This series of posts on places to hike in and around The Main Line and Chester County can be filled with countless places. I recently moved to West Grove and close by me there is Nottingham County Park, with plenty of space to hike, cook out, and enjoy nature with a pond for fishing and space to ride horses as well. A new PA State park is planned and opening soon Big Elk Creek State Park. But, I cannot miss talking about Valley Forge National Historical Park.Most people have heard of Valley Forge, many erroneously believe a battle was fought there when in fact it was the site of the American Army Camp. Due to a bitterly cold winter and the lack of clothes and shoes many men died. It was here that Washington and his generals forged the American militias into an army to fight the British. In fact they had pickets out to watch for the British forces who were camped not far away but no pitched battle was fought here. In fact it was after the Battle of Brandywine when the American forces were retreating that the British caught some Americans off guard towards Paoli, the battlefield now lies in Malvern and what is known as The Paoli Massacre (click the link for a video) took place as the Americans were sleeping and the British charged into the encampment with bayonets. The cry Remember Paoli became a rallying cry of the American Forces.However, back to Valley Forge. Most people might think that the only trail here is a tar macadam walking trail around the park, passing many of the sights in the park. However, there are multiple walking trails up Mount Misery and Mount Joy, as well as along the edge of the Schuylkill River that allow you to walk many miles. Some of the paths are quite challenging whilst others are flat. Some traverse the park out in the open, whilst others are under cover of trees and woodland. This allows you to see many different birds, and other wildlife too. Not only is there the Schuylkill River, but various creeks as well, where you might see beaver, herons, and even otters. The Park is very large and there are also paths across the other side of the Schuylkill along the edge of the river and not far from the Schuylkill River Trail giving access all the way into Philadelphia. There is plenty of parking and there are many different groups of all levels that hike through the park, look for groups on MeetUp.com.There are multiple trails to hike, so enjoy and there are plenty of places nearby for lunch or dinner from fast food, to sit down lunch or dinner, coffee or to enjoy a beer or glass of wine. This area is fantastic to live and enjoy life, give it a try.
This is the second part of a three part series on Hiking in PA, specifically in Chester County and nearby. Today, we are focusing on the George Lorimer Preserve which I usually access from North Valley Road in Paoli. The George Lorimer Preserve, is part of the land conserved by the Open Land Conservancy. There are open fields or meadow as defined on the trail map, wooded areas, pretty flat but with some small hills and plenty of creeks. The distances are not great, but the views are lovely, and you also get to see some of the beautiful homes surrounding the Preserve from a different angle.Jackie our dog loves coming here, dogs must be kept on leash, as there are plentiful smells of other dogs and animals, such as foxes and deer, plus racoons and skunks. It makes for a very interesting walk if you are a dog. We have visited even when there is snow on the ground and often find the Preserve almost empty of people so it has this wonderful feeling of you owning the land as you walk through it.In reality, you do not, but it reminds me so much of walking in England across the landscape along ancient footpaths through meadows and woodland till you find a pub for lunch. Speaking of which, The Grove which has several restaurants, Bomba, Chickie and Pete's, Capriotti's and a Nudy's as well as the Sly Fox Brewery is nearby. In fact The George Lorimer Preserve was the location of my first official date with my wife Annie. Knowing she had a dog, I suggested we meet up and walk at the Preserve, I got to meet Jackie and we could then visit The Sly Fox Brewery where we were able to sit outside for a beer and a snack and Jackie was able to sit with us, as this was in the midst of the Pandemic and many places were closed. Immersing yourself in nature is delightful, hearing the birds, insects and animals rustling around in the undergrowth. It helps to relax you, get you fit and get some fresh air and exercise at the same time.Do you think that access to places to walk near a home increase its value? Well, studies have shown that homes near adapted rail line walking paths have added value as a result. Being close to a park can only be a benefit to your homes value. I am happy to help you find a home near a park or somewhere you can walk for exercise and relaxation.
As we enter September, you may be considering some of your January health aspirations and be encouraged to get out there and do some additional exercise. I love walking and hiking, it is easy on the knees but can be so enjoyable, you do not need much in the way of equipment and there are plenty of places to visit and enjoy.Today, I want to share with you White Clay Creek Preserve, this is right on the border with Delaware, about three miles north of Newark where the area is known as White Clay State Park, the big difference between Pennsylvania and Delaware is that you need pay no fee to enjoy the trails and nature around you in Pennsylvania, whereas in Delaware there is an entrance fee.I was introduced to this area a couple of years ago by a hiking group I am a pert of called the PA chapter of the Camino de Santiago, which is a pilgrimage trail across various countries in Europe, ending in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. When I returned I was looking for help reintegrating to everyday life and found this group of people, some who had walked different routes to me, or those who were wanting to walk one of the many routes. One weekend we came to White Clay Preserve for a six to seven mile hike.We parked in Pennsylvania and walked along the creek, where you see Jackie our dog in the photo. It quickly crosses into Delaware and there are multiple trails you can follow, with river crossings, hills to climb etc. There are 3,212 acres of park in Chester County, PA with fishing and hunting permits during the appropriate seasons. There are many, many more acres in Delaware. Many people cycle along the paths as well, so you need to keep an eye out for them when walking.Obviously, as you can guess the park revolves around White Clay Creek, the park is reached via Route 896, 11 miles south of the New London/Forestville exit from Route 1. The park has several events which can be found on the website, such as Guided Nature Walks and Migration Bird Walks too.The area has a lot of history, with it being the location for the Lenape Indian Tribe, and there are plenty of good locations for food in the surrounding area after your hike.
We were very lucky Friday evening to get admission to Longwood Garden to see the fountain show. Since that evening Longwood has been closed due to an escaped murder from the Chester County Jail nearby. There is a major search been going on over the weekend with roads shut down and law enforcement on the ground and in the air searching for this escaped prisoner.That being said, we felt very lucky to have been able to enjoy the display Friday evening. The fountains have recently been renovated and improved with many more lights, techniques for creating different water displays, such as leaping water that looks and reminds you of fireworks being fired all in combination to the music being played. Friday the theme was classic rock, and the music and the water displays were fabulous.What was most amazing is how Longwood, has managed to create an effect where fire dances on the water. The fountain right in front of us and many others throughout the display, would light with flames, then as the water rose up so would the flame, the timing with the music was astonishing and left us wondering how they did it. Well, I read an article in Delaware Today which mentioned this was technology from Germany using propane gas, and that there has definitely been a learning curve to making it work consistently. It seems the water needs to be about three feet high of else the water works against the gas, it is then lit and they can then raise the height of the gas, which continues to flow upward with the water and remain alight till the gas supply is cut off. For safety there are several people with kill switches in the audience who can cut off the gas should there be a problem. This was an amazing effect and definitely the audience responded to it.Longwood employs choreographers who work to create the displays and communicate with others across the States and the World to create these masterful and awe inspiring fountain displays. They are well worth seeing and we are glad we were able to see this one before the gardens got shut down for safety reasons whilst this escaped prisoner is loose in the area. many local roads, Route 926, and Route 52 are closed with lots of law enforcement hunting for this man.
As I have mentioned in about 12 days I go in to hospital to have a double knee replacement operation. It seems over the last week almost every day I get an email from the hospital regarding my operation. First it is to sign forms, then to remind me of my appointment, then what to expect at my pre-admission test appointment, then yesterday a choice between a zoom call, a pre-recorded video or a call with a case manager to go over the whole operation, what to expect, what it entails, what to bring, how to prepare etc. Today it was a survey about my experience at the pre-admission appointment.It got me thinking about how we communicate with clients and whether we prepare them enough and survey them enough throughout the transaction. For us who do this day in and day out everything is normal, but for our clients who purchase or sell a home occasionally there is a fear of the unknown. Maybe we could ease that fear with an email campaign they receive throughout the process explaining each step, maybe we enter into a program where they are and they get sent the next email, along with a survey once every few weeks to ensure they are happy and feel listened too and understand the process, so we can adjust what we tell them in a video etc.I feel with my operation that the level of information is good, I am starting to get a little stressed about what is to come, how I am going to feel after the operation, what level of pain I will have, how incapacitated I will be and the physical therapy etc. Watching the video helped ease some of that stress, and maybe a video for our clients from a previous customer might ease their stress knowing how you helped someone else is how you will help them too.We know every client goes through buyer remorse, maybe a video explaining that it is normal to feel this way and not to worry or stress out about it. Lay out the next steps, inspection, other contingencies, even introduce them to some preferred vendors or title providers so they know who they will be dealing with as they move along throughout the transaction.Just a Thursday thought. What do you think? What would you include in those emails, videos and surveys.
When I was growing up we purchased our music in the form of records, made of vinyl, that were either played at 45 rpm, revolutions per minute or 33 1/3 rpms. The latter were known as LP's, long play records and the former were singles, usually from an LP.Why am I telling you all this you wonder? Well, we played these on a turntable using a needle to release the sound. Unfortunately, the records often got little scratches, so when you played them, you got this hissing and static sound along with the occasional scratch where the record would either jump, or just keep bouncing back to the same place over and over again.I was thinking how our real estate market reminds me of those days right now. Interest rates keep bouncing around, but steadily rising, yet home prices keep increasing because there is so little inventory for buyers to look at and purchase.Builders are not building enough homes for the past many years to keep up with the demand for housing and the growth of the population, and those who are building have been building rental apartment buildings.This has been going on for most of this year, with the increasing interest rate, the lack of inventory has been an issue for the past two to three years and only exacerbated by the rising interest rates due to most homeowners being in loans with rates between 2.75-3.75% and not wanting to purchase with a rate approaching 7% almost double what they currently have.But this is the same message I have been telling those who read my posts for a while and I feel like that record with the scratch, keep bouncing back to the same message over and over again. Until the person listening lifts the needle and moves the needle out of the scratch to the next part of the song.What is that next part of the song? I only wish I knew. It does look as if the economy is stronger than we all thought and has been able to absorb the rising interest rates without tipping into recession as yet. I do not think we are going to see a sudden increase in homes for sale, so that pressure on prices is going to remain for a while. However, I do think that interest rates will level off soon, maybe this year and possibly even fall slightly. But, this will only increase pressure on home prices and so I expect these to continue to rise year over year going forward.This might mean now is a time to consider purchasing a home if you can find one that meets your needs and wants, no home is perfect, so be prepared to be adaptable in your search in as many ways as you can.If you want help in Chester County and along the Main Line contact Nick Vandekar, Selling the Main Line and Chester County with Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., office 610-225-7400, cell or text 610-203-4543, or email Nick@VandekarTeam.com. I will be happy to help you.
If you are buying a home, you need good credit, and many buyers have an idea of their credit score because of the offers from Credit Karma or their credit cards to give them their score. But many do not understand why when they apply for a loan their credit score is lower.I asked Rich Filipone of Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC, NMLS:137129 this and some other questions related to soft and hard pulls of credit in this video.If you are looking for a home or thinking of selling a home in Chester County or on the Main Line contact Nick Vandekar Selling the Main Line and Chester County of Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc, office 610-225-7400 cell or text 610-203-4543, Nick@VandekarTeam.com.
As I went to reply to comments today, I suddenly noticed the annoying dropping of letters on the third, fourth and fifth commenters names did not happen. it made my day, and put a smile upon my face. I can imagine how these little things happen as code is updated and changed and how frustrating and time consuming it must be to find that segment of code and correct it. But it is much appreciated.Just a little thing, but I am now in the habit of back spacing as I enter those @'s, so now I have to drop that habit as it is no longer needed, but I don't mind.What other updates have they made to improve our experience, have you noticed any? Share below please.
Our challenge this month is on life lessons, personal and business from Carol Williams and Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker.On the personal front I have written many times about my life journey, and have mentioned in passing running the Philadelphia marathon. I had always wanted to run a marathon, honestly, I thought I wanted to run several, but one it turned out to be. I was celebrating a birthday and made the declaration that before my next birthday I would complete a marathon. I took almost a year to train, I am not the build of a runner, I am relatively tall, but stout, I played rugby and was a forward, where I could trundle around the field and contribute due to my weight and strength. But the running part was the hardest, but I also enjoyed getting out for a run and being in nature. it helped me to think and relax, let go of stress. I had determined I could run a basic 10 minute mile after all my training. So, I thought I would aim for being in the 12 minute mile section, however, I ended up in the 10 minute mile section and did fine, till mile 19. Then the dreaded wall hit. Everything locked up, I thought someone had inserted metal rods in my legs. I stumbled on, walking and jogging alternately, I cannot remember now if my legs ever loosened up over the rest of the course, but I know I finished and it was really hard to keep going. It was really an allegory of the story of my life, I had been very successful for a long time, taking over my father's business with my brother, then dividing and running my own. Moving to America to continue that success when I hit the wall there. I did not have an alternate plan when my English bank called my loan after encouraging me to make this move. I did not have enough history here to obtain a loan from any American bank and lost everything. I stumbled on, doing odd jobs, working as a sub-contractor with a contractor as my visa only allowed me to work for myself. These two events taught me, in the midst of deep depression that you have to keep going, however painful. You need to believe in yourself and keep trying, do not give up. If you do that you will find a route to the end and be successful. When I came into real estate, I believed in trying everything, some things worked, some things didn't. I believed in adjusting the sails as I was going along, always heading to my destination. I was recently asked in an office meeting what was my motivation, my why for working. After hearing all these top agents talking about earning millions of dollars I realized that is not my motivation, it is to help people and earn enough to allow me to travel and enjoy life. One of the first classes I took was to obtain my ABR designation and I learnt about "Agency". This made so much sense to me, it was like a keystone falling into place for the rest of the building to be built upon it. I believe that if I take care of my client first and foremost everything else will take care of itself. I still absolutely believe that, even as I adjust and make changes to the way I work. Always putting my clients needs ahead of my own, and caring for them, making sure they are protected and understand the transaction and how it can affect them and be a positive, enjoyable time for them even in the midst of the stress of the transaction.I am a great believer in stripping out of my life those things that do not improve it, be it personal or business especially drama. I enjoy people and nature, not necessarily in that order always but I want to leave this place a little better than before I arrived.
Everybody tells us we need to be using video to stand out from the crowd. Not all agents are the same. For several years I have been using video. If you go to my YouTube channel Selling the Main Line you can see some of those past videos. I have shared some here in the Rain and there are links to two at the end of this post.However, today, I want to discuss long versus short form video. Long form video is much of what is up on my channel currently. There are some shorts as well, but most of what I have filmed and edited are long form. These take the form of interviews and house tours. It is one of the things I feel I bring to a listing that many other agents simply mash photos together and call video, using software to create pan shots etc. Can my videos be improved, definitely, and I am always seeking to improve what I do taking ideas from other home tours.Long form videos are basically anything that is longer than 30 seconds to a minute. Generally when I started it was said that videos needed to be under two minutes. With a house tour that could be difficult, but then I learnt, our eyes need very little time to register something, watch HGTV sometimes and you realize that some shots are mere seconds, but you see it and register it. So, I got those videos down to 2 minutes or thereabouts. Interviews are harder, especially with some of my mortgage providers who get off on sidebars, but these can now be edited to create what everyone is raving about today as short form videos, 30 seconds to 60 second videos. Different platforms give you different times. These are really just a snippet of a longer conversation, maybe a really good point the speaker is making that you want to highlight.Some platforms give more weight to longer videos, Facebook likes longer videos and these can than be edited down as reels/short form videos to use elsewhere.Really, you are using all these videos to get eyeballs, and then interest from potential clients. You will also need to engage with those who leave comments as well.You can use a phone to create videos as all the phones today have good cameras, but I also have a small Sony handheld video camera which works well for me. When I started, I had a Flip camera that was really fun, very point and shoot. Over time I have tried different cameras and now generally use my Sony for planned videos with a tripod for stability.When I walked my Camino, I just used my cell phone, filming short bits every day, which several people commented on as being a great representation, it was really just me being me, giving my thoughts and feelings to the camera for a few seconds, a pure stream of consciousness view. But it allowed me to be authentic and that came across.So, really, don't get put off, we all make mistakes, that is what editing is for, and you can always make a highlight reel of all your flubs as a fun video. I feel there is no right or wrong, get the video done and then edit it, to whatever length you feel works for how you want to use it.Some of my most watched videos are my longest interviews, if it is interesting people will watch. Good luck, have fun and enjoy your self.Here is a short my wife and I made when visiting a local vineyardAnd this is a longer video I made of a home for saleIf you are interested in listing your Chester County or Main Line home for sale and having an agent using real video to market it, then contact Nick Vandekar, Selling Chester County and The Main Line with Long & Foster Real Estate, office 610-225-7400, cell or text 610-203-4543, Nick@VandekarTeam.com