The Word ‘Quaint’ Sums It Up

History, quaint little shops and eateries and inns are everywhere in Northern Virginia. I could have stayed much longer is this beautiful part of the state.

The countryside is exquisite with its horse farms and rolling hills.

We had the pleasure of staying with Jo Ann and Kevin Hazard at the Middleburg Country Inn in Middleburg, Va. By the end of the weekend, I felt as if we were more houseguests than visitors to an inn.

High school sweethearts, they used to skip school in their hometown of Vienna, Va., and come to Middleburg for the day. “I never imagined we’d be living here,” Jo Ann said.

Their children bought them a gift certificate for a bed and breakfast in 1996, and they had such a wonderful experience, she just kept talking about having one.

So they started looking for a suitable place.

They found one, but it wasn’t right.

Their real estate agent told them about what is now the inn, and she told them it wasn’t on the market. (It had been, but the owner didn’t find anyone he wanted to sell it to.)

“We walked in, and I said, ‘This is mine. I have to have the place,'” Jo Ann said. The owner, John Pettybone, obliged. And not only did he sell it to them, but he stayed on for two months. “He’d help with breakfast,” Jo Ann said.

That was in October 2004; they moved in the next year. “And the rest is history,” she said.” Here we are, and we love it.”

It was a truly a “turn-key” operation. They already had reservations on the books for two years out. In fact, when they moved in on April 28, 2005, they had a full house.

They kept a lot of what he had started … the breakfast menu, cookies and M&Ms in the lobby … “Why change (what is) so perfect?” she said.

“How fortunate and blessed that (this inn) is in this wonderful destination town of Middleburg.”

Of course there is good and bad to running an inn – and they are actually the same.

The hardest part? “Lack of personal space.” The best part? “The people.”

Jo Ann holds down the fort while Kevin travels to D.C. to work each day.

Some other things to do while in wine country are:

  • In Middleburg are a number of taverns, including the historic Red Fox Inn and Tavern, established in 1728, located near the town’s only stoplight. Back in 1863, on June 17, Col. John Singleton Mosby was said to have met with Confederate cavalry chief General J.E.B. Stuart to share crucial intelligence.
  • A walk up and down East Washington Street will find lots of delightful shops, with antiques, jewelry, organic foods, gourmet foods, accessories and more. My favorite was Mello Out, where I bought handmade cappuccino marshmallows.
  • Because it is horse country, there are steeplechase races, stable tours and you can visit the National Sporting Library and Museum devoted to horse and field sports.
  • The Mosby Heritage Area, named for Col. John Singleton Mosby, offers tapes, driving tours, scavenger hunts and more in the 1,800-square-mile historical area in Northern Virginia. The area includes the counties of Loudoun, Fauquier, western Prince William, Clark and Warren. Civil War battlefields, historic villages, courthouse towns, farms and winding roads are part of the area. The association’s headquarters is housed in the Caleb Rector House, which is a stone structure that dates back to the early 1800s. It also is the site where, on June 10, 1863, Mosby signed papers that officially organized Company A of the 43rd Battalion of the Virginia Cavalry known as Mosby’s Rangers. (www.mosbyheritagearea.org)

Included in the area is the John S. Mosby Highway, also known as Route 50. According to information provided by the association, “Route 50 … began as a trail made by buffalo that roamed across the western frontier of Virginia centuries ago. … As a young man,, George Washington used this same trail while surveying the lands of Lord Fairfax in the early 1700s.

And when you’ve had your fill of shopping and history, sit down and relax with a great glass – or two – of Virginia wine.