Welcome to my blog

This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Portland, Maine

With not so many miles to cover today we had a more leisurely drive through the White Mountains. We drove to Lincoln and then followed the Kancamagus Pass through the National Forest. We stopped at various points along the way to admire the views. We are now beginning to see the changes in colour on the trees. It is the variety of colours that makes it look different to home, particularly the deep reds of the the maple trees. Still quite a number of trees haven't started to change colour yet as the hot weather in September has delayed the Autumn. Nevertheless it was still a spectacular drive.

Once through the beautiful White Mountains National Park we made our way from New Hampshire into Maine just stopping for some lunch which was a very welcome clam chowder.

Tonight we were staying in the Holiday Inn in Portland. We had a room on the 7th floor with a fabulous view of the harbour. It was mid afternoon when we got there so we had plenty of time to wander around the old part of the town. 

Many brick built buildings and Irish pubs.

There was a huge cruise ship in port.

Various sight seeing tours available but after being in the car for so long we decided to walk around downtown and the Old Port.

One of the cobbled streets in the Old Town.

 Lots of places were advertising lobster so we decided to try some here at Bull Feeney's . Unfortunately by the time we ordered they had run out! Had to settle for haddock - a poor second.

I woke early the next morning just so I could watch the sun rise over Portland Harbour from the huge window in our room.

We went for a swim before breakfast. What a great way to start the day. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Over the Border and into New Hampshire

Today involved a long drive of 500 km mainly on the interstate highways. Just made one stop at a service station for a sandwich and then at the border in Rouses Point, New York. For reasons unbeknown to me I am usually stopped and questioned when entering the US and today was no exception. Being a Canadian citizen M was waved through but I was asked to get out of the car and follow the guard into the office where I was questioned by two officers. All my documentation was in order but numerous questions followed. Customs and immigration control is not a place for laughter and jokes so I was at a loss when M appeared asking if they would check her US currency for forgeries as she had heard there was a problem in this area! Eventually I was allowed through but I had to pay for the privilege eventhough I had paid for an ESTA before leaving the UK. Just made one more stop in Stanstead before arriving at Heathfield Village in Bethlehem for our overnight stop.

Tonight we were staying in a lodge which looked like a hobbit's house. It looked very cute from the outside and was OK on the inside. I hadn't realised that the tourist season had come to an end and for a few places we visited we would be the last people to stay this season.

We wasted no time in going out to explore the nearest town of Littleton. One of the joys of this trip was being able to visit towns which are not on the normal tourist's route. It was getting late when we arrived and a number of places were closed. But it was still obvious that this is a thriving town with its many small shops and businesses. Maybe that has something to do with the no sales tax here in New Hampshire.

This is Littleton Public library. You can just about see a statue of a girl on the left of the picture. I wished I had gone into the grounds to have a closer look  at the bronze statue. I read later that the  statue is of Pollyanna. In 1913, Littleton author Eleanor H. Porter wrote the book 'Pollyanna' . In 2002 the town unveiled the statue and in 2003 held its first Pollyanna day where the order of the day is 'Be Glad'.

The community centre.

This is Tilton's Opera block. Store clerk, Henry Tilton joined the Californian gold rush and returned to make his fortune in timber and real estate. In 1881 he built this, the largest brick built structure in the town. Tilton promoted concerts and the hallway of the Opera block was the theatre entrance. Due to uncertain demand the theatre wing was never built. Since 1972 there has been a mix of retail, offices and residential usage.

A small coin and stamp order firm was launched from the Opera block in 1943 known as Littleton Stamp and Coin Company. It is now one of America's largest mail order companies focusing on currency collectibles. The company no longer operates from here but from much larger premises in Littleton industrial park.

As you might expect this road leads to the Ammonoosuc river. What we didn't expect was this covered bridge over the river. The 352 foot, Warren Truss bridge was completed in September 2004 mainly as a tourist attraction.


 We decided to have a meal at a restaurant next to the bridge. The weather all day had been beautiful and the evening was still warm enough for us to sit outside and enjoy the local cider. There was even live music for us to enjoy. A very pleasant way to spend our first night in the USA.

The following morning we popped into the town again for breakfast at Miller's cafe and bakery. This used to be the mill and has plenty of character inside. We had a delicious breakfast here before it was time to leave Littleton. It was a bit too cold to sit out as it was still early but we had a great view overlooking the river.

The building across the river is the Riverglen House, a senior centre.

Monday, 16 October 2017


I have just returned from a road trip which started in Ottawa, Canada taking me over the border to New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont before returning to Ottawa via Montreal. I was travelling with my Canadian friend M, who did all the driving. I was responsible for navigating but did get help from Brenda, the sat nav.
Ottawa, previously known as Bytown was made the capital of Canada by Queen Victoria in 1857. The inhabitants renamed it Ottawa after the river of the same name which runs through the city. Three buildings make up Parliament Hill. This one is the Houses of Parliament and the library.

On either side of the Houses of Parliament are the buildings which house the offices.

In front of the buildings is the Centennial flame, a fountain with a natural gas flame burning at its centre. It was lit in 1967 to symbolise the first 100 years of Canadian Confederation and has the shields of all the provinces and territories with the date each joined Canada.

2017 marks the year that the British North America Act was passed by the British Parliament, paving the way for colonies of Canada, including Ontario and Quebec, to join Nova Scotia and New Brunswick  in creating a single  Dominion of Canada.

Walking round the back of the Houses of Parliament you get a closer look at the 16 side gothic library. Built in the 1860s it survived the 1916 fire which destroyed much of the Parliament building which was rebuilt in 1920.

From behind Parliament you get some wonderful views of the river and the rest of the City.

The Ottawa River marks the boundary between the provinces of Ontario and Queb├ęc,  the French speaking and the English speaking provinces.

We walked into the town passed the Chateau Laurier, a hotel built between 1908 and 1912 and enlarged in the 1920s. It was the first in a chain of Chateau styled hotels built by the Grand Trunk Railway to encourage tourists to travel its routes.

A little glimpse at the glamour inside the lobby of the hotel.

Next stop  was the market for some lunch.

The place was awash with pumpkins.

A little shoe shopping perhaps. Not one pair had a price tag. In other words 'if you have to ask the price then you can't afford them!'

This high rise caught my eye as the lines are not perpendicular. Not sure that the photo captured it though.

The war memorial.

The old and the new.
Some of the older houses in Ottawa. Unfortunately many have been demolished to make way for modern high rise blocks.

Many of these old houses had balconies just above street level.You can imagine people sitting there in  bygone days.

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