North Shore/Cape Ann – July 2016

Tattoo anyone? We’ll get back to that.

The north shore of Boston, including Cape Ann, is a very special place. From Nahant, up through Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Peabody, Beverly, Beverly Farms and all of Cape Ann (Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Gloucester, Rockport) just begs to be explored.

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With limited time (isn’t that always the case?) we did what we could. I should mention a couple of special destinations. We were told to go to Newman’s Bakery in Swampscott for bagels, and I took a ride there yesterday and did just that. Truth in advertising – we have not yet had them, but I have no doubt these bagels will be delicious, just based on my experience there.

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What I can tell you with affirmation is that donuts at Ziggy’s in Salem are unsurpassed (having one as we speak). The place is TINY, but sits at the intersection of Fort Ave and Essex Street on the Bridge Street Neck in Salem.

Marblehead is one of the cutest towns around, and although it is only 4 square miles, it is jammed with New England style and grace. The homes are stunning, and of course there are the local yacht clubs (Corinthian and Eastern). Good luck getting in, though, Buffy.  Oddly enough, there is a boat manufacturer in Marblehead call Ribcraft, but manufacturing in Marblehead is a very small factor.

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Ribcraft built for the US Navy

We dined in Marblehead at the Three Cod Tavern, and while the food was great, their fish and clam chowders were as good as it gets!! Ooh la la!

Gloucester is of course a town that is always odd-man out on the north shore, if only because it has remained a working harbor with largely working class citizens. I think this is part of what makes Gloucester feel special. From shipbuilders, to welders, to boatyard workers, to warehouse workers and of course fishermen, this town is special.

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Of course there is a huge tourist business going on in this town, and there is pressure from ever-increasing home prices to change the fabric of this town, but it remains unique and a place you want to visit.

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And lest we forget the dangers that are involved in the every day business of fishing in the ocean, the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial stands on the shore looking out to sea.

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“They that go down to the sea in ships”

The primary reason for our trip to New England was to celebrate the life of our aunt, Aunty Phyll. While she couldn’t join us (she passed away this past December at 99 years old), we did hoist one in her honor, and kept a chair open for her during dinner at the Gloucester House in (you guessed it) Gloucester. She will be missed. But we did get to get together with family and friends we had not seen in years, and so that was as cool as it gets.

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On a journey down to have dinner with one of Karen’s long time friends, we visited on the way the Trillium Brewing Company in Canton (south and west of Boston), and were able to try a couple of their brews and managed to fit a few cases in the truck. Trillium brews are consistently ranked high on most beer lists.

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And in another salute to New England seafood, we ate lunch yesterday at the Clam Shack in the Willows, again in Salem. Oh man, I am going to miss lobster rolls and fried seafood when we leave this place, but for now we are glutting on seafood. Next stop: the Betty Ford Clinic for Fish Eaters.

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Have I saved the best for last? Perhaps I have. One of those long-not-seen relatives of mine is my nephew Ben, who is a tattoo artist of some renown. Karen has long talked of getting a tattoo of an Airstream, and so the stars lined up and yes, Karen of all people, now has a real tattoo! Who knew?? It looks great! Making it a family affair, my niece’s husband also got a tattoo – I think his may have been a wee bit painful.

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I believe this sign was targeted at me

Oh, and if you have never seen a “tramp stamp”, here it is. 🙂

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If you get to New England, the north shore of Boston is calling you.

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