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Cecilia Zarella as "Nancy" and Riley Alward as "Bill Sykes" are shown at dress rehearsal for the musical "Oliver" at Gilford High School. The play will be performed at the school Nov. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
  • Category: Lake Style
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Book review – A Time Share In France


Who doesn't like a murder mystery? A well crafted whodunnit is more than a good read. It's an opportunity for a reader, as they turn from page to page and progress from chapter to chapter, to play detective, and try to figure out who the killer is and what the killer's motive was.

So, if you like to read and at the same time play the sleuth, then pick up a copy of "A Timeshare in France," the eighth in the George Mason detective stories written by Laconia author J.D. Mallinson.

In "A Timeshare in France," Mason, a no-nonsense, methodical Scotland Yard inspector, is assigned to figure out what has happened to Maxine Walford, who quite by happenstance had accepted the job of bursar at a boy's boarding school in England's Lake District.

But before she is able to start her new job, Maxine makes the acquaintance of one Rosalinda Kramer, who Maxine befriends while vacationing at her timeshare on the French Riviera. The two meet at a tea room, and later share a dinner at an outdoor cafe, and ultimately have dinner again at the timeshare.

The seemingly innocuous encounters turn out to be quite sinister, and in the end deadly. Both women, we learn, have espionage in their pasts – Maxine with Britain's MI5, the country's domestic and counter-intelligence security agency, and Rosalinda with the Stasi, the former East Germany's notorious secret police.

Mason enters the story after the boarding school reports that the newly hired bursar has disappeared along with 50,000 pounds of the school's money. Mason's boss at Scotland Yard assures the inspector that this is a straightforward case of embezzlement. But alas, that's not the case, as Mason quickly learns after Maxine's half sister tells the inspector that the woman in a photograph presumed to be Maxine is in fact somebody else.

So now the question is who is she, and what's become of her.

Rosalinda turns out to be more than a femme fetale who has been posing as Maxine. She is also a devious gold-digger. She befriends an equally devious Englishman who poses as a retired British naval officer, who entices her with the prospect of marriage, and of course in her sly mind access to his money. But he turns out to to be as unscrupulous and conniving as she and he ends up absconding with the money she has stolen from the boarding school. As they say: No honor among thieves.

If you like unraveling a mystery, then Mallinson has given your "little gray cells" – as Hercule Poirot would say – plenty to think about.

Mallinson builds his story much like a gifted painter is able to paint a captivating landscape – full of color and detail. At times the story reads like a travelogue of the the French seacoast, the countryside of northern England, or the naval seaport of Portsmouth, or the coast of Germany. And be warned, don't read this book if you are trying to stick to a diet, as Mallinson describes many a meal in mouth-watering detail.

Throughout the story Mason manages to put the pieces painstakingly together and in the end is able to collar Rosalinda – hiding out in in a German retreat along with some her onetime Stasi colleagues – and bring her to justice.

Even though the reader is able to deduce by the middle of Chapter 2 that Maxine Walford has most probably met a nasty end, there are enough twists and turns in this story to keep the reader interested until the last page.

With cooler weather approaching and plenty of opportunities to sit by a warm fire, why not curl up with "A Timeshare in France."


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  • Written by Mike Mortensen
  • Category: Lake Style
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Gilmanton's Own Market gets a test run


Gilmanton's Own board members Paula Gilman, Sarah Baldwin-Welcome, Alicia Smith and Keith Descoteaux celebrate the opening of the organization's first market, which sells Gilmanton-produced foods and crafts and located within Four Corners Brick House antique shop. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)


GILMANTON — A little more than a year ago, a group of people who either grow or appreciate food grown in Gilmanton organized a meal. The event, which showcased the talents and diversity of the food growers in this small town, was met with such an enthusiastic response that organizers set their sights on more ambitious objectives.
In February, Gilmanton’s Own, a nonprofit organization, was founded. The group has been building momentum over the course of the year, holding a series of “Taste of Gilmanton” dinners and pop-up markets.
“In each, we did exceptionally well,” said Sarah Baldwin-Welcome, president of the board of directors for Gilmanton’s Own. The events have raised about $7,000 for the organization, which it hopes to use toward the opening of a storefront that will provide a space for shoppers to purchase food and crafts made in town.
That goal was realized on Tuesday, when Gilmanton’s Own Market opened in a small space within the Four Corners Brick House. It wasn’t the first choice – Gilmanton’s Own had hoped to open in a decomissioned fire house, but logistics couldn’t be worked out. The board of directors is still looking for a place it can call its own, but in the meantime, they are excited to announce what amounts to a beta version of their market.
Anne Bartlett and Karen Jenkins, owners of the Four Corners Brick House antique shop, have made available a space that, though small, allows Gilmanton’s Own to further test the market’s appetite for local foods and goods.
“Anne and Karen were very kind to offer this space to find out if the people of Gilmanton are really going to come out to support this,” said Baldwin-Welcome.
Gilmanton’s Own Market, within Four Corners Brick House, will be open Tuesdays through Sundays through the end of December. There are currently six local farms working together to stock the market. Shoppers should expect to find vegetables and maple syrup, beef, pork, chicken, dairy products, mustards, honey, soda, jellies, herbs and spices, canned pickles and fruit spreads, and baked goods. Local artisans will provide cards, calendars, jewely and paintings, and they hope to soon offer soaps.
But there are more than 40 farms in Gilmanton, and many of them will be watching the market to see if the success of the Taste of Gilmanton dinners will translate into a retail setting.
“There are many more (farms) in the wings, waiting to see how we do,” said Keith Descoteaux, a board member and vegetable farmer.
Come spring, Gilmanton’s Own hopes to have secured a much larger space for its market. Further plans include an educational center and the purchase of equipment that can be loaned to its members. If the support that the organization has seen so far is any indication, those objectives are possible.
“We feel very optimistic that with every step we take, we get further and further toward our goal,” said Baldwin-Welcome. “We have come a long way in 13 months, when we were just a group that got together to say, ‘What can we put together for a meal?’”

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  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Lake Style
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The Fall Flurry


Kale Poland uses a “fat bike” to test out some of the Gunstock Nordic trails he’s prepared for the Fall Flurry on Nov. 4. He expects participants to bring a variety of styles of trail bikes to the event. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Mountain bike race features 'pandemonium' at Gunstock Mountain Resort


GILFORD — Mountain bicycling has enjoyed a surge of interest in recent years, fueled in part by a diversity of bikes available for taking into the woods – "gravel" bikes look like traditional road bikes but with wider tires and sturdier frames, "fat" bikes have balloon-like tires that can traverse any surface, including snow; and full-suspension downhill bikes that can bomb down a mountainside as fast as its rider dares. But with this diversity has come a kind of sameness – with events designed for specific types of bicycles and for cyclists with a specific set of skills. And that bothers Kale Poland, of the Gunstock Nordic Center, who thinks that the woods should be a place of surprise and exhileration, not predictability. So, he's concoted an antidote, which will be available on Nov. 4.

"It's time for your mountain biking intervention," he announced on Facebook in late September. "You love flowy singletrack, however something in your life is missing. You can't pinpoint it. You want to feel alive on your bike. Maybe it's time you stopped riding... and started adventuring! You will see Gunstock Nordic trails in a way you never have before. Presenting your inaugural, coddle-free bushwhackin', uphill pushin', downhill flyin', no-whining-allowed FALL FLURRY MOUNTAIN BIKE ADVENTURE!"

The Fall Flurry is Poland's attempt at providing the kind of mountain biking that he grew up with in rural Maine – where he would head off into the woods and see what he and his bike were capable of. 

"I'm excited, this course is really cool. It's not a race course, it's an experience, an adventure," he said.

The course he has charted covers 7.5 miles of terrain, including a mix of wide cross-country ski trails and narrow, technical snowshoe trails, some of which had never been open to wheeled travel. Though it's a relatively short course, for a cycling event, Poland said it will challenge even hardened cyclists. There is more than 1,000-feet of climbing between the start and finish lines, including some long climbs that will require riders to dismount and push their bikes to the top. He expects most participants will require at least an hour, perhaps 90 minutes, to complete it. But, Poland is a guy who likes to work hard and to have fun, so for every long climb, there's a thrilling descent.

Tough uphills, fast downhills, and technical single-track stretches, means that there's no type of bike or rider that will feel at home in the Fall Flurry – deciding which bicycle to bring will be part of the challenge. And part of the charm, too, as the event should feature several different kinds of bikes all on the course at the same time.

"This one is a 'run what you brung' type of race," he said.

And if that doesn't sound strange enough, there's the starting procedure. The Fall Flurry will feature a mass start and pandemonium is the intended result.

The Fall Flurry, which will start at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 4 – the same day as the Gunstock Ski Club's annual equipment sale – has about 15 pre-registrants. Poland expects that most participants will sign up that morning, as race day registration will be available from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. He will be happy with 50 participants for the first event, but is already planning to hold a similar event this winter, and again next fall.

"It's like when you are a kid, bombing through the woods. You're not looking for a pristine trail, you're looking to go somewhere cool." He thinks the Fall Flurry will evoke that childlike enthusiasm in its participants. "I think they will find the course to be exhilarating at times, frustrating at times, but at the end, they're going to say 'That was a great experience.'"

  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Lake Style
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