Our eloquent blog writer Caroline Cox has stepped down from her post as official PDC blog author. Her enormous contribution to the club over the past many years is greatly appreciated by all of us. We wish her the very best and look forward to seeing her at future club events. It is our hope that one of our club members and readers may be interested in filling this tireless but important role to share the exciting happenings of America’s most active driving club.
We’d been waiting for the Collombs to return to Virginia. Apparently they were floating about in a catamaran somewhere off the coast of Madagascar these past few weeks. Happily for the Piedmont Driving Club, Caroline and Bertrand were ready to return to dry land. Each hitched a pair from their herd of Haflingers and set off around the fields and roads of their Warrenton estate. PDC Members who joined them for the drive were Al and Vicki Baturay, Carl and Caroline Cox, Kim Cameron with Matt Neiswanger, Mary Munster, Doug and Wendy Ward, and Barbara and Tom Wolf. Special guests included conservation activist Hope Porter, Victoria Stack, the Honorable Don Ritter, the Wolfs’ friend Theresa Slowik (getting her reward for preparing the food at their 50th anniversary drive the week before), and our favorite tootler, Bobby Dreyer.
It was a perfect day for a cross country drive. We marveled at Oakwood’s crystal clear pond and amused ourselves by trying to name the many species of wildflowers that lined our path. We travelled around Oakwood, across the fields of Land Ho, over the neighbor’s Granville farm and eventually through a forest that led to the Belleview trails. Along the way we encountered several challenging water crossings. No problem for the brave whips and grooms of the PDC, we emerged muddy but happy and ready for the next leg of our trip. Caroline Collomb led us down gravel roads through Belleview and eventually up to our rest stop. There we sat in our carriages, admiring the 360 degree panoramic view, while Oakwood staff served Champagne and crackers slathered with French pate.
Once back to Oakwood we unhitched, unharnessed and made our way to the gardens at the pool house. It was as though we were cast back in time. We found ourselves surrounded by stone walls and carefully tended gardens. The place looked much as it must have when the Duke and Duchess of Windsor made Oakwood one of their retreats. We sat together at a luncheon of barbecued chicken and a variety of salads, with a selection of cupcakes from one of our favorite bakeries (Wegman’s!) Wine flowed freely of course.
It was a memorable way to spend Labor Day, in the company of good friends and gracious hosts.
Tom and I were so glad to see you all yesterday for our 50th anniversary picnic drive:PDC members and their guests, landowner hosts Shannon and Jim Davis, Theresa Slowik and daughter Catherine who helped so much with the food, and bass players Donovan Stokes and Kevin Johnson. Thanks to the company, beautiful weather and countryside, we – and Sheba! – enjoyed the drive thoroughly, as well as everything that followed. Your many endearing cards went with us to the far back yard at sunset time, where we savored them with drinks and leftover cheese straws. We came home with slightly less bubbly than we set out with, but the bottles you gave raised the quality of the cellar stash. They will be appreciated all the more when sipped from the gorgeous Simon Pearce flutes you lavished on us. Not only are the glasses beautiful by themselves, but we have other SP pieces from a friend who lived in Vermont and used to bring gifts from the workshop. The Baccarat will just have to move over a bit on the shelf.
We also want to mention something that slipped through all the remarks made yesterday. One reason for the “party” music was that Doug Kemmerer mentioned in his comments after the Innisfree drive in July how nice it would be if we supplied some music on a future occasion. Donovan was in our minds as treat for some anniversary or birthday celebration (Tom’s 70 in September!), so that just clicked. Our only regret yesterday was that he and Queenie couldn’t join us at an event originally planned for their place. But the Davises more than saved the day on less than a week’s notice, inviting us to stage other drives from Little River. We and Sheba have had the pleasure of driving in your company for 16 years, a diversion we never imagined 20 years ago, let alone 50. It’s our hope there are still many years of good times ahead for us all.
Gratefully, Barbara and Tom
No, we did not make the trip from Upperville to Aldie via carriage! It seems our dates were a bit off and on the very day we thought to visit the beautiful Greystone estate, home of Jacob and Jacqui Porter, another more important visitor showed up…..yes, the happy couple welcomed their new baby into the world! Who would want to view carriages when instead one could look at new life with all its joy and promise.
Not wishing to disturb this precious time, our PDC host Mark Duffell changed our driving venue to Whitestone, a rather lovely substitution. And so it was that 9 carriages departed the Angus farm, passing by some of best known beef in the USA, and continuing on the quiet lanes of the “back country” between Aldie and Middleburg. It was a beautiful August day, warm but not oppressive. The route was well shaded by magnificent mature trees and the footing was made kind to the horses by recent rain.
Mark’s trusty Belgians, Waylon and Willie, guided the group to one of the polo fields of Banbury Cross (scene of previous PDC triumphs!). There Whitestone friends and staff appeared with Champagne and many tasty treats for our rest stop. Horses were watered and sponged as well. Mark leaves nothing to chance when it comes to ensuring comfort for all.
After a leisurely trip back to Whitestone, the group gathered in the ample (and air conditioned!) meeting hall for lunch. Main course? What else but BEEF, courtesy of Mark. PDC attendees filled the tables with casseroles, salads, and desserts to round out a perfect spread. There was plenty of tea and wine to keep everyone happy as well.
We are thankful not only to Mark, but also to Whitestone owner and good friend of the PDC, George Lemm. We love his welcoming and jovial attitude and it is a delight to be in his company.
Those of us who were sitting around and enjoying the picnic at Cobbler Mountain Cellars last Sunday may have heard Club President Anne Watkins extend an invitation to come to Blandy for a “back to school” drive on Tuesday, August 8. Our own Lisa Andersen will be heading back to full time work very soon…so much for her summer break! This was a way for Lisa to get “one more” drive in at her own pace and still be among Club friends.
Anne and Lisa both brought young horses to this favorite venue for the “go as you please” bunch! Indeed, it is an excellent place to drive any horse. The roads and fields are well groomed and quiet and the scenery just could not be better. Others may have come had we put out a notice but those who did attend carried on the PDC tradition of good driving and good food (heard that Anne’s peach cobbler was a major hit!.)
The delightful day brought out Anne, Lisa, the Baturays, Judy Hahn and Kitty Newman and I’m quite sure a good time was had by all!
Well, we didn’t plan it as a “celebration” but that is what Laura Loudoun turned our picnic into when she, as proprietress and party-organizer of this enchanting winery/cidery, set up a table under the trees and awaited our return from driving the peaceful roads to/from Cry Havoc Farm. Cobbler Cellars is not only known for lovely wine, but is locally famous for its award-winning ciders and – as we learned – blends of wines, ciders, honey, herbs, berries… Laura placed her special recipe of Sangria and her honey and berry infused white wine into well iced glass urns with spigots. She laid out glassware, several bottles of wine and plenty of bottles of cider. It was a feast for our thirsty eyes after tending to horses and re-loading trailers. In fact, the crowd lingered for so long sampling wines and ciders and those other luscious libations that one began to wonder if they even noticed that there was lunch awaiting us! Host Wayne Porter set out several tables with red checkered cloths, plenty of plates, utensils and the rest. He’d brought a virtual mountain of chicken wings to which Club Members added bean casserole, sesame noodles, chopped slaw, at least 4 other types of salad, pickled beets, chips/dips and THOSE COOKIES! We were thoroughly spoiled. We enjoyed beautiful weather and delicious food as we sat in the shade while Laura personally refilled our glasses (again and again….and again.) We could not have had a better hostess. Or could we? It was just about 3 1/2 miles down the road where we had stopped at Cry Havoc. There we sat in carriages and rested our horses while Babs Timmerman and hubby Michael Denny served Mimosas, balsamic -infused Mozzarella/tomato/basil bites and strawberries stuffed with a sweetened cheese concoction. In a word, “WOW!” As an accomplished horse woman, Babs’ attention quickly turned from ensuring our comfort to checking on the horses. Suddenly she was gone, but back in a flash with buckets of water and a sponge. She offered each horse a drink and rubbed cool water onto any that had worked up a sweat.
This will long be remembered as a picnic drive where everyone was pampered and indulged. The happy whips were: Carl Cox, Mary Munster, Mark Duffell, Lisa Andersen, Al Baturay, Anne Watkins, Alcinda Hatfield, Lil Jacobs, and Wayne Porter. There were quite a few guests as well, including some “horseless” Members, so it was especially nice for the Club to be so well treated! Maryalice Matheson-Thomas, who it seems is always working, brought 2 lovely ponies to long-line and get their first view of a conglomeration of carriages.
Matt Neiswanger, supporter and friend to all who love horses, has generously offered the use of his stunning farm and club house to Members of the Piedmont Driving Club, the Old Dominion Hunt and the Old Dominion Pony Club. There can be no better gift to this local community and no better way to ensure that riding, fox hunting and carriage driving retain their place in our future.
On Saturday, August 5, he invited Members of all three groups to gather for a “meet and greet” at Hungry Run. Many of us already knew each other and all were happy to be re-acquainted over glasses of wine and unending plates of food. We moved in/out of the house, around the pool, on the back screened porch and onto the terraced lawn, going from one eager conversation to the next. Although we engage in quite different equine pursuits, we were linked by the common thread of love for our sports and a deep appreciation for Matt’s contribution to our future fun!