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Needlepoint Gifts Epitomize Labors of Love

Hand-needlepointed accessories and gifts become immediate heirlooms thanks to their ingredients of durability, handcrafted quality and thoughtfulness. We’ve waxed poetic many a time about this classic craft, especially when it comes to a Christmas tree full of needlepointed ornaments. Some needlepointed treasures are cheeky and fun, like those the Glam Pad showcased recently. Others like those I ran across this summer are sacred and commemorative. 

Stained Glass Window Banner

Fellow chorister vCa bestowed a breathtaking heirloom banner to our church designed after this

Gabriel with Alpha and Omega window at St. James's Episcopal Church © The Gracious Posse

stained glass window in the chapel.

Banner by Vienna Cobb Anderson via St. James's Episcopal Church

The banner measures 3′ x 5′. vCa gave a photo of the window to her favorite needlepoint shop in Washington, DC, The Point of it All, and they painted the canvas. She devoted nine months to stitching the banner, and St. James’s Episcopal Church dedicated it in late May 2016. 

Worcester Cathedral 

I was fascinated with the needlepointed pew cushions, 

needlepoint pew cushion at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

needlepoint pew cushion at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

needlepoint pew cushion at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

needlepoint pew cushion at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

needlepoint pew cushion at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

needlepoint kneeling cushion at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

kneeling cushions,

Worcester needlepoint kneeling pad

needlepoint kneeling cushion at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

wall banners,

needlepoint wall banner at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

and chair covers  

needlepoint chair cover at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

needlepoint chair cover at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

needlepoint chair cover at Worcester Cathedral © The Gracious Posse

that we discovered during my choir’s week-long residence in Worcester Cathedral in July. These labors of love personalized the majestic interior of the cathedral with so many intriguing themes and styles that left me wishing to know about the history and crafter behind each of them. Since returning from our trip, I’ve learned that St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church here in Richmond organized a Needlepoint Guild to create covers for kneelers in their recently renovated sanctuary.

Sunset Beach Christmas Ornament

In August we celebrated 25 years of vacationing at Sunset Beach with lDd and family. She surprised me with this keepsake.

Sunset Beach Needlepoint Ornament front © The Gracious Posse

Sunset Beach Needlepoint Ornament back © The Gracious Posse

It has already become a cherished reminder of a beloved family and tradition. I expect my girls to fight over who gets it in the years to come.

My recent needlepoint encounters have me itching to stitch. In our disposable and instant, next-day culture, you can’t help but pause to appreciate the time and talent that even a small ornament takes. Whether the canvas is large or small, cheeky or sacred, a hand-needlepointed gift will always define the term labor of love.


August 24, 2016

Iceland: 48 Hours in the Enchanting Hot Spot for Travel

Iceland? Is it on your list of must-see destinations? If you love natural wonders, unique culture and fascinating history, it merits a spot on your bucket list.

Traveling to Iceland is easier than you might think. You can fly direct or, as I did, on a stopover returning from Europe or any Icelandair destination. One of my fellow choristers discovered Icelandair’s My Stopover promotion enabling a traveller on its airline to layover up to 7 additional nights at no additional airfare cost. With such a tempting incentive, on our return trip from England for our choir trip, LDB and I made a 2-night stopover in Reykjavik to see the latest hot spot for travel, as Caroline Wallace of Caroline Travels the World dubbed it in her latest newsletter. Now I know what she means and hope for a return visit.

Though sitting remotely in the North Atlantic, and with a population of only 330,000 nationwide,

Iceland in the North Atlantic © The Gracious Posse

Iceland offers the sophisticated amenities demanded by today’s tourists. Its capital, Reykjavik, sports a hip and digitally connected culture with tourism as its number one industry today, outstripping fishing. It’s not touristy, but tourist-ready. Luckily two friends advised me on the must-do activities for our short stay.

Day 1, 3:30 p.m. ~ the Clock is Ticking

Upon landing at Keflavik airport (KEF) at 3:30 pm, we took a Flybus airport shuttle to our hotel. FYI, if you go, be prepared for a longer-than-advertised 45-minute trip from Keflavik to Reykjavik. Ours took 1.5 hours, the only sore point of the trip (a cab ride exceeds $100). After checking into Hotel Borg downtown, 

Hotel Borg © The Gracious Posse

we explored the city center on foot. Sitting at 65°N latitude (the Arctic Circle is at 66°), Iceland is indeed the land of the midnight sun: when I went to bed at 11 p.m daylight still prevailed. The long hours of July daylight gave us plenty of time to explore. I took this picture of the majestic Voyage sculpture at the Reykjavik Harbor

Voyager sculpture at Reykjavik Harbor © The Gracious Posse

after 10pm.

Walking along the harbor, the new Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center (Harpa for short) stopped us in our tracks.

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center © The Gracious Posse

We tried to see How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes but couldn’t work it in our schedule. Next time! We booked a Golden Circle tour at one of the many tourist bureaus for the next day and dined at a highly-rated (by Tripadvisor) restaurant, Ostabudin, where local fish and lamb star. It did indeed live up to its rating.

Day 2 ~ Geothermal Pools and the Golden Circle

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Blue Lagoon, the major tourist attraction in Iceland. Note I said tourist. The locals avoid it. Instead, in Reykjavik they relax and recharge in one of the public geothermal pools. Natural geothermal water is undoubtedly one of Iceland’s greatest natural resources. Every village, town and city has at least one public pool. We headed to Laugaralslaug, about a 40 minute brisk walk from the city center.

Laugardalslaug city pool © The Gracious Posse

Laugardalslaug offers a 50m outdoor pool, two children’s pools with a thrilling water slide, and best of all, naturally heated and mineral-rich hot pots (hot tubs), ranging from 38ºc to 44°c (100.4°f to 111.2°f). With air temperature of 55°, we felt energized rather than freezing moving from hot pot to hot pot. The photo below shows the hot pots.

laugardalslaug with arros via


Our return trip to the hotel down the main shopping district along Laugavegur Street tempted my pocketbook with gorgeous woolen goods and unique nordic clothing boutiques, but we had to make the next stop on our condensed itinerary: the Golden Circle Tour.

The Golden Circle

Golden Circle Map via Sterner brochure


Created by the tourism industry, the Golden Circle (shown in yellow above) shows the traveler the most highlights-per-mile of Icelandic natural wonder. Sterna, our tour operator, and Simon, our driver, completed the circle in 7 hours, beginning with a filming location on the way to Thingvillir for the popular Game of Thrones show.

Game of Thrones filming location © The Gracious PosseIt was LDB‘s equivalent of going to Highclere Castle.

Thingvellir (Þingvellir)

Thingvellir, a UNESCO world heritage site and national park, holds great significance in Icelandic history and is a geological wonder as the only rift valley sitting above sea level. 

Pingvellir National Park © The Gracious Posse

Okay, dust off your Geology 101 knowledge for this. The Eurasian and North American tectonic plates created the rift valley you see above. Volcanic activity over the hundreds of years has caused the plates to pull away from each other, leaving fissures,

collapsed pathway at Thingvillir © The Gracious Posse

crags and cliffs in the breathtaking landscape.Pingvellir vista © The Gracious Posse

The Viking parliament held their reading-of-the-laws assembly at Thingvillir, beginning in 930 and lasting until 1798 when a massive earthquake (8 on the Richter scale) indicated it was time to move to a safer location. Historians believe the Law Rock

The Law Rock © The Gracious Posse

is the actual backdrop from which the speakers recited laws and settled disputes. After a leisurely hike through the immediate grounds, we boarded our small bus for the geysir area.


We saw the bubbling hot springs of the geysir area as soon as we disembarked.

hot springs at Geysir area © The Gracious Posse

Our bus driver warned us against touching the hot water. Despite being a rule-follower, I was mighty tempted to find out just how hot the water was, but LDgave me the look, and I stepped away from the gurgling pools.

hot spring pool © The Gracious Posse


Strokkur geysir rock sign © The Gracious Posse

the newest active geysir in the region, entertained us every 5 to 10 minutes with its thrilling spouts.

Seriously, it never got old. We hiked up to a vantage point for a different perspective. 

Strokkur spouting © The Gracious Posse

We found it hard to leave, but the stunning Gullfoss Falls awaited us.

Gullfoss Falls

The glacial river Hvítá flows andHvita river above the falls © The Gracious Posse

creates a two-tiered spectacular waterfall

Gullfoss Falls © The Gracious Posse

as it spills into the gorge below.

Gullfoss Falls into the gorge © The Gracious Posse

The story behind the preservation of the falls impressed me as much as the grandeur of the falls. In the early 1900’s a foreign investor approached the owner of the land on which the falls resided to lease the land in order to harness the falls to generate electricity. The farmer agreed, but his daughter, Sigriður Tómasdóttir, concerned about the impact of development on Gullfoss, filed a lawsuit to break the lease contract. After three years of hard-fought maneuvering and protestations, the matter resolved itself after the investors failed to make payment on the lease. Icelanders consider Sigriður Tómasdóttir their first environmentalist. 

The lack of safety fencing shocked me, and while laughing at the simple warning signs,Gullfoss Falls into the gorge signage © The Gracious Posse

I took a few prudent steps back from the rope line.

Faxi Falls

Our last stop brought us to Faxi Falls.

Faxi Falls © The Gracious Posse

The falls created by the river Tungufljót are gentler and more accessible than Gullfoss. Complete with a salmon ladder,salmon ladder at Faxi Falls © The Gracious Posse

the falls seem to be equally popular with anglers and tourists alike.

Our Golden Circle tour proved LDB wrong; he thought it would be touristy and likely boring. Simon, our driver and guide, enlightened us to Icelandic culture, geography and heritage in a way a self-guided/driven tour could not touch. I highly recommend a Golden Circle tour as a good Iceland 101.

After dinner at Grillmarkadurinn (reserve early), we strolled in the midnight sun back to the Borg just as the famous nightlife of Reykjavik accelerated.

Day 3 – Thermal Pool Again?

We loved the thermal pool experience so much we opted to return rather than squeeze in another excursion in our dwindling time. Now adept at the showering and locker room etiquette, we cruised in like the regulars, high-fiving each other for having trusted Tripadvisor to steer us here rather than the Blue Lagoon.  

By the time we returned from the pool and souvenir shopping, the clock counted down our moments left in this magical country.

Icelandic lupinenon-native lupines dot the barren landscape

Hofdi House and modern buildingthe Hofdi House juxtaposed against modern construction

Harpa in the daytimeHarpa sparkles in the daylight

bike lane in Reykjavik © The Gracious Posseone of the many bike lanes lining the streets of Reykjavik

sculpture in traffic circle in Reykjavikeye-catching sculpture garnishes a traffic circle

urban garden in Reykjavik © The Gracious Posseurban garden provides green space amidst the ubiquitous lava rock

front door of home in Reykjavik © The Gracious Possestylish doorway hints at the nordic style inside

We bade farewell and boarded our jet to Boston, promising to return to this enchanting hot spot.


August 16, 2016

A Rivah Home for All Seasons

The Rivah provides the perfect weekend escape from Central and Northern Virginia’s stifling summer heat. Thanks to breezes over the wide waters, those lucky enough to have second homes at the Rivah count on finding their waterside properties at least 5 degrees cooler than their main residences upon arrival on Fridays. When temperatures moderate at home and the real new year begins in September, weekend getaways to the Rivah often become infrequent, and many homeowners close up their houses for the season.

up-Rivah view from year-round Rivah house © The Gracious Posse

For other homeowners, though, the Rivah provides a year-round getaway from the stresses of work. Regularly reacquainting themselves with the ebb and flow of the tides keeps their schedules in tune with the rhythm of Mother Nature. Life becomes less complicated as they focus on fishing for the succulent local rockfish, harvesting oysters from their cages and and blue crabs from their traps, and spotting osprey, herons, egrets, pelicans, oystercatchers and even the occasional bald eagle who soar in the skies above the waterways and nest along the wooded banks.

sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay from year-round Rivah house © The Gracious PossejBr and her husband are one of those couples who escape to the Rivah every chance they get, no matter the season. About seven years ago they purchased their own piece of the Rivah outside of White Stone on the Northern Neck as a retreat for themselves, their boys and their ever changing cast of pets. With wide views to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the three bedroom ranch house was a find despite its 1960s-era kitchen, baths and mechanicals. Easily settling into the Rivah lifestyle, her husband immediately embraced the life of a waterman, while jBr pored over issues of Coastal Living plotting how to at least get the old yellow linoleum-clad kitchen updated without breaking the bank.

year-round Rivah home view to the Chesapeake © The Gracious Posse

When the appliances became unreliable, jBr’s husband gave her the go-ahead to find a local contractor to open up the kitchen to the uninsulated sunporch and create a new space that would suit them for the long-term. As these things often happen, the contractor, Janet Wright of Janet Wright and Associates, got a little carried away with her plans, and before they knew what was happening, jBr and her husband had agreed with most of Janet’s vision, which required a complete gut-job. Although more elaborate than they had originally planned, the new open living space, commodious master bedroom suite and additional upstairs living area take full advantage of their views and perfectly suit the way this family lives year-round at the Rivah.

year-round Rivah home designed by Janet Wright and Associates © The Gracious Posse

Once they decided to bite the bullet and take the house down to the studs, jBr engaged Janie Molster and her talented crew at Janie Molster Designs to complete the vision of a year-round Rivah home that would stand up to all the males in the family but still appeal to jBr’s sophisticated female tastes. jBr required washable slipcovers on all upholstery and wanted nothing precious to cause worry when her boys or the dogs (or both) get boisterous. The result is a home that remains comfortable and inviting all four seasons, allowing for oyster shuckings and crab pickings one weekend and a beautiful wedding (like the one featured in This Memorable Wedding Embraces Rivah Style) the next.

year-round Rivah home welcome © The Gracious Possehickory floors in a natural finish cover the main living space

I am fortunate to be a regular guest and invite myself as often as I can. Tension leaves my shoulders the moment I walk through the front door and immediately begin relaxing in the open and intoxicating design of this year-round retreat. I’ll head straight up to the in-laws suite that I usually claim for my own to drop my bags and pause to take in the water views from the second floor.

year-round Rivah home water view from the second floor sitting area © The Gracious Possethe cable railings are practically transparent

After freshening up in the upstairs bath that we featured in Dana Gibson’s “Twig” Design is Worthy of a Sneak Peak into a Recently Renovated River House, I make a beeline to one of my favorite spots in the house: the blue and white kitchen.

year-round Rivah house kitchen © The Gracious Possethe blue tile backsplash sparkles against the kitchen’s neutral surfaces

Designed with plenty of space to entertain and feed a crowd, I could sit at the bar

year-round Rivah home view from kitchen to mudroom and stairs © The Gracious Posse

or at the comfy bench of this chic round breakfast table

year-round Rivah home breakfast table © The Gracious Posse

for hours visiting with whomever jBr has invited to join the party. With a choice of dining table options, jBr can accommodate a cozy get-together or a larger crowd in the casually chic dining area

year-round Rivah home dining table © The Gracious Possecord-wrapped pair of wire chandeliers light the long table

anchored by a long Restoration Hardware farm table.

If the weather keeps us inside,

year-round Rivah house open living area © The Gracious Posse

we can curl up by the fire on one of the bench-cushioned sofas

statement coffee table found at High Point market anchors year-round Rivah house main seating area © The Gracious Posse

and often watch sports

year-round Rivah house entertainment area © The Gracious Possea blonde twist on the classic bobbin chair

 in the adjoining tv area.

seating for year-round Rivah home media area near fireplace © The Gracious PosseHoney and Sookie get comfortable

If the teens and twenty-somethings in the group want an escape, they head to the charming guest house over the garage. In addition to this comfy sitting room with views to the water,

year-round Rivah home guest house sitting room © The Gracious Posse

the blue bedroom (with vintage bobbin beds) and the orange bedroom,

bedrooms in guest house at year-round Rivah home © The Gracious Posse

as well as the kitchen and laundry facilities, make a great getaway all on their own. The guest house provides one more example of Janet’s detail-filled design.

view to kitchen area in year-round Rivah home guest house © The Gracious Posse

Other elements making this house timeless, user-friendly and captivating include wide covered porches

inviting wide porches face the Rappahannock on year-round Rivah home © The Gracious Posse

and a Rivah home must-have: an outdoor shower.

outdoor shower at year-round Rivah home © The Gracious Posse

Influenced by her mother, well-regarded artist Margaret Ryan, jBr has amassed a diverse collection of artwork, which

artwork by Vernon Kerr highlights dining room wall of year-round Rivah home © The Gracious PosseVernon Kerr who painted in Laguna Beach where one of jBr’s grandmother’s lived is a favorite artist

Janie helped her to display throughout the neutral spaces. The pieces, like this pressed seaweed from Blackwell Botanicals of RVA,

Anne Thompson pressed seaweed at year-round Rivah home © The Gracious Posse

lend additional character and warmth to the open floor plan.

Since completion of the house and garage last summer, jBr and her husband have hosted numerous family reunions with up to 14 staying overnight in the house,

master bedroom at year-round Rivah home © The Gracious Possefabulous soft white spindle bed in the master bedroom

as well as several moms’ getaways and guys’ fishing weekends.

one of the guest rooms at year-round Rivah home © The Gracious Posse

The home’s new design makes it easy for them to simply say, Come on down to the Rivah. Fortunately they love company, and their masterfully designed and renovated year-round second home brims with welcoming hospitality no matter the season.


August 11, 2016

Virtual Postcards from England: Two Historic Estates and a Palatial Ruin

Last month, LDB and I enjoyed ten days in Merry Old England with our choir at St. James’s Episcopal Church in RVA. As the choir-in-residence at Worcester Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral from the Severn © The Gracious Posse

for a week, we sang Evensong nightly and Mass on Sunday. Despite our tether to Worcester, we took full advantage of our free time between morning rehearsals and afternoon call to visit some of the nearby (sort of) sites. 

Located in the Midlands of England,

uk-Worcester map via University of Worcester

Worcester (pronounced wʊstə) offered a lovely home base for touring. Naturally, three of my favorites sites are quite grand, and I couldn’t wait to share them with the posse. Gorgeous and fascinating, these two castles and a ruin provide living proof of the effort, time and vast sums of money required to maintain them – or not.

Highclere Castle


click the arrow and enjoy theme music

Yes, that Highclere Castle – the inspiration and setting for Downton Abbey. Somehow kTm made the trip happen. Securing tickets less than a year in advance required supreme tenacity, and I was blessed to be one of the beneficiaries of her persistence. At The Gracious Posse, we get misty-eyed thinking of Bates, Carson, Mrs. Padmore, Lady Mary and Matthew and have written numerous times about the beloved show.

Four of us departed Worcester in an English Rover driven by a most interesting man who entertained us with bits and bobs of his past. He grew up in Liverpool, knew the man Paul who became a Beatle, was a percussionist with the London Symphony Orchestra, and played with Paul and his second band in the Wings Over America tour. Listening to his post-worthy story made the two-hour trip to Highclere fly by, and before we knew it we were approaching the famed castle, expecting to see the yellow labrador retriever wagging his tail in front of us.

opening scene via PBS

So what was it like compared to the television show?

Highclere Castle © The Gracious Posse

First, we thought the structure smaller relative to how big it seems on television and thus in our memories. Small is not accurate, but perhaps not as HUGE as imagined. Sadly, a uniformed staff prepared to settle us in for a weekend house party did not greet our traveling party.

The park-like grounds of Highclere span 1000 well-maintained acres. As we wandered through the interior’s well-appointed state rooms, we kept expecting to run into Lord or Lady Grantham at the turn of each corridor. Interior photography was not permitted, so click this link to view the State Rooms and Bedrooms.

The most noticeable contrast from the television show to real life is the second floor balcony – its gallery encompasses the entire floor, not just one side, and all bedrooms on that floor open to it. More breathtaking in person, the gallery’s ornate vaulted ceiling soared overhead, fifty feet above the Salon.

Highclere Castle 4 Easy Living 27Sept13 via Conde Nast

Highclere was used for all of the interior filming of Downton Abbey except for the downstairs kitchen and staff scenes, which were filmed in a London studio. Indeed it didn’t seem like the show’s set artists had to lift a finger for staging any interior scene.

With full access to the grounds, we visited the formal gardens,

Formal Garden at Highclere Castle © The Gracious Posse


Jackdaws Castle at Highclere © The Gracious Posse

and the Secret Garden.

Secret Garden at Highclere Castle © The Gracious Posse

The 250-year-old Cedars of Lebanon stopped us in our tracks.

Cedar of Lebanon at Highclere © The Gracious Posse

kTm at Highclere © The Gracious Posse

kTm shown here to give reference to the size of the cedar of Lebanon

Many heart-to-hearts on Downton Abbey occured at this site.

The 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon share their treasured blessing with the world via public tours (open 60 to 70 days a year), private tours, weddings, fund-raisers and corporate events. The timely magic of Downton Abbey propelled the cachet of the historic home for those events and funded the £12 million required to save it from ruin. Click here for the story. We can all thank Julian Fellowes for that!

Longleat House

Located two hours from Worcester and just southeast of Bath, Longleat House has been home to the Thynne Family for nearly 450 years. 

Longleat House © The Gracious Posse

It exudes grandeur and ingenuity; grand describes its scale and history, and ingenious characterizes the efforts employed to keep the estate in the family. Unbeknownst to us prior to arrival, a visit to Longleat can include a drive-through safari park, the only one of its kind outside of Africa. The day we visited we encountered more families with small children visiting the safari park than patrons touring the formal house.
Longleat entrance to Safari Park © The Gracious Posse

The entrance to the safari park is on the left, and Longleat House is on the right.

Henry Frederick Thynne 6th Marquess of Bath opened Longleat to the public in 1949 and introduced the Safari Park in 1966. Today Alexander Thynne 7th, Marquess of Bath, lives at Longleat, while his son, Viscount Weymouth, oversees its operations. Twelve Thynnes preceeded them at Longleat, including Sir John Thynne, the builder. 

Through the successive descendants’ efforts, Longleat remains a fine example of Elizabethan architecture enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Like Highclere, I couldn’t take interior photos, but I hope you enjoy my snapshots of the exquisite grounds.

formal garden at Longleat © The Gracious Posse

topiary and garden at Longleat © The Gracious Posse

sculpture at Longleat © The Gracious Posse

pink rose arbor at Longleat © The Gracious PosseDon’t you just love this pink rose arbor?

Witley Court

LDB and I discovered Witley Court while searching our immediate area for a place to visit in a short period of time. Though located just a few miles away from our home base, our schedules didn’t allow us to spend as much time here as I would have preferred. 

Beginning as a medieval manor house, Witley changed hands several times, with each owner enhancing and enlarging it until achieving its peak as a palatial Victorian country house hosting lavish parties and entertaining royalty. An accidental fire in 1937 destroyed one wing of the home and left the owner, Sir Herbert Smith, unable to recover insurance funds for restoration. He sold the estate by parcels, and it was subsequently stripped of salvageable goods and left in a ruined state. 

Witley Court entrance © The Gracious Posse

Witley Court ruin © The Gracious Posse

Witley Court ruin 2 © The Gracious Posse

Witley Court ruin 3 © The Gracious Posse

Steps to East Parterre from Ballroom © The Gracious Posse

Steps lead from the grand ballroom to the east parterre. Can’t you just hear the music and sounds of gaiety wafting through the air?

The remains of the once-grand conservatory

Original Conservatory © The Gracious Posse

brought tears to my eyes. At least the lush planting of lavender enlivened the present-day setting.

Conservatory ruin © The Gracious Posse

Thankfully the Witley parish church on the grounds of Witley

church at Witley Court © The Gracious Posse

escaped damage by fire and remains an active parish today. Its ornate Baroque interior

interior Witley Parish church © The Gracious Posse

caused us to linger to absorb the fine details.

Witley Parish Church altar © The Gracious Posse

Today English Heritage maintains Witley Court, having restored its fountain and parterre gardens. 

Perseus & Andromeda Fountain at Witley Court © The Gracious Posse

East Parterre at Witley Court © The Gracious Posse

As I walked the grounds and the ruins, I felt as if I could hear the laughter, music and clinking of glasses at a grand soirée from a bygone era. 

English Heritage and the National Trust maintain countless historic and culturally significant sites across the United Kingdom. How remarkable when families like those who own Highclere Castle and Longleat House are able to maintain their ancestral homes themselves. They have figured out how to keep the estates in the family while capitalizing on their significance to fund the staggering upkeep. The next time I grumble about calling the plumber I’ll remember what it must take to maintain these estates, and be happy with my lot.


August 4, 2016

Welcome, August 2016!

Can you believe August has arrived already? Let’s hope it brings milder temperatures. While RVA gets particularly quiet the first two weeks of the month, here are some ways to have fun if you are sticking close to home.

Richmond Symphony League Designer House Bare Bones Preview Party

Richmond Symphony Orchestra League Designer House logo

Thursday, August 4th
5-7 p.m.
Pineapple Acre
3223 Hawthorne Avenue in Ginter Park
get tickets here

Rio Olympics

Rio 2016

Friday, August 5th – Sunday, August 21st
cue the music and the late nights and

Townley Haas

cheer on RVA’s own Townley Haas (my son’s long-time NOVA teammate) as he swims the 200 Free on Monday, August 8th and the 4×200 Free Relay on Tuesday, August 9th

Richmond International Dragon Boat Festival

Richmond Dragon Boat Festival

Saturday, August 6th
8:15 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Rockett’s Landing

Anthem Moonlight Ride

Anthem Moonlight Ride

Saturday, August 6th
8 – 11 p.m.
Sports Backers Stadium

Carytown Watermelon Festival

2016 ilovecarytown watermelon logo

Sunday, August 14th
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
nearly 50 performances scheduled on six outdoor stages and more than one hundred street vendors will transform Cary Street into RVA’s favorite street fair
Shriners sell cut watermelon for $1/bowl

7th Annual Richmond Jazz Festival

Richmond Jazz Festival 2016

August 11th-14th
headliners include Herbie Hancock, Arrested Development, Morris Day and the Time, and Al Jarreau
click for schedule and tickets

Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseid meteor shower

peaks August 12th
beginning around 10 p.m.
find a dark locale and hope for a cloudless night

The Ice Cream Race

The Ice Cream Race

Saturday, August 13th
8:30 a.m.
a 5k obstacle course for all-ages who must master Whipped Cream-like Foam, aChocolate Syrup Water Slide and the Banana Peel Pit

Opera in the Park

Opera in the Park

Saturday, August 27th
7:30 p.m.
Dogwood Dell Amphitheatre at Byrd Park

Late Summer Lawn Party at Historic Bloemendaal

Strolling barbershop quartet at the Late Summer Lawn Party

Saturday, August 27th
noon – 3 p.m.
Sunday, August 28th
noon – 4 p.m.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
great end-of-season celebration before school resumes, amidst the abundant blooms of the Grace Arents Garden in all its late summer glory


Weather permitting, August may not be quite so quiet after all.


August 1, 2016