Monday, May 30, 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt - May 2011

Here are my photos for the May scavenger hunt.  It has taken me ages to get started this month and I've dashed around at the last minute to get some of them.  You can add your photos to the link on Kathy's Postcards from the P.P. blog - here - thanks once again to Kathy for hosting the scavenger hunt and providing us with each month's topics.

A Bicycle - at the side of the River Avon, Stratford-upon-Avon

A Butterfly- I haven't seen any real butterflies for ages so here is one in a ceramic mosaic at the Westport Lake Visitor Centre, at Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent.

A Cartoon Character - I loved The Perishers Comic Strip in the Daily Mirror so here is one of the characters from the TV cartoon made of it - Boot!

A Black and white portrait - one of the ladies from the Tudor Group at Haddon Hall Tudor weekend in early May

A Red Door - on the Lodge house in The Brampton, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Sign of the Zodiac - Pisces

A street light on Station Walk, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

An emergency vehicle taken in the Market Place, Newcastle-under-Lyme

An interesting local building - The Visitor Centre at Westport Lake, Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent.

Something Blue - a garden ornament in the garden at the Rambler's Retreat, Dimmingsdale, North Staffordshire

Texture - the mossy base of a tree at RSPB Coombes Valley, Bradnop, Leek, Staffordshire

 Think Vintage
 Some vintage tableware from my china cupboard - inherited from my mother - although the Sooty egg cup was mine when I was little!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

At Baddesley Clinton

After our morning stroll around Stratford we set out to visit a nearby National Trust property, set in the heart of the Forest of Arden, just through the busy village of Knowle at the smaller village of Baddesley Clinton.

Baddesley Clinton was a fortified manor house  founded in the 13th century by Thomas de Clinton.  The building you see now is from the 15th century, a stone house built by the Brome family, whose coat of arms can be found on the windows inside the hall.

The Brome family added the eastern side of the building which is now the main entrance under the two story gatehouse.   The estate passed to the Ferrers family through marriage.  Many of the internal structures were added by Henry Ferrers around 1580.  The story of the hall and the Ferrers family at this time shows what it was like to be a practising catholic in a protestant society.

The Ferrers family remained members of the catholic church and were  heavily fined for their beliefs.  The remoteness of the manor house meant that several priests took refuge here and there are three priests holes in the building.

In 1591 there was a meeting of several prominent catholic and jesuit priests and sympathisers all of whom were being sought by the authorities.  That night several of them stayed behind after the meeting and at 5a.m. the following morning just as they were starting early morning mass the pursuivants or priest hunters arrived at the door and were kept waiting by a servant long enough for the priests to clear away any evidence of the mass and escape into the secret places within the hall.

As you enter the inner courtyard it all seems so peaceful now after such a turbulent early history.

I was fascinated by the coats of arms on all the windows both from inside and outside.

In the corner, not far from the kitchen table was a priest's hole - I wasn't able to take a photo as it was always surrounded by visitors.

Above some of the earliest coats of arms in stained glass in the leaded windows

The moat surround the house and you can imagine how remote and well protected it must have felt to be staying here in such dangerous times.

In the 19th century the house was occupied by 'The quartet' who were the artist Rebecca Dulcibella Orpen the wife of Marmion Ferrers and her aunt, the novelist, Georgiana, Lady Chatterton and her husband Edward Heneage Derring.  After the death of Marmion Ferrers and that of Lady Chatterton,  Rebecca married Edward Derring.  She was the last surviving member of the quartet to live at the hall until her death in 1923.

After looking around the house and the book barn we went into the gardens which were lovely.

There were plenty of  colourful flowers in the borders

The pretty cream flowered plant above was covered with bees - I don't know what it is.

After strolling down to the ponds we sat for a while in the vegetable garden before finally setting off for home.

Monday, May 23, 2011

To Stratford - Day One

We travelled to Stratford along the Fosse Way.  Having collected our friends in Nottingham we drove out towards the East Midlands Airport and then picked up the Fosse Way which we followed nearly all the way to our destination.  We passed through some lovely countryside and pretty villages before we stopped for a short time to view the place where the Roman roads of the Fosse Way and Watling Street meet and cross at a place called High Cross, on the Leicestershire/ Warwickshire borders known, in the days of Roman Britain as Venonius.

Down Bumble Bee Lane is a monument placed here in 1712.  The Latin inscription on this monument has been translated as 'If traveller, you seek for the footsteps of ancient Romans, here you may behold them, for here their most celebrated ways, crossing each other, extend to the utmost bourne'.    The monument appears to be in some one's back garden but it has been left open so you can walk around it.  After our short visit here we diverted again from the Fosse Way and stopped for a sandwich at Ryton Gardens.

After our wonderful night at the theatre - I've written a review in the post below - we were up early the next morning for a pre-breakfast walk along the River.

 We mingled with joggers, dog walkers and school children in uniform down Swan's Nest Lane and onto the river path opposite the theatre....

 and Holy Trinity Church - burial place William Shakespeare.

 It was very peaceful at that time of the day!

 Then it was back over Clopton bridge towards our hotel - breakfast beckoned!

After breakfast we had a wander around the town and visited a few shops.  By now the town had become quite busy. Below are a few photos I took as we walked around.

A view along Chapel Street towards Church Street

Statue of a Jester by James Butler at the top of Henley Street

Shakespeare's Birthplace - from the front.......

and from the back - I peered through the gates to take this photo as we didn't go inside.

It was time to move on as we were going to visit Baddesley Clinton before we began our journey home, I'll be back with photos from there later this week.
Here is my review of  'The Merchant of Venice' seen last Thursday evening at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.

After a wonderful meal in the theatre's Rooftop Restaurant we had time to wander around and look at the new parts of the theatre and in the shop before making our way to our seats.  The seating was comfortable and close to the new stage so we had a good view of all the action.  The inside is totally different than how it used to be with its new thrust stage and tiered seating.

Photos weren't allowed in the auditorium so I can't show you what it looked like.

As we entered the auditorium some of the actors were already on stage in a set resembling a Las Vegas gambling club with loud brassy music, black jack tables, cocktail bars and one-armed bandits.  The merchant, Antonio, sits gloomy and desolate at one of the gaming tables, whilst the rest of the club goers are having a great time.

This was, in fact, one of the most unusual and thought provoking productions I have ever seen.  The play, directed by Rupert Goold, seemed to me to be split into three distinct sections.   The scenes with Antonio, played by Scott Handy and Bassanio, played by Richard Riddell were in and out of the clubs and coffee bars of Las Vegas where ducats became dollars and the character of Launcelot Gobbo was an Elvis impersonator.  When Jessica, Shylock's daughter and Lorenzo elope they do so dressed as Batman and Robin.  

  The 'casket' scenes where Portia's suitors have to pick the right casket (Gold, Silver or Lead) containing her picture to win her and her fortune was turned into a television game show with Portia ( Susannah Fielding) and Nerissa (Emily Plumtree) as the ditsy presenters all platform shoes, short skirts and false smiles for the cameras.  Think 'Legally Blond' here and you just about have it. 

Then there is Shylock, played so wonderfully by Patrick Stewart,  he sometimes seemed as if he were in a different play entirely, distanced from all around him - as I guess he would have been as one of jewish faith in a mainly christian society -  he went from cunning money lender to a frail, elderly old man, who wanted his revenge.

The American accents slipped occasionally but the timing was perfect - especially the scene in the lift!  The courtroom scene was dramatic with Antonio strung up on a meat hook gasping with fear as Shylock took his knife from his case to take his 'pound of flesh'.  I was waiting for 'the quality of mercy' speech from Portia and wondered how it would be done - very well as it happens -  and the ending, after the giving away of the rings,  was unsettling as Portia, realising that Bassanio will always love Antonio more than her, whorled around the stage on one platformed shoe as she descended into madness accompanied by the Elvis impersonator singing 'Are you lonesome tonight?'.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Back to Reality

We are now home after our two day trip to see 'The Merchant of Venice' in Stratford-upon-Avon.  My head is buzzing with images of all we have seen and done.  We have walked where two ancient roads met and crossed at the place once called Venonis (the place of the poison plants), eaten wonderful food in a rooftop restaurant, seen a strangely surreal (but quite entertaining) adaptation of the play mentioned above set, not in 16th century Venice, but in present day Las Vegas and wandered around a mediaeval, moated manor house.  I'll be back to report on all later.

Meanwhile I'll leave you with a photo of a swan on the Avon - not the Sweet Swan of Avon - which was the playwright Ben Johnson's name for William Shakespeare - but one of the many seen on our early morning, pre-breakfast, walk along the riverside.

And also one of a living statue seen on our after breakfast stroll around the town centre!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In and Out of the Garden

I've been tardy at blogging this week for one reason or another, mostly due to gardening, knitting and a good book, so this post is a sort of mishmash of things that have happened since my last post plus photos from the garden.

Inside the house some lovely blue iris reduced to 89p - I couldn't leave them behind in the shop as I love blue iris.

In the garden the yellow flag iris are blooming by the pond.

The bees are loving the chive flowers - I can spot two in this photo but I counted five when I was taking it.

The first strawberry on the plants I bought from Aldi a few weeks ago and wondered if they would produce fruit!

Chloe and Max are enjoying the garden at the moment; they love to roll around on the path rather than the grass I wonder why?

I'm sure they wouldn't have looked quite so relaxed if they had realised that there was a visitor to the garden lurking in the undergrowth by the pond!

We've  managed two walks out over the last few days.  We had a lovely walk under the trees at  Dimmingsdale

We walked in sunshine and showers admiring the reflections in the stream

Yesterday we walked around the lake at Trentham where we saw the greylag geese with their goslings.

I'm off to Stratford-on-Avon  for a couple of days later this week.  We are going, with friends from Nottingham, to see a play at the newly refurbished Shakespeare Theatre ( it seems ages since I booked the tickets) and visiting a National Trust property on the way home the next day.  I'll let you know all about our visit in my next post.