Ever wanted to live in a gingerbread house? The Cottage City neighbourhood in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard gives you an entire gingerbread neighbourhood. Hansel & Gretel wouldn’t have known where to start.
Cottage City dates back to the 19th century when Methodists gathered together each summer for religious meetings. After the first meeting in 1835, the same families would return each year and pitch their tents. Eventually by the 1870’s, the tents gave way to little cottages packed in together around a central wooden structure, The Tabernacle, which held community events.
The cottages were not only decorated with elaborate scrollwork, porches etc but also were brightly painted. This architectural style, called “Carpenter’s Gothic”, makes the houses look like something out of a fairy tale.
Added to the sensory overload, are the profusion of colourful flowers spilling out of window boxes, hanging baskets and gardens. And, let’s not forget all the adornments around the houses – seashells, wind chimes, signs, garden gnomes etc. One house even has a miniature dollhouse replica of itself set out on its porch. A minimalist would probably have a fit of the vapors within 5 minutes of entering the neighbourhood.
Around 300 cottages have survived to the present. In 2005, the grounds and buildings were named a National...
When many people think of Martha’s Vineyard, they automatically think of it as a celebrity vacation spot. Yes, lots of rich and famous people spend their summer vacation here, among them the Obamas. The Vineyard, however, is so much more than the occasional celebrity that passes through.
Edgartown harbor fisheye lens
My children love their summers in the Vineyard. They are outdoors and active all the time — biking, hiking, swimming, body boarding, kayaking, fishing, playing tennis etc. On the beach, they love collecting shells, searching for moon jellies, building sand castles, digging tunnels and skipping stones. The farms provide edutainment such as horseback riding and berry picking. Unlike our London house, our Vineyard home has a large yard where they can play with water guns, skipping ropes etc.
Every year, our house is full of friends and family who come to visit. Living abroad for so long, we spend summers catching up with our American friends. Renowned American broadcaster, Mike Wallace sums it up for me:
“Even as I talk, I can see it and smell it and feel it. It’s a special, insular, quiet, healing, glorious place. And year after year after year, you not only see your kids and your grandchildren grow,...
The picturesque Edgartown Lighthouse stands in the harbour to the pretty whaling town of Edgartown in Martha’s Vineyard, an island located off the coast of Massachusetts. Across from the lighthouse, you can see the sometimes-island of Chappaquiddick (known locally as Chappy). On occasion when the Atlantic Ocean feels benevolent, a sandbar connects Chappy to Edgartown embracing Katama Bay in a gentle hug of expensive waterfront homes. Like a lot of historic lighthouses, the Edgartown Lighthouse fell into disrepair over the years. Today it stands proudly again and around its base, a children’s memorial pays tribute to children whose lives have been cut tragically short.
The Edgartown Lighthouse in the harbour of Katama Bay. Photo credit: Eli in Martha’s Vineyard for Flytographer
The Edgartown Lighthouse
The Edgartown Lighthouse peninsula is located on a small sandy beach which is an easy walk from Edgartown itself. Scrub, beach plum bushes and seashells speckle the beach as the sand winds down to the shore. Although Martha’s Vineyard has prettier beaches, we often walk to Edgartown Lighthouse on non-beach weather days. Between watching the boats come in and out of the harbour and skimming stones in the water, this beach is perfect to while away a few hours with restless children.
Everyone seems to be having a love affair with Airbnb. This sharing economy company is a rapidly growing Big Deal in the travel industry. I seem to be swimming against the tide. Given a choice between a hotel stay and an Airbnb home, I will pick a hotel every time. Why do I prefer a hotel stay versus Airbnb accommodation? In a word, services. In a sentence: I am high maintenance.
Our Airbnb Experiences
When Airbnb came out as this global phenomenon, we thought we would try it out.
The first time we stayed at an Airbnb, the apartment in Amsterdam was listed as child-friendly. It simply was not. You got up to the loft area using a concrete, spiral staircase and no banisters. The bathroom was connected to the master bedroom with a walkway which had gaping holes and minimal banisters. Surely, the design could not have met EU building regulations! Although my children slept on a futon on the ground floor, going up to the bathroom at the top of the staircase was a bit of a death trap for young children.
The second time we stayed at an Airbnb was during Carnival in Rio De Janeiro. There were 11 of us – 2 sets of parents, a nanny and a 6 children....
Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown is a bit of an institution on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Although billed as a humble farm stand, Morning Glory has the reputation and faithful clientele that would make any high-end gourmet food store proud.
The barn/farm stand
The farm was started in 1975 on land owned by the Athearn family who have lived on the Vineyard since the 19th century. Starting off with a farm stand, by 2010 business was thriving enough that a newly-built barn replaced the original structure. They farm over 120 acres over several sites on the island. The farm produces a wide variety of crops, herbs and cut flowers.
Rustic chic flowers
We are lucky we live near Morning Glory Farm and stop by the farm stand often. I am in the habit of getting their ice tea and a muffin for breakfast after I drop my children off at horse-riding camp nearby. My favourite are the corn muffins followed closely by the peach muffins (in case you are wondering).
Martha’s Vineyard is such a small island that the farm where my children take their riding lessons is located near some of the Athearn family land in...
I thought I’d do a quick recap of our travels in 2014. We consider ourselves part-time travellers because travel is our hobby and our passion. My husband has a (very) full-time job and gets six weeks annual leave. Believe it or not, he doesn’t even take his full six weeks every year, and occasionally he even works on vacation. The children are in full-time education. We don’t take them out of school if it’s not vacation time. Luckily, they seem to have a lot of holiday time.
This list is what we got up to in 2014:
Ringing in the New Year in the USA ( Washington D.C.)
Skiing in Val d’Isere, France
Weekend in Rye, England
Easter in the USA (Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and The Outer Banks in North Carolina)
Touring the D-Day battle sites in Normandy, France with the Boy Scouts of America
Short Break in Marrakech, Morocco
Weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark for The Hive Bloggers Conference
July and August on the East Coast of the USA (Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New York)
Road trip through the Northwest USA (Wyoming and South Dakota)
Short Break in Berlin, Germany
Short Break in Athens, Greece for TBEX
Weekend in East Sussex, England
Short break in Vienna, Austria
Short break in Dublin, Ireland
New Year’s in Cape Town, South Africa
We returned to the USA three times last year...