Tuesday, 2 December 2014

November - on the road

It is odd how a week seems to take over the whole memory of one month but our trip to Philadelphia seems to be the only thing in my memory or diary for November other than my daughter announcing she would be getting married 23rd December!  Wow....  exciting stuff.

There was another, more minor, bit of excitement and a terrific bargain at the beginning of the month.  My iPad didn't seem to be lasting as long on its battery - not enough really to warrant getting rid of it but with the Air2 due out we had a look at what it would cost to swap it for the next generation iPad.  Ken's theory being, as mine was over three years old there would come a point it would die and maybe then I wouldn't be getting such good offers.  So trading mine in at Best Buy reaped me $150 then they were also giving a $50 gift card (if you bought an iPad) which could be used against the new iPad ..... I guess that's because Apple won't let stores discount their prices (?).  It seemed like a no brainer $200 off a new iPad.

So by the sixth, Ken, iPad Air2 and I were winging our way to Philadelphia for my birthday trip.

We arrived at our hotel (and the location of the show) a little after the four-day mini fest began.  Ice cream and fantastic toppings for Ken and minis for me - what a great way to start.

they know how to do toppings

I have written about the show in My Show blog and also a review for the magazine so you will forgive me if I don't do it again here.  I hear the sighs of relief from my not interested in minis friends and relatives.   

1:144 scale slide out interiors

On Friday we did drive into Philly for a look around and to see the Liberty Bell - nothing like being a tourist when you are one!  Most of our stay I was 'doing' minis and Ken found places to visit like a car museum that I wouldn't have been madly interested in, so we were both happy bunnies.

We intended to do more mooching on Sunday but being old tourists decided feet up and watching the Grand Prix on TV in a great hotel room sounded like a much better deal.

Monday and we were on the road.  Ken had planned a three day drive down to Richmond along the Jersey coast - and others!  Indeed we managed to go through five US states.  New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia.

Monday we headed to Cape May.  En route we did a bit of a detour to take a look at Atlantic City - yup, just like the movies.  A sort of chilly Las Vegas.  The best thing ever on the journey was a sign for a casino which read:

Man v. Chicken play tic-tac-toe against a live chicken.

I did fall in love with a wonderful building that at certain angles actually did disappear in the sky.

Cape May was one of the prettiest places we have visited in the States, small, relatively unspoiled, holiday town.  I thought we got to see it in its best frock as we were well out of the summer season and everywhere was uncrowded and normal.  I bet it is heaving in season as it is such a tiny place.  It is full of the most fabulous assortment of Victorian houses. In America, Victorian wealth and Gingerbread trimmings was a potent mix.  Best of all I got to see one of my favourite styles.  This is a house that was sold in its zillions all over the States - a Sears and Roebuck bungalow.  Yes, English readers, you could order a full house from the catalogue and it would be delivered to your plot and away you go with your hammer and nails.  Think Ikea had flat pack sorted? - they have nothing on early America.

The bungalow

We had a glimpse at the winery and lighthouse but both were closed - I am decidedly odd as I actually quite like that.

Tuesday began with  an impressive ferry crossing from Cape May to Lewes.  One hour 40 minutes so it is  good stretch of water.  Happy it was a calm day.  Not sure how the cars don't get drenched in sea water when its rough.

just a net at the front???

Off the ferry and into a fish and chip shop - it was as real as you are going to get outside the UK itself.  There is much joy to be found in fish and chips when you are an exile.

Ironic name as it is a phrase a Brit (!) would never use

From Lewes we headed to Cape Charles - not such a pretty town but a nice drive along autumn tinted roads.  

Wednesday, my 69th birthday morning, I woke up in a motel in Cape Charles, Virginia.  I still occasionally realise just how astonishing things like that would have seemed if I could have told my younger self that's where I would be on that birthday.

I opened cards and gifts that, like me, had travelled from Bury to Naples, flying across the Atlantic and then gone on to fly to Philadelphia and motor on down to Cape Charles.  Nice to have friends and family with me even as tokens.

Our next crossing from Cape Charles was an even more interesting one.  We needed to get back onto the proper US mainland from all these bits hanging off it.  To do this at that point you use the Chesapeake bridge and tunnel.  As the name says it is a bridge that goes down into a tunnel to allow shipping to cross and then emerge back onto another lump of bridge and off you go.

From here we drove on down to Richmond arriving in just enough time to make my birthday even more 'bizarre'.  We visited Agecroft Hall.  Those of you local to me may be wondering if that is just a co-incidental name as we live about six miles from Agecroft.  In fact it is the very same place.  I have copied the briefest explanation of how it got from A to B.

Mr. Thomas C. Williams, Jr. of Richmond, Virginia, a wealthy entrepreneur, purchased Agecroft Hall upon the advice of this architect, Henry G. Morse. Mr. Williams, whose financial interests included tobacco, banking, and shipping, wished to build a true English manor house on his 23 acres overlooking the James River. Agecroft was dismantled, crated, transported across the ocean, and reconstructed in Richmond's Windsor Farms neighborhood. Windsor Farms was the fashionable new neighborhood being developed by Mr. Williams on the Williams' family farm site which had long been known as 'Windsor.'

The architect, Mr. Morse, was retained to oversee the reconstruction. The intention was not to replicate Agecroft as it had stood in Lancashire, but rather to create a functional and comfortable house reminiscent of its English predecessor. The original floor plan was abandoned and many 20th century conveniences were included. Reconstruction took two years and cost approximately $250,000, a considerable sum for that time. The project was completed during the spring of 1928.

Sadly, the following year Mr. Williams died. With great foresight and generosity, he stipulated in his will that upon his widow's death or relocation, Agecroft Hall would become a house museum. The core of the endowment for the museum came from the estates of Mr. Williams, his brother, A.D. Williams, and his sister, Sue Williams Massie. The museum is administered by the Agecroft Association, under the control of a Board of Trustees. The house and gardens opened to the public in 1969.

For English sensibilities it makes it a very odd place to visit. Agecroft, but not, Tudor but not and even the docent's slant on English history is, quite rightly, from an American perspective but jangles on the ear. An all round odd experience and even odder to leave the grounds and realise you are, in effect, in a very grand housing estate with neighbours either side and across the way.

back of the house in a lovely sunset

Thursday morning in Richmond and we had a little time to kill so, to round off my mini fest, we visited a dollhouse shop. Not for actual shopping but out of curiosity. They had a favourite of mine in the window a 1/24th Monticello - Jefferson's house.

1:24 Monticello doll house 

We had discovered a planetarium in our GPS that we thought we'd take a peek at and duly arrived at an impressive 1930's building which turned out to be a High School. It did indeed have a planatarium but not open to the public. How very odd.

I seem to have missed out the planetarium 

Off to our flight and back home to Naples.

The second half of the month was absorbed in the usual meals, shops, Ken at the Conservancy, me messing with minis and trying to be mother-of-the-bride from this side of the pond.

Three more sleeps and I will be really home....... in Bury.

Photos of the trip Philadelphia 6 -13 November 2014