Archive for September, 2010

Finding The Silver Lining — How I Ended Up At The Cape Charles, Virginia Tomato Festival After All !

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I’m a natural optimist  and  I do like to find the  Silver Lining if I can.   When I came  down with a terrible cold last  Tuesday and by  Thursday  still felt like a huge nose attached to a worn out body,  I realized that I just could not subject the other three  who would be in the car with me to a four hour ride  to D.C.  enclosed with Miss Sneezy.   So I said,  in my most pitiful voice ,  you-all  just go to the Book Festival without me .  (See Sept.  21st post about  looking forward to the  2010 National Book Festival ( )   being  held  Saturday,  Sept. 25th on the National Mall in Washington D.C. )    Don’t worry about me,  poor,  poor sick me,  said  I.   Well  OK,   said they,  we won’t worry about you,  we’ll be on our way on Friday morning,   really sorry you can’t come,  we’ll try to get  some of your books signed  for you,  watch the  Book  TV  coverage.

But then,  ironically,  an important client of my daughter’s who was flying  in from the mid-West to the Eastern Shore of  Virginia  to look at waterfront property on Thursday the 24th decided to stay over through Saturday to look at additional beachfront acreage.   So  that took her out of the trip as well.   And then my friend’s  son’s  lasik surgery got bumped from Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon,  so another one bites the dust.  That  left only my husband in a position to make the trip,  but loyalist that he is,  he  pledged to stay by my side,  replenishing Kleenex and orange juice as necessary,  commiserating  with my loss of  the opportunity to get the books I had purchased by Michelle Norris,  Anchee Min,  David  Remnick  and Scott Turow autographed by them,  planned as  special Christmas gifts  for several people.  ( I realize that it may not seem all that special.  But trust me when I say that after you have stood in line about two hours per each author,  in the hot sun,  the only food all day being the trail mix and a PBJ  you  fortunately brought along but which got somewhat squished at the bottom of  your rolling briefcase,  washed down sparingly by a warm Desani,  portapotties about 10 miles off  but you are worried about leaving the line in case of a ruckus about getting back in,  feet aching even though you’re wearing your most comfortable Birkenstocks,  weary arms clutching the max- allowed- per- author three or four books,  open to the title pages as ordered by the event staff,   yellow post-it notes peeking over the edges of the title pages whereon  you have,  after much wracking of the brain,  written the  pithy phrases you want the admired author to inscribe for the recipient……  Well,  after all that,  I don’t care if  it’s just an inscribed  “Manual of  Insurance Rates”   instead of a John Grisham  1st edition —  by golly,  it   is  special !!!!  )  Anyway,  the 11th annual National Book Festival is coming up in just 361  more days,  wonder who the authors will be  ?

But back to the Silver Lining.  In order to go to the Book Festival,  I  would  have had to miss the 3rd annual Cape Charles Tomato Festival.   So now,   if I felt up to it,  we could attend. Possible  Silver Lining.   Mid- afternoon,  pocket full of cough drops,  I summoned up the energy to slip down  to Cape Charles with my husband.  It was a pretty day,  blue skies,  warm,  breezes blowing in from the  Chesapeake Bay.   My husband and I both  always like the ArtWalk and this year was no exception — lots of mediums exhibited,   sidewalk tables plus snow white individual tents  featuring watercolors,  sculpture,  glasswork,  oils,  stained glass,  decoy carvings, etc.,  up and down Mason Avenue as far as the eye could see.   On one of the next- to- last sidewalk tables,  I came across  my art  purchase of the day…….  a  whimisical  watercolor,  original and framed,  a pair of  charming orange seahorses,  outlined in red,  with large aquamarine eyes,  set against a vivid  backgound of  various blues,  white bubbles and little  red hearts floating upwards  as the seahorses  shyly peek  at each other.   The whole painting was so vibrant,  I love seahorses,  I have a perfect place to hang it,  I could not resist.

Continuing on down the sidewalk,  past those last lucky diners to be able to enjoy a bowl of  the ambrosial tomato basil bisque  being served at Cape Charles Coffee House,  we  crossed the street to see the antique cars exhibit.    Arriving  just after the judging was completed,  we watched as the trophies were  being awarded.  Although I am not that into cars,  I was impressed with the 1930 Model A,  black of course,  which looked like it just rolled off the assembly line.  (  You’ll remember that Henry Ford famously said that his customers could have the Model A in any color they wanted—- just as long as they wanted black !  )  Among others,  a trophy was awarded to a 1955  mint condition Chevy painted in beautiful tones of cream and  deep burgandy,  owned by MaryLou and John  Thornton,  whose cute-as-a-button two year old grandaughter,  Andrea,  stole the awards ceremony as she presented  the trophies.  And that pretty much did it for me,  tired,  still not fully recovered,  ready to go home and flip on the television.    And so,  a Silver Lining after all  — I got a fun painting at the Cape Charles Tomato Festival and then spent the rest of the afternoon in comfy air conditioning,  enjoying  Book TV’s  ( )  live coverage of the National Book Festival  direct from C-Span’s  little studio set up in the huge History and Biography pavilion,  temperature  in D.C.  estimated  at a hefty 90 + degrees  and no Chesapeake Bay breezes.  Hi, ho  Silver Lining.

Cape Charles, Virginia Is A Great Place To Buy A Historic Home In A Victorian, Queen Anne or Gothic Style

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Looking to buy a  historic property  in Virginia ?   Consider purchasing real estate  on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in the quaint  historic  town of Cape Charles,  perched along the sandy shores of the Chesapeake Bay.  Cape Charles today continues in its historic coastal traditions and many of the town’s activities center around its deep water  harbor,  marinas  and its beautiful sand beach.  Most of  the 500 buildings in the original part of town date back to the late 1890’s and this section of town has been designed as a  “Historic District” .  In addition,  about 10 years ago,   the acreage which now comprises  the golf resort  were annexed by the town and now form its northern and southern boundaries.  Most of the new  homes built there are of a traditional style and blend well with the homes in the Historic District,  creating a harmonious whole from the sum of  several  parts.

Cape Charles has an interesting history– it was actually created from scratch by a Pennsylvania Congressman,  Wm. Scott,  who purchased the land which is now Cape Charles after learning that its deepwater  harbor was to become  the southern terminus of  the railroad.  ( Obviously,  insider trading is not a new phenomena ! )  In 1883,  Scott  began the process of development,  laying out the town as a square,  creating a five acre space for a future central park  (see the Sept. 11th post on the dedication of the beautiful new Cape Charles Central Park),  naming  the avenues  for famous Virginians  (Washington,  Jefferson,  Madison, etc., )  and the streets for what I’m assuming were his favorite fruits  ( Fig,  Strawberry,  Peach, etc.)  and then proceeded to sell  building lots.  Between the strong economy generated by the new railroad,  which ran from Manhattan to the Eastern Shore,  and the busy ferry service from the harbor ( which took both rail passengers and cars across the Chesapeake Bay,  landing  in Norfolk ),  Cape Charles quickly became a busy and prosperous  waterfront town.  Grand homes were built along the beachfront and in the beach blocks,  more modest homes further back.  By the early 1900’s,   most of the lots had been built out,  in a potpourri of architectural styles ranging from Victorian,  Queen Anne  and Georgian  to Sears Craftsman cottage style homes, with  Gothic and  American four square as well.  Sadly for Cape Charles,  by the mid-1950’s,  the railroad retained freight service but terminated passenger service and postal service  to Cape Charles.  And in the cruelest cut of all,  the ferry company moved to a new terminal at what is now part of  Kiptopeake  State Park,  nearly  five  miles away.   Adios,  so long,  sayonara  to Cape Charles, which sank into a slow decline with the loss of its two economic engines.

Circa 1906 Georgian Revival Home For Sale In Cape Charles, Virginia

Fast forwarding to 2010….   With the completion of much of  the golf  resort and the revival of interest in buying and restoring historic homes in coastal towns,  the renaissance of  Cape Charles and restoration to its intended glory is nearly complete.   And it’s exciting to see  a variety of opportunities for people to be able to purchase  real estate  in the historic area of Cape Charles  and to be able to enjoy  the ambiance of  yesterday in a home which has been restored  to its original elegance.  This post will feature a lovely restored historic home  listed by Blue Heron Realty Co.,  a  marvelous Georgian Revival.   Interestingly enough,  this home  was previously a B&B  so the  restoration  fortunately included adding a  private bathroom to each  bedroom,  the acute  shortage of bathrooms  being to my mind one of the thorny issues that always has to be dealt with in restorations of historic homes. 

Entry Foyer With Fireplace, Ceiling Medalion, Antique Chandelier and Columns

Built in 1906,  this 4200 square foot Georgian Revival home has been fully restored to its former  glory !  Located just two blocks from the beautiful Cape Charles town beach,  this home reflects the best traditions of gracious Virginia living.  With spacious formal rooms and seven bedrooms plus eight and a half baths,  there is plenty of room for private entertaining or it could be returned to its  B&B status.  The stately entry foyer features the original ceiling medallion with light fixture and original leaded glass windows.  Wood floors have been beautifully restored and the 12 inch baseboards have top and bottom shoe molding.  The large dining room is light -filled and simply spectacular with four floor-to-ceiling windows,  original ceiling medallion and gasolier chandelier.   Original carved  fireplace mantel adorns the gas-converted  fireplace in the spacious living room which also features pocket doors.   Warm and cheerful,  the   gourmet kitchen features  Wolf range, Viking hood and  side by side refrigerator– everything you would need to fix a fabulous crab au gratin with your fresh- from- the- Chesapeake-  Bay lump blue crab.   Large Butler’s Pantry,  plenty of  storage.  

Go Green- Slip Over To The Marina Just Five Minutes Away In An Electric Golf Cart

Outside,  a lovely wisteria-covered pergola and a hot tub as well as a  detached office with a sleeping loft create private spaces for work and leisure.   Located on a corner lot in the Cape Charles Historic District,  this gracious, lovingly restored home is but a short stroll to the beach and a quick golf cart ride to the two marinas,  Palmer or Nicklaus  golf, little  shops,  art galleries,  the Palace Theatre and fine and casual dining.  Could it get any better ?  So  get ready to live the sweet beach life in the romantic ambience of  yesteryear.  Priced at $599,995.  ( For more information on real estate and historic homes for sale on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  click on the  “historic home  listings”  section of  the  Blue Heron Realty Co.  website  .

My Secret Kayaking Spot On The Eastern Shore Of Virginia

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Kayaking on Virginia’s Eastern Shore  is a well-known  passion of mine.   But I’m not worried about my secret spot becoming overrun by kayakers because it’s getting mighty lonely paddling around out there all by myself.  Save for the bald eagles,  osprey,  great blue heron,  kingfisher, and assorted other shore birds that migrate through the area,  that is,  so actually it’s not lonely at all,  just really wonderfully peaceful and relaxing !   Having paddled Westerhouse Creek almost daily now,  going on 9 years,  the number of times I have encountered another soul I could count on both hands. This small saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay near Machipongo, Virginia in Northampton County  has an absolutely pristine shoreline  and  is edged in the softest way by thick stands of tall green spartina grass.  I have yet to become jaded to the sublime beauty of this  place,  and especially its lack of disturbance by human encroachment.  Although others live along the shores of this beautiful channel,  near  sunset or sunrise it seems to be mine alone.

Launching my 17  foot long sea kayak  into Westerhouse Creek from my backyard finger pier is a breeze.  I climb down a short ladder to balance before scooting  into the cockpit,  sitting as comfortably as if I was lounging in my living room.  All is quiet, the sun is starting to set and shortly a full moon is due to rise in the east.  The beauty of  paddling a kayak lies in its unobtrusiveness in the natural surroundings and ease of movement through the water.  I feel at one with nature as I glide upon the fluid  surface.  This little salt water estuary is really a miniature Eastern Shore creek,  with all the features shrunk down so that an hour’s paddle takes you through the various topographical features that comprise an entire  healthy ecosystem.  The headwaters of the creek are wetlands that capture the drainage of fresh water from as far away as Lankford Highway  (Rt. 13)  which runs along  the spine of the  Delmarva Penninsula.  The marsh soon gives way to open water as the opposite banks of the stream open wider and wider apart.   Behind the spartina grow  thick stands of  long and short needle pines and hardwood trees.  In the fall,  the change of color of  foliage creates a rainbow  along the both shores,  pine greens contrasting with the brilliant  hues of  reds,  orange,  pinks  and yellows of the hardwoods.  In the early spring,  the white dogwood blossoms are the first flowers to appear through the leafless branches,  a welcoming sight.

My goal each trip is to paddle the length of the entire creek,  passing out between the sandy shores of the mouth where the creek empties into the Chesapeake Bay. There,  when the wind is blowing strong from the northwest,  I love to  catch the waves and virtually surf  the kayak back homewards into the mouth of the creek,  almost California style.

One evening in early May,  in a fairly stiff breeze,  I paddled out through the breaking 2-3′ waves and turned to catch one back to shore, but a rogue wave hit me sideways and and for the first time ever,  tumbled my boat upside down so fast I hardly knew which direction was up.  I found myself suddenly immersed in an inverted position and I literally fell out of my kayak and rose to the surface sputtering water from my mouth.  It was cold water, too, and the waves were breaking all over,  and I was a little worried about being slowly pulled out into the Bay by the falling tide.  Luckily, a couple of weeks earlier I had finished a series of  four classes in a YMCA pool in Virginia Beach to train on how to perform a kayak self-rescue and of course,  as always,  I was wearing a life vest.  The cold water was starting to sap my strength but I stripped off my waterlogged sweatpants,  gathered my thoughts and planned my every move.  Relying on an inflated bag fitted over one end of my paddle to steady the tippy craft,  I climbed aboard in the breaking surf and rolled inside the boat.  Using the  bilge pump,  I emptied the water from my kayak and steadily started paddling back towards the mouth of the Creek.  Whew!  What a relief to be afloat again and heading for home!   Maybe,  I thought,  on the next windy day I will just  turn around  in the Creek and not head out into the Bay to surf  back on a wave.   Or……… maybe I’ll just keep on being adventurous !

This evening,  however,  the water was  quite calm  so my paddling  was  as peaceful and easy as could  be,  total relaxation.   The sun began painting the waters in vivid shades of purples and pinks.  And out in the Bay,  I gazed  up and down that  beautiful shoreline,   then turned  my kayak for home,  spotting the white disk of moon peeking above the distant treeline.

My Westerhouse Creek finger pier perfect for launching kayaks.

Sun setting into the Chesapeake Bay

Entrance to Westerhouse Creek from the Chesapeake Bay

It’s An Easy Day Trip From Virginia’s Eastern Shore To Washington D.C. So I’m Looking Forward To Going To The 2010 National Book Festival

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Virginia's Eastern Shore's Location On The Eastern Seaboard

One of the nice things about living on the  Eastern Shore of Virginia  is how easy it is to go elsewhere.  Sort of an oxymoron thought process– it’s good to be here so I can go elsewhere.  But it’s true !   Virginia’s  Eastern Shore is actually within a half day’s drive of many of  the great spots  on the East Coast,  it’s the perfect place to buy a property which is a home base for get-a-way trips to lots of exciting events and places.   About six hours from my office door  to emerging  from the Holland Tunnel onto Canal Street in Manhattan.. ..  dim sum in Chinatown is calling to us.  ( And we love the roast pork buns and coconut buns at Maria’s Bakery on Mott Street. )  About three hours to Charlottesville  and the beautiful vistas of  the Blue Ridge mountains and some of Virginia’s finest wineries (  ).   About  four hours to Baltimore,  site of Inner Harbor and its fabulous aquarium  and of course,  Annapolis is nearby.  And let’s not forget about Virginia’s Golden Triangle,  the  historic towns of  Jamestown,  Yorktown and  Williamsburg,  so close,  only an hour and a half away  ( ),  always lots of interesting things going on there.  Over the Christmas holidays we nearly always visit Colonial Williamsburg  (  )  to enjoy the  bonfires,  fife and bugle corps , the nightly  Illumination of the Christmas  Tree,  the stunning  all -natural decorations,  topping it  off with  a fabulous dinner at  the Regency Room at  the Williamsburg Inn.

Moonlight Illuminates The U.S. Capitol and The Festival Tents

I  could wax on and on about places to visit within a half day’s drive but this post is supposed to be about going to the 2010 National  Book Festival.  This year marks  the 10th anniversary of the Festival,  held annually in Washington D.C.,    sited out on the National Mall,  organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress.  It  will be the second time we have attended,   having had a marvelous time at last year’s Festival we are really looking forward to going again.   I  had learned  about the Festival some years ago but as September is a busy month in real estate,   it’s really a difficult time to get away for several days.   But last summer when I read about the  2009 Festival,  so many authors,  fiction and non-fiction,  that I truly love and admire were scheduled to appear that it was simply impossible not to go !    ( Actually,  once I discovered that  Ken Burns,  John Irving  and John Grisham would be there,  speaking and autographing their  books,  I can assure you that  wild horses couldn’t have dragged me away. )   Irving’s novels, especially Garp,  Owen Meany and Cider House,  have long been favorites.  ( Couldn’t really get into  Son of the Circus  but I met a fellow while standing in the long,  long Irving book signing line who thought it was his best work and had re-read it six times.  So I’m going to give it another shot this winter.)    And who doesn’t like John Grisham — his work is so popular  that  he must be a multi- billionaire by now !    My husband and I both admire Ken Burns and so I toted four copies ( one for  us,  three for gifts )  of  Burns’  then brand new National Parks book  to be autographed — trust me when I say that after standing for almost two hours in his book signing line, ( in a light drizzle,  no less,  thank Heaven  I brought those little yellow rain ponchos ),   those  four copies of  National Parks seemed  to weigh four hundred pounds and my arms had stretched four feet.   ( I know it is better to give than to receive but the three people who got a signed Ken Burns book for Christmas owe me a new arm. )  

The 2010 National Book Festival Poster

At any rate,  the 2009 Festival,  which was a two day event,  also featured acclaimed authors Nicholas Sparks, Lee Childs and Daniel Silva  (both of whom I particularly enjoy ),  Michael Connelly,  James Patterson,  Judy Blume,  Sue Monk Kidd,  Jon Meachum ( whose book  American Lion  I had just finished reading  ) and Gwen  Ifill,  the excellent  moderator of  PBS’   Washington Week,  plus many other novelists,  poets and non-fiction writers.   About a  thirty-fecta of  literary talent,  all in the very same place on the very same week-end.  Can you believe it ???   Thank-you,  Library of Congress !!   Anyone who truly loves books and reading can appreciate the real  thrill of attending the 2009  National Book Festival and seeing,  hearing  speeches by and getting books autographed by some of ones favorite authors .  So although,  for me,  the 2010 Festival doesn’t have the same star power,  my husband and I,  a daughter and a friend are all looking forward to leaving the Eastern Shore,  making that easy trip to spend the week-end in  Washington DC  and hearing  Ken Follett,  Scott Turow,  Anchee Min,  Michelle Norris of NPR  and   David Remnick  speak and getting them to autograph their  books for us — and yes,  I’m thinking Christmas as well. ( A  signed,  first edition copy of a book  by the  giftee’s  favorite author makes  a great Christmas present,  especially when it comes with the story of  how the giftor stood in line forever in the sun/rain/dark of night,  feet aching,  just  to get it autographed especially for them. )  So let’s hear it for books,  authors and the brick and mortar book stores like Barnes and Nobles and Borders who hold the world within their four walls !   And let’s hear it for living on the Eastern Shore of  Virginia,  so centrally located that a whole other lifestyle dimension is opened by the ease with which you can get away to so many other places !   Applause, applause,  applause,  ad infinitum !

Tangier Island, Virginia — This Tiny Island In The Stream Hits The Big Time On ESPN !

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Most people have heard about Tangier Island,  Virginia  at some point  ( the  Island has  been the subject of  various  articles now and again) but who could have guessed that  Tangier would be the forcus of  a national marketing campaign by ESPN ? ?    Until now  the biggest thing I knew about Tangier is this—it is sooooo small !   Only about a mile wide and two and a half miles long,   Tangier Island  stands literally in the middle of the stream,  the mighty Chesapeake Bay stream,  a mere speck  on the horizon as you approach it.  The approach being  strictly by air or by boat  because unless you are Johnny Weissmuller  redux  ( or Michael Phelps ),  ain’t no other way to get there since there is no bridge and the nearest  land is the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  nearly fourteen miles away.  This isolation is reflected in the Tangier “dialect”  which is a bit of a throwback to Elizabethan English and  sometimes can be a little  hard to understand,  especially the old-timers.  ( True story— when we first moved to the Eastern Shore,  my husband was having lunch at Paul’s Restaurant ,  gone now but not forgotten and  people still reminisce about Ron and Gerry Crumb’s  chocolate cream pies.   A  group of six older fellows  were seated at the table next to him,  talking animatedly.  The  conversation was floating  around  him and my husband,  who is not particularly a language buff,  was trying to figure out what language they were speaking.   Curiosity finally got him,  he leaned over and said  ” Excuse me,  but what country are you fellows  from ? ”   They all stared  at him and one guy finally said  ” Well,  matey,  what the heck country are YOU from ? ”   And that was his introduction to Tangier- style pronunciation of  our  native tongue. )

Originally settled in the late 1700’s,   the Island’s population has shrunk from about 1500 in the early 1900’s to  under 600 today and that’s counting every man, woman, child and parakeet.   Golf carts,  bicycles and feet  ( yes,  actual walking from place to place on shank’s mare )  are the main forms of  island transportation.  One place visitors always want  to stop at  on Tangier Island is the Chesapeake House,  a quaint B&B and excellent restaurant  serving veritable feasts of crab cakes,  crab soup, crab fritters, fried soft shell crabs,  Virginia country ham,  the best hot yeast rolls ever and other delicious  home cooked,  mouth-watering foods.   Homemade pound cake with strawberries in season,  yes, yes, yes.   ( www.chesapeakehouse/  And,  of course,  everything crab is so fresh it was probably still swimming around the night before because the seafood business is the main business  on Tangier.   So,  if it’s crab and it’s from Tangier,  it has got to be good.

It stands to reason that a person would definitely be ready for a little  fun and entertainment  after a busy day out on the boat,  hauling crab pots in and out of the water,  busheling up the catch  or a long day in one of the myriad crab houses dotting the harbor,  watching for the hard shell crabs  to get ready to moult  ( the  “peelers” )  and then quickly scooping the  just  “busted-out soft shells”  from  the water before the new shell can harden, which is a fairly  narrow window of time so paying attention is important.  After work,  it seems that a big part of  that fun and entertainment is sports.   According to the ESPN3 web page,  Tangier has been named the   “The Biggest* Sports Town In America” .  *Per capita, of course !   Having fun themselves with that theme,  ESPN3   just  filmed a series of  eight commercial spots on Tangier,  each  featuring various Island residents talking about and cheering for their favorite college football teams.  ESPN’s ads,  two  of  which are attached to this blog post , were  filmed on Tangier  over the course of a week .   They  are  pretty funny  ( just watch the crab races )  and down-home authentic,  and are scheduled to  be streamed  on Monday Night Football.   Great for ESPN,   great for Tangier,  a tiny island in the stream which has finally hit the big ESPN time !   Go, Tangier,  go !    (And if you love the videos of  Tangier and want information on buying real estate on Tangier Island,  give Blue Heron Realty Co. a call– we can help you.)

The Fun-Filled Cape Charles, Virginia Annual Tomato Festival ! It’s Right Around The Corner, Don’t Miss It !

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Putting on the Ritz at the Tomato Ball

When is the only time of year when dressing up like a tomato is not only acceptable,  it’s  de rigueur  ?    Tomato Festival time,  of course,   that wacky,  fun time of year in Cape Charles, Virginia when marinara  sauce meets  “Beautiful Baby”  contest.   And where you must  wear red  ( and preferably a tomato-like Mardi Gras style costume )  in order to get into the   annual Tomato Ball.  Talk about putting on the Ritz,  it’s definitely  time to dust off  those zippy red slingback heels and get ready to step out with your baby tonight !!   

Second only to the fun events scheduled for the 4th of July week-end,  Cape Charles’    Tomato Festival  week-ends  offer  a wide variety of  events,  something for everyone.  For art aficionados,  there is the  Mason Avenue ArtWalk  where many of the best artisans on the Eastern Shore of Virginia will  have  booths to show their latest work.  The  ArtWalk  exhibits  in  many mediums including watercolors,  oils,  pottery,  mosaics,  photography and carvings and features many fine .  Several categories will be judged and winners selected by a regionally recognized art professional.  (  One of the art booths is always set up outside Blue Heron Realty’s office at 113 Mason Avenue.  So if you are thinking about buying real estate on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,   please stop in to say hello and  pick up our free property catalogue. )

Into the hole on the next shot

On Friday, September 24th,  the 3 rd  Annual Cape Charles Open golf tournament will be held at Bay Creek, with a portion of the proceeds  benefiting the United Way of the Eastern Shore.   This event is open to the public and is a great chance for non-member golf enthusiasts to strut their stuff on the incredible Arnold Palmer Signature course, which was designated last year by Golf Digest as one of its  “Best Places To Play”.    This 7204 yard beautiful waterfront course,  with perfectly manicured greens and fairways,  is built along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and Old Plantation Creek, a bay inlet.  Most golfers say that it’s  hard to keep their eyes off the scenery and on the ball, so participants in this event will just have to try to ignore the  sparkling waters,  soaring  ospreys and gorgeous landscaping  to  focus instead on less interesting matters like stance and swing.   A golfer’s life is hard but someone has to do it …..

Marinara Sauce In The Round

For foodies,  there are mouth watering tomato pies,  bubbling, wonderful   fragrant aromas for as far as the nose can smell.  I’m sure the local tomato pie champions  ( who actually were  invited to Washington DC to cater an Inaugural event in 2008 ) will be there,  holding forth with  their ambrosial offerings.  ( If you’ve never had tomato pie,  think a perfection blend of tomatos,  cheeses,  herbs and spices in a rich, rich crust. )   Other food vendors will be there preparing regional specialties plus wine and beer tastings usually are held as well.  Definitely no fear of  hunger at the Tomato Festival.   And of course the week-end  “Pizza Train”  luncheon ride and evening gourmet dinner trip will be running  on the  usual schedule,  as always, advance tickets required.  All aboard,  all aboard,  train buffs.

Grand Finale And Perfect End To A Fun-filled Day In Historic Cape Charles, Virginia

For kids,  special contests and events are scheduled including  the always fun  Face Painting booth.   Also  for  kids and kids at heart,  there will be an antique and classic car show, always a great hit.  For the girls there will be a no-swimsuit   “Miss Hot Tomato”  contest  as well as a pre-teen tomato contest.  The demands of  the baby lobby  are  covered by the “Beautiful Baby” contest.  Last year music lovers were entertained by the Pop, Rhythm and Blues concert featuring Clarance Smith,  presented by Art’s Enter at the Palace Theatre.  So I think that just about covers everyone — foodies,  golfers,  music lovers,  babies,  teens and pre-teens,  kids,  car enthusiasts,  art aficionados,  train buffs,  tomato costumes,  dancing the night away at the Tomato Ball….. is there  anything else that can be piled into this fun,  wacky, tomato week-end ?   Just one more thing ?     Yes, of course…. for everyone out there who loves a parade,  the Tomato Festival Parade kicks off on Mason Avenue at 10 AM.   Last call,  anything else ?   Yes, the fireworks !   High in the sky above  the Cape Charles beach and reflected in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay,  the brilliant flares  and ka-booms of  the fireworks  show brought the 2009  Tomato Festival to a   ( )  to a dramatic close.  Yep,  with the parade and the fireworks,  there  truly is something for everyone.    So,  everyone,  remember,  it’s coming,  it’s right around the corner.   Get ready,  get set,  mark your calenders,  it’s  tomato time  in Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore !

An Entertaining Lunch On The Island House Veranda In Watchapreague, Virginia

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Crabcakes And A View At The Island House Restaurant In Watchapreague, Virginia

Enjoying a meal at the Island House Restaurant in Watchapreague,  Virginia is not merely  about the food.   Definitely not !   Perched at  water’s edge  on Finney  Creek,  a  deepwater inlet from the Atlantic Ocean,  which  languidly winds its way through the emerald  green marshes and  out to  Metompkin Inlet,  a trip to the Island House offers a unique little peek  into  the Seaside on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.   Watchapreaque itself ,  now  a quiet little residential  town with a population of about 300,  was  the site of  the once bustling Hotel  Watchapreague,  now gone,  a well-known resort  frequented by all sorts of celebrities in the early 1900’s.   Now home to a  large private marina with an impressive fleet of charter fishing boats,  greater  ” downtown” Watchapreague also boasts  a town marina,  a marine railway and several  boat ramps,  all catering to those who love the excellent sports fishing and boating  nearby. 

A Toss Up - Eat Or Launch The Boat ?

Clearly,  after a brisk morning  out on the water there are going to be some mighty hungry people  coming ashore looking for  sustenance and who better to provide it than the Island House Restaurant    Needless to say,  it offers seafood of all kinds but specializes  in a  fresh catch of the day as well as local crab, oysters and clams.   My husband and I especially enjoy their delicious clam chowder and crabcake sandwiches,  a perfect lunch harvested from our salty Eastern Shore  waters.  And what better place to eat it than out on the Island House’s large veranda, watching all the activities going on around us.   The restaurant is nestled in between  a boat ramp and Watchapreague’s  largest marina  so there is always lots of interesting stuff  happening on all sides.  Smaller boats being launched at or being pulled out at the adjacent ramp,  little snatches of conversation and laughter floating up,  big  boats gliding  into the marina,  people waving and calling out to each other,  tides rising and falling,  seabirds on the wing  trying to catch a little lunch for themselves.  

 Looking to the horizon,  one gets glimpses of Cedar Island,  ( part of our off-shore  Barrier Island chain,  a United Nations Biosphere)  and also sightings  of what appear to be  boats traveling upon the marsh grass itself.    They are,  of course,  moving in the  water  but because the deep channel  winds through large  expanses of  marsh grass,  when  boats  are landward of Cedar Island,  the illusion is created that they are  floating upon the grass itself, quite an interesting phenomena .   Anyway,  there’s always someone or something to see or hear,  so definitely lunch at the Island House is quite  entertaining as well as tasty.?( )

To The Cast Of “Two Mrs. Carrolls”, Take Another Well Deserved Bow !

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Historic Palace Theatre In Cape Charles, Virginia

My husband,  a friend and I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon last week  at the historic Palace Theatre in Cape Charles, Virginia  watching the matinee performance of  ” The Two Mrs. Carrolls”.   It was one of those cool, rainy,  constant drizzle  Sundays that usually make me feel like staying at home with a hot cup of tea,  listening to  The Splendid Table  on NPR or thumbing through the latest  Contessa or  Mario Batali cookbook, wondering if there is a delicious recipe of less than five ingredients that can be whipped together in  15 minutes ( good luck with that ! ) . However,  we had matinee tickets for the play and off we went,  rain or no,  to see the Mrs. Carrolls.

I was not familiar with that particular  play,  written by Martin Vale,  but the playbill indicates that it is a film noir classic from 1947 and starred Hunphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck.   A  comic thriller set in the South of  France,  it revolves around  a lovey-dovey,  newly- wed English couple  ( but the husband,  an artist,  has a roving eye ),  the wife’s  old flame who visits a lot,  a beautiful young neighbor who also visits a lot and a very funny French  housekeeper,  Clemence ,   who can speak English but insists on speaking French throughout,  sans peur et sans reproche,  played with good comic effect by Susan Kovacs,  a  Blue Heron customer .    The wife soon falls mysteriously ill and the play is off and running !

Bravo ! Take Another Bow !

Staged and directed by Sheila Cardano,  whose daughter,  Clelia Sheppard,  is the Executive Director of  Art’s Enter,  the play came off wonderfully– the years of Sheila’s  hard work and efforts to put together a talented local amateur theatre group and stage crew and to renovate  the Palace Theatre  have really paid off handsomely.   The theatre,  now fully restored,  truly looks great.  ( Years of fund raisers together with grants and donations have restored this lovely Art Deco building to its former 1940’s glory.  Wow !  And you should see the seats now,  comfy and beautifully re-covered,  to the tune of  hundreds of  dollars each and the gorgeous golden wall murals.  Before and after pictures  really tell this  amazing restoration story and  illustrate how far the Palace Theatre and Art’s Enter have  come in these  last 15 years. )   On stage,  the props and scenery looked great– so authentic,  you felt like you really were in  an artist’s home.  Lots of well done lighting and sound effects too,  especially the mistral wind,  which blew on and off for much of  Act 3. 

Eva Takes The Lead Role And Dave Makes His Stage Debut

Best of all was the cast,  who vividly brought this  story to life.   Consisting of  nine amateur actors  from various  walks of  life, including a recreational director,  a vacation rental associate,  three  retirees,  a real estate sales agent,  a real estate broker,   a Deputy Commissioner of the Revenue  plus  Clelia Sheppard,  the Executive Director of Art’s Enter and one of the Eastern Shore’s great multi-taskers,  this cast  came together seamlessly to create the story’s realistic voice.   It was an excellent performance,  thoroughly enjoyed by the entire audience.   I realize that I am biased but the three of us really loved seeing our two colleagues from the Blue Heron Realty Co. Cape Charles office ,  Eva Noonan and Dave Kabler   ” do their thing”  on-stage,  both presented an accomplished performance,  with Eva  cast in the leading role of Sally Carroll.  And so,   to the entire cast,  at the next performance  go ahead and take an extra bow— you deserve it !

Looking To Buy Beachfront Property In Virginia ? The Eastern Shore of Virginia Has Some Great Beach Real Estate Deals !

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Who doesn’t love the beach ?   Duh, everyone  loves  the beach !   ( Well, everyone I know loves the beach and I know a fair number of people,  so let’s just extrapolate from there…..)   And the only thing better than sitting out on the sand,  under a huge beach umbrella,  reading the latest  Sara Gruen novel or maybe re-reading a Tony Hillerman mystery ( I so love Joe Leaphorn )  is sitting in your beach house in a chaise lounge,  out on your own deck,  overlooking the beach,  inhaling soft briny breezes,  maybe smiling through  “Sweetness At The Bottom Of  The Pie”  or  trying to unravel the latest Pynchon literary offering.   But the frosty iced tea pitcher,  the pantry and the CD changer are  sooo  much closer,  just reach out and touch someone.  Well,  what might be just as good,  or maybe even better,  is sitting on your beachfront deck,  wine glass in hand,  as the sun slips below the horizon and paints the sand and the water  in brilliant sunset colors.  Which, of course,  is why so many of  our real estate customers  contact  Blue Heron Realty Co.  with a request to help them find a great buy on a  beach lot or home. ( )

Great news !    If you’re looking to purchase  beach real estate in Virginia,  the  Eastern Shore is the very best location in Virginia to find both beachfront and beach access property at affordable prices,  great prices that make the heart beat a little faster and fingers itch to grab a pen and sign some papers.  Sure they have beautiful beach property in Virginia Beach,  less than an hour away.   But who wants to pay about a million dollars for a 40 x  175  lot  and share with about a billion tourists ?   Fine  if your job places you there and you love the beach.   But if you’re looking for a leisure home,  a retirement home or just plain relaxed,  low key year-round living  and would prefer private and pristine  low density neighborhood beaches at  an actually affordable price,  then Virginia’s Eastern Shore  could be  the place for you !

In this blog post  I’m featuring  a beachfront home,  a waterfront cottage with deeded beach access  and  a beachfront  lot for sale.    All of these properties are great deals !    The beachfront home at $995,000 is a truly wonderful purchase opportunity.  It’s a lovely 3 bedroom home on nearly two acres, wooded, with  almost 200 feet of  magnificant beach shoreline in a small, very upscale beach neighborhood. ( Plenty of room to  add- on if more bedrooms are desirable. )  This intimate little  neighborhood offers  a swim &  tennis facility and access to a private freshwater lake,  nice  for those who like to canoe or kayak. 

The cozy 3 bedroom waterfront cottage with deeded beach access  for sale for $359,000 is located in a tiny  waterfront neighborhood of  only 50 homes.  The cottage is sited on a one acre waterfront lot on a small inlet from the Chesapeake Bay,  only a couple miles from Cape Charles and the Palmer and Nicklaus signature golf courses.   It’s less than a five minute walk to the neighborhood’s 10 acre private sand beach— the perfect place to build sand castles or do some surf fishing at sunset. Or enjoy catching some of our famous Chesapeake Bay blue crabs from the backyard dock.  If you are thinking of  buying a leisure home and would like to get some rental income to help off-set mortgage payments,  this could be a good property for doing some weekly summer rentals.  ( Blue Heron Realty Co.  has a vacation rental department and we can handle all the details for you.  Just call us at 757-678-5200 )

Last,  but not least,  is a one acre plus beachfront homesite located on a bluff overlooking 500 miles of sparking blue waters  at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay,  one of Mother Nature’s very best addresses !   Here is an opportunity  to purchase a sizable beachfront lot for just $429,000.   Pick custom home plans perfect for your particular needs,  get rolling with construction  and  be living in your dream beachfront home by Spring.  ( Blue Heron can help you find a contractor.)   So relaxing,  just sitting out on your deck,  golden sunshine,  listening to waves  lapping and seabirds calling,  feeling the soft salty breezes,  neck muscles totally loose,  some Dave Brubeck  playing in the background,  happily reading the National Electrical Code 2011 Handbook due out this winter.   No, no, sorry,  just a  bad  joke !   I meant reading Pat Conroy’s new book   “My Reading Life” ,  also due out this winter.   Anyway,  the point is that if you are looking to buy beachfront property in Virginia,  come take a look at the fabulous beach real estate for sale here on the Eastern Shore.  You’ll be amazed and delighted at what you’ll find,  I guarantee it  !!   ( Call us at 800-258-3437 for more particulars on these properties and don’t forget to check out our website for some other great buys–  )

Planning To Feed My Murder Mystery Addiction At The New Play At The Palace Theatre In Cape Charles

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

For better or for worse,  I’m addicted to murder mysteries.    No point in trying to deny it because an entire room,  a very spacious room even,  that was planned as my husband’s home office with space for my books,  CD’s and DVD’s  has now evolved into  my library with space  for my husband’s desk and file cabinets  at the far end,  by the full wall of windows.  ( Well,  at least I let him keep  the windows, which are  floor-to-ceiling,  south-east  facing and overlook  our beautiful rolling lawn,  bird feeders,  trees and  pretty sunrises.  I feel that makes things even-steven but I don’t think  he really agrees. )   Six tall bookcases,  books I’ve already read but  want to keep stacked at least two rows deep,  books I’m planning to read sitting on my  “read this next”  table,  about 30% of which are murder mysteries or courtroom dramas,  not the gory ones,  just the good, old-fashioned sleuthing- through- clues to find the bad guys kind.   ( I think I could probably write a book,  a thick, heavy tome,  about the books that I love…. I do read a lot of non-fiction too but let’s face it — not as much fun !  Currently reading   “The Immortal World of Henrietta Lacks”,   fascinating but  not nearly as satisfying as a John Grisham thriller.  )   Two tall bookcases of DVD’s including,  more or less,  the complete sets  (or working towards  complete )  of  most of  BBC’s great mystery  series.  (Let me recommend  as an absolutely  “must view”  website. )  Inspector Morse,  Foyle’s War,  Sir Peter Wimsey,  Rumpole,  Prime Suspect,  MidSomer Murders,  Last Detective,  Poirot ad infinitum,  Sherlock Holmes,  P.D. James,  etc., etc. (all  on the dramatic side) on stand-by  on the shelf,  ready to be watched or re-watched at a moment’s notice.   Plus  light and humorous  favorites like Hamish McBeth  (was TV John a delightful character or what ? ),  Campion,  the new(ish)  Miss Marple series staring  Geraldine McEwan  ( BBC’s best Marple ever ),  Rosemary and Thyme,  Hetty Investigates  and the wonderful  series we are currently viewing,  Pie In The Sky…. impatiently waiting for UPS to deliver Series 3  ( which was originally shown in the U.K.  about a thousand years ago  but  just  released in the  U.S. on DVD September 7 th,  why on earth BBC  waits  so long I can not  imagine. )   Anyway,  hopefully Monday.  What  the mystery lover’s  life would be like without the British Broadcasting Corporation —  well, I shudder to think !  (  We love British comedy too but  no space  for that commentary  now —  except to say that anyone who doesn’t practically fall right off  the sofa laughing while  watching  Black Adder,  Faulty Towers or  Vicar of Dibley simply doesn’t  have much of  sense of humor.  Watching an episode of  Father Ted  is like eating potato chips– you cannot stop at  just one !  )  But enough already about BBC videos.

So naturally I’m really looking forward to seeing  the  latest production this week-end at the Palace Theatre,  ” The Two Mrs. Carrolls” ,   a mystery,  produced by Art’s Enter.   A word, or three,  about  Art’s Enter,  actually headquartered in Cape Charles’  historic Palace Theatre,   and its successful efforts  to bring  the visual and performing arts in the southern tip of  Virginia’s  Eastern Shore under one roof.    Lucky !  Fortunate !  Favored !   That is what Cape Charles is to have  Art’s Enter as a vibrant  part of  the town and its culture !    And flipping to  the other side of  that coin,  that’s what Art’s  Enter (   )  is to have  the  love, support and participation  of the people of  Cape Charles.  So,  a synergistic  relationship,  benefiting all.   This truly amazing arts group,  headed up by Co-Directors  Clelia Sheppard and Mary Ann Roehm,   has brought such well known organizations as the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Virginia Opera Company,  both headquartered in Norfolk,  to the Palace Theatre for performances.  (  It tickles me no end that the Virginia Symphony Orchestra,  which has performed at many national venues including  the world renowned Carnegie Hall,  has actually also performed,  several times even,  here on the Eastern Shore at the  Palace Theatre.   Thanks Clelia and Mary Ann — you’re amazing ! )  And  dozens and dozens of other high quality vocalists, dance companies and orchestras  recently including the Cab Calloway Orchestra,  David Leonhardt Jazz Group and Lee Jordan-Anders have lit up the Palace’s  stage.  

It is also  a beehive of activity for the Eastern Shore  of  Virginia’s  growing thespian community,  providing a wonderful theatre season right here in our own community.  The  performances last season included an evening of one act plays,   “The Wizard of Oz”  and  “A Christmas Carol”.   In addition  to  “The Two Mrs. Carrolls”,  the 2010-2011 theatre season at the Palace Theatre also  features   “The Importance of Being Earnest”  and  “Oliver”.    But  for all of us at Blue Heron Realty Co. ,  the icing on the cake  for  the performance of   “Two Mrs. Carrolls”  is that two of  the actors on-stage are  Blue Heron agents !   Maestro, drum roll,  please !    Eva Noonan,  an agent in our Cape Charles office,  an effervescent gal  who  has performed in a number of Art’s Enter’s  previous plays,   takes the lead role in  “Carrolls”.   And David Kabler, our Cape Charles managing broker,  will be making his stage debut.   And so this week-end I will not only be feeding my mystery addiction at the Palace Theatre,  I will be on hand  to enthusiastically  applaud two of our own.   Break a leg,  break two legs even,  Eva and Dave !!!!!