Delaware isn’t exactly the biggest state, but it was our next. It may have been the first ever state in America’s history, however, it was our 31st. We originally weren’t going to stay in the state, however, Stef had been craving a good ol’ fashioned roast dinner and we had found a place that cooked one – After a massive roast, I didn’t want to be driving anywhere!
We headed to New Castle, to fill our stomachs at Jessops Tavern. As we walked through the door, it looked like a very old pub and the staff were wearing uniforms to match. They had the biggest selection of Belgium beer in the whole of Delaware. It was made obvious by the big fat folder containing the hundreds of different types. We both chose random ones and they came moments before our massive Pilgrims Feast. The plate was piled high with turkey, mashed potato, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce and gravy. The last roast dinner we had was on Christmas Day in Thailand and we probably wouldn’t have another one now until we returned to England, so we savoured every last mouthful. The huge dinner coupled with the beer did prove too much for Stef though, she had to throw in the towel before finishing the whole plate.
After lunch, we waddled around the very small town to see the few sights that they had. It was ridiculously hot. Too hot.
We were staying the night at the Super 8 in New Castle. The motel was situated next to a fire station and every time there was a shout, they would turn on their building siren. It sounded like an air raid siren and was so loud – tonight’s sleep was going to be interesting!
Thankfully, the siren only went off at about 10pm and we were left in the peace the rest of the night. Having had a nice sleep, it was time to get back to basics. Literally. We were heading to Amish Country, to a small town called Intercourse. Yes. Intercourse. Just down the road from the towns Blue Ball, Mount Joy, Virginville and Bird In Hand. No lie.
I had arranged for us to spend some time with the Amish for the authentic Amish Experience. Via the internet. For a group of people that don’t use electricity, they are more in the 21st century than some of the people I work with!
First up, was a horse drawn Amish buggy ride. As we pulled into the lane that led us to our tour, we were surprised to see it lined with signs for all different buggy rides. This wasn’t quite what we expected. It was obviously a lot more of a tourist destination than we’d thought. When we reached Aaron and Jessica’s Buggy Rides, we knew we were in the right place. We purchased our tickets and went over to the see an Amish man. He was dressed exactly as we’d seen on TV – black trousers, braces, shirt, straw hat and a long beard. It was difficult not to stare at them all. Were they really Amish people, or were they just actors? We were ushered into our buggy and told to sit in the front with an Amish woman who led us around town. It wasn’t the fasted mode of transport but it was different – who else has travelled via an Amish horse drawn buggy?? As Kate our horse pulled the buggy round the streets, we learned all about the Amish and their way of life. We stopped off at a small farm where some young Amish girls treated us to some freshly squeezed lemonade. It was refreshing and cooled us down a little. It was hitting 30 degrees and the air con in the buggy wasn’t that great…
When we arrived back about 30 minutes later, we headed to the restaurant. We had a traditional Amish Feast. It was featured in the program Man Vs Food. This is a show about a man who eats the most amazing food – and at great quantity. After eating a massive roast the day before, could my stomach cope with more?
We sat down with two other families. It wasn’t a normal menu jobbie, they just brought out loads of food and you just passed the plates around like a real Amish family would do. The food seemed like it wasn’t going to stop. Plates of beef, deep-fried chicken, mash, veg, rolls, an Amish speciality called Chow-Chow, which is like a sweet & spicy veg combo and many more. After a while, we were all full. So what next? Dessert! Again, they had an Amish specialty called Shoofly pie. It was a very sweet cake, made from everything sweet you could imagine. I hope they have an Amish dentist.
After being well fed, it was time for the evening entertainment. We were going to spend some personal time with some Amish people. There was Stef and I and two women on the small tour. This time our driver was an English woman. The Amish call anyone who isn’t Amish, English, even if they are American or any other nationality. She took us to our first stop, telling us bits and bobs about the Amish along the way.
We arrived at an Amish farm and were greeted by Jacob, the farmer, who made a living from selling cows milk. We’d arrived at the right time as the cows were just starting to be milked. Back in the day, this would have all been done by hand, however, US health and safety law states that it must be completed by machine, as it’s more hygienic. Amish don’t use normal electricity – they use “Amish Electricity”. It’s basically a diesel generator. To me, that’s cheating.
All the cows were given a name such as Gloria or Rachael. They were milked twice a day at 5:30am and 5:30pm. They were all ushered in from the field to the milking station and they all knew exactly what stall to go in – they had their names above. One thing we did notice was the cats. There were loads of them. They knew it was milking time and when all the work was done, they were given the leftovers. Out of the cowshed, we walked around Jacobs garden. His house was massive. And that goes for the rest of the houses we saw. I suppose they have to be as having 8 children isn’t a small family and they would need all the space they could get! Another reason for their big houses was that they don’t have churches within the community, they all take it in turns to have church services at their house. So they could have up to 150 people visiting their house at any one time. It was a very nice house – apart from the spiders that were lingering in their allotment!
Next up was the local buggy maker. In his store were several buggies in the middle of having work completed on them. One thing I did notice was the snazzy LED lights that they used on the buggies to light up the road. How were they powered? By battery. How do they charge the battery? A diesel generator. Cheating. Again. But apart from that, the luxuries stopped there.
On the way to the final stop, we saw something that everyone could guess we’d see…a camel in a field. Obviously.
Last stop of the night was a visit to a family house for a chat. As we pulled into their driveway, we saw a few young girls washing down some equipment. They had just finished packing up from making applesauce. There were hundreds of jars – it must have taken ages. The father showed us round his kitchen. They had a stove and fridge, both powered by gas and really it looked like any other house.
We sat down with the father in his front room and chatted with him whilst his young kids ran around. We talked for about an hour. He told us a lot of things such as the Amish don’t drink spirits – but homemade wine is fine and that all children at school are in the one classroom, despite what year they are in and taught at the same time. The Amish are really down to earth and everyone that we spoke to was really friendly. They didn’t try to convert us or preach to us. They don’t even do that to their own families. Once a child turns 18, they decide if they want to be Amish or not. If they decide they don’t want to, they have to move out, but they don’t get shunned from the family. As we were talking, it started to get dark, so what did he do? Turn on a battery powered lamp. For people that don’t use electricity, they use an awful lot of it!
One thing that the Amish don’t like is their photo being taken. I guess they think it steals their souls. I had taken a few photos throughout the day of them. I’m keeping their souls and there’s nothing they can do about it!
After all was done, we drove onto our next hotel where I turned on every light and electrical item. Just because I could.