Peddler’s Village

We had other plans for this weekend but between the murk and cold and my aches and pains, we decided at last minute to jettison them for something else.  We decided to go and explore Peddler’s Village because it afforded us a comfortable balance between fresh air and bursts of time spent indoors.

Peddler’s Village is essentially a shopping centre but one laid out like a small village rather than a strip mall.  The architecture is interesting and harks back to a bygone era and rural idyll but is, of course, completely faux.  I found it to be quaint and quiet and certainly preferable to the atmosphere of the average shopping mall.  It also presented us with the opportunity to pootle around in some independent retail stores as opposed to the same old chains.

2017-01-21 12.00.00

2017-01-21 13.15.26

2017-01-21 13.18.25

The first of these we visited was a cheese shop which tells you a lot about our family’s priorities.  I may be lactose intolerant but I am also an unrepentant cheesaholic.  I have given up all other forms of dairy except for cheese and clotted cream.  I take the hit of physical pain over the emotional pain of a life without cheese.  The cheese shop offered a wonderful array of delicious cheeses.  We all nibbled on samples and pressed our noses against the glass of the display case.  Imported and artisan cheeses aren’t cheap here in the US so we had to exercise self-restraint and limit ourselves to two wedges of cheese.  In the end we chose some Port Salut for reasons of nostalgia and a wonderfully tangy, mature cheddar that had been marinated and aged in balsamic vinegar.  On the subject of vinegars, the shop also sold bottles of infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  I absolutely adored an orange and cranberry vinegar and even more so an amazing pomegranate infused one but I managed to leave the store without making a further purchase.

2017-01-21 11.54.02

The boys particularly enjoyed a store filled with geeky t-shirts and accessories and a toy store.  They spent ages in the toy store because it contained lots of items they had never seen in a chain toy store, despite the fact that most of those items were for a younger age group than them.  We also took them into an arcade where they enjoyed clambering on pieces of equipment and watching graphics.  Two of them decided to spend some money on playing a game but otherwise they weren’t really into it.  I have always hated arcades but Mr Pict has many happy childhood memories of playing in them.  Our sons seem to fall somewhere between our attitudes.

2017-01-21 12.03.18

2017-01-21 12.46.25

2017-01-21 12.47.32

There were lots of stores selling ceramics, housewares, a very tempting glassware shop, purveyors of jewellery and clothes.  I am not much of a shopper but I probably would have had more of a nose around in more stores had I not had the boys in tow.  Since there was nothing I needed or was looking for, I opted out of the stress and worry of taking kids into stores or listening to their whines as they were forced to wait outside for me, especially since by this juncture the boys were growing “hangry”.

2017-01-21 13.08.48

2017-01-21 13.18.29

We left Peddler’s Village and crossed the river into New Jersey.  It had been ages since we had visited New Hope and Lambertville and we had never eaten there – discounting doughnuts and ice cream.  We choose to eat in the Lambertville Station and happily, despite being a party of six, there was only a brief wait for a table despite the place being very busy.  As its name suggests, the restaurant is a converted train station.  It’s interior was lovely with lots of wood and brass.  The Maitre’ d’s desk was what looked to be the old ticket booth.  We were seated in the area that had once been the platform which gave us a view over the canal and the streets outside.  The atmosphere was lovely, the staff were attentive, and the food was delicious.

2017-01-21 14.28.08

2017-01-21 14.27.58

2017-01-21 15.00.32

Since we were all stuffed full, we decided to get a spot of fresh air before getting back into the car and heading home.  We thought the boys would just have a bit of a wander on the shore line, watching the ducks and geese, but in the end they were there for ages, making up some game to entertain themselves, and we had to drag them into the car.  So the day might not have been remotely what we had planned but it was still a success.

2017-01-21 15.05.02

2017-01-21 15.04.09

2017-01-21 15.15.32

Camera Hopelessness in New Hope

When we Picts first visited New Hope on Mother’s Day, we immediately knew that it was somewhere we should bring my parents to when they visited.  So today, therefore, I packed my kids and parents in the car and chauffered them to the edge of Pennsylvania to see this quaint and picturesque town for themselves.  I parked up and started handing out backpacks to the kids and that was when I realised my terrible mistake: in all the hubbub and commotion to remove the kids from the house and get them into the car, I had left my camera behind.  It’s a DSLR so not easily overlooked yet somehow I had managed to set off on a day trip  – to somewhere scenic no less – without my camera.  I started to freak out a little bit.  I think in all of my many years of taking photographs of our life events, trips and travels, I have come to think that if I cannot document it visually then it is as if it never happened.  I rely on my photographs as aide memoires and I feel just plain weird without a camera.  I momentarily  – just for a mere fraction of a second – considered going home for my camera but it was a long trip so that was out of the question.  Ultimately the only thing that prevented hyperventilation was the fact that my Dad was with me and he had his compact camera with him.  Furthermore, I remembered that my iphone can take photos.  I am not very good at taking phone photos.  Not very good at all.  I would have to make do with sub-standard photographs but at least I would have a record that we were all there together.

After a quick doughnut (the elevenses of champions) we crossed the bridge from New Hope to Lambertville largely so that my parents could hereafter say that they had walked from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.  Strolling across the bridge that straddles the Delaware, my 8 year old noticed that there was a cluster of turtles below.  We were all very excited.  These were the first turtles my boys have ever seen in the wild and they loved them, especially when they saw them swimming, or the baby ones in particular.  After a sojourn in Lambertville, we strolled across the bridge again to have a poke about the shops in New Hope.  Last time I was in New Hope, I only had my 8 year old noseying around the shops with me so it was lovely to have other adults with me to discuss things with.  Not that we bought anything for ourselves, of course, but it is still fun to discuss the things that you might buy if you could.  My 8 year old did buy some things for his little brothers, however: a small Playmobil set for the 5 year old and a commemorative cuddly turtle for the 7 year old.  Sweet, thoughtful and cute.  Just as last time, the 11 year old was sullen and tweenagery.  My parents seemed to enjoy the trip and my Mum liked seeing all the interesting arts and crafts items on sale in the various boutiques – though she was less keen on being around expensive items with four kids in tow – and we even managed to end the trip by seeing the tourist train pull out from the station.

So I survived a day trip without a camera.  But I am not doing that again.

2014-07-10 10.05.13 2014-07-10 10.11.41 2014-07-10 11.20.56 2014-07-10 12.45.45 2014-07-10 13.00.48 2014-07-10 13.01.05

 

Mother’s Day in New Hope

Sunday was my first ever Mother’s Day in America.  Mothering Sunday in the UK falls in March so the weather is often too cold and miserable to plan any sort of excursion.  We knew, however, that Sunday was predicted to be a corker of a day so Mr Pict asked me where I would like to go as a day trip.  Normally I would always plan a trip around the kids’ interests and needs and, indeed, my first thought was to take them into Philadelphia to explore a museum or gallery.  But then I decided to be selfish and decreed that we would take a trip to the picturesque town of New Hope.

New Hope sits on the Delaware River where it meets the Aquetong Creek, right on the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and just north of where George Washington famously crossed.  Before moving to Pennsylvania, I must admit the only thing I knew about New Hope was that it was where Abbie Hoffman had commmitted suicide.  Now I also know that Broadway shows are often first show in New Hope as a way of giving them a dry run and tweaking them and that the town’s main industry is tourism.  This latter fact was evident upon our arrival.  The place was packed.  Thankfully we set of reasonably early in the day and had an easy, scenic and straightforward journey into the town and found a place to park with ease.  As we were departing in late afternoon, there was a tailback stretching for miles in the incoming direction so it is definitely advantageous to be an early bird.  That said, while the town was absolutely heaving with people, it was happy and relaxed hustle and bustle that generated a positive buzz.

I managed to convince the kids to have their photo taken with me to commemorate our Mother’s Day trip.  You can see they look thrilled.  Their facial expressions and poses are almost identical to last year’s Mother’s Day group photo except we are not standing in front of a ruined medieval castle and we are wearing significantly fewer layers.

Image

The boys soon found a sculpture of a lounge chair which they loved.

Image

Image

Image

Mr Pict took the youngest two to the Children’s Museum – which they enjoyed but which he reported was definitely pitched at the lower end of the age spectrum – while the older two came to poke around in arts, crafts and antiques shops with me.  My 8 year old loves shopping and likes all things glittery and shiny which means he is quite happy to browse in shops selling creative things and unusual items.  My 11 year old was in a tweenage sulk so spent most of the shopping element of the trip sitting on the steps outside each stop while his brother and I were inside.  Because, when you are a teenager, you would rather develop haemorrhoids from sitting on bricks than mollify your parent by being co-operative.  It was sunny and hot and there were plenty of people milling around so I left him to it.

Image

Image

My 8 year old and I decided to set ourselves a few missions to give our perusing a bit more focus.  We wanted to find some octopus items because we have a family tradition of locating and photographing octopus themed items and then tagging them as my youngest brother (there really is no point in explaining why), we wanted to find a penguin to cheer the 11 year old up and I wanted to find something to do with cardinals since I have been enjoying seeing them in the garden.  It was not that we planned on buying these items, of course.  It was a scavenger hunt rather than a shopping list.

Image

Image

Image

It turned out that ornamental octopi were breeding like crazy in New Hope.  We spotted our first one within milliseconds of being in the first shop we visited and then we kept on finding more and more of them.  They must be a popular creature.  We hit the jackpot, however, in one particular store where an entire shelf was dedicated to glass octopi.

Image

We also had success with the penguin mission as we found some glass penguins in an art shop and we completed our hunt with a pair of cardinal salt and pepper shakers in an antique shop.  We did not buy any of the scavenger hunt items but I did, however, find a few items of affordable jewellery on sale so treated myself to those and my 8 year old bought a small leather panda.  I also bought two little metal sparrows just because I liked them and they cost tuppence ha’penny.  We also managed to find some fun teacher presents which was a great result.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

As much as I love to rummage among interesting items and look at what creative people have produced in various media, it is still shopping and I am not someone who can shop until I drop.  I have a lower than average threshold for shopping probably because my Gran was an absolute shopaholic who frequently pushed my tolerance levels too far on shopping expeditions.  Indeed, my sister and I used to talk about our Gran having a “purse attack” which was a sure sign we were going to be dragged from one end of a city centre to another with our feet pulsing at an increasing tempo.  Despite this shopping experience being far more absorbing than visiting a mall, therefore, after traipsing around shops for a while, the two oldest and I headed to the bridge to meet up with Mr Pict and the two youngest boys.  We parked our derrières on the wall and people-watched in the sunshine while we waited for the other half of the family to arrive.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Once we had all gathered back together we decided to cross the bridge across the Delaware and thus walk into another state.  We thought this would be a novel experience for the kids plus there was the lure of ice cream on the other side to motivate them.

Image

Image

Image

The crossing brought us into Lambertville, New Jersey’s equivalent to New Hope since it was filled with the same type of shops and eateries and the architectural styles matched too.  Both towns really are wonderfully picturesque.

Image

Image

Image

Image

It was time for refreshments.  I am lactose intolerant and really cannot cope with ice cream so I used that time to nose around in a few more art shops.  I find that shops selling works of art tend to fall into one of two categories: they are either relaxed places where you can wander around studying paintings and sculptures without anyone even giving you a second glance or else they are the type of place where the person on the sales desk watches you like a hawk and appears to be monitoring and judging what you do or do not find diverting.  I experienced both types of shopping experience in Lambertville.  I returned to the rendezvous spot to find that Mr Pict and the kids had devoured their ice creams .  Ice cream beards were earned.  The littlest Pict refused to “shave” his.  We pick our battles as parents so we just let him.

Image

It was soon time to cross back over into Pennsylvania again and indeed time to leave New Hope.  As I had curtailed our shopping wanderings, there were streets I had not even wandered along.  However, it is somewhere I know my parents will like to explore and meander around so we will definitely come back over the summer when they are visiting.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

New Hope was filling up with people in gladrags ready to dine and celebrate Mother’s Day with their nearest and dearest.  There were queues forming outside every single eatery – including the Dairy Queen, would you believe – and the prices and logistics of the dining spaces did not really work for the dynamic of our family anyway.  We, therefore, drove for a short while and went to a Chilli’s (a favourite of the boys which means no whining from anyone – a Mother’s Day treat for me) where we all overate and I had a large blueberry margarita while the sun was still up.  Because it was Mother’s Day.

Image

As for my Mother’s Day gifts, the kids did a wonderful job this year as they do every year.  I received handmade, personalised cards from each of them – including one depicting a zombie bloodbath – and my 7 year old painted me a picture of a bouquet of flowers.  The littlest Pict had made an oven glove at preschool which had his name and handprints on it and the kids also gifted me a book of drawings entitled ‘Unicorn Executions’ which seemed to perfectly encapsulate their relationship to my creativity.  I also got to order my gelli plate so that I can have fun learning how to monoprint again after all these years.

It really was a lovely day.