Saturday, 20 October 2012

Valley Forge in the Fall

We were there on July 4th not long after I'd first arrived, and Mr was determined to take me back when the leaves changed their color and crispiness.

Crispy Golden leaves at Valley Forge
Valley Forge was not just an encampment for George Washington and his men during the Revolutionary War, it was also an important mining town. That's why we call it Valley Forge: it was an iron forge in a valley. Unfortunately, most of the town buildings were pulled down when it became a visitor's park and a lot of that heritage was lost.

The old train station still stands, and is used as a small introductory museum to greet visitors before they wander to Washington's Headquarters.

Washington's HQ is a cute house with many British influences
Washington's HQ
 Wait - is that - are they - ?
Was GW a big tea drinker?
Teapots! I thought so.
Fancy a cuppa?
An army that runs on tea?

A cup of tea seems such a British thing to me, and yet they were fighting the British. The ruckus started with a load of over-taxed tea getting dumped in the Boston harbor.

This is what fascinates me about this period in US history. There must have existed a strange dichotomy between the past and the future, between trying to shake off the perceived tyranny of the British government and clinging to the cultural hangovers of their former country. Between 'British' and 'not-British'. There was not, as yet, American culture.

Having come from Britain to America myself, I can choose to assimilate to US culture, or maintain my British culture, or do a combination of both. Washington and his contemporaries had to choose to maintain their British culture, or create a whole new culture, or a mixture of both. True cultural pioneers.

Pennsylvania is the Keystone State: The bridge between the North - comprising New England  - and the South. If you look closely, you notice it's both Northern and Southern culturally. And that makes it a very interesting place to be.
Memorial at Valley Forge

A British cannon at Valley Forge?
A British cannon?
And this region represents the cornerstone, the foundations of US culture. Here's where it all began.

Some visitors to Valley Forge wear their American pride on their chests: T-shirts of Eagles and the Stars n Stripes, and Valley Forge memorabilia. I like to try to keep my Britishness under wraps when I'm there (but don't always succeed, if you recall).

So even I was a little surprised when I saw this:
A fashion shoot at Valley Forge? Union Jack clothing?
And I wasn't the only one who was shocked! As we left I overheard some Americans declaim, in their unusual Northern-Southern Pennsylvania country drawl:

"Is she wearing the British Flag - at Valley Forge?"


  1. whaaaat is that woman doing? Jon was a total pain in the ass when we did a Revolutionary War tour of Boston, but even he knew better than that. though he did notice that the cannons on one of the historical ships in the harbor were British!

    p.s you're in my post today :)

    1. Haha, you should have seen my mum and I when we went to Boston several years ago - I recall it was when the head of the Columbus statue had gone missing.

      But yeah, I'd love to find out the thought process behind this photo shoot.

  2. makes me wanna scream 'the british are coming!' to the girl! haha. looks like a beautiful place - i have been to gettysburg but that's it.

    <3 katherine
    of corgis and cocktails // current giveaway

    1. Oh I SO would have shouted that, but it would have been a tad hypocritical ;)

      Valley Forge is a lovely place to take a picnic and go for a hike. Just not in July - it was way too hot then.

  3. Love the built-in painted rust inside and white tea pots, great look!

    1. I know! Those are supposedly the authentic colors too - when they restored the house they took paint scrapings from everywhere and tried to get it as close to original as possible. It's a very lovely house.

  4. Haha, oh that is funny! The Union Jack tights, that is.

    I like mystery shows, but Rosemary and Thyme is really the only English one I watch. But, I do like some English shows (which is funny, because when I was living over there it was hard to find stuff on TV sometimes : ) ).

    Fall in Germany was interesting. One day we were touring Flossenburg, a work camp where Dietrich Bonhoeffer (the Christian theologian who opposed Nazism) was executed. But, amidst the sadness of all that happened there, I struggled with the awe and beauty around me. I kind of felt bad for enjoying it. But, had to thank God for the beauty surrounding the place of bleakness.

    I will have to check out Vera. And, I'm glad you are enjoying the USA's autumn : ) I am enjoying being in VA for the first time in about five years for actual autumn and not just a week for Thanksgiving (I went to uni in South Carolina).

    By the way, sorry for the long response here. I couldn't find an email for you.

    1. Thank you so so much for your comment! And yes, I do need to sort out a blog email address.