Ayershire Farm - Upperville, Virginia
|9/28 - Tuesday The drive most of the way was light rain and the roads were relatively clear. At the turn off for Monticello (next trip) we began to wend our way to the west and north - into the upper middle of Virginia. The landscape changed and the roads became 2 lanes most of the time. The rain finally hit and driving was a bit nasty for the last bit.
The landscape became greener and lusher. The houses bigger and more monied with surrounding land - horses and cattle. You knew you were in horse country complete with fox hunts.
Visiting my friend Sandy's house is like stepping back in time - to the time when one went to visit friends in the country - in the Regency/Victorian era. But her place is much more than just a house. Nothing is done half way - from restoring the house and turning it into a show place, to rebuilding and establishing the stables and farm. Since there is so much to share - I'll try to take it a piece at a time.
The house was built in 1821. It has 22 rooms including around 10 bedrooms. The main floor has the main kitchen, the guest kitchen (it was do it yourself meals), the library, dining room, gazebo & informal dining room, the ball room, the front hall, downstairs bath, and "mud room".
|The 2nd floor (yes it has an elevator), has the best guest bedrooms. We were given the Blue Room (see below) with a shared bath and a view of the lake. Somehow it was okay be wearing jeans, but I would have liked to "dressed - Regency style for the stay.
The third floor has more bedrooms, the sewing room and a recording studio.
Each room has a booklet that identifies the artwork in that room. And yes there is plenty of security without it being intrusive - for the whole estate.
We arrived, were given a tour of the house and settled in. Then had tea with Sandy and a brief visit. Unfortunately, that was all time would permit. Dinner was at her restraurant - The Hunters Head. It is a British style pub and the food is excellent. It features an extensive menu showing off locally raised organic produce (mostly from the farm) and Ayershire beef. It is the first restraurant to be named humane. We hadn't made reservations, but were early enough to find seats at the bar While we eventually at 3 meals at the pub - it was the only way to taste every thing we wanted to on the menu. Then back to the house before the weather really got nasty. Road and low lying bridges were already out. A quiet evening in the library with a good book, the cats (see below), a nice glass of fine liqueur.
|9/29 - Wednesday. Had a light breakfast and read the newspaper. Then off with Diane (who I knew from her time with Sandy at Urban Decay) for a tour of the farm. (see links above)
First stop was the stables and carriage house. We had arrived just before one of the horse sales so things were in a bit of a jumble.
Then on to visit the paddocks, cows - all 3 kinds, fowl - turkeys and chickens, the spotted hogs, the gardens, and some of the wonderful grounds that comprise this 1000 acre enterprise. Do check out the website.
Having worked up an appetite we went back to the Tavern for lunch. On our return we took a relaxing walk around the grounds. Spent some time packing and planning the drive to the airport. Then back to the tavern for dinner. Stuffed full of good food, we relaxed in the library for another quiet evening.
9/30 - Thursday. Finished packing and then made brunch - farm fresh eggs and farm fresh bacon. We said our goodbyes and set out. We will have to return sometime for one of the regency balls.
The drive to the airport was about 1 hour on mostly a 2 lane road. We were about to catch an earlier flight - a 767 which had lots of leg room was only about half full. Unfortunately our bags didn't make the flight and we had to return to the airport to pick them up. Our limo driver was right there to pick us up and drive us home. Home sweet home - complete with our very own loving kitty cat.
The Blue Room:
The house is presided over by the upstairs cats (versus the downstairs cats whose job it is to mouse). The upstairs cats hunt as well. All the cats are rescue kitties. The grand dame is Miss Lily, then comes Babe, and then the tom. All 3 are a bit jealous of each other and seek attention one at a time. While they all prefer women, they were happy to accept Will.
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Photos and text copyright Robin Berry & William Ringer 2004.