Monday 31 December 2012

2012 has been a year of extreme highs and lows for our family.  We have had some wonderful, great times, and reading back through my blog helps me to remember these.  We unexpectedly  lost a dear family member and an equally dear friend.  Dreadfully sad times, but we surprisingly found moments of extreme positivity in both of these losses too.   And life goes on. So we say farewell to 2012 and store up the memories, and saunter into 2013 ready to tackle whatever lies ahead, and looking forward to savouring the good times once more.

Here's wishing you all many days of happiness and good times in 2013.

Have a very happy, healthy and safe New Year xxxxx

Saturday 29 December 2012

So that was it then! It never ceases to amaze me how quickly it is all over.
I hate the way that Boxing Day has been hi jacked by the retail sector.  My poor daughter has had to work Boxing Day the last few years and it does take the shine off Christmas.  I cannot comprehend why people cannot wait just one more day before they have to hit the shops again.  

We have had a lovely time here at the Heartshaped House.  We all enjoyed our Christmas Day lunch - even though I forgot to cook the sprouts!

I had a bit of a shock on Christmas Eve at a hospital appointment that I thought was going to be just routine - and turned out not to be.  I have a bit of a health issue that I am having looked at (turns out you can go shopping between Christmas and New Year, but you can't get your health sorted out! ).  Posting might be a bit intermittent for a while, but I will still get chance to read yours hopefully.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Well, I think everything is ready (however I have just found some cards that I though had been posted!!).  I'm spent up, shopped out and ready to flop in front of the TV with "Its a Wonderful Life". mince pie and glass of sherry.  
For the first time in years, it will only be the four of us for Christmas lunch, so we may not even get out of our jammies!  We are planning a very relaxing day.

I hope that you have a Happy Christmas, and enjoy whatever you have planned.
Many thanks for stopping by and leaving comments - you make my day and I appreciate each and every one of them.
Lots of Love

Saturday 15 December 2012

At last!

Long time readers will know just how long I have been hankering after this day. 
 We live less than a mile away from Wentworth Woodhouse, a fascinating and extremely large, still privately owned country house.  A unique and very very special place.  It has been home to 2 UK Prime minister's, has seen Anna Pavlova provide after dinner entertainment for visiting Kings & Queens, and has many many secrets still to reveal.  

It was rumoured that the current owner - one Mr Clifford Newbould(an ex Architect) - was a recluse, but it turns out that this was a false rumour.  He actually has very ambitious plans for the place.  I believe that the Fitzwilliam family still have some kind of control over the house, but they must have given their blessing to Mr Newbould as he is keen to save the house from decline.

 And so, he has opened up the house for guided tours.  And today, hubby and I took our turn on the 11am tour.  I was a bit overwhelmed.  Sadly, we were not allowed to take photographs inside the house.
 I was amazed though how warm the house felt - they have newly installed heating! And I was amazed at just how good a condition it was in.  Its true, they have a huge amount of work to undertake, but it really has been quite well preserved.
 From the mid 1950's it was hired out to West Riding Education Authority as "Lady Mabel PE College".  Our tour guide explained that whilst some damage had been done original wall paintings etc by the students and staff, the fact that they wanted to rent it stopped it being ripped to pieces and sold off. meaning all the fireplaces, door frames, ceilings etc are original.
 We only saw a few of the rooms . It is reputed to have 365 rooms in total - 25 of which are of historical, architectural importance (Buckingham Palace has only 10 rooms of importance!).  The plans are to keep some rooms as a museum, turn one wing into a hotel, and the servants wing into a function room.  As it has its own chapel, they hope to host weddings too.
 They have lots of events planned for the coming year including hosting the "Antiques Roadshow" and a Game Fair.
It was a real privilege to take a peep inside this glorious place and I can't wait to see what they do with it.
Something else ticked off the Bucket List!

Thursday 13 December 2012

Stamford Lincolnshire

On our drive up from London, we decided to use the A1 and stopped off at Stamford in Lincolnshire for our brunch.  Hubby had never been here before, and I had only called in briefly when I was a lot younger and had relatives living nearby.

It seems to have remained a quaint little old town, but with plenty going on.

 We happened upon a craft fair whilst we were walking around.
 We have never stayed around this area, and its not too far from home, so we might look at staying around here for a weekend in the near future.  I'll have to look what else is around here.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Final Day in London

Please forgive my London overload, but I do use my blog as a diary (and  looking back its amazing how much I forget that I've done!!).  On our last day in London, Hubby said he fancied Porobello Road, so we went.  Whilst it was really interesting, it was far too busy and way over priced - but the street food stalls were great!

It looked a great area and the history of the place is interesting.  It was also interesting to be in an area that was mainly where Londoners live.
We walked back through Bayswater - passed one of London's oldest department store "Whiteleys" (now a shopping mall).  This place too has an interesting history,  Its owner was murdered by his illegitimate son, and Hitler loved the building so much that he had it earmarked as a potential Hitler HQ for when he invaded Britain.
We stopped off for a warm at the newly opened Kensington Palace.   Several Royal families still have apartments here - and Wills and Kate are currently having an apartment decorated for them (41 rooms I was reliably informed!!).  However they have kitted out a small part of the palace for the public to tour.  I don't know what I thought about it - it was done out a bit weird.  Some of it was good, and some of it was plain odd.
Queen Victoria was born in the Palace and there are a few rooms dedicated to her.  Its a bit sparse on exhibits, but I loved her wedding dress.  She was really teeny tiny.
Another famous occupant was Lady Di, and the wallpaper featuring her is interesting!
After the Palace, we took a quick look at the Royal Albert Hall
And the amazing Albert Memorial - a stunning statue.

We walked through Hyde Park where they were holding a Winter Wonderland Fair that looked really busy (and those people are really flying very high in the air!)
The biggest mistake of the weekend was thinking that Harrods might not be too busy at 5pm on a Saturday evening - WRONG!!!  It was a nightmare.
I used to love a visit to Harrods, but now it really is just Bling Central, pandering to the taste of Chelsea and Fulham Footballers with more money than taste or sense!
Still a few bargains to be had though!!

Sunday 9 December 2012

A unique Christmas Fayre

The people at Wentworth Woodhouse had decided to hold a Christmas Fayre in the stables .  This caused great excitement around the district!

 All of a sudden, after years of everything being locked away and shut up, we are getting tantalisingly closer and gaining access to part of the estate that have not been open for many years.

 We parked in the grounds itself and walked up to the stables.  Here is the gravestone of the famous racehorse Whistlejacket that I told you about earlier.
 This is not Whistlejacket.  This poor munchkin was from the Animal Rescue Centre and seemed unhappy about parading as reindeer!
 Many people (myself included) had come to have a look around the old stables themselves - as these have been locked up for many years.
 But many (including myself!) left with bags full of goodies.  There was a great selection of stalls - really something for everybody.
 A lot of the buildings are suffering from neglect and I hope that they do get to restore it.

 I spent a good few hours shopping, sight seeing, talking to others who had made the journey.  I really hope this becomes a regular event.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Over the Bridge

And so over the bridge we went.  Tower Bridge is the most fantastic structure.  Hubby was interested to read that the average speed of vehicles over the bridge these days is 10 miles an hour - roughly the same as it would have been when it was built!  Progress hey!

We had a quick nosey int St Katherines Dock - once featured in a James Bond film
And had a quick peep over the wall of the Tower of London.
From this side of the river, you get a good view of the all the new glass buildings being built (including Boris's City Hall on the left.)
I had commented that I had forgotten just how many stunning buildings our capital has, when we discovered the City of London Port Authority building - now disused.
We read that there are plans to turn it into apartments and perhaps a hotel.
And we read that this too had been used in the recent James Bond Skyfall movie - I'll have to watch for it.
By now, it was growing dark and we were in the heart of the financial part of the city.  I managed to catch 2 London buses to photograph  in front of the Bank of England Building - The Old Lady Of Threadneedle Street.

And on - towards St Pauls Cathedral. Very very beautiful.

After a quick coffee and cake, we stopped to watch the skaters at Somerset House.
Then bobbed up to Covent Garden for a look around and admire the tree.
We cut through Leicester Square ...
And ended up in the National Gallery (which is free, and open until 9pm on Friday evenings) to have a look at one special painting.
The painting of Racehorse Whistlejacket by George Stubbs was comissioned by the Fitzwilliams at Wentworth Woodhouse, and a copy of it still hangs in the house.  I believe they sold it for death duties (it was sold for over 11 million pounds).  It is a huge painting as it is a life size portrait.  Hubby was delighted to find it hung next but one to "The HayWain" - his favourite painting.  It was a great way to finish our day.