Sunday Expedition


While my working week involves commutes to work, commutes to places associated with work, and generally crazy amounts of time spent on the train, the lovely H works from home and has a commute of 16 stairs (12 down, 4 up, it’s that kind of house).

The net result is that I finish Friday longing to lounge around in my PJs for 48 hours, and he is equally keen to go exploring. We seem to have reached a happy compromise whereby I got to spent an unseemly amount of time in the bath yesterday morning (three ferocious su doku puzzles and a top up of hot water), and today after church we packed up the cool bag and headed out.

H’s choice – Waddesdon Manor. It’s a house built by the Rothschild family, essentially to house their collection of nice things.
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It’s a stunning building, created to replicate a French chateau in style, and has even more than usual ornate gilt embellishments everywhere you look. The Sevres collection is just staggeringly huge, there’s almost so much of it that it devalues itself; when there are twenty plates, beautifully hand painted with little birds, suddenly that first plate that caught your eye doesn’t seem so special.
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I think that really sums up my view of Waddesdon; it’s a grand house, filled with beautiful things, but it isn’t a home, there was no ambiance, no feeling that each of these things was a treasured possession, loved and used, just valuable pieces acquired for the sake of acquisition.

It has to be the aim of all visitors to the big houses to imagine themselves back in time (whatever time that may be), staying or living in this house, but here you couldn’t do that – the house was dead.

And this doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy seeing the pretty things and the enormous rooms – perhaps it’s just a reminder to myself that the soul of a home matters more than the fabric – at least that’s what I’ll tell H when he wonders why I haven’t hoovered yet!
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The surrounding grounds are similarly vast and the (relatively small) formal gardens were truly lovely.

We ate lunch sat within scent of the rose garden, which while a little past its peak, still had plenty of perfect blooms.
Went to the aviary to visit the birds, and found sculptures:

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And discovered what happens when you accidentally water the birds with miracle-grow as well as the plants!
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The Rothschild family were obviously very keen on their horses and we found them all around, a shire horse by the aviary:
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A flower horse (you really needed to be in the house to see this properly but all the windows have blinds to protect the contents):
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And a water horse:
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Please note the duck!

H had a final physio session earlier in the week so he is now back to driving which means that (sound trumpets and give forth loud hurrahs please) … I’m back knitting in the car – which to my mind is far more fun than driving:
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This is the start of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sock Club kit from last September (I think) – the colour is called Tide Pooling and the pattern is Cloning Anemone Rib. The cloning, anemones and ribbing will be more obvious when I’m wearing them/ when they’re on sock blockers.

And to round off a perfect summer’s day, would you like a fairy cake?
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Vanilla sponge cakes with lemon icing and just the touch of Wilton’s food colouring (lemon yellow, kelly green and a smidge of lemon yellow, pink, and a whisper of teal) and pretty pastel sugar drops.

It seems a very English picnic to have ham or corned beef sandwiches, strawberries and fairy cakes on a blanket by a rose garden – and it was good!

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  • mandycharlie 15/06/2009 at 9:25 am

    But did you see the size of those marrows! (well thats what they look like in the horses cart)

    I love the way the ivy growing up the turret is trained, very pretty.