On Sunday, June 29, 2014 eleven members of the Piedmont Driving Club met under our favorite tree at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. for a dual purpose meeting. Team Cox brought out the “Black Boys”put to a wagonette for a preview of the grounds. Lead Groom Molly Savage took the reins and guided the pair around the race course, past the viewing stand and then over the many inviting gravel roads that circle the grounds. Passengers included the “still mending” Carl Cox plus Caroline, Club President Anne Watkins, Mary Munster, and Kitty Newman. Barbara and Tom Wolf followed with ”Sheba” put to a village cart. Plans were set for the July 4 Carriage Exhibition. We only hope that the weather will be as lovely as it was this day!
Meanwhile Marci and Keith Bade were fast at work setting up tables and chairs for our meeting/picnic. Once the horses and carriages were put up we gathered for the MAIN EVENT…. A very special birthday party for a very special fellow…..our Keith turned 70 years young this very day! Of course there was a lovely cake, plenty of flowers and several very funny cards. Marci spent 3 days marinating the pork tenderloin to which she added her signature sesame noodles. Accompanying dished included a luscious green salad, a ranch potato salad, chips/dips and the biggest, sweetest strawberries we’ve seen this season! Pat McCann managed to arrive just in time for the luncheon with a bowl of cherries and a plate of Pimm’s cookies. We toasted Keith (quite a few times!) with Champagne, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay……somebody said there was delicious homemade iced tea as well (but I must have missed it with all the wine….!)
The Piedmont Driving Club was pleased to find a NEW venue for picnic drives thanks to the generosity of Magalen O. Bryant, owner of the beautiful Locust Hill Farm in The Plains. Her grandson, Michael Webert manages the farm and is assisted by horse-manager Karen Russell. Together they developed a plan for the Club’s drive that included mowing the parking area as well as many pathways along the fields. The route that they chose allowed for our rest stop on the grassland where the Orange County
Races are run. PDC Board Members Mark Duffell and Barbara Wolf (assisted of course by hubby Tom) coordinated with them, ensuring all the details that made for a spectacular 7+ mile drive. There was plenty of shade along tree-lined lanes that boasted both excellent footing and gorgeous scenery. Arrangements were made to pass through neighboring Foxbrook, the farm of Dr. William and Valerie Lees who came out and took pictures as we came up the driveway (careful not to flatten even ONE beautiful plant!)
Mark arranged for a very memorable “rest stop” hosted by Whitestone’s secretary, Laura and her son.They were tasked with serving the cucumber sandwiches and other goodies that Mark HIMSELF had prepared in the wee hours that morning. These were accompanied by Champagne, Mimosas and Sangria — absolutely delightful! After the drive there was a huge picnic luncheon in a shaded meadow. Once again Mark, Barbara and Tom left nothing to chance – while the Club was driving Mark had been heating a huge pan of Whitestone beef barbecue and thus it was bubbly hot and delicious when the hungry crowd gathered for lunch. Side dishes included Barbara’s nearly famous wild rice salad, freshly made veggie casseroles, more salads, fruit compote and plenty of deserts. Nothing says “summer” like strawberry shortcake and Marci’s did not disappoint! (And there’s nothing like canned whipped cream to liven up a party. Laura’s son put it on everything…) Wine and chilled mojitos flowed freely,
along with tea and lemonade. The eight turn-outs for the day included Mark and his fancy pair of Paint Drafts (with guest Erin, plus Michael & Valerie Webert and their 2 year old son William on board for his inaugural “Father’s Day” ride), Mary Munster with her Friesians (Club President Anne Watkins and Pat McCann on board), Barbara and Tom Wolf with “Sheba”, Lisa Anderson driving “Cloud” (hubby Albert and guest from Journeyman Tack on board), Judy Hahn driving her handsome crossbred “Buddy” (4 guests/grooms), Marci and Keith Bade with their lovely Haflinger mare, “Maya”, Sam Davis and her Connemara mare “Foxglove” (and guest), Alcinda Hatfield with hubby. She drove the smallest and probably most game pony, “Buster Brown”.
Not driving, but there to offer support and sample the wines, were Carl and Caroline Cox and Club VicePresident Maryalice Matheson – Thomas. Carl was sporting a sling following recent surgery to repair a torn shoulder. For anyone who may not know, he “fell off the wagon” quite literally at an earlier drive after loading his carriage. And yes, this occurred BEFORE the apres-drive party…!)
The Locust Hill Drive was a huge success and there can be no doubt that we will happily accept any future invitation to drive there. Many thanks are due Magalen O. Bryant, her family and staff, for their gracious hospitality and support of the Piedmont Driving Club.
Social/Activities Chairperson Vicki Baturay, who designs the pretty fliers sent out to announce upcoming events, came up with yet another great idea! Since the Blandy Farm at the Virginia Arboretum is a public venue, why not gather driving enthusiasts from neighboring Clubs to join with the PDC for a drive through these lovely grounds….with picnic to follow, of course.
Wholeheartedly embracing this idea, Board member Wayne Porter agreed (with the help of his lovelywife, Elizabeth) to host the occasion. Wayne drove trusty “Tucker” to his beautiful new carriage with Elizabeth at his side and Club member Cynthia Daly on board. Al and Vicki Baturay brought two guests along in their carriage behind “Nordex” and his younger buddy “Aztec“. Barbara drove “Sheba” to her high riding road cart, with hubby Tom as navigator. The most memorable turn-out of the day had to be the Frost carriage: The came all the way from Pennsylvania with Mike, Debbie, 2 daughters, one son-in-law, 2 grand-kids and a 2 month old baby. One very attractive and able Haflinger pulled the whole family, save one who stayed behind! They reported that they had a GRAND time and we are so happy to hear that as they are relatively new members.
Perhaps it was the threatening weather (it did actually rain a bit….) but we were joined by only one person from another Driving Club. She drove a very cute VSE (I still call them “mini’s”) and seemed to enjoy both the venue and the picnic.
Since I was not actually present for any of this (Hubby Carl Cox was home recovering from surgery to atorn rotator cuff), I shall quote in part an email I received from Barbara Wolf:
“Not as hot as expected thanks to clouding up and breeze, but once we were out, the sky darkened steadily to the NW and wind picked up. Baturays went first and Vicki navigated around the grounds. Frosts followed us and kept a very nice pace – we were sandwiched by Haflingers! Who knows when or where Wayne went, indeed there are many options at Blandy. We eventually got into the woods on some fairly narrow trails, not exactly suited to carriage horses. But we made it out eventually. We were going to kid new member Mike Frost about giving him the “steering audition” in the woods – and noted that he passed with flying colors! By the time we approached the parking area again there was clearly a storm brewing: we’d been sprinkled on several times, dark clouds were moving in, and there had been a distant lightening flash or two. Time to come in. When we got back who should we encounter but Lisa and Albert Andersen. They’d been riding 4 year olds, acclimating them to the sights and sounds of carriages…..The rain held off and Club President Anne Watkins had arrived in time for the picnic. The Frosts are a cheerful bunch and had a good time in spite of the foreshortened drive; he was just as glad, actually, since it was a new experience to drive in a group and the weather was risky at best. Baby never made a peep and the little kids were very nice. Great addition to the Club, for sure! Lisa and Albert returned as the picnic was winding down but they were hungry and had a huge amount of watermelon amply marinated in blueberry vodka, so they ate while people admired the new Kentucky Break in the trailer, and the watermelon disappeared. By the time we finished the picnic, the storm had blown by to the north and the sun was out.”
It all goes to show that no matter how many or how few members of the Piedmont Driving Club gather together, everyone can be assured of a good time!