Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Shipley Sunset Walk

One of my aims for this weekend was to get out and about, take some exercise, and have a bit of a stay-at-home holiday. So, as it was such a lovely evening and having spent part of the day inside at Haddon Hall looking at the sculpture exhibition, we picked up the dog and headed out to Shipley Country Park just in time to catch the sunset - and, yes, we'd cut it fine, with the sun sinking below the horizon almost as we arrived.

It was still light enough for a short walk up through the trees on Horsepool Hill where someone had been busy 'yarnbombing'. Is this art, do you think? Where I've seen it on metal railings or lamp-posts it's definitely brightened things up, but I'm not sure that trees really need improving.

This viburnum was brightening things up naturally, with clusters of bright red berries and leaves already beginning to take on their autumnal colours.

Then, coming out of the trees and walking down what was once the drive to Shipley Hall, we found the sky still clear and streaked with the last light.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Haddon Hall - Shadows and Whispers by Nik Ramage; mechanical sculptures exhibition

gramophone - turn a handle, the record rotates
and plays!

One of the reasons for going to Haddon Hall this weekend, besides the important one of having annual passes and liking to make the most of them, was to catch an exhibition of mechanical sculptures by Nik Ramage.

Punctuation Orrery - punctuation marks
 move like the planets

From the description, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but, to be honest, give me a handle to turn which rotates a wheel, which moves a pivot, and causes another piece to jiggle up and down, and I'm hooked.

A spirit level constantly moving,
unable to find equilibrium

I haven't posted photographs of all the exhibits - for one thing, mine didn't turn out very clear, and, more importantly, I feel you need to be there to fully appreciate them.

The long and twisted route from A to B

Two Face Clock - the clock-faces turn and
the hands stand still

In the Long Gallery, once used for daily exercise,
a number of mechanical marvels based on the theme of walking

Shoe Cycle

Circle Cycle - no straight-line motion from this!
This was definitely my favourite - a cake-mixer drawing machine. Put paper underneath, pop coloured pens in the holders, turn the handle and a spirograph-style drawing emerges. OK, mine wasn't the tidiest, but it was fun to do!

Haddon Hall - house and garden

Haddon Hall may really be a manor house rather than a castle but it certainly lives up to what we expect from the latter.
It sits on a slight hill above a river, the windows are small and leaded, battlements top the buildings, the stone passageways are suitably worn down through hundreds of years of footsteps, and you enter through a gatehouse - actually two; one on the drive, one at the Hall itself. These days though, at both you're met by guides to welcome you rather than armed guards to keep you out.

The second gatehouse leads to a courtyard with various smaller chambers leading off now housing information for visitors, a private chapel in one corner, and the main house facing you.

Inside, a passage separates the original Tudor kitchens (my photos are too dark to bother sharing) from an open-to-the-rafters medieval hall with huge open fireplace, and gallery above from which minstrels would play.

From here you pass on to smaller rooms added later when fashion moved way from communal hall-style living. The walls are panelled in wood with carvings or intricate plaster mouldings as decorations.

Although old, with most rooms preserved as they would have been 600 years ago, the small addition of modern pieces of furniture here and there makes it feel like a place you could still comfortably live today, though I suspect it would be a little cool for me in winter without central heating; even on a warm, though occasionally rainy summer day, fires were lit in most hearths.

 Looking through the Long Gallery's windows, I saw the sun had come back out so headed to the garden, set on a series of terraces leading down to the river Wye. We last visited Haddon just before Christmas  which obviously wasn't a good time to explore the gardens; being able to was a huge part of why we re-visited.

Formal beds edged in lavender, and echoing the design of the hall's windows, contrast with freer plantings in the herbaceous borders

It's a chance to admire that battlemented silhouette from a different angle

...and after we'd walked back up from the lower terraces, I think we deserved our treat of tea and cake (white chocolate and orange)

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Seasonal Adjustment - is it really still Summer?

I've heard a couple of things recently that have made me realise I'm either losing touch with the season - or alternatively re-adjusting to a more 'natural' view of them.

The first was spotting people on social media, from parents to teachers, celebrating the end of the school term and beginning of the holidays. Five weeks of uninterrupted sun lay ahead (or at least that's what they hoped). It came as a bit of a shock to me to realise that the school term was only just finishing; that for them summer, with seaside and fun, still lay ahead, whereas I'm feeling that summer is definitely nearing its end, and I'm actually counting down the weeks before autumn!

I noticed this again when I went out clothes shopping. Of course it's time for summer sales and back to school uniforms, and in the past I'd have bean moaning about stores trying to force autumn on us early but this year I found myself thinking that it was probably too late to bother buying new summer lightweight clothes this late in the season.

Then at the DIY store this weekend, hubby commented on the reduced price of barbecue charcoal, saying "obviously they don't expect much sunshine this summer". But I was again thinking, "well, it makes sense - summer's nearly over". And when we got to the garden furniture sale, I decided it wasn't worth buying any new stuff after all (despite the fact that ours is slowly and surely rotting away), because ... yes... it's not worth it this near to autumn!

Summer for me was back in June when the garden was filled with huge oriental poppies

Now, it's a mass of rain-battered montbretia, and apple trees bowed down by fruit.
At the allotment, there are blackberries ready to be picked, rather than raspberries or currants.
To me, it all says autumn, as sure as leaves changing colour.

So who's in the right? Do we still have summer to look forward to, or is it behind us?  Certainly temperatures have taken a tumble since mid-July, and we've had rain - from light drizzle to heavy downpour - almost every day. Days are of course getting shorter now, and it's beginning to be noticeable.
I've written before about how the freedom from school terms doesn't quite work how you think it would, and I'm going to blame them again. When you have to fall in line with them, summer doesn't start till the last week of July - but without those constraints summer falls in the hotter, sunnier weather of June or early July.
I think we're definitely on the edge of autumn. What do you think?

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