Saturday, 15 November 2014

Star Wars at the Bargain Loft

Members of the '501st Legion' - Vader's Fist, were at the Bargain Loft today to raise the profile of the store with local people, as well as to raise donations for photographs.

I had my photo taken...

- and then handed over to the expert..

I think that the Stormtroopers thought that they might gain a new member but he says not!

Impressive Lego models!

Friday, 14 November 2014

David's birthday fire!

Arriving back from Europe this afternoon, David was happy to open his cards and gifts (with Lauren and James joining in via Skype) and then spend a quiet evening sitting by the fire.

He tested out a gift from Lauren and James..

..special fir cones which create blue flames in the fire!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Oh Christmas Tree...

On Monday of this week I took this photo in Reston town centre of the Christmas tree under construction.

I wouldn't have much fancied the job of building it - there seemed to be a huge number of branches to be fitted in..

Although it is certainly getting colder now,  with overnight temperatures well below freezing, it is only mid November and so there is a little controversy in the local press as to whether in fact the day before Veterans Day is too early to put up a Christmas tree. 

The lights are not due to be turned on for a further two weeks - the day after Thanksgiving.  The tree will stay in place until the end of January.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

'Presidential' Suite

Arriving late from Hamburg to his hotel in Toulouse, David was given the only available room - the 'Presidential' Suite - comprising two bedrooms, two bathrooms, lounge with seating, dining and working area ..,

Fortunately he is not expected to pay the rack rate for the night, which is €950!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Icons of the US?

In the spirit of this book, kindly given to me as a gift - and which I found very interesting and entertaining - especially from 'afar', I thought that I would start to compile my own list of 'icons of the U.S.'

All sorts of things are icons of the US, in my view.  Some are one-offs like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building.  Others are everyday sights that serve to remind you where you are and which in many ways, even when we first arrived here, were strangely familiar from so many films and TV series.

Inevitably this is a personal list and certainly not in any order of importance - or in fact any order at all, other than that many of these first ones are close by

1.  Fire Hydrant.  This is a very common sight everywhere of course and that is a good thing!  This is a very local one and shortly will sprout a kind of flexi aerial thingy out of the top with a red coloured end on it which is, I think, intended to ensure that these can be found if needed in the snow (and perhaps so that snow ploughs don't knock them over?).  The aerials when attached are remarkably long, which makes you wonder/worry about just how much snow is expected.

2.  Mail Box.  Every home around here has one instead of a letterbox slot in the door.  Some are more attractive than others or better camouflaged.  The great advantage is that you can raise the little flag and the postman will collect your stamped mail when he delivers.  This is a particularly good thing as actual US Postal  Service postboxes are blue and look remarkably like litter bins, as well as being few and far between!

3.  Stars and Stripes.  Of course we expected to see flags flying on civic buildings and for special occasions, such as Veterans Day, today.  This one is on our neighbour's house.  The sheer number of flags is surprising though and the number of houses that have a bracket on the front of the house to fly a flag, often all the time.

4.  School Buses.  Impossible to miss due to their colour, flashing lights, sheer numbers and ability to stop traffic in one or both directions, depending on the size of the road, they are very distinctive.  In this area they are the normal way for kids aged 4-18 to get to school and back each day and they are out on the roads collecting pupils before 7am and in most weathers.

5.  Road signs.  Of course you would expect signage to be different and it is.  In residential areas, roads are signed at the junctions, on high poles and in blue and white and relate to the road that they are aligned with, which can be confusing initially at major junctions.

Well that is just a few to get started with and I will blog some more ..

Monday, 10 November 2014

Surprising Plants

I photographed this plant a couple of weeks ago beside some shops on the main road in Herndon.  It was full of berries and a little more blue-purple than this photo would suggest.  It is a Purple Beautyberry - Claire and I did see one at the National Botanic Garden in Washington DC but clearly it thrives in other places in Virginia.  It is very striking, mainly due to the lilac-violet colour of the berries.

This tree, in Reston town centre, is a bit of a mystery.  It looks a little like a cherry tree but it has lost its leaves and it is now covered with masses of glossy berries..

The only thing I can find in my book which is similar is a shrub called Nandina (Heavenly Bamboo).

Yesterday when walking 'around the block', I photographed this little flower.

Nothing unusual about the flower - I think that it is Forsythia - but I was surprised to see it in flower at this time of year rather than in early Spring.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Skating Snowman, Ski-ing Penguin

The skating rink under the pavilion in Reston Town Centre re-opened on 1st November and will stay open until the end of March.  I would love to be able to skate but fear that the worst could happen if I try.  However it is fun to watch and yesterday the young skaters were being encouraged by a snowman and a reindeer (unfortunately the latter sped off for a tea break just as we arrived).

At the Pottery Barn in the High Street some splendid tapestry cushions were on sale for the Christmas season, including this one .. which didn't meet with David's approval.  Similarly with the tree decoration..

Suggestions of the presence of penguins at the North Pole get David all of a tizz, so he was particularly unhappy about  this large outdoor decoration on sale at Home Depot..

So even when we are finally rid of the leaves, which we are working towards..

.. you are unlikely to find any penguins on our front lawn.

Illuminated, animated reindeer?  Well that is another story altogether..