On Saturday, I met my friend Nancy at Montpelier, James Madison's home just down the road from Rob's. It was a beautiful day and we got there early to partake in the house tour. I was surprised that there weren't more visitors as our group was relatively small.
We weren't allowed to take photos inside the house which has just been restored to the Madisons period as after Dolley sold the house, it was dramatically altered. Madison referred to Montpelier as, "A squirrel's jump from heaven." The house was never damaged from the Civil War but was once used for a court marshall for deserters who were tried and executed here.
The temple was added in 1809 and sits over the ice house. Madison used the temple as an outdoor study.
A couple of ladies were cooking outside the same as the slaves used to and had made a delicious gumbo. I was curious to know if the Cowboy Charcoal was available back then as it did blend in with their other period cookware.
This bronze statue of James and Dolley was only commissioned in 2009; I thought it had been there for years.
Nancy and I were delighted to find a 'conker tree' or 'yellow buckeye'. It's a Horse Chestnut tree and drops these nuts every autumn. We filled our pockets while explaining to other visitors how the game is played after which they picked them up also to take home for their kids.
A beautiful dutch barn at the back of the gardens.
The Madison's graves. Across the way was the slaves cemetery with the ground covered with periwinkle foliage and the white granite head and foot markers.
We were puzzled by this gravestone and others like it until a tour guide explained that they were racehorse graves that belonged to Marion Dupont, the daughter of the Duponts who bought the house from Dolley Madison. Battleship was the only American horse to ever win the British Sweepstakes.
We finished the day with a slave tour since Montpelier had over 110 slaves and currently there is excavating going on where their housing used to be. They were treated very well here and Paul Jennings was Madison's favorite who was with him when he died.
After the tour we drove to a local winery, Keswick, where we paid $8.41 for half a glass of wine. When I commented on the tide being out, the lad indignantly spluttered that I had 4oz. More like 4 gulps. The wine was wonderful but the ambiance was not, especially having been sullied by that young whippersnapper, so I shan't go back there again, and I won't post any photos. (Please imagine the sound of a loud raspberry now.)
Sunday was a rainy morning but Rob very kindly changed the oil in Stuart. I stayed out in the rain with him but since there was little I could do to help, I snapped a couple of images.
Later we went to Lance and Nicole's as Hilary their babysitter was flying back home during the week and I'd promised her some photos of her and the kids.
I'm especially proud of this one, the lighting and expressions were perfect.
After ice cream and goodbyes, it was back to Rob's where I prepared the conkers for battle. To be quite honest Rob and I were complete rubbish at aiming at each other's nuts so we gave up, and I did have the rules a little wrong. Whatever. Here is an awesome page I found on conker facts and the proper rules. Let me know when you want to wage a Conker Conquest.