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Archive for July, 2016

Britain’s Daily Tot

By Linda Tancs

For over 300 years and until its demise on July 31, 1970, the crews of Great Britain’s Royal Navy were issued a daily “tot” of Pusser’s Rum. The keeper of the ship’s spirits was the purser, who came to be known as the ship’s pusser. One of the longest and unbroken traditions in seafaring history, the anniversary day of the last ration is known as Black Tot Day. In celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday this year, Black Tot Day events are expected to abound. The occasion is further marked by a new “gunpowder proof” edition of the spirit acclaimed as the single malt of rum. The moniker for this edition owes to the purser’s mixing of a few grains of gunpowder to the rum to see if it would burn. If the mixture ignited, the rum was “at proof,” dismissing any claims that the libation had been watered down. It’s produced at original Admiralty strength and in accordance with the Admiralty’s blending recipe last used when the Royal Navy discontinued its daily ration in 1970.

A Model of Conservation

By Linda Tancs

On February 15, 1911, the United States Congress passed the Weeks Act, a law enabling the federal government to purchase private lands for the purpose of creating a forest reserve. Thanks to this act, New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest was officially established with the preservation of 7,000 acres. Today, this national forest is nearly 800,000 acres large. You can explore the area’s vast heritage via the Weeks Act Legacy Trail, a driving tour exploring 40 sites of interest along a scenic 100-mile loop. You can take the tour using the trail map on the forest’s website (with an optimized mobile version) or download an audio tour and printable guides.

The Great Guide

By Linda Tancs

To the Saura Indians, North Carolina’s Pilot Mountain was known as Jomeokee, the “Great Guide” or “Pilot.” It guided both Native Americans and early European hunters along a north-south path through the area. A quartzite monadnock, this rugged mountain rock has survived for millions of years while the elements have eroded surrounding peaks to a rolling plain. Comprising two pinnacles, Big Pinnacle is the iconic knob of bare rock topped with vegetation. It’s connected to Little Pinnacle, easily accessed by visitors for views of hundreds of square miles of the Piedmont and the nearby mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. Pilot Mountain State Park is located in Surry and Yadkin counties, 16 miles north of Winston-Salem.

Air Adventure in Oshkosh

By Linda Tancs

AirVenture Oshkosh in Wisconsin is the largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts. A summer staple, this year’s festival kicks off today through July 31. Some of the world’s top air show performers, including national aerobatic champions, longtime favorites and some talented Oshkosh first-timers are coming to this year’s event. One notable (returning after 30 years) is the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, one of the most popular military aerial demonstration teams in the world. A favorite reunion spot for aircraft clubs, the festival also spotlights milestone anniversaries (30 to 75 years) of aircraft types from across the spectrum, including homebuilts, vintage aircraft, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft and ultralights. More than 10,000 planes will descend on the runways of Wittman Regional Airport, giving much anticipated bragging rights to both national and international pilots. For spectators, several airports served by major carriers are a short drive to all the fun.


Pioneering in Utah

By Linda Tancs

Utah is gearing up for Pioneer Day, a state holiday celebrated on July 24 to commemorate the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in 1847 to escape religious persecution. Their trek now forms the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, a route spanning five states where 70,000 Mormons traveled from 1846 to 1869. The Pioneer Company of 1846-1847 established the first route from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Salt Lake City, Utah, covering about 1,300 miles.

Journey of a Music Hall

By Linda Tancs

Restored earlier this year, Wilton’s Music Hall in London’s East End is the only intact survivor of the City’s Grand Music Hall era. Of outstanding architectural and archeological significance, the arena has gone full circle—from music hall (in 1839, as an adjunct to an ale house) to mission house to warehouse and back to music hall. In its early heyday, two of its stars, Arthur Lloyd and George Leybourne (Champagne Charlie), were the first to perform for royalty. Extreme poverty in the East End in the late 1800s forced its conversion to a mission house that would last for 70 years. Once the mission closed in 1956, the building saw life as a rag sorting warehouse. When redevelopment plans came calling in the 1960s, the campaign began to save the landmark, ultimately bringing it back to life. The hall gives opportunities to emerging artists and presents a year round program that includes theatre (new commissions and classics), opera, dance, magic, music, cinema, circus, traditional music hall, comedy, puppetry and other art forms.

Palace of the South

By Linda Tancs

Hay House (Johnston-Felton-Hay) in Macon, Georgia, is designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, unusual for residential architecture, particularly considering the conventions of the antebellum South. Lived in by two families over three generations, it earned the moniker “Palace of the South” during the tenure of the Feltons (extended family of the Johnstons). A private house museum and National Historic Landmark, it spans four levels and is crowned by a three-story cupola. A model of wealth and good taste, most of the furnishings date from the Hay family’s occupancy, highlighted by the 1857 marble statue “Ruth Gleaning” by American expatriate sculptor Randolph Rogers.

Art Colony of the Midwest

By Linda Tancs

Impressionist painter Theodore Clement Steele found artistic inspiration in the scenic hillsides of southern Indiana in Brown County over a century ago. Others followed, creating an art colony in the Midwest. Steele’s life and works (not to mention five hiking trails on 211 acres) make for an interesting visit at T.C. Steele State Historic Site. Enjoy guided tours of Steele’s studio (where early morning light filters through floor-to-ceiling windows) and home, hike one of his well-trodden trails or stroll through Selma Steele’s restored gardens. The property is located in Belmont, midway between Bloomington and Nashville, Indiana.

Britain’s Beloved Models Turn 60

By Linda Tancs

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the very first Corgi diecast model car. Introduced in July 1956, the miniature vehicles were manufactured in Wales and named after the Welsh dog breed. Eventually Corgi achieved market dominance over Dinky, the British company that ushered in the modern era of toy cars in 1933. Its prized collections include The Aviation Archive, Hauliers of Renown, Vanguards and The Original Omnibus Company. They’re celebrating their special anniversary with limited edition models of famous vehicles and liveries from the air and the road. The Hornby Visitor Centre in Kent offers visitors a journey through the history of Britain’s best-loved toys, including Corgi, Hornby, Scalextric and Airfix. The retail shop offers an array of these products as well.

Ireland’s First School of Falconry

By Linda Tancs

At Ireland’s Ashford Castle in County Mayo you’ll delight in an embarrassment of riches. Dating back to 1228, the glorious castle on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib set amidst 350 acres of ancient woods was once home to the Guinness family and later found fame as the respite of choice for actors in the classic film “The Quiet Man.” Now part of the Red Carnation hotel chain, the five-star property offers luxurious trappings fit for royalty (a common guest), like unique works of art, carefully sourced antique furniture, custom designed carpets and beds and exquisite towels and linens. No wonder, then, that it’s been voted one of the best hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure. Of all the estate’s activities, one of the most exciting is its falconry school. The oldest established school in the country, instruction in this ancient sport requires no previous training. Just the thing when the usual pursuits of golf, tennis, kayaking, boat cruising, horse riding, tennis or fishing just won’t do.

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