Monday, 21 February 2011

There be dragons.....

We've been to London twice in one week!  The first time was to go to the preview of an exhibition by a very old friend of mine - Romi Behrens.  The gallery is in Bury Street just behind the Ritz and it was lovely to see Romi and her family - we normally only see them down in Cornwall.

Here is Romi in the middle with her son Peter - it was so crowded that it was very difficult to get a decent photograph - I took this from the gallery.
Wonderfully colourful and joyous pictures.  I am pleased to say that we do have some of her paintings - she did a marvellous portrait of George some years ago and she painted me recently but she won't part with the picture! Just as well really as it is lifesize and goodness knows where we would put it!   Anyway, I do hope that she does well with her exhibition - there were certainly crowds of people there and we were very happy to be there.
As we walked back to Piccadilly station we passed the windows in Fortnum and Mason - a butterfly

 theme - absolutely delightful.  I haven't been in London at night  for ages and I found it so exhilarating. 
 But, as usual, it was lovely to get back home!   And then again yesterday we were just having our  mid-morning coffee and I suddenly remembered that 'Threads of Feeling' at the Foundling Hospital was going to finish in a week's time.  So we dashed off down to London again - as it was Sunday we could take the car in easily.   It is an amazing exhibition, very moving.  Scraps of fabric dating from 1740 when the Foundling Hospital opened and these small tokens were left with babies to identify them should the mother ever be able to return and claim her child.  There are over 5,000 swatches of fabric - making it the largest collection in the world of 18th century textiles.  The notes left with them are very poignant too.  There are so many untold  tragedies on those pages.

We were very fortunate in that there was an afternoon concert by the Chiltern Trio and so we sat and enjoyed some very charming Brahms and Mozart.  There is an interesting art collection and memorabilia from Hogarth and Handel who were both governors of the hospital - in fact, Handel left the manuscript of The Messiah to them.  And a splendid installation by VV Rouleaux who were one of the sponsors.

I had an ulterior motive in wanting to go there - I have a sneaking feeling that my great, great, great, great grandfather may have been a foundling.  His name ( and that of all the other greats ) was Lucking Capper Tavener.  Not exactly a usual name.   I've traced them all back but at the end of the 1700's the trail stops.  I have it in my mind that it was a 'made up' name such as was given to some of the orphans when they had run out of  ideas.   However, I soon discovered that the archives are not held there and I have to go to the London Metropolital Archives - so that may well be the next trip to the big city.
 In  January I wrote about the little teacosy cottage visible at the far end of our garden which was being re-thatched.  I ventured out into the garden one day last week and lo and behold -

There is a dragon on the roof!  At least, I think it is a dragon although it might be a stork.  I like to think it is a dragon and will keep the witches away.  It looks lovely and, as you can see, there was hardly a cloud in the sky that day.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Winter Flower Festival in Melbourn

I have just come back from the first day of our Winter Flower Festival.  VERY successful - the write up in last week's Daily Telegraph brought people from far flung places - and they were not disappointed.  Our chief  Flower Arranger Rebecca Gatward has done a brilliant job, especially as she  is at present working at Michigan University so much of the organising has been done long distance by email!  This is my offering - Aladdin rubbing his lamp and the genie

not, I am afraid, a very good shot - this was yesterday when it was being put together.  Today the spotlights were on but I was too busy to take photos!  On Wednesday we went to Savin's to get the flowers - we spent hundreds of pounds - well, in February you would.  I only intended to do the genie and the lamp but on Thursday in church when I was setting up the framework for the niche everyone said oh, you must have an Aladdin.  I went home and rang Marian Murphy who was knee deep in the final dress rehearsal for Cinderella by Barkway Players (Marian is the brilliant wardrobe mistress and a fellow member of MESCH)   Had she got an Aladdin costume?  I went haring up to Barkway in the dark and collected the exotic brocade pyjama suit which Marian had bought in a charity shop. It was made by George at ASDA so goodness knows what Asda customers get up to in their leisure time.

So on Friday morning I started on the flowers - the bamboo was a wonderful find, the Thai restaurant in the village has just closed down (sadly) and the bamboo was just asking to be pruned.   Two days up a ladder was very taxing and trying to construct a standing figure in a couple of hours was beyond funny.  But we got there.   I have got lights in the ectoplasm going from the lamp (eBay £4.99 purchased for me by DD2)  and round the turban.
On Friday evening, dead on my feet, we went to the first night of the Barkway Pantomime.  What a delight!  What they lack in finesse they make up for in joyous enthusiasm and it was such fun.  Nice to see Viv and Kevin from Art van Go also enjoying the show.  Marian had done a marvellous job with the costumes.
And this morning bearing two cakes and a pan full of carrot & corriander soup I went over to the church at 9.30 to help with last minute jobs and then we opened at 11.   Marian came over to see the show despite having got to bed at 2 a.m. and having a matinee this afternoon.  Lovely of her to come.
Anyone for  Jane Brett's cup cakes and  Earl Grey?

This arrangement  by Rosemary Gatward is on our beautiful 14th century Rood Screen

This arrangement  by Julie Woods represents the three wise men

Kirsti Llewllyn Beard and Debbie Mutty did all the candelabras - it took the two of them two hours to wire all the little beads  and crystals onto the silver birch branches.   Sunday evening when the Festival is over  we shall have Evensong at 4.30 and all the candles will be lit.  Magical.

Mussels for supper tonight - George cooking.  Me with my feet up.  That niche is 13 feet off the ground and hard going for an old lady.  And I have been on my feet all day, either stewarding or in the kitchen.   In two year's time when we have the next festival - will I be able to get up  a ladder?   All I have to do now is make another pan of soup and do two hours stewarding in the morning and then out to lunch.  But as we are lunching with a bellringing couple we have been told we must  be finished lunch by 3.30 as they are ringing at 4.    How lovely, bells and candles and Evensong and the scent of the flowers....  You forget the hard work.