When driving to Winchester from Dulles airport there are a couple of options – the faster but not very scenic drive on Route 7 or the slower but much nicer drive along Route 50. On my very first trip to Winchester, Richard took the Route 50 option – a drive which takes you through beautiful countryside, past stately homes, and through quaint villages such as Middleburg.
Middleburg was established in 1787 and now boasts an official population of about 700 people. It lies in the middle of what could best be described as ‘horse country’ and has in times past been referred to as the nation’s horse and hunt capital. If you are into foxhunting and steeplechasing, then Middleburg is your town. One famous couple by the names of John and Jacqueline Kennedy rented a Middleburg property as their country retreat during JFK’s presidency. Apparently it was the house at Middleburg that Jacquie considered home – not the White House.
You’ve probably gathered by now that Middleburg is historic, beautiful and charming, and as we drove through the village on our way to Winchester I said to Richard, “I think I’ll be okay if it’s like this”. He looked me in the eye and slowly said these words, “Chrissy…Winchester is not like this!”
Fortunately Middleburg is only a short drive east and over the year we’ve been in Winchester we’ve made a few trips there. Just before Christmas last year we had dinner in Middleburg’s oldest building, The Red Fox Inn, and today we ventured back for Middleburg’s annual Christmas celebration. We were keen to watch the Middleburg Hunt Club parading down the main street. (In America fox hunting is often referred to as fox chasing as most hunts do not actually kill the fox, leaving it alone once it has gone to ground or taken refuge in a hole.)
Just after 11:00am the first of the riders appeared, and with them the gang of foxhounds. Considering the streets were lined with lots of people and many dogs of all shapes and sizes, we were impressed at how focused and calm both dogs and horses were.
As I mentioned above there were dogs everywhere – all dressed up in their Christmas best. Bows, bells, wreaths, ribbons, cardigans and coats adorned just about every dog we encountered. The buildings and sidewalks too were all done up in festive attire.
As I type this I’m sipping on my coffee and watching the snow come down. I’m very glad that the girls got some snow before we head for warmer climes on Friday. They didn’t even stop for breakfast – snow pants, coats, hats, gloves, scarfs on and out they went. Their boogie boards are doubling as great sleds!
This will likely be my last post before we leave on Friday. I’ll have my laptop with me so look out for a post from Aotearoa – that’s kiwi speak for New Zealand :)
We arrive in Hawkes Bay on Sunday the 15th and then the girls and I are heading to Wellington on the 17th for a couple of days. We are making a very quick trip to see Richard’s mother in Australia from the 20th to the 22nd, and then we will be in Hawkes Bay until we leave on the 31st.
Take care everyone. So excited to know we will be seeing many of you very soon xxx