Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Having the best travel guide in New England, Jim's buddy, Bill Gallagher, gave us a special treat. He took us to the Hamptons. New Hampshire has a limited amount of coastline, and 4 beautiful miles of it is the Hampton Beach, part of it designated State Park. Its a deep beach, and covered with people on a breezy Monday morning. The "boardwalk" no longer made of board, still has many of the actual arcades, playlands, souvenir shops, tacky food joints and quick food diners, all preserved by constant use. They've been refurbished but retain that old time flavor.
Past the Boar's Head, another smaller beach, part of East Hampton, serves mostly summer places that line the Atlantic front away from the bigger beach with its throng of tourists.
We stopped to admire an unbelievably large resort hotel, bought by local businessmen to save it from the axe. It was restored and now serves the community as a revered old friend, landmark, and prosperous resort.
 The photo above doesn't even take in half of the famous Wentworth By The Sea which has 161 rooms and suites, a ballroom, conference areas, restaurants, an 18 hole golf course, and a harbor within view of the Castle Islands. The place is stunning. You can see a better pictures it on-line.
Bill took us the scenic route along the shore, past new and old stately homes, salt marshes, points of historical interest to wind up in Portsmouth, a town he and Loretta know well. Charming, and picturesque, we checked out the shops and old buildings that portray place after place their many layers of history.
A cannon taken from the British by Commodore Perry at the Battle of Lake Eire, during the War of 1812 is implanted on the brick walk.
A reminder of the injustice served up to blacks from 1711 to 1854, on this Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail plaque.
The whole town kind of knocks your socks off when you realize that President Washington, Thomas Jefferson and all those founders of democracy were out and about these small towns and countryside, on horseback.George Washington actually read the Declaration of Independence on a balcony on one of these buildings.
About the main square of town, many of the buildings out date us by a couple hundred years. But there is a more recent layer of history as well. Who remembers the J.J. Newberry stores? There once was one in this old building.
And this quaint diner, Gilley's,  was in the way of progress, but cooler heads grandfathered this "out of place" (probably out of code) old diner in and it sits as a representative of the 1940's and 50's. Bill calls them cholesterol stations.
Bill brought us back to Hampton to a favorite dinner spot, The Old Salt located in the historic Lamies (pronouced Lamaze) building with the authentic chimneys where wood stoves once kept patrons warm. Its one of those places where you wish the walls and old wooden booths could talk.

Since I'm a dedicated foodie, there is nothing I like better than to be introduced to regional specialties and I wasn't disappointed. This restaurant has won prizes for its clam chowder but we chose the fish chowder, lighter, with several types of fish, and delicately flavored with a bit of lemon and dill. Served with onion rolls and oyster crackers. Delicious. For me, the entree,  baked haddock au gratin was superb with a light multi-cheese, wine sauce served along side garlic mashed potatoes. Jim chose scrod, a dish you find nowhere else than New England.  Dessert, a hard choice between bread pudding with hard sauce or tapioca pudding. I got to taste both, the bread pudding was tops.

 Of course, more reminiscing was on the menu when we returned to Bill and Loretta's place. Bill pulled out his old Road Sharks of Revere shirt the guys had had made during their high school years. None of the studded leather jackets or boots, nor the plaque that hung from the bumpers of their old cars were preserved. The shirt would fit none of them anymore. Somehow it "shrunk" several sizes.
The day ended with reluctant goodbyes and promises to do it again in a few years.

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