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Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest 2012

January 24, 2012 by Beth Colt

The Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest is coming up this weekend, on Saturday January 28th in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard.

I blogged a lot about this last year so look here OR here for more photos and information about my experience at the 2011 version.

FAQ’s about Chilifest -

How do I get tickets?  This is hard but not impossible.  You could have mailed a request to WMVY but that is sold out now.  Here is what the MVY Radio website has to say about it today:

Tickets are on sale now at Shirley’s True Value Hardware in Vineyard Haven, Trader Fred’s in Edgartown and they go on sale at The Courtyard in Cataumet on Wednesday, January 25th at 6pm.  A limited number of tickets will be available at the door on the day of the event.

How much are they?  Tickets are $30. Limit of 4 tickets per person.

How do I get there?  Steamship Authority from Woods Hole.  See the schedule here.

Who is playing this year? This according to the MVYRadio website:

Under  the tent
12n-1pm Mexico Lindo
1pm-2pm Entrain
2pm-2:45pm Mexico Lindo
3pm Awards
4pm-6pm Entrain

Inside in the New Bar
12-4  Syndicate
4-6.30 DJ Alvzie

Will I have fun?  Oh yeah.

What about the chili?  Lots to pick from, all free once you are inside.  Well worth the trip.

Where can I spend the night in Falmouth?  Usually I would say the Woods Hole Inn but we are closed for renovations.  Try the Palmer House in Falmouth, the Holiday Inn in Falmouth or Inn on the Square in Falmouth if you decide driving post the Chilifest is not a great idea.

Good luck and tell me how it went!

If These Walls Could Talk…

October 14, 2011 by Beth Colt

These boots were made for walking...

This week, construction began on the new rooms at the Woods Hole Inn.  With a crew of five demolition experts, the walls came down on the top floor revealing the majesty of a high-ceilinged space with amazing light and great views…when you can see through the construction dust that is.

Franko and the boys arrived Tuesday with crowbars and mallets to pound it out.  Electricians stripped back the wires and a plumber came in to unhook the old claw foot tub.  We pulled as much moulding as we could so we can re-use it as we put the place back together again.

I snuck in the day before they arrived and took some “before” photos.  Inn guests happily ensconced in the lap of luxury two stories below would be shocked by the state of affairs up here.  The windows were blown out and boarded up after various storms years ago.  There was a rabbit warren of tiny rooms, accessed by a barn-like stairway.  One bath for maybe 10 cubby-sized spaces, some only big enough for a bed roll.

I have met a few people who lived up here summers in the 70s and earlier, but I don’t think it has been habitable for maybe thirty years now.   One former waitress at the Landfall told me she paid $25 per week.  Another former resident bragged that a lot of pot was smoked up here, back in the sixties when Woods Hole was a real hippie hang out.

The Woods Hole Inn was more flophouse than eco-destination at that point.  Summer college kids slummed it with the former chauffeurs of Penzance Point estates and other retired alcoholics.  One man told me his mother advised he run past the building, as there were often “unsavory characters” on the front stoop.

Here are a few photos of what it looked like just before the demo crew showed up:

Long narrow corridors painted brown!

Frescoes of peeling wallpaper.

Air conditioners marked "leaks" and an American Flag.

It’s was really hard to photograph because the rooms were small and dark.  We had already done some minor demo three years ago while renovating other parts of the building.  On top of that, it appears that the piles of old air conditioners were mating with the dusty artificial Christmas trees, or something like that.   That the debris was replicating in the dark is the only explanation I can come up for why the junk seemed to grow larger each time I ventured up.

But after three days with a sledgehammer, you could see the old lathe and look through walls to the windows beyond, Cape light streaming in and promising a better future.  Franko told me they had found some really old work boots (see above) and other debris — fell down from the ceilings he said.  A couple of really vintage brandy bottles, a pair of cotton spats with little hooks for covering the calves when riding (?), a tiny wooden sailboat-toy painted a matte blue,  a dusty old stuffed kitty long forgotten by it’s childish master.

Lathe walls revealed when the plaster comes off.

This window has been boarded up for over a decade.

Cape light turns ghostly with the walls all down...

I am working on an exhibit of artifacts to trace the history of the inn.  Any input from people who know more than I do would be greatly appreciated.  The final will be on display in the lobby next summer so come take a look.  And come back to this blog for more posts about our progress.  The expected completion is spring 2012 when the Inn will re-open with 14 new rooms and suites.  See you then!

Blueberry Zen

July 22, 2011 by Beth Colt

Coonamessett Farm on a summer's day.

Thursdays are pick-up day at Coonamessett Farm’s CSA (community supported agriculture) where I have already paid for my “share” of farm fresh veggies, flowers and fruit.  It also happens to be the day I stock up on Sippewissett Oysters (a local harvest that is a side project of Coonmessett) for the Quicks Hole restaurant, so if you want to see me in summer, you will find me over there like clockwork.

The CSA started distributing a few weeks ago and as you can imagine, summer is a little errr, can we say BUSY, for me so I have not yet had time to head out into the fields to pick my own berries as offered each week.  Yesterday when I left Woods Hole it was foggy and cold — hard to believe in the middle of what the papers are calling the first heatwave of the summer.  Seven miles inland on the rolling acres of the farm, the sun was shining and it was warm — not too hot, just perfect.

So I said, check-in be damned, I am picking some berries!  I donned a wrist band, grabbed a bucket and headed into the blueberry patch.  Surrounded by a light mesh fence, you enter through a screen door and then you are in a maze, rows and rows and rows of six to seven foot high bushes heavy with berries, many still green but the bright blue ones popping out at you like fireflies on a dusky night.  I quickly walked to the back corner to find more berries and feel alone, then worked my way backwards towards the gate.

The berries are at eye level and easy to pick.

It was the most zen hour of my week.  Alone, deep in these lush bushes, looking for berries, my thoughts erased to nothing more than reach, pick, cradle, dump.  The satisfying plunk of the plump berry in the bottom of the bucket, the steady breeze bending the trees in waves, while I reached higher for the one at the very top, the wind taunting me by pushing the largest cluster away.   A meditation on nothing more than a simple task.  My purse hanging from my arm like a vestige of some long forgotten suburban life, my feet shuffling among the fallen leaves and compost, I felt like a different person, maybe a farm girl from another century or a field worker like the ones you see in a blur while driving on the California freeways.

My bucket full and my head miraculously emptied of the everyday worries, I wandered out and gathered the other veggies — a bag of fresh kale, five spring onions still clumped with soil, parsley, summer squash, fresh flowers and more.  Still in a blueberry haze, I drove home with the windows down enjoying the way my hair blows into a huge fuzz ball with the humidity.

The haul from this week's CSA.

I paused on the lawn to snap this picture.  Another indulgence!  Get back to work, the little voice on my shoulder was shouting — but I can not shake off the clear headed feeling of the blueberry patch.  I linger.  I snap a few more of the berries on the kitchen counter and the flowers in that little blue vase I found at the Rose Bowl on another zen day many years ago.  Blueberry Zen.

Then back to work at the inn, prepping tomorrow’s banana bread pudding and welcoming guests as they check in for the weekend.  Yes, our blueberry muffins are very special this weekend — I picked the berries myself!

Locavores who want to recreate my zen blueberry experience will be pleased to know that Coonmessett is open to visitors as well, so drive on over to pick your own bucket before heading back to reality.

Waterworld in Woods Hole

June 6, 2011 by Beth Colt

Houseboats in Great Harbor, Woods Hole.

One of the most unique things about Woods Hole is it’s collection of houseboats.   See, most of Woods Hole is right on the water.  Look at a map and you will see that we are on a peninsula of a peninsula of a peninsula, literally the last little strip of land on the southwestern edge of Cape Cod.

Just like Provincetown, only on the other end of the Cape and a lot less campy.

Anyway, the summer months are so precious here (rents go up by a factor of 10x) that it’s tempting to rent your regular house for a few weeks and earn enough to pay the mortgage all winter.  But then where do you go?  For generations, people moved out to their boats for a few months but, back in the 1970s, locals got clever and started building cabins on rafts and the Woods Hole houseboat phenomena was born.

People take day trips from the Vineyard, Chatham and Nantucket to tour the harbor and look at the charming house boats (it helps that some of the best fishing on the east coast is right here as well).

Every spring, the drawbridge in Woods Hole is occupied with the migration of the houses from their winter gam in Eel Pond, a slow march out to their spectacular perches looking out over all of Woods Hole.  Perilously close to the multi-million dollar houses of Penzance Point, these tiny house boats have some of the most spectacular views in town…plus no need for air conditioning as out on the water, it’s breezy and cool most days.  The tides that rip through Woods Hole keep the water super clean (but don’t fall overboard after dark as the current could whisk you away).  I think there are about 25 of them; new ones have been banned but the existing versions are grandfathered.

At the Woods Hole Inn, guests like to watch the house boats at sunset from our front deck.  A pitcher of Cape Cod beer and a comfortable chair with this view?  Add a lobster taco and now you are smiling.  Pretty special.

We have even considered owning one and offering it as a watery room option.  It’s a short row back to dinner at the Landfall or ahi-tuna burritos at Quicks Hole.  In the morning, get your New York Times, hot coffee and a popover at Pie in the Sky?  Would you like to stay out in water world?  Can you handle the rush of the current and the wind swinging your oversized hammock over the bay? Can you live without wifi for a night or two?

Glamorous camping is called “glamping.” Are you up for it?  Comments please…

Captain Kidd roamed these waters back in the day -- could he live here now?

Woods Hole houseboats in the shadow of Devils Foot island.

Woods Hole houseboats in the shadow of Devils Foot island.

Looking back at the Woods Hole Inn from the house boats in Great Harbor, Woods Hole.

If you live here you come to dread the relentless question — “How do I get to Martha’s Vineyard”?  I’m told that a favorite Falmouth joke is to give directions to the bridge.  You know, the bridge to Martha’s Vineyard?  It’s right down there, near the house boats.  You’ll find it, just keep looking:)

Wedding Virgins

May 23, 2011 by Beth Colt

A glorious May day for wedding in Woods Hole.

A glorious May day for a wedding ceremony in the middle of Woods Hole.

We have hosted countless bridal brunches, catered many bridesmaids luncheons and launched quite a number of rehearsal dinners.  Offering the accommodations for the bridal party, or the extended family of the groom?  Done that many times over.   But with only room for about 70 guests in the waterview terrace, I will be the first to admit that the Woods Hole Inn was a wedding ceremony virgin.

All that changed this Friday with the glorious nuptials of Kim and Jason.

It rained all week, cloudy, foggy, overcast and no glimmer of sunshine recorded in the three day advance forecast.  Oh dear, I thought, we should have insisted on a tent!  But I knew that tenting the garden would ruin that feeling of endless sky, and mute the Cape light to something diffused and ordinary.  Kim and Jason agreed, and they were willing to risk cramming everyone inside in case of a downpour.  Amazingly, and despite all prognostications, the day emerged with only a light fog shimmering on the harbor, melting off the Passage with an early morning sun.  By afternoon, it was the first hot day of the spring.  It was also the weekend of the much publicized “Rapture.”  When we made it to late afternoon Friday with no rain, I thought, there is a God.

Kim and Jason were staying in room 5, with friends and family surrounding them in every room of the house.  Sara baked all day to prepare special wedding breakfasts and the smells of fresh baked pound cake mingled with the bacon and roasted asparagus for the over-stuffed quiches.  We scrubbed and strategized, weeded the garden and swept the back corners of all the porches,  even dusted off our radio kits to make sure communication would be seamless during the ceremony.  Extra valets were on hand, and a team of extra servers from Quicks Hole to assure that every detail went off without a hitch.

At the appointed hour, all the guests hushed and gathered in front of the harbor, with Jason waiting for her in his signature green pants, Kim peeked out of room 6, giggled with the flower girls and kissed her father.  Gripping his arm, they walked down the driveway to emerge in the late afternoon Cape light.  She seemed to glide across the sandy terrace, up onto a modest platform where they embraced tenderly, a ferry boat headed to the Vineyard pulling out of the slip as if on cue as the ceremony commenced.  I was hiding in the back with my camera and captured their altar embrace, his eyes closed, lips pressed to her forehead.

First embrace on the altar set up in the garden of the Woods Hole Inn on a May weekend.

Flower girls at a May wedding in Woods Hole.

Guests squeezed each others hands as vows were exchanged, a harpist perched in the shade on the deck punctuating the moment with her soft plucking.  The best man expressed his love for the couple along with prayers for a wonderful long life together.  And then it was done!

Champagne and freshly shucked local oysters, fresh lobster crostini with sweet pea garnish and snow peas piped with herbed cream cheese appeared on platters.  Pitchers of cool Cape Cod beer, the IPA and the Blonde.  Glasses of Chardonnay to toast the newlyweds, extra bottled water for the little ones.

All in all, a wonderful afternoon for the Woods Hole Inn — wedding virgins no more!  A special thanks to Kim and Jason for sharing their big day with us.  May the blessings of a sunny day on Cape Cod be in their hearts forever.

Lobster crostini and snow peas with herbed cream cheese from Quicks Hole.

A very special day at the Woods Hole Inn.

Playing in Traffic

May 8, 2011 by Beth Colt

Sam Waterston entertains the actors attending "The Actors Symposium" last week in Woods Hole.

What is it about actors that captures your imagination and makes you want to know more about them?  You look at Sam Waterston’s familiar face and you think — is he like that guy he played on “Law and Order”?  Is he funny?  Is he smart?  Does he really know how to write a great closing argument?

Well, if you had been in Woods Hole last weekend, you would have discovered the answer to these questions and much more.  In collaboration with the Woods Hole Film Festival and the Woods Hole Inn, actors gathered here for a weekend of learning about the craft and the trade of acting professionally.    Caroline Pickman, of CP Casting gave a two hour presentation on the expectations of the audition process, including getting the actors up on their feet to try out some of her audition material (known as “sides” in the business) from a Showtime television series.  And Beth Colt presented a session on working with agents and managers, what to expect and how to engage the professionals who are the gatekeepers to a good career in acting.

But by far the highlight was our time with Sam Waterston.   In the interest of full disclosure, let me explain that Sam and I worked together about a decade ago.  Our company was called Stardance Productions and we developed many projects and made one wonderful movie together (called “A House Divided” starring Sam, Jennifer Beals, Tim Daly and Lisa Gay Hamilton for Showtime).  So I know Sam well, and am reasonably well-equipped to ask him interesting questions.

We started with how his career got started (Yale undergrad, summer stock and then cast in the play “Oh Dad, Poor Dad…”).  I asked him if he ever had a day job and he told a delightful story about working at Macy’s back when they sold bundles of theatre tickets.  Like all of Sam’s stories, this was a self-depricating tale that ends with his firing for insubordination to a customer.  It was hilarious.  He told us about booking “The Killing Fields” (for which he was later nominated for an Academy Award) and his transition to television in the NBC series “I’ll Fly Away.”  He shared tidbits about Roland Joffe, and many of the other notables he has worked with (Woody Allen, Jeff Bridges and more).

Sam’s general advice for the young actors in the room was not to pursue acting unless you have to,  as he put it, “Only if there is nothing else you can do.”  The demands of the profession are so bruising he told them, it leaves it’s mark on you.  But he also advised, “You have to play in traffic if you want to get hit.”

Woods Hole is more than established as an international epicenter for the life sciences and oceanography, so it is a pleasure to see the reputation of this little village extend itself into the national arts scene.

We are playing in traffic here, and we intend to keep playing until we get hit:)

Sam Waterston and Beth Colt at the Actors Symposium in Woods Hole May 1, 2011.

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Not Your Granny’s B & B

October 15, 2009 by Beth Colt

Woods Hole Inn king bed roomAt the Woods Hole Inn, we maintain what we call a “doily free zone.” You know those musty old Victorians filled with the stuff you see at the flea market and wonder who buys? The little pink teacups and the figurines and the old cigar boxes filled with rubber band collections.  Yeah, I hate all that clutter.

So, my husband and I bought this place last year and ran around renovating it with our funky sensibility. We grew up on the East Coast but we have been living in LA for twenty years or so now. And we have come to love mid-century modern, and Sasha Emerson, and Dwell, and the Rose Bowl and all that is hip, cool and clean about LA.

But we also miss that grounded feeling we get when we come home to Cape Cod. Wooden shingles, ancient hand crank laundry machines, ice cream made in small batches.  And that zen, in-the-moment, alive feeling that seems to come up from the ground. Or floats in on the salt breeze. Or follows you around like a hungry gull on a moonlit night in October.

So here we are, proud owners of a retro meets modern inn. A place committed to being warm but not too friendly, far away from everything and in the middle of it all, urban and rural, big and small, vintage and new.

Check it out at www.woodsholeinn.com. And let us know how we are doing.  Cause whats the fun if we can’t talk about it…

Keeping it Green

October 15, 2009 by Beth Colt

Breakfast is served in this sunny room at the Woods Hole Inn in Woods Hole, MA.

At the Woods Hole Inn, we stay GREEN by the deep BLUE sea.

How do we do it? Let me count the ways:

We recycle. We re-use. We use low VOC paints even though they cost a fortune. We never print on paper what we can file electronically. We offer discounts to customers who come by bus. We keep the heat turned down and do not use AC, ever! We turn lights and fans off when we can. We ask guests to participate with us by re-using towels and sheets when they can. We supply eco-chic toilet paper even when guests sometimes beg for evil-Charmin.

What do we hope to do? Add solar panels. Build a roof garden for herbs and natural insulation. Finish insulating the building. Find a local farm to take our compost. Build a chicken coop and serve eggs made from our own hens. Plant a garden to keep it super locavore. Live on the 100 mile diet.

Any other good ideas for me?

Lobster Tacos rock Woods Hole

May 24, 2009 by Beth Colt

 

Quicks Hole wicked fresh lobster tacos

Quick’s Hole is known for its wicked fresh lobster roll, burritos and tacos. The newest restaurant entry in busy Woods Hole, this spot is committed to serving great food made with local ingredients — seasonal, family-farmed, fresh from local waters, all natural, healthy and green.

Park your bike at the end of the Shining Sea bike path and enjoy a Cape Cod burrito and beer combo. Come at night for our seasonally-inspired Tapas menu paired with organic wines selected by our award-winning chef. Grab a Yellowfin Tuna BLT burrito with a sangria and homemade pico de gallo with hot chips. Sit on the deck and watch the sunset over Woods Hole harbor.

We opened late last season as it took longer than expected to make the changes we planned to the old “Naked Lobster.” This year we flew in the face of the recession and expanded again, adding room for actual tables. We will be open starting next weekend for the summer season.

What does “wicked fresh” mean to us? Live, Love, Laugh and Eat Local! Learn more at www.quicksholewickedfresh.com.

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