Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

Norfolk, VA April 22-24

20-years-vaf

I am at least 3 posts behind on this blog.  We just went on another trip last weekend of June 17-19 so I’d better get caught up!

April 22, 2016 we left for Norfolk to see the Virginia International Tattoo.  It should have been an easy 3 hour drive that took us nearly 7 due to construction, rush hour, rain and accidents (not ours).

On the way,  we stopped at a Denny’s.  I  managed to insult waitress by saying that probably most of the customers were off the highway.  She said that there were lots of regulars, not just off the highway – in a very huffy tone.  Oh, well.

We eventually got to our AirBnB thanks to our Waze app.

We never would have found it otherwise.

Screenshot 2016-06-10 10.25.53

 

Since we got there pretty late, we did a bit of grocery shopping at a former 7-Eleven.  Dinner was just cereal and we went to bed…after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime.

I loved this poster in our AirBnb:

Screenshot 2016-06-20 20.38.00

 

Saturday was the Day!

We got up in the morning and headed to the Scope Arena just after noon.

There were all kinds of Bagpipe groups in competition (a Tattoo Hullabaloo).  We wandered around the Scope arena and watched some of the bands warming up.  Here’s one doing their competition numbers:

The Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps (sorry some of this got sideways)

There was this really neat carillon:

virginia-bells

From http://pilotonline.com/entertainment/arts/the-virginia-arts-festival-rings-in-th-anniversary-literally/article_490acf43-abd2-5316-89e4-72dde36c26b8.html

Beyond offering star performers from many disciplines, the Virginia Arts Festival is literally announcing itself this year by ringing the bells.

To mark its 20th anniversary, VAF will unveil a 23-bell mobile carillon, something of a mobile ambassador that will be playable by everyone. It’s roughly the size of a semi truck with a car carrier, serving as both mammoth musical instrument and sculptural art. The bells are mounted on a frame that spells out “VAF” that will be driven to venues to ring home the point that each event is associated with the arts festival.

The instrument is engineered so that a person can play it at a keyboard or ring the individual bells by pulling levers.

Impossible to miss, the carillon, which cost $415,000 and was funded by an anonymous donor, will be parked in front of 12 events during the festival, including opening night tonight at MacArthur Center.

“This iconic structure speaks to the tradition that church bells have played in the history of greater Norfolk,” VAF Perry Artistic Director Rob Cross said in a statement.

VAF went with a venerable manufacturer for the structure. It was made by the Verdin Co., a Cincinnati-based company that has been making bells, carillons and large clocks for 173 years. Verdin’s work can be seen at Walt Disney World, the University of Notre Dame and other spots around the country.

While the framework is custom-made, the bells are old and carry an interesting history. They were refurbished from a carillon built in 1928, commissioned by graduates of the now-defunct, all-female Ward-Belmont College in Nashville, Tenn., to honor troops killed in Flanders, Belgium, during World War I.

The 23 bells, cast in England, were mounted in a converted water tower. The carillon was dedicated during homecoming week at Ward-Belmont in 1929. Five years later, the bells pealed “Hail to the Chief” when President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt visited. But in 1951, as financial woes mounted, the carillon was dismantled and the school closed.

The bells stayed silent for more than six decades. Belmont University, the successor institution, built a new carillon for its campus, and the Verdin Co. acquired the old bells, which were refurbished for the VAF structure.

VAF’s Cross said: “It is a beautiful marriage of the past and the future. What a wonderful way of continuing our goal of taking the festival beyond the concert hall.”

Jordanian Armed Forces Bagpipe Band

About 4:00, it started to rain, so they moved us all indoors.  The Jordanian Armed Forces Bagpipe Band (they played outside, above) kept us entertained while the bands prepared to move inside.

Jordanian-Armed-Forces-Bagpipe-Band

When the rain stopped, they moved us back outside to finish the competition and name the winners.  The New York Metro Pipe Band won their category and both bands from Scotland (Inveraray and District Pipe Band and Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band) won theirs.  In the DrumLine Battle, it was an easy winner since all but one dropped out.

We were right up close for the walkoff:

At 7:00 the show started.

It was all so wonderful!  The reason we went in the first place was the Top Secret Drum Corps that we had seen at the Edinburgh Tattoo last summer.

Here’s my video of part of the closing program with Colin Powell:

A bit of a sing-a-long:

Here’s the entire show, in one long playlist:

 

In case you’re wondering – yes, we have tickets for next year!

Sunday was pretty uneventful coming home.

New York, Day 1: April 8, 2016

Michael’s original schedule for today:

<2016-04-08 Fri>

 

What really happened:

We left DC on schedule.  I happened to get this picture out the train window at New Carrollton and had no idea what these hands were:

New Carrollton hands

A bit of sleuthing when we got home came up with this article from the Washington Post:

Answer Man: The Big Hands of the Law

By John Kelly
Monday, June 20, 2005
My query is about the two enormous hands on black-and-white pillars outside the Internal Revenue Service building across from the New Carrollton Metro station. A friend at the IRS suggested they represent the idea that “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.” Somehow I feel there is a more lofty story.
Gretchen Dunn, New Carrollton

The two pillars are just 66.6 percent of artist Larry Kirkland ‘s sculptural work in front of what is technically, if rather drably, known as the Federal Building.

The centerpiece is a black granite pyramid etched with the U.S. Constitution. Across a little plaza are the two columns. Each is composed of alternating bands of black granite and white marble. (For some reason they reminded Answer Man of the Hamburglar‘s outfit.)

The most striking elements are the huge, white marble hands atop each column. Each hand points skyward, one with the forefinger extended; the other is an open hand, the fingers ever so slightly cupped.

They are open to many uncharitable interpretations: One hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing. The pointing hand is the IRS telling you to pay your taxes; the other is where you put the money.

So what’s really going on?

The 1997 work is called “Vox Populi,” which is Latin for “the voice of the people.” The hand with the raised index finger represents deliberation, argument, the gesticulation of a speaker giving his or her opinion. The hand with an open palm represents the act of voting or taking an oath.

The columns are engraved with more hands, the profiles of people engaged in conversation and quotations from various well-known figures, including Ben Franklin, John Milton and Frederick Douglass. One catchy selection is from the late senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine), whose basic forms of “Americanism” include “the right to criticize, the right to hold unpopular beliefs, the right to protest, the right of independent thought.”

Here’s a better picture, courtesy of Google.

new-carrolton

 

We arrived at Penn Station right on time and  Michael met us.


wall-st-subway

 

We took the subway to the Wall Street stop and walked over to our Airbnb which I chose because it was so close to Michael’s apartment.

10-hanover

 

10HanoverSquare

 

We followed Sam’s directions (Airbnb owner).  I felt a little like a secret agent!

There will be a lockbox set on the apartment door, and the code is ****. There will be two door keys inside of the box.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, when you enter the building, directly go front-left, there will be two sets of elevators, turn right on the second set, and go to the 23rd floor. Turn left when you get out of the elevator. The apartment number is PHS (there will be lockbox on the door, so it will be obvious).

The reason I don’t want you to ask doorman for access is that the doorman will call my room (I will not be home), and if you just walk in directly, the doorman will not stop you.

We finally got into our penthouse home for the weekend at 10 Hanover Square and no doorman was used.

Looked around, unpacked a little and decided to eat before the show.  A quick walk past Hanover Square and we ate at Harry’s Cafe and Steak across from Hanover Square.

harrys

 

After a yummy meal, we walked up to Modells so Tom could buy new shoes. His old ones had holes in them so they weren’t so good in the rain.  (He bought black Nikes.)

american-paris

We took subway to the Palace Theater for An American in Paris.

It was a fantastic show, different than the movie, but somewhat similar.  There was some Gershwin music added that came from different shows.  The woman in front of me was humming along to most of the music, which was most annoying.

The backdrops were so clever but the dancing was out of this world.

From the Variety review:

After the show, we took subway to Michael’s stop and got a new knee brace and snacks at Duane Reade in the Trump Building, then back home.

We found this place has no tv so we watched Downton Abbey on my iPad.

My knee was very uncomfortable from all the walking and stairs (lots of stairs in the subway!) so I took 1/2 a Vicodin and put on the new brace.

At first I thought the bed was too hard but it was a firm foam. Very comfortable.

According to my phone, we walked 3.66 miles and climbed 13 flights of stairs!

 

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