Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Winter in the Monadnock Region

Winter at the Bridges Inn (from a previous year)

If you're uncertain about coming to the Monadnock Region during the winter, there’s plenty to warrant a trip here, and the quaintness and lack of crowds could be a plus. Whether you prefer outdoor activities or staying indoors, the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House is the perfect starting point for planning your Monadnock Region excursion. You'll enjoy our comfortable guest rooms and our acclaimed breakfasts in the morning. You can check availability and make a reservation online or give us a call at 603-357-6624.

As I write this, in early January, we have little to no snow in in Swanzey, but that will surely change, and portions of the Monadnock Region, particularly at higher elevations do have snow.

For outdoor lovers, there's plenty to do in the Monadnock Region.
  • There's skiing at Crotched Mountain, Bennington, NH - daily passes, seasonal passes, special events, lessons, and much more.

  • For sleigh rides, contact Iron Kettle Farm in Walpole, NH at 603-762-9168. Reservations are required.

    Sleigh Ride photo provided by Iron Kettle Farm, Walpole, NH

  • For skiing, Granite Gorge Mountain Park on Route 9 on the Keene/Roxbury line has just re-opened (as of January 15th).
  • Pisgah State Park, a 13,300-acre public recreation area located in the towns of Winchester, Chesterfield, and Hinsdale, NH offers trails for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and hiking. Their website has a map of winter trails and other information. 

  • 'Getting Lost Together' has featured 5 Places to Snowshoe in the Monadnock Region

  • Keene ICE in Keene has public skating. Check their calendar for open times.
      
  • Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey, offers cross-country skiing and hiking opportunities.

  • Dublin School Nordic Center in Dublin has trails designed to be challenging and fun. Contact them to see when the trails are open to the public.

  • The Shattuck Golf Course in Jaffrey has trails that are great for cross country skiing and showshoeing. Contact them to see when the trails are open to the public.

  • Stonewall Farm in Keene has Horse-drawn Wagon Rides, snowshoeing (bring your own or rent on-site) along their tranquil trail system. Plus there are winter camps for kids during school vacation weeks.

  • Keene Ice & Snow Festival, Sunday, February 5, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, a free day of family friendly fun in beautiful downtown Keene. 

    Ice sculpture in downtown Keene
  • Harris Hill Ski Jump, Brattleboro, VT; Friday, February 17 – Sunday, February 19,  Ski Jumping Competition offers spectators an opportunity to experience the Olympic sport, featuring jumpers from the US and abroad.

  • Wilson Pond Family Ice Fishing Derby, Saturday, February 18, 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Wilson Pond, Swanzey.
A sampling of some events happening this winter...
  • Friday, January 13 – Wednesday, January 18, Eva's Promise. The Park Theatre, Jaffrey, NH. On a train to Auschwitz, 17-year-old Heinz Geiringer told his sister Eva that he hid the paintings and poetry he created during his time in hiding beneath the attic floorboards. Heinz made Eva promise if he should die in the camps, she would retrieve the artwork. Today, his story sits in the shadow of the better-known Diary of Anne FrankClick here for tickets.

  • Saturday, January 14, 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM, Recycled Percussion returns to The Colonial Theatre in Keene; show packed full of surprises and crowd favorites in an incredible turbo-charged performance. Click here for tickets

  • Monday, January 16, 10:00 AM, Recovering Black History in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire, a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, at the Historical Society of Cheshire County in Keene. Click here to register.

  • Monday, January 16, 5:00 – 6:00 PM, Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., The Park Theatre, Jaffrey. Click here for details.

  • Saturday, January 21, 4:00 PM, Apple Hill String Quartet, Colonial Theatre, Keene. Click Here for tickets.

    Four Musicians - string quartet

  • Saturday, February 18, 7:00 - 10:00 PM, Nova Arts Block/Brewbakers Cafe, Keene, Mardi Gras Party with Folksoul Band and Point Noire Cajun Band.

  • Saturday, February 25, 8:00 PM, Best of Boston Comedy! at The Colonial Theatre in Keene. Click here for tickets.

  • March 10, 7:30 PM, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, at The Colonial Theatre in Keene. Click here for tickets.

  • Thinking of trying something different? Consider signing up for a class with Terrapin Glass Blowing Studio in Jaffrey. Register online or call for information or an appointment at (603) 593-5073. 
You will find many culinary delights in the Monadnock Region, from casual to upscale and ethnic to American fare. For a listing of places to eat in the region, see our Food and Drink page.

Sometimes a drive through the country can be satisfying, just enjoying the scenery without a destination in mind. Below is a sampling of what you might find in the Monadnock Region.

 A covered Bridge surrounded by snow and a black road
Winter river and snow - Peterborough
Amazing winter photo of a river (1/7/23, Peterborough) by Geoffrey Setttles

                                     
Photo courtesy of Harrisville, N.H. Police Department with caption, “Traffic jam on Nelson Road.  Please brake for moose.” 1/5/23

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Fall Favorites in the Monadnock Region

As I write this blog, autumn colors have not quite exploded, but within a few days, foliage colors will be bursting and there will be an abundance of uniquely fall things to do and see.

Aerial view of the Bridges Inn surrounded by fall colors
Aerial photo of the Bridges Inn (2021) by Jay Wold of Visual Balance Productions

Driving down side streets or anywhere in southwestern New Hampshire will be a treat. You don’t need a map or a recommended route because you will find colors everywhere. Early in the season, the most vivid colors are alongside swampy areas. Then the colors burst everywhere. Different varieties of deciduous trees change at different times, but the season always seems to go by quickly. The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development has an online Fall FoliageTracker, which tracks the color by region.

You'll find a stay at the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House enjoyable and there's an abundance of things to do in this region. 

Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House with colorful maple trees.
Autumn at the Bridges Inn (a previous year)

Things to Do in the Monadnock Region

During Columbus Day weekend, October 8-10, the Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour gives you a chance to not only see some vibrant colors along the roads but also to visit artists’ studios where you’ll see some beautiful and colorful creations.  Check out the studios that will be open during the Columbus Day weekend and plan your route.

Brochure featuring Art Tour

Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole is magnificent at this time of year. You can pick your own apples or stop in their farm store where you’ll find not only fresh apples but other local produce, products, apple pies, and gifts. Some days there are hot cider donuts from Pat's donut truck and some delicious pizza from Little Zoe's! From the orchard, there are beautiful views of the Connecticut River Valley and Vermont. 

Photo by Alyson's Orchard

The Monadnock Table and Alyson’s Orchard will be sponsoring the second annual Harvest Festival at Alyson’s Orchard. Art, food, drinks, animals, games and more await you on Oct. 16, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

While you’re in Walpole, you’ll find excellent food at the Restaurant at Burdick’s for French cuisine and pure deliciousness. But note that reservations are typically required. And if you’re a chocolate lover, check out Burdick’s Chocolate for some out-of-this-world chocolate confections. For casual dining or  take-out, you’ll find pizzas, salad, Greek food, burgers, grinders, and much more at Diamond PizzaAnd if you can’t make it to these places this time, you’ll be glad to know that they’re open year-round.

One of our favorite places to dine is Papagallos Restaurant (on Route 12, at the Keene  Swanzey border) which would be a great place to include in your fall foliage tour. In addition to serving delicious Italian food, pizza, seafood, steaks, desserts, and more, Papagallos is sensitive to gluten-free diets and other dietary needs.


Entrance of Papagallos Restaurant
Decorated for fall, Papagallos Restaurant

Hiking, Walking, and Biking

Mount Monadnock is beautiful any time of the year, but hikers find Monadnock State Park glorious in early fall. For those who don't want to climb the mountain, there are numerous trails at lower elevations. Information about trails up the mountain and around the Mountain can be found on the MonadnockState Park website.

Mount Monadnock surrounded by colorful foliage and a lake at
Autumn at Mount Monadnock, our region's gem

In addition to Monadnock State Park, you can find trails at a number of places in the Monadnock Region. Visiting any of these places you’ll feel satisfied that you experienced fall in New Hampshire.

The Covered Bridges

From the Bridges Inn, you can tour the six local covered bridges in just over an hour (by car) by following our covered bridge loop directions. Although the covered bridges are beautiful throughout the year, there’s something special about the fall glow. Our favorite Thompson Covered Bridge is visible from the front yard of the inn. A trip to the Monadnock Region wouldn't be complete without seeing the covered bridges. (Shown below, the Thompson Covered Bridge from fall 2021.)



About 40 minutes from the Bridges Inn is the Hancock-Greenfield (County) Covered Bridge, spanning the Contoocook River between the towns of Hancock and Greenfield.

Other Fall Festivals and Events in the Monadnock Region

We hope you enjoy your autumn adventures in the Monadnock Region during this very special time of year. However, if you can’t get here to see the autumn foliage, many of the activities mentioned in this blog – such as the restaurants and covered bridges – are here for your enjoyment any time of the year. 






Tuesday, June 28, 2022

What to Expect at a Bed & Breakfast

Many of our guests regularly stay at Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) and seek them out whenever they travel. But even those who routinely stay at B&Bs, there was a first time. For those who have never stayed at a B&B, I will try to explain the benefits of a B&B and why we excel at what we do. While every B&B is different, and we cannot speak for all B&Bs, we tend to share similar standards, values, and atmosphere. And for those who are familiar with B&Bs, don’t write this off as not being for you, because the Bridges Inn has its unique flavor of ambiance and atmosphere. (One of our guests found the inn so inviting that he made a painting of it.)

Painnting of the back (west) of the Bridges Inn by David Ignaszewski

As a B&B, the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House has a food service license, a NH Meals & Rentals Tax license, we comply with applicable local, county, state, and federal regulations, and we are insured, which might set us apart from Airbnbs. The Bridges Inn first became a B&B in 1996 and it keeps evolving for the better – we have been learning and improving for over 15 years since we bought it in 2006.

A B&B merges the benefits of a hotel with the benefits of a home. Many of our guests tell us that the Bridges Inn feels like home. It’s more personalized than a hotel and the guest rooms are all uniquely furnished and appointed, just like home; there are no cookie-cutter rooms. Our rooms are comfortable, attractive, and have private bathrooms.

Coombs Bridge Room

We have the amenities that you’d expect when traveling, such as TVs, hair dryers, ironing board and iron, plenty of towels, soap, shampoo, self-serve coffee and tea 24/7, and WiFi. We have a computer and printer for those wanting to print their boarding passes or other documents.  Also, because the B&B is our home, we have items that people don’t tend to pack but might need when traveling such as scissors, Band-Aids, scotch tape, thread and needles, corkscrew, magnifying mirror, and distilled water.

Our guests like our environment, offering the benefits of home, unlike an Airbnb, where you might feel like you’re in the middle of a family’s living room or kitchen, but not institutional like a hotel. You can find the balance between privacy and opportunities to socialize with others. We have many common areas, where you can play board games, read, watch a movie, sit by the fire (seasonally) or enjoy the yard and gardens (seasonally) in our porch or gazebo (seen below).

Pink flowering bush with gazebo and inn

We are a family-run B&B, known for our hospitality. We can help you with your travels, but we are not intrusive – you have as much privacy as you want or need. Because we live on the premises, we are always available to assist you or answer questions, providing a friendly and warm atmosphere not available at hotels. We can help by making suggestions about activities that interest you from outdoor hikes and recreation to shopping and restaurants. We customize our recommendations to your specific interests and needs. We are here to serve. On our website, our “About the Area” page has an abundance of information about activities, restaurants, day trips, and other pertinent information about the area. The Thompson Covered Bridge can be seen from our front yard and five more covered bridges are within easy driving distance.

Ashuelot Covered Bridge - white bridge with red roof
Ashuelot Covered Bridge

Meeting other people is something that our guests enjoy. You might be joined at breakfast with people from Europe, Canada, Australia, or any of the states in the USA. People treasure the connections they make here, but for those who prefer a bit of space, we can seat you in a separate dining area or at a different time where guests don’t have to mingle with others. We used to schedule breakfast at a time when people can dine and socialize with other guests, but since the pandemic, we have been more cognizant of allowing people to eat separately.

We take guests’ dietary requirements and preferences into consideration. We serve a scrumptious, multi-course breakfast in the formal dining room on bone china with sterling silver and cloth tablecloth and napkins. We use many locally produced ingredients and products, such as local maple syrup, locally roasted coffee, and in season, fresh herbs and vegetables from our own garden and locally grown produce. Breakfast fare is abundant. In addition to plenty of fresh fruit, we serve baked goods such as homemade bread, muffins, scones, fruit breads, apple crisp, pancakes or waffles; an egg dish; a breakfast meat, such as sausages or bacon; and often potatoes and/or vegetable accompaniments. Breakfasts are typically served family style with numerous options, so you can pick and choose, from options customized to your likes or restrictions.  

Breakfast table with china, floral centerpiece, and lots of food

At the Bridges Inn, you can come and go as you please. People sometimes ask if there are curfews. After you check in, you can schedule activities according to your needs, as you can gain access to the main entrance and have a key to your room. And if you want to leave before typical breakfast hours, we can usually make arrangements to accommodate you.

While a B&B is not for everyone, especially those who prefer the anonymity and seclusion of a hotel room, most of our guests tell us that they love it here, and many are repeat guests who come back year after year. If you haven’t yet stayed here, you might want to give us a try. Don’t just go on our word – see what our guests say about us. Below are a few samples of reviews.

     Reviews on booking.com:

     Reviews on the Bridges Inn website

Visit our website (www.bridgesinn.com) for detailed information about the inn or give us a call at 603-357-6624 if you have questions.

















Thursday, October 21, 2021

Taking a Piece of New Hampshire Home with You

When guests come to the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House, they don’t just experience our bountiful breakfasts and warm hospitality, they also get a taste of New Hampshire. We use many locally made products in our breakfasts and throughout the inn. We also sell many products in our small gift shop, allowing guests to take remembrances home with them.

Gift shop cabinet at the inn with mugs, maple syrup, books, soap, and many more locally made products
Our gift shop / showcase is visible at the entrance of the inn

We’ll start with the food products. We have been getting preserves, elderberry syrup, and mustard from a local organic farm, Cheshire Garden in Winchester, NH, for many years. Their products are delicious, made of fresh ingredients, and not too sweet. Our guests love the fruit preserves – peach, Damson plum, and many varieties of berries.

Shown are some of Cheshire Garden's tasty preserves

We serve local maple syrup at breakfast-time with pancakes or waffles. We also sell local maple syrup, some of which might come from our own maple trees. We have two major sources of maple syrup, one of which is the Slate Bridge Sugar House, located here in Swanzey, who taps our maple trees each spring. Our other source of maple syrup is Crescendo Acres Farm in nearby Surry, NH.

Plenty of maple syrup plus gluten-free granola 

Speaking of maple, a local company, Maple Nut Kitchen, just down the street from us, makes many flavors of tasty gluten-free, vegan granola, which we offer to our guests, particularly to those with dietary restrictions. The granola includes a variety of ingredients such as dried fruit, nuts, lavender, and toasted oats.  

Recently we began stocking our guest bathrooms with Sunflower Herbal Soap, locally made in small batches in Surry, NH. Scents include golden ginger oat, lemongrass, lavender, herb garden, sweet mint, and orange cinnamon. Our guests enjoyed the soap in the bathrooms so much that we decided to offer it for sale in our gift shop in both small and large bars.

 
Sunflower Herbal Soap in many scents and two sizes

And we love Badger natural body care products, which "blend organic plant extracts, exotic oils, beeswax, and minerals to make the safest, most effective products possible to soothe, heal and protect." Our gift shop carries Badger products such as lip balm, headache soother, foot balm, hand balm, anti-bug balm, and sunscreen.

Some of the Badger products we carry

We also have mugs, which are a favorite remembrance of a stay at the Bridges Inn. One series of mugs features the covered bridges of Swanzey, two bridges per mug. The other series features the Bridges Inn with photos of the inn at various seasons and other shots inside and outside the inn.


Many patterns of Bridges Inn mugs (shown, 11 oz.)

We have ornaments, one of which is a  3-D covered bridge with "Bridges Inn" etched on one edge of the roof and "Swanzey, NH" etched on the other edge of the roof. We also carry the New Hampshire series of Country Christmas Eggs ornaments.


We also have alpaca finger puppets from Crescendo Acres Farm. These adorable animal puppets are particularly popular for guests to buy for their children or grandchildren, but to be honest, they appeal to people of all ages -- they're so darn cute!

Adorable finger puppets for people of all ages

Plus, we have magnets, note cards, books, and other mementos of your New Hampshire visit. If you can't make it to Swanzey but see something that you want, contact us (innkeeper@bridgesinn.net) because we can ship it to you,

 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Burst of Spring

With the seemingly never-ending pandemic and few guests at the inn, I have not been inspired to write blogs. But suddenly, with a burst of spring and a surge in reservations, it’s time for an update on what is happening in the region. Flowers are always a warm welcome when approaching the inn.

Azaleas, gazebo, and view of the inn
Azaleas in bloom near the gazebo

Occupancy at the inn was sparse over the winter months; so we used the time to make improvements to the building, such as interior painting to spruce things up a bit.

We have a new sign at the entrance to our parking lot to greet you. Not than anyone ever missed our Bridges Inn sign, but the old, chipped sign certainly needed replacing. The new sign even matches the colors of the house, much of which was painted last summer.

Green lettering on white background - Bridges Inn sign

We bought some new TVs, so now all guest rooms have TVs, ready for streaming.

We put effort into landscaping, coupled with help from Mother Nature, resulting in some beautiful grounds. In early spring, we enjoyed forsythia at the rear of the parking lot, daffodils in the front yard, and the magnolia tree in full bloom on the side, near the parking lot.

Side-by-side photos of forsythia (left) and daffodils (right)

Magnolia tree in full bloom

Then came the lilacs, irises, azaleas, and peonies. Fortunately, our gardens were planned so that something is in bloom throughout the summer. 

In addition to all the flowers, spring seems to have brought many visitors to the Monadnock Region. While life has not returned to normal, more businesses are open and there are fewer restrictions. To keep visitors and residents as safe and healthy as possible, we are providing some information below to help you plan your trip.

  • New Hampshire has seen COVID numbers decrease, due to more and more people being vaccinated, social distancing, and wearing masks. Although the governor lifted NH’s mask mandate as of April 16th and the City of Keene’s face covering ordinance ends on June 1st, residents and visitors are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines for safety. Also, individual businesses might have policies for wearing masks in their establishments.

  • If coming from outside the area, please see NH COVID-19 Travel Guidance and information for out-of-state visitors.

  • Any NH State Park that normally charges an entrance fee will be open via reservation only this year. It's best to call ahead before venturing out.

  • Some businesses are currently operating with restricted hours or capacity, so it is a good idea to call ahead of time and make a reservation if needed. Most restaurants offer outdoor dining and take-out service as well as safe indoor dining, following CDC and State guidelines. Some restaurants have limited seating or limited hours.

  • Not all programs and attractions may be open at this time, so it’s a good idea to be informed before making a trip. Even during a normal (non-pandemic) year, some attractions do not open until after Memorial Day.

If spring has gotten you thinking about a get-away to the Monadnock Region, please check us out. We can be reached at (603) 357-6624, via our website (or make an online reservation), or by email. We are vaccinated and taking extra precautions during to ensure your safety and ours.

If you visit during the warmer season, you'll probably be greeted by beautiful flowers.















Friday, September 11, 2020

Progress during a Pandemic (Part 2 of 2)

The pandemic continued on, guests were few and far between, and we continued to make progress here at the Bridges Inn. Our recent blog, Progress during a Pandemic (Part 1 of 2) discussed some of the projects we worked on, with the spotlight on the redesigned Bridges Inn website.

We also made many improvements to the property, both inside and outside.

Painting

During the colder months, we painted some interior areas, such as woodwork/molding and closets. Then when the weather improved, we focused on exterior painting. Much of the exterior is vinyl siding which is essentially maintenance-free. But the north section of the building, at the garage end, really needed painting. After a lot of scraping and gallons of paint, our casa blanca against the deep blue sky is striking!

Large white house being painted


Large white house freshly painted

New chandeliers

The double parlor is graced with new chandeliers! This was a huge project both because of the difficulty finding lighting fixtures that are suitable for the d├ęcor of a house built in 1792 and because of the electrical updating required. Also, the ceiling is not exceptionally high which meant the chandeliers could not hang too low. But we finally found the right chandeliers.

Our electrician has been here many times over the years to update the electrical wiring, which meant replacing knob and tube wiring, and in some cases doing a bit of detective work to locate the wiring behind the plaster and find the path to the circuit box. Thanks to his skill, the installed chandeliers are a beautiful enhancement, adding charm to the double parlor! 

The double parlor with Victorian wallpaper and two new antique-styled chandeliers, each with five pink etched domes, visible

Close-up of one of the antique chandeliers with five pink etched domes

Yard and Garden

Warmer weather also gave us a chance to work on the grounds. Our biggest accomplishments were the landscaping and the gardens. We have carefully selected flowering plants so that something is in bloom at all times from late spring until fall. For example, we have daffodils, magnolias, lilacs, rhododendrons, peonies, lilies, irises, hosta, roses, hydrangeas, daisies, morning glories, phlox, and sunflowers, to name a few (plus some that I don’t know that they are called). Our guests love sitting out front in the gazebo or out back in the screened-in porch.

Currently, we are enjoying our burst of sunflowers and phlox, some of which become out centerpiece at the breakfast table.



 

And last but not least are the blueberries, vegetables, and herbs. Our herbs this year consisted of chives, marjoram, oregano, mint, basil, dill, cilantro, and rosemary. The basil was plentiful enough to make many batches of pesto, which we freeze for use in breakfasts. We’ve had cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, pea pods, and more. Whenever possible, we integrate the fresh items into breakfast, and whatever we don’t grow here, we get from farmers markets or local farm stands. Summer 2020 has been a real treat in terms of fresh edibles!

A bowl of freshly picked basil
 

A pint of cherry tomatoes from the garden

Whether you’re a regular guest or simply thinking about a trip to southwest New Hampshire, please check us out. We can be reached at (603) 357-6624, via our website, or by email. We are taking extra precautions during the pandemic to ensure your safety and ours. If you check out our reviews, you’ll see that others have greatly enjoyed their stay here.