Sunday, 20 July 2014

Goodbye, Rhode Island and hello, New Jersey (again)

I was sad to leave Rhode Island on Thursday, June 19th, especially saying goodbye to my friends there who had taken me to so many different places in such a short time. My train from Kingston left at 2.40pm and arrived at Newark Penn Station four hours later, giving me a good view of Manhattan as we approached NYC.

My cousin and her husband met me and we went back to their house in Scotch Plains, NJ - and watched the fireflies dancing around all evening. No photo, unfortunately, as they flashed too quickly for my camera to cope with!

Next day, my cousin Helen drove me to Morristown, to George and Martha's Restaurant...
... where I met up with Jennifer Wilck, one of the members of our writers' blog, Heroines with Hearts. I've 'known' Jennifer for about four years, and we had plenty to talk about over coffee and then lunch.

In the afternoon, we went to Washington's headquarters. He and the Continental Army stayed at Morristown from December 1779 to June 1780, surviving what was then the coldest winter on record.

When we arrived there, we discovered the next tour was not for another fifty minutes, so instead Jen drove me round some of the older houses in Morristown.

This one was especially interesting - the home of Thomas Nast, the political cartoonist who created the Democrat donkey and Republican elephant.


That evening, my two cousins and I enjoyed a meal at a local diner. I was getting quite used to American burgers by this time!


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Day 26 - A Church and a Cruise

On Wednesday, June 25th, we went into Newport again. On the way, we passed 'Oak Glen', the Portsmouth home of Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic').

Our first stop in Newport was at Trinity Church, founded in 1698, and built in the early 18th century. Its ''wedding cake' steeple was, and still is, an important navigation aid for sailors.

The church still has its original box pews, originally paid for by the parishioners for their families. During the 'Gilded Age' (the later 19th century) the Vanderbilts and Astors attended the church when they were visiting their summer 'cottages'. Their servants occupied the narrow wooden pews in the gallery.

Pew 81 is now known as the 'Distinguished Persons' Pew' as it is said that George Washington attended services at the church in 1781. Other notables who have occupied the pew in more recent years include Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew, Princess Margaret, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 3 American Presidents - and of course, me!

After what we thought was a 'snack lunch' (which turned out to be a huge chicken wrap - so huge I forgot to take a photo of it!), we headed for the harbour.

Here's our 'cruise' ship - MV Gansett

And here are some of the sights we saw on our cruise around Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay.

Fort Adam

Hammersmith Farm, home of the Auchinloss family. Hugh Auchinloss was Jackie Kennedy's stepfather, and this was her childhood home. It later became known as the 'Summer White House' as JFK spent his summers here during his presidency.

Not a real lighthouse, but a playhouse, built for the Kennedy children.

This one is real - Castle Hill Lighthouse, built in 1890 on the site of an earlier watchtower.

The House on the Rock, built in 1905, and restored by the current owners.

The yacht 'Columbia' which was the America's Cup winner in 1958.

A distant (and hazy) view of Newport Bridge.

Yachts in Newport Harbor

And to end the day, a large burger at Fieldstone's in Portsmouth!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Day 25: More Friends - and a Mansion

On Tuesday, June 24th, we went into Newport, this time to the 'Pineapple on the Bay', an outdoor restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Goat Island, with a good view of the Newport Bridge.

Here we met two friends from Providence, Rhode Island, Pamela Burt Quigley and Elaine Lauble Kehoe. Needless to say, we chatted non-stop over lunch!

Later in the afternoon, my friend Barbara and I went to one of the mansions on Bellevue Avenue. This one, Marble House, belonged to one of the Vanderbilts.

It was built in the 'Gilded Aged' (the late 19th century) by William Vanderbilt, as a summer 'cottage' retreat for his wife Alva. She decorated furnished all the 50 rooms (which had a staff of 36), but divorced William 3 years later! I couldn't take any photos inside but here is the view from the terrace.

Alva kept the house after her divorced from William and added the Chinese tea house on the cliff overlooking the sea, and hosted rallies for women's suffrage in the gardens at the back of the house.

Here's the view from the Cliff Walk (near Marble House), recently reopened after being damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Days 23 & 24: LIzzie Borden - and a friend!

Sunday, June 22nd was a fairly lazy day, with just a short drive around the Portsmouth area of Aquidneck Island, where there were some lovely bays.

An interesting sign!  Was there really a Common Fence? Or did someone mistake the old style s for an f, and should it have really been Common Sense Point?

On Monday, we travelled north and crossed the border into Massachusetts.

Our destination was Fall River, and the home of Lizzie Borden.
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

We had a tour of the house with an excellent and entertaining guide in 1890s costume who told us about society in Fall River at that time, the Borden family, and the main details of the trial and Lizzie's acquittal.

This was the dining room.

And here's Ralph, my friend's husband, posing on the couch where Mr Borden was hacked to death (with 11 blows, not 41!)

The guide then  got two of the tour group, a mother and daughter, to act out the hacking of Mrs. Borden (with 18 whacks not 40)

The Kitchen


And we assume this car belonged to the tour guide or one of the staff - FRTYWX - Forty Whacks!

I was tempted to buy one of the tee-shirts in the shop which read:
'Everything I know about anger management,
I learned from Lizzie Borden.'

Later that afternoon, by way of a complete contrast, I was delighted to meet up with Toni Lynn Cloutier and her husband Billy, who took me out for a meal at Fieldstones in Portsmouth. Toni has been my critique partner and online friend for over 5 years, so it was a thrill to finally meet her in person!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Day 22: Newport, Rhode Island

On Saturday, June 21st, I had my first 'taster' of Rhode Island - the southern part of Aquidneck Island and Newport. We went first to the Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge, with a lovely view of Sachuest Bay.

And this robin posed for me!  (Unlike all the robins in Canada, who seemed to fly off the second I pointed my camera at them!)

From there we headed for Newport - and on the way, this signpost made me laugh.  What a choice to have to make!

In Newport, we went for lunch at Crowley's, overlooking the grass courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

During a short drive around Newport, we saw St. Mary's Church, where John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953. I hadn't realised they were married in Newport!

Our last stop was at Fort Adams State Park. The fort was first established in 1799 as a coastal fortification, and the present building dates from the 1830s.

I had my first taste of 'Del's' there, i.e. Rhode Island's frozen lemonade which was very tart!

From Fort Adams, we could watch all the sailing activity, including all these yachts returning to Newport Harbor.