Windows at Castle in the Clouds

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Photos by Virginia Allain

I notice windows whenever I visit historic sites. The 1914 mansion called Castle in the Clouds in New Hampshire had wonderful windows. The views from the windows included flower gardens and vistas of the mountain side.

All Photos by Virginia Allain

I really liked the octagonal dining room (shown above). How pleasant it would be to eat there with the light streaming in through the windows. These windows featured stained glass artwork.

The stone house had deep window sills. Notice the interesting handles for opening the windows.

Wouldn’t this be a delightful place to live?

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Posted in Architecture

Found a Painted Rock

While waiting for our bargain lobster rolls on Wednesday at Lone Oak, I spied a colorful, painted rock. I picked it up for a closer look at the intensely blue fish.



The painted rock that I found.



In the back of my mind, I vaguely remembered reading about these rocks. I turned the rock over and on the back was a brief message, “share on FB NH Rocks.”


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The reverse side of the rock.


Later, I took a look on Facebook and searched for NH rock. Sure enough, there was a group of enthusiasts who paint designs on rocks and leave them in public places for others to find.

They hope to brighten someone’s day when they find the whimsical small paintings unexpectedly. It works. My day was brighter.

It was fun to read on Facebook about moms and their kids painting the rocks and taking them different places in New Hampshire. They posted pictures of their artwork and gave hints on where to find them. Others treated it like a scavenger hunt and went looking for the rocks.

I posted the above picture of my lobster roll and the rock on the Facebook group so they would know it had been found. Apparently, I could keep the rock or put it in a new location for someone to find. Instead, I left it there. I’m sure by now, someone else has found it.

Have you found any of the painted rocks in New Hampshire or elsewhere? The activity has apparently spread far and wide.

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Posted in Fun

Exploring NH Cemeteries

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Woods Cemetery – Wakefield, NH

New Hampshire has fascinating small family cemeteries along the country roads. If you pull over to see one, you’ll find gravestones dating in the 1800s and sometimes even the 1700s. Often they are edged by a stone wall.

I’m a member of Find-a-Grave but haven’t been as active adding photos as I wanted to be. It seems like I get too wrapped up in my genealogy searches, my writing, and other activities. Volunteers photograph the gravestones for Find-a-Grave, making it easy for people to go online and find their ancestors.

A few years ago, I spent an hour or so photographing all the gravestones in the Woods Cemetery near Wakefield, New Hampshire. Those pictures have languished in my computer all this time.

Photo by Virginia Allain

Today, while searching my great-grandmother’s grave in a Kansas cemetery on the Find-a-Grave website, I checked the Woods one too. There was a request from someone for a photo of the above name, Susannah Perkins, wife of William Perkins.

Quickly, I rummaged in my photo files and came up with this shot. I submitted it to the site and hope it makes some genealogist very happy. That felt so good, that I went ahead and added William’s gravestone as well. There was also a stone for an infant. I’ll add that one too.

Do you use the Find-a-Grave site as a contributor or to find your family history?

I find the old cemeteries scenic and like to see the carvings on the gravestones. I look for unusual names or family groupings. Sometimes you see that a number of people died in a very short time. You wonder if there was an epidemic or what story went with those names.

Perkins and Hills family graves in Wakefield NH

A family grouping in the Woods Cemetery, Wakefield, NH.

I found some of the Perkins and Hill families lived to quite advanced ages. That surprised me for people living in the 1800s. Charlotte Hill lived to age 92, dying in 1882. Her husband, James, lived to the age of 94 years, 4 months, 14 days. There were also little stones in the cemetery with just the word Infant on it for a baby who died too young to even have a name.

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Posted in Sightseeing

Sanbornville, NH

I invite you to tour Sanbornville, NH. Explore the area with a drive on the curvy country roads. Enjoy the thick forests, old stone walls, New England style houses and glimpses of lakes. In this area, every road is scenic. This is the seven lakes region.

In the town of Sanbornville or nearby Wakefield admire the revolutionary war era buildings. Others aren’t quite that old but are architecturally interesting. Those in Wakefield are even pre-revolution.

Some you can have a look inside, like the Sanbornville Town Hall. The town hall includes on the second floor, the Wakefield Opera House where concerts or the library book sale are held.

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Vintage houses line the streets of Sanborneville, NH

Lunch at some of the local spots. In Sanbornville, the Poor People’s Pub serves up thick sandwiches and beefy burgers in a very casual setting. There’s also Cindy’s Place (near the hardware store) and the Miss Wakefield Diner on Route 16 (there’s a moose in front). On a chilly day, be sure to ask for clam chowder. Fish chowder and corn chowder are popular also. Lobster bisque is great but pricey.

moose at Miss Wakefield Diner

The moose at the Miss Wakefield Diner near Sanbornville (on Route 16)

Stay longer than just a day trip. Bring your tent or camper or rent a cottage. You’ll want to spend some time on the nearest lake swimming, kayaking, sailing or water skiing. Listen late at night for the unmistakable call of the loon.

Take a walk in the woods. Identify wildflowers (pink ladyslippers in the spring), nibble on wild blueberries and blackberries, and photograph mushrooms and scenery. Do not pick the ladyslippers as they are a rare and endangered plant.
Get some friends, old or new ones, together for an evening around the campfire. Gather some fallen wood in the forest or buy some camp wood from a roadside seller. Use a fire ring or fire pit to avoid setting the forest on fire.

Take bike rides on the sandy roads circling the various lakes. These have little traffic and are good for walking too. You’ll see interesting cottages along the way and meet a few others out for a stroll.

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Fun on the water with a kayak on one of the seven lakes near Sanbornville, NH.

Get some lobsters or steamers to eat with corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, and cole slaw at your place. You can do it yourself if you have a big pot. Here are my instructions for having a lobster feast.

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Posted in Daytrip

Pixie Thoughts – A Poem

Being in New Hampshire in the summer seems to inspire me. The very first summer here, I wrote this poem and illustrated it with my photos taken in the woods.
The second summer, I assembled my mother’s stories and edited them to produce the self-published memoir, My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing up in 1930s Kansas. She was so proud when it won the Ferguson Award for Kansas History in 2010.
pixie cup lichen and moss

Pixie Cup Lichen and moss – Photo by Virginia Allain

Pixie Thoughts

If I were only one inch tall,

I’d pretend I were a pixie.

I’d climb into a mossy bed

to nap beneath an arching fern

I’d catch dew drops in acorn caps

to drink when I was thirsty.

Life would be much simpler then,

If I were one inch tall.

My friends would be a chipmunk

And assorted dragonflies.

There’d be no chores plaguing me.

I’d have no goals to meet.

Time would be unlimited/pixie time,

If I were one inch tall.

Photos and poem by Virginia Allain. Originally published on Our Echo, a site for family memories, poetry, and other writings.

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Posted in wildlife

Finding Covered Bridges in New Hampshire

It’s a thrill to see an old covered bridge, a relic of simpler times when most travel was by horse and buggy. New Hampshire has quite a few of these. Some you can drive through, and others just walk through. Here’s how to plan your day trip to find vintage covered bridges.

Do some research first before setting out. I’ve gone hunting for them based on vague directions and it’s quite easy to spend most of a day wandering back roads with nothing to show for it. Of course, back roads can be fun too, if you like a day of serendipitous discoveries. The state is so scenic that every drive is a scenic one.

New Hampshire covered bridge (photo by Virginia Allain)

Look first on the New Hampshire government site that lists them. It gives the location, the style of bridge, the year constructed, and some structural characteristics.  Chart out your route on the New Hampshire map to include the maximum number of bridges for the time available. This site links the bridges to Yahoo’s map online.

Check your GPS as well to see if it has covered bridges listed in the tourist or travel destinations.

Pack a picnic lunch or research nearby towns online to find potential restaurants, roadside diners or seafood shacks for lunch stops. The bridge shown above has a sandy beach are on the Saco River. You can eat your picnic there but there are no picnic tables.

Look for clam shacks for the best buys on a seafood lunch.

When you find the bridge, find nearby parking (usually provided close by) and walk around admiring the old timbers, the view down the river and just savoring the feeling of this relic from another time.

Take lots of pictures from different angles to remember the day. Outside, inside, looking down to the river, etc. Who knows, there could be a terrible flood sweeping that bridge away. Even if it has been there over 100 years, there is no guarantee that it will be there for future generations to see.

Photo by Virginia Allain


In between bridges, enjoy the stretches of forest, plentiful lakes, views of the mountains, and small villages. Maybe make a stop or two at interesting shops to stretch your legs and find local crafts and other specialty items.

Some of the rivers (Saco, for instance) make a great canoe, kayak or tubing experience. You can rent one or bring your own. Research this on the internet first using keywords (name of the river + boat rental).

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Posted in Daytrip

Old Mill Buildings in New England

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Posted in Architecture