Thursday, October 30, 2008

Delft Cat Tiles

In some places in the house there are original 18th century Delft tiles. To mirror these we used some high quality Delft tiles in some of the bathrooms made in the Netherlands by Harlinger Aardewerk- en Tegelfabriek. These are handmade and hand painted using exactly the same techniques Delft tile makers used hundreds of years ago. In one room we have used tiles of Dutch landscapes, in another, shown above, we have used tiles of cats.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Free Levon Helm concert

Levon Helm gave a free concert just 200 yards from our house this afternoon, at John Gill's farm. Although Levon's a local resident, it can be hard to get tickets to his "Midnight Rambles", so it was a wonderful surprise. Levon Helm is of course one of The Band and has had a prolific solo career - we both love his last album Dirt Farmer, which won a Grammy this year for Best Traditional Folk Album. Here he's playing The Weight, one of The Band's most famous songs. Here's a link to his website: . We spoke to John Gill and he said he hoped to make this an annual event. This proves it, Hurley is obviously the place to be......

Friday, October 24, 2008

View of Catskill State Park

This was the view this morning from one of our guest rooms across the garden towards the Esopus Creek. You can see across the corn fields to Hurley Mountain, which is at the south-eastern edge of the Catskill State Park. Our trees here are mainly Black Walnut, which we have found out produce nuts that are quite different to the English Walnuts we're used to. A quick search on google reveals that Black Walnuts are difficult to harvest, but their taste is apparently well worth the effort.......Gathering walnuts will have to wait until next year, though, as we were recently tempted by Farmer Gill's green tomatoes at $10 a bushel.......With 26 pints of green tomato chutney neatly stacked in the cellar, and another 12 pounds of them still in the refridgerator, we haven't managed to do anything else yet. The two giant trees at the front of the house are Sugar Maples, so we'll see if we can make some Maple Syrup in the Spring....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Uncovering the past

Nadia Scoggins writes:

We've collected many artefacts from the attic, the cellar, and behind old walls, as we've renovated. This was lying in the dust in the attic, and has "A. Bogardus Photographer 18th St & Broadway, New York" written on it.

The house is believed to have been built by the Kool family. Subsequently the Myer family owned the house for many years. A Myer family bible handed to us by the last owners traces their ancestry back to Christian Myer, born 1688.

In another family bible, the last Myer to live here, Sarah Catherine Myer, is recorded as having been born in 1886. The death of Sarah Catherine Myer Clearwater is recorded as 1959, and her child Olive Myer Clearwater, born 1920, lived here for most of the last century. Olive never married, and bequeathed everything to the Palens. It is the Palens who gave us the family bibles and many other items that they felt "should stay with the house".

Was this Olive Clearwater's father? Or her grandfather? Her grandfather was apparently born in 1857, and if this was taken in the mid 1890s he would have been around 35, which looks about right.....

The Fall

Many visitors come here to admire the colors of the autumn landscape. This picture is of the Mongaup Valley just to the west of here. The southern bald eagle is now an overwintering year-round inhabitant of that area, especially the Mongaup River, Rio Reservoir, and Mongaup Falls Reservoir, and many more bald eagles winter in the area. As a result of bald eagles becoming more prevalent, eagle watching has become a tourist attraction within the Mongaup Valley.

Our Bed and Breakfast borders the southern end of the Catskill State Park, which is a classic area for spectacular fall foliage displays, hiking and observing wildlife. Just a short drive down Route 209 is Minnewaska State Park, which is also fantastic in the fall.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baking Speculaas cookies

Nadia Scoggins writes:

We found two wonderful cookie molds last weekend at the Woodstock fleamarket, a bargain at $5! The fleamarket there is thriving, full of interesting stuff, and definitely worth a visit. Speculaas cookies are an age-old tradition from the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. The spiced dough is pressed into handcarved wooden blocks and the excess is cut away. The tricky bit is tapping them out onto the baking tray. I knew them as Spekulatius when I was a child, which is the German name, and you can see one of the molds my mum used to use top left of the picture. They tasted good, but I'm going to try a few recipes out.....the dusting with icing sugar/powdered sugar is my idea, I thought it brought out the detail. It was fun to be doing something that the first inhabitants of this house might have done too!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

First Room Finished!

We've finished our first guest room! It features a Queen sized 4 poster bed with a full canopy in checked silk and Frette Egyptian Cotton bedding. A large and beautifully figured Mahogany New York Armoire dates from about 1840. The original plank floor looks great refinished. There's a sofa in the sitting area and a small antique writing table with chair. The two large windows have Roman blinds and look out across the woodland opposite.
The en suite bathroom has the original wide plank floor, exposed beams and Limestone wall. It features a Pearl True Whirlpool tub with shower and a ceramic vessel sink on a vanity top made from an old recycled beam. There are genuine blue Delft tiles of Dutch landscapes set into the tiling.
The overall effect is crisp and modern whilst paying homage to the Dutch colonial origins of the house. It's taken eight months to create this room but we hope visitors will think it was well worth it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

At The End Of The Garden

Our garden fronts the Esopus Creek, which runs down from the Catskill Mountains to the Hudson River. We've explored a little of it in our kayak, and look forward to doing more when we have the time. Our house is perched high above the Creek, looking across the Esopus and the rich farm land beyond to the foothills of the Catskills. This area has been inhabited for a very long time..... When the garden of the house was excavated by an archaeological team from SUNY New Paltz they found artifacts from the Esopus Indians dating back to 2000 BCE.

We've just laid some Bluestone steps today (top picture) so that visitors can get safely down to the creek. The bottom picture shows the view across the creek as the Sun set this evening.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lime Plaster

The interior walls of the house were originally covered with Lime plaster and whitewashed. Here we see Jurgen, of Old World Plaster , preparing an upstairs wall and then flinging very wet Lime plaster onto it to form a rough base coat. We have to spray water onto this twice a day for the next few days, so that it dries slowly without cracking. I'll post some pictures next week as Jurgen goes through the next stages. We have tried to use old materials and methods where possible in all the work on the house. Lime plaster is great stuff, it actually removes CO2 from the air as it cures.

Nadia picks her Pumpkin

At Gills Farm stand, right next door to us, they have an awful lot of Pumpkins at this time of year.
They also have a Pumpkin Cannon, which can fire Pumpkins over a mile into the fields. Not to mention the hay rides, hay tunnel, corn maze and pumpkin painting. The cannon will be in action this weekend near Hurley, NY on Route 209.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Bluestone is a type of sandstone first found in this part of New York State and named for its colour. If the initial deposit was made under slow moving water the ripples of the water action on the sand or mud will be revealed in the stone. We had some large Bluestone steps at the back of the house but the lowest step was of concrete, so yesterday we replaced that with Bluestone expertly cut and laid by our Nepalese stone man Gurmi Lama. It looks so good going through our little herb garden to the back door.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Light on the Landscape

We are very fortunate to live in a truly beautiful part of the world. The house is located in the center of the Hudson Valley, between the Shawangunk and Catskill mountains. It was here that the Hudson River School of landscape painting evolved in the 19th century.
The top photograph is one I took of Chapel Farm on the lower slopes of the Shawangunks, the lower image is the Catskill Mountains at twilight on the first day of summer. The constant play of light on the landscape around these parts is amazing and there are so many great places to walk.
Here's a link to a couple of places in the Shawangunks that exemplify the wild beauty of the area:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Old Photograph

The house in 1907 taken by Dr. Nash of Hurley, New York.

Creating a Bed and Breakfast

My wife Nadia and I are currently restoring a 300 year old house near Hurley, New York State, with architectural features dating back to the original Dutch settlement of the New Netherlands. We plan to open the house as a Bed and Breakfast where guests can enjoy luxurious modern amenities blended in with the original features of the house and grounds, which front the Esopus river.

This is the oldest house in New York State that you will actually be able to stay in! Live the history, and explore the Mid-Hudson Valley from a location that has it all – we are 5 minutes from the Thruway and only 2 hours north of New York City, yet close to New Paltz, Woodstock, and Rhinebeck (we are minutes from the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge). Here you can visit the Fisher Center at Bard College, Roosevelt’s House in Hyde Park, or the Saugerties Lighthouse in only 20-30 minutes, whilst still having immediate access to both the Shawangunks and the Catskills. There is a wide choice of casual and fine dining both sides of the Hudson River.

Hurley itself is a National Historic Landmark. Its Main Street has the oldest concentration of stone house in the United States. There are many excellent museums in the local area, and many of the grander historic houses on the banks of the Hudson are within easy reach.

We hope to show some of the progress of the work on the house on this site as we count down towards opening ........