Friday, 23 September 2016

August Bank Holiday Monday

I'm having to go back in time to the end of August for this post.
Our plan for the bank holiday was a train trip to Portsmouth for a little jaunt to Gunwharf Quay. There were two places I wanted to go. First up was a look in the Cath K outlet store to see if I could find anything to spend my birthday money on. Nope, nothing I fancied for me but I did purchase a Christmas present for my friend I so it wasn't a wasted visit. Then it was on to Clarks for school shoe shopping. This was more successful and completed in less than 10 minutes, phew.

Then the next part of our day out saw us boarding the ferry over to Gosport.


S enjoying the ride over the harbour which takes all of about 7 minutes or so.


Here is the reason for going to Gosport, Carter's Vintage Steam Fair were in town.


Clicking on this link will explain why you won't see a carousel at the fair. Interesting stuff.

Now I'm not hugely in to fairground rides normally but I wanted to go on so many of these. Only thing was G and S refused to go on with me. I had to beg S to go on and eventually she agreed to go on two of them and in the end she loved them as much as I did.
First up we went on the chairoplanes. I was grinning like an idiot the whole time I was on this, but I didn't care I felt so happy and carefree.


The other ride was the Whirl Around Twist, this went on for ages and we laughed so much.


Some of the rides we didn't go on were the steam yachts


The giant octopus


The Dive Bombers.
Everything was so brightly painted and seeing it all together and looking so vibrant  couldn't help but feel happy.



How we resisted buying an ice cream from the cutest van ever I'll never know. Actually I do know as we were going to go and treat ourselves to a coffee and cake before we got the ferry back again, so another treat was beckoning.



Even the accommodation for the staff is vintage. Clicking on the link you can see more of what is on offer and they have a handful of dates left for this year before the end of the season and they spend the winter on maintainence.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Open House London 2016

Each time the Open House London weekend rolls around I think 'that would be an interesting event to take part in'. Well, when I read about it recently I thought let's stop thinking about it and actually do it.
So a cheap Travelodge was booked for our over night stay and I spent a little time on the website looking at places to visit.
As S was coming with us I couldn't try and cram too much in so I roughed out the shape of a plan and off we went early Saturday morning.
On route to our first planned stop we walked past what was the Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women and admired the beautiful carved faces which adorned the old walls.


As we walked on over the bridge we had a great view of the Starflyer ride. I bet it's a real adrenaline rush being on that.


Who doesn't enjoy spotting some of London's tall landmarks.


Once over Waterloo bridge we nipped through Somerset House and found an interesting stainless steel art installation. Walking through it was like being in a hall of mirrors as they distorted your body shape and you saw yourself reflected at unexpected angles


and when you stood up from being sat on it the metal rebounded and made a noise like a clap of thunder.


Love this of G and S.



We had seen quite a bit before we had reached our intended first stop but not long after we arrived at our destination. The Royal Courts of Justice.


Having seen the outside of this building umpteen times on the news I found it quite exciting to actually be going inside it. Once inside and past the security checks you are greeted by it's architect, George Edmund Street.


The lady I approached at the enquiry desk was very helpful and gave us an information sheet and a quiz for S to do.

Just look at the view of the main hall from the first floor balcony, it is just as grand as a building built for it's important role should be




and the floor is given special treatment too, covered in hand laid mosaic tiles.



We got to go inside some of the courtrooms where photography isn't allowed and into the Painted room where it is allowed. Such a stunning room, decked out in rich Victorian reds and greens.


In stark contrast to this we also got to see the cells, we were shown examples of meals those in custody are offered, we could try on handcuffs and see inside the vans which bring those being bought to court would arrive in.


There is also a display of robes and wigs and a chance to try some on. This is the kind of thing I love but unfortunately there was a small queue and certain people were getting hungry and so we gave it a miss.

And this is where we ate our lunch, at the back of the building with not one but four red phone boxes in a row


As a bonus we were treated to the sight of two mounted policemen clip clopping past us.



Before I share our next stop here are a few highlights from our walk to reach it.
An incredibly narrow home called The Wee House


a striking look chap covering a water pipe, a pretty art nouveau lady pub sign, Jessica Ennis-Hill and a multitude of bird boxes in a small neighbourhood garden.


Our next venue was Hoxton Hall. My two grainy photos do not do the interior justice so please check out the link to the website to see it in it's true splendour. The little tour we were given was by Boris the Participation Manager and his love and enthusiasm for the music hall shone through. He told us how the building had been through a period of restoration due to a 2 million pound grant by the lottery fund and how the hall is still very much being used for the community.
Laurel and Hardy once graced the stage here and it was wonderful to be in a place where they had entertained the crowds and try to imagine the atmosphere of those evenings when a night out to see the latest variety acts was the thing to do.

And so ended Day 1.



Day 2 was to be spent in Hampstead. We had a couple of options lined up as you never know how busy a place will be until you get there.


But thankfully when we got to Fenton House we were able to go straight in. This 17th century merchant's house is definitely the kind of home you could imagine people living in. This is the view from the main entrance gates.



Having said I could imagine people living in it, the one thing I was disappointed with is that it wasn't overly furnished. These were my favourite pieces. The house is home to a collection of early keyboard instruments but I would have much preferred to see the attic rooms and other bedrooms filled with furniture that would have made it more of a lived in home.


The real gem of Fenton House is it's garden.


Walking through a hedge you emerge to topiary lollypop trees of holly and huge terracotta tubs planted with fig trees.





The green house is picture perfect although it must be well used as the garden provides an abundance of produce.






Around every corner there is a little bench, just right to sit quietly and enjoy the view or strike daft poses for photos.


All to soon it was time to think about returning home, passing on the way to the tube station this sweet little house




and a row of shops including a florist which had the prettiest pale hydrangeas on display.


It really was a fabulous weekend.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Art Down Low

Over recent days I have spotted two works of art in town which must be by the same person.
Both have been pasted onto the very bottom of walls where they meet the pavement.

All of the images are of successful and talented women.

I love the way this little group have been assembled, look at the coy way Judi Dench is stood and the confident hands on hips stance of Maggie Smith.



The second one I found was of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, instantly recognisable because of those eyebrows.


I wonder if there are more to discover and I wonder who the artist is. 
I absolutely love them.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Blackberry Bounty


Definitely a weekend of two halves as far as the weather went.
It started with a miserable, drizzly grey day.
I did a variety of household chores and to get me through the monotony of the ironing pile I watched I Capture The Castle.
Things perked up when it came to the evening as I went out to a school reunion.
I jointly organised one of these 12 years ago and know how much work goes into it and so I felt nervous on behalf of C who did this one. The feeling of wondering if anyone is going to turn up is horrible.
It was a great evening and lots of fun was had by all that went.

Sunday dawned warm and bright and so once the essentials were completed at home we headed out with plastic tubs to do a bit of blackberry picking.



The blackberry bushes grow very near to a private school which opens up it's building and grounds to take part in Heritage Open Day events.
We went along to this a few years ago and thought it would be good to do again and make the most of a sunny afternoon.


This splendid house was once owned by Lord and Lady Swaythling who donated The Swaythling Cup for the men's table tennis world championship which is still being played for today.
I was looking forward to a tour but when we arrived the Southampton Ukulele Orchestra were in full swing out on the terrace. We've seen them several times before at various events and they are so entertaining that we decided to sit in the sun and listen to them.


Once they had finished we wondered off down the Gertrude Jekyll designed garden and it was then S received a text from a friend asking if she was in and wanted to go out with her. I decided the fair thing to do was to leave. I can go back and see the house another time, S was going to be far happier going out with a friend for a couple of hours compared to what I had planned for us.


We managed to fill one tub with blackberries and they have all been washed and frozen ready to use in smoothies. We reckon another foraging trip needs to be made in a couple of weeks when more should be ripe and ready for picking.


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Novel Idea


Whilst looking through the photos I have taken over the summer I came across this one I took of the birthday gift sent to me back in July from very good friend T.
I thought it was such a thoughtful gift.
She sent me the Jojo Moyes book Me Before You and it's sequel After You. 
And what item is absolutely necessary when reading, why a lovely bookmark of course and for these particular tearjerkers a packet of tissues. I wonder if one pack will be enough?
To make my reading time even more indulgent she included two packs of chocolate. These have been stowed away in my secret stash to await devouring when I start the first instalment.