Travels with Charley: from Lenox MA to Paris

travel with Charley: from Lenox MA to ParisI am just back from France. Will Paris ever be the same?

I loved my first plane ride. I curled up under Ellen’s seat and slept all the way to France. First escalator? A piece of cake!travel with Charley: from Lenox MA to Paris

I walked my little paws off! Wow, the City of Lights is enormous, especially considering that I am used to Lenox, MA, with a population under 5,000. And I made new friends, including Ellen’s son Eric, a musician who lives in Paris. Eric wasn’t really a dog person, but we hit it off right away. Cute works every time!

Where did we go? Everywhere! Our apartment was on the Left Bank, around the corner from Notre Dame, and dated from the 16th century. I really liked trying to catch the cats. Being so close, we just had to visit Notre Dame. Awesome!

travel with Charley: from Lenox MA to ParisWe crossed Pont Neuf to get to The Louvre. I really liked the fountains, but Ellen wouldn’t let me swim in them. The lines were endless — it was a school holiday — but we discovered that anyone with a disability (remember Ellen’s hearing problems) goes to the head of the line, and entrance is free. We liked that a lot, especially considering that neither of us are great at with Charley: from Lenox MA to Paris

The cafes, bistros, and restaurants were all excellent, but Ellen particularly liked a little hole-in-the-wall that had two long tables crowded into a room only slightly larger than our powder room and served only foie gras and oysters. I liked the patisseries best, especially ones that had macaron (not really at all like our macaroons) crumbs on the floor.

My godmother Lynnette arrived, and we spent lots of time in Foodie Heaven, aka Bon Marche. They even have a caviar bar! You don’t find that at Stop and Shop or Guido’s!

travel with Charley: from Lenox MA to ParisWe walked everywhere, not an easy feat considering that it was during the two-week school holiday, but while the food traffic was something I have never experienced (after all, I live in Lenox, population barely 5,000!), it sure beat the gridlock on the street. We discovered the Batobus, a water taxi that picks up and drops off people at all of the Paris “must-sees.” What a great idea!

My friends Yvonne and Ian arrived, and the next morning we left Paris and took the train to Nimes. But that’s a story for another day. I can’t wait for our next adventure, but I am happy to be back home at our Lenox MA bed and breakfast!



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Berkshire Deals: Save 25% as Birchwood Takes the Chill out of Winter

Berkshire dealsBIRCHWOOD WINTER SPECIAL: Book any two nights between November 27 – December 20, 2012 (as well as January 1-31, 2013 OR March 1-April 30, 2013) and SAVE 25%! Some restrictions apply, such as you must mention “The Birchwood Winter Special” when reserving online or by phone. This winter special is not valid with any third party gift certificates or any other special, and our Berkshire deals are always subject to our minimum stay policies.

During the holidays, our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast is reminiscent of a Currier and Ives painting. All dressed up for Christmas, the holiday lights sparkle, brightening the dark winter days while the wood-burning fireplaces take the chill off of winter. Popcorn and cranberries on the soaring tree, snowflakes twinkling from above, hot mulled local cider. Join us this holiday season and experience a truly old-fashioned Christmas. And save!

Quinn and Charley would love to welcome you home, our home, this winter.

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Charley, the Dog, Travels to France: The Prologue

Charley travels to France

Is there room for Mrs. Hedgehog?

Thank you, Quinn, for letting me use your space as I moved to Birchwood Inn earlier this year and Quinn has been very good to me.

My bags are packed; I’m ready to go! I’ve had all of my shots. My paperwork is completed. I’ve packed my favorite turtle “egg,” Woofgang Pup pizza, and my soft soccer ball because… I am going with Ellen to Paris to see my “Uncle” Eric and then to the south of France with six of the Eight Broads in the Kitchen!

I have lots of questions before we leave:

Can I hold it from Boston to the nearest patch of grass in Paris? I certainly hope so!

Will I mind my service dog manners? Well, there may be a lapse or five.

Will I like the French dog biscuits? Mais oui!

Will I come home barking with a Parisian accent? Bien sur!

Will I be able to blog from the iPad? To be determined.

Stay tuned for the further adventures of Travels with Charley.

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Top 10 Things To Do in the Berkshires in the Fall!

Cider Doughnuts make the top 10 things to do in the Berkshires

Governor Patrick’s favorite cider doughnuts.


Quinn woofs that fall is her favorite time of year in the Berkshires. The autumn light. The Berkshire blue sky. The leaves to romp in and especially any Apple Cider Doughnut crumbs that land on the floor!!!


Yes, foliage is the star attraction at this time of year, but there are also a cornucopia of festivals, theater, recreation, and harvest foods to enjoy.




With Quinn’s help, we have put together our TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS TO DO IN THE BERKSHIRES THIS FALL:

1. BRILLIANT FOLIAGE – take a hike or drive up Mt. Greylock, MA’s highest peak. From the summit you can see five states.

2. FESTIVALS GALORE! – Lenox’s 21st Annual Tub Parade, 9/15, the re-enactment of the Gilded Age “cottagers’” farewell to the summer season. Lenox’s 232rd Annual Apple Squeeze Weekend, 9/22-23, celebrating autumn and the harvest. The Berkshire Art Festival, 9/28-30, Lenox.

3. THEATER – Hitchock’s 39 Steps,Shakespeare & Co., Lenox. “The Puppetmaster of Lodz,” 9/13-10/7; Dr. Ruth, All the Way, 9/19-10/7;  and The Lord of the Flies,10/3-21. The Berkshire Theatre Group.

4. SPOOKY! - Melville, Haunted, 10/4-7, Arrowhead, Pittsfield. Friday Fright Tours,” The Mount, Lenox, through 10/26.

5. IN PERSON - Brel in the Berkshires, 9/20-23, Kenny Rogers, 9/27, Sandra Bernhard, Oct. 20. The Berkshire Theatre Group, Pittsfield.

6. FAIRS! - Country Fair at Hancock Shaker Village, 9/29-30, Pittsfield, celebrates the simple things, agricultural demos, local and regional crafts, a harvest of quilts, horse-drawn carriage rides and more.

7. THE ARTS - Museums and galleries abound, including the Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio, Thurs/Fri/Sat through Columbus Day, modernist home of two celebrated abstract artists.

8. APPLE PICKING - Hilltop Orchards and Bartlett’s Orchard, Richmond.

9. APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS – MA Gov. Patrick’s favorites at Bartlett’s Orchard, Richmond.

And, we saved the Best for Last….


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Savor a Sweet Harvest Summer Salad Recipe!

There’s still time to enjoy the flavors of summer with our Sweet Harvest Summer Salad Recipe! I was walking through Guido’s, our incomparable local marketplace last week and saw Guido’s Kitchen making a salad that caught my eye: Vegetable confetti. Our Labor Day Weekend guests at our Berkshires bed and breakfast chomped it up, and you will too!

harvest summer salad recipe from our berkshires bed and breakfast

Sweet Summer Corn, Beet, Tomato, and Basil Salad

3 ears of corn, husked

1 1/2 lbs. beets, trimmed and scrubbed

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered

2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil

extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium size pot, cover the beets completely with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and the beets until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Drain and let cool. Peel and cut the beets into small cubes.

To cut kernels from the cob, stand an ear in a large wide bowl, and with a sharp knife, carefully slice downward to release the kernels.

Add the tomatoes to the corn. Drizzle with the olive oil. Stir in the basil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beets just before serving so that each ingredient maintains its color.


Posted in Food, Recipes, Summer | Tagged , , , |

First Lady Dazzles The Berkshires

First Lady Michele Obama in Lenox Massachusetts 2012

First Lady Michele Obama wowed the overflow crowd of nearly 800 when she spoke at The Colonial Theatre in The Berkshires on Friday, August 3.
The “warm-up,” who was usually the main attraction, was a special performance by Berkshire resident James Taylor.
And then it was Michele’s turn to shine, and shine she did in a hot orange shift dress and an even more brilliant smile.
Speaking extemporaneously, she spoke from her heart about her husband and his many accomplishments and hopes for the future. When Michele spoke about family values, education, health care and women’s choices health care, the ability to retire with security, bringing the troops home from Iraq, and about the middle class not having to pay higher taxes than the wealthy, she was repeatedly interrupted by enthusiastic applause.

The First Lady knew that she was speaking to people who would vote to re-elect President Obama, but she urged each person to volunteer in one of the many grassroots efforts to try to change even one vote. She honestly predicted that the election will be a close one and how important each and every vote will be.

From her afternoon at The Colonial Theatre, the First Lady headed to a special fundraising dinner at the Berkshire weekend home of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

Michele Obama inspired and created a warm memory for me and many others. Thank you, Michele, for visiting the Berkshires.

(No, Charley and Quinn were at home in air-conditioned comfort — it was 90+ after all), and besides, Charley isn’t quite ready for “prime time.”)

The Berkshires are a magical place. We offer a beautiful Lenox, Massachusetts bed and breakfast in the heart of the Berkshires.

Posted in Events |

A Most Wonderful Hug from Yo-Yo Ma in Lenox MA

Lenox MA

I was at Bistro Zinc in Lenox MA for lunch today when cellist extraordinaire Yo-Yo Ma came in with Boston Symphony Orchestra Director Mark Volpe. I never ever approach someone famous, respecting their privacy, BUT this time I just had to.

I proceeded to tell Yo-Yo Ma my story. When I started to lose my hearing, it was only natural that I no longer could hear music. For more than 10 years I didn’t hear music, but I went to Tanglewood concerts anyway, hoping to feel the music.

And then I got my first cochlear implant in 2000 and went to Tanglewood to give it a try with music. The very first musician I heard in more than 10 years was Yo-Yo Ma. He has had a special place in my heart ever since.

As I told him the story, he had tears in his eyes. And when I finished, he gave me a big hug. He is a very special person to me… and to millions of others.

Posted in Concerts, Lenox MA, Tanglewood | Tagged , , , , , , |

We’ve Got THE Winner!

The 2nd Annual Berkshire British Motor Car Festival was an overwhelming success this weekend! Thousands of residents and guests ogled the brilliantly polished British cars, old and new, Mini-Cooper to Rolls Royce, lining Lenox, MA’s main streets near our Berkshires bed and breakfast.

“Gee, that looks like the car I had in college,” was heard over and over again, especially when spying a Triumph or MG. The festival evoked many old memories and created new ones.

Saturday’s competition yielded many “best in class” winners as well as the coveted “Best in Show,” awarded to Birchwood Inn guest Dave Hutchinson and his red 1961 Triumph Italia 2000 Coupe.

The Italia 2000, also called the TR3, was manufactured between 1959 and 1962, combining Italian artistry and British craftsmanship. Due to the car’s expensive price tag of $5,000!!!, only 329 were produced and a handful of 30 or so were sold in the US. Dave has babied his TR3 for more than 30 years. It’s a real beauty!

Congratulations to the festival’s organizers, the participants, the many car fans, and of course, the grand prize winner Dave Hutchinson!

Berkshires Bed and Breakfast

"Best in Show" winner Dave Hutchinson, his wife Charlene, and his 1961 Italian 2000 Coupe.


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Chilling Out at our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast

Berkshires bed and breakfast

Chilled soups soothe on the hottest days of summer.

At our Berkshires bed and breakfast, we serve a fruit course to begin our award-winning breakfasts. One of the joys of the season is Honeydew Gazpacho, borrowed from my friend Lynnette Scofield at The William Henry Miller Inn in Ithaca, NY. Hot outside? This chilled soup is so cool!

One ripe honeydew
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
The juice and zest of two limes
Small cubes of watermelon and/or cantaloupe
Lemon croutons (we toast cubes from our Lemon Yogurt Bread)
More lemon zest

In a food processor, blend the honeydew, sugar, lime juice and zest. Pour this mixture into a blender to completely puree the fruit. Chill overnight.
We serve the “Gazpacho” in martini glasses, added the small melon cubes, croutons, and the extra lime zest.
If you are lucky, you’ll have some soup leftover. Add tequila and voila, Honeydew Margarita!

For more chilled fruit soup recipes, check out our Eight Broads
in the Kitchen blog

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , , |

The Start of a Beautiful Friendship

Berkshires bed and breakfast

Quinn and Charley are becoming good friends.

Thank you everyone for asking how I am enjoying retirement, how Charley is doing, and how we are getting along. At the risk of sounding like Sally Field, I just have to say, “You love me! You really love me!”

At first I thought retirement was overrated. So boring. Charley would go out with Ellen, and I would sit on my bed in the kitchen and wait for them to return. But now friends come and take me for long walks in Kennedy Park near our Berkshires B&B, and I am going out with Ellen for walks, rides in the car, and visits to my friends at Glad Rags and the post office.

Charley is great and enthusiastic about hearing sounds and alerting Ellen. And Charley doesn’t need a trapeze to fly through the air! He loves to fling his toys and then run and catch them, except when he flings the toys a little over exuberantly and they land in the sink.

He loves to play ball. I go out to watch him, but when I’ve had enough, I take the ball away from Charley and hide it. How else is the little terror has to learn who is numero uno at our Berkshires bed and breakfast?

He loves people and trips with Ellen. She reports that he is really very well-behaved in public. We just have to work on extending this to the private sector.

I have discovered that not only is Charley Ellen’s hearing dog but he’s mine, too! When Charley hears the stove time, the alarm clock, etc., he flings himself at Ellen (I just used to tap her lightly on the arm), takes her to the sound and gets a treat. Now I follow him and I get treats, too! This just may work out.

PS – How do you like Charley’s “natural” new hair styling?

Posted in Charley, Hearing Ear Dog, Quinn | Tagged , , , |