Saturday, 29 April 2017

Birds at Riverbend


Today was probably the hottest day of the year so far and very humid.  We headed to Riverbend Park to see whether we could capture a photo of the Bald Eagle (and also to see if the water snake was around - it was, but no pics in this post..)

David managed to capture a shot of a Blue Heron flying over the river and of course the Canada Geese are ever present..


We walked along the path until the eagle nest on the island in the middle of the river was in sight.  The trees are much greener than a couple of weeks ago and so it was not easy to get a clear photo, but David took these with a long lens and it was great to be able to see both a parent bird and a chick..





We waited around to see whether the other parent bird might appear but no luck today, perhaps we should try early morning.  At least we have had a clear view of America's most iconic bird, at last!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Back to Longwood Gardens


Before Spring gives way to Summer (we are expecting 30C temperatures or more tomorrow) I thought I would look back to the wonderful Spring flowers that we saw at Longwood Gardens two weeks ago.


Literally thousands of tulip bulbs were planted at Longwood in the Autumn and it has certainly paid off!


Close up some of the individual tulip flowers were truly spectacular.,






More of these beautiful gardens another day..

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Schlumberger Exhibition in Richmond


This lovely photo was at the end of the Schlumberger exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - but this lady is central to the exhibit in that she is not only the person who left her substantial collection to the museum but also was a significant patron and commissioner of Schlumberger's work.


The fact that the photograph was taken by the world famous 20th century photographer Henri Cartier Bresson tells you much about the position in society of Mrs Rachel Lambert Mellon.


Many of the pieces of jewellery in the collection are inspired by nature, including the sea.  

Some are very ornate creations in gold, diamonds and other precious stones.  Others, like this gold 'beach pebble' were designed to incorporate tiny fan shells from a beach owned by the Mellon family.


As well as jewellery, the collection includes many items created by Schlumberger at the request of Mrs Mellon for her home.


This gold flower with pot incorporated a terra-cotta pot from Mrs Mellon's greenhouse.

This very substantial centerpiece created in the 1960's/70's is the largest of a number of items featuring gold and lapis lazuli.




This rock crystal obelisk was spectacular under the lights.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Sculpture Garden


While David went to meetings today in Richmond, I visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see a new exhibition.

 First, though, a quick walk around the sculpture garden.  A favourite here is Dale Chihuly's beautiful blown glass exhibit 'Red Reeds' which is visible from the cafe and terrace as well as from the garden.


Then on to the upper terrace where there is a water feature adjacent to the steps..




Back on the lawn there is a new installation - a large, white, sculpture of a child's head which is quite fascinating from all sides, although as you move around it, you realize that it is not quite as 3D as it looks..

I think that this was the view that I liked best..

Looking closer to the ground, the early rain had created its own little 'sculptures' on some of the plants in the garden, like tiny diamonds arranged on the leaves...

Oh yes, and I did indeed get inside to see the new exhibition, a private collection of jewelery and objets d'art made for Mrs Rachel Mellon by the Parisian and New York jewellery designer  Jean Schlumberger  (1907-87) - featuring some spectacular real diamonds, many on designs inspired by nature.

Here are just a few of the pieces..


Lots more to share another day!  Breathtakingly beautiful stones and gold work.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

America on Parade


On Saturday, after visiting Shenandoah Caverns, we went on to visit an extraordinary exhibition within the same complex, housed in a very large warehouse.


The owner of the Caverns and entertainment complex had run a family business in Maryland which specialized in the staging of Inauguration and other Parades.


It is difficult to appreciate the size of these incredible creations - each had been made for a parade in the 1980's or 1990's.  Many were self propelling on their own lorry bases.


Many of the  structures had moving parts such as this Bald Eagle with flapping wings.


The polar bears were covered in a fur fabric and were fully animated.





It would have been good to see some of these on parade..

Monday, 24 April 2017

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia


Harper's Ferry is a small town which sits between the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers and hence at the borders of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.


It was an important industrial town in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century and, partly as a result of its strategic position on the rivers and with mountain lookouts around - and because of the railway which runs through it - was the site of significant civil war battles.

There are living history exhibits in the town and yesterday they were re-enacting scenes from the time of the war of 1812 (against the British).


The store was appropriately stocked for the time.


In another part of the town was the 'recruitment' office..





None of us were considered suitable for service and so we visited the tavern instead, where they were playing a series of nineteenth century games.


Our VIP visitors are returning to the UK tonight - maybe for a little rest. - after a busy two weeks spent in exploring parts of Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Washington DC.  It has been fun!