler, and more.
David's apple crisp (on left) and Susan's carved watermelon basket filled with fresh, cut fruit
David's apple crisp (on left) and Susan's carved watermelon basket
Freshly made cherry cobbler on a plate with some fresh cherries with stems
Freshly made cherry cobbler

We always serve at least one egg dish, such as a quiche or frittata, and provide eggs-to-order on request. Chef David comes up with some unique offerings, such as using breaded baked eggplant slices instead of an English muffin for the base for something like eggs Benedict. He might use large portabella mushrooms as the "pie crust" for a quiche or other egg dish. Shown below are breaded baked eggplant slices topped with a poached egg, roasted red peppers and spinach, a homemade cream sauce, and melted cheese.
(2) breaded, baked eggplant slices topped with poached egg, roasted red peppers and spinach in a cream sauce topped with cheese on a pink china plate
Breaded, baked eggplant slices topped with poached egg, roasted
red peppers and spinach in a cream sauce, and melted cheese
We typically serve at least one breakfast meat, such as sausages, bacon, or ham. We find that many people do not make bacon at home so they are delighted to wake up to the smell of bacon

Plus, we often serve potatoes and/or vegetable accompaniments.

Our menus vary from day to day, and if you’re here for several days, we’ll come up with a different menu every day.

If you’ve never stayed at the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House, give us a try. Our guests tell us our breakfasts are phenomenal! 

Friday, March 8, 2019

New Photos of the Interior of the Inn

We have owned the Bridges Inn for over 12 years and had never had the inn professionally photographed. We recently had Mark Corliss Photography / Multi-media Creations over for a day to photograph the inside of the inn. One of the benefits of waiting so long is that we have enhanced the rooms with changes such as new furnishings, bedspreads, wallpaper, and refinished hardwood floors over the years.

The main motive for getting professional photographs of the rooms was to update our website, which we are in the process of doing. Meanwhile, I am offering a sneak preview of the interior of the inn.

Guests enjoy hanging out in the double parlor, whether to socialize or play board-games with friends or to listen to music or watch TV. There's also a computer with a printer for guest use. And note on the lower left corner of the photo is our 70+ year old Christmas cactus, still in bloom.

Panoramic view of double parlor (aka the living room)

The formal dining room is where our bountiful, scrumptious, breakfasts are served on bone china with sterling silver and linen tablecloth and napkins. Guests also use the dining room during the day for coffee, tea, a snack, or simply to chat with one another.

Panoramic view of the dining room

All of our guest rooms are named for the nearby covered bridges. Each guest room is uniquely decorated and has plenty of amenities, such as in-room coffee makers, complimentary bottled water and chocolates, and air conditioning in warmer months.

The Coombs Bridge Room has an antique wood queen-size bed with pillow-top mattress with warm green and gold décor, cable TV, and a private (en suite) bathroom.

The Coombs Bridge Room

The spacious, comfortable, Thompson Bridge Room has a king-size bed with a four-poster bed frame with a headboard with inlaid wooden detail, cable TV, and a private (en suite) bathroom with an oversized shower.

The Thompson Bridge Room

The Ashuelot Bridge Room has two twin beds, pleasant blue and rose décor, cable TV, and a private bathroom across the hall (we provide bathrobes).

The Ashuelot Bridge Room

The Slate Bridge Room has a brass queen-size bed with pillow-top mattress and the Victorian pink and white décor give the feeling of centuries past. The private (en suite) bathroom has a bath tub in addition to a shower.

The Slate Bridge Room

 The Carlton Bridge Room has an antique wood double bed with regal, romantic burgundy and green décor, cable TV, and a private (en suite) bathroom.

The Carlton Bridge Room
We welcome you to come and experience the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House. Enjoy our memorable breakfasts and one of our comfortable guest rooms. To make a reservation, call us at 603-357-6624 or visit our website and click on our Reservations button to make a reservation.

Best wishes from innkeepers Nick, David, and Susan

Photo by Mark Corliss

Friday, June 29, 2018

Improvements to the Exterior of the Inn

We love to keep the Bridges Inn in tip-top shape both inside and out. We’re continually upgrading and improving the interior of the building. In Spring 2018, we concentrated on the exterior, tackling some much-needed work on the grounds.

We began by having McClure’s Tree Service prune the huge maple trees, including removal of problem branches. Sadly, one unhealthy maple tree and one oak tree had to be removed, which we knew was better to be done proactively than to wait for a storm to take them down. Trimming the trees has helped make the yard look much neater.

McClure's crane pruning the old maple trees

The next project was to replace the greatly deteriorated concrete carriage path, which was done by Wilder Excavating. First the old concrete had to be removed; then the surface was filled with sand; metal rods were carefully positioned to reinforce the cement; then the cement was poured.
Removing the old concrete
Filled with sand; metal rods (foreground) cement being poured (background)

Concrete carriage path completed
The final task was to pave the gravel parking lot, which had deteriorated over the years and got a bit muddy when it rained. M&L Asphalt Services LLC did the paving, first removing the material that was there and then filling and leveling the surface before applying the asphalt. The parking lot looks so much nicer and will be much easier to maintain in the winter. 
Laying the asphalt, spreading and flattening it with a steamroller

Paved parking lot is completed
We were pleased with all three contractors. These improvements to the grounds feel like such an accomplishment! And our guests have been complimenting us on the appearance of the property. 

We're not quite done for this year's projects. The pathway going to the back of the house still needs to be redone and we’ll continue to work on landscaping. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

It's Time for Maple Sugaring

Buckets on the maple trees are one of the early signs of spring here in New Hampshire. Although Maple Sugaring Month is from March 10th through April 1st, ideal conditions with cold nights and warm days are what actually determine when the thawed sap runs. This year, the maple producers began tapping trees early, and many have already started to boil the sap to make maple syrup. The large, old, maple trees at the Bridges Inn are being tapped (shown below).

Maple buckets at the Bridges Inn
Our favorite grand maple tree
The Faulkners from Covered Bridge Maple Syrup House in West Swanzey gather the sap, which is a clear liquid that looks like water. Shown below is a bucket with a few inches of sap.

It takes a lot of sap to make syrup. In fact, the general rule of thumb is that it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup, which is dependent on the sugar content of the sap.

In addition to getting maple syrup from the Faulkners, we rely on Crescendo Acres Farm in Surry. Shown below are Keith (left) and Russ (right) Fiorey of Crescendo Acres, stopping for a pose while boiling sap in their sugar house.

For a list of maple syrup producers participating in the New Hampshire Maple Sugaring Month and the annual Maple Weekend, click here.

Make a reservation at the Bridges Inn for your March stay, mention this blog, and we'll give a 10% discount on any room. Of course, our scrumptious breakfast will be included. You'll also want to visit one of the local sugar houses to see and smell the experience of boiling sap.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Still Screaming for Ice Cream

Usually by mid-September, we've accepted that cooler weather has set in and summer is almost a memory. But this week has been in the 80's and fairly humid. I'm glad we haven't removed our air conditioners because they're on tonight.

And I find that little is more satisfying in hot weather than ice cream. Actually, I like ice cream any time of year but it's particularly refreshing in hot weather.

The Monadnock Region has an abundance of ice cream shops, most of which we made it to this summer. We had 9-year old and 12-year old grandchildren living with us this summer so regular trips for ice cream cones was a priority. Local ice cream shops are listed below in no particular order; we liked them all or I wouldn't have included them in this post.

We went to Walpole Creamery on Main Street in Keene many times this summer for their "super premium ice cream." They offer a wide selection of traditional flavors plus some exotic flavors such as Fijan Ginger. Not only is Walpole Creamery ice cream available at their shop in Keene and in their Walpole parlor, but also in many grocery stores. Walpole Creamery boasts fresh ingredients "from Cow to Cone."

Another gem in the area is Kimball Farms in Jaffrey. There are three other Kimball's locations, but Jaffrey is the only one in the Monadnock Region. According to Kimball's website, "with over 50 fantastic flavors, ice cream is Kimball Farm’s claim to fame and it is as good as ice cream gets."

We also like Life is Sweet, located in Central Square the heart of downtown Keene, which specializes in candy, chocolate, cupcakes, and ice cream. The hard ice cream is available in many flavors and you can make your own custom flavor of soft serve ice cream.

Friendly's on West Street in Keene has many flavors of ice cream as well as sundaes and other ice cream treats.

Frozen yogurt, a lower calorie alternative to ice cream, can be found at Yolo Frozen Yogurt at 12 Gilbo Avenue in downtown Keene.

A newcomer to the region, Keene Confectioners Pastry Shoppe, located on 10 West Street in downtown Keene, offers ice cream in addition to other homemade desserts. We did not make it to this pastry shoppe this summer but hope to in the near future.

We also like Rick's Ice Cream on 58 Key Road in Keene. Their ice cream is delicious; they have a great assortment of cones and toppings galore.

Secord's on Route 10 in West Swanzey has numerous flavors of hard ice cream and soft serve ice cream. Located just over a mile from the inn, Secord's was an easy ice cream stop with the grandchildren.

For many years we have bought chocolates from Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates on 43 Grove Street in Peterborough but they have also gained quite a reputation for their ice cream. If their ice cream is as good as their chocolates, it's worth the trip.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mount Monadnock

The Monadnock Region is a beautiful place to explore for several reasons.  There is something for everyone, but the highlight of the region may be the mountain whose name it bears. Late spring is a beautiful time of year to hike Mount Monadnock, not too hot and not too cold.

Photo taken from Monadnock Berries in Troy

"Monadnock" is said to be the local Abenaki word for "mountain that stands alone" and from the top, it can be seen that few other large peaks are nearby. Mount Monadnock is generally considered the second most climbed mountain in the world; only Mount Fuji in Japan is climbed more. Mount Monadnock is 3,165 feet tall.  While it may not seem very tall, as far as mountains go, it can be a challenge to climb and physically demanding.  But for someone who is prepared, it can be a very rewarding climb. Many trails of various distances and grades all lead to the summit, where you can see in all directions for as far as the eye can see.

Located in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, Mount Monadnock is about a half an hour from the Bridges Inn, depending on the trail head.  Some of the trail heads are located within Monadnock State Park, with headquarters located on Dublin Road between Route 101 in Dublin and Route 124 in Jaffrey. On the Dublin side, it is called Upper Jaffrey Road and in Jaffrey, it is called Dublin Road.

The White Cross and the White Dot Trails run to the summit from the headquarters.  Both trails are under four miles round-trip and considered to be strenuous routes to the summit.  Bald Rock awaits hikers, offering a glimpse at things to come.  Parts of the trail may require using your hands to climb. These trails should give you a good work-out.

Photo taken from the White Dot Trail

Just north of headquarters on Dublin Road, you'll find Gilson Pond, where there is a State campground as well as the Birchtoft/Red Spot Trail.  This trail is three and a half miles, beginning quite gradually and then quickly ascending the mountain.

On Route 124 in Jaffrey, there is another State Park Ranger station.  It consists of a small shed and a parking area.  All of the State facilities will charge five dollars per adult.  This trail here on Route 124 runs past the site of a former hotel, so it is called the Old Halfway House Trail.  There is a network of trails; the main trail follows the white arrows.  It is three and a half miles to the summit and back. Some people have hiked it in less than three hours. Shown below near the beginning of the Old Halfway House Trail and then closer to the top is our little Eduardo, now nine years old, who has been hiking Mount Monadnock with his family since he was a toddler.

The White Arrow/Old Toll Road, which may be the most popular trail.  The first half is easy because there is the option of a forested trail or a dirt road.  However, the second half quickly begins to start feeling like you are climbing a mountain.  The trail is mostly covered in boulders and stones, and some places are rather steep, but it is possible for those who push themselves.

Eduardo needed a rest at the top

The Dublin Trail is a little over four miles, running in a line up the mountain's north face.  Since it is not a State facility, there is no parking fee.  It is also a less crowded trail, which is important because Monadnock can be quite busy during the nice weather, especially on the weekends.  The Dublin Trail is moderately difficult, but worth the effort.  A small parking area can be found on Old Troy Road in Dublin, near Dublin Lake and Route 101.

Also ascending the mountain from the Dublin Lake area is the Pumpelly Trail.  It is the most challenging trail. The summit is four and a half miles, so it is nine miles round-trip and would take an entire day to hike.  The trail is noted for its views, particularly during foliage season, as well as interesting geological formations.  There is also a notable absence of other people.

Finally, there is the Marlborough Trail.  It can be reached from Route 124, on Shaker Farm Road in Marlborough.  Each way is a little over four miles, because the parking area is a distance from the base of the mountain.  There is a lot of tree and plant life to be seen, and rocks to be explored.

Additional information about hiking Mount Monadnock can be found on the Monadnock Travel Council's website.

A stay at the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House coupled with a hike up Mount Monadnock makes for a memorable get-away.