Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving at The Wayside Inn

Janice had a brilliant brainwave of having Thanksgiving dinner at the Wayside Inn in Middleton, a short 40 minute drive for both of us and a pretty place to eat. Since our 'party' had dropped to just us two, this sounded perfect, and we'd have no clearing up afterwards. Even more perfect! The day before we had about 3" of snow but thankfully, it had melted from the roads and I could get off the hill OK.
I took the country route to Middletown and got there early so I drove up to Stephens City to have a nose around briefly.
I always pop into the truck stop when I'm in the area and today a couple of lovely old trucks were parked there, so I leaned out of the window to grab a shot. Then a house just on the outskirts had a humungous blow up turkey on its lawn and as I slowed down for a photo I called out, "Happy Thanksgiving" to a couple of guys who looked like they'd just shown up for their dinner. They laughed at the attention their turkey was getting.
I drove back to Middletown and went inside the inn. This place is steeped in history and is America's longest continuous running inn, since 1797, and was used as a hospital for troops during the Civil War. It is also supposed to be haunted, and there have been many reports from guests and staff of sightings and strange sounds. Some people have been terrified by feeling they were being glared at and oppressive atmospheres, while others have seen soldiers walking around, heard battle sounds or heard footsteps. I was busting to experience some of this myself but it wasn't to be. I had my camera with me and wanted to see if I could capture any orbs but there were too many folks around to be setting off my flash so I didn't try. It actually made the list of 10 Most Haunted Hotels in the U.S. last year.

This is the new website for the inn.
This is the old website which gives the history of the Wayside.
 The inn was also featured in Mort Kunstler's painting, Wayside Farewell. The story behind it is here.
The inn is obviously very popular at Thanksgiving, today it was full. There are rooms on the main level with tables and also a lower level with more tables. Fireplaces roared and voices chattered with glasses and cutlery tinkling. All the tables were different but all were laid out with cloth napkins and heavy silverware, and pretty autumnal centerpieces with tiny oil lamps.
The buffet had plenty to offer, turkey, beef and ham. Mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, yams with marshmallows, stuffing and gravy. There were a couple of other weird things there, one of which was a fruit salad thing which Janice was wolfing down with her turkey and yams. I couldn't do the yams either but everything else was great, and fresh.
Then it was time for desert. Again, lots of choice, pumpkin pie, apple cobbler, chocolate brownies and pecan pie. I don't usually like pecan pie but this was obviously homemade so I gave it a go. And it was delicious, in fact, the best I've ever had. It wasn't over sweet and as Janice noted, the flavor that most stood out was pecan. The pastry wasn't sweet and complimented the wonderfully sticky interior, that reminded me of treacle tart. My English friends will be able to relate to that. We had 2 cups of coffee and I had to go back for a second piece. I so badly wanted a third but I was fit to bust and knew another mouthful would destroy what had been a lovely lunch.
We paid our bill and had a walk around exploring the rest of the inn downstairs.
We decided to walk around Middletown to try and shake down our lunch. Neither of us wanted to nap! It wasn't too cold outside but snowflakes were falling so we grabbed umbrellas then hit the sidewalk.
The Wayside Theater closed in August last year after a 52 year run.
It seems the business had a lot of financial problems yet the community were shocked when it actually closed. There doesn't appear to be any developments towards opening it up again.
We walked the streets of Middletown, enjoying looking at the old houses and peoples' yards. Everyone must have been indoors stuffing themselves with turkey as the place was completely empty, we didn't pass a single soul, although we were amused to smell BBQ on one street but we couldn't ascertain which house had their grill fired up in the snow.
We then drove up to Stephens City and wandered up and down the Main Street, but we both noticed as the light was fading, the temperatures were dropping, so we gave up and headed back to the cars. The walk had helped a little with the tummy overload and as we said goodbye, we were planning for our next stuffing, the Christmas bash at Blandy Camera Club on Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Weird and Wonderful at Old Lucketts Store

On Saturday Janice and I went to Old Lucketts in Leesburg, a store and a design house, both filled with vintage hip household wares as well as clothing and accessories. I haven't been here for over 5 years as it's always so busy, but today we lucked out. There were people there but it wasn't packed and we didn't feel that we got in peoples' way with our cameras. We even had a room to ourselves a few times.
 Areas of the house were decorated for Christmas but it wasn't excessive, and there were a lot of decorations that I might have been tempted to buy, but since I'm going home to good old Blighty for Christmas this year, there's no point in me putting up any decorations. And I'm actually enjoying the respite, both from the work of putting it all up, and not being tempted to spend a small fortune on new decorations, which I always end of doing.
There were some cute little pieces that caught my eye. In fact, it was hard focusing on just one area as there was inevitably something else that would blink or glitter and I'd be drawn towards it. Every single corner is crammed with goodies, new and old, and some handmade. The earrings above really reminded me of my grandmother, she would wear ones similar to these.
There's another cottage next to the main store which was also filled with goodies. I bought a beautiful scarf from here and nearly got a shawl too, until I noticed that the lady behind the counter was also wearing one and hers was shedding badly, leaving tawny colored threads all over her maroon sweater. I hung mine back on the rail.
Outside there were plenty of objects to look at and study too. I particularly loved the huge pairs of doors that were scattered all over the grounds but was saddened to think that they would likely just rot away after sitting out in all weather conditions. There was a lot of old furniture outside which I'm sure would never be purchased. I did want this big old lion though. What a beautiful noble face. Want, want, want!
We then ventured inside the design house, a building that has each room decorated by a different designer with all the decorating accessories for sale.The rooms are beautiful but I could not be tempted with any of the gorgeous decorations, although I did pick up a lot and then put them back down again.
I spotted this shell on a table and thought it looked like something from a gallery so we both started shooting it from various angles and making a lot of fuss over our endeavors. I have to admit we got a few strange looks from the folks that came in the room.
There's also another house across the road selling stuff and had a lot of zany things outside but very little of interest inside except a comfortable chair placed in front of a fire.
There were a lot of heads lined up on racks out the back which creeped me out a bit but looked cool through the lens. Most of the artifacts looked as they they had been weathered too much to sell but they were very photogenic. I found these two words and lined them up for a photo.
I ended up taking a load of photos and both of us said we would like to come back in the spring for the Easter decorations. This is a unique and interesting venue with a lot of unusual items for sale.We left due to grumbling tummies and forsaking our usual beer, headed to Panera Bread for hot soup and a sandwich.