Books I've read

Sandra's book montage

The Catcher in the Rye
The Great Gatsby
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
Little Women
A Tale of Two Cities
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Lovely Bones
The Secret Life of Bees
Under the Tuscan Sun
The Da Vinci Code
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Hobbit
The Golden Compass
Pride and Prejudice
The Time Traveler's Wife
Jane Eyre
The Notebook

Sandra's favorite books »

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Nantucket to Newport (or my perfect island to Rhode Island)

Nantucket in the sunshine - absolute bliss. This is the view from the balcony (OK balcony/walkway) outside my room:

Treated myself to breakfast in the hotel restaurant - absolutely delicious french toast and the best thing was the beautiful pastries they served in a silver bucket (of the sandcastle variety).   The hotel had kindly booked a tour for me with Gail's Tours.  She is a sixth (I think) generation Nantucketer and she certainly knows the island.  We seemed to go through all of the main streets of Nantucket town and to the old mill:

Then out to the Sankaty lighthouse:

Where we saw the effects of sea erosion on the cliffs.  Some of the houses are being moved back away from the cliffs but there are still houses being built right on the edge of the cliffs (if you think about the pictures of cliff erosion on the British coast it is very similar).  Apparently the island will be reclaimed by the sea within 200 years according to the museum - so if you are thinking of buying a home there bear this in mind.  It means I have earmarked a maximum of $10 million for our holiday home - when we win the lottery!

After that we went on to 'Sconset and the tiny little homes which are covered in wild roses slightly later in June - it was still very pretty. On the way back, as we drove across the centre of the island (I think it's 30 miles long) we saw a very entertaining sight - a house had been cut in half and was being moved by lorry to its new location:

I'm sorry, I wasn't sitting in the best part of the van for the great pictures but we had to pull over to let the two parts of the house, the cable, the telephone, the electricity vans etc. go past.  It was amazing to see and obviously made easier by the fact that the houses are all made of wood so you can just saw them in half!

The tour was great and I think in about 1 hour 45 minutes we saw pretty much all of the major sights on the island.  Gail is a great guide and really knows her stuff.  If you do go to the island, particularly if you don't have your own transport I think this is a really good thing to do.

It was really hot by the time we got back (OK, really hot to me) about early 80s degrees farenheit so probably around 28 degrees C (I know you're saying I have no conception of what really hot is!) and as prices seemed much of a muchness across the town I walked back from the harbour and had lunch in the hotel - yummy shrimp salad with a delicious lavender honey dressing & a chance to cool down.

Being a glutton for punishment I then went out again to see if there were any walking tours available.  The Historic House tour seemed really interesting and, whilst I was concerned that we would be walking around about 2 p.m. on a hot (to me) afternoon I was promised we would be inside the houses for most of the time so that was fine.  We visited two - the Hadwen House:

This is me being a bit arty (or trying to) so if you'd like a better idea of the Hadwen House have a look here.  We had a look in the two principal rooms which you can see through the virtual tours on the web-site.  This was built really to outdo William Hadwen's brothers-in-law who had brick houses built for them across the street (pictures to follow later).  Although it looks like it is made of stone it is, like most of the other houses on the island, made of wood and then made to look like stone.  It was very interesting & William Hadwen sounds like a most philanthropic gentleman!

After that we walked a couple of streets across to a much smaller house - the Macy-Christian house on Liberty Street.  This is a pre-revolutionary house that was re-furbished in a colonial style in the mid twentieth century (apparently that was then fashionable) and given to the Nantucket Historical Association with all of its colonial revival furnishings.  I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures of it but it was a typical clapboard house & I will publish a couple of pictures of those later.

Our final stop on the Historic Houses tour was a sneak preview of a house that will be open in a couple of weeks - Greater Light.  An old cow shed that was converted into an artist's studio and home by two wealthy sisters from Nantucket.  We were allowed a peep into the main room and it was amazing even though we were only seeing the bare shell of the room.  The sisters found materials such as wrought iron balconies and included them inside the house - I was really sorry it wasn't finished as I'm sure it will be amazing and well worth the visit.  This is a picture of the back garden (again not finished) -hopefully you can see the amazing wrought iron screens attached to the back wall:

The best part about the tour was, without a doubt, our guide - she was so enthusiastic and so lovely and so excited about Greater Light.  If all of the guides are like her then I can do nothing other than absolutely insist you take one of the walking tours if you are ever lucky enough to set foot on this island.

Desperate to get out of the heat I headed to the Whaling museum.  I can't say that I am hugely interested in the whaling industry but it's what Nantucket (and a lot of the rest of the New England coast) was about and where the wealth came from.  The museum is really interesting however with lots of interactive materials and I was lucky enough to see the preview of the new film they will be showing about Nantucket from 3 July.  I'll just share some of the pictures with you:

Sign outside the Whaling Museum

Part of the whole whale skeleton inside the museum
Time for some souvenir shopping (yay!) but I have to warn you that Nantucket ain't cheap.  They have only one 'chain store' on the island and the people weren't particularly happy about that.  If I now tell you that the chain store is Ralph Lauren you get an idea of just how much the islanders want to conserve things as they are now.  I was able to buy my Mum some chocolate covered cranberries in this beautiful tin from a lovely old-fashioned chocolate shop (amazing smell) and I treated myself to a Nantucket Lightship Basket.  I've attached the link from the shop I got mine from so you can see just how beautiful and varied the baskets are.  I'm really glad that I was on a strict cash only budget because if I'd allowed myself to use a credit card I think I would now be desperately looking for a job to try and pay off that bill. 

The next morning I was up early to take a walk around the town before it got to hot (even on Nantucket it was supposed to head towards 90 degrees farenheit so I suppose mid- 30s).  I took some pictures of the houses I liked best and will share a few with you:

Post for hitching your horse or carriage

Main Street Nantucket

The shingles on the side of this house are newly added - they go the silvery colour due to the sea and air.  On Nantucket it only takes about 2 years for that to happen.

After the walk and mad photograph taking it was time to head back to the hotel for a cool drink & then leave for the ferry.

It was lovely to be on the ferry on such a hot day - Nantucket Sound was incredibly calm so it was just the wind once we got past the breakwater.  We arrived in Hyannis exactly one hour later and then I think I jumped a number of queues to get into a taxi (well I did only have about 40 minutes before the bus) back to the transportation centre.

I was now on a Peter Pan (no Tinkerbell I'm afraid) bus to Newport, Rhode Island.  To do this trip for Hyannis involves changing at Fall River, MA (I feel very American naming the states as well as the places).  Fall River was once a major centre of manufacturing because of the river and the fast flowing waters to create electricity for the textile mills.  I have a feeling the Barretts had mills in Fall Rive in Love Story and that Jenny suggests Oliver's family exploited her ancestors there (we've been missing books too long in these entries).   It is also famous as the place where Lizzie Borden murdered her parents as commemorated in a skipping-rope rhyme:
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
Unfortunately the bus stop is just opposite East Borden Place and around the corner from the Lizzie Borden guesthouse so I was very glad my 30 minutes there were in brilliant sunshine rather than dark or miserable conditions.  I'm such a wuss!

Then it was on to Newport and I love this part of the journey - pretty Rhode Island villages and nice houses.  You arrive at the Visitor Information Centre aand that's where the taxis are so it was out of the bus, into a taxi and on to the Viking hotel.

I was thrilled when they told me they had upgraded me to a suite, with a sea view, but when I got up there the bathroom was the size of a postage stamp and no bath!  And I looked out of both windows and all I could see where the hotels opposite and the park (I wonder if he thought it was a different suite?).  Anyway the bedroom was very nice and it was only one night so I ordered lobster roll on room service, switched the television on and put my feet up!

Well, thank you for getting to the end of this mammoth (or feels like) entry.  I've added some practicalities below and next entry will be about Newport and Marblehead.


Just a few more pictures of the White Elephant to try and tempt you:

Looking into my room from the walkway (with my chairs & table)

My room was top left in the central section.  Although the restaurant was below I didn't hear any noise.

Ferry details are in the entry above.  The taxis are waiting at the ferries to take you to the airport or to the transportation centre.

I used Peter Pan to get from Hyannis to Newport.  There are about 3 buses per day and it cost about $26 one way for an adult.  Of course if you had a car you could just drive from Hyannis to Newport in a couple of hours I would think.

In 2009 I went to Newport overnight again but travelled there from Providence, the state capital of Rhode Island and well worth a day if you were travelling around New England.  I mention this because I had one of the best bargains I've ever had in the US.  I took the regular bus from Providence to Newport, it cost me $1.75 and the journey took about an hour.  The bus was pretty empty most of the way and it was so lovely through these beautiful old villages and past ponds - a great way to spend an hour!

Taxis come to the Visitor Information Centre and there are people in the Peter Pan office or the centre itself (before about 5.30 p.m.) who will help you if there isn't one there.  It cost me about $8 to go the 10 minutes or so uphill to the hotel.

I chose the Viking because I wanted to be fairly central in Newport.  It is currently being renovated downstairs and will, I think, be a nice hotel.  There is loads of choice though and I just wanted to share with you a couple of pictures of the hotel I stayed at in 2009.  It's called The Chanler at Cliff Walk and is at the start of the Cliff Walk and close to the mansions.  It wasn't cheap but it was just beautiful:

On the landing, just outside my room
View out of the window - can't beat that!

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