The Silverbell Trail – A Walk Through Martinsville

I had started this year hoping to really get in some local hikes but, as they say, the best laid plans oft go astray.  I did succeed in finding a fantastic local hiking group connected to the Reynolds Homestead, The Homestead Hikers, and joined them on their inaugural hike for the 2017 year – The Silverbell Trail.

The Silverbell Trail is a short boardwalk trail that joins the Uptown Connection Trail in Martinsville just off of the Dick & Willie Rail Trail and ends, somewhat abruptly, at Church Street, across the street from the YMCA. Even in January, when all of the leaves are on the ground and a coat is required, this is a beautiful trail.   Continue reading “The Silverbell Trail – A Walk Through Martinsville”

Advertisements

Brunswick Stew – A Local Tradition

Every year, just before the leaves begin to make a serious effort to start changing (we’ve got about two more weeks for that), the community of Spencer throws an annual community fair.  2017 marked the 81st annual fair.  The local Ruritan Club Building opens its doors from 10 to 6, serving up huge bowls of Brunswick stew, plates loaded with fried chicken, and homemade desserts. Continue reading “Brunswick Stew – A Local Tradition”

Brewsterwalk 2017

Another summer has rolled past in southern Virginia and fall festivals have begun to seep into our calendar.  If the 2017 Brewsterwalk Craft Beer Festival can serve as an omen for our upcoming fall festivities, we are in phenomenal shape for a great pre-Christmas season. Continue reading “Brewsterwalk 2017”

The First Winter Snow

I recently read “Mud Season: How One Woman’s Dream of Moving to Vermont, Raising Children, Chickens and Sheep, and Running The Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another.” This is relevant because, as a former Texan, I didn’t know what a mud season is.  Turns out that, further north than here, the ground freezes to a certain depth and does not thaw before the melting winter’s snow.  Until the ground thaws enough for the run-off to sink in, there is mud.   Continue reading “The First Winter Snow”

Shopping in Uptown on a Saturday

This past Saturday morning was a little bookish.  Mother and I trekked into Uptown Martinsville to renew a book at the local library and check out the new bookstore that opened this past week.

The Blue Ridge Regional Library has several locations and the Uptown location is on Church Street as you are heading into Uptown.

mtnlaurel-030
The Blue Ridge Regional Library on Church Street

It’s a beautiful building with a lot of natural light pouring in.  It also has a huge selection of large print books.

img_20160924_105403807_hdr
Inside the Blue Ridge Regional Library on Church Street

Across the street from the library is Scuffle Hill.  Now a parish office for Christ Episcopal Church next door, Scuffle Hill is most notable for the numerous local business leaders who called it home over the years but it is also an impressive landmark as you enter the Uptown business district.

mtnlaurel-033
Martinsville’s Scuffle Hill

Next door to the library is what is called “The Grey Lady”.  It is now home to Rives S. Brown Realtors.

mtnlaurel-036
Martinsville’s Grey Lady

Registered as the John Waddey Carter House, the plaque by the door reads:

This beautiful Queen Anne residence was built in 1896 by John W. Carter as a wedding present for his young bride, Miss Mary Kizzah Drewery, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Henry M. Drewery.  Referred to as the “Grey Lady”, the dwelling is a textbook example of the Queen Anne style possessing typical features of irregular composition, mixture of materials and surface use of Eastlake ornamentation.  Conspicuously located on one of Martinsville’s main thoroughfares, the house was appropriate for a prominent and prosperous lawyer and his young wife.”

mtnlaurel-038
Martinsville’s Grey Lady

The new bookstore, Books and Crannies, also has a Church Street address but is actually on Broad Street, facing out towards a public parking lot.  We found it quite by accident since we were looking for addresses on Church Street and only pulled into the parking lot because another car was wanting to get past us.  Both selection and prices are good and it is a welcome addition to our area.

mtnlaurel-046
The New Bookstore in Uptown  – Books & Crannies

There is not a lot going on in Uptown.  I rarely see many other shoppers out.  We walked down to Rucker’s Antique Store, which was open, and Serendipity Coffee House, which was closed.  Serendipity is another business that has a Church street address but has to be accessed from the parking lot behind the building.  I went to the upstairs door in back and, although the sign said “open”, the door was locked.

mtnlaurel-053
Mural in Uptown Martinsville

Still, Uptown Martinsville is a pretty place to visit on a pretty day.  There is a 50’s and 60’s flare to the signage on the buildings and there are several colorful murals throughout the district.  The architecture is unique and in good shape.

We thought that we’d try to go see the old courthouse which is now the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center and Museum but it turns out that it is only open from 2 to 5 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

mtnlaurel-054
The Old Courthouse in Uptown Martinsville

So we swung around to one business that always seems to be open, Fido’s Finds & Kittie’s Kollectibles.  This is a thrift shop that benefits our local SPCA.  It always seems to have some name-brand furniture for sale and lots of small odds and ends.  It is a good spot for holiday items, like Christmas-themed cookie jars and animal-inspired greeting cards.  They also have a decent corner of used books, rounding out our book theme for this Saturday trip.

mtnlaurel-059
Fido’s Finds – A Thrift Store Benefitting the Local SPCA

The Uptown district really is pretty but, with the exception of the Farmer’s Market on Moss Street, it feels like a bit of a ghost town on the weekends unless there is an event going on.  There are a few other businesses open on a Saturday morning and worth checking out.  If you are heading that way, be sure to stop in at:

Studio 107 – Gallery and Working Artist Studios

Pieces Boutique – Women’s Clothing

JunkBabies Antique Mall & Auction Store

Ruckers Antiques Emporium & Auction House

Fido’s Finds & Kittie’s Kollectibles SPCA Thrift Store

Books & Crannies Book Store

What else is fun to visit in Uptown Martinsville on a Saturday morning?

A Walk in Fieldale, VA

We don’t go to a lot places in the evening because we have chickens.  If you don’t have chickens, you probably would never think of this but just about everything else in the world wants to eat them.  In order to protect them from nighttime predators, you have to lock the coop up behind them after they go in to roost.  If you are a chicken owner, that means that you absolutely must be home by dark.

The Rogues were scheduled to play in a street dance fundraiser for the renovation of the Fieldale Recreation Center last Saturday evening, so we thought that we’d go catch a few songs and check out the Textile Heritage Trail.  We caught the full act of the warm up group, Heart Strings, before we had to go and we had a great time.

fieldale-013
Heart Stings Opening For The Rogues at Fieldale Rec Center Fundraiser

This was one of many fundraisers to help revitalize the Fieldale Recreation Center.  Fieldale is a jewel of  city, well, a town, in Henry County.  Like everything else here, it has struggled in the post-NAFTA economy and seems to have been all but forgotten, lost in time.  This, despite the fact that there is a Smith River access within walking distance of the downtown, plus the Fieldale Walking Trail that runs along the river,  the Textile Heritage Loop Trail, and a beautiful city park.  It really is an incredible destination to an outsider.  Fieldcrest towels were made here, once upon a time.

fieldale-018
Fieldale Rec Center Street Dance Fundraiser

In a larger economy, a developer would have swooped in and claimed the small but quaint downtown area for their own.  It is a small oval-shaped commercial district with early twentieth century brick storefronts, anchored now by the Fieldale Cafe and a beautifully restored Shell station that is actually an antiques store.  Given the river access for kayaking and trout fishing, it would seem like an outfitter would do well here.  The Virginia Home Inn consistently gets great reviews on TripAdvisor. Reviews of the Fieldale Cafe call it “the ultimate local diner” and a “hidden gem”.   Obviously, Fieldale is not wholly undiscovered.

 

We went a little early because Mother had not yet seen the Textile Heritage Trail that is nestled next to the City Park, across the street from the Smith River.  I had taken some photos of it back in 2014 but I wanted a chance to snap some more shots of it.

fieldale-012
Trail Head for the Textile Heritage Trail in Fieldale

The trail is short, only about a quarter of a mile, but features a variety of walking surfaces.  It starts and ends as a crushed rock trail, it has some bare earth lengths along the way, and there is a raised boardwalk in the middle.

fieldale-010
A Winding Crushed Rock Path On The Textile Heritage Trail in Fieldale

Much of the trail winds.  It makes for some gorgeous shots.  It is almost all shaded, with dappled light changing every potential shot as clouds and leaves above shift with the breeze.

fieldale-004
Mother Reading A Placard On The Textile Heritage Trail in Fieldale

There are placards all along the trail that explain the history of the textile industry in Martinsville and Henry County, so the trail can be as educational as you want it to be.  Even without the placards, it is a truly beautiful trail.

fieldale-005
A Shot From The Textile Heritage Trail That’s Popular on Instagram

I uploaded several of my shots to Instagram and have been pleased that they have been popular there (@lifeinmhc).  I couldn’t decide between two boardwalk shots and all of the filters in Instagram are just outstanding with the trail photos.

fieldale-007
A Shot From The Textile Heritage Trail That’s Popular on Instagram.

Our walk and the concert that Saturday were both fun but now I’m more anxious for fall than ever.  I also want to go back to Fieldale in particular to get more shots.  Fieldale Walking Trail is just across the street from this one and meanders along the river.  I can just imagine shots of the Smith in the fall colors.

Where do you go for fall colors?