Waddesdon Manor – Aylesbury – Photos

Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor is another delightful National Trust property.  It was built in the late nineteenth century for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild.  He wanted somewhere to display his arts and sculptures – and of course to entertain his friends.  Although the property is owned by the National Trust, it is managed by the Rothschild Foundation.

A visit there is a real treat as both the buildings and the gardens are superb.  We had to park quite a distance away, but they have a shuttle bus between the car park and the manor, which helps.




The aviary

The aviary

The Gardens

The first place that we came across in the gardens was the aviary.  We didn’t look as closely as I would have liked at the birds because there were about three school trips that day and the noise from the children was deafening!

As you can see, the buildings are substantial and the birds had plenty of room in their enclosures.  Now I would never think of putting red and purple together in a quilt, but don’t you think that the flower bed on the right makes a lovely display.

What lovely colours

What lovely colours

My mind was still on quilts when I came to the next flower bed – those colours look gorgeous together.  There were statues all over the place and a rose garden that you could smell well before you reached it.

Beautiful topiary

Beautiful topiary

The other eyecatcher on our way to the manor was the topiary.  I’ve seen clever topiary before now, but what stood out here was the way they had used different plants to give a different green for the bird’s breast.  Very clever.

Tapestry fire screen

Tapestry fire screen

Inside Waddesdon Manor

The interior of the manor was breathtaking.  The colours in this tapestry were stunning and they had some really large tapestries hanging on the walls as well.

Zebra in harness

Zebra in harness

I was brought up in Africa and I was always told that zebra could not be tamed so it was delightful to see this photo of zebra pulling a carriage.

This is just an example of how varied the treasures are within the manor.

Twelve Caesars

Twelve Caesars

While we were there – and just about to finish – was an exhibition called the Twelve Caesars.  This consisted of gold or bronze sculptures of each of the first twelve Caesars.  It was fascinating and the amazing thing is that they don’t know who made them or why.

Dining in style

Dining in style

The meals were obviously sumptuous when the Rothschilds lived at Waddesdon Manor.  This table was set for a wonderful feast.  It was the chandelier that was truly beautiful, but I’m afraid my photo hasn’t done it justice.

Waddesdon Manor is an amazing place to visit both inside and outside – well worth it if you’re in the area.

St Tiggywinkles Hospital – Photos

St Tiggywinkles Hospital

St Tiggywinkles Hospital

When I visited St Tiggywinkles Hospital I was utterly enchanted – even if I didn’t see a single live hedgehog!  The sweeties in the photo are actually stuffed toys for sale in their shop.

St Tiggywinkles was opened by Sue and Les Stocker with their son in 1978 when they began treating wild animals on a voluntary basis.  It was the first wildlife treatment centre and soon became (and has remained) world renowned for the work it does.




St Tiggywinkle hospital building

St Tiggywinkle hospital building

History

The hospital is named after Mrs Tiggywinkle in the Beatrix Potter books which were a great favourite with my children.  The hospital had become a registered charity in 1983 – and became swamped with hedgehog casualties in 1984 during a drought.

Tortoise patients

Tortoise patients

The blackboard at the entrance to the visitor centre lists the casualties that they are treating and I was amazed both at the number of different species and the total numbers of animals and birds that they are treating on a regular basis.

The tortoise area had a wide variety of tortoises – I hadn’t realised quite how different they are in shape, size, colour and the patterns on their shells.  I was also amazed at the speed with which they could move when following the young lady who brought their food to them!

Recycled bottle tops

Recycled bottle tops

There is a deer paddock for the recovering deer, but this fellow is a timely reminder of how much recycling we need to do.  He is made entirely from used bottle tops.

The visitor centre boasts a children’s playground, quiet area and a lovely area of pens where you can stroll around seeing the enormous variety of wild life that needs help.

Red kite

Red kite

The red kite is a bird of prey, a protected species which was once near to extinction in Britain.  They are being successfully re introduced to the countryside and any casualties are well looked after at St Tiggywinkles.  We saw this red kite on top of the enclosure but we were assured that he was a former patient rather than an escapee.

I was determined to visit this place based purely on its delightful name, but I am so pleased that I went there.  A very worthwhile charity doing wonderful work and they are very welcoming to the general public.

Bletchley Park – Bucks UK – Photos

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park

My visit to Bletchley Park was absolutely fascinating – but it also destroyed some of my illusions.  As I’m sure you know, Bletchley Park was the home of our code breaking efforts during the war.  It has now been preserved as a heritage site and is well worth a visit.  The whole site is well set out with plenty of information, loads of stewards to answer questions and some fun activities for children – and me!

This view of the country house set beside a lake with fountains fitted well with my somewhat romantic image of the place.  Inside the mansion you can visit the rooms that were used as offices by the senior codebreakers.




The workshops

The workshops

The Workshops

It was in the other sections of the operation that my illusions were somewhat tarnished.  Obviously there must have been many other buildings to accommodate the offices and workshops of all the people working on breaking codes – thousands of them.  These long low buildings were filled with people – mostly young women – listening in to messages and decoding them before they were passed on for distribution.  Now working at Bletchley had always sounded quite glamorous to me – working on top secret codes and messages to help the war effort.

The reality was somewhat different – these buildings had no heating or cooling so they were too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.  The floors were of unsealed concrete which made the rooms dusty.  The girls sometimes worked 30 to 40 hour shifts if required.  Wow!

Code breakers

Code breakers

The Machinery

Everyone has heard of the Enigma code and the machines that broke this code.  In fact they were surprisingly ordinary looking.  They looked like souped up manual typewriteres, but of course they performed a much more complex operation than simply typing.

Not your ordinary typewriter

Not your ordinary typewriter

The enemy messages were intercepted at various radio listening stations in many places.  They were then delivered by courier to Bletchley Park.  Here they were not just decoded but also interpreted.  They had to be categorised so that they could be linked to other messages and then sent to the sections of government or the armed forces that needed to see them.  This again was done by courier – how different the world was without computers.

The Cottages

The Cottages

Computers

Alan Turing, considered to be the father of computer science, worked at Bletchley Park.  A lot of his work on computers and other groundbreaking ideas took place here in the Cottages.  He developed many techniques to speed up the breaking of codes.  The cottages are used for admin now so aren’t open to the public, but it was fascinating to imagine how they must have felt during the war.

Swans

Swans

The swans

I have always been taught to be wary of swans because they are so strong and can be fiercely territorial.  So it was quite a surprise to see these swans in the picnic area going right up to people at the tables.  It left me with a far more tranquil view of Bletchley that took me back to my romanticised vision of the place.

 

Coffin Works – Birmingham – Photos

 

Coffin Works Birmingham

Coffin Works Birmingham

I have been meaning to visit the Coffin Works in Birmingham for a long time and I finally made the trip recently.  It’s situated in the Jewellery Quarter and is a delightfully quirky place to visit.  They didn’t actually make coffins there – just the handles and plates and such like.

Coffin furniture

Coffin furniture

Coffin Works History

The factory is actually called Newman Brothers and was established in 1882.  At first they made cabinet furniture and then moved on to coffin furniture.  They finally had to call it a day in 1988, facing stiff competition from abroad.  The last owner, Joyce Green, sold the building at a reduced price on condition that it would not be used for houses – she wanted the site to become a museum celebrating the work that had taken place there for the last century.




Silverware for coffins

Silverware for coffins

What they made

As well as the larger items like breastplates shown in the photo above, Newman Brothers also produced any metalwork used on coffins.  The wonder of the museum is that all the original stock of crosses, handles and everything else is still on show in the museum – lying on work tables as if ready to be used any day.

The walls are covered with photos of famous people whose coffins were adorned with Newman Brothers furniture – among them Sir Winston Churchill.

Machinery in the workshop

Machinery in the workshop

How they made it

Much of the machinery in the workshops is still in good working order.  This was one of the smaller presses, but there were some other much larger ones.  Blank silver or brass plates were placed beneath the press and then the arm of the press would be released to stamp a design out.  It must have been an incredibly noisy work environment.

Modified sewing machine

Modified sewing machine

Sewing at the Coffin Works

Obviously I was thrilled to see all the sewing machines and very old fabric and trimmings on the shelves.  There were about a dozen sewing machines which were originally treadle but had been adapted to use electricity.

Newman Brothers would buy the coffins in and then do everything necessary to them – the fabric linings as well as the silverware.  They also made shrouds and there were lots of them there in their packaging as if ready to be sold.

The Coffin Works factory is run by the Birmingham Conservation Trust, largely with friendly and cheerful volunteer helpers.  It really is a step back in time and I found it absolutely fascinating.

Washington DC – America – Photos

Reflecting pool Washington

Reflecting pool Washington

I took the train to Washington DC from Philadelphia.  It’s an amazing city and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.  The grid system for the streets makes it so easy to find your way around.  I didn’t realise until I was just leaving that the numbering system begins at the Capitol so you can always tell where you are.  That’s a real bonus for me as I get lost so easily!

When I booked the trip I hadn’t realised that I would be in Washington on Memorial Day.  That turned out to be a real treat.




Lincoln Memorial

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

I chose to begin at the Lincoln Memorial and walked up the Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol.  The photo above shows the Washington Momument being reflected in the pool.  It is possible to go to the top of the Monument and the view from there must be extraordinary.  My time was limited so I didn’t take advantage of that.

The Lincoln Memorial itself is really impressive.  I am so pleased that I have had the opportunity to visit it.

European Memorial

European Memorial

Not far away the European Memorial obviously attracted my attention.  Very peaceful.

Bikers parading

Bikers parading

Memorial Day

The central streets are all closed to traffic on Memorial Day.  Bikers from all over the country fill the city.

They parade from the Pentagon to the Capitol and there are so many of them that the parade seems to last forever.  The air is filled with the sound of motor bikes and the atmosphere is amazing.

White House

White House

White House

I had to include a photo of the White House even though it’s probably the most photographed building in the world.  There’s a lovely park in front of it with lots of statues and trees.  As it was a really hot day it was good to be able to sit in the shade for a short while before continuing my exploring.

Sculpture garden - insect

Sculpture garden – insect

My stay in Washington was all too short, but I thought I’d leave you with two images from the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.  These were really striking.

Sculpture garden - tree

Sculpture garden – tree

This silver coloured tree is called ‘Graft’.  I loved it.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Hope to see you again soon.

Rose

Bath – Somerset – Photos

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

My visit to Bath last weekend was great fun.  I haven’t finished showing you my American photos yet, but they will have to wait till next week.

Bath is a city in Somerset, renowned for its Roman Baths.  I didn’t visit these but I gather that they are very impressive.  The whole area is steeped in history, with Stonehenge not far away.

Bath Abbey dominates the middle of the city.  It’s a beautiful 7th century church.  As you can see there are two layers of stained glass windows which make it very light inside.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go inside it, because I’ve just found out that there’s a Heritage Museum in the basement which would have been interesting to visit.

Apparently the Abbey receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.




Kaffe Fassett exhibition

Kaffe Fassett exhibition

Kaffe Fassett exhibition

My main purpose in beginning with Bath was to meet up with my future daughter in law and her mother.  I deliberately arrived early so that I could visit an exhibition in the Victoria Art Gallery.

Many thanks to Sue for alerting me to this – the exhibition is called A Celebration of Flowers and it displays both quilts and other needlework from Kaffe Fassett together with ceramics from Candace Bahouth.  Both were totally delightful, with amazing use of colour.  There were no photos allowed so I had to be content with a photo of the poster.

Victoria Art Gallery

Victoria Art Gallery

The exhibition is on till September 2nd and I thoroughly enjoyed drinking in all those wonderful colour combinations.

The Art Gallery is housed in a lovely building with a statue of Queen Victoria above one of the doors.

American Museum

American Museum

American Museum

Just outside Bath is the American Museum.  I had seen some of their vintage quilts at the Festival of Quilts but it was a real treat to see more of the collection.

The museum has been open since 1961 and apparently remains the only museum outside America to display the decorative arts of America.  It is housed in Claverton Manor which sits on a hill and enjoys wonderful views across the surrounding countryside.

Vintage quilts on display

Vintage quilts on display

Some of the quilts are displayed on the wall like this one.  Most of them are displayed on hanging boards so that you can leaf through them.

They rotate the quilts on display so you would need to visit many times to see their full collection.

1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet

1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet

As an extra treat for quilters, they have the 1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet on loan from the Quilters Guild.  It will be there till July 29th.  It really is an extraordinary project – I felt privileged to be able to see it.

The wedding church

The wedding church

Local churches

The area that my future daughter in law lives in contains a grouping of ten churches.  This is the one that will host the wedding – a real picture postcard English country church.

I spent a wonderful weekend seeing the various venues for the wedding and getting to know Anna’s parents.  My job is the bunting and now I have much more idea of what will be required so I can get stuck in on that over the next few months.

Philadelphia – America – Photos

Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia City Hall

For my Philadelphia visit I travelled by train from New York.  It was a very short visit so there must be large areas that I haven’t seen, but I did at least have a lovely walk round the historic area.  Philadelphia was founded by an Englishman, William Penn in the late seventeenth century.  He was given the land by King Charles II to pay off the king’s debt to Mr Penn.  He went on to found the state of Pennsylvania.

From my hotel the City Hall could be seen dominating the area – what a lovely building it is.  It also made a useful landmark so that I could find my way to the old city – and also back to my hotel afterwards!




Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

Philadelphia is well known for being the home of the Liberty Bell, that international symbol of freedom.  the inscription on it reads:

Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof

It is impressive for its history as much as for the actual bell itself.  The whole area was very informative – lots of information boards, videos and historical background.  The bell was apparently rung in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was read out and later became a symbol of liberty for the abolitionists.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Congress Hall

Nearby the Independence Hall looked absolutely fascinating.  However entrance is very strictly controlled and I didn’t try to buy advance tickets until it was too late and they were already sold out.

However it was still possible to get into the park area around the Indpendence Hall and that way I could also get to the Congress Hall.

 

Congress Hall

Congress Hall

Luckily the Congress Hall next door was more open to visitors and I thoroughly enjoyed my tour around there.  This photo may look a little lopsided, but it was because I was trying to show the eagle on the ceiling as well as the chairs and table where the Congress used to sit and debate in the early days.  Philadelphia was capital of the United States for ten years while the city of Washington was being built.  It was during a fascinating period when more and more states were signing up to the United States.  Kentucky, Vermont and Tennessee all signed up and ratified the Constitution during this period.

Betsy Ross House

Betsy Ross House

Betsy Ross House

The first American flag ever was sewn in the Betsy Ross House.  I would have loved to see inside this house, but about five school groups turned up at the same time as I did.  I guessed there wouldn’t be room to breathe inside with all those children, so I went on by.

Design ideas

Design ideas

Quilt Inspiration

Of course there are always suggestions of ideas wherever you look in any city, but this rug in the Congress Hall definitely took my fancy.

Now all I need to do is figure out a way of simplifying the design to make it into a quilt.

Statue in the park

Statue against trees

Statue against trees

I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t remember whose statue this is.  I just thought that it was really striking with those trees providing a backdrop for the statue.

All in all I had a thoroughly memorable visit to Philadelphia – and I learned a huge amount as well.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

I hope to see you again soon.

Rose

 

 

New York – America – Photos

New York skyline

New York skyline

My trip to New York was a wonderful experience.  I also took in Philadelphia and Washington, but I’ll keep those photos for another time.  The flight that I had booked was cancelled so I had to go a day early – what a hardship!  I’m starting with an image of the Observation Tower at Ground Zero – after all the New York skyline has always been amazing and this is obviously a new addition to the skyline.

I’m not going to try and show you photos of places like Times Square because my photos can’t compete with all the wonderful images that professional photographers produce.  Instead I’ll try and bring you some of the less well known places, or of quirky things that I saw.




Inside the 911 museum

Inside the 911 museum

Ground Zero

I visited the museum at Ground Zero.  Last time I was in New York I just visited the area without going inside the museum.  However I was really pleased to see inside the museum this time.  It was a very moving experience.

The quote ‘No day shall erase you from the memory of time’ is  from Virgil and what appears to be blue tiling behind it is in fact thousands of blue cards.  Each one of them is a different shade of blue.

Fashion district entrance

Fashion district entrance

New York fashion district

Obviously I had to take a wander around the fashion district and these sculptures seemed very appropriate at the entrance to the area.  The tailor at his sewing machine and the needle through the button were very striking.

Along 7th Avenue the pavements are decorated with a walk of fame with plaques giving brief outlines of some of the major designers and their work.  I found them really interesting.

Highline New York

Highline New York

New York Highline

What a wonderful idea this is!  A disused high level train track has been turned into a 1.1/2 mile walk high above street level.

What is this tree?

What is this tree?

The walk is just beside the tracks and the entire length has been planted with flowerbeds, shrubs and trees.  It’s a real oasis in a very busy city.

The tree shown was not one I had ever seen before – in the top right hand part of the photo there is a huge white flower.  So if anybody knows what the tree is I would be really interested to know.

Union Jack sweet

Union Jack sweet

Sweets in the bus terminal

In the Port Authority bus terminal there were sweeties everywhere.  That’s not as weird as it sounds!

The terminal is hosting an exhibition and a popup shop devoted to the work of Laurence Jenkell.  These sculptured candies are everywhere, with each one designed around the flag of a different country.  Obviously I had to take a photo of the Union Jack sweet.

Candy Stars and Stripes

Candy Stars and Stripes

In the popup shop there were many more items made from that candy shape which is her trademark.  This flag is made from red, white and blue sweet shapes.

Sewing machine on rock

Sewing machine on rock

Another sewing machine

This sewing machine sculpture appeared on a street corner which I passed on my way back to my hotel.

There was nothing with it to explain it, so I can’t tell you why it’s there, but it certainly grabbed my attention.

Bronx zoo

Family of baboons

Family of baboons

Towards the end of my holiday I needed something calm and restful as I was exhausted.  The Bronx Zoo fitted the bill beautifully.  This family of baboons looked very calm and peaceful – especially the one on the right lying along the trunk of the tree.  If you’re ever near the zoo, it is well worth a visit and it’s much cheaper on Wednesdays.

Monkey

Monkey

This cheeky monkey was a complete contrast to the baboons.  Hasn’t he got a pretty face?

I’m sorry that I can’t remember which type of monkey he is.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

I hope to see you again soon.

Rose

 

Himley Hall – Dudley – Photos

Himley Hall

Himley Hall

I visited Himley Hall by accident – I was on my way somewhere else and noticed the signs so I dropped in and had a wonderful morning looking around.  The magnolia trees surrounding the hall were absolutely magnificent.  They were in full bloom and really stunning.

The hall is 18th century and it is set in 180 acres of parkland designed by Capability Brown.  Obviously I didn’t get to explore all of it!  It used to be home to the Earls of Dudley but now is used for weddings and special events.  There were a couple of exhibitions on the day that I visited and they were really interesting.




Winter birdlife

Winter birdlife

Himley Hall Art Exhibitions

The first exhibition that I came across was the wildlife art of David Spencer.  This bird was beautifully represented – almost ready to fly off the canvas.  David is based in Staffordshire but his works cover wildlife from all over the world.

Ladybird by David Spencer

Ladybird by David Spencer

This ladybird makes a beautiful picture – this is the sort of content that would look great in a quilt.

It was behind glass so I apologise for the reflection of myself taking the photo.

Sydney Opera House in lego

Sydney Opera House in lego

Lego Exhibition

Lego was something that my children never really played with much.  However this exhibition definitely changed my view of lego projects.  I would never have dreamed that something so intricate could be made from lego bricks.

Yoda in lego

Yoda in lego

Yoda was even more striking.  What a beautifully made project.  There were quite a few Star Wars projects on display and the intricacy was really impressive.

Still waters run deep

Still waters run deep

Outside Himley Hall

The parkland was magnificent and I’m sure I’ll be going back to Himley Hall for longer walks.  On this occasion I restricted myself to a walk round the lake.

What struck me about this little inlet was how still the water was.  The reflection of the trees was crystal clear.  Once again my thoughts turned to quilts – what a lovely landscape quilt this would make.  One day when time allows ….

Thanks for visiting my blog.

I hope to see you again soon.

Rose

Haden Hill House Museum – Birmingham

Haden Hill House Museum

Haden Hill House Museum

Haden Hill House Museum is another delightful museum that is a hidden treasure very close to where I live.  As with the Oak House, it is free to visit, but this one sits in a magnificent park of 55 acres.  I didn’t see much of the parkland as it was raining but I will definitely return for a nice long walk in the summer.

There are two parts to it – an old hall which is probably seventeenth century but was damaged in a fire, and the Victorian house. This is on the right of the photo.




Sculpture in the lake

Sculpture in the lake

This lovely small lake was the only part of the park that I saw.  As it’s between the car park and the house I couldn’t really miss it!

The library

The library

Inside Haden Hill House

The first room that you come across downstairs is the library.  This was described as cosy although I felt that it was very dark.  I think that the curtains were drawn to protect the furnishings from sunlight.  The model of a lady embroidering was very realistic.  In every room I was really impressed by the many activities for children.  It must get packed during the school holidays!

Bed in the servants' quarter

Bed in the servants’ quarter

The servants’ quarters looked really comfortable.  This bed had both mattress and pillows.  There were many Victorian items of clothing displayed around the room.

Treadle sewing machine

Treadle sewing machine

And also a sewing machine!  We didn’t have one of these with a treadle when I was small, but the machine itself looks really similar to the hand operated Singer that we used for many years.

Quilt Inspiration

Floor tiles

Floor tiles

Obviously I was on the lookout for quilt inspiration and these floor tiles will definitely be appearing in a quilt some time in the future.  The overall design was very Victorian and I was particularly impressed with the border tiles.  In one of the rooms there was a huge amount of William Morris design in both the wallpaper and the furnishings.  What a treat.

There was one gorgeous stained glass window that would make a great quilt, but my photo looks too shaky for me to display it here.

Scrappy quilt?

Scrappy quilt?

I was delighted to find a quilt on one of the beds.  While we would describe it as a scrappy quilt, this one probably filled the original point of quilts – using up fabric from old clothes to provide warmth.

Wedding dresses

Wedding dresses

They are licensed to hold weddings in Haden Hill House and one room was taken up with wedding outfits through the ages.

These were fascinating.

Overall I was thrilled to have found Haden Hill House Museum and will definitely be returning there.