A holiday visit to Gardenworks, Salem, NY

by Sandra Hutchinson

Last Sunday, we headed out to Gardenworks Farm, in Salem, NY, to visit with our good friends and the farm’s owners, Meg and Rob Southerland, and to select our Christmas tree. It was just like old times, piling into the car with our two sons, worried about whether our younger son would feel car sick on the drive over hill and dale to get to the farm. Surprise — our “boys” are now in their mid-twenties, having returned home during the pandemic to work from our home, yet both were enthusiastic about accompanying my husband and me on our tree venture — and no one got car sick! Indeed, I had hoped to go to the farm a few days earlier, but my sons complained that their work schedules didn’t allow them to go then, and how could I even consider not including them in such a classic family tradition?

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A Yorkshire break — Fountains Abbey, York, heritage trains, moors and more!

A ruined nave at Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

by Sandra Hutchinson

Last fall I spent a magical week taking an adult education course at Oxford University, in Oxford, UK. Following the conclusion of my program, I headed to London and met up with my husband, who flew in from the States to meet me. After a couple of days that allowed him to acclimate to the time zone, we hopped on a train at Kings Cross Station and took the two-hour ride north to the city of York.

After spending a few days in York we rented a car and stayed on the grounds of Fountains Abbey, a World Heritage Site. During our stay, we explored the ruins of the Abbey and the adjacent Studley Royal Park. We spent a day taking a historic steam train through the Yorkshire Moors to Whitby, a coastal town known for its fish and chips, as well as being the location of a ruined abbey that was an inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We also explored some of the beautiful landscape in this part of Yorkshire, which is England’s largest county.

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Missing Martha’s Vineyard


by Sandra Hutchinson

For nearly 35 years my closest friend from childhood, who now lives in New York State’s Dutchess County, has rented a place on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard for an August getaway. She has been generous in her invitations to me to stay with her, and I’ve been blessed to spend time there. This summer, 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, all of her plans, and mine, were cancelled because of concerns of being in crowded spaces in a place that attracts visitors from across the world. 

Aquinnah Cliffs (formerly called Gay Head)

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Visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum, “La Casa Azul,” Coyoacán, Mexico City

In early January, we made a visit to the home of famed Latin American artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), in Mexico City. Also called La Casa Azul (“The Blue House”), the property is operated as Museo Frida Kahlo, and much of the home has been left furnished as it was when the artist died. Judging by the crowds, and the difficulty of obtaining tickets, I would say this is a pilgrimage for fans of the artist.

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Middlethorpe Hall, York, England — a National Trust Country House Hotel

Front entrance of Middlethorpe Hall, York.

This fall, my husband and I had the great fortune to stay at Middlethorpe Hall, one of three National Trust UK’s country house hotels. Middllethorpe Hall is just a few miles outside of downtown York; the other two National Trust hotels are located in North Wales and Aylesbury, the latter being about an hour from London. All three hotels were acquired by the National Trust by donation.

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December Getaway at Stockbridge’s Red Lion Inn

I recently managed a quick, two-night, mid-week, pre-Christmas getaway with my best friend at the historic Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass., in the heart of the Berkshires. The Inn is shown at the right of this 1967 illustration done for McCall’s magazine by Norman Rockwell, titled Home for Christmas (Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas). Rockwell’s own South Street home appears at the far right.

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Live like a student at Oxford University: B&B at Christ Church College

This September, I had the privilege of spending a week in Oxford, England, while taking a course on the history of the British/American relationship. The program was a collaboration between the University of Virginia and Oxford University.

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Radcliffe Camera, Oxford.

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Nifty items in new exhibit at Old Fort House Museum, Fort Edward

By Sandra Hutchinson

A newly-opened exhibit at the Old Fort House in Fort Edward highlights significant objects and paintings in the collection, and reveals some surprising information tied to those objects. Click here for the museum’s Web site.

“A Century of Collecting: Treasures from the Old Fort House” was researched by guest curator Jillian Mulder, who serves as curator of the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls.

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Tea Island, Lake George, circa 1882-1892. Helena Dewey Little

“I’m hoping that people recognize that Fort Edward has this terrific collection,” says Ms. Mulder. “Go see it. Take some pride in it. It’s worth valuing.”

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Wiawaka Center for Women, Lake George, NY

by Sandra Hutchinson

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The Victorian, Mansard-roofed Fuller House, is where guests check in and have their meals. There is also lodging on the upper floors.

Nestled along the southeastern shore of Lake George, in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, is the oldest continuously operating women’s retreat center in the United States. Wiawaka Center for Women was founded in 1903, by Mary Wiltsie Fuller (1862-1943), the daughter of an industrialist from Troy, New York, as a place for the female workers in the textile factories and laundries of Troy and nearby Cohoes, to enjoy an affordable summer respite.

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