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Travel : Lighthouses in Maine

One of the things I really wanted to do in Maine was see the lighthouses on the coast. Yes I am aware I am a huge cliché but I got over it pretty quickly! But I quickly became aware that the Maine coast is a mighty big thing and some planning would be required. Luckily I found an internet tour of some lighthouses in the Portland area we could see during a two hour drive.
So, after a little bit of cajoling from me (I think Jim would have preferred to have been on a second leg of the brewery tour) I downloaded the driving instructions and we set off on a little trip.
Our first stop was Portland Head Lighthouse, which is probably the most famous of the lighthouses we saw and maybe the most 'Maine'. We approached it from the house side and to start with I was a bit underwhelmed by the building, but as soon as we started walking away from it, looking at it from up the headland, it became all sorts of pretty!
What you can't see on the photos is the snow and ice that was still littering the rocks from the snowfall the day before (or the annoying people who kept trying to ruin my photos by walking in front of me)
It was also kind of a cheat stop as far out to sea, almost a speck was another of the lighthouses. Ram Island Light which sits at the Entrance to Portland Harbour!
Our second stop was a trip to the Two Lights State Park, where we had a scramble on the rocks and had a momentary hope that one of the Lobster Huts down on the beach was open. It wasn't, but we had that minute of hope. There were two lighthouses here, but they sit on private property, so they aren't that easy to get at. But clambering over the rocks was fun.
Our next location was possibly my favourite stop of the day, the Spring Point Ledge Light at Fort Prebble. Getting there required navigating our way through the Southern Maine Community College and a bit of none-permit parking on school grounds but we made it!

To get to the lighthouse we had to wander along the breakwater, made up of huge chunks of granite. As the gaps between the granite were quite big in some places it meant a few leaps over gaps and some thought through food positions. But being out there right on the end of the breakwater in the middle of the water was really cool and a bit bloody cold!
We also got a little history lesson about a fort, Fort Gorges (pronounced Gorgeous!) that sits int he middle of the mouth of the river - it was built in 1858 to protect Portland, but now it's covered in trees and derelict!
The final stop of the tour was to Bug Light, a tiny light on the edge of a park, built on a crop of man made rocks, from where you can see right into Portland. It was so small, had these wonderfully ornate markings on it, which made me think it ought to be in a Disney film!
We stopped here for a car picnic of left over Whole Foods salad and potato doughnuts, and watched the, mostly elderly, dog walkers with their charges! We also met some of the biggest and tamest seagulls I have ever encountered.  

I really loved our little lighthouse tour, and I am so pleased with how many we got to see in such a short drive. And I even think Jim enjoyed himself. No matter how nerdy he might have thought it was on the outset!
We spent the rest of our afternoon driving the other way out of Portland to see the islands around Falmouth, and headed back into Portland for an epic happy hour - more about that here!

Being a bit of a lighthouse nerd, I had an awesome time - what do you love to search out on your holidays?

Recent Reads

I have a few book posts in the writing as I read quite a few books over the last few months, especially whilst on holiday, so if books or holiday posts aren't your thing, I apologise for the posts right now.....

First up we'll start with The Ice Twins. This was my January book club read. I don't remember who picked it but we had a really good debate about the book and it split the group in half as to whether they liked it. The story follows the lives the Sarah and Angus Moorcraft and their remaining twin daughter, Kirsty, move to a small Scottish Island Angus inherited from his grandmother to rebuild what is left of their shattered lives after Kirsty's twin sister, Lydia is killed in a tragic accident.  

But as they arrive on the island in the middle of winter, the family is thrown into turmoil again when surviving daughter Kirstie, claims she isn't Kirstie, she is Lydia, but is she? Who is hiding what? What secrets have been hidden and which daughter really died that fateful day?

I really liked the premise of the book and it had me gripped and trying to figure out what was going on. I did feel a bit lost at points trying to figure out what was going on but I think that added to the sense of mystery. I kept asking myself which twin is alive and who died? There is a tense climax at the end of the book, and I did not see the ending coming.

How I lost you - I picked this book on a whim, based on the blurb on my kindle shop. The story is centred around Susan Webster, who was convicted of killing her twelve week old son, Dylan due to post-natal depression. After serving three years in a psychiatric hospital she is let out on parole and has assumed a new identity - Emma Cartwright – to protect her. Susan lives in a small town near her prison friend, Cass, also a convicted murderer.

At the start of the book Susan receives a picture of a little 3 year old boy called Dylan and she starts to wonder if her son is still alive. The book follows the journey of Susan and Cass trying to figure out where the picture came from and who else knows where Susan is!
I thought parts were good, other were a little over the top and a little far fetched, and in some parts I became a little lost as there were so many characters. But it was an easy enough read language wise, it kept me reading, even if I did find myself thing ‘as if that would happen’ and the ending did throw me completely. Although maybe this added to the ‘as if’ nature of the book? Basically. Ok but not my favourite!

Bricking It - I downloaded this as I knew it would be a light hearted read and I wasn’t wrong. It actually had me laughing out loud at some points. The story follows Dan and Hayley Daley fixing up an old Victorian farmhouse their deceased grandmother's has left in the hope that once it is renovated they will be able to sell for a lot of profit.

We’re met with siblings who generally need a bit of a kick up the bum in their lives and it seems that the house, along with the misfit crew of people who are helping them renovate it is here to do just that! Alongside Dan and Haley we have an eccentric architect, a haphazard crew of builders, a TV crew filming the renovation and a resident cow. Yup, a cow!

Yes the book is a clichéd chick lit novel but it was funny and it kept me well entertained during my jetlag induced early mornings.

The Book of You - I am just going to start by saying I read this because of the hype. Because people told me to. And if you enjoyed it, good for you – but it really wasn’t the book for me and as a result it took me aggggggggges to read as I kept switching to something else. I did consider giving up on it I was on a plane, Magic Mike XXL had finished, I’d run out of books and I didn’t have wifi to get any more . Bad times.
The book follows Clarrissa as she navigates being stalked by her colleague, Rafe Clarrissa is picked for Jury duty which gives her an escape from the stalking, for a brief time, and opens up her world to some new people. But it's not long before Rafe is back in her life! 

So, why didn't I like this book? For starters I could not abide the main character, Clarrissa. She just seemed so wet and a bit useless and I think this dislike of her made it hard for me to get into the book from the start. The choices she made on dealing with the stalker also seemed ridiculous. And I had a hope that if you were being stalked, the police might be more help with it too, but maybe not. Plus I didn't like the switch from the first to the third person in the book either.But maybe that just annoyed me because 

Crooked Heart - This is another book club book and I wasn't sure about it to start with. It was a bit of a slow burner at the start, but once I found some time to sit down and read it some more I got really into it, and in its own way, this book was really funny. 

The book starts at the breakout of the Second World War and socially awkward ten-year-old Noel Bostock is living in London, with his godmother Mattie. When Mattie dies, Noel is sent to live with his aunt and uncle who eventually evacuate him. After being paraded round the village he eventually ends up being taken in by Vee Sedge in the hope that the money that comes with Noel will help pay their rent on the cramped little flat she shares with her mute mother and deceptive son.

Vee is a not all together competent con artist who quickly realises that she can use Noel to help with her 'work', but she completely underestimates the role that Noel can play in her duplicity and the two misfits become a formidable little team. As we follow the duo round London we see the extent of damage the war has done on London and society. 

I don't want to say much more as it'll give away the story and then you might not need to read the book. 

So, here are some of my recent reads - what have you been reading lately? I'm running low on reading material so I need your recommendation. Hit me up!

Travel: Our trip to the 'other' Portland, the one in Maine.

Once we'd decided that snowboarding really wasn't going to be a good idea, and we'd booked ourselves some accommodation in Waterbury for a couple nights, we were left with a few more days to fill. Somewhere between Vermont and Boston. Jim suggested we go and see Maine, and as it's somewhere I've always fancied going to I jumped at the chance. After a little googling we settled on the town of Portland.
As we'd picked up a car to get to Waterbury Jim drove us down to Portland, taking the scenic route from Vermont, through New Hampshire and in to Maine, through the White Mountain National Forest - or what we dubbed 'summer camp' territory. I am so glad we decide to take the long way round and not the motorways as it was such a pretty drive. I am also glad that the snowfall had been as terrible as it had or it might not have been as much fun. Also, we'd decided we needed road trip junk food, but could we see a diner or anything that wasn't a Maccy D's or a Dunkin Donuts? Nope. New England, your lack of junk food upset us. 

After finding our Airbnb we headed out for some really delicious dim sum at a cute little restaurant across the road from the apartment, chosen mostly as we could see it from our bedroom window. 

After a gloriously sunny drive to Portland, our first day in the town was a different matter. It was a day full of snow flurries and cold winds. After a breakfast consisting of Lucky Charms, juice and some catching up on American politics and adverts about medicine that could kill you, we headed out to make a plan and find Jim a coffee. 

Somehow, at 11am, we ended up taking an unexpected walking tour of some local  craft beer breweries in the snow.
Our first stop of the day was to the Shipyard Brewery, which we ducked in by chance to get out of the snow, and ended up sampling pretty much all their beers, getting some great bar and restaurant tips from the excellent staff there and being set off on our mini brewery tour

Our mini tour saw us taking in a few of the breweries downtown including Rising Tide where we had a salty sea water beer and Oxbow Brewing which has the coolest decor. The day also involved the worlds most expensive salad from Whole Foods and some bar snacks for dinner. We started our bar snacks tour at The Little Tap House,which was right next to our apartment, as they do a $5 local beer and bar snack offer!
Our second day in Portland was a return to the bright blue skies we'd driven over in, and officially, Lighthouse Day! As it was so wonderfully bright and I was up super early again I took a little wander round the town with my camera before we started on our day out. Who can resist taking pictures of a mint and pint lobster hut?

You can tell it's a summer town really though as a lot of the shops don't open before April, which was kind of annoying because it looked like it had some lovely places to shop. Also, none of the lobster huts were actually open! 
I'd read about Holy Donut on a guide to Portland and as I turned to go home it was right in front of me so I had to pop in for treats for our day. The doughnuts are made from potatoes which apparently makes them healthier, but I honestly couldn't tell, which you know, with a doughnut, is a good thing right? 
As it's part of New England, unlike some of the other places I have visited in American Portland has its fair share of old houses and buildings, and it seems really proud of the history, with plaques and banners across the town letting you know that the buildings have some history. Our row of houses had a plaque themselves. 

We spent the rest of the day driving round the coast looking at Lighthouses and taking in some of the islands up the coast from Portland and Falmouth. More to come on that later this week. 

That evening we decided to take the advice of the bartender in the Shipyard brewery and headed out to some of the local happy hours. Our first stop was for cheap cocktails and we ended up staying for a few more than we should have, after getting chatting to some locals. Then we hit up a proper dive bar for $3 'well drinks' (G&T's all round?) and finished off a slightly drunken evening visiting Arcadia - a video games bar where Jim indulged in playing some super old games.  
So, there you have it, our 3 days in Portland, Maine. It might not have the hype that the other Portland has, but we loved out time there! And it was awesome to be by the sea for a few days too. Tune in later in the week for some of the lighthouses we visited, and next week for our final stop on the holiday - Boston. 

Travel Info – where we stayed, how we got about, that sort of stuff;

Where we stayed – our Airbnb was an apartment in the centre of Portland in a row of historic townhouses. It was a great location to walk POrtland and it had a parking space too. 

How we got about – We drove to Portland from Vermont through the mountains. It was a beautiful drive and way better than taking the motorways we thought. In Portland we walked round the town but drove to the out of town locations, so we're not sure what the public transport is like.  

Travel: Cute houses of Montreal

One of my favourite thing about Montreal were the beautiful houses we saw. Stunning rows of colours, perfect staircases, a dusting of snow. One morning in Montreal I took an early (7.30am) walk whilst Jim slept to photograph some of them. 

I'd read about a couple of streets full of beautiful houses and I saw on the map they were about a 20 minute walk from our Airbnb, so it made sense to put my jetlag to good use and head out to see them without Jim in tow as looking at pretty coloured houses isn't his idea of a fun morning. It turned out that I was taking my walk in some -25 temperatures so I was picture taking with 2 pairs of inner gloves and snowboard mittens on, my thermals and fur lined boots and I was still freezing. But it was worth the near frostbite to take a proper walk around Mont-Royal and see it all it's glory! 
Beautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on MontrealBeautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on Montreal
Beautiful houses on Montreal
But now I want to paint my house all the colours. All of them. And replace the two steps to my front door with a swirling steps. Do-able right?