Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Happy Hallowe'en!!!!

Hope you all have a happy Hallowe'en! I was trying to think about what I found scariest as a child, and remembered the old Public Information Broadcasts that used to be shown on TV when I was a kid, back in the 1790's and early 1980's. Being totally honest, I don't remember the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water as a child, but it's certainly creepy, and David does remember it well!

I think the idea was to scare kids out of doing anything wrong, and it worked! for me anyway!!!

I do remember this next one. I couldn't go near an electricity sub station not far from my home, which used to hum and buzz in a very sinister way, I used to try and avoid going past it in case I ended up being zapped by evil electricity just like poor Jimmy!!!

Yes, it wasn't all Bagpuss and The Flumps on TV, they wanted us to live in mortal terror as well! Charlie was a slightly less scary character used to warn us of the dangers of strangers, matches and hot water.

Whatever you are doing to celebrate Hallowe'en remember to play SAFELY, or you may end up in your own Public Information Film!!!!! ;o)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

More Holiday Photos


Before I show you what I have been up to in Mini Land, I thought I would show you a few more snaps from our little holiday in Norfolk, as some of you were so kind to say you'd like to see them!! ;)

First of all I wanted to tell you about a church in Cambridgeshire that we visited on the way home. I have heard of this church many times and have longed to see it personally, so when I realised it was on my route home, if I deviated a bit, I could pop in and see it.

The church is called St Wendreda's, in the small market town of March in Cambridgeshire. Admittedly,  it doesn't look all that special from the outside; attractive with its stone spire, but nothing out of the ordinary. Well, it isn't the outside I waned to see.

What we weren't expecting was that the church appeared to be closed and locked up. I was a bit sad that what I had always wanted to see was not going to be possible, but luckily, although the church was officially closed whilst building work was being done inside, the builders kindly let us come in to look around and take a few photos.

But what was it I wanted to see? well St Wendreda's has a particularly beautiful double hammerbeam roof, though that isn't exactly why it is famous, nor why I wanted to come. It is what is on that roof that makes this church so attractive.

Sadly, my camera lacked the power to take a really good image, here are some of the better ones.

Yes, it is the angels for which this church is well known! The ceiling is full of them, winged sentinels who look like they might lift off the roof and fly away with it at any moment. I am not a religious person, but there is something deeply moving about all these angels, and I am so pleased I finally got a chance to see them.

I found a few other photos of the roof on the web which show the angels a bit better than my pics do.

Here are a few other snapshots of places we went to on holiday, in no particular order.

from the cathedral gate in Norwich 
Mirror and wall sconces from the bathroom at Blickling Hall

A battered old chair, possible by William Kent in Holkham Hall Library

A rather splendid table in Holkham Hall, again maybe by William Kent

Another view of the entrance hall at Holkham

The spire on Methwold's church

a close up of a fire dog decoration from Methwold Old Vicarage

Another view of the wall paintings at the Vicarage

Gothic style clock tower at Downham Market

A golden swan on a building in Downham Market

Part of the Crescent at Wisbech

a rather ugly fountain in March, Cambs

Monday, 22 October 2012

Home from Home


Pictured above is the lovely old vicarage at Methwold in Norfolk, where we stayed during our little holiday there. Seeing that vivid blue sky makes me yearn for that early autumn sunshine we enjoyed while away. Today it has been foggy and damp, more David's type of weather than mine! The picture shows the side of the Vicarage, and the church beyond it.  I'll tell you more about who rents out the cottage a little later, but first I wanted to show you more of the house.

The history of the vicarage is a bit of a mystery.  The brickwork gable is certainly Tudor, but why is it here, attached to a small village vicarage? Is the timber framed part of the building beyond the gable older, or built at a similar time to the gable? Brick was very expensive in Tudor England, and usually only used by wealthy landowners and royalty, so why has it been used here? The sash windows are later additions, built into what were originally carved brick mullion windows, like those still existing, but bricked up, at the top.

You can see the carved brick work detail better in this photo.  The fact is that no one really knows why this building is of such a high status, it would certainly cost far more that a small parish vicar could ever dream of affording!

But, it isn't just the outside that is interesting!!

This is part of an original Tudor wall painting. a repeat floral pattern, which covered the walls of the first floor room behind the brick gable end. Again, this would have been well beyond the budget of most people, so why it's here adds to the mystery.

You can see more of the pattern here, and not the red coloured beams, which were also decorated with another pattern, and do you see where the curved cross beam has been painted over so it doesn't disrupt the vertical design? It's really quite amazing how this paintwork has survived - it's between 500 and 600 years old!!!

Here are a few other details from the house;

Carved timber beams on the living room ceiling.

This picture shows an original window frame, now blocked up, on the side of the building in the bedroom.  There are still traces of the original grooves where a shutter or panel would have slid across the window opening (it was unlikely to have been glazed when the building was originally built)

The fire place in the bedroom

Now how did HE get in the picture? Yes thank you Snowy, you are still gorgeous!

A window seat, there was one each side of the fireplace on the bedroom chimney breast

The Old Vicarage at Methwold is owned by the Landmark Trust. The Trust is a charitable organisation (not to be confused with The National Trust) that rescue old buildings which have either fallen into ruin, or have a great historical interest. Once these buildings have been restored, they are rented out for holidays, and the money is used to keep the buildings in good order. This gives buildings a use and purpose again, and saves them from possible destruction. I think they are fantastic, and David and I have been very lucky to stay in several of their buildings over the past few years.

The Landmark Trust have buildings all over the UK, some sleep only 2 people, some up to 16 people. You can choose to stay for a long weekend, four nights midweek, or a whole week. They also have buildings in the USA, France and Italy, run by Landmark organisations in those countries along the same principles as the UK organisation.

Note to Fi: I thought you might enjoy a stay in this pineapple building, owned by the Landmark Trust, in Scotland!! ;o)

For more details about the Landmark Trust, their properties and what they do, see


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Holiday! Celebrate!!


Earlier this month David and I packed up the car and set off for a little holiday in Norfolk. I took far too many photos, and thought I would take an opportunity to share some of my holiday snaps.

The picture above was taken in Norwich, the county city in Norfolk. The scene is Elm Hill, a very pretty little part of the city, with cobbled streets and old timber framed buildings with 18th century attachments!

Another landmark of Norwich is the stunning Norwich Cathedral, with its impressive stone spire. Norwich has a good share of architectural styles and there are some interesting buildings to see there. Norwich Castle is worth a look, and there is a rather ghastly Monumentalist County Hall on the Market Square which would have been quite comfortably at home in Mussolini's Italy, and which dominates an attractive Guildhall opposite.

Another little gem is this Art Nouveau shopping arcade. This was lovely to see, as there aren't that many Art Nouveau buildings in England. The arcade is also home to the Colman's Mustard Shop, where you can learn all about this very famous brand of mustard, which was founded in Norwich, and buy some to take home! (as it's readily available in Waitrose, I declined!!)

While in Norfolk, we took the opportunity to visit some of the houses I have mentioned on previous posts here. Oxburgh Hall, Felbrigg Hall and Blickling Hall. For some reason I don't have any pics of Felbrigg, but here is one of Oxburgh...

Outside of Oxburgh Hall was a semi-ruined Church, it was quite an odd thing as the church seemed to still be partly in use, but much or it was in ruins. we didn't get to find out more, nor go inside as there were builders working inside the church itself.

We weren't able to take pictures in the house, but inside there are some very impressive embossed painted leather wall coverings on the staircases, and some embroidery done by the hand of Mary Queen of Scots herself!! You are allowed to climb to the roof of the gate house, which has some lovely views. There is also a 'Priest Hole'. something I am not sure I have mentioned before in posts, but have meant to. it was basically a hiding place for Catholic priests who came to the homes of wealthy Catholics after the Reformation, when Catholic worship was prohibited. Should there be any unexpected (or even expected) visitors calling at the house, the priest could be hidden away. These little hiding places probably saved many peoples' lives!

Felbrigg Hall (not pictured) has some very fine plasterwork ceilings, and a charming lilac coloured dining room I would be very happy to take supper in!! The house above is Blickling Hall. If you get to Norfolk, do take time to see it, along with the other houses I have mentioned. Blickling has some of the nicest bathrooms I have ever seen in an English stately home!! It also has a staircase I have featured before, anyone remember it?

Sorry this picture isn't very sharp, I hope you can still see it ok. If you have very sharp eyes you might be able to see a portrait of Henry VIII, it is labelled as a Holbein, but I think it is a copy!!

Social history has become an important part of the National Trust experience, and no tour of the house is complete with out a visit to the kitchens and other servant areas. The kitchen at Blickling was nothing special, but I was rather taken by the row of storage tins on the dresser. They put me in mind of Two Bad Mice !!

Upstairs were some very nice rooms, the Chinese bedroom, has given me some ideas for the bedroom of my Georgian House.

Most unusual were these Chinese Pagodas in cases, which would be nice to find in miniature! I love the bamboo frame on the case too!

On the wall of one of the bathrooms, was a lovely set of Meissen, comprising a mirror and matching pair of wall sconces. Here is a picture of one of them;

Another amazing feature at Blickling is the Fire place in the Drawing Room, which is an original Jacobean one, although it was originally painted to represent different marbles, the Victorian owners stripped it back to the bare wood, because they thought it looked more authentic that way!!

We also visited another House, which I haven't yet featured on this blog before, called Holkham Hall. It is an eighteenth century building, so still a little too early for my Period Style posts!! I'll show you some pictures of the house now, and keep an eye out for future posts on English Paladianism.

This is the main entrance facade of Holkham, It leads into one of the most stunning entrance halls in Britain, which I will show you in a moment. Most photos of Holkham Hall are actually taken of the south facade, with its temple front.

The Marble Hall, feels just like you have entered a Roman Bath or Temple, which is hardly surprising perhaps, as it is from the buildings of ancient Rome that this room takes its inspiration. The walls and Ionic columns are clad in alabaster, and there is an amazing coffered ceiling.

The Dining Room is the next room you enter, which is a Single Cube Room, with an apse. Symmetry was important, so two fireplaces were installed in this room and false doorways added to balance the real doorways. This room also has a domed ceiling, though that isn't obvious when you first look at it!

I took far too many photos to show you them all here (hears collective sigh of relief!!) There was a great collection or art and sculpture in the house too, In fact the house was pretty much built around the art collection! In one of the state rooms there is a wall practically covered in Claude's  and Poussin's, a real treat for me!!!

The kitchens at Holkham were also rather special, dating from the 19th century, there was an amazing range, and a huge collection or shining copper pans!

Although Holkham looks like it has been built of stone, it is actually built entirely from a local brick, as this picture shows.

I was going to add some pics of the house we stayed in, and a few other things that we went to see whilst on holiday, but I think I will save those for another post. Hope you enjoyed the photos! ;o)