Monday, April 19, 2010

Williamsburg, VA

I do not think I have ever met anyone who did not like the town of Williamsburg, Virginia after visiting there.  It is Disney World for American history buffs.  It is Disney World for middle class history buffs.  Most of the food and shopping are expensive, although, with care, it can be done economically. The historic area was surrounded by children from private schools on spring holiday.  I was there recently for a two-day garden seminar.  Something we elitists do when spring arrives and we have planted all that we dare to before the last frost date.

There is nothing more entertaining for a husband than following sensible women with sensible haircuts in sensible shoes around sensible historic gardens all afternoon.  There was some variety in attendance as some of the women attending were those charming 'Southern Bells' who wear lovely hats, Town and Country clothes and nice jewelry.  They knew and were willing to share their knowledge of the scientific names of most of the plants with a maple syrup accent as their fragile husbands in nice suits stood quietly by... my, my!  Even more exotic, the weather was perfect!

The historic district is romantically and accurately preserved with lots of Colonial architecture, some winding lanes, staff in Colonial dress doing Colonial era activities and or staffing the many cutesy little shops.  We bought two of the Early American jar birdhouses for our fence posts.  Did I mention that being there in the spring is wonderful?

Unfortunately, our favorite (and expensive) restaurant, The Trellis, was closed for renovation.  This is the restaurant that produced the famous Death by Chocolate dessert that has been mimicked by every high-end restaurant on the East Coast the last few years.  Fortunately we found plenty of other good places to eat.

On the last day, I found a true treasure.  There is a very small used bookstore called Mermaid Books located beneath a wine/deli restaurant on a side street off the Market Square.  Before this trip I did not know of its existence.  We had a long lunch hour to fill and were perusing the shelves for some good historic references on plants and gardening, stimulated by the recent lecture we had heard, when I came across this!

The bookstore owner actually hesitated in selling it to me.  He hemmed and hawed and then felt he must have another copy in the back, because he had planned on scanning it for the wonderful woodcut illustrations inside.  I told him to let me buy it and he could mail it to me when he was done scanning it.  He finally relented and let me purchase it then and there.  Now I will see if the memory of enjoying reading this book when I was much younger still holds true.  Have any of you ever read this book of fantasy? It is a male's version of a romance.  It is not copyrighted in the U.S. and is downloadable at the following URL, if your are interested.

Or you can search the title and find it online in several places.


  1. The older I get, the more appreciation I have for Williamsburg, and nearby Jamestown. I still need to visit Yorktown.
    Glad you had a wonderful day with all the other "society ladies and gents."
    The city is really growing and now there is so much more to see and do.
    Loe hearing about your travels. :)

  2. When we lived in Norfolk, every visitor who came ha to be taken to Williamsburg and Jamestown, and we got so tired of it! The last time we were there was sometime in the mid 80's and I am sure that a lot has changed/been added since we saw it last. We always went in summer and I would really like to see it in the spring.

  3. We were in Williamsburg one summer some years back, and it was a lot of fun. There had been a hurricane warning and people had stayed away in droves so we had the place to ourselves (worked out great b/c the hurricane never showed up!)

    I think it's funny that the bookshop owner had trouble parting with one of his books! I kind of know what that must feel like for him. It will be interesting to hear what you think of Green Mansions years after having first read it.

  4. I will say that I was young and un-appreciative. I must give it another try now that I am older and have a better respect for the times.

  5. I love this type of book store.
    I have never heard of this book.
    Thank you for sharing.

  6. There is nothing more entertaining for a husband than following sensible women with sensible haircuts in sensible shoes around sensible historic gardens all afternoon.
    Until the wife hears what's being muttered under said husband's breath, of course.

  7. without the woodcuts, darn. Yes, I loved that town, for it was one, in 1960. You could drive right up to the church and go in, you could park anywhere and saunter. I was married the first time at Bruton Parish Chursh, and I lived my first year as a young bride almost under the bridge on the water in Yorktown. :)

  8. I love Project Gutenberg! It's possibly my favorite site on the internet. If you have access to the internet, you can be endlessly entertained, who needs Kindle?

    Williamsburg is a lovely place, and one of those places that is worthwhile to re-visit as an adult. It is one of those places nearly everyone growing up on the East Coast ends up traveling to for a school trip, but it's best appreciated when you're older. When you have a more pronounced appreciation for the comforts of your own life.

    When you're a kid? Williamsburg is the school trip where you are meant to learn...and you know how that goes over with the average middle schooler...but when you're an adult? You really do have a sense of wonder about how far we have come, and how hard people worked as a matter of course, just in their daily lives.

    I always feel like I'm a pampered housecat in comparison.

    Lovely book, by the way, although the bookseller story was making me laugh. I haven't read it but I've bookmarked the site!

  9. the whole of your tale, the description of Williamsburg, the garden visit, the ladies in their country clothes and the tiny second hand bookshop with the possessive owner all sound positively rural England.

    All we lack is the weather. And planting before the last frosts? Not likely!

  10. Williamsburg had been on my 'to see' list for years. I guess I will never see it now, to my sorrow.

    When our son was stationed at Norfolk we did make it to Jamestown. That part of the country is so beautiful

    I read Green Mansions so many years ago that all I remember about it is the title.

  11. Never read the book but isn't it fun to relocate a childhood treasure like that? I could see you and the vendor discussing whether or not it would be sold to you. I'm glad it was. :)

  12. Wow, everything looks perfect. I am so interested in History so I'm sure I'm gonna love it.

    I love the fashion of the Southern Belles. Even if we're in the 21st century and for some, they might look out of place, I don't mind. Beautiful wardrobes!

    Nice to know you happen to come across an old book! Now that's a treasure indeed.

  13. Virginia looks very pretty. I love all your photos. I have not read the book, but it does sound good. I love to read and I also love quaint little book shops. So glad you discovered it on your trip.

  14. I haven't been there but if I could visit it, I'd like it too. I think you had a perfect two-day stay there Tabor. Nice photos too!

  15. I have wonderful memories of our trip there. Yes we ate at The Trellis and took pictures of the ones who ate the Death by chocolate dessert. We were with one of Ron's shipmate reunions. Ron is such a history buff he found himself correcting the tour guide. Don't people who do that just drive you crazy? He also interrupted our pastor once mid sermon to correct her on a statistic she misquoted. Can't help lovin' him though.

  16. Here the local garden clubs give garden tours every other year, and it's a treat to go. Not many Southern belles in N. California.
    I get my Southern fix via "Sweet Potato Queens" books...


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