West Hill House B&B

Category Archives: Mad River Valley

Wine-ing? Yes, Keep on Wine-ing with Great Vermont Wine

May 15, 2017 by Susan

Wine is not something usually associated with Vermont. Maple syrup and craft beers top the list. Vermont is, however, becoming internationally known for its wine. Within an hour and a bit of West Hill House B&B there are numerous vineyards that welcome visitors and offer tasting opportunities. Two of our favorites are Lincoln Peak Vineyard and Boyden Valley Wine & Spirits.

Lincoln Peak Vineyard bottles on display in the tasting room.

Our West Hill House B&B mug made a visit to Lincoln Peak Vineyard. Photo: West Hill House B&B

Lincoln Peak Vineyard is on the route to Middlebury which is a great college town worth exploring. Evolving from an apple orchard to strawberry fields and ultimately to a vineyard, Lincoln Peak Vineyard is now one of the largest grape producers in Vermont. The vines came from a fellow vintner in Minnesota and are a winter-hardy grape variety that is happy in the Vermont climate.

Making a first batch of commercial wine in 2006, Lincoln Peak now produces over 25,000 bottles of wine a year all from grapes grown on their own vineyard. Entering the International Cold-Climate Wine Competitions for four years has garnered Lincoln Peak Vineyard three best-in-show awards along with several gold and double-gold medals.

Ripe grapes at Lincoln Peak Vineyard.

Mature wine grapes ready for picking at Lincoln Peak Vineyard. Photo: Sara Granstrom

Lincoln Peak Vineyard opens its 2017 season on May 20 offering visitors a chance to taste some of their 12 great wines with fun names like Starlight, Petite Pink and Ragtime. We stock two Lincoln Peak wines at West Hill House B&B, La Crescent and Marquette.

Like many Vermont enterprises, Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits evolved through a long family history. The Boyden family began farming 800 acres over 100 years ago. Purchased in 1914,  the Boyden family started with 28 head of dairy cows. Frederick and Phila Boyden along with their nine children planted the roots of what today is the thriving business.

Boyden Valley red wine ready for tasting

Boyden Valley red wine ready for tasting. Photo: Boyden Valley Winery

David, Mark and Stephanie are the 4th generation on the farm. David and his wife Linda, his siblings Mark and Stephanie and the rest of the team, oversee activities encompassing raising beef cattle and organic crops, tending 10,000 maple trees, raising cold climate grapes, making wine and more.

Boyden Valley Winery was one of the first licensed wineries in Vermont. Hardy cold climate vines were planted in 1996 and while waiting for them to mature, the Boydens began to craft fruit wines. Now they offer 20 award winning creative wines. They also took advantage of their other famous Vermont products, cream, apples and maple syrup and have created the most amazing cream liqueur, Vermont Ice Maple Cream Liqueur. The only thing they don’t produce on the property is the glass bottle the liqueur is in!

Boyden Valley Wine & Spirits tasting barn

Taste Boyden Valley Wine in their beautiful barn. Photo: Boyden Valley Wine & Spirits

Their tasting room is a beautiful barn and the family members and staff are not only very friendly but are knowledgeable about all aspects of wine production from the ground to bottle. The tasting room is open year round and special tasting events take place from time to time.

Vermont Ice Maple Cream Liqueur is a much loved constant in the bar at West Hill House B&B.

When you visit West Hill House B&B we will be happy to direct you to these and other near by vineyards. Remember to drink responsibly and have a designated driver.

Don’t be Directionally Challenged

April 22, 2017 by Susan

Mud season is upon us here in rural Vermont. A time when the snow melts, the ground thaws and the rains come. Although the ski season has come to an end many B&B owners like ourselves remain open and welcome guests while we catch up on the B&B ‘honey-do’ list.

Mud season is a perfect time to get away from your day-to-day routines and enjoy relaxing at a B&B with your special someone. It is a quiet time in this part of the country, and although the skiers have left, the roads still lead to the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont —if you follow the driving directions.  Of course on our website we do provide you with a 98% mud-free route to our B&B.

Yankee Magazine had a lovely oh-so-true story this month entitled ‘Hard Drive’ which described perfectly the challenges of not only mud season but, mud season in combination with GPS.

Directions to keep you mud free.

Knowing which way can keep you mud free.

Vermont has 8,600 miles of unpaved roads (that’s twice the length of the continental US) and only 6,000 miles of paved roads. Those who live here appreciate the gravel roads and the beauty found along these roads less taken.

One of the challenges of mud season is that many of the gravel roads turn to a wonderful chocolaty brown layer of mud. While looking innocent enough, in some places the mud is ready to challenge you: will you make it through or will you be caught.

During mud season Vermont’s B&Bs want to help you journey smoothly so we all recommend the same thing, “We live here and know the roads well — please read through our recommended directions and don’t let your GPS or mapping website lead you astray!”

Forest gravel road

Gravel road through verdant forest – no mud here.

The subtitle of Yankee Magazine’s ‘Hard Drive’ story is “The GPS crowd learns that when it comes to country roads, some are less taken for a reason.”

Absolutely true! While GPS may give you the shortest route, that route might actually turn out to be a farm road or a gravel-road mountain pass deep in mud. In winter you may be led to a road actually closed in winter one which has been closed in winter since the beginning of time!

The key words are “we live here and know the roads well”. While the route we suggest may be a bit longer, the timing is usually within minutes of the same and in the long run may require lots less time than waiting for a tow truck to pull you out of the mud!

We want you to arrive happy and relaxed, not stressed out!

So what’s to do in Mud Season you ask? Plenty. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sign up for a Brews and Snooze tour
  • Visit the Valley Arts gallery or take part in one of their special classes
  • Shop at the ‘Almost World Famous Warren Store’ they have a great deli too!
  • See the vast array of Vermont artisan talent at the Artisan Gallery Shop
  • Get a jump on Christmas decorations at All Things Bright and Beautiful
  • Check out the paintings and photographs by local artist at the Parade Gallery in Warren
  • Enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants. While some are closed in mud season, there is still good dining to be had. Perhaps even dinner at the B&B.
  • Visit the waterfalls or one of the other self-driving tours we have created for you
  • The Three Mountain Café is a good stopping spot for a bite to eat and to check out local antiques
  • Visit The Store for all things kitchen related and they have classes as well

Watering can with flowersWhether you venture out and about or cozy up at the B&B; breath deeply, enjoy the mountain air and above all, r e l a x !

We are ready help you get started on your Vermont get-away. Check out out our Spring Showers bring May Flowers special or just give us a call at 802-496-7162 to make your relaxation reservation.

Stars at Night are Big & Bright, Deep In the Mad River Valley

March 14, 2017 by Susan

In the Mad River Valley the 20 mile stretch of winding road from Moretown to Warren in darkest winter is studded with brightly lit stars of all shapes and sizes.

Reign Vermont's Stars

Bridget LaMell’s shop, Reign Vermont.

Standing anywhere from 3 to 15 feet in height and beckoning to visitors and locals alike, they can be found on residential lawns and hanging from the front of shops, businesses and barns.

A year after tropical storm Irene, Bridget LaMell, who owns Reign Vermont, wanted to draw attention to her shop which sits a bit back and closer to the Mad River than the other historic buildings surrounding the covered bridge in Historic Waitsfield Village. Bridget created a few simple stars made out of tree saplings and wound Christmas lights around them. People loved them — it created a whimsical tableau which charmed people driving by on Route 100.

Stars on the covered bridge.

Historic Waitsfield Bridge.

As a result of these attractive stars, neighboring residents and business owners got together in late fall the next year to create a multitude of new ones using found materials and pooling their money to buy the lights. By 2014, the shops at Historic Waitsfield Village were ablaze with lights setting Historic Waitsfield Village apart. Since then, the stars have created a unifying theme which now extends all the way to Warren.

In October of 2016 numerous locations displayed five stars together. This display is in honor and remembrance five of the valley’s high school students who were killed by a wrong way driver on Interstate 89.

Shop window stars.

Stars in the window of Valley Arts Foundation.

Currently there are over 500 celestial creations, all hand made, shining brightly in the valley and taking the darkness out of the long winter evenings. Each year more and more are being added by residents, perhaps the idea will catch on and Route 100 will become Vermont’s Route of the Stars.

Or… are these brightly shining stars here because as the shooting stars fall from the heavens they look for the most beautiful place in Vermont to land and they choose the Mad River Valley.

Maple Syrup? Pancakes? Vermont’s Got It!

February 5, 2017 by Susan

Glenn at the door of his West Hill Sugar Orchard

Glenn at the door of his West Hill Sugar Orchard

Maple syrup and Vermont go together like, well, maple syrup and pancakes! Forty years are required to grow a sugar maple tree large enough to tap. A tree ten inches (25 cm) in diameter is considered minimum trappable size for one tap. A grove of sugar maples is called a sugar bush or sometimes a maple orchard. It takes 4-5 taps to produce enough maple sap (40 gallons – 150 liters) to produce one gallon of syrup. Would you like to see it in action?

The Vermont Maple Open House Weekend will be held the weekend of March 25th and 26th in 2017, and you can experience it right here around West Hill House B&B.

The West Hill Sugar Orchard is a short walk from the B&B and is a small scale, locally operated and community supported maple syrup producer. The orchard gathers its sap by bucket and boils it over a wood fire using traditional maple sugaring techniques. Owner Glenn and his associated will be ready to welcome you for a visit over the weekend!

For breakfast we shall of course be serving maple syrup to accompany Susan’s delicious dishes, and maybe even as part of breakfast dessert. Newly produced 2017 will be available to purchase packaged in Glenn’s signature glass bottles decorated by his own wood prints. To help you enjoy this special weened we have created a special package just for you!

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Ski it! Enjoy it! Participate in winter activities

January 9, 2017 by Peter MacLaren

As we look out the windows at West Hill House B&B during the winter months, we are thankful for the beautiful snowfalls, the ski areas and the great outdoor activities the local mountains and surrounding area offer.

Perry Merrill

While one man may not be able to move a mountain he surely can shape what happens on a mountain. Perry Merrill (1894-1993) is often called the “the father of Vermont’s State Parks and Alpine Ski Areas…Merrill was the Vermont State officer who could lease State land…”. (The History of Vermont Skiing by Jeremy Davis). It was Merrill who seems to have put Vermont on skis. With his help, Vermont received workers and money as part of  government project know as the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). In the 1940s, the CCC was responsible for building ski rails in Vermont which were the foundation for much of today’s ski industry.

Vermont currently boasts some 15 major ski resorts as well as a number of smaller ski areas. Suicide Six, near Woodstock, VT., was the earliest resort opened in 1934. Others, including Mad River Glen- Ski It If You Can – and Sugarbush Resort – Be Better Here – both here in the Mad River Valley, were not far behind. Once night  temperatures fall to freezing, mountain resorts start snowmaking to provide base coverage then Mother Nature takes over. It is not unusual for Sugarbush to record 300″ (7.62m) or more of snow in a good winter.

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Green Mountain Stage Race 2016 – domestiques r us!

June 7, 2016 by Peter MacLaren

The Green Mountain Stage Race will take place September 2nd to 5th, 2016, offering, as always, 4 days of exciting and challenging racing in the mountains of Vermont. We are honored to have had many accomplished cyclists stay at West Hill House B&B for the Green Mountain Race and look forward to the event again this year!  In prior years our guests have monopolized the podium, probably because of Susan’s great breakfasts!

Lodging for the GMSR

We know how to be great domestiques and here are a few other perks to consider:

  • We have a large barn (our Handsome Red Barn) where there is room for you to set up and make adjustments
  • We have indoor storage for your bikes in the barn, and we’ll be happy to store them for you if you ship them ahead
  • Guests rave about how comfortable our beds are
  • We provide breakfast at the time you need it for your race schedule
  • If you stay with us for the race for three or more nights we offer a 15% discount

AND: If you are first in your class as of the end of the 3rd day of racing, that night will be compliments of the B&B!
ITT-500M-to-go

Registering for the GMSR

You can register for the race online or by mail to: Green Mountain Stage Race, LLC P.O. Box 1172 Waitsfield VT 05673. Then book your room online here at West Hill House B&B or give us a call at 802-496-7162.

Biking all summer long!

In addition to the GMSR there is great cycling and mountain biking in the Mad River Valley all summer.  Please checkout our Cycling page and the Road & Mountain Biking page on the Mad River Valley website.

Green Mountain Hikes

May 29, 2016 by Peter MacLaren

Hedgehog Brook Trailhead with Bruce

Bruce with guests at Hedgehog Brook Trailhead

2016 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service and this summer West Hill House B&B and Vermont based ‘Wonder Walks’ are taking to heart the challenge given by the US National Park Service to help you explore Vermont’s Green Mountains. Did you know that the US National Parks originated with the advocacy of Scotsman John Muir?

In our state we are fortunate to have the Green Mountain National Forest, and to honor this anniversary we encourage guests to discover and explore the magnificent mountains, forests, waterfalls and trails in our own backyard, including the famed Long Trail. Bruce Acciavatti* owner of ‘Wonder Walks’ and experienced guide will personally guide you on a customized Green Mountain discovery adventure.

We shall be happy to customize two, three or four day hiking packages for you.

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Mint – a continuing great restaurant experience

August 17, 2015 by Peter MacLaren

Chef Illyan at work

Chef Illyan at work

Mint Restaurant in the heart of Waitsfield’s Historic District offers the Mad River Valley a vegetarian alternative with a primary focus on natural, organic whole foods and ingredients. Mint also specializes in offering a wide variety of teas from around the world.

The restaurant opened in November 2009 and has continued to receive rave reviews from our many guests who have dined there over the years since then, both from vegetarians and others. We are refreshing this blog first published in 2010 to include a recent video testimonial from guests John & Rachel that we encourage you to watch.

Mint is an experience not to be missed. The menu choices prepared by chef and co-owner Illyan are varied and interesting, and have an international flair. While vegetarians will recognize some of the choices, many are original creations and can be thoroughly enjoyed by diners more used to meat based entrees. The flavors are often surprising and delightful. Co-owner Savitri has integrated the amazing and varied tea selection from her former tea room, and provides knowledgeable guidance to match teas with your meal. Also available are a small wine and beer list at reasonable prices. The ambience and atmosphere are delightful and relaxing.

Make it a point to visit Mint during your next stay at West Hill House B&B. Usually open Wednesday to Sundays year round for dinner. Price for a 3-course dinner for 2 including a glass of wine each will be about $80. We shall be pleased to make reservations for you, usually a good idea as there is limited seating,

Carrot Greens Salad

June 23, 2015 by Susan

Stirring it up: Last week was the first week for our Community Supported Agriculture share for this year and it got me thinking about carrot greens.  Carrot greens are most often thrown away during meal prep but I thought there had to be a use for them. I searched the internet, got some inspiration from a number of websites then opened the fridge and built a salad. I used various quantities of veggies untill it looked and tasted good.  Quantities are to the best of my memory!

Sooo good!

Carrot Greens Salad

  • 1 1/2 – 2 c. cleaned & chopped carrot greens
  • 1 c. black beans, pre cooked or canned
  • 1 – 1 1/2 c. garbanzo beans (aka chick peas), pre cooked or canned
  • 3 med carrots, diced
  • 4-5 stems parsley, fresh & chopped
  • 1 scallion thinly sliced
  • 5-6 mint leaves, fresh & chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. quinoa, cooked & cooled
  • 4-5 green peas in the pod, fresh and thinly sliced

Dressing

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 3T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed or 1/4 t. dry garlic bits (not powder)
  • 2-3 T. lemon juice, fresh
  • 2 t. sugar

Prepare all the vegetables and place them in a large bowl along with the cooled quinoa. Prepare the dressing by putting all the ingredients in a small jar and, with the lid on,  shaking it well. Pour the dressing over the veggies about 10 minutes prior to serving and lightly toss the salad. Be sure to adjust the quantities and veggies to your liking! It tastes great the following day too and the carrot greens are still fresh looking. Bon appétit!

Next time I might add about 1/2 c. corn kernels and 1 med tomato, diced. I served this with a side of a couple of slices of Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar cheese. This salad was a great meal in itself.

Dishing it out: As a child I was sometimes called “carrot top” by those out to tease me but seriously, I had red hair and a carrot top is green.  Obviously those folks had no idea what they were talking about and, thus far in my life, I’ve never seen anyone with naturally green hair!

CSA first share of the season.

CSA first share of the season.

That being said, we love the carrot greens we get from Muddy Boots CSA and we love being part of the Muddy Boots CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which is a collaborative venture of  Kingsbury Market Garden, Wood’s Market Garden and Burnt Rock Farm.  It also includes dairy products from several of the local farms including Von Trapp Farmstead and Ploughgate Creamery at Bragg Hill Farm. Our week one share was a marvelous selection of absolutely fresh produce including brie cheese, luscious tomatoes, tasty shallots, crisp carrots and cucumber, crunchy kale, dried black beans, beautiful lettuce, pungent basil, deep red beets, and more. How could you not like any of it, or waste any of it which is why I wondered about the carrot greens. Carrot Greens Salad, what a perfect way to celebrate the wonderful farms and hard working farmers this 4th of July or on Canada Day if you are north of the border!

Make It A Mad River Valley Spring

March 28, 2015 by Corey A. Edwards

Mad River Valley Spring

You may call it optimism, what with snow still on the ground and all but the signs are unmistakeable: the weather is warming, green’s a-peeping, and the scent of maple sugar is in the air. We’re getting ready for another beautiful Mad River Valley spring and would love to share it with you!

There’s no denying that we love our Mad River Valley winters – the skiing, the sledding, the snowshoeing, the dog-sledding, the hot cocoa and warm fire to enjoy after a day in the great, snowy outdoors: what’s not to love – but a Mad River Valley spring … ! You’ve heard us sing the sugaring time soliloquy; while the scent of maple sugar boiling away is lovely and a big part of what we love about spring, it is hardly the breadth of it.

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Skiing at its best

December 20, 2014 by Peter MacLaren

Have you been reading “Top 10” lists over the last few weeks? If so you will have you see lists of almost everything under the sun, Top 10 Ugliest Cars, Top 10 Best Places to Live, Top 10 Best Companies to Work For, Top 10 Best Universities, and who knows, maybe even a list for the Top 10 Best Top 10 Lists!

Well…  here’s our “Top 4” list – Four Great Reasons to come Ski in the Mad River Valley this Winter.

1.  Mad River Glen Mad River Glen – Ski It If You Can. Seriously, don’t miss out on skiing this legendary co-op owned ski area. Ranked by Ski Magazine as one of the most challenging on the east coast of the US, Mad River Glen provides an opportunity for skiers of all levels to ski a variety of trails on natural snow though narrow trails which follow the terrain. Riding the Single Chair, chairlift is an absolute must! Lessons, ski shop and General Stark Pub are hillside amenities. Down hill, telemark, and cross country skiers will love MRG but be warned snowboarders… you will  have to look elsewhere for your downhill excitement as no snowboards are allowed.

Mad River Glen's unique single chair.

Don’t miss this ride to the top of Mad River Glen.

2. Sugarbush Ski ResortAs one of the largest ski areas in the northeastern US, and with two mountains to choose from, Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, snowboarders and skiers alike will enjoy the range of it’s 111 trails from beginner slopes to the more challenging black diamond runs. Sugarbush is locally owned and offers lessons, a variety of places for foodies, ski shop and accommodations.

3. Blueberry Lake Cross-Country CenterIs a cross country skiers’ delight. Designed for the average skiers,  outdoor enthusiast can enjoy the classic or skating style of skiing or can snowshoe on the 11 trails which includes 30km of groomed trails. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available as are lessons. Pre-skiing age children can also enjoy the outdoors in the comfort of a pulk which can also be rented. And for dog lovers, your well behaved dog is welcome and please, remember to clean up after your pooch.

Skiing at Olé's.

Skiers at Olé’s.

4. Olé’s Cross-Country CenterOffering about 40km of groomed trails, lessons, rentals of both skis and snowshoes, a deli and friendly staff, Olé’s beckons to cross-country skiers of all ages to come and enjoy winter. With relatively flat terrain skiers can explore the trails while getting great mountain views and if quiet woodland trails are your choice you’ll find them here too. There are about 15km reserved for snowshoeing only and today’s modern snowshoes are a lot easier to walk in that the old, oversized ‘tennis rackets’ and you don’t need special boots, your regular winter boots fit these snowshoes nicely.

Ready. Set. Visit!

The Mad River Valley offers skiing of all sorts, comfortable B&Bs and slope-side accommodations, friendly folks, great food, beautiful shops, gorgeous mountains, stately trees, as well as wonderful snow, more mountains, more trees, more snow and lots of fresh, crisp mountain air.

Get your mittens and scarf ready and consider this your invitation to visit Vermont, winter in its natural state. Come experience skiing at its best. We’re ready and waiting for you…what are you waiting for?

Beds, Electrons & Breakfasts; ready for Tesla!

December 17, 2014 by Peter MacLaren

The Times They Are A-Changin’. Bob Dylan’s words were written over 50 years ago in 1963 and they continue true today. The changes we are talking about here though are not political, but environmental and technical!

On December 16th 2014 West Hill House B&B launched a new accommodation category, which we are calling a “BEB”, or Beds, Electrons & Breakfasts! Read on for details…

Interestingly our approach of providing fuel for your transportation has strong historical roots in the accommodation business.  Think back.  In the 19th century when personal transportation was still largely by horse, providing hay for your steed was an important part of the service provided by Inns and Guest Houses. Susan has some personal experience here.  When we lived in Edmonton she volunteered as an interpreter at Fort Edmonton historic park as the proprietor of Mrs Egge’s Stopping House, a reconstruction of a property from the 1880s located in its day about a day’s travel by horse north of Edmonton. Green Hotel logoLooking after your horse at Mrs Egge’s was just as important, perhaps even more so, than breakfast for its rider. (See 1885 Street on the Fort Edmonton Park site.)

Here in Vermont, the Green Mountain State, we are at the leading edge of environmental practices. Electricity used in Vermont has probably the lowest carbon footprint of any state, with a major proportion coming from hydro-electric generators and now an increasing proportion from solar arrays. And the approach to green practices is very comprehensive, including encouraging energy efficiency, recycling, composting and using environmental sound practices for agriculture and domestic needs. As part of this effort, West Hill House B&B has been a Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State since 2008 and we have continued to invest in and utilize green practices both before and since that date.

Ribbon Cutting by Megan SmithOn the transportation side, Vermont residents have been leaders in moving to plug-in hybrid and all electric (EV) cars to reduce their carbon footprint when traveling. The use of electricity as a source of power is particularly environmentally friendly in Vermont given the low carbon footprint of the power sources. In additional to a large number of plug-in hybrids, like West Hill House B&B’s own plug-in Prius, there are now over 800 EVs registered in the state of Vermont.

So back to December 16th. Over a year ago we installed a 240V 20A Level 2 charging point for EVs of overnight guests, which we also use for the B&B’s plug-in Prius. A few guests have used it, however we realized that most EVs on the road today simply can’t drive here from home if they are out of state—as the vast majority of our guests are—because of the limited battery range.

Not so for Tesla owners; when fully charged their vehicles have a range of around 250 miles. We thus took the opportunity offered by Tesla Motors to work with them to install two high power 240V 80A chargers specifically for Tesla vehicles. Tesla ChargingEach of these can fully charge a suitably equipped Tesla Model S in about 4 hours.

We were delighted to welcome Vermont Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing Megan Smith who cut the ribbon on December 16th to formally launch this capability, the first B&B in Vermont to offer dedicated Tesla charging for guests. (Two larger hotels in the state also offer this service.)

Now Tesla owners, for example from the metro areas around Boston (190 miles), Montreal (140 miles) and New York (300 miles with a top-up en-route from the complimentary Tesla Supercharger in Albany), can drive their Tesla to Vermont’s beautiful Mad River Valley and enjoy all the area’s attractions, including Sugarbush next door to us, one of the premier ski and golf resorts in the north-east, while enjoying our hospitality at the top rated B&B accommodation in the area as per Trip Advisor. (Future Tesla Superchargers are planned for Vermont and New Hampshire.)

And, of course, the electrons are on us! We shall hope to see you and your Tesla here soon.

 

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