Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spring Visit to the Gardens of Columbia South Carolina’s Robert Mills House

Late in March I drove downtown to visit Columbia’s Robert Mills House. It’s open Tuesdays through Saturdays each week for guided tours, and I hadn’t been for more than twenty years.
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[A full-sized version of each photo is available with a click of your mouse.]
Well, come to find out, photographs aren’t allowed inside the house. A sensible precaution when displaying delicate antiques. But a house tour without photos didn’t make much sense for this blog. Instead, since I was already there, I wandered around the springtime garden.
x01 140320 Robert Mills House front view.
That was the first of two visits to enjoy this remarkable green space smack dab in the middle of downtown Columbia. What a display! I’ve got to find out more about how this complex facility is managed and maintained.
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I don’t know enough about gardens or gardening to write sensibly about it. So, here are a few photos to give you a hint of the treat in store should your travels bring you to or near downtown Columbia.
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The house is impressive even from the outside. Surrounding trees have had time adequate to grow to the point they look as if they belong. They’ve all been skillfully pruned and maintained.

This is the rear of the house. No wonder Columbia’s Robert Mills House has become a popular venue for weddings. During my last visit workmen were erecting an enormous tent for such an event just to the right of the tree you see above.

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Blossoms vary according to time of year, of course. That’s a plum tree at peak bloom beside the carriage house. And here are a few of the more impressive examples in bloom during one of my visits.

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There were many more, but time was limited.
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Shrubs and hedges too have been beautifully designed and maintained throughout the gardens. Who in the world does all of the work? I’ll have to find out.

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Benches like these are scattered throughout the grounds. They’re much more comfortable for ElderVisitors than the usual stone slabs. Stone slabs are impressive. But not very comfortable. I took full advantage!
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So, there you have it. A few glimpses of the wonders of the gardens surrounding Columbia’s Robert Mills House. That, I believe, is the Hampton-Preston Mansion just across the street. An adventure for another day.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Oops Forgot this Barbeque Contest Video!

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Must be getting old. There was so much to see at last month’s annual Agriculture Commissioner’s Barbeque Cook-Off and Festival out at the South Carolina Farmer’s Market in West Columbia that I forgot to include this video in the earlier blog post! Oh my.
There was plenty more than barbeque at this event. Here are a few of the displays and offerings. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The 2014 Annual Commissioner’s Cup BBQ Cook Off and Festival, Columbia, South Carolina

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(Click all photos for a larger version)
One of the many advantages of living in the South Carolina Midlands is waking up each morning smack dab in the middle of American barbeque culture. With all the State’s barbeque opportunities no more than a three-hour drive away. Of course, some of the best are right here in the Columbia area.
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Late last month I drove across town to the third annual Agriculture Commissioner’s Cup Barbeque Cook Off and Festival held at the State Farmer’s Market in West Columbia. The festival began Friday night, but I attended only Saturday morning and early afternoon.
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What an event! Serious barbeque cooks from all over South Carolina gathered in two of the Market’s open-sided buildings, offering samples of their culinary art. Why, there were even a few from other states. Here to study and learn, I suppose….
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There was still room to park when I arrived. But traffic increased rapidly. Latecomers faced quite a hike from their parked cars to the barbeque displays.
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All that walking must have increased appetites since barbeque was running low by the afternoon. Click this link to hear Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers explain to WIS-TV how that was handled.

This event wasn’t all barbeque. Cody Webb from Ridge Spring, South Carolina, provided music that went well with barbeque. He’s enjoying some success these days on the country music scene. Well deserved, judging from his performance at the Cook-Off.
Here’s a quick look at some of the contestants and their booths.
When you were full of barbeque ‘n fixins’, there was special popcorn, snow cones, lemonade, corn dogs, and a huge selection of Canebrake Farms’ preserves and fresh fruits and vegetables. That was just the beginning. Kids were running around with brightly painted faces, begging parents for another turn on the jumping pillows. A great family event.

I left the Farmer’s Market around two o’clock and drove back through town along the Charleston Highway, or Route 321. Or 176 or 21, for that matter. Plenty of social and natural scenery throughout. Then, look what came up on the right-hand side of the road? Well! I had to stop.
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Piggy Park is the first restaurant in which we had dinner upon moving to Columbia from Washington, D.C. Talk about lucky!
140409 Inside
Mr. Bessinger passed away back in February. But the barbeque and fixins’ are as good as they’ve always been. I made a special effort to confirm that. The only difference I noticed was that the display tables inside the restaurant now are devoted exclusively to barbeque and Piggy Park’s signature mustard-based sauce. No political literature in sight.
Piggy Park still serves the barbeque and fixins’ by which I judge all other barbeque. ‘Nuff said.