Sunday, August 04, 2013

A Tiny Village, Parental Pride, and Hoarders Gone Large

Now that I've got my computer issues sorted (fingers crossed) I was able to sort through our holiday pics. We spent the first week of our holiday in Swanage again and since I wrote about that last year at Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside and The Beach, the Train and the Castle and not much about Swanage has changed I'll just show you a few pictures of our holiday cottage this year.
 This was the view of the back of the house from the garden. The house itself was adequate, nothing flashy and very limited internet access, but what we were paying for was the view.
The cliff down to the beach fell off about five feet further on from the back gate.
 We were a bit further along the bay than last year and just a few doors along was a path that led down the cliff to the beach, which is much less populated this end.

 We had our usual trip by steam train to Corfe Castle, although we didn't actually go into the castle this year. We had tea when we got there and pottered around the shops. There's a really good National Trust shop and a tiny little hole-in-the-wall shop that sells a lot of reproduction vintage stuff, including a metal "Victory Garden" poster I couldn't pass up. I'll show a picture of it in another post. I also got a couple of vintage postcards I'll put in frames and two reproduction World War II pamphlets on Mending and Making Do, and how to cook with rationed food. They were a fascinating read. I wanted to get a picture inside the shop but it was packed out with the three of us and three other customers. Like I said, tiny.
 We also visited the Corfe Castle Model Village, which we hadn't done in a while. It's set up in the back garden of one of the buildings a few doors down from the village square and it's very life-like. I included some flowers in the shot for scale - otherwise it would be easy to mistake this for a photo of the actual village and castle. One of the things that really tickles us about the model village is that it includes a model of itself (you can just see a corner of it behind the small bush in the middle.
And, even better, the model village in the model village includes a model village - see the arrow above. It's all very post-modern somehow.
I particularly liked the little mill, with a real stream flowing by (you can see the coins people have thrown in to make a wish) and the tiny ducks and geese.

On the Thursday of that week (July 4th) we drove back up to Reading for Evie's university graduation. She finished with an Upper Second, Bachelor of Arts, in Film and Theatre from Reading University.

 We are so very proud of her.

On the weekend we left Swanage for a week in North Wales. On the way we stopped at Tyntesfield, a National Trust site near Bristol.

It's a Victorian neo-gothic extravaganza created in the 1840s by the wealthiest commoner in Britain (his fortune made by importing guano for fertilizer) and was owned by the same family until it was sold to the National Trust in 2001, and they seem to have never thrown anything away. In the end the last member of the family to own it lived in just a few rooms of the house as he was quite elderly and frail. When the NT bought it there was room after room full of furniture jumbled into heaps and a great deal of damage from a leaky roof. Although they have restored most of the house over the years they have left a few rooms showing the damage
Invalid Carriage & Pram
A room full of chamber pots and crockery
Another room piled high with furniture

You can see the water damage to the wall in the above photo.

In all these places the things that intrigue me the most are the small details of everyday life.
The bell system

Embossed leather shelf edging to help prevent dust collecting on the tops of the books.
Unfortunately the kitchen (my favourite part of stately homes) was closed this year, but we did get to see the butler's pantry.

And of course there were the gardens. The house had extensive grounds, beautifully landscaped, but the thing I wanted to see the most was the walled kitchen garden.
I loved the oversized cold frame against the wall in the upper left corner. It had louvered glass so air could flow through on hot days (as it was when we were there). They were actually growing figs in it! In England!

All the walls of the garden were covered in these little hooks so wire could be strung along and fruit trees could be espaliered against the wall. Very clever, but think of the work it must have been. They are sunk into the mortar so presumably someone went along behind the bricklayer pushing each hook into the mortar before it set. Ah for the Victorian days when labour was cheap.

Next up - North Wales, many castles...and a big pink tent.


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