Saturday, 24 September 2011

Day Five -Nottingham

At last I'm back writing about my trip. We woke to a sunny morning on the Service Station Car park, (hence I accidentally left my lovely umbrella opens to look like a giant sunflower,) so it was a short drive into Nottingham to find 'Warhammer World' Unfortunately not important enough to have its own road signs, and the directions were under a pile of soggy tents and sleeping bags...but we found it..a big building with there logo of a winged something or son was both excited and relieved that the old banger had made it...this time I mean me not the car!
Walking in we were faced with a huge model 7 or 8 feet high, of course my son new its name, tactics, regiment etc etc.

 Upstairs we walked into a large room looking like a theatrical castle filled with gaming tables. Up the next stairs was a museum of Warhammer..I have to say that the models were quite brilliant.

Back downstairs the shop had opened and the games tables were operating....four hours later I dragged him out of the building ,off to a park and ride and onto a bus full of very jolly people,all of us heading for the city centre
Not the prettiest of places but the people more than made up for it, really friendly and helpful. At this stage I was running out of clothes and looked like I'd walked off a pantomime set...yes I looked remarkably like a younger version of widow twanky ..but I was on holiday, I was happy and I was enjoying myself.
We aimed for the target of Nottingham Castle...Robin Hood etc...not really a castle but great views, nice gardens and a lovely Museum and Art Gallery.

There were works by one of my favourite artists, Dame Laura Knighthttp
Unfortunately most were under glass ,but the staff said that for them it was a necessary evil,protecting the paintings and saving their money not having to do much restoration. My son was happy with an exhibition on Wall art with prints from lots of artists including Banksey. Downstairs was a childrens exhibition about Robin Hood, really nice displays and comfy sofa !

We were almost the last people ushered from the castle at closing time, the sun was still shining so armed with Ice creams we  followed the Robin Hood trail back into the town, back to the bus stop. I'd had a very funny trip to Nottingham Goose Fair many years ago, but that's another story !

Back in the car we set off for Shrewsbury and the Onslow Steam Rally. It didn't look that far on the map but I hadn't been ready for Telford. It didn't matter how many times I drove on the one road into Telford I always managed to find myself exciting the town on exactly the same road. I could have found Ketley and Whitchurch lots of times but the nearest major town..not a chance. Eventually as it was getting dark and I'd passed the zig zag patterned cliff for the umpteenth time I escaped , bolted out ( oops back to Robin Hood ) and got to the Rally. Luckily the security let us park up and we fell asleep in the car to the lights and sounds of various tractors and engines arriving for the fair.
I now have a small Etsy shop

Our Katie - Queen Katherine Parr

next year, 2012 Sudeley Castle will be hosting a Quincentenary celebration of the life of Queen Katherine Parr, The sixth wife of HenryVIII.
Sudeley Castle and St Marys Chapel
There will be an exhibition of her keepsakes , including a Love letter to Sir Thomas Seymour, a lock of her hair and a tooth !

One of my paintings of The Queens Garden at Sudeley
Queen Katherine Parr in St Mary's Chapel, Sudeley.
There will also be trails and lots of events throughout the year with a Tudor flavour both at the Castle and in the lovely Cotswold town of Winchcombe. Jane at The Winds of Change Gallery will be having a lovely Exhibition, she's planning it already!
Most of the Kings and Queens of England are buried at Westminster Abbey in London so it is unusual for us to have a Queen buried in the Grounds of Sudeley. She can be seen in St Mary's Chapel ( Mary was the name of her daughter.) We also have two Kings, Kenelm and Kenulf, they can be found in St Peters Church, Winchcombe.

One of my Pen and Ink drawings of St Peters Church.

If you are interested in ghosts then the following two links to videos will be of interest to you. The first is from a website called The Tudor Trail and has an interesting film with Robert Hardy narrating. The second is from a website called Ghostwatching and is more spooky , but both tell the story of Katherine Parr.

With Halloween on its way perhaps you should fly over and visit Sudeley and the haunted town of Winchcombe, the castle is open daily through to the 6th November.
I have a new etsy shop -

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Day Four: York

Hooray It's the weekend and I have time to write my next blog. The morning in Whitby started wet...very wet...torrential in fact. The brilliant and still cheery chaps looking after the campsite made me a lovely morning cuppa while I waited for my son to wake up! Once he did it was a case of throwing the wet tent, son and me into the car and off to Robin Hoods Bay

I really wanted to see it but I was just too wet so I took a very quick photo, and off to York. After finding that I had a Norwegian great grandfather I wanted to visit the Jorvik  Viking centre. The park and ride was easy dropping us off not far from the Jorvik centre  Grabbing a couple of pasties we stood back in the rain in the queue. Once through it wasn't as I expected,we walked into a dimly lit room with a glass floor and lots of computer style screens all showing different aspects of life and excavation...very disorientating....lots of people with no obvious place to go. Seeing another Queue we joined it to quickly find a funny little vehicle suspended from the ceiling...we got on ..pushed a button and off we set. To be honest it reminded me of being in a Ghost train at a fair..and it wasn't much bigger! The car took us through a theatrical stage set of life in Viking times,with voices of children coming out of speakers on our headrests,explaining what we were looking at. We went around a second time an adult voice with far better information.The rest of the exhibition was also dark and crampt, too many people really. I noticed on one board it said that cowrie shells had been found so they must have traded with people the south seas. I pointed out to one of the chaps working there that there was a cowrie beach on the west coast of the Hebrides...smaller shells but they might find bigger ones occasionally. He said he had never heard that and was going to research into it. After squeezing through the shop we were glad to be out into the rain. On a sunny day York must be beautiful but when the little streets are running like rivers and old drainpipes have holes that spray water sideways up into the faces of pedestrians...well it was just too wet. We bobbed along to York Minster, walking up the steps to face a wedding party blocking the entrance.With more than the usual amount of persuasion they eventually shifted out of the way to let us through.Inside the little bit we saw looked magnificent but then they wanted about £9 to get in, more to see the crypt and more o view the you can imagine I made my views heard.
Back into the rain we squelched our way to the Gladiator Exhibition..I think it had been on TimeTeam on the telly. A weird experience looking at a row of glass boxes with the seven skeletons of seven different types of gladiator. Trying to stay out of the rain we sat at a kids table with wooden towers, and plastic gladiators, horses and lions. Amazing how much fun you can have with lions riding the horses, and gladiators jumping around like ninja turtles mixed with a bit of James Bond.
It was gone four and we had had enough so got back onto a bus only to find a leaflet telling us about the Railway Museum that looked amazing and was FREE!  Botheration's I said quietly under my breath..or something similar.
It stopped raining ! a bit late but it made driving easier. A quick look at the map and off we set for Nottingham , Why Nottingham I hear you ask...well we were going to visit one of my sons dreams. The Warhammer World...I have to admit I wasn't that excited but he was, I'd already had a few days of 'How many days is it before we get to Nottingham '.
Stopping in the dark at a service station just outside Nottingham we popped in had a hot meal , got back into the car, pushed the seats back into our sleeping bags ..and fell asleep.
I have opened a shop on Etsy

Friday, 2 September 2011

Day Three : Whitby

With a sigh of relief we handed back our cards to the staff of Bobby Shafto Campsite and were handed back £20 cash..and we were to the delights of Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay. The journey to Whitby took us over The North York Moors, beautiful carpeted for miles in purple Heather. Daftly the only place I managed to stop only had a bit of Heather but you can still see how wild and gorgeous it is.
In my mind I had thought that we would try and camp near Robin Hoods Bay, but we came across a sign saying 'Whitby Folk Festival, alternative Camping' so we popped in. The two chaps on the gate were great, full of banter and smiles and said that it was fine for us to camp. The school field was fully booked for the weekend but there was space for us on the Thursday.
After a quick tent erection...getting faster....we walked down the 'Cinder Path ' down into Whitby. 
What a lovely town, full of bustle, lovely harbour, pretty cottages and houses climbing up the hillsides...and Ice Cream ! Whitby has a daily steam bus service and a steam railway taking trips into the north york moors....didn't have time to go but next time....

We had to book a boat trip on the old Lifeboat..out we went to sea ..around a buoy a long way out ..the captain started playing a mouth organ and acted the fool..very funny. What luck ..there was a seal bobbing up and down ,so he cut the engine for us all to look...luckily there wasn't a mad dash of everyone rushing to one side and the boat capsizing. It was a good feeling sailing out of the Harbour, my Great Granddad had lived in Whitby and must have done  the same many times. I've only seen a couple of photos of him but yes he looked like Captain Birdseye!

Getting back we went down to the Beach on the old Town side of the harbour, built sandcastles and looked for Whitby Jet. Jet is a fossilised wood from The Monkey Puzzle Tree. Whitby is famous for the making of jet Jewellery which became very popular after the Death of Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert. 10,000 years ago Jet was  being used for jewelry and trading  with people giving it special powers. St Hilda was supposed to have driven out all the snakes from Whitby turning them into stone..coiled ammonites. St Hilda was the first Abbess of Whitby Abbey that was founded by Oswy, a Christian King of Northumbria. Jet is found in the same layer as ammonites,so people thought that the jet would deter snakes. 'As black as jet' was coined by Shakespeare. - Look at link for How to identify Jet and pictures of Jewelry.There were lots of black pebbles and stones in the sand, but jet will leave a brown mark when rubbed onto paper or white china. I think the varying shades of brown denote the quality, although Whitby Jet is widely believed to be the best in the Worldhttp: 

After the beach we walked up the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey.... famous for being the influence for the writing of ' Dracula'. Bram Stoker stayed in the Royal Hotel on the western side of Whitby while writing his famous novel Dracula and had views over to the Abbey perched high on the cliff.. In the book a ship called Demeter crashed into the pier with its dead captain lashed to the mast...a dog leapt out onto the eastern side and ran up into the darkness. Dracula the most famous Vampire had arrived. Eerily when we climbed up again at dusk one solitary bat flew out of the abbey and across the grass towards the churchyard......

Back down in the town we walked along the Western side and found the memorial to Captain cook and the arch made from the jaw of a whale. Captain Cook trained as a seaman in Whitby before starting his great travels of discovery on the ship Endeavour that was built in Whitby.
Small version of The Endeavour built for tourist boat trips.

Eating chips and mushy peas was lovely but I wish I'd tried Whitby Lemon Buns made by an old local firm called Botham's,8560 
We had a lovely walk back down all the steps and through all the little streets even bumping into a well known musical travelling couple, Mick and Suzie Darling who were there for the music sessions. It was lovely to see them and catch up, I hadn't seen them for years.

We carried on  walking through the pretty streets hearing English folk music from one bar and singing in another before finding my favourite an Irish music session in a bar on the harbour.  I had my bones on me so I joined in for an hour or so before walking back through the town and up the Cinder path to bed.
I have a new shop on Etsy

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Day Two :The Angel of the North and Beamish

Day two was a bright morning so dry for taking the old tent down. We were soon packed so set off up the road past the Dovecot and up onto the road south towards Beamish,a few miles out of Newcastle upon Tyne. I wish I'd had more time to draw and paint pictures but I'd set a tight schedule so not enough time.
Driving near Gateshead I suddenly remembered The Angel Of The North by Antony Gormley  we started looking out for it. ...Then there it was up on the hillside looking magnificent. Of course we had to follow the signs and park up in a car park built near it and take a short walk up to it. Brilliant, quite brilliant, it made me feel quite dizzy looking up at it.

We were back driving and soon past the entrance for Beamish ,passing a pub with lovely carved figures above its door,on our way to the nearest campsite.
Bobby Shafto Caravan park  ( )  was rather sterile and the opposite to Budle bay. The staff were more like jobsworths saying that due o a government ruling all pitches have to be supplied with electricity so they had to charge for the electricity even though quite a lot of the tent pitches including ours had NO electricity ! Also had to deposit £20 for two electronic tags one for opening gate and one for getting into didn't make them any cleaner. After saying we were going to Beamish it was on the following morning that a fellow camper said that you get money off the Beamish ticket from the campsite shop if you stay on their site. I don't remember seeing a single smile from staff or campers,so I was glad to get going the next day,two nights would be too much !

Beamish was great..we were lucky and had a sunny day, theres a lot of walking between the pit village and little town which is nice to do,and  there are lots of trams and buses with facilities for the disabled so no need to walk if you don't want too

Personally for visiting reconstructed old buildings I prefer St Fagans near Cardiff )( , and The Black Country Museum  ( ) but there were a fair few that I would happily have moved in to.
Years ago when I worked for Relic Antiques in Wiltshire we had an auction every year and the people from Beamish bought a lot of things, so it was good to at last visit.
Proggy mat in front of The Range.
One of the local crafts was the craft of making Proggy mats. Rough Hessian mats were turned into beautiful coloured and patterned rugs,often by families working in dimly lit one up one down homes during the winter months.
Most working families used mats because they were easy to shake and beat unlike expensive fitted carpets. The family often bathed in a tin bath in front of an open fire so mats were again much easier to look after but still be warm on the feet.
The backing of the mat needed to be a large tightly woven hessian sack that would have been used for wheat and oats. The bags would be opened out,shaken and washed before starting. The design would be drawn onto the fabric with ink. Designs often used straight lines, diamonds and triangles, and circles because you could draw around plates and bowls. If someone was artistic they would draw favourites such as cats and flowers or subjects such as ships taken from newspapers ,advertising or postcards.
Next was the making of 'clippings'. These were strips of cloth about an inch wide taken from worn out clothes preferably of hardwearing fabrics such as tweeds or wolen cloth. The brighter colours often came from worn out sunday best or jumble sales. Some mills would sell off cuts. The long lengths could be wrapped around a matchbox then with one cut a few clippings could be made about three inches long.
Once the hessian was fixed onto a frame the decoration could begin. A progger ( a pointed pices of wood or bone) was used to make a hole in the hessian and to push one end of a clipping through the hole half way. Another hole a few threads away would then be made and the remaining pice of clipping would e pushed through. The proggy mats were made working from the back but hooky mats were made from the front using uncut long clippings, making holes and hooking loops through to the front of the Hessian.
I have opened a shop on Etsy  


Blog Top Sites