Saturday, 9 August 2014

Silver Line to DC

At the end of July the new metro station opened in Reston so that it is now possible to catch a train at 'Wiehle - Reston East' into the centre of Washington - previously it was a 30 minute bus ride to the metro station at West Falls Church.  As can be seen from the rather poor pic, above, the station is in the middle of the main road and accessed by pedestrian bridges from either side.

Apparently on the day that the new station opened, 25,000 people turned up (it has been promised for a long time..). But today it was much quieter.

We changed lines at Metro Center and got off at Chinatown/Gallery Place, by the  rather colourful 'Friendship Gate' into the small historic Chinatown area.  Here there are a number of Chinese and Asian restaurants and most of the businesses have their names and signs in both English and Chinese.  Even the road signs are in both languages..

Having walked through Chinatown we arrived at the 'National Building Museum'.  It was quite an imposing building in itself, modelled on an Italian Renaissance building but actually built in the 1880's to house the Office of Pensions (after the Civil War) and major public gatherings.

Inside it was clear that it would be a great place to hold large gatherings, the Great Hall lived up to its name..

The eight Corinthian columns in this huge hall are 75ft tall and there are galleries right around on each level.  In some areas it did have the look of a rather well decorated Victorian prison.  Some areas also reminded me of those black and white Max Escher drawings with arches and impossible stairs.

At one end of the hall there was a summer installation - 'The Big Maze' made entirely of plywood..

If you look closely you might recognise someone in the maze..

Here is a clue..  No, unfortunately the maze is not covered by Google Maps.

We enjoyed the maze, exploring the galleries and the various exhibitions including 'House and Home' - American home  and household design through the centuries; 'Designing for Disaster' - covering building techniques for flood prevention and for safety from hurricanes and earthquakes and an exhibition of designs and maquettes of some of Washington's most famous monuments.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Evening Light

The last couple of days have been warm but not humid and the evenings have been fine with beautiful light.

The setting sun picked out this visitor to our neighbours garden from the shadows of the trees.

It turned out he had brought the whole family on this occasion!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Captured, at last!

Over the last couple of days we have had brief sightings of a hummingbird on four or five occasions but today we managed a few, admittedly rather blurry, photos.

The tiny bird visited the nectar feeder and then spent a few minutes in the tree.

Our next goal is to catch him on the wing..

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Butterfly Visitor

We have seen several large butterflies flying through the trees but as we have few flowers in bloom they don't often stop by.

This morning we had a large visitor who was intent on collecting nectar from some scented white flowers (stocks?)  at the edge of the garden.

These photos, taken with my phone as it was the nearest thing to hand, are not very good as it was constantly moving.  It is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - quite large but unfortunately quite damaged at the base of one wing, it was still able to fly perfectly well.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Navajo Girl

This rather large - more than 3 inches high - and rather striking pendant/brooch was donated for sale at the Bargain Loft. 

I have been researching it a little.  It is hand-made from silver and hand decorated, the neck is articulated so that it moves when worn.  It appears to represent a girl with a sun-goddess face.

On the back it has a maker's  mark indicating that it was made by a Native American jeweller and member of the Navajo tribe.

I have found a few similar pieces but nothing quite like it as yet.

Monday, 4 August 2014

A Hornet's Nest!

This evening we went for a walk around the block and visited the Monarch way-station field - we had hoped to see activity there on the milkweed plants at some point in Soring/Summer but the flowers are long over and the seed pods formed.

The pods are pale and quite soft at present but will grow and change colour and eventually burst to release fluffy cotton- like tufts.  There are no signs of Monarch caterpillars having eaten the leaves so perhaps they didn't visit this way-station this year.

The side of the field is quite damp so there are bulrushes growing.

A little further along and just above head height over a path that cuts across the edge of the field we came across this very active nest..

Rather sinister looking and about the size of a rugby ball, you can see the insects coming out of the hole and on the top of the nest.  We looked them up - they are Bald Faced Hornets, although not a true hornet - about half an inch long and a member of the wasp family.  We have since read that they are protective of their nests so we will give them a wider berth next time..

We walked back by a different path and saw a second nest, this time around a tree trunk and further from the path.

Each nest is a work of art, layers of papery wood apparently up to two inches thick to protect from heat and cold.

Anyway enough of those.  We saw a plant which I didn't recognise with rather an unassuming second flowering but some rather impressive seed pods..

We shall watch with interest to see how these ripen and develop.

Sunday, 3 August 2014


Meet Bastille, a handsome black cat who lives, permanently, in our local pet shop.  He seems to get on well with visiting dogs and those that sit behind the counter whilst their owners are working.

He is usually to be found 'testing' one of the many cat beds on sale.

He has no shortage of admirers and it is a good life!