Monday, January 19, 2015

Holiday Wrap-Up

Bed and Breakfast at twilight

Christmas in the mountains of Virginia was unique this year.  For the first time, I didn't stay at my mother's (my childhood home) or at my sister's who had a houseful without my husband and me.  We stayed at a Bed-and-Breakfast owned by my cousin's cousin.  The proprietorship is important because the B and B wasn't really open over the holidays.  My sister talked our family's relative into renting us a room without any expectation of extra services.  The perk: my husband and I had the large home to ourselves except for the owner's son and his family of wife and 4 children who were staying in a large attic room over us.  We only saw them twice the whole time we were there, and they were quiet at night when they came in.  Footsteps clomping up the steps was all we heard.  Once in their quarters, they must have gone to sleep quickly.

The wrap-around porch would have been perfect if it weren't winter.
The entry hall and front parlor

The home, built in 1904, had been in the current owner's family originally but had passed out of her family years ago and had been subsequently sub-divided into apartments.  Our friend was able to regain ownership after the house was sold at auction and bring it back to its original beauty, thanks to tax credits for historic restoration.  It was furnished perfectly with antiques that looked as if they belonged.  In actuality, only one mirror from the original furnishings had stayed in the family and was returned to the Bed and Breakfast.

1920's Wedding Dress of Original House Resident

Great-niece Anna loved the dress.
We were free to roam through the other bedrooms and the common areas.  One day my family found time to visit for a Christmas tour.

(All Photos by Husband & Great Photographer, Ricky Edgerton!)
Cell phone shot of our room at B and B, looking lived in
Great-niece Anna in character on upstairs hall sofa
The ever-dramatic Anna and Oliver
My sister Beth (R) and I in formal parlor
My husband and I live in a historic home, so we were particularly aware of the details of this restoration.  The quality of the construction was first-rate.  My husband noted that all doors fit and closed perfectly, including the pocket doors. All floors were level.  The heat, lighting and plumbing worked well.  The woodwork and floors had been brought back to life, all paint colors were historic.  The walls erected during the house's use as an apartment building had come down without a problem, and original baseboards uncovered.  It was an inspiring restoration and made a memorable holiday abode.
I found the last Christmas book I read this year, Slay Bells, by Kate Kingsbury, among some books I had stored but decided to read it because it was about a small seaside English hotel in the early 1900's, the same era as our Bed and Breakfast.   
Berkley Prime Crime, 2006

A Christmas party at Pennyfoot Hotel for the children of Badger's End goes seriously wrong when first a footman, then the man playing Father Christmas, are found dead after the party.  Inn owner Cecily Baxter must solve the questions surrounding the deaths before all her guests decide to flee the premises.  The police constable in charge is more interested in his Christmas holiday than suspicious deaths.
This is the only Pennyfoot Hotel mystery I've read, but apparently the series lasted for 22 years and 21 books.  Because of my lack of background, I felt I stepped into the middle of a party where everyone, except me, knows everyone else.  The book was mildly entertaining in an upstairs-downstairs kind of way.  I liked the supporting characters, so I think I'll save the book for next Christmas and put it in our Little Free Library.