Saturday, 7 February 2015

Beanz Meanz...

Shopping at Trader Joe's today, they were selling 'British style' steak and ale pies, which we thought we should try.

We then decided, at Giant this afternoon, to look for some baked beans to go with the pie - surely an American invention and hence easy to find.

We found so many different types - with bacon; with brown sugar; smoked; country style; Boston style - that it was overwhelming, but no Heinz!! (Apparently Heinz beans have not been made in the US since 1928 but some supermarkets do import and sell them, just not this one).

Next to the beans there was, however, a product that I have never seen in a can before - brown bread!  Fully cooked and ready to use from the tin.

We then had a look at the canned vegetable aisle to see what was available. 

Quite a variety!  Anything you would like?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Smithsonian Orchid Exhibition

When we were in Washington last weekend we visited this year's annual orchid show at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.  It is the 20th such show and entitled 'Orchids - Interlocking Science and Beauty'.

The first part of the exhibition showed the ways in which orchids were transported from the wild, including in these mini-greenhouses.

The greenhouse exhibit was very colorful..

I was particularly interested in an old image of a Conservatory for growing orchids and other hothouse species which was built and exhibited at the Bath and West Show in Bath in 1877.

Alongside was an image of a modern hothouse where orchids are grown industrially..

The exhibits showed micro propagation to satisfy mass markets and the way that hybrids/new varieties are developed.

Some of the individual orchids were quite spectacular..

Thursday, 5 February 2015

National Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal

Today I made my first visit to the John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts (The Kennedy Centre) in Washington DC.

On the banks of the Potomac river, it is a huge and very imposing building which was planned from 1958, constructed in the late 1960's and opened in 1971. 

 It was named in honour of John F Kennedy who had supported the building of the centre but of course never saw its completion.

There are two halls leading to the Grand Foyer - the Hall of States (featuring the flags of the 50 US states, 5 US territories and the District of Columbia) and the Hall of Nations (featuring the flags of each country with which the US has diplomatic relations).

The Grand Foyer is exactly that!  It is 630 feet long and the three main auditoria - the Eisenhower Theatre, the Opera House and the Concert Hall open off this area.

The Concert Hall is the largest auditorium, seating 2,400 people.  It is the home of the National Symphony Orchestra and my trip this morning - on a coach organized by the Reston Association 'over 55's' group - was to attend their open rehearsal.

Photography was forbidden and so I only took this one rather poor shot in the concert hall - I should also confess that the exterior shots and the wide angle shot of the concert hall are from the web as I was unable to take them today.

The rehearsal was for tonight's performance and so the orchestra ran through each piece and then revisited small sections where the conductor was not quite satisfied at the end.  

Overall the performance seemed very polished and was very spirited and entertaining.  The violinist was a very young woman making her debut with the orchestra and she played beautifully.

A wonderful venue and one that I hope to visit again - if only to attend the Millenium Theatre performances which take place each day at 6pm throughout the year and are free of charge!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

More than a Gaggle

The recreation area at the end of the road is popular with Canada Geese which are very numerous here, particularly at certain times of the year.

They are particularly fond of the baseball diamond which tends to become a muddy puddle in winter and which, this morning, was still semi-frozen.

Needless to say, the closer I walked, the farther they moved away from me (and the more noise they made - those living next to the field must find it very noisy!)

Unfortunately I didn't have the camera so the shots are a little distant.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Art in the Ice

The snow has gone but it is still very cold and standing water in the garden has turned to ice.  

In quite small areas the patterns made by the ice vary greatly and also change throughout the day..

Yes, it was quite a slow news day, how did you guess??

(I could have photographed my great kitchen cupboard clear out but the ice is probably marginally more interesting.)

Monday, 2 February 2015

Six More Weeks of Winter?

February 2nd is Groundhog Day - as featured in the film shown above and below.  On this day 'Punxsutawney Phil'  - a groundhog - in Pennsylvania - is enticed out of his burrow into the light.  This is a tradition dating back to 1887.  

What happens next is closely watched.  If he sees his shadow then he returns to his burrow and that is said to predict a further six weeks of winter.

In the film (which we have been watching tonight) and in reality today a further six weeks of winter was indeed the prediction.

On the bright side, however, the weather was wet but warmer today and much of the snow has melted away, revealing tiny but sure signs that Spring will be coming..

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Walking in Washington (2)

Walking on from the National Botanic Garden yesterday - where we enjoyed seeing some lovely orchids as well as the Spring flowers -  we headed on down the National Mall and made a flying (!) visit to the Air and Space Museum.

There are some amazing exhibits there, including the X15 - a NASA research plane..

The lunar landing module ..

..and some early rockets..

Moving on again (the beauty of the Smithsonian museums is that because they are admission free you can visit briefly and call in again another day), we detoured for a very quick look at the Sculpture Garden in front of the Hirshhorn Museum..

We then visited Smithsonian Castle via the Enid Haupt garden - not at its best at this time of year, rather devoid of colour, except for this spectacular fountain..

..and a rather exotic ornamental cabbage patch ..

We made one final stop to see an Orchid Exhibition at the Natural History Museum and I will include the photos tomorrow.

Tonight we are sitting in front of the fire with a glass of wine - our first since December as we had a 'dry' January (which was much easier than we anticipated!).  This means that we are not actually watching the Superbowl but we did see the puppy prediction before the start..

This gaggle of puppies was released to enjoy two bowls of kibble marked with the team names to choose the predicted winner and the most popular was..

Which I think only proves that Labrador puppies are very cute indeed!