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Westminster, Massachusetts

Once stationed at Fort Devens Army Base, our proximity to Westminster was fifteen miles and as many minutes. We found a restaurant there, an old saw mill, called The Olde Mill, where the food and view were more than worth the effort in going. We now live about seventy miles from there, but manage to go at least twice a year – New Year’s Eve Day 2014 was our most recent trip and it did not disappoint. The restaurant is situated over water where a falls flows into a wooded stream, and ducks and geese, mostly domestic, live – they are fed left over salad and bread daily. The exit off route 2 is 27 onto Narrows Road, route 140. Turn left at the end of the exit, the restaurant is about half of one mile on the right.

The town of Westminster is like something out of an old-fashioned picture book or early nineteenth century film. The land is not flat, it is composed of rolling hills, twisting roads, woodlands and ponds. It is picturesque wherever you look.

With a present population of around seven thousand, the town was settled in 1737 and incorporated in 1759. The center and surrounding area find quaint and historic homes and other public buildings. The place is serenely charming.

Bordered by Ashburnham to the north, Gardner to the west, Princeton to the south and Leominster to the east, Westminster is conveniently located near major roads, shopping centers, skiing facilities, and absolute beauty. Route 2 west out of Boston takes you there in about one hour, an hour of interest in sights along the way.

Once home to the Westminster Cracker Company, from 1828 until 1970, the town is now host to the Wachusett Brewing Company and Aubuchon Hardware’s major distribution center.

Choose a sunny day, no matter how warm or cold, and treat yourself to a spectacular view while dining, and then browse the gift shop in their stone-walled basement. Aside from your dining experience, take time to drive in the area, enjoy the luxury of quiet charm where pastoral settings await.

Virginia Young – southshorewriter.com

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On one of summer’s last hurrah weekends Manchester, Vermont beckoned. On September 27th we journeyed from south of Boston north-west on route 2 to 91 north through Brattleboro and on to historic and beautiful route 7 north into Bennington (a blog for another day). Following route 7a north, the old route for the most enjoyable tourist experience, we traveled to Manchester – a town filled with history, beauty, and quaint authenticity.

The old and luxurious Equinox Hotel, one of the largest and most elegant in the country, perhaps the world, takes its place in the town’s center, surrounded with wonderfully manicured green space and ancient trees you’ll want to hug. The town stretches through multiple old homes and into a pleasing commercial area where there are divine antique stores (not overly priced), cafes, indoor and outdoor, an old-fashioned country store, and did I mention outlets? I’m not an outlet shopper, but for those who are, you name it, they’ve got it.

Aside from the beauty of the area, the most significant part of the weekend was a visit to Hildene. Located on route 7a, Hildene is the former home of Todd Lincoln, the only one of President Lincoln’s children to survive and live a lucrative life. His home is situated on five-hundred glorious acres of wooded and mountain land. From every standpoint on that property, there is cause to gasp at the breathtaking views of certainly one of the most gorgeous places on earth.

The house is large but warm – it has the appearance of welcoming a family in on a daily basis. Every room feels like a place where you could curl up with a good book, a cat on your lap and a dog at your feet – it’s inviting on every level.

The cost to go into the house is $18,00 – well worth it. Aside from wandering the spacious grounds surrounded with oaks and maples, the admittance allows you to view the goat farm where charming Nubian goats make their home, and from their offerings, the best cheese is made and sold. There is also Sunbeam, a pullman car which has been accurately restored to the time of Lincoln’s life. You may go onto that luxury car, with stained-glass windows and velvety cushions to greet its once-upon-a-time travelers. The best part is the little trolley transportation which every fifteen minutes, transports you from the welcome center (near the house) to the goat farm and then to the pullman car, Sunbeam. While it would be a beautiful walk on a nice day, these places are a distance apart on the five-hundred acres and you would probably welcome the ride through the woods where chipmunks and squirrels live happily with many natural foods to munch.

The last Lincoln to live there, Peggy, died in the late 1970’s. I would have been best buddies with her – she loved to read, adored both domestic and wild animals, and had her license to fly. While I never earned a license, I took flying lessons for a short while, My love of animals and books would have put Peggy and me in a similar space. One difference, she had money, I don’t. ūüôā

Going back again after Thanksgiving – they decorate Hildene for Christmas with mostly natural items found on the property. I’m sure it’s going to be a treat.

If there’s one place I would urge you to go it is to Manchester’s Hildene. That side of Vermont brushes shoulders with the state of New York – it’s heavenly.

Virginia Young – southshorewriter,com

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After a recent and rough-seas boat trip from Plymouth Harbor to the extreme tip of Cape Cod, we were delivered to delightful Provincetown where we enjoyed a bright sunny day.

As you approach P-town, as it is affectionately called, you cannot help but notice The Pilgrim Monument, a two-hundred and fifty-two foot high structure, all granite, with stairs to the top and a wonderful view of the area. A museum sits at the monument’s base giving visitors the opportunity to know more of the town’s history and livlihood in the 16 – 1700’s. Built between 1907-1910, the monument is ornate in European design – graceful yet orderly in stature, it is the tallest all- granite structure in the United States.

With year round inhabitants of about 3,000, during the summer months that number increases to 60,000. The day we were there, in early September 2014, the place was hopping with joyful activity.

Referred to as Province Lands in the 1600’s, the town became Provincetown in 1727.

What I found to be charming is the acceptance of all in this quaint and beautiful haven. The Gay community is prevalent there, where people who love one another are free to do so. It is evident watching men hold hands with men, women hold hands with women – no one is behaving in a way that could be construed as offensive. It is a place where you are free to meander shops and great food establishments with very reasonable prices, mingling with people who speak foreign languages – it is a mix of us – old and young, numerous skin colors and beliefs. The place is an example of how we should live, letting others be who they are while being friendly and kind ourselves.

Go – visit a place of beauty among artists of all kinds and people who you will remember. There are tons of dogs there as well, always a good addition.

Virginia Young – southshorewriter.com Books available on Kindle, Amazon and varying bookstores.

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Marion is a very quaint coastal town on the southern shores of Massachusetts. While I have written of this charming place before, I have not written about the Ansel S. Gurney House, a sensational gift store with ten rooms of wonderful items including women’s clothing of the finest quality.
At the back of the Ansel S. Gurney House, a structure built in the 1700’s and a former stagecoach stop, you will find an extremely pleasant restaurant where lunch is served from 11:30 each day – everything, quiche, salads, sandwiches, desserts, all homemade. You can go on line to take a look at this great place. While you will be enchanted with the interior, you will also find an enviable flower garden with brick paths to meander or to enjoy from your dining room window.
The staff there is friendly and informative – at the cash register, you will find a select collection of jewelry and ornaments – it’s impossible to go there without a purchase.
Also at this location, at 403 County Road in Marion, you will find many of my novels as well as wonderful books on many subjects mingled with a great variety of children’s books.
A trip to this restaurant and gift shop is an adventure you will repeat and that you are going to enjoy immensely.

Virginia Young – southshorewriter.com

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Marion, Massachusetts is the home of Tabor Academy, a high school for students and parents who are serious about education.

Aside from the attractive buildings and grounds of the famous school, Marion has much to offer in seaside charm. The quaint town is located near Wareham and Bourne, on route to Cape Cod. Sidewalks provide safe places to walk, exploring the town’s bookstore, general store, museum, post office and other shops. The attractive homes are snuggled into the village area, inviting you to take note of as you walk.

A lunch-time restaurant worth visiting is the Ansel S. Gurney House located on the main route into Marion’s center. Open for lunch at eleven-thirty, the fare is homemade and delicious. Your dining will be further enhanced by their back garden, visible as you dine. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and birds of all varieties visit there. In fact, when having lunch there one week ago, we spotted a nest of robins – three little mouths open to their parents’ feeding skills – just a few feet from our table’s window. Quite a treat to see the careful and caring procedure so close.

South of Boston by about one hour ( without traffic), Marion is the New England you will be glad to meet, and Gurney’s will provide you with an unforgettable experience. Once a stage coach stop, the old house has eleven rooms filled with gifts, clothing, toys, books, and kitchen items.

The experience is worth however far you might travel.

Virginia Young – southshorewriter.com

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Nestled along a picturesque harbor, Historic Wickford Village waits to be explored.

About two hours’ drive from Boston on Route 95 S, take Route 4 S to 102 S, exit 5A.¬† Three miles along Route 102, turn onto Brown Street and find yourself in the center of Wickford Village.¬† You will feel a calmness for the quiet, enchanting scenery.¬† It is not the rush of a more commercial waterfront town, it is the charm of history mingled with fine shops and restaurants situated along a scenic harbor dotted with colorful boats.

Recently, Yankee Magazine noted that there are “seven” New England States.¬† I read with interest that they have concluded that the seventh state is the sea.¬† Clever.¬† Other than beautiful Vermont, the other five New England states border the ocean with shorelines to deliver a thrill – the sea is immense and soothing, a huge attraction to most.

Settled in 1637, Wickford has been said to possess “One of the ten best¬†Main Streets in America.”¬† They begin in May with a festive Memorial Day Parade.¬† In June, a garden tour and in July an arts festival.¬† Vibrant fall foliage provides entertainment for a few months until December when the town proudly displays their Festival of Lights.¬†

Twenty minutes over a network of bridges, Wickford is a neighbor to beautiful Newport.  The entire area holds treasures and treats for everyone. With ample doses of pure New England charm, Wickford should not be overlooked.  A weekend or even a day in the area will provide you with the change of scenery you will not forget. 

Virginia Young, author Рsouthshorewriter.com 

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