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The North Fork of Long Island is one of my favorite places. (Do I say that a lot? I might do, but there are a bunch of places that I really love and can visit over and over again. They include Galway, Sonoma, Provincetown, Puerto Rico, and most definitely the North Fork.)

The North Fork is not just beautiful, with farmland and vineyards rolling down to the sea, but it offers an abundance of local food from land and sea, great shopping, and warm and welcoming people. Last week, I once again had the opportunity to hop aboard a Cross Sound Ferry in New London for a press trip to this magical little spit of land. The trip reminded me that the North Fork is a pretty easy getaway from Boston, especially on a weekday. Whether you drive or take Amtrak, getting to the ferry is easy and takes about an hour and forty minutes. A car ferry option is available, but this time around we took the car-free fast ferry and were met by Jo-Ann Perry from Vintage Tours, which is a great option if you don’t feel like driving around while visiting wineries.  Jo-Ann was absolutely fabulous to spend the day with, and you can learn about personalized North Fork winery tours here.

The second you leave the ferry parking lot in Orient Point, you are blessed with the most beautiful scenery, including the sea and wide open spaces. Our first stop was Sep’s Farm for a tour and tasting.

strawberries

 

rhubarb

 

Sep's Farm, North Fork

Sep’s Farm and farm stands around Long Island are favorites of locals and visitors and a must-stop for all of your local fruit and vegetable needs while visiting. The farm goes back five generations and is family-owned and operated. The produce on the farm stand was absolutely gorgeous and made me want to fill baskets to bring home as sides for a buttery lobster dinner.

carrots

sunflowers

radshes

After some time for photo ops at the farm stand, Eric, the son of the farm’s owner, showed us around the farm, including taking time to stop in the tool shed to view some of the historic farm photos and tools. This place could seriously be a farming museum and provides a great peek into the Sep’s Farm of years past.

Sep's Farm history

farm tools

horseshoe

Sep's Farm tunnels  Sep’s Farm is as much a part of the past as it is moving into the future, applying for and receiving grants that make them able to do an even better job at growing delicious local food. They recently received a grant that allowed them to build eight foot tall fences to keep out white tailed deer, which are plentiful on the North Fork and who like to eat the produce as much as we do. They also have been granted funds for these high tunnels, which allow them to start the growing season earlier, and funding for underground water mains, which save water and fuel and are also better for irrigating the crops as water at the roots rather than the leaves helps plants to avoid disease.

farm spread Before we headed out to the fields, we were treated to a beautiful spread put out by Eric’s mother Katie, which featured some prepared foods made by friend Robert Seaman for the farm, using the produce they grow. We sampled some to-die-for treats like pickled asparagus and zucchini pickles, along with a yummy homemade mustard, tomatoes and mozzarella, and mulled beets, all in agreement that these items are sure to be popular at the farm stand.

pickled asparagus I could eat these zucchini pickles all day and was thrilled to find a jar in the very generous gift bag we received at the end of the day.

zucchini pickles

tractor

I love tractors. If it wasn’t a press trip, I would have made sure to get a photo on it.

cadillac weeds

After our picnic, we went out into the fields to see what was growing, soaking up the summer sun and getting a little dusty as we explored and checked on the progress of the vegetables. The above flowers are just weeds, but I thought they were so pretty. Bees loved them too!

Below is a type of broccoli next to some kale. All of the vegetables were way ahead of my garden, and it made me wish I had started everything indoors much earlier. Planning for next year already!

broccoli

Sep's Farm

Our group absolutely loved visiting Sep’s Farm, and I could have and would have been happy to stay all day to work on the farm. The city girl in me has definitely taken a back seat to the country girl, and I feel like as I get older I’ll be craving experiences like this farm visit even more often.

Thanks for having us, Sep’s Farm!

Other posts on my past visits to the North Fork of Long Island:

Kontokosta Winery

Cross Sound Ferry to the North Fork

Harbes Farm

Touring and tasting at Bedell Cellars

Greenport, New York

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Tags: farms, farmstand, Long Island, North Fork, summer, Travel, travel blog

Do you make a summer bucket list? We’re working on ours lately and it involves lots of time outside and on the water, farm fresh produce, grilling, outdoor movies, concerts, and a lot more. It’s my favorite season by far. Being barefoot and salty makes me happy down to my soul. Unlike last summer where we traveled a ton, we only have one trip planned this summer. Otherwise I plan on soaking up the amazingness that New England dishes up in this season.

We kicked off summer as early as we could and despite some very rainy Sundays (Seriously, why has every Sunday been rainy? It’s my favorite boat day!) have some weekend favorites to share.

Scituate There’s so much to do and see near Boston. A few weeks ago we visited Scituate for a beach walk and brunch at Atlantica, which is fancy and a little pricey but totally incredible and great for a special occasion.

Atlantica A window seat, hot donut holes, and a fruit cocktail started brunch off perfectly.

donuts at brunch

A Blood Orange Old Fashioned. . . because it’s brunch!

blood orange old fashioned

Brunch at Atlantica is a giant buffet featuring all sorts of stations like prime rib, pasta, fish, omelets, salads, seafood, and a huge dessert table. I piled my plate high with grilled vegetables, shrimp, quiche, short ribs, bacon, and salad and ate every bite. It was heavenly.  Sometimes I steer clear of buffets because I assume the quality won’t be great, but that was not the case here. Everything was so good!  I decided I want to have brunch here again during one of my Chicago Marathon long run weekends so I can really try everything and not feel bad about it!

brunch at Atlantica

Lilly Pulitzer wine glasses

My sister got me these cute Lilly Pulitzer wine glasses; they’re plastic, making them perfect for boating! I plan to fill them with lots of pink wine this summer. While people have starting going bananas for rosé in recent years, we’ve been fans of dry rosé forever (one of my very first blog posts covers one of our favorites, from Travessia Urban Winery, right here in Massachusetts) way back when everyone thought White Zinfandel was the only rosé out there. We continue to find favorites; follow this space for tasting notes!

IMG_5548 Speaking of boating, we’ve been doing as much of it as we can. Saoirse is smaller than our last boat, making it easier for us to dock without help. As a result, we’ve had a few relaxing dates by boat, including one to Legal Harborside, a perfect place in Boston for sunning, sipping (and slurping) away a summer day.   

oysters Legal Harborside boating in Boston Getting outdoors has been a ton of fun, and we’ve been trying for more active evenings. Instead of just appetizers and cocktails, we add a walk in. Walking around Lower Mills in Dorchester is so pretty and gives us the ability to visit several bars and an ice cream shop all on foot. I love the small town feel of where we live and the access to water that we have so close by!

Milton Landing

I also love my garden. Having a yard so close to the city has been a game changer for me. My garden brings me so much joy and peace. The raspberries are on their way! Also planted: zucchini, acorn squash, hot peppers, tomatoes, string beans, arugula, peas, shallots, strawberries, and basil. Stepping outside into that space grounds me so much.

raspberries

Since we do live near so much green space, we finally bought a soccer ball to kick around. Neither of us are World Cup bound  anytime soon, but we get in some good exercise chasing each other around and dying laughing. It’s the perfect time of year to behave like a kid again, which is why soccer is followed by ice cream.

soccer in the park

We plan on lots of day trips from Boston to places like World’s End in Hingham, beaches in Ipswich, dockside dining in Portland, and so much more. What are your summer plans?

World's End

For some ideas on day trips from Boston, check out these posts:

Day Trip to New Bedford

Visiting Ipswich

Brunch and Beer in Newburyport

Wine and Beer Tasting in Southeast Massachusetts

Hingham and Cohasset

Spectacle Island

Chatham, Cape Cod

A Day Trip to Martha’s Vineyard (a little more difficult, but do-able!)

World’s End State Park

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Tags: Boston, brunch, New England, summer, Travel, travel blog, weekends

Welcome, new readers! This post has definitely gotten a lot of interest! For actual travel blog posts, you can visit my travel page.

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The Press Trip that Wasn’t. . .

Or that time I was so done with an airline I walked off of a plane before going anywhere. . .

If you’ve been reading lately, you’ll know that I was getting ready for a press trip to England a couple of weeks ago. Over the course of the month or so where the planning was supposedly taking place, the communication was pretty intermittent, a week here, several days there. I honestly wasn’t 100% sure it was happening, even up to the morning of my departure. I was excited for the destination; Bristol, England looks like a really cool place to visit. I soon learned that WOW Airlines, the airline getting me there, is a mess.

Three weeks before departure: First, I receive an invitation,  then I get asked about my blog traffic and social media handles. In my PR experience, you do all of that first, before inviting people. But I let that piece go.

After the initial few emails, I heard nothing for about nine days, so I sort of put the trip out of my head. I knew that if I was going I had to move some work and social events, told the contact that, and still didn’t get any concrete information. And despite being told multiple times by them that I would have my ticket in 24 hours, days and weeks passed, and nothing.

Friday afternoon, six days before departure: I receive an email that the trip is happening and I will get my ticket and itinerary on Monday. Being less than a week out and still having no idea where I am going or how I am getting there doesn’t sit great with me but I am still excited to visit Bristol! Be spontaneous, right?!

Tuesday, before a Thursday departure: I finally receive the itinerary. At this point, I am more than annoyed at how last minute everything is, but the itinerary looks amazing! I start to get really excited, but I still don’t have any airline details. I then receive four blank emails from WOW Airlines. I start to feel not-so-comfortable with their competence.

Wednesday, before a Thursday departure: I finally am able to open one of the ticket attachments. It has me leaving from Baltimore. I’m in Boston. I’m promised another ticket the next morning.

Thursday, day of departure: I start to feel REALLY wary of the trip when I still don’t have a confirmed ticket. I let my contact know that, and I receive a ticket in response. Okay, I’m going!

Four hours before departure: I get ready to go! WOW doesn’t have online check-in, but I leave with plenty of time to get to the airport. A truck fire in the tunnel means it takes me two hours to go seven miles. Maybe this is an omen.

Arrival at the airport: I finally make it to check in! I hand my passport to the desk attendant, and her first question is “Are you sure you’re traveling on WOW?”

Maybe not? They finally find my reservation and then try to force me to check my small bag, which is under the weight limit. The service was incredibly rude and off-putting, and with the disorganization that had already taken place, I am starting to lose patience.

 

IMG_5128

You’ll note that my departure time, above left, is 1900, where boarding is 1940.  They couldn’t even get the ticket right.

Once, I got through security, the delays, without any information, began. I had a glass of wine at Vino Volo and learned from my fellow passengers that none of the WOW customer service numbers they called were connected. Comforting.

We eventually start boarding after the third delay, and everyone around me was worried about connections. WOW is a big connector from Keflavik, Iceland, to other places in Europe, but after looking at their reviews, I now know that people usually miss those connections.

I get to the door of the plane and am told I only have a ticket to Keflavik, but not to Bristol and that I would need to deal with that when I get to Iceland. Except with the delay,  the time to do that and make my flight would require a miracle.

I get on the plane anyway. No TV’s. The tiniest seats I have ever been in. I learn we have to pay for water.

And then the pilot announces another delay because we don’t have the needed paperwork to depart.

All of the above frustrations came together at that moment. I felt sick, extremely uncomfortable, and I used something I learned at the Boston Business Women’s Conference.

 

As in "Wow" this airline is bad

I stood up for myself and I got off the plane. It felt like the only think I could do. I felt so unsure about the trip and the lack of planning and I couldn’t take another mishap.

I had my passport checked to make sure I didn’t leave luggage on board, and I was walked out of security. And I went home. I emailed my contact who was planning the trip and emailed again the next day, outlining all that went wrong. I never heard back. . .

This wasn’t a decision I made lightly. It was more than a little embarrassing to be the person getting off of a full plane. I wanted to go on the trip. I had cancelled meetings, plans with friends and family, and rearranged my life to be away for four days.

I’ve told the story about 10 times now, and every single person I have told has said they would have given up way before I did. I told many PR colleagues who were horrified at the lack of communication. They encouraged me to blog about it.

I work in PR. More specifically, I work with travel and hospitality clients and have planned and executed dozens of trips for press.  Timing sometimes gets off, there are miscommunications. People don’t show up when they are supposed to. But the job of the person planning is to communicate and to make the guest feel excited about the trip and comfortable; otherwise you really aren’t doing a great job of selling your client!

In summary, 1) WOW Airlines failed to impress on every front.

If you enjoy good service, comfort, organization, and any sort of attention to detail whatsoever, you might be best avoiding WOW, at least based on my experience.

2) Trust your gut. I should have turned down the trip earlier in the week. It would have saved me a ton of time, worry, planning and about $100 back and forth to the airport.

I travel a good amount; I think I got in 26 flights last year, that included a trip to Africa, two trips to Sonoma, and three trips to Ireland. I’ve never gotten off of a plane before. I guess there’s a first time for everything! I’ve learned that if something feels really wrong, trust that. This experience is, of course, just that of one person, but I felt strongly enough about it to share. It was upsetting to say the least!

Have you ever walked away from a situation that put you in a bad position? I would love to hear your thoughts on what happened!

 

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Tags: PR, Travel, travel mishaps

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