Saturday, 3 May 2014

Kentucky Derby Day

Today is the day of the historic Kentucky Derby which takes place in Louisville, Kentucky.  This was commemorated at Wegmans supermarket with special cupcakes decorated with horseshoes, fancy hats, horses heads and roses (the winning horse in the Derby is covered with a blanket of roses).

We visited Wegmans on the way back from a Conservation Centre in Fairfax where we collected a pack of tree seedlings and a pack of bare root shrubs for the garden.  Now we just have to get them all planted!

At the Conservation Centre we learned that our unidentified flowering tree is in fact a flowering dogwood, native of Virginia and officially the 'state tree'.  This afternoon we saw one growing wild in the woods.

There are other flowering dogwoods, some of them Japanese cultivars which are grown in gardens here, such as this rather spectacular one along the road from us.

Another very striking tree in nearby gardens is known as 'red bud' but in this case is a striking purple colour with an unusual flower which grows straight out of each branch.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Garden Flowers

The most colourful patch in the garden at present is created by these small purple iris which have pushed their way up through the leaves.

There are also a few azaleas in flower - this white one and a smaller flowered one..

In the 'lawn' (loose description as rather less grass than other plants) there are some small flowers growing which I don't recognise.

They are rather like a large violet.

This flowering tree is very pretty - ours is only very small but elsewhere in the neighbourhood there are much larger specimens in white, pale and darker pink.

I am not sure what it is - perhaps a single magnolia?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Travelling light?

As you can see, not travelling very light at  all - the Horlicks, Cadbury's chocolate, nice tea and other useful items which are harder to get in the US takes up space.  We also bought some cushions (!) and expanded our summer wardrobes a little.

Our flight was fine, although taking the full 8 hours today, and the airport not too busy so we were home in good time for the supermarket and to unpack.

It is very warm here - 76F when we landed and feels very humid as apparently 6 inches of rain have fallen in the last two days!!  It is certainly looking much greener and there are many shrubs and trees in flower around the road and a few in our garden which I will explore tomorrow.

The birds had of course eaten all the seed from the feeders.  Rather more worrying was evidence of some indoor nibbling.  Throughout the winter I have kept bags of bird food in the kitchen in a metal basket on the floor.  Much of the contents of the big bag of sunflower seed - or rather the husks - was all over the floor and a neat hole munched in the bag itself with more husks inside.  We have no idea how the mini-thief got in and there are no other signs, we shall see what happens next.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

At Heathrow

After having lunch with Lauren in Leamington, James drove me to Heathrow - with a very pleasant tea stop at Charmain's en route.

David returned from Toulouse early this evening and we are staying just outside the airport.

The Radisson Blu Edwardian is a modern hotel with touches of period decor.

Our flight back to Washington Dulles is tomorrow morning.  The weather in Reston is warm at present with thunderstorms and heavy rain..

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Goodbye to Bath - just for a while

A lovely but very brief visit to Bath, great to spend a little more time with Mum and Dad as well as Maggie, Andrew and Jan, before it is time to return to the US.

This morning I popped into town to get a few things and picked up a couple of books along the way..

This is a book of photos of Bath - one of those that, once having seen it, you think that you ought to have been able to produce such a thing for yourself!  It has some lovely photos and will be useful to help illustrate my answer to the inevitable but difficult question from new American friends: 'So, what are the main differences between here and where you lived before?' and 'What is Bath/England/the UK like?'.

I picked this second  little book up because, since being invited to the Russian banquet with traditional Russian and Ukrainian dishes by our neighbours in Reston, we have been debating what should be on the menu if we try to return the compliment with an English 'banquet' with West Country specialities.  

I thought that this might provide some inspiration and it certainly has some interesting recipes including Somerset Cheese Soup, Whortleberry and Apple Pie and a variety of puddings including Glastonbury and Quantock Puddings.  There is also a recipe for Sally Lunn's (isn't that supposed to be a secret?).
The other 'Bath' recipe is Bath Ground Rice Pudding - a kind of custard tart - which I had never heard of.   I would be very grateful for any suggestions as to what dishes should feature at our English banquet!

Back at Stonefield, after lunch today we sat out on the balcony to enjoy the sunshine and Maggie took this lovely picture and kindly agreed that I could 'blog' it.

This afternoon I said my 'Goodbyes' for now and set off along the familiar route back to Leamington.  Some of the countryside did look very beautiful along the way, especially before and after the rainstorms!

At one point, in Tetbury,  I almost managed a photo of the market hall and clock whilst waiting in a queue of traffic but it moved just too quickly!

My last photo today is a 'proper' English robin who came to Lauren's garden to forage this evening and found himself a good-sized worm for supper...

Monday, 28 April 2014

Back in Bath

This morning we drove from Leamington to Bristol for David to catch his flight to Toulouse.  

A few pictures from the garden at Stonefield..

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Tenpin Bowling

We had two possible options planned for today.  If fine we had thought of playing Disc Golf, but tenpin bowling was our wet weather option.

It was wet and so we set off for the local bowling alley which is next to the large and rather impressive Sikh temple.

With our footwear in place we played two games.

Lauren and James showed us how it is done...

..and James, having won the first game, jointly won the second with David!