Memorial Day Getaway on the Maine Coast

 

SoloBistro

Solo Bistro. A Guest Favorite!

To celebrate Memorial Day, the opening of our 16th season, and to encourage visitors to experience the Maine coast in the quieter days of early summer, we have put together a irresistible package for a Memorial Day Getaway, good through May 31.  For any new bookings in May that include at least three nights at Coveside, we will provide — at no additional charge beyond our low-season room rates — some great additional benefits

  • *dinner for two at our favorite Bath restaurant, Solo Bistro.
  • *free admission for two at your choice of the Mid-coast’s two most popular
    Childrens Garden at Botanical Gardens

    Children’s Garden at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

    attractions, the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath or the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in nearby Boothbay. The Maritime Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into  Maine’s shipbuilding and seafaring past and present. Admission includes a reduced cost for their popular boat trips on the Kennebec. The Botanical Gardens are the largest in the Northeast and have become Maine’s second most popular tourist destination (after Acadia National Park) and a spectacular addition to our area.

  • *two decadent lobster rolls at the ever-popular Five Islands Lobster Company, a five-minute walk from Coveside and always on lists of Maine’s best lobster wharfs. The view, and the lobster, are the best!

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    Five Island Lobster Co.
    A Maine Institution!

This is a $140 value, at no additional cost!  And, of course, our guests always enjoy a complementary gourmet breakfast and free access to our bicycles and canoe.

Click here to check availability and make a reservation.

WOOFING during the Mistral in Provence

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The field from which we removed a truckload of young grape vines, to make room for a new field of asparagus. The tractor is digging up the rows so we can pull out the vines. This was not a small field!

After spending two months, over two years, working on our French in classes near Nice, we wanted to put it to use and see how we could do in the real world. So we signed up to be “Woofers,” [World-side Opportunities in Organic Farming] on a farm in Provence. We lived for 4 days with a family whose son, Mario, was intent on becoming a self-sustaining organic farmer. We traded our work for a place to stay, all our meals, and a chance to get to know the family, their way of life, and to  practice our French (no one in the family spoke English). We emailed back a forth a bit before we left for France, but really had little idea what we were getting into. It turned out to be a truly wonderful experience.

In addition to farming, Mario and his family ran a bed & breakfast (a “chambre d’hote” in France) so we thought we’d fit right in — help cook breakfast, clean rooms, work in the garden a bit. Except that he had no guests in March, and a great need for help in his fields. So we spent four amazing days working as farm hands, living with his family, and speaking French. The only bad part was that we arrived at the same time as a major windstorm — a Mistral. This legendary wind blows straight from the Artic; it is fierce and very cold. For the first three days, the wind blew constantly at 40 – 50 miles per hour, with gusts well over 60!  And the temperature was in the 30′s and low 40′s. The only saving grace was the brilliant sunshine.

You might think that with these climactic conditions, no one would work outside. Not so! We spent 3 1/2 frigid days pulling out grape vines, planting some of the vines in another vineyard, weeding a newly planted vegetable garden, pruning back a sizable vineyard that had gone without care or pruning for several years, and trying to stay warm. Fortunately, the wind stopped for our last day of work so we got a sense of what the Provencal weather is usually like this time of year. But the four days we spent “:woofing” were unforgettable — we laughed a lot, drank a lot of wine, ate very well, took a lot of Motrin, found out that we could understand and make ourselves understood pretty well in French, and got acquainted with a truly delightful family which we will probably visit again. Here are some pictures of our adventure. They include trying to light a fire to make coffee in 60 mph winds, the load of vines we removed, Tom weeding, Carolyn trying to stay warm, a work break from pruning during our one warmish day, the vineyard we pruned (note its size, and the difference between the pruned and unpruned rows), the B&B, and Carolyn with Mario’s wonderful family.

Major Midcoast Maine events this Saturday, and a Coveside “sale”

This Saturday, June 11, will be a busy one in Bath and Georgetown.  Reid State Park in Georgetown will host its first (annual?) “Reidfest” — with top local bands appealing to a variety of musical tastes, refreshments, and the promise of fine weather at the beach.  For more information, click here.  The music gets started at 2 pm and runs until the musicians don’t want to play any more. Visitors are suggested to bring blankets, lawn chairs, snacks, and (of course) bug spray — though the mosquitos aren’t too bad so far this year.

In Bath, the 10th annual home and garden tour, sponsored by Sagadahoc Preservation, will be held. Lovely home and beautiful gardens will be on view. Folks who stay at a local B&B (including Coveside) get half-price admission to the tour, as well as coupons for reduced price meals at most local restaurants, and price reductings on lodging (see below).  For more information, check with Sagadahoc Preservation.  The tour runs from 10:30 to 3:30.

As for Coveside:  We still have a three rooms available this weekend.  And the weather promises to be fine for either event, or for just lounging on the porch.  These last-minute rooms will be available at a 30% discount if you ask for it when making a reservation.  New reservations only, please. For availability and room selection, check here.

Maine’s Common Ground Country Fair

   

Black and white beauties

 

    Last weekend we attended the annual Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine, about an hour’s drive north of Coveside. The fair is sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), the oldest and largest organization of organic food producers in the United States.  The event — the largest such fair in America — is a grand harvest celebration, complete with everything usually associated with state fairs, except perhaps horse racing and a midway. The twist is that all the agricultural products are organic, the exhibitors emphasize earth-friendly products and processes, and the typical fair-goers resemble refugees (of various ages) from the 1960s. This would be a great place to recruit entrants for a Willy Nelson look-alike contest.   

Amazing squash

 

   A major attraction is the food — scores of venders selling everything from organic beef hamburgers and pulled pork, to vegetarian brick-oven pizza, to organic gelato, to fabulous fried potatoes, to foreign food.  Some examples:   

Check out the bags of potatoes!

 

More potatoes

 

Chai tea and other Indian delicacies

 

Our favorites

 

Among the livestock at the fair we especially liked the oxen:  

Note the coiffed tail!

 

These animals were beautified from all sides.

Flowering Pots at Coveside

  

One of our major early-summer projects is putting together the many flowering pots that beautify the terrace and courtyard at Coveside. The gardening books are full of examples of different flower combinations. But they don’t tell a lot about the basics of putting together pots.  Over the years, we’ve discovered what works for us, and thought we might share a couple of hints that apply to all pots.  They concern potting medium, fertilizer, and mulch. First, the planting medium:  After lugging around sacks and sacks of potting soil, of uneven quality, we asked our local nurseries what they use in their pots; the answer was always the same: ProMix.  The stuff comes in compressed bails and is available at most garden supply stores. It must be mixed with water before using, but one bail goes a long way; and one or two bails are much easier to handle than countless bags of heavy, premoistened dirt. Most importantly, it has proved to be a great foundation for all our pots.  Second: the fertilizer.  Because pots are so heavily planted, they need a good dose of fertilizer for the individual plants to prosper. After burning some pots with too much conventional fertilizer, and starving others, we again got the advice of the local nurseries — Osmocote slow release fertilizer.   A couple of tablespoons of the little pellets mixed at planting time in a good sized pot lasts a couple of months, and it’s almost impossible to burn your plants.  A good sized bag is expensive, but a little goes a long way.    

Finally, we have started using dark mulch as a top dressing on all our pots.  This accomplishes two things — first, in the early season, before the plants fill the pots, it’s a lot better looking than the potting soil (with the white pellets that rise to the surface); second, it helps retain moisture, so you don’t have to water the pots so often.  

Here are some of this year’s pots:  

  

The dark leafed plant in the back is a tropical of the taro family; its full name is colocasia antiquorum ”illustris.”  The front plant with the spotted leaves is called, appropriately, “spotted leopard plant” or Farfugium japonicum ‘Aureomaculata.’ The red accents are begonias.  This pot wants shade or partial shade; so far, the morning sun in Maine hasn’t caused problems; we’ll see as the summer advances.  We understand that the whole pot can be brought inside for the winter and we may try it.  

White dahlias, sweet potato vine, minature "King Tut" grass

 

Ferns dug up in the woods, with double impatiens, on our front porch

 

New “Picasso” petunias

Bath House Tour “stay and dine” special

Sagadahoc Preservation is sponsoring their 8th Annual House Tour of homes and gardens in Bath.  The date is Saturday, June 12, and there are 11 homes and gardens to view. As part of their “Stay and Dine” promotion, you will receive a 15% discount on a two-night stay at Coveside, a 10% discount on both Friday and Saturday night dinners at most area restaurants (including the Five Islands Lobster Company in Georgetown), half price admission to the garden tour, half price admission to the Maine Maritime Museum, and a number of other opportunities. Check out their website:  www.sagadahocpreservation.org, for information and to buy tickets.

We still have several rooms available for that weekend. If our glorious spring weather continues, it should be a great occasion.