Thursday, October 28, 2021

Road Trip: Reeds and Roses

 In our pursuit of outdoor activities we had earmarked the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens just north of Richmond in Virginia. The land had once belonged to Founding Father Patrick "Give Me Liberty or Give me Death" Henry, incidentally a distant rel of hubby's. The Ginter in question was apparently no relation but a local businessman and early bicycle enthusiast who had run a cycling club there back in the 1880s. The land was eventually bequeathed to the city by his niece.   

It wasn't quite the best time of year to visit but the rose garden was still looking good and smelling splendid. It could have been somewhere in the Cotswolds.

A nice touch was this rustic gate

And a tranquil woodland pool.

Crape myrtles, iconic trees of the South, their limbs like witches' fingers.

A pity we couldn't see them blooming.

Now what was that in the distance?

A charming stilt house reflected in a reed-fringed lake, part of the children's area.

And yet another pool - with fountains in a sunken garden.

Having scoured the extensive gift shop for articles not made in a certain far eastern country I found one of those rubbery things you sit soap on, in the shape of a butterfly, made, wonder of wonders, in the USA.  And then there was this -

- all  right, not actually spotted in the Botanical Gardens but en route. A cousin to hubby's beloved white "The Saint" one. So I had to send him a photo. "Very nice", he said. 

to be continued.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Road Trip: Mediaeval Virginia

  I am suffering from a certain lowness of spirit after the debacle at Old Trafford today (please don't mention football to me ever again), I'll distract myself by getting on with telling you about the road trip.....

 It was good to be on the road again - almost like normal times, heading south in sister-in-law's huge, magnificent SUV, stuffed with chairs, bicycle wheels, boxes of books and china, hubby's old cowboy boots et al. The first day was rainy - no spectacular autumn colours this time, so we cut it short and stopped to see friends in West Virginia. The next day -after Sunday Mass at St Leo's, Inwood, a magnificent modern church with some nice traditional touches, lone and stately,  surrounded by fields,  the congregation dutifully masked up - was a great improvement. A chilly start but the sun warmed up the countryside - Virginia now -  with its very English-looking towns like Flint Hill and yes, Winchester, steeped in history as far as American towns can be and black cattle grazing in well-fenced fields.

  And as always a road trip is full of surprises. In one village we saw something was going on and slowed to take a look. A farmers' market? A fair?

"Gosh!" I said to sister-in-law, "they're jousting!

We looked on as two knights - on rather lighter horses than the real thing - amicably crashed into each other and came back for more. (Well it was a bit hard to get a good photo from the road).

That's Virginia - a little bit of Olde England.

to be continued....

Friday, October 15, 2021

October Au Revoir (Again)

 It's nearly time to say farewell again to western New York.  Another road trip south with sister-in-law beckons. Thanks to You Know What we couldn't do it last year but fingers crossed and DV things are looking better....

The colours have been subdued this autumn. Some say it's been too warm, some too wet. (The woolly bear - someone else trying to cross the lane -

is supposed to predict the winter weather. Unfortunately I don't know how.)

The leaves have their own idiosyncracies. (I note the spellchecker is protesting. Americans must spell it with an "s") But somehow this year I've appreciated the scenery more than ever before. Like when we came upon this backwater of the Allegheny River.

So serene and worthy of a Monet and with the big bonus of having no alligators. (Yet). Even old oil installations have a certain charm when the goldenrod grows up around them.

And as for the forests

Well that's where my heart is.

Until deer season starts.

Our apple crop was a little meagre this year.

But since we largely leave the trees to fend for themselves, we can't expect too much. 
I never get tired of the mist rising up over the lane. I heard someone complain that we're in foggy valley (in contrast to Foggy Bottom) and driving into town in the mornings with kamikaze deer and drivers with no lights is a big gamble but lovely it certainly is.

And you never know what will surprise you next.

But then Golden Beach (not to mention road trips) can be full of surprises too. Watch this space! 

Monday, October 11, 2021

World's Ugliest Potato?

 Fist pump or face, I wouldn't like to meet this spud down a dark alley.

Amazing what you can find at the Farmers' Market. It would never pass the exam to get into the supermarket. If I were more savvy I would have turned it into a viral whatever, dressed it up in various headgear etc. Trouble is it wasn't very animated. And it's too late now, as it's been eaten. But it tasted pretty good. Handsome is as handsome does.

  It reminds of the mousecherry from a few years ago.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

All Creatures.....

 ...... great and small - well mostly small, came to get a special blessing outside the Basilica on St Francis' Day. Luckily the rain obliged by holding off.

Patiently awaiting their turn.

Father John was a little concerned about the effect of a sudden shower of Holy Water on his furry flock. This one pretended not to be interested.

And as always after church - time to catch up on the gossip.

And speaking of creatures, time for a round-up of this summer's fauna sightings. I have to report that I didn't see a single deer except a few in the far distance, cantering like ghosts through the trees but I did see a salamander crossing the lane. Why they want to cross the lane I can't fathom but they do. Sadly they often don't make it but this one was a survivor. 

And here's what looked like a millipede, resolutely negotiating the pebbles which must have been tough on his legs. Perhaps they cope like the giant trucks and their tyres and only use a few legs at a time.

It was a good year for butterflies and a mourning cape took a liking to the doorstep and sat around for a while..

I trust it wasn't a bad omen. He seemed cheerful enough. As did one of the usual suspects.

While at the farm in the next valley the cows reminded me of rural France. Unsurprisingly, as some of them are indeed Limousins. It would have been fun to see a few of those at the Blessing.

And does the old oil donkey qualify as fauna? 

Along with cows they once made this part of the country great. Not so much these days though.