Saturday, 15 April 2017



On our way from home to Wilmington this morning we called in to the port of Annapolis, a seaside town on Chesapeake Bay - state capital of Maryland and home to the US Marine Corps Training Academy.


It is a historic town, originally settled in the 17th century and with many original or restored buildings.


The State Capitol presides over the town from its position on the hill.


The streets leading down to the waterfront are lined with historic houses.


Some are built in red brick.


Others are built of shiplap wood and colourfully painted.


The waterfront would have benefitted from a little more sunshine.


Leaving Annapolis we headed over the Bay Bridge - 5 miles of suspension bridge - well two really, one in each direction - crossing the Chesapeake Bay.




Tonight we are staying in Wilmington, ready to visit the Brandywine Valley tomorrow.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Poker Room


The upstairs room of a restaurant in Leesburg that we visited today was set up as a Prohibition era Poker Room.


The staircase leading up to it was also suitably decorated.



In the rest room a rather interesting advertisement..


A pretty expensive product for the time and unlikely to be all that effective I would imagine!  An interesting place.

Back home we were able to have our evening meal out on the decking..


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Bluebells at Riverbend Park


This afternoon we visited Riverbend Park on the Potomac river. It is renowned for its carpet of Virginia Bluebells at this time of year.


Virginia Bluebells are a different flower altogether to British or even European Bluebells but, like the American Robin, they were erroneously named by early settlers and the name stuck!


The path winds through the woods alongside the river.  It is fairly soft and sandy as it is part of the flood plain when the river rises rapidly.


Today the wide river was fairly low and very calm and quiet.


Other wildflowers are also in bloom.  I haven't yet identified these pale mauve ones.


Some were easy to recognize..

Towards the end of our walk we met someone who told us of a Bald Eagle nest upstream and so we walked to have a look.  No long lens today but with binoculars we could see the parent bird sitting on the nest at the top of a tree on this small island.


Our most unexpected sight of the day was this...


A well camouflaged Northern Water Snake is curled up on this piece of tree trunk at the edge of the river.  As we watched there was some splashing and he had an improbably large fish secured in his jaws.

Although the photos look tiny, he was 30 inches or so long and the fish was probably 5-6 inches long and very lively initially.


He gradually manoeuvred it to a position where it could be swallowed..



The whole process taking some time - we watched for 15 minutes or so and the fish was only half in.


Next time I will be sure to have a long lens with me - such opportunities missed!!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Seeing the Sights


Our first port of call in Washington DC this morning was the Library of Congress, housing Thomas Jefferson's Library and various exhibitions, as well as the impressive Main Reading Room..


The small number of 'readers' in the Reading Room was in contrast to the large number of visitors in the public areas of the building.  This week is 'Spring Break' for many schools and colleges and there were numerous groups and many families visiting the sights today.

The view to the ceiling of the Reading Room is always impressive.

Outside, crossing the road to the Capitol building gives a better view of the size of the Library of Congress. 

 In fact this photo was taken later in the day as we used the tunnel between the Library and the Capitol building to reach the Capitol Visitor Centre this time.

The view of the Capitol building from the first floor of the Library of Congress is good when the trees are not fully in leaf - and now that all the scaffolding has been removed from the Capitol dome.


Once inside the Capitol building we visited the restaurant for lunch before joining a queue to tour the building.


Equipped with headphones and having watched the orientation film we joined perhaps forty others with our guide who led us through the building. We were just one group of probably twenty that were on the move so everywhere was rather busy and there was no opportunity for ad hoc exploration!


Looking up to the ceiling of the inner dome and around the Rotunda it is an interesting building and very ornate.  Once again we were reminded of the misbehavior of the British in 1812 when the original Capitol building was burned to the ground.

I toured the Capitol once before when we were on our 'look see' visit in March 2013.  More recently of course the Rotunda and the adjacent Statue Room - the original meeting chambers - were the venue for President Trump's televised  Inaugural Lunch.

The statue room was originally intended to hold a rather smaller number of statues - one from each State of the US.  Now that there are fifty states it is crowded and many are also in the Emancipation Hall which is now the Visitor Centre.


We emerged into the sunshine to take some photos outside.




Our final visit for the day was the National Botanic Garden..


This fiery coloured azalea caught my eye in the sunshine.

This seemed to be a double Datura.

One of many beautiful Lady's Slipper Orchids.


Failed to notice the name of this - is it a type of Evening Primrose?


This is the top of one of the very large cacti - almost looks like a myriad of hairy legs that could up and walk away!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Surprising Flowers


Today we had intended to go sightseeing in DC, but the forecast temperature of 28C made us decide to have a more local day so that we could retreat from the sun if we wanted to.


First stop was the Bargain Loft, where all the Easter items are now 50% off.


On to the Silver Diner for lunch.  The plate that you can see in the foreground is their vegan speciality of roasted Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and lentils.  It may not look great in a photo but it is very good!


Next stop, Trader Joe's where they had sprays of real and rather beautiful cherry blossom on sale, as well as arum lilies in some improbable colours, including black..


For me, with Easter coming up, the daffodils in bud were irresistible and two little bunches went into my basket. 


It seemed incongruous to be displaying daffodils when the weather is so warm (the high today was in fact 31C in the end).  But when I went to unwrap the daffodils, which had been very modestly priced, there was another surprise..


So there we are - English springtime and summer heat!