Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cape Ann Dining -- The View from Montreal

Since the Blue Shutters Beachside is in Gloucester, we tend to focus on the beaches, restaurants, shops and happenings here in this community. But we're finding there are some great spots just down the road in Rockport -- places like Halibut Point State Park, where you can enjoy the natural beauty of Cape Ann; the art galleries and shops on Bearskin Neck; and the many fine restaurants that you'll find around town. It was the restaurant reviews from a couple that stayed here this week that reminded us of the great food choices in Rockport. They gave the Blacksmith's Shop in Rockport very high marks, and they also liked Brackets, which is also in town. This particular couple -- visiting for a week from Montreal -- were among the most interesting "foodies" we've met here, and they added notes on these Rockport restaurants and others spots to our "guest restaurant reviews" notebook in the main room. Their very favoriate was a place here in Gloucester -- the Causeway, reknown for their generous portions (including a piece of haddock "the size of a brick") of very well-prepared seafood and Italian dishes. They also called out Duckworth's Bistrot, generally regarded as the nicest high-end spot in the area. Whether Gloucester or Rockport, you'll bound to find a favorite while you're here -- and we think the reviews of folks like Mireille and Michel from Montreal will help you with your choices.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bat-hunting and Other Blue Shutters Memoirs

We've often said that we could write a book based on all of our experiences here at the Blue Shutters -- and some day we may (when we're not so busy being with our guests). In the meantime, we can use this beachblog to share some of our stories -- and here are two from this weekend. First involved two young men who are staying here while their family is visiting relatives in the area. On Saturday night, they pulled up to the piano in our main room and treated all to some spectular music and song.

The other story took shape late Sunday night, after Ed and I slipped away for a walk on the beach. On the way back, we passed a neighbor's house, and she frantically called for us. Turns out a bat was loose in her living room. We sprung into action, equipped with a towel, a fly-swatter and a kitchen broom. For the first 30 minutes the bat stayed hidden -- despite our efforts to flush him out by banging curtains and furniture. Finally, the creature appeared, swooping close to our heads -- and finally within range of the kitchen broom and towel. Once captured, we brought the bat outside and bid farewell to a very thankful neighbor.

Impromptu musical performances and late night bat-hunting -- two more stories that will someday be chronicled in our Blue Shutters memoirs.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Some Tales of the Blue Shutters and Gloucester

We've learned some interesting facts about the Blue Shutters and Good Harbor Beach in recent weeks, and we thought we'd share these with you. According to one of our guests, a long-time Gloucester native, the Hindenburg blimp once flew over the Blue Shutters, back in the 30's. Another guest told us that actress Bette Davis spent her honeymoon here. And we've always heard that the consulate from Siam once made this his official residence. I just finished a great book about Gloucester, The Last Fish Tale, and among it's many stories it talks of a 1919 silent movie that had a scene on Salt Island, which is just off the beach and visible from the Shutters. The producers built a medival castle on the island and blew it up as part of the film. Speaking of that book, I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in Gloucester. It's an entertaining and informative look at this community and the history (and future) of the fishing industry. It tells of the explorers, artists, writers and other famous folks who have who lived here -- for example, did you know that the frozen vegetable innovator Clarence Birdseye once set up shop here and came up with the process to freeze fish? And that Cape Ann was named after King Charles' mother (a guest recently asked about the origins of the region's name -- and thanks to this book, I had the answer). And that Thatcher Island, home to the twin lighthouses just off Good Harbor Beach, was named after a family that lost all its children in a shipwreck. You'll find these and other tales of Gloucester in this book. If you have other stories to tell, please let us know.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Catching Up: The Summer So Far

It's hard to believe it's been three months since our last post -- we'll try to do a better job going forward. In order to catch up, we'll touch on a few Blue Shutters highlights from May, June and July. We've had a number of international visitors -- from England, Wales, Holland, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, France and South Africa to name just a few countries. The most interesting global combination -- a couple from Norway befriending a graduate student from Vietnam. We've seen a lot of old friends back for return visits -- Lee and Dick from New Jersey, Eric and family from Western Massachusetts, Mike from Connecticut (one of our first guests way back in 2007. We've welcomed many new friends -- Ann Marie's cousin Sue, Tony's friends from Houston, Sue and Joe from Ohio, and high school pals from Stoneham. We've begun collecting restaurant reviews, including one guest's survey of Gloucester's best chowder (the winner....The Studio on Rocky Neck). We also added a new screen house (last year's blew away one very winding evening), we planted more flowers in the beds around the yard, and we installed a ring toss game that's sure to get you "hooked". But our best addition: our new chambermaids -- Tina (Tony and Patty's daughter, spending the summer here before heading to SF) and Vicki (who'll be returning to college in Washington DC this fall). The summer has been filled with great beach days, beautiful mornings and relaxing evenings -- and one particularly action-packed July 4th weekend. There's clearly much more to cover -- but this will need to wait for "part 2". Stay tuned -- there's a lot of summer left.