July is Hot as a Firecracker With Fun Activities

Coming into town in July? We’ve got you covered. Here are just a few fun and interesting activities going on:

— July 4: Ring in Independence Day with an Old-fashioned Fourth of July Celebration on the grounds of Henry Mercer’s Fonthill. Test your mettle in games like tug-o-war, bucket brigade relays, watermelon-eating contests, the cake walk, obstacle course, stilt walking, sack races, and wheelbarrow races. Don’t miss the decorated bike contest and parade, either.
— July 8: Hotsy Totsy will perform hits of the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, as well as their own “reinvented” current chart toppers at Chapman Park in town. Marking 20 years, the Sounds of Summer music series is in partnership with both Doylestown Township and Doylestown Borough.
— July 15: Bring your lunch and listen to Eco-Man as he brings his own style of environmentally conscious children’s music to the Brown Bag It With the Arts series on the lawn at Bucks County Courthouse. It’s all interactive, and kids young and old will love it!
— July 26: This’ll be the last day to see Adolph A. Weinman’s Baltimore Civil War Monument silver galvano plaque on display at the Bucks County Civil War Round Table and Museum. Weinman is best known as designer of the Mercury dime and the walking Liberty half-dollar for the U.S. Mint.
During the summer, the museum’s hours have been extended to Saturday and Sunday.

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A Special Birthday, a New Bride, and a 3,300-mile Odyssey

All of our guests have interesting stories to share.
Some, though, are particular standouts.
Take Butch Fioretti, for instance.
He celebrated a milestone birthday – his 50th – earlier this year.
He married his sweetheart, Karen, on May 1.
Then, three days later, he began a 3,300-mile journey as a personal quest – to ride his bicycle across the United States, pedaling from San Diego to Asbury Park, N.J.
An avid recreational cyclist and electrician by trade, Fioretti had thought, off and on, about taking the long road trip, but life commitments had always stood in the way. As he approached his half-century mark, he began to think now might be the best time to act on his dream.
And 48 days after setting out from the West Coast, his dream was close to being fulfilled when he pulled into Doylestown Friday night.
There was a necessary stop at Doylestown Bike Works for some repairs and maintenance products before heading out on the last leg of his trip.
Fioretti averaged about 75 miles a day on his Fuji bike. When he started out, he rode with a trailer hitched behind that was loaded with camping gear. His bride followed via car for the first week, but then flew back east to their home in Peckville, just north of Scranton, Pa.
The extra 55 pounds of the trailer, he decided, turned out to be a major nuisance and hindered his travels. He finally ditched it when some extreme, tornado-bearing weather in Dodge City, Kan., made him re-think his travel mode.
From then on, his wife at home would use the Internet to scout out the areas through which he would be traveling and make arrangements for him to spend the night at various inns or hotels.
“I can’t say enough about that woman,” he said, clearly talking like a smitten newlywed. “She is my biggest fan, my biggest supporter.”
He blogged about his trip on his Facebook page, and those interested could also follow him in real time on the website mapmyride.com.
Unpredictable weather was definitely a hazard, leaving the cyclist sunburned or rain-soaked, depending on what part of the country he was in at the time. Spending so much time on the road, he also had to deal with flat tires and some not-so-courteous drivers. But those issues paled when realizing that he was a witness to some of the most incredibly breathtaking scenery this country has to offer.
“It’s been fabulous,” he said over an early breakfast with us Saturday morning.
“There are so many nice people out there – so friendly and willing to help you out.”
One thing he did not like during his trip of a lifetime was the loneliness he felt by missing his friends and family. “Being away from everybody for that length of time was hard,” he admitted.
But that would all come to an end later that day. That day would be his last one on the road. He left around 8:30, figuring he’d hit Asbury Park around 1:30 p.m. He planned to stop at Bruce Springsteen’s haunt, the famed Stone Pony (“I’m a huge Springsteen fan”) before dipping his bike’s wheels into the Atlantic Ocean.
As he readied his bike to follow the BicyclePA Route S southeast toward Washington Crossing and then into the Garden State, Fioretti chatted about being amazed that so many people in his hometown were following his daily progress on his “Bike Across America” trip.
“It makes me feel so good that I’ve touched people in ways that I can only imagine. They inspire me as much as I can inspire them.”
Hargrave House B&B wishes a long, love-filled marriage for Karen and Butch Fioretti, as well as more awe-producing cycling adventures.

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Driving Us Batty With Youthful Creativity

A wide variety of guests stay at Hargrave House. Of course, we have couples staying with us for a romantic getaway as they visit charming Doylestown. We have corporate clientele, traveling to the area on business trips. Recently, children’s author/illustrator Brian Lies came to town for a series of programs he presented to some of the area’s elementary schools.

Lies is making the speaking circuit these days to promote his latest book, “Bats in the Band” (Houghton Mifflin Co., 2014). He is one of several children’s authors who have stayed at Hargrave House over the years as they spend a few days giving presentations about their profession to youngsters – how they go from getting an idea for their book, to writing, to creating the artwork, to finally seeing their end result in print – as well as usually stopping by Ellen Mager’s Booktender’s Secret Garden for a book signing.

Driving here from his home in Massachusetts, Lies brought his own vehicle – which was anything but ordinary. To promote his book, Lies had his van “shrink-wrapped” with illustrations of the furry, flying characters from his book. When in full BATSmobile mode, there are a couple of larger-than-life bat musicians hanging out on top of the vehicle – perhaps waiting to jam with someone stopping by to play the portable “sewer pipe organ” affixed alongside. Lies’ Bats in the Band Facebook page has a wonderful picture of his stylin’ ride, along with a great video of drummer Daniel taking his turn at the pipes.

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History and Art: Doylestown Showcases Both

Summer has unofficially started, and the activities around town have ramped up in response. A new exhibit is set to open next door at Doylestown Historical Society. The display will focus on “Wilma Rezer: “Doylestown’s 20th Century Historian and Author.” Photos and information about her life (she would have turned 100 this year), as well as contributions she made to the community, will be showcased.

June 4 is also the first day of the second annual Doylestown Art Days (June 4-7). More than 80 artists and local merchants are paired. This year again, Hargrave House will feature one of the paintings done by the late David Frame, another Doylestown institution. Stop by and visit! You can see the whole list of artists and businesses at by clicking on the link.

Both events will hold kickoffs June 4 at the pocket park behind DHS: 4 p.m. for the historical exhibit followed at 5 with a wine and cheese reception for the four-day art happening.

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Ready, Set, Shop at the Doylestown Farmers’ Market

We’re REALLY looking forward to this Saturday. That’s when the Doylestown Farmers’ Market reopens for the season. And this is the 40th year its sponsor – Buckingham Civic Association – has been hosting it. That’s a long time!

If you’re staying with us, it’s an easy walk to get there. It’s right around the corner from our parking lot on Hamilton Street. Stop on by when it opens. With more than 25 vendors on the scene, there’s bound to be some fresh-from-the-oven pastries and aromatic coffee to help you get started. You’ll find a bountiful assortment of homegrown veggies and fruits, picked right from the field or orchard. Farmstand fresh cheese, non-GMO chicken and natural pork and beef are also available. Couple the good eats with unique products, such as handcrafted soaps, gourmet pickles, socks woven with cozy alpaca yarn, and re-purposed feedbags turned into totes and messenger bags, and you’ll be quick to understand why the BCA calls the market “a Saturday morning institution in Doylestown from April to November.”

Hours run 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, every Saturday during the season. See you there!

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Crafting the Perfect Spirit or Brew for You

We thought we would tell you about a relatively new, “spirited” venture near us. You may know that Bucks County has numerous wine trails, which many of our guests have followed, sampling some of the area’s best vintner goods. But a growing movement in the beverage industry is the resurgence of craft distilleries. Hewn Spirits is right near us in neighboring Pipersville. The distillery is proud to source its grains from local farmers and currently produces rum, rye whiskey and “moonshine.” Some of our area restaurants also offer the brand on their menus. The hard stuff doesn’t do it for you? No worries. The distillery shares its digs with another craft beverage site – Bucks County Brewery. Beginning in mid-April, the weather should cooperate enough for Food Truck Fridays to begin a new season. Both businesses will be open in the evening to sell their wares, and with food-truck vendors on-site and live music to complete the festivities.

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March Into Doylestown History This Month

Who is looking forward to warmer weather? We certainly are! It has been a cold, long winter, and we are more than ready to see some green plants pop up once our mounds of snow finally disappear.

As we inch closer to spring, we look forward to catching some programs celebrating Doylestown’s history. The Doylestown Bookshop and Doylestown Historical Society have partnered to put together presentations to be held each Saturday in March at the locally owned independent bookstore.

For a full schedule, you can check the websites of both groups, but here is a small sampling of what will be offered:
— March 7: Hear about Maplewood, a subdivision in Doylestown that sprouted up to accommodate returning WWII vets. It will be an upcoming exhibit at the DHS house.
— March 14: Learn about the legacy of W. Atlee Burpee, the man who founded a garden seed empire and cultivated some hybrid plants that are still popular today.
— March 21: See the celebrated “Tops of the Town” poster produced by Doylestownian Kevin Jameson and hear how it originated.
— March 28: Sing along with Jessie Barth and Lori Rosolowski as they lead a vocal tribute (with a twist!) to noted lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, whose former farm in Doylestown is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

We hope you will take advantage of some of these interesting programs. As always, let us know if we can provide help with any of your lodging needs.

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Coping With the Cold: Some Tips to Help You Through Winter

Brr! As we write this, we’re experiencing frigid winter weather that we haven’t seen around these parts for decades. We awoke to -2 degrees F this morning. We’re in for more snow overnight, and another dosing of the white stuff at the weekend. Spring can’t come soon enough!

We’ve culled some resources on the Internet to help you stay safe and warm during these cold spells. Fill up your mug with whatever hot beverage you choose and give a read to these all-important tips:

The CDC gives you suggestions on how to stay safe and healthy in your home, while traveling and during emergencies.

Since we’ve experienced a number of polar vortexes that are usually confined to the north, what better resource than CBC News to share five tips for keeping warm during a Canadian winter, eh?

Blogger and outdoorsman Michael Lanza shares 12 pro tips on how to stay warm outside during winter weather. (Warming your gloves and boots before you put them on gets our vote for feeling warm and toasty!)

Lastly, readers and editors of The Old Farmer’s Almanac offer up some tried-and-true advice on coping with Old Man Winter’s chill. We can personally say we’ve tried the tip about microwaving rice, covering the warm grains with fleece and placing the bundle around your tootsies. Trust us – your feet will thank you as the warmth spreads all around them!

Spring is coming. Keep a positive attitude. Only 32 more days … and we are keeping a day-by-day count!

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How Do I Love Thee? Here Are Some Starters

Reds in every shade and hue seem to surround us right now. It must be because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Thank goodness we like that color!

You can easily pick up a Valentine’s gift for your honey without ever leaving the center of town. Lovely cards – sweet and mushy, or belly-laugh funny – can be purchased from The Paper Unicorn. They’ve got a wide selection of heart-y sentiments from which to choose.

Next stop? How about Nuts Plus? Pick up some sweet treats – chocolate kisses or heart-shaped sugar cookies that have love messages written on them (you Cutie Pie, you!)

Of course, what would the day be without flowers? Head on over to Doylestown Flowers & Gifts. Their bouquets are striking and are almost sure to guarantee a love connection for the sender!

Lastly, make your way over to one of Doylestown’s fine restaurants to keep your sweetie happy. We’re sure many have special menus planned for that special day. In fact, some – like the Knight House and 86 West – supply a complimentary rose and glass of champagne with their meals for lovers on Valentine’s Day.

Even if you plan a quiet night at home, with popcorn and a romantic movie (we’re partial to anything with Hugh Grant in it), cozy up to your darling and enjoy the love. Like The Beatles said: It’s all you need.

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A Michener Tale and Six Degrees of Separation

It’s snowy and rainy and cold outside, and the all-knowing groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, just predicted six more weeks of winter. Brr! On days like these, we just want to curl up with a cup of hot tea and a good book, and wait out the bad weather.

If you’re not aware, Hargrave House has its own small collection of books available for your reading pleasure. In fact, we have a shelf devoted to noted author James Michener, who was reared in Doylestown. One of his high school buddies, W. Lester Trauch, lived at Hargrave House with his family in the 1930s (see our blog dated Nov. 24, 2014). The two men formed a lifelong friendship and kept in touch even when Michener’s post as a lieutenant during World War II took him halfway across the world. It was during this time that Michener wrote what became his Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, “Tales of the South Pacific.” Trauch, who was then a court reporter for The Daily Intelligencer in Doylestown, had the distinction of reading a rough draft when Michener asked him to review it.

“He didn’t have the money to have it typed beautifully the way a manuscript should be,” Trauch recalled in an article that appeared in The Morning Call in 1997. “It was written on the back of naval orders and on envelopes. He didn’t have access to paper in the Pacific. A lot of it was typed on both sides of the paper. It was a hodgepodge. After he left, I put the manuscript down and told my mother, ‘If the house catches fire, grab this because it’s irreplaceable.’ “

The book ended up being adapted as a Broadway musical, “South Pacific,” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and later as a Hollywood movie. (Hammerstein has ties to Doylestown as well, living less than a mile away at Highland Farm for 20 years until his death in 1960.)

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