Friday, July 31, 2015

England: Wells Cathedral

n 2010 we spent a very enjoyable vacation traveling through England in January. We stayed in Wells which is in the county of Somerset. We stayed at Stoberry House which gave us views of Wells Cathedral from the grounds. On Saturday, we went and took a tour of the cathedral. It is always fun, you learn the most interesting and fun facts.
View of Wells Cathedral from Stoberry House
It was a rainy day in January when we visited

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Flashback Thursday Looking for Mary Magdalene in Vezelay

Vezelay is a city on a rock that rises from the valley below. It is one of the four cities from which the route to Santiago de Compostelo begins in France. It was from Vezelay that St Bernard called for the Second Crusade and it was in Vezelay that Richard the Lionhearted and and King Philippe Auguste met to go on the Third Crusade. But the main claim to fame of Vezelay is the Basilica of St Madeleine.

We being the stellar citizens that we are parked at the bottom of the hill as requested by the signs. We then proceeded to follow the pilgrims route up the steep streets leading to the Basilica. In January most of the stores lining the streets were closed but I can imagine what it must be like in the summer. Then as we finally arrived at the Basilica we were greeted by the parking lot in front of it. They got us again. We could have driven right up. 
The original religious foundation at this location began in the 9th century. It has undergone many changes and much destruction over the centuries. The Huguenots in the 16th century and then the Revolution had brought the building almost to the point of collapse. Violet le Luc finally took responsibility for its rebuilding in the mid 19th century. Today, it is a lovely church that will take your breath away with its beauty and its location.


Must sees here include the relics that claim to be St Mary Magdalene. They are what made this Basilica famous in the middle ages and still do so today. They are in a golden box behind a grill.

You also must check out the capitals. They are fantastic and we spent a good amount of time trying to locate the different ones we found in our guide book. There is a beautiful one of Adam and Eve with the tree and serpent and another one of Noah building the ark. There are almost 100 bible stories represented and the guide book documents each one. Finding them is the fun.

There was adoration going on in a small chapel and we joined the nun who was there for prayer. There is a new monastic community who has taken charge of the spiritual life of the Basilica.

There is an honor box to pay for the guide books. There was no gift shop in the Basilica. There is however a small gift store right across the street and we made a short stop there. Take your time to enjoy the view from here it wonderful.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

15 Things to do with Kids in Lehigh Valley

Rediscover your kids, while they’re still kids!

Rediscover the kids in Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania Childhood moves quickly. Don’t miss these 15 adventures before they graduate.
Does it feel as if the kids are growing up so quick? Where is the time going? You’re not alone, and we are here to help. Ferris Bueller said it best: life moves pretty fast… if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. So, don’t wait for their 18th birthdays to explore, learn, and rediscover your children.
Educational, creative, artistic, athletic, or just downright fun. Here are 15 Lehigh Valley family adventures. In each of the area’s three biggest cities: Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. Take some time to Discover Lehigh Valley with the most important people in your life–you’ll be glad you did.
Here are our top 15 places for fun-filled family memories in Lehigh Valley, Pa.

Top Five Activities for Rediscovering Your Children in Allentown
Top Five Activities for Rediscovering Your Children in Bethlehem
Top Five Activities for Rediscovering Your Children in Easton

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mary Washington House, Fredericksburg, Va.

Mary Ball was no wilting flower even though as a young woman she had been known as the Rose of Epping Forest. She married a widower, Augustine Washington 14 years her senior when she was 23. At his death, 12 years later, her 11-year-old son George inherited Ferry Farm. She remained there running the farm for 29 years. It was only at the importuning of George that in 1772 she allowed him to buy her a house in Fredericksburg and she moved their to be closer to her only daughter Betty Fielding.

In an age where women were encouraged and expected to remarry quickly Mary was a standout, not only did she not remarry quickly, she never remarried. She was financially independent through inheritances from both her parents and brother and she cherished that independence.

The house that George purchased for her was a two room cottage on a half acre of land. He purchased an additional half acre of land, added the porch and greatly increased the size of the house. When Mary moved from ferry farm she brought with her a cow, a dog, two horses, and six servants. Actually they were six slaves and at her death she still had six slaves which she willed to members of her family.

The house must be visited on a guided tour, and since it was a rainy day they escorted us to the rear veranda overlooking the garden to await the beginning of our tour. The garden was redone in the late 1960s to be an English Garden. The sundial in the garden made of Acquia stone belonged to Mary and came with her from Ferry Farm.

After Mary died in 1789 her daughter Betty held a public auction to sell the items in the house. The list of the items auctioned still exists and it has help the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities identify items to be acquired for the house. Some things have been donated back to the house and some have been purchased and some are on loan. Everything else is of the period.

After Mary’s death the house was turned into a school for boys, and the Association purchased the house in 1890 to keep it from being dismantled and taken to the St. Louis World’s Fair for $4,050. It took 40 years to open it as a museum.

We begin our tour in the parlor where we are shown the chair rail and the crown molding made in the candle and flame pattern by indentured servants. Mary’s original teapot is in the parlor. Upstairs there is a case of personal items as well as the Washington family genealogy.

The most historic room in the house is Mary’s bedroom. George came here to get her blessing shortly after he was elected president and shortly before she died. She was too sick to understand the significance. In that room be sure to look for her "very best dressing glass ".

I could not find my photos of this part of our trip. This photo is from Wikipedia  "Closeup of Mary Washington House, Fredericksburg, VA IMG 3997" by Billy Hathorn - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -,_Fredericksburg,_VA_IMG_3997.JPG#/media/File:Closeup_of_Mary_Washington_House,_Fredericksburg,_VA_IMG_3997.JPG

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Flashback Thursday: Dining at a French cafeteria

When we stayed at the Holiday Inn at the Toison D'Or Shopping Center we ate our first nights dinner at the hotel. While it was okay, it was nothing special and like most hotel restaurants was a little pricey. Since we had arrived a little late and totally exhausted from having been lost and trying to find our way here, we were glad not to have to worry about food. 

The second night, we ventured into the mall to see what they had to offer and we discover the cafeteria. One thing I have to say, cafeterias in France are quite common, well priced and have amazingly good food. 

Like most cafeterias you grab your tray and head for the salad and appetizers. It is sold by weight so be careful about what you put on your plate. Be warned, when we were here, no one spoke English so you need to at least know how to read French to order your meal. The meat will be cooked to order if it is a steak or fish etc.

I ordered the choucroute which is an Alsatian dish of ham, sauerkraut, sausage and potatoes. it was good enough that I ordered it again the second night.

They have lots of dessert choices and an ice cream bar. You will be surprised just how economical it is to eat here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Illinois State Fair August 13-23

Illinois State Fair Promises Fun, Excitement for the Entire Family

Springfield, IL – Plan to visit Springfield for the Illinois State Fair August 13 – 23 for 10 days of fun and excitement for the entire family.

Fairgoers love trying new and unusual foods, and whether you’re craving apple strudel or sirloin on a stick, you’ll find something different to try this year. For a list of new food (and other) vendors, visit  

Other highlights this year include grandstand acts such as Justin Moore, Sammy Hagar, Fall Out Boy and Rascal Flatts; USAC and ARCA auto racing; harness racing; livestock judging; and dozens of free entertainment stages, contest, exhibits, and a carnival midway. A complete schedule of fair events can be found here

Springfield is the capital of Illinois and the home of Abraham Lincoln. In addition to the fair, the city offers numerous historic sites and museums, including the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Visitors will enjoy planning a trip to the fair that also includes the city’s attractions, interesting local restaurants and variety of lodging options.

Gina Gemberling, Executive Director of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau said, “The Illinois State Fair is something everyone should experience. It celebrates the rich agricultural heritage of the state and truly offers something for everyone. It’s a fun getaway for the whole family before it is time to go back to school.”

Interested in visiting Springfield to experience the Illinois State Fair? Let us help you plan your trip by visiting or calling 800-545-7300.


The Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau works to promote, service and sell Springfield, Illinois as a leisure and convention destination of distinction.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Stonewall Jackson Shrine

 "He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm." Lee commented on Jackson’s wound.

We were on the road after lunch heading for our next stop, Richmond, when I saw the sign for the Stonewall Jackson Shrine. How could I pass that up? I had no idea what it was, but a shrine to a general had to be worth a detour. It actually is quite a detour, maybe 4 or 5 miles of back roads from where I saw the sign.

We pulled up the long driveway and stopped to read the signs that were posted around the roundabout. I hadn’t really been aware of what an important stop this would turn out to be. The Stonewall Jackson Shrine is the farmhouse where the famous Confederate General died. It is owned by the National Park Service, which I always love because it keeps things more natural.

A graduate of West Point, Thomas Jackson was teaching at the Virginia Military Institute at the beginning of the Civil War. He was made a brigadier general after the first battle at Manassas. It was here that he earned his nickname when General Bee declared, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.”

His prowess as a general made his fame grow to mythic proportion on both sides. He was loved and feared in equal parts by his men and his enemies. It was one of those horrible turns of fate that saw him be shot by friendly fire on May 2, 1863, at the Battle of Chancellorville. It was as it turned out a major turning point in the war. It was not a fatal wound, and he was taken from the battlefield to a safe place to recuperate. His arm had to be amputated and his severed limb was taken to be buried at the family cemetery of his chaplain, B. Tucker Lacy. Ultimately, it was pneumonia that took his life.

He had been taken to Guinea Station, and the farmhouse where he died was part of Thomas Chandler's plantation. It was an office building that had been used as a doctor's office by one of the sons of the house. This building was chosen over the main house because it was private and quiet and he would be able to rest after the long, hard ambulance ride. It is hard to even imagine today what a horror that ride must have been. His left arm had been amputated at the battlefield hospital, and it was 27 miles in a wagon over rutty dirt roads to the house. That alone would have killed a normal man. He survived for six excruciating days.

About 45 percent of the interior of the house is original. It is very poignant to see the bed and the original blanket that covered the general. His wife, Mary Anna, and his baby daughter, Julia, arrived to on May 7th. The tiny house must have been bursting at the seems with the doctor, the staff, and the family. There are only four or five rooms on the two floors, but still, this is one of the most emotional places we visited on this trip. He was an amazing man and his death was a death blow to the Confederacy. He was also a highly religious man whose last words reflect the duality of his personality.

"A few moments before he died, he cried out in his delirium, 'Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks'—then stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and he said quietly, and with an expression, as if of relief, 'Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.'"

Later in our trip, we visited the house he and his wife shared in Lexington while he was a teacher. I wish I had known more about him and his life before I visited the place he died.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Flashback Thursday: Picturesque Fontenay Abbey

On October 29th 1118, 13 monks from Clairvaux led by St. Bernard himself, founded Fontenay Abbey. It was not until 12 years later that they settled on the site where the Abbey now stands. Their order was Cistercian and their goal was to found a monastery that would be totally self-sufficient and autonomous from other Cistercian monasteries. Much of Fontenay owes its existence to English money ironically, brought first by Ebrand of Arundel and later by a grant from King Edward III of England. Religious life continued here for 672 years. In 1792, the Directoire of Semur,  took possession and a paper mill was created on the property.

Luckily for Fontenay,  it came into the possession of Marc Seguin a 19th century engineer. He kept Fontenay from being destroyed by being a sympathetic landlord. He used the property without destroying its original beauty. He leased it to his son-in-law, one of the Montgolfier brothers. It finally ended up in the possession of Raymond Montgolfier's son in law Edward Aynard. It was he who began the restoration of Fontenay to its former splendor. Its restoration has now involved 5 generations of the Aynard family.

You enter through the gift shop which isn't such a bad idea. This was the only place we went where they wanted us to pay in Francs if we had them. We did. We picked up our guide books first to help us as well walked through the site.

The first building we visited was the church. As you enter you are greeted by Gregorian chant, very effective I thought. The building is simplicity itself, no stone steeple, no soaring roof, the interior in the shape of the Latin cross but it is imposing nevertheless. At the far end stands the beautiful statue of Our Lady Of Fontenay which dates from the 13th century. There are also the tombs of 2 of the abbey's benefactors Seigneur de Mello and his wife from the same period.

We walked around the courtyard in the cloister much as the monks must have once walked and visited the warming room, the Chapter House, the Scriptorium and the Calefactory. All of it beautifully restored.

You must also take the time to visit the Forge which has been restored. From there you can visit the pool which has some very large fish and also the beautiful fountain and the flue.

In warmer weather there are also gardens that may be visited.

We finished up back in the gift shop where I got myself a silver medal with Our Lady Of Fontenay on it and we visited their small cafeteria which is really just a few machines. It was a rainy, cold day and the hot chocolate was very welcome.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Late Summer Festivals in Wilmington, Delaware

Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen Fine Craft Fair (July 25 & 26)
The Brandywine Valley’s largest premier fine craft fair returns to the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Described as an indoor shopping experience, the show features an unparalleled collection of beautiful items all of which are handmade in America.  Find one-of-a-kind clothing,  jewelry, ceramics, glass, sculpture and fine furniture and meet the artisans who craft them.

America On Tap Craft Beer Festival (August 15)
Fifty of the country’s finest craft breweries will showcase their new releases in Wilmington’s Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park on Saturday from 2:30 until 6PM.  Sample more than 100 exceptional beers in an atmosphere filled with live music, food and an assortment of great vendors.  Tickets to this open air event can be purchased online at a discounted price or at the gate on the day of the event for $35.00.

August Quarterly (August 23-30)
The August Quarterly—or Big Quarterly—has the distinction of being the country’s  longest-running African American heritage festival.  The festival has evolved from a one-day meeting into a week-long celebration of religious freedom commemorating the founding of the Union Church of African Members by Peter Spencer in 1813.  This year’s celebration climaxes on August 30 with a 9AM Sunday service at the Chase Center on the Riverfront and afternoon festivities in Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park from 2 until 9PM.

Arden Fair (September 5; Rain date is September 6)
The Arden Fair is a time honored tradition in the Brandywine Valley.  Held on the Saturday before Labor Day on the Arden Gild Hall property in North Wilmington, it draws over one hundred twenty vendors offering hand-made crafts and jewelry and fifty antique and flea market dealers.  The day-long event runs from 10 until 6PM and features music in the grove, food, drink, amusement rides and children’s games.

Riverfront Blues Festival (July 31-August 2)
This three-day event in Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park features a stellar team of top blues artists.  This year’s exciting lineup includes Brandon Santini, Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials, Mississippi Heat and Low Rider band.  The fun kicks off on Friday afternoon at 4PM and continues through Sunday.

Brandywine Festival of the Arts(September 12 & 13)
The Brandywine Festival of the Arts has been a perennial favorite for over fifty years.  Typically listed among the top one hundred national shows, this annual event in Josephine Gardens in Wilmington’s Brandywine Park attracts hundreds of visiting artists and craftspeople from the East Coast and beyond.  Although the show is juried for quality, it is not pretentious.  Remarkable, one-of-a-kind pieces in a wide variety of media are available at an equally broad range of price points. In fact, the festival is considered to be one of the foremost places in Delaware to purchase original pieces of art that are sure to satisfy both the casual consumer and the avid collector.  Live music, a food court and free admission to the Brandywine Zoo are added bonuses.  Admission is $5.00 and children under 12 are free.

The Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau is a non-profit organization founded in 1978, chartered by the Governor of Delaware, the New Castle County Executive and the Mayor of Wilmington. Its mission is to serve as the community's customer-focused destination marketing organization, generating economic growth through leisure travel and meetings development by aggressively marketing attractions, facilities, amenities and services for visitors.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop Fredericksburg, Va.

Hugh Mercer was born in Scotland in 1725. He was a field surgeon at the Battle of Culloden Moor on the side of Bonnie Prince Charlie so it became expedient for him to flee after the defeat. He worked as a doctor on the frontier in America. He joined the Pennsylvania militia and served as a Col. In the French and Indian War. It was here that he first met George Washington. It may even have been George who suggested that he make his home in Fredericksburg.

Now if his story had ended here, it would have been a fascinating tale but it is just the beginning. He opened a medical practice in Fredericksburg in 1761 and when we enter the front door of his shop the year is 1774. All visits are done on a guided tour and you are assigned a guide.

Our guide loved her job, her enthusiasm was contagious. We begin our tour by learning about some of the herbs that the typical apothecary would have used. Amazingly, many of them are things we still use today in a more refined form. Not for the faint of heart the medical practices of yesteryear and Hugh Mercer was very much a man of his time. We are shown instruments that look like they belong in a torture chamber. We learn that he was able to remove a cataract from an eye, and when you realize that this was in the days before general anesthesia you get a small idea of how much pain this would have caused.

Soon we become familiar with terms that must have brought terror to the people of the 18th century, cupping, purges, enemas, inoculations, leeches, yuck. I bet you leeches were used to draw blood, well yes they were but if you had an ear infection they put a leech on a string and lowered it into your ear. Talk about the cure killing you.

Some of the practices seem barbaric to us today, we got a whole lesson on amputation, which was one of the leading causes of death in battles, it wasn’t the wound that killed you it was the infection from the amputation.

It is a fascinating if a bit disturbing tour. After we visit the shop and the office, we visit the upstairs on a self-guided tour. There are some interesting displays including an account book belonging to General Washington.

Hugh Mercers joined the Continental Army and fought at the Battle of Trenton in 1776. He was killed in hand-to-hand combat at the Battle of Princeton in 1777. He was 55 years old. Had he lived, he would have been remembered as one of the great leaders of the American Revolution. He passed his military prowess on to his great, great, great grandson George Patton. Be sure to visit his statue which is located close to Kenmore on Washington Avenue.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Massachusetts: The Sleeper McCann House Gloucester

Beauport, The Sleeper McCann House, is a historic destination in Gloucester, Mass. It is maintained by Historic New England. It was May when we went to visit and the flowers in the garden were in full bloom. The gardens alone are worth a visit.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Flashback Thursday: The Citadel Besancon

Vauban, Louis XIV's architect, is responsible for most of the building of the Citadel in Besancon. It rises 100 meters above the old city and reminds me very much of the citadel in Quebec City. Once in Quebec we walked up the wooden stairs from the rue de Champlain below and I vowed never to do it again, little did I know that I would do something even harder.

As you enter Besancon, you are warned not to park in the city so we grabbed the first parking lot we found, right below the citadel. We started the walk up; it wasn't too bad if you're a mountain goat, and it got progressively worse. The stairs are very steep, in poor repair, and have no hand rails. We all made it up alive, but I was shot for about an hour.

Be warned, the restaurants are closed in the cold weather, so you won't be getting any restorative tea or coffee.  There is an information booth as you enter the compound and by the way a very large parking lot, so don't make the same mistake we did, drive up.

You can spend the better part of a day visiting all the museums here. There is a permanent exhibit on Vauban and his work on the Citadel. There is the Franche Comte Museum which is history and cultural museum. But what you really don't want to miss is The Museum of the Resistance and the Deportation. This is not a display for young children however. It is graphic and extremely violent, as the times warranted. It details the French Resistance fighters and the violent end that many of them met. It also covers the Deportation of both Jews and Christians to the Concentration Camps of Eastern Europe. Very graphic and very touching.

For the children, though, there is a zoo, an aquarium, a Noctarium and an Insectarium. Certainly plenty to keep them occupied.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Offerings

Classic American Comedy The Foreigner to open on Main Stage at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival; In Repertory with Henry V

Center Valley, PA – A "real, live foreigner" creates hilarious misunderstandings while delivering heartwarming laughter in Larry Shue's award-winning comedy, The Foreigner, in the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's production previewing July 8 and 9 and opening Friday, July 10. Playing on the Main Stage through August 2, the production features the same repertory cast performing in Henry V.

Madcap mischief ensues when a diverse cast of characters meet in Betty Meek's Fishing Lodge Resort in Georgia. Sgt. "Froggy" LeSueur, a British munitions expert, PSF veteran Carl N. Wallnau, insists on bringing his pathologically shy friend Charlie Baker, played by Jacob Dresch, across the pond for a vacation.

The widowed innkeeper, Betty, Jane Ridley, is thrilled to meet someone from another country—even when Froggy tells her that Charlie does not speak English and should not be asked questions.
The cast includes a real-life married couple with extensive PSF credits playing an engaged couple: Emmy-nominee Marnie Schulenburg, who portrays the Southern debutante Catherine Simms, and Zack Robidas (It's Complicated, Arbitrage), who plays the Rev. David Marshall Lee.

David Button appears as Catherine's younger brother, Ellard Simms, who's presumed not to be the sharpest tool in the shed. The county property inspector with designs on the resort, Owen Musser, is Anthony Lawton, whose many PSF credits include twice portraying the clown Feste in Twelfth Night. The ensemble includes Philadelphia actors William Zielinski and Brian McCann, and Emmy winner Wayne S. Turney.

Long-time PSF actor and director Jim Helsinger, who directed last year's Lend Me a Tenor, leads a creative team that includes six-time Emmy winner Bob Phillips, set designer; Marla Jurglanis, costumes; Thom Weaver, lights; Kristian Dereck Ball, sound. Jane Ridley serves as dialect coach and Alison Hassman as production stage manager.

Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects is production sponsor for The Foreigner; co-sponsors are Bazzini and Keenan-Nagle Advertising, Inc.

The show runs July 8- August 2 on the Main Stage in repertory with Henry V.
Preview: Wed. July 8th, 8pm
Preview: Thu., July 9th, 8pm
Opening: Fri., July 10th, 8pm
Tue. July 14th, 7pm
Wed., July 15th, 8pm
Sun., July 19th, 2pm
Wed. July 22nd, 8pm
Fri., July 24th, 8pm
Sat., July 25th, 8pm
Sun., July 26th, 2pm & 7:30pm
Tue., July 28th, 7pm
Thu., July 30th, 8pm
Sat., Aug. 1st, 2pm, Audio Description for patrons who are visually impaired.
Sun., Aug. 2nd, 7:30pm

Amaranth Foundation is the 2015 season sponsor. Associate season sponsors are the Szarko Family, Harry C. Trexler Trust, Dr. James and Penny Pantano, and Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, a professional company in residence at DeSales University, is the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth and a professional, not-for-profit theatre company. An independent 501 c 3 organization, PSF receives support from DeSales University and relies on contributions from individuals, government agencies, corporations and foundations.

PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.

For tickets, call 610.282.WILL [9455] or go online to

The Festival's 24th season continues with Around the World in 80 Days (through July 12); Henry V (July 16- August 2); Pericles (July 22- August 2); Shakespeare for Kids (July 22- August 1) and Rapunzel (through August 1).

One night events include Jeremiah James performing a special concert, Choose Love, on Monday, July 27 at 7:30pm on the Main Stage. James recently played Javert in PSF's record-breaking production of Les Misérables.

Tickets are available by calling 610.282.9455, or online at

Monday, July 6, 2015

Virginia: George Washington's Chidhood Home Ferry Farm

First let me warn you, if you think that you are going to come to Ferry Farm to see the house where George Washington spent his childhood, you are going to be disappointed. Ferry Farm is an archaeological project. The original farm is long gone. Having said that it is still a very interesting place to visit.

You begin your visit at the Visitor Center. This is where you are going to paint the picture in your head that will carry you through the grounds. We arrived on a rainy Saturday afternoon and we had the site to ourselves. Even had we decided not to walk around the grounds there would have been plenty to read and enjoy in the Visitor Center. Ferry farm is included on the Passport but if you haven’t purchased one be sure to ask for the AAA discount.

The exhibit in the visitor center was entitled "George Washington, Boy before the legend". We learn that he moved here in 1738 at 6 years old with his father Augustine, his mother Mary, and his younger brothers Samuel, John, and Charles, and his sister Betty. His older half-brothers were off in England getting their formal education. On Christmas Eve 1740 the house burned down. Then in 1743 his father died. His elder half-brother Lawrence inherited the main family home, Mount Vernon.

At age 15 he went off into the far reaches of Virginia with Lord Fairfax and it was the beginning of his career as both a surveyor and a soldier. Much of his reputation was being developed during this period. He was the quintessential gentleman, as a young man, he copied the "Rules of Civility, a guide to gentlemanly behavior. In many ways, it became the benchmark that he modeled his life upon. He was an elegant dancer, he loved to gamble, to fence, to foxhunt, and he was a superb horseman

I could continue for an hour with all we learned in the visitor center but do take a walk out into the grounds. It was October so the archaeological dig was closed for the year but there is plenty of evidence left uncovered. There is ongoing research on the property. They have not yet discovered the exact location of the house built after the 1740 fire. They also know that there were several warehouses, a kitchen, and at least one slave quarters. They have excavated more than 500 exploratory holes. The items removed from the holes are being identified and when they have more information that will begin large-scale digs.

You can take a walk that goes along the Rappahannock and goes to the site of the Ferry crossing which gave the farm its name. It also played a vital part in the battle of Fredericksburg. If you are interested in George Washington this is a must visit and even if you're not, it is a fascinating look at mid-18th century life.

Friday, July 3, 2015

British Columbia: Return to Butchart Garden, Victoria

The first place that my cousin Chris took Al and I in Victoria was Butchart Gardens. It is an amazingly beautiful place that was created from an abandoned quarry. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Flashback Thursday: Carrefour La Toison D'Or Mall Dijon

Carrefour- La Toison D'Or Mall-  This is one of the cornerstone stores of this Mall. It is a sort of combination Sears-Sports Authority-Super Walmart. They have everything from ski equipment, to appliances (stoves, washers, etc.), fresh fruits, vegetables, and a huge fish department. 

Need wine? They have it. Want to buy a leather jacket?  This is your store. Talk about one stop shopping. I even bought mustard flavored potato chips here. You can get a fresh roasted chicken or a cold sandwich. Toothpaste or shampoo, I had a ball here and got some great mustard, vanilla bath scrub, hippo shaped cookie cutters and if we could have figured out how to carry them in the car,  we would have picked up some really inexpensive downhill skis. 

One peculiar thing though, I got in one line and tried to pay cash, nope not that line, card only, you also bag your own purchases, hey for these prices who cares. This was definitely the place to go to get the best deals on any gifts you want to purchase to take home.

I was so busy shopping, that I never took any pictures but you get the idea.