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Published: November 17th 2008
Let it ring
Fiona by Liberty Bell in Philly
Just finished another hard day's work on the farm. So far we have torn down an old Greenhouse, picked carrots and radishes to go to market, and eaten some good homegrown food. The farm is nice and the owners are very friendly. There is even another Brit staying here and helping out. It is cold, particularly since we are staying in an outhouse, which means we spend a lot of time in the main house by the fire. There is no TV, so we've been exercising our minds as well on novels and Vanity Fair magazine.
Apologies for the last blog, but now I can expand on what we have been doing.
We left NY last Sunday and took another Chinatown bus to Philly. It seemed like a small village compared to the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. As most things were going to be closed on Tues due to Veterans Day we visited most of the sites on Monday. We went to the hall where the Declaration of Independence was written. We had a very vocal Ranger who took great pleasure in trying to instil fear in visitors by pointing at them and asking them
It had to be done
questions. Of course he pointed to me, but I held my ground, particularly when he tried to rib us about coming from the UK and what we can learn from the US. It was good to see where things began and we got to sit in the first US Congress. Another highlight was Fiona asking one of the Rangers if the British reacted when the US declared independence, he pollitely pointed out that there was a War (M makes it sound so much worse than it was! - F).
We stayed in a nice B+B for a few days, before having to check into a chain hotel. We only got to see the main sites there, though that did include the famous Rocky steps and me almost killing myself trying to get a good picture as I re-enacted that classic moment! Food was good, we even managed to find a Diner where we got 3 courses for $7.95!
On Wed it was off to Washington, skillfully avoiding the beggars who live in the bus shelters, we arrived via another Chinatown Bus. We stayed in a motel by the road, but it was very close to the Metro there. This gets
Helicopter landing at the White House
Where's that rifle? (joke - just in case anyone important is watching)
you everywhere, which is good when it rains, yet being British we walked most of the way as the heavens opened on Thurs. Before we left the UK I had arranged a tour around the US Congress and Henry, a young intern, showed us around. It is fairly grand inside, with some impressive statues and lobbys. We went to the White House and got moved on by the police, though this allowed us to get a great view of a helicopter as it landed on the White House lawn. We had an emotional trip to the Holocaust Museum too, so much so that we went back the next day to finish it. We also visited the Arlington war cemetery and saw some funerals take place, complete with soldiers and bugle playing 'The Last Post', apparently there are usually 27 funerals each week day!
Something Fiona and I have discussed is the fact that the US seems to celebrate these national symbols more than we do back home. They have this one moment in time which they can point to as the birth of their nation and they really seem to make an effort to promote their symbols. For example the
Is this a long lost relative who died in Vietnam?
original Declaration of Independence and Constitution are no longer legible, yet they take such effort to display them (for free) and ensure kids see them. Though cynical old me would argue that it does seem too perfect a fit between history and nationalism. I guess the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials tell us it is not all perfect. Perhaps we don't see these kind of memorials back in the UK, the ones that are there are often hidden. Here in Washington there are acres dedicated to these symbols and they can be seen from miles around. As they state 'Freedom is not Free', a lesson I think a lot of people in the UK have forgotten.
It is good to be at the farm and have more of a purpose, not just touring around.
Hope people are well back home, though listening to the news it seems things are getting worse for us all (Yes but Obama will change all that! - F) . It has surprised me how much this 'crisis' has seemed to effect the US and how people are talking differently than you expect. Whisper it quietly but people sound almost 'socialist' over here. It is a shock
It's him and me
Perhaps as close as he'll get
Philly Cheesesteaks - yum
Hoaggies - Big!!!
At least we've been doing a lot of walking!
All the best
Fiona - I haven't written in a while but just to say I really liked Noo York, it was everything I expected! Also liked Philly and DC, and the farm work is so different but laid back and not bad at all. So I might not come back so huge after all!!
M - OK perhaps I'm getting a little deep. I'll let Fiona do the next one.
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