Category Archives: Summer

A VERY LONG OVERDUE SUMMER WRAP UP

Yes, I know how crazy that sounds on October 25th, but I had some leftover pics I needed to get out of my camera and phone.  The first one is a dock at New Harbor, on the Great Salt Pond on Block Island.  The one below it is the view from the outside bar at the Surf Hotel on Block.  The Surf was empty and decaying for several years, up for sale with no takers.  The owners chose to take  it off the market and refurbish.  The view of Crescent Beach from the back deck is, in my opinion, one of the best on the entire island.  No small thing on an island loaded with stunning views.

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When I look at this picture of the bar at The National Hotel on Block, I hear Kate Smith singing God Bless America

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Coming home on the ferry the first week of September, there was no denying that summer was over:

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A year or two ago I went through a phase of filtering all my photos.  I assured you all that it was behind me, but I’m like a junkie, I can’t stop.   The first two are a field in Tiverton, right down the road from Tiverton Four Corners:

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The images below are, in order:  East Sandwich Beach, Cape Cod; view from The Oar, Block Island; Hyannis Harbor, Cape Cod.

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The next two are Galilee, Rhode Island:

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FarmCoast MA

One of the most beautiful and underrated areas of New England is the area comprised of four coastal towns, Tiverton and Little Compton RI, Westport and Dartmouth MA.   It’s pretty, pastoral and quiet, but chock full of things to do ….if you happen to like food, wine and art.  A real tough sell, right?  Every year I swear I’m going to make it to SouthCoast Open Studios Tour, and this year I finally did.    The local artists open their studios to the public twice a year, and a map is provided to drive between them all.  After spending the day at the beach, I hit four or five of them.   But first, lunch.  A local favorite is The Bayside.  You’ll never catch me sitting inside for a meal in summer, but that often means compromising on the quality of the food.  Not at The Bayside!  I had a salmon burger with avocado and tamari aioli, washed down with a local brew (Grey Lady from Cisco Brewers on Nantucket).   I could have stayed here all day.

bayside

A hub of activity in this area is the historic district of Tiverton Four Corners….lots of cute shops, a couple of options for eating, and lots of art and antiques.   The vibe here – and throughout the SouthCoast region – is understated and casual, but with a certain elegance about it.

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Act like a local – buy a used book at the library’s used book sale:

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Farming is a big deal here, Westport even bills itself as a “Right To Farm Community”.  It’s written right into their bylaws that farms shall be allowed “to function with minimal conflict with abutters and town agencies”.  It’s common to see an unattended table at the end of a driveway, with a pile of corn or other produce, and a container to leave your money.   One of my favorite stops is Westport Rivers Winery, specializing in sparkling wines.  Like many businesses in this region, they’re closed on Sundays so plan accordingly.

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The same family owns Buzzards Bay Brewing right around the corner…..don’t miss it.  If you’re looking for more to see and do in this region (as well as addresses and a map), see my Jauntful guide.

The Summer Solstice and a Cool New Website

A discovery I made recently is the website Jauntful.  It’s an easy way to create your own travel guides and a perfect fit for this blog.  I’m hopeful they will soon create a widget for WordPress like the Yelp one to the right of this post.   In the meantime, I’ll embed links to individual guides as they relate to what I’m posting about.  I will try to put aside my resentment at not having invented this website myself.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the village of Padanaram in Dartmouth MA; I had forgotten how beautiful this corner of Massachusetts is.  Recently there’s been a push to expand tourism in the region, complete with snappy nicknames (SouthCoast!  FarmCoast!) and some polished social media:  Discover Farmcoast and their blog.   This might be the perfect daytrip, and there is more than enough to make a long weekend out of it.  I would suggest starting in Padanaram (Faunce Corner Road exit off 195, just before New Bedford), if it’s lunchtime try the Black Bass Grille.   Head west along the coastal roads to take in Horseneck Beach, and stops at Buzzards Bay Brewing and Westport Rivers Winery.   If you can time it right, you won’t regret dinner at The Back Eddy.  Fresh, local seafood with a Portuguese slant.

A doorway in Padanaram –

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The deck at the Back Eddy –

Back Eddy Deck

From The Back Eddy follow Adamsville Road into Rhode Island, and the towns of Little Compton & Tiverton.  Tiverton Four Corners is an historic crossroads with a few pretty shops, a couple of art galleries, some of RI’s best ice cream at Gray’s, and a fantastic cheese shop.  In between you’ll find rolling fields, stone walls & farm stands.

A place I’m lucky to be able to spend a lot of time in is Sandwich, MA, one of the prettiest towns on the Cape.  These pics were taken from the boardwalk….I’ve decided I need to swim here at some point this summer:

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A rosé tasting on the deck – Les Dauphins won hands down, although I freely admit I bought them based on how pretty the labels were.

Rose at the cape

A late spring tradition is the Fields of Lupine Festival in Sugar Hill, NH (home of Polly’s Pancake Parlor!).   Spring was late this year so the flowers weren’t as abundant as in years past, but it was still pretty.

Lupines

I’ll leave you with a picture of Bristol (RI) Harbor, sunset on the longest day of the year.

Solstice Sunset Bristol RI

Another Rockin’ Rhode Island Place….

Galilee!   It’s really unique, a teeny mixed bag of a place.   It’s a fishing village and a tourist trap, with our smallest state beach and a ferry boat landing (I can’t tell you where the boat goes, I promised in my last post).    Full disclosure:  when I commented to a friend that I love this village, she replied “it makes me want to jump out of my skin”.   You just never know.

I took this picture on my phone at dusk the last time I was there.  For you Stephen King fans, it was past dusk, it was actually the gloaming.  If you visit, take a pass on George’s…..hit up Champlin’s for some fried seafood and a margarita.

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Block Island – Take 2

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I admit it; I have a bit of an obsession with Block Island.  But….so does everyone who’s ever visited!   (except for one person who shall remain nameless).   There is a sense of place about Block Island.  If you were ever kidnapped, and flown blindfolded to the island, you’d whip off your blindfold and look around and say “ahhhh, I’m on Block Island!”   It’s something about the air, and the quality of the light….and those beautiful Victorian buildings with the red mansard roofs.   There’s nowhere else like it on earth.

I was there this past weekend and besides our usual haunts, we had a mission.  My friend’s co worker was a chambermaid at The Narragansett for several years in the 1960s.  She’s not physically up to a visit but has never forgotten the island or her time upon it.  We went to the inn and took some pictures for her; here are a couple of that beautiful place.  And YES, I did get my perfect “California blue” sky!

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Another random snap that I liked from this past weekend.  Have I ever told you how much I hate power lines?  I love electricity – am quite addicted to it actually – but HATE power lines.  Why weren’t they put underground like 50 years ago?  They ruin everything.  Mostly my pictures.

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One more….a picture not ruined by power lines:

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I can see that this blog is in danger of becoming Jane’s Block Island Only Blog.  I promise my next post will be a Block Island Free Zone.  Promise.

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From Riches to Rags

Today was a study in contrasts, from lunch at a high end resort, to beers at the ultimate Rhode Island dive bar.   I forgot my camera at home today so the snaps below were found online, they don’t belong to me.

First up, The Ocean House in Watch Hill, a place with a fascinating history.   The original Ocean House opened just after the Civil War and was enjoyed by generations of guests until it closed in 2003, the structure having been deemed beyond repair.  A new hotel was built in the same location with the exterior exactly replicating the original.  I’ve always felt a bit halfhearted about this place, it’s had a sort of “Emperor has no clothes” feel for me, but the beauty of the location keeps me coming back.  I’m glad to report I’m now a fan after an excellent Cobb salad and French rosé for lunch.

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From there we made our way to The Ocean Mist in Matunuck.   Now, as a lifelong Rhode Islander I’ve always been aware of this place, but had never actually been.  I finally saw it for the first time several weeks ago.  Ocean Mist, you had me at hello!   No great history to report on this one, I guess all I can say is ….it’s still standing after the last hurricane?   Really?   Good bands, attentive bartenders and what a view!  The picture below is from the back deck.  Oh, did I mention they serve breakfast?  Until 2:00PM?  With eight different varieties of Eggs Benedict?   You’re welcome.

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Block Island

I feel blessed to live so close to Block Island.  If you’ve never been, go.   It’s a physically beautiful place, named one of The Last Great Places by The Nature Conservancy.   It wouldn’t be so lovely and unspoiled if not for the tenacious islanders who saved it from overdevelopment in the 1960s and 70s.  You can read an excellent series of articles on the matter here.   You can read about some of my favorite places to eat and drink in my Yelp reviews.   I took these pictures the last time I was there.  I’ll admit I was playing fast and loose with the “super vivid” setting on my camera.

This is The Spring House.  Home of peanut butter mudslides, refreshing ocean breezes and it is rumored to be the birthplace of Baby Jesus.

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The adirondack chairs in the picture above?  Here’s the view from those seats:

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New Harbor is the other side of the island, home of The Oar and this darling little shack.

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And there’s something about this scene which sums up Block Island for me:062