Blois, France May 2018

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In celebration of a speeding ticket we got going from Tours to Blois (the second we got via mail from the French highway system a month after our return) I thought I would post about our visit to Blois which caused this infraction. * (A note about the French Highway system- the roads are very smooth and immaculately maintained.  However, they have a challenging ticketing booths on the road, and if you ever need to pull off- to, say, use the facilities, they charge a fee.  There are no rest areas like we have here in the US. Also, there seems to be an elaborate way of monitoring speeding, whereby you are not pulled over, but your speed is periodically checked. If speeding they then find you and send you a ticket.  A waring to lead-foot drivers traveling to France! BE CAREFUL.  Figuring out how to pay these French tickets is almost more painful and difficult than actually the fee itself.

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Blois itself is another royal residence of our friend, Catherine De Medici.  For a time, this was the center of French government. The staircases you can see, were copied by the the Vanderbilt estate, the Biltmore in North Carolina.

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The castle is full of history and peculiar paintings…. The one on the right is of a person with hypertrichosis who was under the protection of the royal house hold at one point.

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Pine Cobble Trail, Williamstown, MA September 2017

Last summer, we took a beautiful hike up the pine cobble trail in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  It was communicated to us as being a “mild walk over a ridge.” We had visions of it being a quick up and down again- but it ended up being much more of a hike than we expected.  ( I think it took about 4 hours total.) Part of the hike was along the Appalachian trail.  This part of the AT was unknown to me as I have ever only encountered the section in the presidential range of the White Mountains.  I was pleased to find that it was well marked and full of interesting thru- hikers who were all very friendly.   We had a blast and it was a lovely adventure.   I wanted to show some pictures of this wonderful day.

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The view from the top of the ridge was spectacular.  Below you can see Williamstown itself.

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Finally, on the return down the other side of the ridge we came across an old mill pond. The sound of the water running in the woods along the trail was so peaceful.  If you are ever in the Williamstown area and looking for a (relatively) easy day hike I totally recommend it.  Have a week great everyone!

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Luton Hoo, England 2016

Hello travelers! I hope you had a nice weekend.  I thought I would share with you my visit to Luton Hoo Hotel from June 2016.  It is a spectacular luxury hotel in what was a grand country estate.

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Above is my mom standing at the side entrance.  I learned about Luton Hoo after seeing the same stairwell in several films.  It was so spectacular that I kept noticing it- and I am sure it will look familiar to many of you as it has been in everything from Eyes Wide Shut to various James Bond films to War Horse.

 

While this was mildly interesting to me, the building itself and especially the gardens were what I found fascinating.  During our explorations of the grounds we came across a grass tennis court…

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We also found a Japanese inspired garden – which I wish I had more photos of because it was so lovely and picturesque.  It had many cute water features and stone walk ways. Below is unfortunately the best picture I took.IMG_3958

At the end of our ramble we encountered one of the great features of the English county estate: The haha! This clever design element allows for an uninterrupted view of the landscape and fields without running the risk of any cattle or sheep to come too close to the main building.  Thee can be seen all over England.  We also saw them at Rousham.

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I am not sure if the picture does it justice- it is quite formidable and if one should foolishly decide to jump into it, (as I may or may not have done) it is really hard to get back out again!

I would highly recommend Luton Hoo- if you like expensive hotels and feel like a splurge, this would be the place to do it! (I should also note that the hotel is now surrounded by a golf course which seems to draw many people here. Also weddings. Lots and lots of weddings!

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Lake Waban, Wellesley, Massachusetts

Lake Waban is not a long journey from my home, but it is a very special place.  I grew up nearby and learned to swim in this lake.  My mom sent me this spectacular picture of the sunset last night and it looked so tranquil I had to share.  If you are ever in the Boston area and looking for a beautiful place to take a walk, I highly recommend it.  There is also a beautiful topiary garden which I will write about more in another post. Happy Thursday!

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