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Heaven on Earth in Kelmscott

By Linda Tancs

William Morris, a leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement, found much of the inspiration for his designs in the beauty of his Cotswold retreat, Kelmscott Manor. Describing it as “heaven on earth,” he was enchanted by the beauty of its gardens, meadow and stream as well as by the way the house harmonized with its environment. Now owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Grade 1-listed manor house contains a collection of the possessions and works of Morris, his family and associates that includes furniture, original textiles, pictures and paintings, carpets, ceramics and metalwork. The manor is located along the Thames in the picturesque village of Kelmscott with easy access to the Thames Path. Better hurry; the manor is closed from November to March for conservation and maintenance.

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100 Years in Finland

By Linda Tancs

Finland became an independent state on this day in 1917. Not surprisingly, the country’s centenary has been celebrated throughout the year nationally and beyond. Why not mark the event by participating in a classic Finnish tradition: the sauna. One must-see is the Rukan Salonki Ice Sauna. Built on top of Lake Salonkijärvi, it can accommodate up to 10 people at one time. There’s even a hole in the ice next to the structure for winter swimming should you desire a polar bear plunge.

The Jewel in Caesar’s Crown

By Linda Tancs

Julius Caesar described the ancient city of Besançon in eastern France as the jewel in his crown. No wonder, considering its strategic location in the loops of the Doubs River among key trans-European routes. Long a free city-state within the Holy Roman Empire, the French ultimately prevailed in acquiring control, building an imposing citadel (a UNESCO site) to block the neck of the river bend. A well-preserved historic city largely overlooked by tourists, the locale’s jewel in the crown this time of year is its classical music festival, one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious events. It’s particularly known for its competition featuring young conductors.

Battery Travel

By Linda Tancs

Alkaline, nickel cadmium, lithium ion.  Sounds like a chemistry class, doesn’t it?  No wonder, then, that the transport of these battery-making materials is addressed by the Transportation Security Administration.  You might be surprised to learn that typical, consumer-sized batteries are allowable in carry-on baggage.  In fact, whenever possible the TSA encourages the safe packing of your batteries in your carry-ons rather than checked bags so that the items are easily accessible in the event that onboard conditions give way to potential hazards.

The Allergy Capital of America

By Linda Tancs

Best family vacation.  Best restaurants.  Best nightlife.  These are just a few of the sought-after superlatives for American cities.  So how dismaying it must be for Wichita, Kansas to rise to numero uno on this list:  the allergy capital of America.  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Wichita rises to best in show this year for autumn allergies due to very high pollen.  To make matters worse, experts predict a longer and more severe allergy season because of heavy precipitation levels this past winter and the subsequent surge of warmer weather.  Break out those hankies.

Aw Shucks

By Linda Tancs

Do you know how to shuck an oyster?  The folks in Wellfleet, Massachusetts would be happy to show you during the annual OysterFest.  Contestants in the shuck-off competition can open 24 oysters in a matter of minutes, but aesthetics count, too.  May the best presenter win.

High Flying Pumpkins

By Linda Tancs

It’s pumpkin season.  What better way to celebrate than with a good old-fashioned pumpkin catapult, like the one in Milford, New Hampshire at this weekend’s Pumpkin Festival.  The annual event at the Milford Oval will also include beer tasting, a craft fair, a talent show, the pumpkin weigh-in, a chili roundup and scarecrow making for the kids.

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