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Sunday, June 20, 2010

The inn thing was a pleasant surprise

Richard Learned

Last September, I celebrated my 40th anniversary of ordination, and one of the gifts I was given was two nights in Conway at something called the Buttonwood Inn.

We couldn’t get around to taking advantage of the bed-and-breakfast place until just last week.

The inn is located on something called Surprise Mountain, and that’s what we were in for: a very pleasant surprise.

We were able to book a ground-floor room with a door that led directly outside.

My wife would go into the inn proper and then come down and open the outside door for me. My cane and I didn’t have to walk far from our reserved parking space.

The room was pure luxury. There was a large four-poster bed with lots of extra pillows. There was a gas fireplace on one end of the sitting room. The bathroom had a hot tub, for crying out loud.

I knew I might be able to get into it, but I knew for sure I couldn’t get out of it without help. It was still a temptation, but there was a nice shower.

The thing that impressed me the most on that first look were the grab bars in the bathroom. There were a number of them, and I never had that little tinge of fear that comes from being in a wet place.

So, we had what amounted to a bed-sitting room that provided a number of books. I actually found a “Cat Who” that I hadn’t read.

Jan and I have stayed in what was billed as “Victorian” bed and breakfast. It had been a knickknack nightmare. Not so at the Buttonwood.

The furniture was antique, but the room wasn’t loaded with breakables. We had a lovely room, but wondered what breakfast would be like. In Oregon, we had breakfast in a house kitchen served as each pancake was done. I didn’t care. My egg intake is limited, and it wouldn’t be possible to get them wrong unless the chickens were turkeys. I prepared for sunny side that would be good no matter what.

Breakfast was up a flight of stairs that I managed with Jan’s help. The dining room has tables where we could look out at the hummingbirds. Then we were told what the breakfast would be. Some kind of omelet. My ears were not impressed.

But first, we had fresh baked scones. Then came the omelet made with goat cheese, and it was incredibly delicious. So was the coffee.

I decided I wanted to interview the owners for this column, and we went into the living room after breakfast.

The owners, who had already put in a couple hours of work, sat comfortably to answer my questions. I think I asked two questions and then just settled back to enjoy two very friendly people.

Bill and Paula Petrone are professional people. She is a fully qualified chef and he is a retired executive. They are originally from New Jersey.

The conversation got around to the fact that in these times, Jan and I were lucky to be taking a small vacation without leaving New Hampshire.

Bill came up with a name for it: “You are taking an Inn State vacation.”

I liked his play on words, and have been mulling over a possible series.

Then we left our New England getaway and went to an Italian restaurant for dinner.

It figures.

Keep in touch.

Richard Learned can be reached at 279-4039 or, or by writing in care of The Sunday Telegraph, 17 Executive Drive, Hudson, NH 03051.