Posts Tagged ‘exploring’

Scenes from a day out in Gloucester.

tea plates cafe table
Tea at the Pleasant Street Coffee Bar & Tea Company (with a raspberry jam turnover).

flip flops sidewalk
Enjoying flip-flop weather for as long as it lasts.

jer bookstore
The hubs did some reading while I browsed at the Bookstore of Gloucester.

guitar rug
And we found a super cool rug outside Mystery Train Records.

Hope you’re having a gorgeous weekend.

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Practically since we moved here, J and I have been intending to visit Newport, R.I. It’s only an hour south of our house, but for some reason we’d never made it there. Until a recent Saturday afternoon, when we decided to take advantage of the autumn sunshine and hopped in the car.

It was lunchtime when we arrived, and after wandering a bit, we settled on lunch at the Gas Lamp Grille, which was clearly still in the Halloween spirit:

gas lamp grille pumpkin newport rhode island

Our meal began with cups of delicious clam chowder, spiked with cayenne pepper:

gas lamp grille clam chowder newport rhode island

Mmmm. I could have eaten a tureen of the stuff. (Not pictured: warm pear salad with cranberries, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette, J’s burger, and my spinach and garlic pizza. Amazing.)

Needing to walk off our lunch, we decided to hike up to the famous mansions on Bellevue Avenue, and we passed this darling place on the way:

flower cottage gate roses newport rhode island

(It’s currently on the market, but I’m sure it’s still way out of my price range.)

We toured the first mansion we came to, which happened to be the stunning Chateau-sur-Mer:

chateau sur mer newport rhode island mansion tour

No photos allowed inside, sadly, but the house is full of hand-carved Italian woodwork, lovely old books in leather bindings, hand-painted walls and ceilings, ornate furniture, valuable silver and china…it’s like Downton Abbey, the American version (and dates from roughly the same era).

We walked back downtown after that, and saw this funny (and rather unfortunate!) sculpture:

waves feet sculpture ocean newport rhode island

It was growing dark (and chilly) by then, so we ended our afternoon with cups of chai at the People’s Cafe, and drove home tired, but happy.

I love our jaunts to New England towns, but it had been a while since we’d played tourist in our own neighborhood, so to speak. I so enjoyed hitting the road with my love and seeing a new, interesting place together.

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The little girls of Avonlea school always pooled their lunches, and to eat three raspberry tarts all alone or even to share them only with one’s best chum would have forever and ever branded as “awful mean” the girl who did it. And yet, when the tarts were divided among ten girls you just got enough to tantalize you.

Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

I didn’t eat raspberry tarts last weekend, but this quote sums up how I feel about my three days in New York. It is, of course, impossible to see all the things I want to see in one weekend – and Allison did her level best to make sure I saw as much as I could. But I just got enough of so many things to tantalize me. I only had a couple of hours at the Met (enough to get about half of a quick overview – the place is HUGE); an all-too-brief browsing stop at the Strand (partly because I knew I could have stayed all day); a short (if leisurely) stroll through Central Park; a tour of the Upper West Side cut short by heavy rain (though we braved it as long as we could).

Don’t mistake me – I enjoyed every moment, and tried my best to soak it all up. I loved seeing the knights at the Met:

And visiting Hans Christian Andersen in Central Park (as well as the other stops on my children’s literature tour):

I loved wandering through Manhattan, admiring the beautiful brownstones and wondering about the stories held in each one:

And, of course, I had to visit Cafe Lalo, site of the rose-and-a-book, he-knows-something-she-doesn’t-know scene in You’ve Got Mail:

There were so many other lovely moments: eating pie with my friend Beth on a bench in Brooklyn; a brief solo stroll around Prospect Park; hanging out in Bryant Park as I waited to meet Allison after work; watching Ramona and Beezus in Allison’s cute little Queens apartment and talking for hours; munching apple cider doughnuts at the Union Square farmers’ market. But all these moments only served to underline my already firm conviction:

I have to go back. And soon. (And bring Jeremiah with me this time.)

Because, really, who wouldn’t want more time in this beautiful city, with this lovely tour guide?

Thanks for a fabulous weekend, Allison. I’ll be back before too long.

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Being a landlocked girl from West Texas, I’ve spent very little of my life on coastlines. I live on one now, of course, but the beach near our house is a city beach, and the view includes the skyline of Boston. It’s a lovely view, but it doesn’t quite give you the feeling of being on the coast, indeed on the edge of our continent.

But last Sunday, I found myself in Rockport, tramping through a state park with my husband and a few dear friends. And we walked to the cliffs, big chunks of granite leading down to rough rocky beaches, with red seaweed growing on the stones. The water was gray and so was the sky, with glimmers of light and the occasional duck paddling around. And it was literally impossible to tell where sea ended and sky began.

I’ve only had that feeling a few other times – standing on the shore of the North Sea in Whitby; walking along the beach or standing on Diamond Head on Oahu, Hawaii; and standing on the cliffs of the Aran Islands, watching the sunlight glitter on the sea, the wind so strong it literally pulled my breath out of my lungs. Sunday’s breeze was a little gentler, the light softer, the weather cooler. But as I stood there I remembered what it felt like to stand on the other edge of the Atlantic. And in both cases, I felt like an explorer, standing on the edge of the world, looking out to endless new horizons and possibilities.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time at the library lately. This will surprise none of you who know my bookish tendencies, but just let me SHOW you our library. You won’t believe it:

Doesn’t it look like a castle, or a fortress, or something out of Lord of the Rings? And yet I assure you it’s set on a very ordinary downtown street, near City Hall and an apartment complex and various municipal offices. (That’s the spire of Bethany Congregational Church in the background.)

Even the font over the door looks Elvish:

I love the sign above the door proclaiming “Free to All.” Getting a library card was one of the first things I did on arrival – after all, what is life without being able to browse good books?

Most of the library is modern inside, well-stocked rows of shelves filled with fiction and biography and mystery and so much more. The children’s room, decorated right now in a Lorax theme, is a dream (unfortunately I have no photos). And the DVD selection is great. But the restored Richardson Building, the west wing, is truly breathtaking:

It’s the periodicals section now, but boasts some lovely stained-glass windows and a quiet, reverent atmosphere. Reminds me of Oxford, unmistakably. A perfect place to study or write.

We have three other library branches in Quincy, and our libraries are part of a network of libraries south of Boston, so we can get books and resources from those too. I feel so lucky! An embarrassment of literary riches.

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When Bethany traveled to Boston a year ago, she came home singing the praises of Brattle Book Shop, and blaming it for some overweight luggage (hers and other people’s) on the way home. Last week, I had a free afternoon and restless feet, so I hopped the T into the city to see for myself.

And oh MY. It’s a treasure house, people. I’m lucky I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars and come home lugging dozens of books. For look what meets your eye when you walk up:

Book stalls and book carts galore! Just like at my beloved Shakespeare & Co. in Paris! And ALL the books outside are $5 or less. There’s a fair bit of stuff to wade through, especially on the $1 racks, but a lot worth looking at and quite a bit worth having. And I love the fun art on the alley walls.

The carts are wheeled in at night, best I can guess, and the shelves are locked up. I spotted some of the sliding door panels resting in a corner:

Inside, there are three floors of literary goodness – fiction, New England interest, politics, philosophy, history, languages, children’s and MORE. I could have spent HOURS, and oh how I coveted the beautiful rare edition of Anne of the Island, sitting in the rare-book case. (Alas, I don’t have $250 to spare. And Serenity, I thought of you.)

I did come home with one treasure: an early edition of Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs. I’d heard of it because it features in Dear Pen Pal, part of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series, but I’d never read it. It’s such a charming story – and isn’t my copy beautiful?

Needless to say, I’ll be going back to Brattle often, and I’ll take all my bookish friends there when they come to visit. I haven’t even been to the rare-book room yet – though I’m sure I’ll find lots to covet, and perhaps even something to take home.

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As most of you know, I’m currently out of work/doing the freelancing thing, so yesterday wasn’t a “day off” for me as it was for some. But Jeremiah had a half-day off, and Abi had the day off, so we took advantage of the time and the beautiful weather.

First, of course, we slept in a bit, then walked down to “our” beach:

This is Wollaston Beach, near our house – it runs parallel to a major Quincy street, so it’s an odd mix of city and, well, beach. But it’s still lovely. The weather was gorgeous, and people, dogs and children were out in droves.

There’s my sweet husband, sporting his Red Sox cap (and Nebraska T-shirt…we’re getting used to divided loyalties up here).

After lunch, I caught the T into town to meet Abi, and we strolled down Boston Common to a movie theatre to see Eat, Pray, Love. I loved the book, so was expecting to love the film, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was gorgeously shot and faithfully rendered – and Julia Roberts was amazing. I love her work, and I loved watching her character transform as the movie went on. (Also, the little Balinese girl? Too cute. And Richard from Texas? Totally spot-on.)

Abi headed back to Waltham after that, but I walked over to Boston Common Coffee House and ordered the following:

A chai latte and a huge cranberry-nut muffin top (I guess they sell just the tops because they’re the best part). And some writing time. Perfect. (I’ve been hankering to find a cafe – and this one’s a little far from home – but I did enjoy myself.)

I walked back over to the Common after that, and spent a while writing letters and enjoying the light:

Half of Boston seemed to be out on the Common – couples on benches, children chasing squirrels, students having picnics or walking around in groups or picnicking or sprawled on their stomachs, reading, on the grass. Perfect weather, perfect setting. I could have stayed for hours.

However, I headed back home for some pasta and a quiet evening with my sweet husband. And I suppose Labor Day fulfilled its purpose – I feel refreshed and ready to hit the job search again today.

I hope you got to rest this weekend – anyone else do anything fun for Labor Day?

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