Saturday, 5 July 2014

The 'Nats'

Our day began at the busy Farmer's Market at Lake Anne in Reston.  It was very sunny and warm and some of the produce, such as these peaches from West Virginia, looked very inviting.

There was also sweet corn in abundance, tomatoes and blueberries too.

We selected a few items for lunch and came home to prepare for the main event if the day, a trip to Washington Nationals Stadium to see a baseball game.

The bus dropped us off at the first base gate and we climbed up to our seats which were in the third tier  - quite high above the baseball diamond..

The 'Nats' were playing the Chicago Cubs and won the match.

At the end of a very hot and sunny afternoon, the Nats won by 13 to 0!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Independence Day

Today was a public holiday here although shops were open and buses and trains running an enhanced service to enable people to move about and attend events and activities.

We started our day at Leesburg Outlet Shopping Village where, as anticipated, there was a fair bit of red, white and blue on display - including these toys and rather natty outfits for the (little) dog in your life.

At the end of the afternoon we visited the historic centre of Leesburg where there are a number of 18th century buildings and many small and interesting shops - mostly closed in observance of the holiday.

Finally this evening we went to a park on the outskirts of Leesburg where many thousands of people were gathering to listen to a band playing music from the 1980's, to eat festive food - including 'funnel cake' - see above - and finally, once it was dark, to watch the fireworks.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Smithsonian Castle

We started our day in DC with a visit to the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall - the original Smithsonian museum.

In the garden were several unusual plants including this one - the Dhobi Tree - apparently a member of the same family of flowers as coffee and gardenia!

The inside of the castle contained a number of 'relics', souvenirs and curiosities - a very eclectic mix - including a fragment of the Berlin Wall and, more unusually a tiny piece of the Bastille!

There were several very large Chinese porcelain vases.

And by contrast, a series of vintage seed catalogues..

Outside on the National Mall the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival was in full swing, under a blazing hot sky.

Each summer several different countries are featured at this festival and showcased with art, dance, music, food and anything else which evokes the spirit of the nation.  This time the countries were China and Hong Kong and Zambia.

This extraordinary Chinese edifice created with bamboo and fabric gave a real splash of colour to announce the start if the Folklife Festival area.

Having crossed the National Mall and queued to have our bags searched by security staff, we visited the Museum of American History.  A vast museum but we concentrated on several sections, including transport..

Also a few familiar domestic items from the past..

And finally this rather unusual item, said to be an eighteenth century jelly mould..

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Keeping Cool

As forecast, today was hot and our activities were carefully planned.  By midday, when the temperature was approaching 90F, we were in the local community pool and then sitting by the pool in the shade.

Firstly though,  a leisurely start and a morning walk in the  woods.  Shady, but not cool..

Even the deer were staying in the shade and close to the water, such as it was.

At the end of the afternoon we set off with David to visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum near Dulles airport.  By this time it was very humid and thunder was starting to roll around a very dark and cloudy sky.

The museum is beautifully designed and filled with so many interesting aircraft, artefacts and stories.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Smithsonian National Zoo

It was very warm indeed from the start of the day today.   We headed for the National Zoo in Washington DC, hoping that we would be able to find some shade and also that the animals would not all be hiding from the heat!

We found that indeed a number of animals were rather sleepy in the heat.  Both of the Giant Pandas were fast asleep while the young Bao Bao was almost invisible high up in a tree.

The elephants were quite lively although outside, one of them was using his trunk to spray sand all over his back, presumably to stay cool.

In the tiger enclosure the young tigers were very alert - but this was largely because a duck had flown down into the enclosure and was floating in the water at a tantalising distance from the tigers.  

One of the tigers did make a jump for it into the water but that was the photo of the day which, like the duck, was the one that got away!

The tigers chased each other around after the excitement of chasing the duck, but then all settled down for a rest.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Winchester, Virginia

This morning we left the Skyland Resort to drive the remaining miles on Skyline Drive.  We reached the end by early afternoon, with a few stops at various overlooks and one detour to return to see a bear which Maggie and Emma had spotted in the woods (no pics I am afraid).

We drove on to visit the historic centre of the town of Winchester, in Frederick County and explored a little.

The pedestrianised town centre is quite unlike other towns that we have visited and quite closely resembled an English high street with post office, restaurants and small shops in a variety of architectural styles.

For Maggie it was a chance to
Visit the namesake of her old University city.

Some of the houses reminded us of Cornish granite buildings that we have seen in Cornwall.