eichler homes

The final post from our trip. We’re longtime fans of Eichler Homes, as they perfectly fit our design aesthetic. About 11,000 were built, mostly in the Bay Area. As we were local for a few days, we had to check some out.

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Predictably, I took a few pics of these homes (okay, a few hundred) during our stay. I could share more, but it’s not the focus of this blog…though, if you’re still reading, I’m guessing you’re interested, so I’ll go on.

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The architecture makes us drool. Walls of glass, clerestory windows, central atriums, redwood ceilings, mahogany paneling…what’s not to like? Needless to say, we’d love to live in one of these incredible homes.

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Eichlers continue to grow in popularity though, and always command a premium. They’re also in scarce supply currently and often attract bidding wars. So, to get one, we’d need to get lucky. Very lucky.

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But we’re not giving up on the idea just yet. Hopefully we can work some magic, and put down roots in one of these leafy, welcoming communities. If we do make it happen, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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streetcar spotting

Before getting back to some O&L news, just a couple more bits from our Bay Area trip…starting with San Francisco’s historic streetcars. I’m no trainspotter, but I’m oddly drawn to these design classics.

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The city operates a fleet of almost fifty. Most of which are PCC streetcars (pictured here) procured from major North American cities, restored to good-as-new condition, and put to work on the F Line.

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Each tells a unique story, including No. 1059 (above) from Boston, coincidentally the first we boarded. There is a dedicated museum, but it’s great that these streetcars don’t just gather dust.

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Instead they are continually enjoyed. Not just by tourists, but by local passengers and passers-by, who watch them parade along busy Market Street and The Embarcadero. We like.

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california dreaming

We just returned from our Bay Area trip. We only spent half a day in San Francisco itself, but that gave us time to get reacquainted, and to realize it’s somewhere we’d like to spend a lot more time.

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As usual, I’ll apologize for temporarily turning this blog into a travel diary…but then carry on regardless. I can’t help it. Our hotel offered a peekaboo view of the Bay Bridge and Oakland skyline…

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…which was a nice way to kick-off the day. We also enjoyed some closer-up views of the city’s lesser-known bridge, as we lazily strolled along the waterfront. Mmmm…relaxing.

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We spent several hours walking around the city, to reacquaint ourselves, stopping for the occasional coffee, admiring the impossibly blue sky, and lapping-up the warm sunshine.

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We also traveled around via the Muni, but we didn’t brave the line for the Powell Street cable car…having learned our lesson last time. I do love the public transit here, for its regularity and its quirks.

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We checked out AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. We’ve been Boston Red Sox fans for over six years now, so (if we do move herewe can’t just start supporting another baseball team…

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…though the Giants do play in the National League. Hmmm. Anyway, right nearby, we saw an impressive volume of boats, organized very neatly (much to my approval) in South Beach Harbor.

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We rounded-off by revisiting the Transamerica Building (one of my favorite skyscrapers). The lower section was covered in scaffolding, so I pointed the camera up, and captured an angle I didn’t get during our last visit.

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Yep, we were unashamed tourists for the day. And we came away feeling all warm and fuzzy about San Francisco…aided by the beautiful weather. Inevitably, we landed back in cold, snowy Boston with a bump.

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coast to coast

Karen and I are off on a mini adventure tomorrow. We’re flying from Boston to San Francisco; coincidentally, pretty much the same flight time (around six hours) as a journey back to the UK.

This will be our second visit to San Francisco, following a trip back in 2010 (when this pic was taken). But this is no vacation. We’re continuing our search for a place to settle in the US.

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We’ve spent two enjoyable years in Boston, but it’s time to move on. We need to find a longer-term home, for us and for O&L. One thing’s (almost) for sure, it will be on the west coast.

I’ve mentioned our love of Portland here before, and that’s in the running. Now we’re checking out a few neighborhoods in the Bay Area, as a backup. More updates coming soon…

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back home

Happy New Year! We just got back from a trip to Cheltenham, England (our home town) to see family and friends. During our stay, I took note of some typically English things we used to take for granted.

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These traditional red telephone boxes don’t get much use these days, but they definitely remind you where you are. As does this matching Royal Mail post box, complete with “ER” crest.

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England isn’t known for its culinary contributions, but we do miss some of its offerings. Like traditional full-English breakfast (above). Somewhat indulgently, we ate three during our trip.

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Still on food, we made time to visit our favorite Cheltenham chip shop (above) and also had two family Christmas days, including traditional roast turkey dinners; pretty similar to a US Thanksgiving meal.

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After almost a year’s absence, some other things felt weird. Money is larger and more colorful. And traffic/pedestrian signals all looked a little strange, but familiar all the same.

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Things seemed small in our home town. London has a few skyscrapers, but it’s not the norm in most places, including Cheltenham, where the Eagle Tower (below) is the tallest building, at just 161 feet.

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And many of the streets seemed very narrow, though easy enough to navigate thanks to (mostly) smaller cars. Driving on the other side of the road, and the car, quickly felt natural again.

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As expected, the weather was mostly grey and wet. The exception was a relatively cloudless new year’s day, when we took a long walk, and reacquainted ourselves with the town’s impressive architecture.

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It was a great trip, but it’s good to be back ‘home’ in Boston…despite it being much colder, and covered in snow. We hope you enjoyed the holidays and have an amazing 2013.

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rummer homes tour

During our recent Portland trip, we toured some amazing mid-century modern homes, built in the 1960s by Robert Rummer, and exclusively found in the Portland metro area.

The ‘Mid-Century Marvelous’ tour, organized by the Historic Preservation League of Oregon (HPLO), featured eight Rummer homes, within the Bohmann Park neighborhood.

We’ve admired Rummer homes for ages, so it was great to see some up close, get inside, and even talk to the owners. Rummer himself was there too; in his former home, above.

Of the hundreds of Rummer homes in the Portland metro area, 62 are in Bohmann Park. It’s an easily walkable neighborhood, allowing us to see, and photograph, most of them.

Rummer homes are (controversially) almost identical to Eichler Homes, found in various Californian tracts. Whatever the ‘inspiration’, they’re impressive houses in their own right.

Although Rummer homes are way cheaper than their California cousins, they command a premium, when compared to neighboring homes. Either way, I think it’s money well spent.

As a bonus, one opportunistic Rummer home owner held an open house (not pictured) to coincide with the tour. Not sure if any offers materialized, but they got plenty of footfall.

Despite the inevitable Portland shower, it was a great day. It’s refreshing to see so many people who are passionate about restoring and preserving these wonderful homes.

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back in portland

Some of you may remember our visit to Portland, Oregon, almost two years ago, when I was in full travel snap mode. Well, as you read this, we’re back there…er, I mean here.

Aside from being a pleasant early summer getaway, this is a research trip for us, as we try and figure out where we’d like to base Olli & Lime, and ourselves, for the long term.

Over the next few days, we’ll be re-acquainting ourselves with Portland. A city that’s even further from England but much closer weather-wise…at least during the winter months.

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all white now

When we imagined Boston at Christmas, we pictured a romantic snow-covered scene. It didn’t actually snow on Christmas Day, but we now have the snow wished for. Big time.

I mean, a serious amount of snow. But they’re used to it here. So everything gets back to normal very quickly. I’ve seen more snow ploughs here the last two days than I ever have!

Plus, people get their shovels out and start clearing. Admittedly, not ‘cos they’re all good samaritans. It’s the law here. But it does seem that people all pull in the same direction.

Monday night we watched the drama unfold on Channel 7′s ‘Storm Force’ updates. Oddly addictive. For some it’s deadly serious as the storms bring severe damage and flooding.

Now though, we’re properly equipped to brave the relatively moderate snowy conditions downtown. thanks in no small measure to newly acquired hats and wellington boots.

And now it’s stopped snowing, the blue skies are out, making for some stunning views. I just hope it’s not too cold on New Year’s Eve, which we’ll mostly be spending outdoors!

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boston christmas

I haven’t flooded the blog with posts over Christmas. I know you’re all busy with family stuff and it’s the only real break we get. But I couldn’t resist sharing some festive snaps.

It feels so ‘Christmassy’ here. Seemingly, all the trees are meticulously light-adorned, including these, flanking the central walkway in Boston’s picturesque Public Garden.

Okay, not quite Central Park but Boston Common does boast some skating, on its famed Frog Pond. Naturally, I refrained from embarrassing anyone with my skating prowess.

Back to trees (it is Christmas after all). Check out this beast, in the Fanueil Hall Market area. At 85 feet, apparently it’s the tallest holiday tree in the whole of New England!

As is customary for our Boston trips, we took a walk along the Charles River. Too cold for any bench-sitting though, and any boats, with large sections of water completely frozen.

We’re staying in the South End while here, just about the most attractive area (in our opinion) made even prettier by the addition of pretty Christmas bows on the lamp posts.

These shots were taken before yesterday’s major snowfall. We now have a substantial covering as you can gauge from our deck. Don’t think we’ll be venturing too far today!

We’ve had an amazing time so far, in our favourite city, at our favourite time of year. Hope you’ve all enjoyed a happy, relaxing Christmas. More snowy posts coming soon.

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christmas miracle

Okay, miracle may be a little strong, but as we sit in the BA lounge at Terminal 5, it looks like we’re going to make our flight to Boston, and better still, arrive in time for Christmas.

This really wasn’t on the cards yesterday. Masses of flights were cancelled, including one either side of ours, so we’d resigned ourselves to staying put for a few days. We got lucky!

Update: an added bonus. A Christmas menu choice on the flight over. Not the best turkey dinner ever, it has to be said, but it certainly put us in the mood for things to come…

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