As we headed down the road, we were doused with a sprinkling of rain, but as we entered Virginia, the rains subsided and we had hopes of a relaxing walk through Middleburg, Virginia. In Upperville, we spied the quaint Hunter's Head Tavern(huntersheadtavern.com), tucked along a desolate country road. The main building is composed of the 1750"s log cabin with its original log beams, fireplace with lofty mantle and wood hewn floors. This restaurant prides itself on sourcing local farms and using organic produce. Lucky for us, there is a daily vegan special. The wrapped cabbage with heirloom grains of quinoa and brown rice and delicate sauce was quite delicious. There is an English pub atmosphere and we could easily picture ourselves back in England with the authentic phone booth outside.
Middleburg, known for its horsy set is a twenty minute ride away. There are quaint shops and a wonderful specialty grocery there where I recently rubbed shoulders with Robert Duvall, the actor. Potomac Overlook Regional Park is nearby and nice for strolling on a clear day.
Meandering through the now heavier downpour, we reached our destination of the Rosemont Manor. Rolling up the long gravel driveway, adorned with rows of enormous oaks and poplars, toward the manor, it was as if we had been transported to the era of Downton Abbey. Tall graceful columns line the entrance and beckon the weary traveler in. The gazebo on the West Lawn, the South Lawn's fountain or the spacious green where JFK's helicopter frequently landed, can be the setting for the sixty weddings that occur here each year. We were treated to a tour of the mansion with Amanda who led us through the stately dining room, cozy parlor, and main hall where we observed the Shenandoah Mountains in the distance through the floor to ceiling windows. In the attic we learned about the senior staff who, back in the day, were "fortunate" to live in the stable like compartments where they froze in the winter and boiled in the summer. The home was last owned by Harry Byrd Sr, a conservative democrat, who entertained many statesmen and celebrities on the sixty acres of grounds. Amanda had prepared a thoughtful snack of avocado rice crackers, fruit, nuts and complimentary wine for us and we consume it while watching a wedding rehearsal outside.
Our cozy room was refreshing due to its lack of technology. While there is WIFI in the manor, I opted to go tech free for twenty four hours and enjoy quiet conversation, catching up on my reading and some pleasant meditation. I can't say the same for KO. (Lol) We did enjoy our macro food from home and the convenient use of the frig outside our door.
In the morning, after a relaxing and country silent restful night, our dietary needs were gracefully respected as we discussed our breakfast options. The chef provided us with our oatmeal prepared with water and a fruit salad. Vegetarians could have enjoyed the spinach frittata with homemade biscuits. One of the nicest things about bed and breakfasts is getting a chance to chat with the other guests. We met a lovely couple from Boulder, Colorado and got into an interesting discussion on being gluten free. We exchanged suggestions about local Baltimore restaurants that have gluten free options, chatted about the lack of nutrition training in the Public Health graduate programs, and finished with discussing the blog.
Before leaving, we strolled the grounds and pictured life in the 1700s on these 200 acres, before cars, iPhones and electricity. Listening to the sounds of nature, the trilling of the birds, the gentle patter of a drizzle and the scurrying about of woodland wildlife, I could just imagine how relaxing it might have been to be manor born.
Our next stop was the State Arboretum of Virginia. About ten minutes from the Manor, the Arboretum is a nice spot to stroll off your breakfast. There is a circular road that surrounds the property and takes about an hour to complete. Many exotic trees, including rows and rows of Cedars of Lebanon, line the walking trail. We hoofed it along the path so as to not get drenched in the persistent rain, but still enjoyed our chat and constitutional.
A short drive away, we reached our next destination of Winchester, Virginia and its inviting Pedestrian Mall in the historic district. We enjoyed dipping in and out of the clothing, handicraft and artisan stores.
Of note was the gallery of Eugene B. Smith. His watercolor paintings of seasons, pastoral farm settings and Japanese scenery was a treat to behold. He came out to greet us and was very willing to discuss his career, history and some thoughts about the town. Our rest stop for tea at the local coffeehouse was a welcome break from the rain and we ended with a visit to the town bookstore. I love to support local independent bookstores so I bought a copy of the Atlantic's editor, Scott Stossel's new book, My Age of Anxiety. I could have easily bought it on Amazon, but then these bookstores will go the route of Meg Ryan's independent bookstore in I've Got Mail!
Our weekend was turning out to be so much fun, despite the torrential downpours, that we decided to head to Strasburg, Virginia and catch some local music at Christina's Cafe. While munching on a corn tortilla "pizza" topped with onion, asparagus, cabbage, black beans, mushrooms and rice, we were treated to some Americana acoustic music from a local trio. Weary from our travels we rested our heads and bodies at the Victorian Hotel Strasburg. Built in 1902 as a hospital when the tariff was four dollars to see the doc, the hotel converted to a hostelry in 1913. The lilting British accent of the clerk and the floral wallpaper and antique trappings took us back to our wonderful visit to Cornwall and St. Ives in the U.K. last summer.
As we turn in for the night, I feel so happy that I did not allow poor weather conditions and a dreary winter outlook to keep me from enjoying this wonderful break from the city and all the stresses I left there, if only for a two day respite. Somehow these weekend breaks really make it easier to carry on with our everyday life, and nearby Virginia was just the relaxing spot to take a breather.