Thu 15 Oct
Picked up our car, literally next door to the Biltmore and managed to negotiate our way out of Providence before following the Google map printout to Peterborough. It was a little bit worrying at times with lots of roadwork, but nothing interrupted the directions.
The foliage along the way looked stunning and hopefully not at its peak. Lots of vivid reds and oranges stretching along both sides of the highway on the 100 mile trip.
A tiny bit south of Peterborough, at Rindge, we stopped at Lilly’s Restaurant and Pub for a bowl of beef stew soup. We sat by a large picture window with a quintessential view over a little bridge covered with leaves leading to a little white cottage beside a pond reflecting both it and the surrounding autumn leaves. Perfect! It’s a cloudy day and very cold, but beautiful.
After putting on another layer, we walked a little bit around Peterborough, stopping for coffee at Twelve Pine Cafe, which sold beautiful gourmet and specialty foods.
We checked into Little River Bed and Breakfast for our 4 night stay. Rob and Paula are extremely hospitable. Our room is lovely, on the ground floor (which is called first floor here), with two forms of heating including a gas fire pot belly for instant ambience. We tried Acqua Restaurant for dinner, overlooking the river. Our meals were very nice and we had the first dessert of our entire trip – Roasted Fig and Maple Cream Tart with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts, whipped cream, fresh berries and a glass of sauternes. Heavenly!
Fri 16 Oct
We woke to snow! That is so exciting because we don’t get snow at home (unless you drive a few hours to the ski fields). It had been falling for a couple of hours, and although the flakes were light, there was a decent covering on our car, the porch and the plants. We had a lovely leisurely breakfast talking to Paula and Rob about all sorts of things – this is why we love Band B’s so much – the people you meet and the conversations. They are gracious, generous hosts. Rob kindly printed instructions for a local drive they recommended as well as information and directions to the covered bridges.
The drive through Windy Row was incredibly picturesque, no other traffic, heaps of leaves on the side of the road and yellow, gold and orange colours occasionally arching right over the road. Around the side of Lake Skatutakee there was beautiful foliage and some fabulous holiday shacks (we presumed) with enviable views. We were constantly stopping for closer looks and more photos. Finally we arrived at Harrisville in the freezing cold. It is a tiny mill town with a weaving/craft centre in an old factory, a pond, a cemetery, church and library. We walked around for a while enjoying the foliage and buildings before heading towards Keene.
It was the day before the famous Pumpkin Festival and there were an immense number of them already as well as people carrying in new ones and trucks transporting them for display.
It was obvious that people really enjoyed carving them as creatively as possible.
We had coffee with a pumpkin and choc chip muffin at Brewbaker’s – and just like Providence, you could jump over the cups, they were so large!
We then went covered bridge hunting following Route 10 south from Keene to start with. We saw three, including the pretty white lattice work of Ashuelot Bridge, perhaps the best of all. We then drove to Richmond and followed Route 32 north finding another bridge, Carlton. We walked across them all and photographed them from different angles, but felt perhaps that stone bridges would be more our thing.
Decided on an early dinner at de Rossi’s in Dublin, while we were still out. The pumpkin ravioli with gorgonzola and walnut sauce was really flavoursome, however the baked artichoke and parmesan tapenade was outstanding.
We joined Rob and a friend of his for a drink and more pleasant conversation which we relished having been travelling and eating by ourselves for two weeks. We decided that we wouldn’t go back to Keene the next day with the many tens of thousands expected there.
After the early morning snow and the bitter cold at Harrisville, the day became warmer with brilliant blue sunshine. Unfortunately we never seemed to coordinate the right foliage to photograph with the sun! There is certainly not as much red colouring here as we saw further south, but the views around the lakes and beside the rivers are superb.
Sat 17 Oct
Another cold start, but with sun and no snow! During another of Paula’s fabulous breakfasts we discussed some ideas for the day and Rob suggested some more local, small town ideas. First we revisited Windy Row just up from their place, because the sun was shining this time. Part way along this road we turned off towards Hancock, an incredibly pretty New England town (or is it a village?) We quite love all the white church steeples we have seen and which are always worthy of photographing. We walked around, even swishing and kicking through the carpet of leaves that covered most of the area – like little children really!
Unfortunately the town was without water that day due to the flushing of the pipes and it was such a shock, from our ‘drought at home’ perspective, to see one million gallons let loose. We drove a little further around the lake to the old rail depot where Rob had told us of a very pretty walk. We instantly fell in love with it. No other people, a carpet of thick, fallen leaves and a glorious canopy of lime green and various shades of yellow. At the end of the trail, there was a track through the trees to the edge of the lake. It was so peaceful, so beautiful and so colourful. The shades of yellow would vary from lemon to a deep, rich gold and when the sun came out from behind the few clouds there were, the whole area appeared lit from within and emanated a golden glow. We were entranced.
After about an hour or so we drove towards Greenfield, passing another covered bridge, to where the Yankee Siege Trebuchet was in operation. ‘A mighty Medieval war machine, seven stories tall, hurls pumpkins for the thrill of visitors’, we had read. The detailed calculations and adjustments that had to be made after each practise shot were meticulously carried out. Amazing what some people do with their lives!
We continued on to Pack Monadnock, for the short, but windy, narrow and occasionally steep drive to the top to view the surrounding countryside and watch the Audubon Society’s Hawk Watch/Count. Some good views here, but the weather was closing in so we hightailed it back to Peterborough for the last of the Peak into Peterborough Fall Foliage Festival.
We so loved being the only people on the road or in a forest or beside a stream or on the edge of a pond just absorbing the colours and the feel of the place.
We can’t help but sing the praises of our hosts who really go the extra mile in order to make sure you are comfortable and supplied with everything you need, including maps, information, detailed directions and ideas. When we arrived home this evening there were pumpkins on the dining room table with an array of appropriate tools and a book of stencils. Although they were out, they clearly wanted guests to experience this aspect of Fall Festival time. Such a large number of houses we have passed have impressive displays out the front – some a little more Halloween oriented, but mostly with pumpkins, corn and figures.
Dinner was at Harlow’s Pub in Peterborough. The best pub in the world we reckon - warm, friendly, welcoming, lively, fun, crowded, noisy and happy! We arrived just before 6.30pm but had to wait because it was one of the busiest days of the year after the festival. The piano player - honky tonk golden oldies – was not backward in coming forward to request tips because that was how she was paid. Would we like to contribute? How could we refuse?
We spoke to a couple of ladies seated beside us at the bar who admitted that they had been listening to our accents. Much the same as we had been doing all the way so far! If only they realised that it is they who have the accents!
Another lovely chat with Paula and Rob when we got home and a look at their Keene Pumpkin Festival photos. Rain was predicted for tomorrow – the first for our entire trip.
Sun 18 Oct
We both woke with a feeling of not wanting to do much – we were falling for the charms of our home away from home. We’d pretty much seen and done everything we wanted. We lingered over breakfast then retired to the sitting room to read. DH and Rob began talking politics again. By now the rain had set in so that confirmed our decision not to do much. Towards lunchtime there were definite snowflakes in the air and by the time we were seated in Harlow’s enjoying a very thick and yummy New England chowder, there was a steady stream of snowflakes and we sat riveted like kids while everyone else ignored it!
Whilst it was not accumulating (we learned that technical word), it was feathery and white and looked gorgeous against the autumn leaves. We had earlier seen some photos of a damaging ice storm which also resulted in leaves and berries enclosed in ice cages. Nature in all its fury and its glory.
Surprisingly, a car drove down the street with a thick layer of snow on it. Where had it come from? All the others were just wet. Despite having lots of layers on, it wasn’t enough for this day – we didn’t pack for snow and freezing temperatures!
The rest of the afternoon it continued to rain/snow with occasional accumulation on trees. It was a lovely relaxing day.
For dinner we returned to Acqua to share one of their thin crust pizzas. Our hosts and some of their friends were also there and invited us to join them. Despite our desire not to intrude on their valuable time with friends we felt it was a genuine offer. We had a fabulous time.
Mon 19 Oct
Sadly, our last day here in Peterborough before driving to Marblehead, MA. We woke to pleasant sunshine and had a really great time at breakfast when Rob and Paula joined their friends. The Americans asked us lots of questions and we asked more back. A fun time was had by all discussing cultural differences and similarities between our countries.
All too soon did we have to leave our home away from home and the care and attention of Paula and Rob who really made our stay memorable. But one last treat was in store. Just a few miles down the road after leaving Peterborough, there was quite thick snow on the side of the road as well as on many of the trees. It was truly beautiful, but a bit bizarre because it only occurred on one side of the road, the sun having thawed the other side, revealing the autumn colours.
Rob’s directions led us safely (but not uneventfully!) to Marblehead for our last night in America – but that’s another story.
Link to some photos