Tag Archives: Virginia

Getaway DC

This year has been full on. Summer slipped by in the blink of an eye. And since Lucas started nursery downtown, we’ve hardly had a moment free. We needed to press pause.

So we booked ourselves a little cabin down in the Shenandoah Valley, and took off for a much-needed getaway.

Sans child. Sans wi-fi. And after a few glasses of wine, sans a care in the world.

SN IG

Trees Forest Trail

SN IG3

SN IG2

Leaves

getaway view

Our cabin for the evening was tucked into the most gorgeous woodland setting, where you couldn’t hear a car horn or siren for miles. The only sounds were just the lone crow, squirrels scampering across the crunchy leaves, and the swoosh of an occasional breeze across the treetops.

We settled into our cabin and lit our campfire.

getaway cabin IGGGGGG

getaway cabin ig bed

getaway cabin side

getaway cabin hat rack

getaway cabin phone

getaway cabin

getaway fire eddie

One thing we didn’t need a break from was a good meal. But unlike our usual dinners at home (which usually involve lots of prep, tons of stress to get it on the table in time, and then a forensic amount of clean up after), this time we did things differently.

getaway cabin beef bourg basket

getaway cabin beef bourg basket3

A one-pot meal we could throw in a dutch oven and kick back by the fire while it stewed for a couple of hours.

getaway cabin table

And like any recipe that calls for a whole bottle of wine – you know it’s going to be good!

 

getaway beef bourg

getaway beef bourg vlose

Beef Bourguignon over potato gnocchi

It definitely took a while, but when you’ve got nothing else to do but sit and talk, and sip wine and look at the moon rise, you don’t really notice! Well worth the wait, we ate late and stayed up much later.

The next morning, we slept in. I know a lot of parents probably complain about a lack of sleep, which I never really understood. I have always been such a high energy person, I never missed the hours of lost sleep when I had a baby.

getaway cabin bed IG

But being here, I now realise how a nice, long lie-in is such a luxury for mums and dads. You don’t have to get up. That’s when it feels so good to be lazy.

getaway view high

getaway socks

Walking

Breakfast was another easy skillet on the grill. My campsite take on huevos rancheros, we felt like a couple of cowboys as we sipped our mugs of coffee waiting for the chow bell.

getaway breakfast

getaway breakfast table

Breakfast Camping Picnic Autumn

breakfast

breakfast remnants

With the last bits of breakfast mopped up, there was nothing to do but snuggle up and just chill until checkout time.

reading IGGGGG

 

 

 

 

 

Fleurie, Charlottesville

Spending one night in Charlottesville, Virginia didn’t leave us much time to explore – so we headed straight downtown to check out the bustling pedestrian mall and see the sights before dinner.

Charlottesville downtown pedestrian mall

Charlottesville downtown founding fathers

Charlottesville chalk

Charlottesville City Hall had installed a huge chalk wall for the public to celebrate the First Amendment of the US Constitution. We took a moment to exercise our freedom of speech – or freedom to doodle!

Charlottesville chalk writing

Then we hit the shops! I was so happy to come across Caspari’s American outpost (the other is in Paris). I used to shop their products at Partridge’s in London – and this was my first visit to their bricks and mortar store.

Where interior design inspiration abounds!

Charlottesville Caspari store

Charlottesville Caspari dining

Charlottesville Caspari showroom

My little head was on a swivel – so many ways to beautify a home!

Charlottesville Caspari dining table setting

Charlottesville Caspari shelving

I had to stop and coo over these preppy dog accessories – and ponder the question ,“Exactly when will we ever get a puppy?”

Charlottesville Caspari dog accessories collars

As the shops shuttered up for the evening, we traipsed down to dinner at a little French bistro called Fleurie.

Charlottesville Fleurie entrance

Fleurie Charlottesville patio terrace outdoor al fresco dining

The perfect quiet little spot to dine al fresco in downtown Charlottesville!

Charlottesville Fleurie cheers drinks

Fleurie Sip Drink Cocktail Final

Chilled Tomato Soup with salmon rillette

Chilled Tomato Soup with salmon rillette

Lobster Bisque with tarragon

Lobster Bisque with tarragon

Gnocchi, Bleu d'Auvergne Fondue, sweet pecans, cherry tomatoes

Gnocchi, Bleu d’Auvergne Fondue, sweet pecans, cherry tomatoes

Herb Crusted Halibut, summer squashes, white wine sauce

Herb Crusted Halibut, summer squashes, white wine sauce

Wolf Creek Grass-fed Beef Sirloin, Gnocchi Parisienne, Leeks, Bordelaise

Wolf Creek Grass-fed Beef Sirloin, Gnocchi Parisienne, leeks, Bordelaise

I’ve been mostly steering clear of sugar and gluten this summer, but when I’m out at a nice restaurant all rules fly out the window.

Not one to be put off by an imminent sugar crash, it was time for dessert…

Vanilla Bean Créme Brulée

Vanilla Bean Créme Brulée

Peach Pithier, Raspherries, Vanilla Ice Cream

Peach Pithier, raspberries, vanilla ice cream

Petit Fours: Chocolate hazelnut truffles, Lemon meringue tarts, Cherry financiers

Petit Fours: Chocolate hazelnut truffles, Lemon meringue tarts, Cherry financiers

lemon_tart

Summer nights like these are the sweetest!

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

On a recent trip up north, we pulled into beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia – to pay a visit to the fabled home of American founding father Thomas Jefferson.

He was waiting in the parking lot to greet us.

Thomas Jefferson bronze statue Monticello

A shuttle bus collected us from the Visitor’s Center and rumbled up the hill where we got our first glimpse of Monticello.

TJ designed and began building this place in 1769 – at the ripe old age of 26 years old, after inheriting 3,000 acres of plantation land from his father.

Monticello landscape wooded green

Monticello front entrance portico

It’s a truly graceful design. And the views from the top of the mountain aren’t bad either…

Monticello brick path view

Monticello side profile

Monticello deck side view2

I love the side decks branching out from each side of the house. I found TJ’s lime tree, close at hand for those sunset gin & tonics on the terrace I presume.

Monticello deck lime tree

Monticello deck sundial

Exploring the greenhouse piazza

Exploring the greenhouse piazza

Monticello deck sunroom porch window

Monticello kitchen

The Monticello foundation is refreshingly frank about the role that enslaved people played in everyday life. Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves over the course of his lifetime. They laboured on the plantation as field workers, gardeners, carpenters, textile weavers, blacksmiths, and household servants.

It’s astounding that with all that free labour, Jefferson still managed to die with over $2 million in debt. In his will, he bequeathed freedom to only five men – a great hypocrisy in regards to his belief that “slavery [was] contrary to the laws of nature” and that everyone had a right to personal liberty.

Monticello kitchen shelves

I can’t reconcile how Jefferson could advocate the abolishment of slavery, and even eventual emancipation of slaves, but still be a part of society that was growing more and more entrenched in the proliferation of slavery. The sad truth is that he is partly responsible for instilling in white American culture the notion that blacks were inferior. America is still grappling with the wounds of slavery and racism to this very day.

Log cabin dwelling for slaves

Log cabin dwelling for slaves

Monticello back lawn

It was a gorgeous day to stroll the grounds and explore the gardens, which symbolise the pioneering spirit of life in colonial America.

Monticello gardens hill landscape

Monticello gardens tree

Monticello gardens corn

Monticello gardens rosemary

Monticello gardens coupolla view

I could have spent all afternoon in this little brick pavilion with its double sash windows and extraordinary views across the rolling Piedmont countryside.

We wandered down the hill behind the house upon the family cemetery, to reflect on the obelisk marker of Jefferson’s grave.

Monticello grave fence emblym

Isn’t it surprising he didn’t mention being the third President of the United States as one of his accomplishments? Instead, he wanted to be remembered for his writings and for founding the University of Virginia.

Monticello gravestone

And how romantic that he died on the Fourth of July, fifty years to the day after signing the Declaration of Independence! Fellow signer and American revolutionary, John Adams would die on the same day, just four hours later.

Monticello gravestone gates

For all America’s complicated and dissonant history, this place is certainly a part of it.

Back at the Monticello discovery center, we tinkered around with some of Jefferson’s inventions, including a replica of his letter copying device.

Monticello letter copier demo

Monticello letter copier demo discovery

With our heads full of ideas and information, we stopped off at the Michie Tavern to debrief and reflect on our Monticello visit – over a mug of tavern ale!

Mitchie tavern sign

Mitchie tavern

Mitchie Tavern beer

Mitchie Tavern tavern ale

Mitchie Tavern beer sip

I’m so glad we had the chance to spend a day at Monticello and learn a little bit about the life of Thomas Jefferson.

In the words of the man himself, “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”

BBQ and Antiquing in Winchester, Virginia

Historic Winchester, Virginia has a rich past; from its origins as an early European settlement, it has endured through the French and Indian War, the American Revolutionary War, and the American Civil War – a lot of conflict for one tiny little town!

We rolled through on a sunny spring day and pulled in to check it out.

Winchester Virginia Old Town

Winchester Red Fire Truck

Winchester Historic Main Street

Winchester Virginia Town Hall

Winchester Union Bank Bar

The colors of the Union Jack flag caught our eye, and we couldn’t resist stopping for the familiar taste of a British ale.

Winchester Virginia Union Jack Pub

Winchester Virginia Union Bank Beers

Someone fulfilled a boyhood dream of owning a pair of authentic American cowboy boots…

I have to say, the western flair is hardly detectable under trousers (or, you know, Wranglers) and I’m not complaining about the extra height it gives a guy either!

Men's Cowboy Boots Brown Leather Stitching

Bonnie Blue is the local bakery and market and they do a mean Texas-style barbeque menu. We spotted it on the corner long after the scent of pulled pork and smoked brisket caught our noses. It’s a real American menu, bacon cheddar biscuits on the counter, and bottles of soda pop in the fridge!

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Lunch

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue BBQ Entrance

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Pig Door

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Menu

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Cheddar Bacon Biscuit

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Interior American Flag BBQ

We sampled the beef brisket, the crab cake and the pulled pork barbeque sandwich – piled up with sides all around – then sat outside on picnic table in the sun enjoying our vittles.

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Beef Brisket BBQ

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Crab Cake Cole Slaw Greens

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich

Dan's Antiques

We stopped a little way out of town in Augusta, West Virginia at Dan’s Antiques for a little roadside bargain hunting.

A big red barn of curiosities, we scoured the rows of dusty shelves, turning over old trinkets and browsing interesting antiques.

Dan's Antiques Finds Flag

I found a neat brass box with a nautical motif and a very cool old oyster can that I plan to put on the kitchen counter and store utensils in.

Dan's Antiques Brass Box Oyster Can

Dan's Antiques Oyster Can

Dan's Antiques Sitting Outside Porch

And so, the American road trip continues…

Eddie's Tires Berkeley Springs

Eddoe

And we’re loving every detail along the way!