West Hill House B&B

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The Pot of Gold

December 3, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

November Rainbow

We’ve found it! The Pot of Gold is in the Mad River Valley!

November brought us 11″ (28cm) of snow for our Thanksgiving Day guests to enjoy and 60°F (15°C) weather a few days later. November also brought us this magnificent rainbow on the 30th. While we can’t guarantee you a rainbow or a pot of gold when you visit West Hill House B&B, Sugarbush or Mad River Glen, we can guarantee you beautiful scenery and warm Mad River Valley hospitality.

White Christmas in Vermont

November 28, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Christmas finery

Picture yourself doing your Christmas shopping and enjoying Christmas music in the quiet serenity of the green mountains of Vermont.

Saturday, December 3 marks the 13th annual Country Christmas Open House in the Mad River Valley. Over 30 local shops and services are offering special discounts which will make your pocketbook happy and may offer free refreshments which will make your tummy happy. Pick up a punch card at any merchants displaying the Participating Merchant sign then visit 5 businesses and have your card punched at each. When you leave your card with the 5th business it will be entered for a prize drawing. Check out the list of participating merchants and services.

On Friday, December 9 The Vermont Symphony Orchestra presents Holiday Pops “Fun and Games”  at the Barre Opera House, just under one hour from West Hill House. Favorite Christmas music with a twist as they take a look at the youthful side of the holiday. Fun for everyone. Tickets required.

Thursday, December 15 the Warren United Church will host the Vermont Symphony’s Brass Quintet and Counterpoint for a perfect mix of brass and voices to ring in the season. Free admission although tickets are required.(802-496-9714).

And of course the area also offers skiing and riding at Sugarbush, skiing at Mad River Glen, and cross country skiing at Ole’s and Blueberry Lake. Dog sled rides, sledding, skating, and moonlight snowshoe tours are just some of the other ways to enjoy a white Christmas in Vermont – oh and you can also curl up with a warm beverage and watch the movie White Christmas.

Sugarbush – Mad River Glen

October 27, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

A Wilson Bentley snowflake photograph

OK everyone… IT’S SNOWING HERE TODAY! 

Time to think about getting those skis tuned up and making those ski holiday reservations.

Vermont photographer, “Snowflake” Bentley, was the first person to photograph snowflakes. Check out the website dedicated to his works.

Also check out our skiing specials.

Thank you Vets – Remembrance Day

October 18, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

As a special ‘Thank You’ to US and Canadian, retired and active military, West Hill House joins with many other B&Bs across Canada and the US in offering one free night of accommodation for military personnel on November 10, 2011 in either the Garden Room or the Highland Room (occupancy 2 people per room). We are also offering additional nights at a 50% discount.  Of course our wonderful breakfast is included.

Come relax and enjoy Vermont hospitality in the peaceful surroundings of the the Mad River Valley in the heart of the Green Mountains. Our regular cancellation policies apply and a cc is required to hold the reservation. Proof of status may be requested upon check in.

This ‘Thank You’ Special is valid for the nights of Nov 9 – 13, 2011. Call to reserve. See you soon.

Irene’s Destruction in the Mad River Valley

August 29, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Route 100 near Jamieson Insurance, David Dion Realty and Alteris in Waitsfield VT

Well, it has been quite an amazing 24 hours! As with most of you, we were hooked on the weather channel keeping up to date with the progress of Irene. Our trusty garden rain gauge measured 6″ of rain between 8:30 yesterday morning and the same time this morning. We forgot to put the gauge out on Saturday evening when the rain started. The winds were not too extreme so with the exception of a few limbs, all our trees are still with us.

Being on the mountain side, our B&B was certainly not hit as hard as those of you along the coast in the direct path or our friends and neighbors in the lower elevations in the towns of Waitsfield and Warren.

The Mad River Valley did get an enormous amount of flooding. The Mad River lived up to its name. The lovely Pitcher Inn’s kitchen and wine bar, Tracks, were flooded with 4′ of water and they are now digging out – literally. Many farmers lost their crops under copious amounts of water–hopefully their animals are all safe. All this after finally getting crops in following huge flooding in May. Lots of roads and bridges are washed out so travel is quite disrupted. Nearby towns including Montpelier, our state capital, were again inundated.

We trust that our guests and friends up and down the eastern seaboard–both in the US and Canada–are safe.

Scottish Country Dance Lessons

August 9, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Peter & Susan dancing the St. Bernard's Waltz

Now a fund raiser for the Mad River Valley Community Fund... Moved to Thursday September 8th at the West Hill House Handsome Red Barn

Traditional Scottish Country Dancing, which runs the gamut from fast and furious to slow and stately, is the norm at Scottish weddings, family reunions and  modern cèilidhs (pronounced kay-lees). Children learn these dances from an early age and many schools, clubs, small towns, and pubs have regular cèilighs where everyone joins in the dancing.

Dances such as the “Gay Gordons”,  “Walls of Limerick” and  “The Stack of Barley” are dances which are named after famous regiments, historical battles and every day items. Other dances have more intriguing names such as the “Canadian Barn Dance”, “Eightsome Reel”, and “The Dashing White Sergeant”.

Celebrating the Scottish heritage of the MacLaren family,  Peter encouraged me to join a Scottish Country Dance group in Edmonton shortly after  we were married. Each week we would learn a new dance and enjoy dancing to the ones we previously learned.

The dance lessons have come in handy each January  as dancing is an integral part of any Burns Supper. A Burns Supper is a gathering to celebrate the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns. An important date to Scots around the world, this event embraces Scottish food, poetry, libations and dance.

To prepare for our upcoming Burns Supper (January 28, 2012) – as well as just for some fun – we are opening our Handsome Red Barn for Scottish Country Dance lessons. We are going to teach very simple dances and we invite you to join us on:

  • Wednesday evening, September 7th
  • From 7:00 to 9:00PM
  • Was $5 per person, now $10 and 100% of the proceeds go to the Mad River Valley Community Fund
  • Advance tickets required as space is limited.

Come on your own or with a friend.  Refreshments. Wear flat shoes. Other Scottish Country Dance evenings are scheduled through out the year.

Summer Weddings

August 6, 2011 by Peter MacLaren


Royal Wedding

Prince William and Katherine did it in London. Prince Albert and Charlene did it in Monaco. And you too can do it …it’s not too late to have a summer 2011 wedding at West Hill House!

Whether an elopement with just the two of you or  a small wedding with yourselves and an intimate group of friends, we are here to help you have a stress free wedding and one which won’t break the bank.

A beautiful garden to be married in, a handsome barn in which to dine and dance, an inviting bed and breakfast in which to relax, and  a magnificent Vermont setting – what more could you ask for?

Make your dreams come true with a Vermont wedding this summer.  We only need a couple of days to help you get everything organized.

LED Light bulbs – have they arrived?

August 2, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

GE LED Bulb

GE LED Bulb

LED light bulbs are the promise of the greener future.  We have for some time used LED bulbs outdoors for low intensity flood-lighting and for light strings to mark our front parking lot and highlight our gazebo, but never for mainstream use as real lightbulbs!

Well it seems times have changed.  GE is now selling the bulb shown here, which looks very like the real thing!  Quite uniquely it spreads light omni-directionally, a real breakthrough for LED bulbs.

So West Hill House burnished our Green Hotel credentials and bought 4 of these yesterday.  (Peter is also Scottish so the deal from Lowe’s at only $14 each really swung the decision – most places list it for more than twice that much.)

Given the hype about LEDs you will be surprised that the efficiency is only about 50 lumens per watt, i.e. 450 lumens for the 9W rating of the bulb.  A 14W CFL produces about 900 lumens for about 65 lumens per watt, so contrary to expectations LEDs are still less efficient.

However how about actual results?  We are amazed at the bright white omni-directional light, which gives the impression of more than a 40W incandescent equivalent bulb.  Then there is the 23 year lifetime and no mercury to worry about when they do need discarded.  Plus it looks like a light bulb – not a twisted tube! AND it comes on full brightness instantly.

So maybe not quite the time to plan a wholesale replacement, but viable LED bulbs are definitely on the near horizon!  We’ll be pleased to show them to you next time you stay.

Scott Joplin lives at West Hill House!

July 5, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Morning Serenade

A Scott Joplin serenade after breakfast – what a treat!

Jeanne and John, long time friends from Texas, were making a cross country tour in June and stopped in to visit us. Always traveling with this very small trumpet he has often times surprised folks with a musical interlude.

They told the story of being stuck in an airport around Christmas one year, and, as happens in such a situation, found themselves wandering up and down the terminal. They came upon a group singing carols a cappella. They listened for a bit, then, unbeknownst to the singers, John slipped in behind the group, pulled out his trumpet and began to accompany them. Were they surprised!

Thank you for the visit and the wonderful music.

Tea Primer

April 23, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Granny's favourite.

When we moved to Texas from Canada, two new friends, knowing of our Canadian & Scottish backgrounds, offered us tea – cups with water heated (not to boiling) in the microwave and presented with a tea bag on the side. YIKES! My mission from then on was to teach them to make a good cup of tea, properly made! Both new friends, who have since become near and dear, were excellent students and can now make a great cuppa’.

Here are a few basic terms that are useful to know when reading about and making tea.

Tea pot -The vessel from which hot tea is poured. Buy a tea pot if you haven’t one. Whether from a simple Brown Betty tea pot or an ornate fine china tea pot, pouring tea from a tea pot makes the experience of having a cuppa’ all the more enjoyable. (don’t use aluminum though it reacts badly with tea).

This small 2-cup tea pot along with its wee cream and sugar was used for many years by Peter’s Granny who lived to be one week short of 100 years old. In the latter years of her life Granny was confined to bed and Peter’s mum brought her tea in this little set each morning. Looking as good as new, sadly its tea cup is missing.

Tea kettle – the vessel in which you bring fresh water to a boil. Can be electric or stove top.

Tea cup – A china tea cup or mug are my favourites – but then, I’ve also drunk tea from a birch bark cup so I’ll take tea no matter!

Infuse or Steep – the process of extracting the flavour of the tea from the leaves to the water.

Loose  leaf or Tea bag – Use good quality loose, leaf is best. Most commonly used are tea bags which contain tea dust which is known for it quick extraction. With a myriad kinds of tea, make a visit your local tea shop for advice on what to purchase. (If you are in the Mad River Valley checkout the tea shop and restaurant called MINT- they have about 50 different teas and tisanes.)

TisaneThough prepared in the same manner as tea, tisane is a combination of dried flowers, herbs and fruit and does not contain tea leaves.

One-for-the-pot – This refers to how much loose leaf or how many teabags to use. My guideline is 1 bag or one slightly rounded teaspoon of loose leaf per 10 oz of water. You preferences may vary for weaker or stronger tea.

Tea Ball or Tea Infuser  or Tea Egg – A tea ball is not a fancy dress dance, it ‘s a device into which loose tea leave are put for steeping. Once in the tea pot, the hot water poured over it  can seep through the mesh of a tea ball to the leaves.

Ready to make some tea? Stay tuned!

Small Weddings: Budget & Family Friendly

April 20, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Family join Jennifer and Mark for their December 2010 wedding.

Your wedding should be a very special day which expresses your style and personality, even if you are working with a small wedding budget. Small weddings are the trend these days as couples are opting for a more personal occasion with just family and close friends. Small and intimate weddings provide an opportunity for the couple to visit with each guest, to relax and enjoy the occasion, to really put their personal touches on the celebration, and for the families to get to know each other in a comfortable setting. To say nothing of saving money to put towards a wonderful honeymoon, a house down-payment or even towards paying off student loans.

If you have an intimate wedding in mind why not consider a B&B venue? Such a location can provide a dramatic backdrop for your own special touches. Whether an elegant country estate, an urban city-scape, or like ours, a mountain setting with meadows, gazebo, handsome red barn, ponds and gardens, there is a B&B sure to suit your taste.

You can have the memorable, intimate wedding of your dreams with memories to last a life time, without breaking the bank. Small is beautiful!

At West Hill House B&B we work with highly qualified, local wedding professionals to help you plan a stress free occasion. We have facilities for weddings from 2 to 80 people and we still have a few June and July 2011 dates available for wedding bookings. We pride ourselves in providing you and your guests with personal attention and excellent service, all in a restful country setting near Sugarbush in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont.

Tranquility Base

April 17, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Ahhhhh....

 

 

The Thomsons from Ottawa, Canada were recent guests at West Hill House. At breakfast we asked if they had found their room comfortable. Their reply?

“Our room was an oasis of tranquility within an oasis of tranquility.”

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