Bloomin’ Marvellous

Apple Blossom 2013 kicked off for Richard and I last Wednesday morning at the Bloomin’ Business Lunch, held in a big tent on a parking lot out the back of our local hospital. We were there as guests of  the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission – something of a mouthful but as you can probably guess they support and advise new business ventures in the area. Richard could only stay for an hour which left me holding the fort for Taura. Fortunately no one asked me any curly questions about ultra rapid concentration or emerging snack markets in Asia, so I could relax and enjoy my lunch and the presentation by Tim League, founder of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas. He was a great speaker and the story of how he started his business was very interesting, but the thing I liked the most about Tim League was his oh so subtle and uber cool apple blossom outfit – slightly minty green, 1970’s cut suit with coordinating pastel pink shirt and interesting green tie. Very much the outfit for someone in the movie biz.

Nice suit Mr League! He's being interviewed by the head of the business school at Shenandoah University - one Miles Davis!
Nice suit Mr League! He’s being interviewed by the head of the business school at Shenandoah University – one Miles Davis!

Thursday night saw us all heading over to the Apple Blossom Carnival which the girls absolutely loved. We ate awful fried food and spun around on a few rides then dragged the girls off home to bed.

Edie and I snapped this view of the carnival as we took a ride on the ferris wheel.
Edie and I snapped this view of the carnival as we took a ride on the ferris wheel.
"Mmmm - what shall we do next?"
“Mmmm – what shall we do next?”
We resisted the urge to try one out - and I thought Scotland was bad with its deep fried Mars Bars!
We resisted the urge to try one out – and I thought Scotland was bad with its deep fried Mars Bars!

Friday was a big Apple Blossom day for us with the coronation of Queen Shenandoah and the kids Bloomin’ mile run. The girls and I got ourselves suitably pink and green and joined a packed crowd at John Handley High School to take in the coronation. It was incredibly formal and English and  pink and I was expecting to hear the theme song from the Tiwghlight Zone at any moment! Olive and Edie loved it and I later learned that a couple of English kings were crowned at Winchester cathedral in England which is one of the reasons why a coronation is reenacted as part of the festival.

This really was the highlight of the show for the girls: Olive's good friend W holding the Queen's train and looking very dapper!
This really was the highlight of the show for the girls: Olive’s good friend W holding the Queen’s train and looking very dapper!
All hail Queen Shenandoah.
All hail Queen Shenandoah.

At the conclusion of the ceremony we were treated to a performance by the Handley High School Glee club and it was just like on tv – I half expected Rachel and Finn to emerge from the back and start belting out Don’t Stop Believing!

Lots of jazz hands!
Lots of jazz hands and surprisingly lots of young men.

I got in the usher’s bad books by leaving before everything was finished – apparently noone was supposed to exit before the queen, but after all that processing and crowning and knighting, this little colonial had had enough. It was very strange to watch such an overtly royal display in a country that fought so hard to become independent of a monarchy.

We switched our attention to the Bloomin’ Mile which was conveniently located in the grounds of the high school. It was huge – over 1300 children aged between 6 and 14 raced around the one mile course with the fastest boy finishing in 5:03 and the fastest girl in 5:53.

Olive and her first official race bib. Ever the fashionista you will note the requested side ponytail.
Olive and her first official race bib. Ever the fashionista you will note the requested side ponytail.

Richard and I were thrilled Olive was taking part but were a little unsure as to how she would get on. She had been doing a little extension class at school called Run 4 Fun but at no time had they ever actually completed a one mile circuit. She ran a one kilometre race in Belgium and found that pretty challenging even with Richard running alongside her, and had refused all our offers to go out for a few practice runs with Mum and Dad. We talked lots about how great it was that she was taking part and that it would be okay to walk if she needed, but all our well meaning words were met with slight eye rolls and “yes I know Mum!”. So it was me who was a bundle of nerves as she lined up with the other 6 and 7 year old girls. She dashed off when the horn blew and I proceeded to start chatting to my neighbour, not expecting Olive to emerge for a good while. But then out of the corner of me eye I caught a glimpse of the side ponytail and there she was sprinting for the finish line whilst I stood there with my mouth hanging open – fortunately I had the good sense to give the camera to Richard or we would have had no pictures.

Storming to the finish line - 9 minutes and 7 seconds and no stopping at all!
Storming to the finish line – 9 minutes and 7 seconds and no stopping at all!
One of the many proud Mums in Winchester on Friday.
One of the many proud Mums in Winchester on Friday.

After I had dried my tears we joined our neighbours at the home of one of their friends to watch the Firefighter’s Parade. This was a collection of vintage fire trucks, interspersed with the marching bands from the surrounding middle and high schools, and all the celebrities who had been invited to the festival.

Refuelling with pizza and cotton candy. Most houses along the parade route set up chairs ouf front from which to view the parade.
Refuelling with pizza and cotton candy. Most houses along the parade route set up chairs ouf front from which to view the parade.
A very Addams family looking fire vehicle.
A very Addams family looking fire vehicle.
Marching band from Daniel Morgan Middle School.
Marching band from Daniel Morgan Middle School.
Washington Street is a beautiful tree lined road with many grand old homes. Here are the grand marshals of the Firefighter's Parade - Jep and Jessica from the hugely popular Duck Dynasty reality tv show.
Washington Street is a beautiful tree lined road with many grand old homes. Here are the grand marshals of the Firefighter’s Parade – Jep and Jessica from the hugely popular Duck Dynasty reality tv show.

When the sun went down Richard took the girls back down to the high school for the fireworks display. Old Nana Croad stayed home and went to bed – am finding being outside in the sun for long periods of time really exhausting and not great for my sinuses which have decided they are a teeny bit allergic to all the Winchester blooms!

Richard was up early Saturday morning to take part in the Apple Blossom 10k race. Unfortunately the chilli dog he ate at the parade the previous evening did not have the desired carbo loading effect so he didn’t do as well as he would have liked – for him that means a time of 47:39 – 224th place in a field close to 1500 runners. Pretty poor effort really!!! Plus on the official results he was recorded as being 58 years of age!

We decided to bike into the city to watch Saturday afternoon’s grand feature parade. It was great to back on my bike – even though the terrain in Winchester has somewhat more of a gradient than the lowlands of Antwerp. We got lots of looks and friendly comments – Olive biked the whole way there and back, showing no signs of tiredness from her race the day before.

All ready for the big parade - Richard's new office in the background.
All ready for the big parade – Richard’s new office in the background.

The parade consisted of princesses, queens, marching bands, beauty queens, tractors, beauty queens, military, beauty queens, community floats, beauty queens, steam engines, beauty queens, a few celebrities…and did I mention the beauty queens?!!

Queenie!
Queenie!
Cotton candy, stars and stripes...my little kiwi is turning American!
Cotton candy, stars and stripes…my little kiwi is turning American!
Pink, pink and yet more pink.
Pink, pink and yet more pink.

We headed home after almost three hours  – the parade was still going – but Edie had called time on the proceedings and we were all quite happy to disappear home. On Sunday we spent a couple of hours at a family fun day held in one of our local parks – food, face painting, craft stalls and classic cars.

What have they done to those apples?!
What have they done to those apples?!
The finest local cuisine was on offer.
The finest local cuisine was on offer.
No sign of Michael J. Fox but his car was there.
No sign of Michael J. Fox but his car was there.

By Sunday evening we were all exhausted and completed bloomed out. Now that we have pretty much experienced everything the Bloom has to offer, next year we can be a bit more selective about what we do or maybe we’ll just go away for a long weekend! Somehow I don’t think that will go down well with Olive and Edie 🙂

There are a bloomin’ ridiculous number of Apple Blossom photos if you click on the Flickr link and I have done captions for all of them. Just in case you need to see a few more beauty queens!

Take care everyone. Missing you all and sending our love xxx

Air and Space

If you read any of the posts about our trip to New York City on my previous blog, you will remember how much the girls wanted to visit the Museum of Natural History. Not out of any great educational or scientific desire – no it’s because that’s where the movie Night At the Museum takes place! You may also know that there is a second Night At The Museum film, and this time the action moves to The Smithsonian – a cluster of nineteen museums and a zoo which can all be found in Washington DC. In fact when we broached the subject of moving to the United States with the girls, one of our big selling points was that we would be living not too far from the place to which Larry Daley ventures to save his friends from the New York Museum – confused yet?!

Larry’s trusty sidekick in the sequel is none other than acclaimed aviatrix Amelia Earhart, and during the film she and Larry head to the Air and Space Museum, home to the bright red Lockheed Vega 5B, which was flown by Earhart across the Atlantic in 1932. Last week Edie watched the second Night at the Museum DVD at least twice, so when we discussed making a trip into DC to visit one of the Smithsonian museums, there was only one option – “we have to go to the Air and Space Museum and see Amelia’s plane!”

In honour of the brave and dashing Amelia Earhart, us girls donned tight trousers, boots, scarves and leather jackets – the only things we were missing were flying goggles. Once we reached the Air and Space Museum we headed straight for the big red plane.

New Zealand branch of the Ameila Earhart fan club!

The Air and Space Museum holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world, and almost all of the craft on display are the originals. We spent a very enjoyable few hours wandering the halls, watching a 3D movie about the Hubble Telescope and having fun with many of the hands on activities.

The French hot air balloon which was the first to carry people up into the air in 1783.
Found some flying goggles!
Interior view of the museum.
Not quite flying goggles but they’ll do for a 3D film.
Suit worn by first female astronaut, Sally Ride.
We had a bit of a laugh when we came across these! It’s a Skyhawk as used by the NZ Airforce and, even funnier, their first year of manufacture was 1959 – same year as my bon homme Richard was born 🙂

We are very lucky to live close to DC and over the coming weeks and months we’ll be making more trips into the city to explore the other fifteen Smithsonian museums and the countless other sights, sounds and experiences on offer in the nation’s capital. I’ve subscribed to a blog called Kid Friendly DC and am already overwhelmed at the huge array of things there are to do with children.  And all great blog material too!

If you want to check out more images from our day at the Air and Space Museum, head on over to my Flickr page.

This week is a very important one in the United States. On Thursday Thanksgiving will be celebrated and our neighbours have very kindly invited us to join in their celebrations. It’s a time to focus on being thankful, and right now I am very thankful for the opportunity to have all these wonderful experiences and the opportunity to share them with you.

Take care everyone and stay tuned for a report of the first Croad Thanksgiving xxx