Monthly Archives: May 2011

Unaccustomed as I am and thanks anyway

Versatile blogger

Thanks to Susan at Coming East I received my second Versatile Blogger Award.  What do they say?  You can fool all the people some of the time….

Seriously though, I would like to thank Susan and those other bloggers who follow my ramblings each day.  You are the reason I keep to this self-imposed discipline.  Yesterday I eventually posted at 11.45 pm – had to get it in before midnight.  That was quite a feat having been to the movies and the dinner, before coming back here for coffee.

Thanks

I have posted seven things about me in my thank you blog on April 30 – see here – so I won’t bore you with those things again.

But I need to nominate 15 more bloggers – see the earlier post for the original 15.  So in no particular order:

  1. L’Idiot Speaketh – http://redriverpak.wordpress.com – He doesn’t need my vote because he has had over 1million hits but I do so enjoy the humor.
  2. Sunshineinlondon – She keeps us amused about daily life in my home town
  3. bluebeachsong – Martie writes beautiful music and her haunting voice can be heard on her blog.
  4. Monicastangledweb – this is another of our very clever bloggers.  Thanks for the daily posts.
  5. Herdingcatsinhammondriver – though much younger than me, Wendy keeps me entertained with her wit
  6. Fribnitsworld – I really enjoy this guy and hope you will too
  7. Linda Atkins at http://rickandlindafamily.wordpress.com.  Always an upbeat post that I really enjoy reading
  8. Paul on the Goodgreatsby – This one makes me think
  9. the Docent Dog at http://pointcabrillolightstation.wordpress.com.  A clever blog using the dog as the spokesperson
  10. Duke at http://1959duke.wordpress.com.  Another clever blogger who also makes me think about all manner of things
  11. Life in the bogs – Robin writes and posts her photographs that fill me with joy and a little envy.  I wish I was a photographer and/or could write as well as she does
  12. Linda  at http://lindacassidylewis.com/ writes about writing.
  13. Debbie at http://dbdazedomain.wordpress.com/ has kept us amused with tales of downsizing and moving.  Enjoy Costa Rica Debbie.
  14. and 15 are all those whom I have yet to discover but already know that I will love.

So if I have left you out please accept my apologies.

Have to go and make soup for the family now –

Bowl of soup

Mulligatawny Soup – via Wikipedia

As I have said before, according to my son his “Mummy’s” soup is the best (that is according to him).

“There is nothing like soup. It is by nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get your soup in a can.”
Laurie Colwin, ‘Home Cooking’ (1988)


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Children’s imagination

“In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream- Lingering in the golden gleam- Life, what is it but a dream?”
Lewis Carroll (Through The Looking Glass)

 

Have you noticed that children play quite differently when they are on their own compared with sharing games with others?

When they are playing on their own, children live in a different world.  Look at the concentration on a child’s face.  What are their thoughts?  What lovely stories are they making up for themselves?

Little girl playing

What wonders is she constructing?

And children playing in the open air.  Yesterday when out walking we saw a child playing happily in a pile of leaves.  Look at this boy’s face as he discovers the sound, feel and joy of fallen leaves.

Little boy playing in leaves

And then when they discover the joys of books.  What was James thinking at almost three years old when he ‘read’ his book.

James reading

And when there are two or more playing the games become more structured.  There isn’t the same scope for the child’s or the children’s imagination to run wild.

I recently came across the photo of James and friends  ‘playing’ the piano.  What wondrous dreams were these children concocting?

Children at piano

Boys at beach

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”  — Pablo Picasso


I Just Love Quotations

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.  Marlene Dietrich 1901 – 1992. German actress and singer.

If you have read any of my posts you will know the truth in the comment – I just love quotations.  One can always find just the right thing to say that has already been said so well by somebody else.

I have always carried a notebook with me to write down things I think of and hear during the course of the day.  And the quest for quotations has filled many happy hours and many books.  From these little notebooks, I have a wide range of quotations to use in my blogs and occasionally in the course of conversation.

A well-chosen and well-placed quote in conversation often fools the listener into thinking that I am a well read, highly intelligent person.  You can fool some of the people all of the time….

Dad and me

A girl with her Dad

One of my particular favourite quotes is from Somerset Maugham and was first quoted to me by my father when I was very young.

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.  ~Somerset Maugham

I understand it and take it on board but it makes no difference to my love of quotations, my collecting of them and use of them.

Now of course, there is the internet so that if my collection doesn’t hold a particularly apt quote I can instantly rectify that.  But for me, the internet will never take the place of my collections of books holding poetry, verse and quotations that I can use as often and as regularly I wish.

So Father dear, wherever you are now that I can no longer speak to you, thank you for pointing out the Somerset Maugham quote.  My question is if he quoted on quotations then do we still call his a quote and in the context of this quote can we assume that he is short of wit?

And I like this one –

If you’re being run out of town, get in front of the crowd and make it look like a parade.  ~Author Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postscripts, promises, proposal and pledges

If you read my earlier blog on While Walking the Dog you might remember the words that were written on the pavement.  I have looked each day to see if there has been any alteration to the words, and today, hooray there was.

A postscript had been added that said :

“I really do love you.  I will love you forever” and under that in a different hand was written “I love you too.  If you marry me I will love you forever and ever until I die”.  And then as a further postscript in the first hand was written “YES! YES! YES!”

I am so happy for that unknown couple.  I hope they live a long and happy time together – that they grow old together in harmony.

Or maybe they are not young.  The story that I concocted for them had them as two youngish people, maybe in their 20s and I pictured them as a heterosexual couple.  Maybe I am wrong on all counts.

They may be an older couple coming together after a long time apart.  In this story they knew each other when they were young and drifted apart.  They each married other people and now they are on their own and have met up again – maybe through the internet.   I actually have a friend for whom this story was true except that they didn’t meet up again through the internet.

Maybe it is a gay couple.  In my version of this story they have been torn apart by family who don’t/won’t accept their sexual preferences.  And now they have overcome these objections and they can get together.  Here in New Zealand same-sex ‘marriages’ are legal.  They are referred to as Civil Unions rather than Marriages.

In my role of Wedding Coordinator at Old St Paul’s we conducted several Civil Union ceremonies a couple of which were very solemn and moving.  I am quite sure they will last as couples and will grow old in harmony.

So to the couple who have made Postscripts, Promises, a Proposal and Pledges on the Pavement I send all good wishes for a long and happy future together.

“Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner.” – Amy Bloom, American writer 1953 –

 

Roses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Days in Europe

“Memories are the bricks with which we build our life.”  Judith Baxter

Woodlands

I was in Sussex in the UK and it was just a just a couple of weeks before I was due to return to New Zealand.  One day I got an email from a friend in NZ who had been left by her live in man for the second time.  She was very upset and thought she would take a trip.  She asked would I like to have a few days in Europe before I came home.  She had a friend she would stay with in the UK and then go to Europe.

I agreed and it as decided that she, Jean, would give some thought to where we would go.  My only request was Rome.  In all our travels I hadn’t ever been there.

I left  to spend a couple of days with my friend, Jean and her friend.  The first hiccup was that Jean had done nothing towards planning the holiday.  That should have been my first hint.  The second came when her god-daughter said at lunch ‘Are you really going away with Jean?”  Warning bells should have rung.

Anyway after lunch we went back to  and organize our trip.  We would leave London by Eurostar going under the English Channel  and our first stop would be Paris, then in to Interlaken (Switzerland), Florence and Rome all in a very few days.  We made phone calls to book accommodation, rail rovers and the train to Paris.  That done I left to spend a few days with my sister in London.

We were to meet at 9.15 am on the Monday to take the Eurostar at 10 am.

Eurostar train

9.15 came and went without any sign of Jean. 9.30 and 9.45 also came and went and I as getting worried.  I called her mobile but it wasn’t on.  I called her friend –  Jean had left there hours ago and certainly in plenty of time to be at Victoria on time.

The train tickets said “Not Transferable” meaning not only date of travel but also time.  I went off to one of the staff members and explained that my friend hadn’t turned up and we wouldn’t make the train at 10am.  He was very good when I explained that Jean was a New Zealander and not used to travelling on the underground.  He would allow us to go on the train when Jean eventually turned up.  I had her paged but didn’t realize this would be heard only in the  Eurostar area.

So I decided to go up to the main concourse and there she was.  Standing at the top of the stairs under a sign that read Eurostar. She had been standing there for an hour but hadn’t thought of calling me on my cellphone.

So we were a couple of hours late in leaving.  The train trip was uneventful.  We knew we were going under the Channel because we were advised of this over the intercom.  It was an interesting and the last uneventful time before we returned to the UK.

I had suggested, read insisted, that we make our onward train bookings as soon as we arrived at any place.  So we stood in a queue on arriving in Paris and made our onward booking to Interlaken.

We only had two days and nights in Paris – now reduced to 1 and a bit days because of the hold up at Waterloo.  We found our little hotel.  It was great and within walking distance of a variety of cafes and bistros.  We decided to have an early night so that we could have a full day sightseeing on Tuesday.  The next morning we had breakfast early and got on the metro (underground) to go to the Louvre.  I was particularly keen to see the glass dome that hadn’t been there the last time I had been in Paris.  What we didn’t know is that the Louvre is closed on Tuesday.

The Louvre

The Louvre at night

Musee de Orsay

Musee de Orsay

We did manage to go to Musee D’Orsay but the queues were horrific.  It was holiday time.  We made our way to the front of the queue and were allowed into the shop area.  From there we got into the Museum without waiting in the long lines with others waiting to gain entrance.

We wandered around and did some people watching which I loved.  Around 5pm we found a little bar and took seats outside to continue the people watching with a drink in hand.

The night before we had found a lovely little restaurant for dinner and returned there that night.

Early next morning we boarded the train for Interlaken.  This was a lovely journey – our rail pass gave us first class travel in Europe.  The train trip took several hours and then we were in Switzerland.  Jean was really excited then. as she had lived and worked in Interlaken for several years when she was younger. We left the train and went to book our onward journey to Florence.

InterlakenWe were standing in the booking hall when suddenly Jean realized she had lost her ‘bum bag’.  Jean had been on and on at me to get a bum bag as it would be safer than having my money and passport in my purse.

She rushed out of the booking hall and disappeared.  I hung around and took a seat in the waiting area.  Suddenly a man appeared and asked whether I was Madame Baxter and I was told that my friend wanted me to go to another part of Interlaken where she was with the police.  Apparently, she had boarded the train before it left the station and on telling the guard what had happened was told to get off at the next stop and make a complaint to the police.  So I grabbed a cab and went off to meet her.

Having made the complaint we enjoyed the rest of our truncated time in Interlaken.

Then on to Florence.  Uneventful except we were booked into a Palazzo in the centre of town and when we checked in were told that they only had a room with a double bed.  After much arguing, we were put into a room with two beds.

Problem 2 in this hotel was that the air conditioning unit leaked onto a beautiful antique chiffonier.  The clerk was unphased when I told him and produced a towel to catch the drips.  Problem 3 – the room had not been checked and the hand basin waste was not connected.  So water gushed all over the floor.

However, I got a good laugh about it.  All terribly Fawlty Towers.  Unfortunately, my friend and travelling companion didn’t.

And the promised replacement Visa card hadn’t arrived so more telephoning to New Zealand to sort that out.

I revisited ‘David’ and was once again in total awe of this statue.

Then to Siena but only on a day trip. Siena, Italy

I had read and heard much of this medieval city.  The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site.

The next stop Rome.  But this was marred by the fact that we had to spend half a day at the New Zealand Embassy to sort out passports and travel papers.

Coloseum

 

 

 

But we did have time for some sightseeing much to my delight.  Still no sign of the promised replacement card.  And my friend was becoming increasingly embarrassed at having to rely on mine.

And I shall certainly be more selective about travelling companions in future.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.  ~Mark Twain


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Motherlove, Monsters, Mayhem and Maybe Murder

“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”
— Agatha Christie, DBE, 1890 – 1976), British crime writer of novels, short stories, and plays. 

I discovered Martie Hevia and her blog a couple of weeks and I look forward to reading it each day.  It is a gentle blog filled with fun, memories and of course,  Martie’s voice singing her songs.

A couple of days ago the tone of her blog changed and she wrote about Caylee Marie Anthony, the toddler who disappeared and whose Mother didn’t report her missing for thirty-one days.  What kind of Mother-love is demonstrated here?

The Mother has apparently made all kinds of claims to the Police, all of which appear to be lies and now she is claiming that the child drowned in the grandparents’ swimming pool.

Whether this Mother murdered her child will come out in the days ahead.  But her callousness towards that lovely little girl cannot be ignored.

Maslow's Hierarchy

We know that Mazlow determined that the basic needs of any human being included physiological, safety, belonging and love,  and esteem.  Which of these were given to this little child?  A child needs to be loved and cared for.  To know that she is important to her parents and family, to be warm and safe.  Apparently none of these things applied to this little girl.

We can’t get the live CNN feed here but Martie gives it on her blog.

We know that one is innocent until proven guilty but all the signs are there that this Mother is implicated in some way with her baby’s disappearance and death.

I shall leave it there for the jury to decide after they sit through what will  obviously, be a harrowing experience.

And for Caylee –

Teddy bear

RIP Littlre One


Paradise, Phones and Phrustration

The bathtub was invented in 1850 and the telephone in 1875.  In other words, if you had been living in 1850, you could have sat in the bathtub for 25 years without having to answer the phone.”  ~Bill DeWitt.

Old phone

I read today’s post from the Good Greatsby  and it reminded me of my most favorite Bob Newhardt skit – we always refer to it as Nutty Walt.  Click here to view the video.

Then, as often happens, after reading this post about phones my thoughts went to a time when a phone would have been very useful for me.

My late husband had retired early at 56 and wanted a less hurried lifestyle.  We looked around and we decided upon the Marlborough Sounds in the South Island of New Zealand.  We had been to the Sounds many times with our boat and it seemed like an idyllic spot in which to retire.  I was rather young to be considering this retirement thing at 48.

However, we found a  lovely house in a small bay with only four other houses.  The house sat up above the beach with a path leading down to it.  A perfect place to retire and to write my book.  The book didn’t happen but that is for another post.

Willow Bay

Willow Bay

At the time all telephone services in New Zealand were run by a Government Department. To get a new connection in the city took about 7 days if you were lucky.  To get a new connection in a rural area took forever and ever.

So, we moved to Paradise.  And applied for a phone to be told there was a long waiting list and we had to be patient.  Bear in mind that we lived some 60 kms from any town and the last 5 kms of the road was unpaved.  I had never lived anywhere there weren’t shops and buses and people.  It was quite a revelation to me.

Anyway, back to the telephone.  We managed with difficulty. Remember this is 1986 – few cellphones and very few people had access to the internet.  No phone, no internet, no communication with the outside world.  Very peaceful but frustrating.

One of our neighbours offered the use of their phone if we needed it.

So on a lovely Sunday while Robert was away further south playing bowls I was applying paint over the awful wallpaper in the master bedroom.  And that’s also another story.  I was surprised when Robert walked in as I wasn’t expecting him until the next day.  He looked grey and obviously was quite unwell.

The next morning he was worse.  I ran to my neighbour’s and used their phone to call a doctor.  He told me to bring husband in immediately and had to give me instructions as I didn’t know the town in which he was located.

After driving the 60 kms with husband groaning at each bump and turn in the road,  we arrived at the doctor’s house.  He took my husband inside and left me sitting in the car.  When Robert came out he said the doctor thought it was not serious and gave him a couple of pessaries.

So we went home but in a very short time, he was writhing in agony.  So another call from the neighbour’s house and I was told to bring him into the surgery.  More instructions needed.  Well to cut this long story short, the doctor took one look and declared “This man should be in hospital”.

Children's ward signSo with more instructions, to the hospital, we went.  They admitted him immediately but as the only ward open to admittance on this Sunday was the Children’s’ Ward that’s where he went.  The surgeon was called and he later told me he was grateful to be called out as his wife had been entertaining a rather boring group of people.

I was offered a bed in the nurses home but had to return to Willow Bay as my spaniel had been left there.  On the way home I found a telephone box (yes they were still available then) and called my son in Wellington who agreed to get the first plane in the morning to be with me.  He also agreed to call his sister who was in London and tell her.

The next morning bright and early I was back at the hospital.  The surgeon had examined Robert again and said the only way to find out what was wrong was to operate.

I called the phone company to check on progress – none!

The cause of Robert’s problem was a ruptured duodenal ulcer (that nobody knew was there) so that was the good news.  Other thoughts were unthinkable.  But Robert was sick for a long time and kept in a coma for several days.

I called the phone company again – no progress although I was on first name terms with the operator at this stage.

I used to spend all day sitting with Robert.  I learned patience which was positive.  I used to call one friend in Wellington using the hospital phone.  Still no result from the telephone company.  This friend, in turn, called other friends in Wellington to pass on the news.

One day I arrived at the hospital and Robert greeted me with the news that our son was in hospital in Wellington having had an appendectomy the night before.

This was the final straw.  At this time I had a husband in hospital in Blenheim, a son in hospital in Wellington, a Mother in hospital in London and a Father-in-Law in hospital in Glasgow and still no telephone

Another call to the phone company – I told the operator my tale of woe and he said ‘You really need to speak to my supervisor’  Well, I had tried to on several occasions previously.  As soon as the supervisor heard my problem he arranged for a phone connection the next day – but it was a party-line, shared with a couple of other customers.  And yes, that’s another story – but at least we had a phone.

A pretty scary episode in my life, made more so beca e of lack of ability to communicate with the outside world.  It was 25 years ago but I still remember the feeling of being cut off.

Needless to say, we didn’t stay there long.  After about 9 months we decided to come back to Wellington.  Another adventure in this wandering life of mine.

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”  Buddha


Blond, Beautiful, Bright, Brilliant Blogger

Gala Darline

Have you heard of Gala Darling?  Born in Wellington New Zealand and named Amy by her parents she has arrived in New York and reinvented herself.  She has changed her name officially to Gala Darling and is now the darling of the blogosphere.

I discovered this gem on TV recently – see the item here.  She is a young woman with style and presence.  She has around 500,000 hits per month on her blog.  That’s an amazing number of hits.

She advertises on her blog and it makes money.  She advertises such products as Coach handbags.  She claims to make in excess of $100,000 per month.

She says she is always writing and is now about to publish a book.  She has an agent and the publisher is the one that published ‘The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Girl With the Pearl Earring“.

So I say – good on you.  Well done Gala.  See what you think.

Are Things Better Today?

Record

“They changed our local palais into a bowling alley and fings aint wot they used to be…” from Lionel Bart’s lyrics for the musical play Fings Aint Wot They Used To Be.  Click here for Max Bygrave’s version of this song.

When I was much younger I used to roll my eyes when Mother, Father or one of the grandparents told me how much things have changed since they were young.  Now, while I don’t say this to my children and grandchildren, I notice how very much has changed since I was young.

I have written nostalgic posts several times over the past (almost) three months.  In particular I waxed lyrical(?) in April.

Memories are great but were things any better?

Pie and Mash shopFast food for us was occasionally fish and chips and because we lived in the East End of London, pie and mash.

Now everywhere we go we see the ubiquitous golden arches or the BK sign.

Are we bringing up a generation who don’t know the joys of cooking at home and only take the fast food option?

Is the plethora of fast food outlets adding to the benefits of living in the 21st Century – I would think that children are missing out of the times spent in the kitchen with mother or grandmother watching as she prepares the family’s food and learning more about each other.

Encyclopaedia Britannica in bookcase

Encyclopaedia_Britannica - Wikipedia

When we were researching any subject we either used the local library or if we were lucky enough to have a set, used the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  Our parents had bought this set for us on what they euphemistically called the ‘never-never’.  An early Hire Purchase offer.   This was a stretch for our parents but they wanted the best for us.

Now my grandchildren go straight to the web and Wikipedia for anything they need.  The web is certainly easier and quicker and I am sure that children are learning so much more than we have learned.  So in this way it is better now.

But where is the excitement of finding just the right place to look, the feel of the books and following leads from one thing to another?

We walked or cycled to school – today children are generally driven to and from by parents.  Will they learn to be self sufficient and able to get themselves from place to place in this way?

I understand that younger children must be ferried around and I am pleased to report that my grandchildren are now finding their own way around as they should at their age – between 12 and 16.  But many of their friends are still driven everywhere by parents.

What about shopping?  I wrote about the various shops my Mother visited for groceries in my blog on April 18.

Now we make one stop for everything.  Malls are everywhere and we just get into our cars and drive there.

What I think we are missing out on is the normal interaction between shoppers and shop assistants.  In these days of check out counters, there is no time to catch up on each others lives as my Mother and her peers used to when shopping,

And driving.  Mother didn’t drive and so she walked or took buses.  When walking she always met somebody that she knew.  Another opportunity to catch up with each other.  Now we sit in our cars, often alone, going about our business.  No chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances here.

Children played outside after school.  Now they seem to be glued to the TV and/or computer playing games.  They are missing out on the fun to be had from organizing team or other games in the fresh air. 

I guess I haven’t answered the question one way or the other.  There are certainly so many things we have now that we didn’t have before and for which we are grateful

  • The internet allows me to interact with friends and family around the country and around the world.
  • Freezers that allow me to shop occasionally yet always have food on hand.
  • Mobile phones that also allow me to keep in touch.
  • Computers that allow me to work much quicker and faster.  I remember typewriters and then they were replaced by electric typewriters, then memory ones.  But they all had one thing in common, if a mistake was made in typing it had to be corrected either by starting over or else making physical changes with whitening products and then typing over.  How much easier it is with Word.
  • Easy and convenient shopping.
  • Credit and ATM cards that mean I can buy what I want/need without having to go to the bank to get money.
  • Easy travel between the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere allowing me to visit family and friends.
  • Cheaper travel between the hemispheres.
  • Cheaper phone calls so I can speak with my sisters regularly.
  • And of course, the internet that allows us to share photos between us.

And really too many things to list here.  I am sure you can make up your own.

So overall it is better to live today but I would like to share  two of my sayings that I use often:

“Memories are the bricks we use to build our lives”  and

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.” 

Judith Baxter, mother, grandmother, friend and blogger.  1938 –


A Major Cleaning Project

The stately homes of England
How beautiful they stand,
To prove the upper classes
Have still the upper hand.
Though the fact that they have to be rebuilt,
And frequently mortgaged to the hilt
Is inclined to take the gilt
Off the gingerbread….. Noel Coward

Would you like the rest of this ditty – click here for the video of Noel Coward singing his own song.

With nothing better to do on a winters Saturday night I turned on the TV.  Imagine my delight to find that there was a BBC program on my very favorite Stately Home in England – Petworth House.

Petworth House

I first heard about Petworth from a former boyfriend.  I think we were both 15 and his Granny lived in Petworth.  A few years later I visited Petworth and saw the splendid house in all its glory.

This late 17th century mansion is set in a deer park artfully created by Capability Brown,  you know Queen Victoria’s gardener/confidante/perhaps lover. They are made to look like they just grew that way.   And we are told that the gardeners at Petworth are charged with keeping the grounds looking as much like they did in Brown’s time as possible.  The deer apparently are multiplying annually and are not culled. They do a lot of damage to the trees and shrubs around the house. But they add a special dimension to the landscape.

The Big Spring CleanIn the program yesterday, the head gardener was interviewed and he spoke of using the paintings as the guide for how the grounds should look. Think of it  – a Turner painting.  He could never have imagined the uses to which his paintings would be put.

We were told that during the winter and spring months when the house is closed to visitors, every room, each piece of artwork, every painting, curtain, hanging and silver ware is cleaned.  They have a veritable army of people employed at this time.

Apparently, all the houses now managed by the National Trust go through this cleaning routine annually.

I have written of Turner and how I love his works.  The largest collection of his paintings anywhere is housed at Petworth House.  I have several large prints purchased from the shop at Petworth that are now framed and hanging in the living room.  If I ever won a huge lottery I would buy a Turner – but where would I put it in my little house?

Of particular interest therefore, when I visited were the Turners.  And last night we were told that in the dining room the Turners were hung low down on the wall so that the 3rd Earl of Egremont could look at the painting of the grounds while sitting at dinner.  He could look at the grounds seen from his dining room window and then turn and see a painting that is a mirror image of those grounds.

During the 3rd Earl’s tenure at Petworth he cultivated and entertained many of the famous artists of the time.  Constable apparently, referred to Petworth House as ‘The House of Art”.

With the BBC we went into the Carved Room.  This is truly magnificent and not to be missed if you ever get to Petworth.Carved room   This room houses the very best examples of Grinling Gibbons work,

According to Wikipedia “Some of the finest examples of Gibbons work accessible to the general public are those on display at the National Trust’s Petworth House in West Sussex, UK. At Petworth the Carved Room is host to a fine and extensive display of intricate wooden carvings by Gibbons.”

Because of the fragility of the wood after so many years, various ways of dusting are being considered.  We were shown an operation involving an air brush and a special cloth funnel attached to a vacuum cleaner to collect the dust.  Of course, a problem with dusting artifacts is that the dust flies through the air to land on other pieces.  The question of whether the dust could just be left was answered with facts about dust attracting damp and insects and thus damaging the carvings even more.

For me the hour-long program was over too soon.  It left me feeling that I have to go back just as soon as possible.  I just love Petworth House,

And from an email I sent to my family from Sussex:

“Petworth is a charming village – another hub of antique shops.  Little cobbled streets, hardly room for cars, and they are all one way as there is absolutely no room for cars to pass each other.
I wandered along and discovered two very old cottages – one called Christmas Cottage and the other Easter Cottage.  Side by side.  No front gardens.   Front doors opening onto the street.   I do think that there must be a step immediately inside each of the front doors otherwise there is no way anybody over the age of 10 (other than a Hobbit) could get through the front door.” 

The Fighting Temeraire

“The fighting Temeraire” – one of the Turner prints in my living room.