Monday, August 29, 2011

Lyme Regis and Mary Anning.

Ever since I read the book, " Remarkable Creatures, " by Tracy Chevalier I have had an intense interest in Mary Anning and her life at Lyme Regis. So of Course it was high on my list of places I wished to visit.

Ammonite style street light .

Ammonites set in the pavement.

It wasn't a long visit but there was time to walk our along the cob and passed all the bathing huts painted in many colours. This family was gracious enough to allow me to snap them at their bathing hut. (it contained a power point with electric jug; crockery, books, magazines, chairs and food  - everything except a toilet )

To add to my delight later when back in London we went to the Natural History Museum ( great place to visit ) and I saw many fossils including some of Mary's discoveries. ( sorry someone stood in front of my photo ).

While in Lyme Regis I visited the museum and bookshop that stand where Mary's little shop used to be. I bought 2 books.( light weight ones only ). "Mary Anning of Lyme Regis," by Crispin Tickell and "Walking the West Jurassic Coast ( Orcombe to the Fleet ) by Robert Westwood. ( I didn't get to do any of those walks but I am sure it would have been fun.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quilts ;Tapestry and Fabric.

I remember saying I would put up a post about the quilts and tapestry and fabric I saw ( bought ). As I have been to my group ( Tauranga Patchwork and Quilters Group ) today it is uppermost in my mind.This will be in 3 parts.
 Firstly Bath ( 2 ladies in our group recommended that if I had time to see only one quilt display while in UK I couldn't go wrong with seeing the permanent display at the American Museum in Bath.)

As you can see in the picture I bought the booklet by Sheila Betterton on some of the quilts in the display. The quilts are hung on large hanger arms and swing around like pages in a book. For protection each quilt is encased in heavy acetate which make photographs impossible ( because of the reflection. )
 I did take 2 of this quilt as there was an idea in it I wanted to utilise at a later date.( you can't see it well here. )The booklet has a great introduction about bedding and quilts from 200 to 300 hundred years ago when women not only got to make quilts for top display but also had to make the mattress covers, the duvets. the canopy etc So they had to weave first then sew! ALL by hand! In the display were woven coverlets and whole cloth quilts. I was very interested in what I saw. Later in the shop I spotted just one small basket of fat quarters - most of which didn't excite but I found one with Robin redbreasts on and got that. I also got a quick view around an exhibitions of Marilyn Munroe's dresses. OH wow she was one classily dressed lady!

Meanwhile outside the boys were watching war reenactments on the lawn.

 In Bath Abbey as well as the fabulous stained glass windows I spotted more lovely kneelers and the choir sang for us. Thank you! ( fabulous acoustics )

When we were staying in the Lake District we visited The Quaker Tapestry at Kendal.
 It is in 77 panels and like the Bayeux tapestry tells a story. It covers 350 years of Quaker history. It is stitched by women men and children. There are panels from 14 other countries including New Zealand.

 I was quite delighted with how well our panel was done!
 The other panel I will tell you about is the one depicting Elizabeth Fry.
 She and other Quaker women visited the convict ships leaving UK for Australia between the years of 1818 - 1843; taking 12000 souls, men, women and children in 106 ships and supplied to the women a bag that had in it supplies she might need. Needles, thread and fabric scraps with which she could make a quilt and hopefully improve her needlework skills giving her better chance of employment in the years to come. ( what a fabulous gesture ! )
 This tapestry ( embroidery ) is on display in Kendal during the summer months and parts of it travel around UK during the other months so more people get to see. ( go if you get the chance )

Also while staying at Bowness on Lake Windermere we visited the shop and display of Beatrix Potter.
 ( she lived across the otherside of lake windermere )
I purchased this tea towel ( folded up in photo ) a length of this fabric which I intend to make into a quilt in due course.
 In the shop as it was a rainy afternoon many blokes were there with their wives and families. I was most amused to see them all picking up books and saying, " Oh, this was my favourite one" and reading sections out loud. If you saw the movie ( - I did ) we got off the train at that same station as Miss Potter several times and the views of the lakes and countryside is so beautiful.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A trip up River to Hampton Court.

We travelled up the Thames by boat. An interesting trip through 2 locks and passed many lovely riverside homes. It was chilly as we rounded some of the bends and I was glad of my jacket and warm scarf I bought in Edinburgh. The sun was shining when we visited another spectacular garden.
The pond gardens ( below ) are sunken and have some exotic plants.

Finally I got a photo of a robin redbreast.

In a glasshouse grows a grapevine that was planted by Capability Brown in 1786. It has a special bed just for the roots.It had lots of grapebunches too.

 Inside the palace we saw some really fun reenactments of an audience with Henry 8th.

We visited the vast old kitchens, the court yards

 and some of ( but not all ) the palace before catching the train back to London..

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Beautiful Gardens

As I have been out gardening this afternoon gardens are on my mind. While on our trip we saw lots a lovely gardens. 2 special ones are in Somerset. The smaller garden - The Secret Garden of Somerset ( above ) is Kilver Court Gardens near Shepton Mallet. Set against the backdrop of a class 2 listed Viaduct it is a magical place.
In the 1800s this viaduct was part of the Dorset to Somerset railway.
It is so pretty and well cared for.

With lake, bridge, parterre,boat house and vegetable garden.

It was a bright sunny day and that made it even more delightful.

Astilbes against a dogwood tree.

On the same site is a farm shop, butchery and Deli as well as a cafe. A fabulous place to visit if you get the chance.

The second much larger garden is Stourhead ( a National Trust garden ). It is a place of spectacular views ( an 18th century landscape garden )

With bridges;

lake views ;


and Cottages.

We were pressed for time;  and didn't get to see the big Stourhead House or the rest of the estate which covers 2,650 acres of woodland and chalk downland.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Two Special Treats.

At the rate I am going I can see this will take me weeks to cover all the places we went and things we did. I am not sticking to the order things happened; just randomly picking topics. Here is a special one.
On the final Saturday afternoon in London V had booked a special girls treat - High Tea at the Dorchester. Wasn't I spoilt? I've  never been anywhere quite that posh. You can tell by the front gardens that they take pride in how they do things.
We were warmly greeted and slid into our chairs; large white linen serviettes placed on our laps. First we had pink champagne with a tasty something on a big spoon that was placed in one bite into our mouths Yum!
 After deciding which teas were would sample ( the Dorchester afternoon tea is a good place to start Madam. ) We were presented with a tray of sandwiches. 6 different with 6 different breads.( so, so fresh ) They were small and truly delicious. When V said she was a vegetarian they raced off and came back with a different selection for her. Predictable I know but the cucumber one was the tastiest.( closely followed by the egg, chicken salmon and ham )
 That was followed by scones plain and fruit with jam and cream.( getting full now ) more tea, a peppermint brew this time.
 Then "ta da" the sweet treats arrived. Look first. Surreptitiously take their photo they are so pretty.
We ate half each of each except the 5th one was too much.( the one left was at the front )."Would Madame care to take it with you?"      " Oh no I don't think so thank you." The flower arrangements were divine ( and everywhere ); the visit to the ladies room was everything you might imagine ( has it's own attendant )To get there walk down a passageway with display windows of expensive items to buy. We had been there for 2 hours and drunk a lot of tea. Before we left I got cheeky and asked the manager on duty if he had a card I could take now have a very flash silver embossed Dorchester card. Thanks V it was a magnificent outing and I would do it again any time.

 J also planned a treat for all 4 of us. First a quick yummy dinner at Waggamama then  knowing I like Queen he chose to take us to "We Will Rock You, "( the musical Queen by Ben Elton, at the Dominion Theatre.( on Tottenham Court Road ) What a brilliant spectacle. What a loud spectacle. ( 10 % too loud for me) but hey I loved it. I knew all the songs but have never seen them performed like that.What a shame Brian May wasn't there in person ( once a year he is )
It was an awesome experience.
Thanks J.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Good and Bad of Paris.

Things that happen or you see certainly colour how you remember a place. Paris was like that. The good things far out weighed the bad. The Eurostar journey from St Pancras Station via the Chunnel and across France to Gare d'Nord in Paris was magic.( on the way there ) It was a new train, very fast and we sat by a large window facing the way we were going. Quite a memorable ride. On the way back it was an old train in need of a spruce up we didn't have a window and I developed a sore throat during the return journey.( they never collected rubbish once going that way - mere observation ) So you can see it all depends how you experience something. On our first afternoon we walked as far as we could in the heat from out hotel in Rue des Vinaigriers along tree lined Rue Magenta to the Place de Republique and back.
The second day we spent doing all the usual touristy things and the same on the 3rd day but it rained in the afternoon so we returned early. Of course the rain stopped so not wanting to waste time we ventured out again with our brollies just to cruise the local area. Being me of course I had my camera with me and this is the free unexpected entertainment we got. At the end of our street was Saint Martin's Canal which is crisscrossed with little hump bridges. We were standing on one when we spied this happening.

A large barge was approaching a closed lock.

The lock is filling from the upside.

now the water level is the same on both sides and the barge emerges.
it's quite a big barge.

The next obstacle is not a lock but a road bridge. The barrier arm drops down ; the traffic stops ;  the road begins to pull away. It swings till it lands over the jutting out landing for it.

The barge has the green light.

It proceeds along the canal.

The lights change. The road swings back.( and lands correctly on the 3rd try )

The traffic resumes crossing.
 One young lady couldn't wait and picked up her bike and walked it over the hump bridge.
 Diagonally across the one way street from our hotel was a tiny restaurant; just 8 tables. Bistrot des Faubourgs. We ended up eating there 2 nights as the food was just so tasty.The cherry tarte with pistashio croutons was Divine.The waiter Christain was so friendly he spoke French and English - he loved to chat . Everyone in Paris talked about the All Blacks and rugby and asked about the earthquakes in Christchurch. We were first there on the Monday night and soon all the tables were taken. The next night only 2 tables were taken  - for no reason anyone knew. It must make planning hard.( but I am sure people choose a popular looking place to eat ) When we told Christain about R's stolen wallet he swore loudly in English and had us falling around laughing.The french hate ( for good reason ) the itinerants who are doing all the bad things in their country. 
 Notre Dame

and Sacre Coeur

are beautiful churches with amazing stained glass windows. We were privileged to visit them .( more of paris in another post. )