Monday, 27 July 2015

If you follow by email

I have just realised that if you 'Follow by email' rather than becoming a follower, you are probably reading the blog post which is embedded in the email.  You are actually getting a much poerer version of the real McCoy.  You need to click on the heading which acts as a link to the actual blog or you won't have access to photo albums or videos or a mass of other stuff. Not to mention that the blog just looks much better!  Obviously the choice is yours but do try clicking on the heading at least once and see if you prefer to read the blog as a fully formed entity rather than just in mail.

This discovery also answer queries from people who tell me they can't see the album link or can't leave comments and various other queries I have had over time and had never been able to resolve.  I hadn't realised they were following the blog from their email.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

June 2015 - even less to report

This month's post is a challenge - bit like school - write 500 words on what you did in the summer break......  uggghhh! nothing... apparently writing this 500 times is not acceptable.

So basically June came and went with nothing notable other than a trip to York and a visit from my daughter and her husband.  We try to see each other once a month and take turns-about, so last month we were in Edinburgh and this month they made a flying weekend visit to us.

Our York trip is certainly worth noting though as we had a lovely couple of days there.

I had got permission to take photographs in Fairfax House.   These photographic tours are all to do with the mini project I am working on.

I was surprised to realise I had never visited it as I am something of a 'Fairfax' fan.  I became fascinated with the family when reading Andrew Marvel's 'Upon Appleton House'.  I can only say I spent four years 'in love' with the metaphysical poets and it was always a tussle between Donne and Marvel for my affection.  If you are a child of the sixties I commend them to you, you will get the connection.

Circa 1650–52, Marvell served as tutor to the daughter of the Lord General Thomas Fairfax, who had recently relinquished command of the Parliamentary army to Cromwell. He lived during that time at Nun Appleton Hall, near York, where he continued to write poetry. One poem, "Upon Appleton House, To My Lord Fairfax", uses a description of the estate as a way of exploring Fairfax's and Marvell's own situation in a time of war and political change. wikepedia

Nun Appleton no longer exists but sitting snugly in York is the lovely Fairfax House.

It has an absolutely fascinating history and even spent its last inhabited years as a cinema!  The large yellow entrance to the left of the house is how you go in, but this was once the cinema entrance, so you need a moment to get the orientation right when you get to the proper main entrance hall.

It has the very best ceilings I have ever seen in a house - certainly a house of this size.  Fortunately through all its different uses, offices, dance school and the rest it has managed to keep much of the original house and has been restored sympathetically,

This is the (real life) size of the house I am working on so it gave me the very best feel for what I could and couldn't do with my project.  It was also a delight to be able to take photos of the tiny details as you can never find those on-line or in the guide books.  Who else would be interested in door knobs and hinges!

We had driven to York on a lovely sunny Saturday, parked in the car park about fifty feet from the house (!) and initially had the place to ourselves.  If you visit begin at the top of the house with the terrific video and then work your way down.

There was a concert being held there in the evening and we had considered going but reneged at the last moment and decided to visit Noel Terry's house for tea before retreating to our hotel on the edge of York.

the back of the house

I thought it lovely but a bit quirky.  Goddards is an Arts and Crafts style house which he had built in 1927, so rather towards the end of the period.  In a way it seems bordering on cliche but in the nicest possible way and you most definitely get the impression of it having been a glorious and truly loved family home.  

Lucky children to have been raised there.

Our tea had echoes of the same era, all white clothed and properly served.  Ken, of course, indulged in a chocolate orange cake.  I hope he made Mr Terry very proud.

The next day was one of my favourite Dolls House Shows.  I was booked to write it up for the magazine so expected to be there all day taking photos and nattering to folk as well as my own ferreting and shopping.  Instead of which when I crossed the threshold before the doors officially opened I was told someone was already there from DH&MS.  Clearly I wasn't thrilled I was double-booked, but as she had pipped me to it the gig was decidedly hers.  As it turned out this was a good thing.

I managed to finish my trawling the stand by lunchtime rather than the planned 4.30 pm so I gave Ken a ring to pick me up.

One thing he always does in York is go to a fabulous Sicilian ice Cream shop and he suggested we had lunch there - sly move on his part as he hadn't made it to an ice cream because I finished early.

So glad he did - here's another recommendation or you if you are in York.  Lovely food and lovely service.  Trinacria

So, with the sun still shining we trundled home - a happy me stuffed full of olives and sardine and a lap full of dolls house stuff - died and gone to heaven.

We did seem to get ourselves inveigled into local gardening stuff this month helping out with managing the Lotty and somehow being volunteered for some sweated labour in our local country park. The irony is, of course, I now pay a gardener because my own garden is beyond me and Ken would never do it as he hates it and there we both are fettling a large raised bed each in the park.

Also this month we began to auction of my 'ayjed' aunt's goods and chattels which we put in store almost two years ago when she moved into a care home. She has agreed that paying storage on twenty boxes of stuff that she will never have a home for is potty and they are best sold for her 'spends' and we save on storage costs. Win win.

Auctions are new to both of us. I suppose I have been to a couple in my life but for something specific - like a house! - so have never really taken an interest in them. I am now fascinated. Talk about hard work - I have no idea how they keep on top of thousands and thousands of items passing through their hands each week along with hundreds of buyer and sellers, but they do.

The company we are with uses the web in a massive way - publishing the catalogue so people can see the the stuff and then conducting the auctions live and visible for the selling. They have a general auction each week and a 'special' one every month or so. We stayed for a couple of hours at one of the general auctions and were astonished at the pittance they get for things which cost a lot originally and then at the complete opposite end of the spectrum they get silly money for stuff most of us wouldn't give house room to. Good job I am not in the business I wouldn't have a clue.

All rather exciting though.

As I said S & S came to close out our month with a lovely visit.

Two more months here and we are back in Naples. Someone is stealing my life.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

May 2015 - almost nothing to report

I did my usual flick through pages in the diary to remind me of events - especially as I am now three months on from this point when writing so not a chance of remembering May!  It showed a lovely time of gardening, minis, seeing friends and eating out and movies and pretty much that was it: none of it hardly worth recording inch by inch though it is good to be reminded how great my 'small' life is.

Finally by the 22nd there is a notation that we were off to Edinburgh for a week and all those happy sunny days came bouncing back.

22nd - drove up to Edinburgh stopping off in Hawick (pronounced Hoyk) in the strangest looking little Italian restaurant.  It is always a good sign when an Italian restaurant looks oddly dishevelled and is full of Italians - both staff and diners.  If you are ever travelling that way you won't miss it as it squats in a Georgian building which itself squats on the bridge over the river.  It is called Sergio's and, when checking it out retrospectively, comes tenth on Trip Advisor.  The other nine must be like dying and going to heaven as Sergio's delivered the best Italian food I have had in ages.  Kept getting flashbacks to our finding an off-the-beaten-track place we found in Florence many years ago.  Sergios was certainly the real McCoy.

Ultimately we two contented individuals arrived at our apartment/cottage which was brilliantly close to my daughter's home - ideal.  Bijou is most definitely the word to describe it and it was so named.  Any plans of having S and S round to dinner were quickly scuppered.  Lacking a dishwasher was the clincher - no cooking for us either!

In actuality it was a lovely little place and will suit us very well for future visits - beats being in a hotel room by a mile.

Sat 23rd - over to S & S's home to make a new garden.  The four of us worked like little Trojans on a very hot day but produced a large, fully planted four foot border into the corner of the lawn: patched in the remaining lawn cut out: made a gravelled utility area with boarded edges: tweaked pots on the patio and generally did a darn good job.  Well done us.

Sunday 24th - we spent half a day at my daughter's just tweaking tiny elements of the garden and had lunch with them but retreated back to the Bijou early afternoon for R & R.  Ken watched the Grand Prix and we had a fish and chip dinner from round the corner - life is good!

Monday 25th - I had got permission from the National Trust of Scotland to take photos in their splendid Georgian House and had a 9.15 am appointment so I could be there before it was open to the general public.  I had the most wonderful couple of hours going round the house in Charlotte Square and studying and recording every inch of it.  I have to say my dealings with Nat Trust Scotland were far and away a happier experience than those I have had with the English NT.  Such warm, helpful and efficient people.  Indeed weeks later when I was thanking my contact for their help and mentioned other places I had visited,  she immediately said just to get in touch any time if I knew I was going any where and she would give me permission to take photos or see things I was interested in.

We then went to real tourist land - The Royal Mile 

Royal Mile

- to visit the Museum of Childhood to take a look at their remarkable dolls houses.  It is an eclectic collection for sure and they seem to be unaware of what treasures they have.  Another friendly and welcoming place.  Free entry and can take photos!  Virtually unheard of on both counts.  It is always odd to see one's own childhood behind glass in a museum!  Are we really that old?


We had lunch at our favourite garden centre up there - Pentland Plants - so I could pick up an obelisk for my daughter's garden.  She and husband stopped by on their way home from work for a cuppa - end to a perfect day.  Be lovely if we lived round the corner from them.

Tuesday 26th - this day we were off to burgle S & S's house.  Let ourselves in while they were working to behave like the shoe-makers elves.  We watered the garden, added in their obelisk and repaired some curtains and collected up all the clobber we had taken up to do our work there.  My daughter sidled off work early so we spent some of the afternoon with her which was lovely.

Wednesday 27th - managed to spend the whole day with the 'kids' just 'doing stuff'.  It began with a planned trip to Newhailles - a large Georgian House - it was closed! NT!!  Plans scuppered we went off into the city and visited Gladstone's Land which was another one on my hit list.  I know someone who is making it in 1/12th!  It was kind of odd to be standing in a full scale version of something I have been watching appear.  Terrifically interesting place though so I can see why the lady concerned is interested in replicating it in The Tenement.  Nice bit of a quirk in our language.  It seems the phrase 'the land' actually refers to the building (the tenement) and the word 'tenement' actually means the land the lands stand on.

Gladstone's Land
There is also a very bizarre place to visit - a wild west street...

Image result for wild west edinburgh

It wasn't actually built as a tourist attraction.  It is just one man's notion of facing all the buildings in the street with 'cladding' to make it look like a street in the American West of the 1800's.  It is fading rapidly as it no longer is being cared for - visit soon if you are curious.

We managed to squeeze in some ice cream in a lovely place called Nardini's - check it out if you are in Edinburgh.  This didn't prohibit us having lunch shortly after at The Colliery and a large tea at my daughter's later.

Thursday 28th - S & S were back to work so Ken and I decided to entertain ourselves with another attempt at Newhailles.  I am so glad we did as it was a very unusual version of the by now expected Georgian House.  It has lived through its three hundred years with very little actually being done to it.  Indeed it has only been painted three times in its history.  This was my first encounter with the notion of preservation by the NT rather than restoration.  Their intention is that we see the house as a lived in entity with the changes that have been made since its inception still in place.  This made for an interesting tour of a very quirky and I can honestly use the word properly - unique - property.

The original building at Newhailles before the wings were added

S & S stopped in to the Bijou on their way home for a couple of hours to say goodbye in anticipation of our leaving the next morning - always sad to part even though we try to see them once a month when we are in the UK.

Friday 29th and we wended our way home from a lovely time visiting S, her husband, her home and the lovely city of Edinburgh.

So onwards to June ........... hope to get it written tomorrow..... stop by then if you want to read the next episode in an ordinary life.

(PS: should you ever want to see my garden or my minis, if you go to this link it will give you all my blog addresses:  All my blogs)