Friday, May 30, 2008
Sven and I got to the beach today for a brisk walk at LeCount Hollow. Our guests from England left with a sunburn. I showed them how to apply Noxzema in a paste for quick relief. They were enchanted with their stay in Wellfleet and plan to tell all their friends, a great way to spread the word about our bed and breakfast, don't you think?
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 7:58 PM
Thursday, May 29, 2008
First off, I would like to apologize to everyone who was hoping for a photo of Wellfleet on this beautiful day. Our guests had wonderful times at beaches, both ocean and bayside. Sven and I, however, are much too busy to go for a walk. I have been working on editing David Wright's book about the shellfishing industry in Wellfleet, as well as madly planting flowers, mostly impatiens. The garden is amazing with the peonies about to pop open. The irises stand tall, swaying in the breeze, beside the poppies. I am quite pleased with the Patriot hostas, which I transplanted in front of the windows of our new room. My garden looks so nice, in fact, that our friend Steve Durkee asked me to put some flowers in beside his new Studio, a request I could not refuse. He wanted to exchange the fabulous big painting in Liberty Coin Suite for my work. We had it on loan. Now, it will be ours for keeps. Thank you, Steve! All this blabbering about flowers has not left a minute to tell you what Sven has been up to. This week he decided to create a brick step at the door to the Green Room, pretty ambitious for someone who is about to turn 70. The step was finished today. Look how nice it is!!
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 6:50 PM
Monday, May 26, 2008
With the good weather, it is possible to eat in the garden again. Sven rebuilt the patio under the vintage table. There have been sirens off and on all morning, not a good sign. Everyone expects the Route 6 traffic to be heavy this afternoon. I was out and about early today. The price at the pump passed four dollars nationwide. After listening to this news, I thought I would go check for myself. Sure enough, down at the Mobil station, which I always mention when giving directions to Chez Sven, the rates had all gone up overnight. I imagine the increase is not as bad as on Nantucket, but still the high price of energy is hurting us all ...
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 10:08 AM
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Lots going on this holiday weekend here in Wellfleet! There was excitement in the air in front of town hall where Wellfleet Gardeners are holding an annual plant sale. Wheelbarrows in hand, folks maneuvered from stand to stand, eager to pick out the healthiest plants. The sale started at 8:30 and ends at noon. Wellfleet Harbor Actors’ Theatre opened this week with its first play of the summer season, “Intimate Apparel.” Guests from Chez Sven took in the show last night and highly recommend it. This morning WHAT has become part of the Arts & Artisans Trail, hosting 20 local artists outside from noon to 6 pm. Trail signs were up all over Wellfleet. I featured the Arts & Artisans Trails guidebook in a blog a year ago. Crowds are expected for the duration of the long weekend. The Memorial Day rush was featured on the Boston news. Apparently the traffic is already backed up at the Sagamore Bridge, not surprising at all when you consider the great weather. Here in Wellfleet, the bike shop was open down on Route 6. What better way to see this beautiful town than by renting a bike for a spin along the back roads, fragrant with lilacs?
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 9:57 AM
Monday, May 19, 2008
Extraordinary weather here in Wellfleet, folks. Blue skies. High puffy clouds. A slight breeze. Perfect weather for planting a summer garden. Not too hot, not too cold. Sven is outside reworking the brick pathway so that guests will no longer get their feet wet when it rains. After forty-some odd years, the bricks had sunken into the earth. It was time to pull them out and start over, giving me a perfect excuse to create a partial shade garden outside the new green room. The lilacs are in blossom now, too. Over at the cottage, a hanging basket of bright pink flowers awaits guests, as does the wisteria, dramatic in the way it swoops down from the roof. Yesterday I saw my first hummingbird of the year from the cottage windows, in search of nectar. The wisteria seemed inviting. Hummingbirds always make me catch my breath, so amazing are they to see hovering in air. Sven had a guest from Sweden yesterday. Today a Russian chat group recommended Chez Sven, so our Web site had numerous visitors with Russian connections. Memorial Day is early this year. We still have availability for Liberty Coin Suite. And, the weatherman is predicting sunshine ...
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 3:30 PM
Saturday, May 17, 2008
On this rainy weekend, here at Chez Sven, we have a full house. Two sets of guests are from Germany, where it is vacation week. Strangely enough, they are returning home on the same plane to Munich! Unfortunately, the weather is not ideal for a holiday with kids. What does one do with children on Cape Cod in the rain? There are books to read, beaches to explore – with umbrellas! Our guests plan to go whale watching and will probably take in the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster. Last night they ate at Mac’s Shack and were enthralled by the great atmosphere and scrumptious food.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
This photo was taken last winter, when I still had the leisure to walk the beach. That time will return, I am sure, but for now, think of me as a three-ring circus. The hoops on my left hand are email reservations, laundry, and this blog. Around one ankle twirl the vegetable garden, the flower garden, and a general tidying up of the main house following renovation, still not done. In my right hand, I hold a pen, addressing envelopes for the guests who have reserved Seagull Cottage this summer. A bottle of green cleanser sticks out of my right hip pocket. The left holds pruning shears so I can pick a bouquet of Angelique tulips for the Green Room. On my head balances a basket of fresh eggs from the farm down on Route 6. All this, not to mention running a household, a relationship, and the promotion of this bed & breakfast. Whew! In spring, there is so much to do! Blog readers have shown much support recently, which I do appreciate. Thank you,thank you. In an effort to spread the word about our new green room, Chez Sven is offering a weekend special in May and June so returning guests can check out the results of our renovation: $130/night. Weekends still available include 5/30 & 31, 6/6 & 7;6/13 & 14.
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 11:03 AM
Monday, May 12, 2008
Some of the changes are up on the Web site, thanks to my son in California. The new photos of the Liberty Coin room and the General's Green Room have not yet been posted, however. They will be, later in the week. In the meantime, here is Sven, putting the finishing touches on the Liberty Coin room, now blue. I am glad to report that the Eldred Wheeler furniture company found an investor at the last minute so this pencil post bed will not be the last one their carpenters make after all. Curry Woodworking will continue the excellent line of classic furniture reproductions. The pencil post bed was a type of bed made in America from 1690 to 1800. Ours does not have a tender yet, but it will be coming. The tender is a frame top, like a canopy, only not curved. As time goes on, we hope to add other pieces of period furniture from Eldred Wheeler/Curry to our collection for the enjoyment of our bed & breakfast guests.
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 8:34 AM
Sunday, May 11, 2008
This weekend Chez Sven celebrated a first: we had guests in our new Green Room. Vahram and James had heard Wellfleet was beautiful and wanted to check it out. They enjoyed their stay, and Sven and I enjoyed having them with us. Then, this afternoon a small family arrived for Seagull Cottage. It turns out one member of each couple works in the environmental field. The presence of all these young folks, amidst the spring flowers, reminded me why Sven and I chose this profession: one the rewards of innkeeping is all the lovely people we are privileged to meet!
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 3:54 PM
Saturday, May 10, 2008
As the sun sets on another successful renovation, Sven and I look back at what has been accomplished and smile, grateful to the architect, and to our contractor Nate Cook and his team. They have done an amazing job. We have, too, when you come to think of it. We are still married, for one thing. Renovation is a notorious marriage-wrecker. For the past two months Sven and I have been working every day, right alongside the carpenters, and have done little else. Last winter we had the leisure to get out so I could take photos of Wellfleet, like the one above, taken from the bridge at the Herring River Dike. Had I moved my camera slightly to the right the photo would have included the object of much attention here in Wellfleet over the past few months: the so-called “Billboard House,” which has spoiled this spectacular view of the National Seashore for some thirty years. It was already controversial back then. The new owners have requested a permit to tear down the ugly modern structure and build a McMansion. The town and the Seashore are joining forces in opposition. Had I had any energy left, I would have attended the ZBA evening meetings. Instead, I was more intent on finding a place to lay my head at the end of a day of hard labor. The musical beds will continue a bit longer, with boxes piled up everywhere as we gradually move back into the main house. Two nights ago I slept in the cottage; last night, in the Green Room. Tonight I will sleep in the small bedroom of Liberty Coin Suite. Have pillow, will travel! …
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 7:50 AM
Friday, May 09, 2008
Grey skies today from my window remind me of everything there is to do before the rain arrives. I gulp a cup of coffee, check Matt Noyes’ forecast, and remove my things from Seagull Cottage since there are guests arriving this afternoon. Several emails await my attention, all booking in June. Off I go to Orleans, twenty miles down the road. I shop for veggies and another quart of paint, then swing by the cleaners where the salesman confronts me with bad news: the slipcover cannot be dry-cleaned. It cannot be washed either, in my opinion, so here is a problem Sven and I will have to solve later. At Snow’s I purchase a beautiful hanging plant, on sale at 15% off the regular price. Neither Stop & Shop nor the South Wellfleet General Store carries Buffalo yogurt this year, so I will have to search the Internet for another source of my favorite starter. I shop at the bakery and rush home. Boz, our carpenter, built one last shelf in the Green Room closet and is ready to leave by the time I arrive. He has brought us fresh eggs from his farm, which I will serve this weekend to the lucky folks who booked the Green Room for tomorrow at the introductory rate of $150/night. After a quick lunch, I help Sven clean the cottage. Exhausted, I lie down in the new Green Room for a nap while the rain pours down.
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 3:43 PM
Thursday, May 08, 2008
When a major renovation is undertaken, one discovers that everything else looks drab in comparison and needs some TLC, too. For this reason, our painting project is lasting longer than we expected. The Web site will soon be updated to reflect the changes. We are also working on the garden. The area around the northern wing of the house suffered much abuse over the past six months from sawdust, reshingling, and routine access for the carpenters who set up their tools outside. So, Sven and I decided to address this issue as well. We chose quohaug shells for the parking area because they are natural to Cape Cod, easy to apply, and inexpensive. What's more, they look nice. The shells arrived yesterday morning early. I was holding out for cobblestones but reality won me over. I must admit the change is an improvement. Everyone is happy and Sven gets to say, "I told you so." The shells seem particularly appropriate because this week I started copyediting a manuscript by a friend who has just researched and written a history of shellfishing in Wellfleet. This amazing book will be published over the summer and made available for sale at Oysterfest, to benefit the Wellfleet Historical Society. We still have some availability for Oysterfest, a fabulous street fair that celebrates the oyster. Oysterfest has become the high point of Wellfleet's tourist season and is not to be missed.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
At last we feel the end of our renovation project is drawing near. Sven and I had dinner at Moby Dick's this week. Owner Todd Berry told us he and Mignon have also been renovating their home over the winter. They too are out of patience, out of energy, and way over budget. With our first guests arriving for the General's Green Room this Saturday, we scurry to finish up last-minute details. The pantry is tiled. The new living room is painted. The table has been placed in the new country kitchen. We spruced up the Liberty Coin main room with a fresh coat of paint. Monday the radiator was installed in the Green Room. In the above photo, we see Boz, our carpenter, last fall, taking apart my mother's old kitchen. The room is a gorgeous space now. If I had the time, I would go and sit in there to absorb some of the peaceful atmosphere. But, of course, there are things to do, too numerous to mention. Sven is redirecting the brick path to the parking lot and has built a patio where we will place the vintage table for breakfast outside in summer. I must help him with this strenuous work. Oh, and the garden calls. My new plants should arrive this afternoon from Bluestone Perrenials. We are having a fabulous day here in Wellfleet with a slight breeze and bright blue skies, the color of Liberty Coin's walls. The forecast is for some rain, perfect for planting. Then, Sunday, the weather will improve again. The Green Room has lots of availability still since no one knows how wonderful it is ... Where's the best place to stay in Wellfleet? Why, definitely Chez Sven. Great food, great garden, great rooms. Y'awl, come on down!
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 8:08 AM
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Internet searches are getting more and more specific. The above search intrigued me so much that I Googled it. I learned that the portable toilets at Long Pond are cleaned every day. I found an entry for Wellfleet Chezsven Blog, and an ad for a vacation rental: “Long Pond, a great fresh water swimming spot with a public beach, is within 500 …” I clicked through and discovered there are 186 properties listed on the vacation site, which means 186 families are renting their Wellfleet homes this summer from this site alone. This week’s New York Times reveals vacationers are waiting until the last minute for deals this year. But back to Long Pond Reviews. There were none, really, so I thought I would provide one. The water at the public beach is very shallow, great for toddlers. There is a raft, fun for elementary school kids. The beach is narrow. Folks tend to set up beach chairs on the grassy slope. At Chez Sven, I always warn guests with children, as soon as the weather heats up, NOT to swim in Long Pond. Although the town does do a regular control of bacteria, over the years I have seen too many people become sick after swimming in Long Pond to recommend it. Mayo Beach, on the harbor, is a much better bet for families with small children, as is Duck Harbor. This is the type of information only an innkeeper can provide ... For reports on the bacteria count at Wellfleet's beaches this coming summer, click here.
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 6:46 AM
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Blue sky? Not today. From the Liberty Coin Suite windows I see clouds beyond the budded maple branches. When I look up, however, Alaskan Blue meets the eye. Yesterday we decided to boldly go where the more timid innkeeper might hesitate. I picked up a gallon of Sherwin Williams Harmony, low-VOC, paint. Audrey Danforth applied it last night. The cheerful color will make the new pencil post bed and local art stand out. We have no guests this weekend due to the weather - showers and rain are in the forecast. As soon as the sun returns, folks will flock back out to Cape Cod. There's nothing like a Wellfleet beach on a sunny day...
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 7:54 AM
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Our songbirds can now live in style thanks to West Waters of Codder’s House down on Route 6, here in Wellfleet. His Ron Buck Artist Series birdhouses have all been built to Audubon standards. The houses are vented top and bottom. They have clean-out traps and are adorned with vintage hardware. Each one is totally unique. Best of all, West and Ron have thought to use recycled cedar and bio-safe colors. While in West’s shop choosing a new home for your feathered friends, check out the great selection of quality antiques. The birdhouses cost from $29 to $38 and can even be viewed online prior to vacation.
Posted by Alexandra Grabbe at 3:57 PM