USA

Coastal Acadia: tonic for the soul

Before 2013 draws to a close, I wanted to share the last instalment of my wonderful USA trip with you. Back in October, I was very fortunate to go on a special trip for my 40th birthday. I've already blogged about

This post takes you on a tour of some coastal highlights of the absolutely stunning Acadia National Park in Maine, to complement those gorgeous fall leaves.

First up, we have Sand Beach. One of our first stops on the Park Loop Road and very accessible. We were so lucky to have a day of glorious sunshine on our last day.

One of the lovely things about Acadia National Park is that there are so many places to stop, so you can literally pull over and jump out your car whenever you want (which for us, was very often!). Below are some beautiful view points looking back over to Sand Beach.

Another beauty spot was Monument Cove. This wasn't so well sign-posted, but I'm so glad we found it. Just so many different vantage points to explore and some fabulous rocks. I could sit and watch the waves crashing for hours, listening to the seabirds. So peaceful.....

The coastline was fascinating - I loved all the rock formations - I named the one below "Crocodile Rock" - can you see it? We really enjoyed soaking up that sunshine too.

And last, but not least, we have Boulder Beach. I adore those giant pebbles! We had this place completely to ourselves and it was pure magic, just sitting in the sunshine listening to the waves. Ahhhh take me back!

I'll leave you with some glistening sparkling sea and sunny blue skies :)

Glistening golden Acadia

So before autumn says its final farewells, I thought it would be good to share the third leg of our fabulous USA trip, in all its autumn glory. From Vermont, we enjoyed a very scenic (and rather epic) drive to Mount Desert Island in Maine. We stayed in another lovely Airbnb place in pretty Somesville - the perfect location from which to explore the stunning Acadia National Park. The Park had been shut, along with all the other national parks and monuments, as part of the government shutdown in October. Luckily for us, it reopened a few days before we arrived and I am so thankful it did. Acadia really is the most stunning location, especially in the autumn.

All of an autumn whirl

We were lucky enough to enjoy some days of sunshine and it just transformed the autumn landscape into a magical glistening, golden, sparkling wonderland. There really is nothing quite like it. Dancing dappled light, golden warmth, fiery leaves - it really is tonic for the soul.

Warmth
Autumn aflame
Walking the red carpet in Acadia National Park

You access most of Acadia National Park via a very well maintained Park Loop Road. Even just driving round this is something very special indeed. But we like to walk in the dappled light, feel the sun on our faces and play in the fallen leaves. So we did. Rather a lot :)

Al and I goofing around in the leaves
Al and I in Acadia National Park
Look up, it's so pretty *1*
Golden dapples

We spent a lot of time with cameras glued to our faces, as well as with our heads staring up - there was so much to look at, every which way!

How I was to be found for most of our trip!
Walking the red carpet in Acadia National Park
Golden skies

There was an absolutely stunning tree just outside where we were staying in Somesville, which was ablaze with colour. I'd love a carpet of pretty maple leaves, please :)

This gorgeous tree greeted us every morning
A fiery tumble of leaves
Nature's gold
I love autumn!
The fall

On a grey day I had fun with some Blythe photography - those gorgeous autumn leaves shine all by themselves!

Autumn girls
Hello!

There is so much to see in Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island - I can highly recommend a visit. The coastal scenery is absolutely stunning too - but that's another post or this will never end! You can see the rest of my photos in my Mount Desert Island set on Flickr. I'll leave you with some shots of Jordan Pond and it's beautiful crystal clear water, Somesville and its pretty bridge, and a beautiful sunset at Southwest Harbour.

Crystal clear water at Jordan Pond
Jordan Pond
The man from milk tray
Mount Desert Island Historical Society, Somesville
Sunset at Southwest Harbour

Vermont in the fall

Well, just about! We made it to Vermont in mid-October, at the tail end of the season. Most of the leaves had fallen, but there was still plenty of colour around and everything was still looking sooo beautiful (and fallen leaves still make very beautiful photography subjects!). We stayed in Southern Vermont in a place called Hubbardton on the edge of Lake Bomoseen (see my previous post for photos of the gorgeous Lake House we stayed in).

A Maple leaf colourwheel from Woodstock, Vermont
Three in a row
I love yellow leaves!

We wanted to avoid epic drives, so decided to explore the areas in reasonably easy reach of where we were staying. Day one kicked off with a visit to Woodstock. We found a fabulous farmer's market to pick-up a delicious lunch and I think possibly the finest gluten-free wrap I had on holiday :) The village was so pretty. There were pumpkins and decorations outside all the houses and piles of leaves to swish around in.

Fall in Woodstock, Vermont
Camouflage
Fall in Woodstock, Vermont
Fall in Woodstock, Vermont
Pumpkin fence in Woodstock, Vermont

Day two was my absolute favourite in Vermont - one of those marvellous serendipitous days, where you don't really know what you're doing/where you're going and plans just evolve, most perfectly and magically. We drove in the opposite direction to the previous day, hoping to find some pretty red barns, white churches, golden trees still full of leaves, and houses with pumpkins outside to photograph (we didn't want much!!). As we drove through a tiny village called Sudbury I yelled "stop the car!" and we piled out in great excitement with our cameras. Everything we wanted in one small perfectly formed location. Pure magic. Picture postcard perfect!

Picture postcard perfect Sudbury in Vermont
Sunflaretastic - what fairytales are made of
Red barns in Sudbury, Vermont
Pumpkin display in Sudbury, Vermont

The day just got better, too. We drove on to Brandon, another pretty, bigger town. I yelled "stop the car!" again as we passed a cool looking antiques store/ice cream parlour (something for him, something for me). OMG. Kitsch heaven, crammed to the rafters, in the most unexpected of places. There was just sooo much to look at - impossible to take it all in. Sadly for me (but thankfully for my purse) I really had no space in my luggage to bring anything back as my handbag was already stuffed with precious Blythes! So I settled on a tiny cute owl and reluctantly put down the matching owl planter, and the bambi planter, and the kitty planter....The pics below aren't great - it was pretty dark inside and I had my wide angle lens on - but you get the general idea!

Antiques store in Brandon, Vermont
Antiques store in Brandon, Vermont
Antiques store in Brandon, Vermont

We enjoyed a wander around Brandon - so many pretty houses with white picket fences and beautiful trees outside. And a strange assortment of figures dressed up in a wide variety of outfits, strapped to trees and lamp posts...We continued a meandering drive, stopping the car regularly to jump out and take pics whenever we fancied. I also saw a black bear - thankfully we were in the car at the time - it looked me straight in the eyes! (Sadly no pictures - I was too flustered to even think about getting my camera out!)

Brandon, Vermont
Pretty white church near Brandon, Vermont

Day three saw another meandering drive, taking in lots of agricultural land - such beautiful scenery. We saw the very photogenic red barn below in Whiting. We then went on to Orwell to do a walk around the Mount Independence Trails - decided it was time to stretch our legs! I also took some Blythes with me for a mini photoshoot in the woods :) Oh and we were treated to a most spectacular rainbow on our return.

Red barn love
1880
Cheerful mailboxes in Orwell, Vermont
Al on the Mount Independence Trail in Orwell, Vermont
The pumpkin girls
Amelia glowing in the autumn sunshine

Day four (our last day) involved taking it easy before our big drive the next day. So we had a leisurely drive around the Stone Valley Byway, stopping in Poultney for coffee and photos and in Dorset for amazing, freshly made sandwiches from the general store that sold everything! Then it was back home for some kayaking on the lake (Al) and some Blythe photos (me)! The owl in the pics below is the one I found in the antiques store in Brandon :)

Pretty bike spotted in Poultney, Vermont
Pastel Chevvy love
The latest in Blythe fashion: acorn hats
Pumpkin patch

You can see the rest of my photos in my Vermont set on Flickr.

Coming next - the third and final leg of our trip - the very beautiful Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, Maine. Watch this space....

A (very stylish) home from home

Over the years, Al and I have learnt a lot about what we like and don't like when it comes to holiday accommodation. We are definitely creatures of comfort and love the space to potter about, rather than being crammed into a room. Essential for me as a coeliac is having a kitchen so we can self-cater, otherwise it's a nightmare trying to find places to eat out all the time (and expensive!). A bath is a bonus and wifi is an absolute must!

Our New York Airbnb apartment in Tribeca

We are huge fans of Airbnb - if you haven't come across Airbnb before it's basically a website/service where people rent out their apartments/homes/rooms all over the world and the prices are usually much cheaper than hotels, and the hosts often provide fantastic really helpful advice about the area you are staying in, etc. It works on a review based system, so both the hosts/homes and the guests get reviewed - I've found the reviews really helpful in deciding where to stay (it definitely pays to do your research). So for our big USA trip this year we decided to Airbnb it all the way and I'm pleased to report we had a fantastic experience!

First up, I thought I'd share our New York apartment in Tribeca.

Our New York Airbnb apartment in Tribeca
Our New York Airbnb apartment in Tribeca

The owner (host) is an art dealer, so the apartment was filled with cool, quirky art pieces. I can't say they were my taste, but they worked well in the apartment:

Our New York Airbnb apartment in Tribeca
Our New York Airbnb apartment in Tribeca
Our New York Airbnb apartment in Tribeca
Our New York Airbnb apartment in Tribeca

The main living space was one big open plan area which worked really well and provided a great space to socialise in. We shared the apartment with some friends, which helped make it a bit more affordable.

We then moved on to Vermont, via a beautiful train journey to Albany, where we rented a car. We stayed in the most amazing modern Lake House, which literally was on the edge of Lake Bomoseen. It was simply stunning and such a treat.

Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont
Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont
Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont

The house had enormous windows overlooking the lake. We spent many an hour, with a cup of tea or glass of wine in hand, just staring out the window and watching the leaves gently float by. The view was simply stunning and constantly changing with the weather and the light. The house had been designed around the view and the bedroom had windows which looked through the main living space onto the lake. It was such a treat to wake up to that view.

Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont
Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont
Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont
Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont

The living area was open plan and I loved the feeling of space, and the wooden floors. The kitchen was great too and we made good use of it - we couldn't bear to leave the house when it got dark and we had got all cosy, so we cooked for ourselves every evening! The bedrooms had super comfy lovely bedding and I just adored the vintage chair in the living room - made a good home for my Blythes :)

Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont
Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont
Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont
Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont
Our gorgeous Airbnb Lake House in Vermont

We stayed in a third place too - on Mount Desert Island in Maine - but I'll save that for another post or this will never end!

New York adventuring

You'll be pleased to know this is the last post about my New York adventures :)

Golden NYC

The obligatory wander down Fifth Avenue and around Times Square had to be done for the amazing shop window displays and general bombardment of colour, lights, music, people....It was sooo busy. I didn't even manage to get my camera out down Fifth Avenue - the crowd was thick and deep and moving so quickly.... So much to look at, every which way, and so much to distract you!

Times Square
Neon
Times Square
Look up - look every which way!

On our list of places to eat in NYC was Bareburger - and after what felt like an eternity we managed to track one down for lunch - and we weren't disappointed (just as well as I think Candy Pop was about to eat my arm - we were ravenous!). I was pleased to see there were lots of good gluten-free options. And I loved the decor. We also tested Five Guys and I can confirm their fries are amazing.

Bareburger
NYC
View from Central Park

We packed so much into our last day. A leisurely stroll from our apartment took us to Soho. So much eye candy and so many beautiful shops... I loved nosing at all the beautiful window displays and marvelling at the amazing architecture.

Soho
Soho
Soho

I had a lovely long look around Anthropologie - I just adore all their displays. I treated myself to a beautiful soft grey cardigan and snuggly pink snood with my birthday money, and the most amazing owl plate I have ever seen :)

Anthropologie loveliness
Anthropologie loveliness
Anthropologie loveliness
Anthropologie loveliness

So much walking requires regular sustenance, so we had to stop at Georgetown Cupcake to recuperate - I had the most divine and velvety smooth gluten-free cupcake I have ever tasted. Nom! Highly recommended if you are looking for an alternative to the Magnolia Bakery.

Georgetown cupcakes
Soho
Soho

We made our way via Greenwich Village to Chelsea Market and found a fabulous screen printed NYC cycling map for our walls (pics to come - need to get it framed!). I really enjoyed mooching around all the fantastic eating places and we eventually opted for the most amazing freshly made gourmet sandwiches that we ate in the sunshine on the nearby Highline. I can really recommend the Highline - we wandered up and down the entire length of it taking in all the amazing views.

Shadow self-portrait at the Highline
Views from the Highline
Parking New York Style

Because we hadn't walked enough, we decided to round-off our last day with a quick trip to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and a visit to the 9/11 memorial site. Such a moving, peaceful place and a truly beautiful tribute. Night fell as we were there and the sight and sound of the water tumbling down the foundations of the towers under the moonlight will stay with me for a long time.

Gentle sunset over NYC
9/11 memorial by moonlight

Farewell New York - you were amazing, chaotic, exhilarating, exhausting, and so much fun! You can find the rest of my photos in my New York set on Flickr.

Brooklyn and a sparkling Manhattan by night

So, day one of our New York adventure kicked off with a whistle-stop tour of Brooklyn. We'd all been to New York before, but never Brooklyn, so figured we'd get stuck straight in, and round off the day with some night time photography of the Manhattan skyline from DUMBO.

Bright lights, big city: Manhattan skyline from DUMBO *7*

Bodies still confused by time zones, we were wide awake at 5am and headed out for breakfast as soon as it was a vaguely acceptable time. We were staying in a fabulous apartment in Tribeca (more on that soon) and didn't have far to wander before we came across a fab place called Mulberry & Vine, where I had the most amazing (and healthy!) gluten-free breakfast - some kind of kale/herb frittata, followed by a pumpkin muffin. Om nom nom. Fuelled up and armed with some recommendations from an old issue of Mollie Makes we headed out to Williamsburg.

Bike anyone?
French Cafe in Brooklyn

Of course, we were there far too early - things don't really get going until 12ish in this neck of the woods. So we whiled away the time and rested our aching feet in a hip french cafe, drinking lemonade out of mason jars. Followed by a gentle photo amble and some shopping. My lovely husband found a fabulous hat in Goorin Brothers - so many beautiful and impeccably made hats...

Al found a rather cool hat in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn

We came across lots of amazing graffiti....I just adored the cat!

Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn

From Williamsburg we headed to Park Slope and marvelled at the architecture and the halloween displays - so impressive.

Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Halloween decorations in Brooklyn, NYC
Spooky decorations in Brooklyn, NYC

We wound up in Pacific Heights and DUMBO, where there are the most fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline.

Photographing the Manhattan Skyline
Brooklyn
Brooklyn

Despite seriously flagging at this point, Al and I decided to stay out to catch the sunset and grab some long exposure night time shots. I'm so glad we did. It looked so pretty as darkness fell and the lights started sparkling. We kept meaning to go and get some dinner - but there was just "one more shot" from some new vantage point - so we didn't get home or eat dinner until 10pm!!! But it was all worth it. I think the night shots were my favourite ones from the New York trip.

Bright lights, big city: Manhattan skyline from DUMBO *8*
Bright lights, big city: Manhattan skyline from DUMBO *5*
Bright lights, big city: Manhattan skyline from DUMBO *3*
Bright lights, big city: Manhattan skyline from DUMBO *10*
Bright lights, big city: Manhattan skyline from DUMBO *11*

I didn't have room for all my photos here, so you can see the rest in my New York set on Flickr. Still plenty more to come from our other days, so watch this space!