It was a beautiful day, driving with the tops down on our Miatas. It was my first trip with the Triangle Miata Roadsters, a club my husband [I need a cute blogger name for him, but I haven't been able to think of one that isn't already taken, so RJ will have to do for now] recently joined. In June, RJ went with them to the VIR (Virginia International Raceway) Vintage Sportscar Race, which had a spectacular turnout, I understand. We had a much smaller turnout, with only 6 of us in 4 Miatas.
We started out with a nice lunch at Tupelo's in Hillsborough, NC - my town, yeah! Then the Miatas lined up in the parking lot, circled the block, which allowed the others who hailed from Cary, Chapel Hill, and Atlanta (and Cary, I believe), to see a bit of Hillsborough's historic district, then we headed north to our destination, the Chinqua Penn Plantation.
I must say this is an amazing place. It's not that it's so big - it is big, but what I found to be so incredible was the furnishings that the Penn's had collected from their world-wide travels and incorporated into their decor. The house was built in the 1920's and has items dating back to the 13th century. Every room is filled with things, not just one or two little pieces sitting on tables, but dozens of things that are part of the rooms - antique Italian tiles, 8 foot tall iron gates, large elaborate Scandinavian cabinet in their mud room that also served as a bar...
The other thing I found fascinating was that every room had an unusual wall finish - one had foil, one had a beautiful scrolling design that had been glued, one was painted fabric, one was cypress wood, etc. The point here is that the tour guide told us that these were the original finishes -almost 100 years later! I want to know HOW they got the glue and the foil to stick that long! The foil was a little distressed around the edges, but seriously, if this house truly is in its original finishes, it's very amazing! I wish we'd been allowed to take photos. The photos on their website are good, but if I could, I would have taken closeups of the walls and some of the individual pieces. There was an embroidered piece from China - large, over 3 feet - that the stitching was so intricate that it looked like a painting. There were beautiful tiles, urns, statues, prints, tapestries... I can't imagine - it would be like living in a museum.
Outside the house there is a garden which was full of blooms and shade. What draws the attention though is a red-roofed pagoda which sits across from the house, just behind the swimming pool - this was their bath house!
Part of the Penn's farm is a vineyard and they produce Chinqua Penn wine, therefore, one of the offerings when you tour this estate, is a wine tasting, in which we did indulge. Though not all of the wines in the tasting were grown on the property, they were all local to the region. There were whites and reds, ranging from dry to very sweet. I will admit that I'm not a connoisseur of wine, so I can't say much about the wine at Chinqua Penn. I prefer a martini, thank you, but they weren't offering those, so I sipped the wine along with the others.