The lotus flowers, from which the garden takes its name, bloom, in summer in a swimming pool which was transformed into a stunning showpiece. Wind your way through lush bromeliad and fern gardens, striking cactus and succulent gardens, a serene Japanese garden, the exotic aloe garden and the stunning blue garden. The garden at Lotusland is home to more than 3,000 plants from all over the world, representing the horticultural passion of one extraordinary woman. Madame Ganna Walska dedicated more than forty years to amassing unique collections and commissioning innovative garden designs.
Founded in 1782, the Santa Barbara Presidio was the last of 4 Spanish military outposts. Terracotta tiled roofs, white and rust block buildings and lovely archways are features of this lovely neighbourhood. Old buildings have been restored into boutique shops, art galleries and cafes. We enjoyed exploring the historic Hispanic areas, wine tasting and art exhibitions. A day spent sailing on Santa Barbara Bay was exhilarating.
We renewed our friendship with guests from a previous Paul Gauguin cruise. Oh dear, our waistlines have certainly expanded with numerous lunches, dinners and wine tasting.
Last November the Kingi Family from Rotorua gifted us two beautiful hand carved bone pendants. Johno's treasure depicts his love of the ocean, his New Zealand heritage, and gives him protection. His Taonga kept us safe as we traveled many kilometres throughout Canada, The Maritimes and East Coast of the USA to Boston.
Exploring the highways and byways we often stumbled upon most unusual places. Oswego was a fascinating mixture of maritime and military history. The Oswego canal provides access for canal barges, schooners and boats of all descriptions to waterways which take them down to Florida.
Chairs of all descriptions are placed in the shade of blossoming trees, at the end of piers, on brilliant green lawns, patios and verandahs. It is the beginning of summer and everyone is taking advantage of the first sunny days after months of a bitter winter. I was so impressed with the Adirondack chairs I immediately took ours down to our own little piece of paradise and set them up under the wild hibiscus trees. The armrests are just the right size for a coffee mug or wine glass, and they are easy to relax in and even I can get out of one.
Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. Our wonderful hosts, Johanne and Don Messier-Mann reside in the picturesque town of Sault Ste Marie. Don serenaded us with fabulous guitar music whilst we enjoyed the cordon-bleu cooking of Johanne. A lovely warm home, leafy garden and great friends. Thank you both.
Since 1925, Niagara Falls have been illuminated in the colours of the rainbow. It is a truly magnificent sight to see immense torrents of water tearing headlong down the towering falls to the boiling water below. We were overwhelmed by the mighty roar as emerald green, translucent water rushed over the crest, enveloping us in misty spray. It was just as spectacular during the daylight.
During the summer season Niagara on the Lake is famous for the Shaw Festival. It is a picturesque town, famous for vineyards, elegant boutiques and top of the range art and fashion houses. We were intrigued by the beautiful Romance Gallery of renowned Canadian Artist, Trisha Romance.
We would advise visitors to the Falls to stay at least a couple of nights in Niagara on the Lake. It is only a 60 minute drive along the scenic route through the vineyards and parklands to the Falls.
"Jack and Bobby - Brothers first" was a new exhibition at the JF Kennedy Hyannis Museum . Together they changed the nation. From their boyhood summers in Hyannis Port to the glory days of JFK's Presidency, Jack and Bobby were always brothers first. It was a poignant reminder of the importance of friendship and family unity.
Cape Cod is a wonderful summer playground for the rich and famous, as well as the not so rich. In the 1930's toward the end of prohibition ten men were arrested in a rum smuggling ring near the coast of Cape Cod. After posting bail they reclaimed the boat and raced out of the harbour. Twenty Harbour Police and Coast Guard boats kept watch near the tip of Cade Cod. Eventually the motor boat was spotted and the chase was on. The boat sped into Provincetown Harbour where it was abandoned and the rum runners fled on foot never to be found. Twenty BOAT Hand-crafted Cape Cod Rum is now handcrafted in Truro Vineyards, near Wellfleet.
We stayed at Eagle Wing Motel at Eastham. It was a central location for exploring charming historic fishing villages and harbours. We drove to Race Point at the tip of the sand-spit but it was absolutely bleak, and the wind unforgiving. We returned to Provincetown to warm up in one of the quirky bistros.
It was a perfect day when we arrived in Newport, The City by the Sea. After a bad start at our first choice of B&B we drove into the main township and discovered Bayberry Inn. It was absolutely superb and Jennifer the hostess was friendly and an amazing cook. We walked for miles around the seaport to the touristy waterfront bars and cafes, then back to the quieter areas. During the Gilded Age when the nations elite families began building their 'summer cottages' the city was booming, however, it suffered during the Great Depression in the late 30's. Today it is a popular sailing and tourist destination. I would love to return to Newport and explore further.
"THE BREAKERS" Summer Cottage, built by Cornelius Vanderbilt for his extended family. Now part of the Newport Mansions tour it is well worth taking. Wonderful architecture, astonishing furnishings and antique features. Although the chandeliers were electric if there was a power cut, gas lights went on in the chandeliers. Amazing technology for those days.
Marblehead predates the Revolutionary War. We stayed at the Maverick B&B which was filled with memorabilia telling tales of rugged fishermen, intrepid mariners, enterprising merchants, skilled craftsmen, self reliant women and courageous seamen who played a crucial role in America's struggle for independence.
We drove through the leafy streets of Salem to catch a ferry into Boston. The 90 minute ride was uneventful but foggy. We took the On and Off Trolley tour of the city, then sailed back to Marblehead. Bypassing the city of Boston, we drove through the three mile tunnel known as "The Big Dig" then via the smaller town of Quincy to Cohasset to stay with friends Mary Jo and Rob. It is no wonder they love the parks, nature walks, rocky river inlets and deep blue ocean of Scituate and Hull. Thank you for your generous hospitality.
From Bar Harbor we took a leisurely drive via Rockport and followed the coastal roads to Kennebunkport.
Unfortunately we arrived a day late to celebrate the 90th birthday celebrations of Barbara Bush. Shops were filled with signs and placards wishing her a happy birthday. The family were in residence at their Kennenbunkport compound, which we could view easily from the road.
The East Coast is a fascinating mix of rocky headlands, landscapes of wild blueberry barrens which stretch for miles and glimpses of mansions set in a wonderland of gardens and lush hedges.
We loved our stay at "The Beach House" a lovingly restored country inn which was built in 1891. Afternoon tea was served at 3.00pm and sherry at 6.00pm. The country American antiques, classic Victorian wrought iron beds was a perfect setting.