Saturday, 31 January 2015

Winter Walk in Washington

Having decided that we should try to make at least a monthly visit to Washington to make sure that we explore as much of it as possible, we made a start today with a visit to Eastern Market.

Situated behind the Capitol, Eastern Market is both a building (19th century, recently renovated) and a district which features many small artisan businesses and restaurants.

The variety of food and flowers on offer in the market was enticing but as we had plans for more sightseeing we had to resist.

Walking in cold, clear air with a very chilly wind, we set off for the Library of Congress,  passing these lovely colourful houses en route.

It was David's first visit to the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress and he took these photos.  

Within the building we then visited Thomas Jefferson's own library - the books purchased from Monticello and which formed the basis of the original Library of Congress. 

We then walked on to the National Mall past the Capitol building which is still shrouded in scaffolding.   In the reflecting pool there were signs of winter..

Nearby in the protected warmth of the indoor National Botanic Garden there were some welcome signs of Spring..

Friday, 30 January 2015

Mardi Gras .. and Murder?

At the Bargain Loft today there is a new display of items for Mardi Gras celebrations - including banners, masks, hats and many, many beads.

This evening we went to Reston Centerstage at the Community Association to see the play 'Rehearsal for Murder' presented by Reston Community Players.

It was an amateur production but very well done and in a very well equipped theatre!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Uninvited Guest

Last winter when there was snow on the ground we knew that we had had an uninvited guest as it had eaten its way through a large bag of bird seed which I foolishly left out.

This year our little guest has again returned and has become quite bold - popping out when we are around.

It has now been repatriated to the great outdoors and hopefully he will stay there... 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Thrift Store Tour!

Today I went to McLean to meet up with other members of the Women's Club to visit several thrift/consignment stores there.

There were many designer clothes in the first store, mostly on consignment (50% to the charity and 50% to the seller).  There were also a surprising number of real fur coats such as the one above - full length mink from the 1980's - priced around $1500!

At the second store there were even more furs..

One of these, a vintage fox fur, had a valuation of $8,000 attached to it and was on sale for $3,000.  Beautiful fur but surprising that anyone now wants to wear them.  Maybe they don't and that is why there were so many there.

Other items on sale were mostly rather more expensive than the items we sell at the Bargain Loft - although this pair of Stieff Bears were rather nice!

At lunchtime twelve of us went to a local restaurant.  Before the meal (as often here) bread and butter was brought to the table...

The 'bread' was in fact a very light savoury scone (called a biscuit but I don't know why).  The butter was whipped and sweet and drenched in maple syrup..

The ingredients and recipe were supplied .. maybe worth a try?

Did I buy anything today?  Well yes - a new Ralph Lauren ribbed cotton sweater; and a couple of other bits and pieces..

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Visitors in the Snow

Thankfully we were not in the path of Winter Storm Juno which blanketed New York and Boston with up to several feet of snow.  

Here our snowfall was just a couple of inches..

The snow always brings different visitors..

This morning a large group of American Robins passed through.  They huddled in the trees..

They also flew down onto the road for water..

Except one who opted for our bird bath..

This evening we had a different visitor..

He must have been hungry as he usually passes through quickly but tonight he stayed in the garden for several minutes, finding pieces of bread put out for the birds..

Monday, 26 January 2015

Testing Time for Eggs


I came across these familiar - but also unfamiliar - items in the Giant supermarket today.  In the US 'Cadbury's' is known as 'Cadbury' and the chocolate is made under license by Hershey - makers of the famous but (in my view) detestable 'Hershey's Kisses'.

In the UK I believe that there has been some upset as Kraft, the new owners of Cadbury's revealed that creme eggs were no longer to be made from Cadbury's Dairy Milk but rather a generic milk chocolate.  I think that this decision has now been reversed.

In the US, creme eggs have never been made with Cadbury's Dairy Milk as that is not available here - in fact the recipe for it precludes it being called chocolate in the US as it contains vegetable oil.

We shall test the Cadbury creme egg, US style, in due course..

Two eggs that we probably won't try are these - as recently featured in The Independent.  On sale in the UK for Easter.. I have tasted Marmite chocolate and so can imagine that egg but I am at a loss when trying to imagine what Pot Noodle flavoured chocolate would taste like!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Around Chesapeake Beach

This morning was a brighter day and at dawn there was quite a bit of pink in the sky, viewed over the grounds of the hotel where there is an open air bandstand for summer days!

After breakfast we had a little walk around the resort, including its created beach and wedding dome and the adjacent former Chesapeake Beach railway station building.

We were intrigued by the apparent birds (heron's?) nest on top of a post in the marina..

The railway was built in the late 19th century to bring people from Washington DC to the beach where one of the attractions was an enormous wooden roller coaster ride.  It closed in 1935 when cars started to be popular.

Old photographs in the hotel showed the railway, the paddle steamers that also brought people down from DC and the long queues to get back on the boats at the end of the day.

(Apologies for the reflections in the glass over the pictures)

The station building is now a museum but it was shut for the winter.  Instead we walked along the old railway line which is now a trail, much of it on a board walk over a swampy creek.

We saw a few birds, including a Blue Heron..

A kingfisher..

..and a Northern Mocking Bird..

At the end of the trail we hoped that we might see one of a pair of Bald Eagles which are said to be nesting in the trees but no luck today.

We moved up the coast to have a look at North Beach..

This is the western shore of Chesapeake Bay which is a 165 mile stretch of water which divides Maryland.  It is very calm water and the ducks seemed to be as at home on the beach as the gulls.