Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Whiff of Nostalgia


This little gold-tone and rather knobby frog was donated to the Bargain Loft.

Inside, well preserved for some 40 years, a classic 1970's solid perfume.


Moon Drops by Revlon was a personal favourite but until I took a sniff I couldn't really remember it.

Once I did, pure nostalgia - the perfume didn't seem to have gone off and was surprisingly evocative of its time.

I am not planning to buy it though, I think I have moved on now but I doubt that it will stay on the shelf for long.

Friday, 5 May 2017

A Glimpse of 1861


The stone plantation house of Ben Lomond is open to the public to show its role in August 1861 during the First Battle of Manassas - an important Civil War battle.

Before visiting the house we were shown the modest (but unusually stone built) slave quarters.


This small house was home to 10-20 people.


Our house tour begin with a downstairs room which would have been for formal entertaining but which was taken over for use by injured Confederate soldiers from the battlefield.  To demonstrate, just a few straw 'beds' are laid out but in practice the injured would have been jam-packed into this room.


On the other side of the room a slightly more comfortable corner for a Confederate officer.

Upstairs there were similar quarters as well as one room full of furniture which was home to the man who owned the commandeered house and his two sons.  Very cramped quarters for all.


Downstairs again we were in the dining room which became an impromptu surgery for removal of bullets and sadly often also the removal of limbs.  We learned that it was disease rather than injury itself which was responsible for the deaths of most of the soldiers but also that surgical techniques and hygiene advanced greatly in the US during the civil war period.


It was a very informative tour.  The tour was enhanced with the use of audio presentations to simulate the noise of a house packed full of sick and dying men.  The other 'enhancement' to the tour was in the form of smell.  In the house it was almost overpowering - a cloying sweet/rotten smell which replicated the terrible odor of gangrene.

A very interesting, if rather gruesome, tour.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Roses at Ben Lomond


Ben Lomond is a nineteenth century plantation house near Manassas, built in 1837.    It is now a historic site open to the public and showcasing its role during the Civil War.


  In 1861 and 1862  it was used as a military first aid post to help large numbers of gravely wounded Confederate soldiers from the Manassas battlefield, less than five miles away.


Much of the land which belonged to the plantation is now built on but there is a lovely historic rose garden divided up with grass paths,  featuring many varieties of very old roses.


Some of these Alba rose varieties date to the early nineteenth century, around the date of the current house (which was built on the site of an earlier, wooden plantation house).



Some of these roses were dense flowers with closely packed petals and quite beautifully scented.  Others more closely resembled wild roses..



Many of the roses were covered in tiny fuzzy thorns, which initially  looked like a bad infestation of greenfly..


The peonies in the garden were also coming into bloom..



A beautiful garden.  More about the house and it's rather grisly reconstructed interior another day..

Wednesday, 3 May 2017



This white azalea is growing outside the house (as are quite a few ants in their nests - one of them pictured on the flower!).


Throughout the neighborhood, as the late cherry blossom finished and the trees came into full leaf, the azalea and rhododendron bushes started to flower.


Our azalea bushes are a little abstract in shape - most are cut into neat rounds or even hedges.


This bright pink double flowered one is also outside the front of the house.  This colour is one of the most popular in gardens and the flowers are very striking..


Many of the large parks and gardens that we visited a few weeks ago will now be full of colour with azaleas and rhododendron bushes flowering.


This picture from the web shows the azaleas in flower in the grounds of Winterthur House and Museum.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Old Friends and New


We put up the hummingbird feeder a month ago in the hope that the returning migrants would call in for a visit while David's Mum & Dad were here.


Sadly, we didn't see a single hummingbird while they were here.


Today, suddenly, there was a male Ruby Throated Hummingbird at the feeder.  

We also had a new visitor, a bird that we haven't seen before.


All the photos were taken through the insect screen on the decking so all are a little blurry from the mesh.

This very blue bird is the aptly named Indigo Bunting.  A very pretty colour and quite a delicate little bird..


I wonder who will turn up tomorrow!

Monday, 1 May 2017

New Birds on the Block


The goldfinches have been regular visitors for a while, especially since we bought the nyjer seed feeder.  This weekend, though, there were even more than usual, feeding throughout the day.


A new visitor though was this Eastern Phoebe.  Not really very interested in the feeders as this bird is a fly-catcher.  The perches over the feeders seemed to be a good launch point for them.


We heard lots of birdsong in the trees and with the help of a long lens were able to identify a flock of Waxwings who seemed to be passing through.  This is the first time that we have ever come across these birds.


These photos were 'grab shots' through the mesh of the screened part of the porch, which unfortunately makes them rather out of focus.


Our third new bird of the weekend - again photographed through the mesh - was this male Summer Grosbeak.


The female is not so colourful..


A busy weekend on the feeders!  We saw some of our 'regulars' too..




Sunday, 30 April 2017

Riverbend Park


Not everything that we saw at Riverbend Park yesterday was as appealing as this beautifully scented wild honeysuckle...those not so keen on reptiles and other things that creep, crawl and jump may want to stop reading now!


Having watched a Northern Water Snake in s life and death struggle with a fish when visiting with David's parents a few weeks ago, we didn't really expect to see another of these snakes but they must be more common than we thought, as we saw several.


Swimming upstream at quite a rate they didn't seem to be hunting but were very lively.


Nearby but on dry land, basking in the heat was a lizard (or salamander? I am not sure of the difference).


Crossing our path as we walked back from viewing the eagle's nest, this millipede that crossed our path was only a little smaller than the lizard..


And finally, a little frog peeped out of the water in a tiny pond next to the Visitor Centre..


That seemed like quite a lot of wildlife for one day!


The Virginia Bluebells are over now but there were lots of these wild Phlox plants, as well as tiny wild roses (branbles?), just coming into flower...