Wednesday, 4 April 2018

lyme, CT


     Time to move on again, as A+A returned to New York and we drove along the coast with a couple of stops, to meet up with Lincoln in Connecticut. Since we last visited, James and Lincoln have moved from their little house by the pond in Chester to a larger property in Lyme. Their new place is more rural and a nice blend of traditional and modern. 
     Snow from the storm was still lingering here, and we could see the footprints of deer that had passed through their property. The house incorporates an old stone building, now a magnificent double height living room, and a much larger more modern extension. Lincoln's interior design skills are well in evidence: we had a very comfortable stay. We had only spent a couple of days in New England before, and this time we were able to travel around and see much more, thanks to Lincoln, our guide. The towns here go way back, mostly established in the 1600s in colonial times.
     We toured many of the pretty local towns, all New England clapboard houses with a few in brick and stone, and mostly prosperous looking, all carefully maintained, with white picket fences and tidy gardens. Each town has its handsome town hall, its public library and fire station, and several brilliant white churches, each with a steeple and columned portico and a cemetery. Also a surprising number of expensive knick-knack shops stocking perfumed candles, ceramic cats and homespun plaques with corny sayings. Some of the highlights we recommend:
  • a tiny coffee shop, Higher Grounds, in East Haddam, for brunch, where we were almost the only customers and the only member of staff did everything – serving and cooking – very proficiently and charmingly
  • the Griswold* Inn in Essex, established 1776, with a very English pub feel to the tap room and a fine range of ales
  • the Florence Griswold* museum, an old mansion run as a boarding house for artists, by a much loved if impoverished landlady, kept exactly as it was over 100 years ago, with many painted panels by the artists of the time as they developed an American Impressionist body of work. We were taken round by a well informed and engaging guide (British born but in the area since 1960) who knew the artists and their work so well that we almost thought we were in the presence of Miss Griswold herself.
  • Litchfield, a very fine colonial town with wide greens in the centre and a wide range of 18th and 19th C houses (and a very expensive antiques shop).  
  • Mystic, an old whaling town with a huge raising bridge, a reconstruction of the port from whaling days, and gift shops that live up to the town's name.
Lincoln also showed us another property in Lyme they have acquired, which they are busily doing up as two houses (one from the former barn). Impressive progress already – we saw the construction workers on site working to Lincoln's imaginative plans.
James joined us for the last evening and prepared an excellent dinner, and so concluded a very comfortable New England week. We came away thinking this would be a good area for a longer stay, and I believe one day we will do just that.
*presumably related but not found the evidence for this.

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