West Hill House B&B

Category Archives: Global Travel

Happy Chinese New Year!

February 1, 2013 by Susan

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Welcome to Chinatown, Ottawa, Canada

The magnificent 11 meter tall Royal Arch,  a symbol of Bejing-Canada friendship, welcomes visitors and residents alike as they explore Chinatown in Ottawa, Canada. Built entirely of reinforced concrete and stone it is in the style of the wooden arches found in China. Artists from China undertook the detailed hand painting and finishing work.  The Royal Arch glistens in the sun and even on a snowy day like the day we took this photo, the colours are outstanding and the size quite amazing. After many years of planning and fund raising by the local Chinese business community, the Arch was officially dedicated in  2010.

Many Asian cultures including Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese are represented in this area of Ottawa which is replete with shops, markets, restaurants and residences. If you are in Ottawa it’s a “must see” –  you will find the Arch at Cambridge St N and Somerset St. W.

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Canada Day!

July 1, 2012 by Susan

Wishing all our Canadian friends around the world,

“Happy Canada Day! Joyeus Fête du Canada!”.

Canada Day or Fête du Canada, is a great day of celebration in Canada. Commemorating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867 enactment of the British North America Act, which united the three British colonies into a single country called Canada. Canadians around the world celebrate this holiday with family and friends, parades, and of course fireworks.

To Cape Cod and Beyond

May 21, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

Cape Cod

Heading to the endless ocean at Nauset Beach

Heading to the endless ocean at Nauset Beach

Just a few weeks ago we headed off to Cape Cod to attend the PAII Northeastern Regional Conference. As our program did not start until late afternoon we decided to drive up the Cape and explore along the way.

We started our exploration in the town of Hyannis and by making a welcome stop for homemade ice creams at Katie’s, so many imaginative flavors it was hard to choose.

Peter loves the ocean so of course beaches and lighthouses were on the agenda. We stopped at the Veterans Beach in Hyannis and saw the Kennedy Memorial and the Cape and Islands Korean War Memorial, we walked the grounds at the Higgins Farm Windmill, stopped at The Cook Shop (yes, Susan bought a few items and could have stayed there for ages), enjoyed the view from the Highland lighthouse and read of the beach erosion which precipitated the moving of the lighthouse back several hundred feet from its original 1797 location. The view of the ocean from Nauset Beach near Orleans took our breath away and Peter could have sat there for ages. No land as far as the eye could see, no wonder early sailors were worried they would fall off the end of the earth.

So back to Hyannis for our PAII conference.

PAII? It stands for the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, which is a great organization which speaks on behalf of its member innkeepers on issues that affect this sector of the hospitality industry. Annual and regional conferences offer innkeepers and aspiring innkeepers a chance to meet others in the industry as well as meet with businesses which provide services and products to the industry. The focus of the conferences is offering workshops covering many topics from decorating (with or without doilies), to bread making, to website design to social media. Innkeeers also get a chance to be updated on the Better Way To Stay  program which promotes B&Bs as a great alternative to the traditional hotel/motel accommodations.Parked Car

Theme speakers, whose messages touch each innkeeper in some way, set the tone at both the opening and closing sessions and get us charged up for the coming year.

Departing Hyannis for West Hill House B&B. The QR code in our window received numerous comments.

We’re home now recharged after a few days of relaxation and an action packed conference.

Thanks for a great conference, PAII!

It’s the money, not the principle of the thing!

May 21, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

So we were on our way to Cape Cod for the New England PAII conference and decided to break the trip with the night at one of Boston’s luxury downtown hotels. The entrance was grand, the staff was friendly, the room spacious and a nice treat for us but my gosh, I do believe that a B&B is a Better Way to Stay.

We were serenaded to sleep (not) with the sound of roaring traffic along with police and firetruck sirens oh and a couple of ‘rice racers’ trying out downtown streets. Boston night traffic seems to calm down about 3AM and start up again around 5AM so not much sleep to be had – and we were more than 12 floors above street level.

I know life in the big city is expensive – if we weren’t blown away by the $12.50 per device charge to connect with the internet, and the $25 per person buffet breakfast (which we opted not to indulge in) we just about had to pick our jaws up off the floor and mortgage the farm to pay the $46 per night valet parking, which we were informed about only at check out! (Valet parking was the only option if you had a car.) Do we not get out enough or does something not seem quite right?

A Better Way to Stay? You bet…We encourage anyone from Boston, New York, Hartford, Toronto or any other big city to come enjoy the peace and serenity of West Hill House. Quiet nights (unless you count the peepers down by the pond), free phone calls and internet, free parking even if you are here for an event and we have valet parking, and our hallways don’t disappear into a vanishing point. Oh and of course, breakfast is included!

Need a break from the hectic life of the city? The Rx is a trip to Vermont.

National Parks Week April 21-29

May 21, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

In Vermont we are proud of our woodlands, our mountains and our waterways. In fact, the mission of our Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation is to practice and encourage a high quality of stewardship of Vermont’s environment by managing forests for sustainable use and by providing and promoting opportunities for compatible outdoor recreation. This mission echos the concern for the environment expressed by John Muir in the late 1800′s as he explored the vast magnificence of the natural wonders of the US west.

John Muir, a Scottish born American naturalist was an early advocate of the preservation of the American wilderness. His many writings tell of his adventures in nature and especially his love of the Sierra Nevada. An outspoken supporter and active defender of  nature preservation,  his enthusiasm for nature was boundless.

An early advocate of the idea of national parks, Muir petitioned the US Congress to pass the Nation Park bill which, when passed in 1890, brought about the creation of both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Today the name John Muir graces numerous trails, glaciers, camp-grounds and monuments in national park lands. Founded by Muir, The Sierra Club continues to be one of the most active and important conservation groups today.

If you watched the Ken Burns documentary on the National Parks you will remember the first part focuses on the life of John Muir.

Today in the United States, this Scottish born naturalist is referred to as the “Father of the National Parks”. Thank a Scot and go out and enjoy a national park this week.  April 21-29 is National Parks Week.

Father of the National Parks John Muir

“Father of the National Parks” John Muir April 21, 1838- December 24, 1914

 

Quaich Single Malt Bar

May 27, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

West Hill House B&B Quaich Single Malt Bar

Quaich Single Malt Bar

A Quaich Drinking Cup

A Quaich

We invite you to enjoy our Quaich Single Malt Scotch Bar.

Just in case you are wondering, a Quaich is a traditional Scottish drinking vessel that was used to offer a guest a cup of welcome and also as a farewell drink, usually a dram of whisky. The inspiration for the name came from the gift of a Quaich to Peter, during our visit to Scotland, from his university class mates at the 40th reunion of their graduation, which Peter helped organize.

Our Quaich bar is now open for resident guests after dinner each evening, nominally from 8 till 10 PM. We are featuring a variety of malts from Speyside and the islands, and for those whose preference does not run to a fine single malt we also have a nice selection of liqueurs. All are available at very reasonable prices.

We hope this new feature will be just one more reason why you will want to come and visit us (again) at West Hill House, where we don’t compete with other B&Bs, we simply surpass them with our service, our comfort, our beautiful location, and our unique breakfast desserts!

Une visite de France

January 13, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Three cousins visiting from France delighted us with this guest blog about their visit to the Mad River Valley. Nous disons, “Merci, Fanny, Audrey, et Valerie pour votre visite.”

Nous avons passé quelques jours au West Hill House chez Susan et Peter en août 2010. Et quel séjour au coeur des Green Mountains, dans le Vermont. Les hôtes sont charmants et très accueillants, heureux de nous faire partager leur passion pour leur magnifique région. La maison est très jolie et confortable, rappelant les maisons Américaines (exterieur), Canadiennes et Ecossaises (intérieur). Quant aux petits déjeuners de Susan : exquis !! Et en tant que Français, tout le monde sait à quel point nous aimons les mets de qualité!

Et pour finir deux grands chats adorables : Smoky et Snowball!

La région du Vermont vaut le détour : de belles randonnées dans les Green Montains, des baignades dans la rivière, beaucoup d’expositions d’artistes et artisans d’art, The Warren store à voir absolument (Magasin qui rappelle le magasin de Mr Olson dans la petite maison dans la prairie!!), vous pourrez y déguster de délicieux petits plats et trouver des objets insolites, The Store à Waitsfield (petite ville à quelque kilometres de Warren) où l’on vous accueille avec une tasse de thé ou de café, vous y trouverez tout le necessaire pour cuisiner : des ustensiles aux condiments. Cette région regorge de “red barn” = fermes typiques rouges, de ponts couverts, et de restaurants où nous avons toujours très bien mangé.

Bref, je gardais du Vermont un souvenir exceptionnel, 15 ans après mon premier voyage, j’ai retrouvé la même authenticité et le même accueil chaleureux.

N’hésitez plus, West Hill House et le Vermont sont des lieux que l’on n’oublie pas ! Pour ma part, je reviendrai en automne ou en hiver, cela doit être magique!

Be Scottish for an Evening: Burns Supper

January 4, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Robert Burns

On January 22nd 2011 we will be holding a Burns Supper to celebrate the 252nd anniversary of the birth, on January 25th 1759, of this great Scottish Poet.

A Burns Supper is a significant tradition in Scotland and among Scots around the world. The evening will consistent of traditional Scottish fair including Haggis (which really is worth trying!) and Scottish Trifle.

The Haggis will be piped in by local piper Amos Horn and will be addressed in the traditional manner by Peter:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm. …

Scottish Dancing after dinner will be led by dance instructors Martha & Don Kent.

This year the Burns Supper will be held in our newly renovated handsome Red Barn so we have room for a total of 30 guests. We expect a sell-out so don’t wait till the last minute to book. Tickets must be purchased by January 14th.

The Burns Supper is just $39 per person (plus tax), and it is sure to be a memorable evening. Stay two nights and we will include the supper at the reduced rate of $60 per couple.

Christmas Lights

December 16, 2010 by Peter MacLaren

Winter magic.

Parliament Hill Christmas

There is something special about seeing Christmas lights shining in the snow.

As it’s still a bit quiet in this neck of the woods, Peter and I took the opportunity to take a few days off and make a quick trip to Ottawa, Canada to visit family and friends.While we absolutely love living in the quiet of Warren, we were delighted to once again experience the excitement of Christmas-time in the city. Stores full of shoppers, Christmas music playing everywhere, and house all around the area decorated with Christmas lights.

For us though, one of the favorite annual displays of lights is on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Not only are the trees and bushes surrounding this majestic site covered with coloured lights, the building itself is beautifully lit with coloured floodlights and each evening  from early December through early January there is a light show. It is fascinating to watch the colours change and  see enormous snowflakes slowly drifting down the side of this historic building. Residents and visitors alike gather on the snow covered lawns in front of the Parliament buildings to marvel at the spectacular show. In fact, provincial capitals across the country are brought together by the annual celebration of Christmas Lights Across Canada as winter landscapes are brightened by over 300,000 multi-coloured lights. The photo here is from  one of the National Capital Commission websites.

If you visit Ottawa before Jan 7, 2011 this light show is a must see. By the way, we stayed at Les Suites Hotel, an easy walk from Parliament Hill. Oh, don’t forget to bring your ice skates so you can take advantage of skating on the Rideau Canal and stopping at one of the small kiosks on the Canal to enjoy a warm and delicious Beaver Tail pastry!

Icelandic volcano close-up.

April 18, 2010 by Peter MacLaren

In April 2002 our family spent 10 magnificent days in Iceland on a personal tour designed for us by ISAFOLD Travel. With the news of the continuing eruption of the Eyjafjallajökul volcano I sent a note to our friends at Isafold Travel to ask after their safety – and yes they are all safe – and they have even had a volcano adventure. Here is a paragraph from their website as well as some photos taken by Isafold Travel staff.

By the way, we highly recommend this company. If you are considering a trip to Iceland or just want to find out more about travel in Iceland check out their website.

Volcano Eruption

The Monday before Easter Break the staff of Isafold Travel drove to the Volcano Eruption in Eyjafjallajökul on seven ISAK jeeps. To get as close as possible to the eruption site we drove the south coast passing Skógar and went up by glacier tongue Sólheimajökull, from there we drove over glacier Mýrdalsjökull. After spending a good time viewing this magnificent wonder of nature we headed back to Reykjavík and arrived at 4 am at the headquarters, tired but very happy after 12 hours of fantastic experience.

Isafold Travel staff viewing the eruption in Eyjafjallajökul from a safe distance.  Dawn breaks and the volcano continues erupting.

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