18 October 2019

Isle of Wight

After my short break in Yorkshire my friend M and I went to the the Isle of Wight. It was a first for both of us, and as well as a holiday it was also an occasion to catch up with friends we hadn't seen for a long time. I hadn't seen my friend for about 9 years, but M hadn't seen her friend for 30 years!! They did recognise each other though!

We found a good deal online with Crusader holidays staying at Warners Bembridge hotel.

The RNLI station is nearby

A trip around the island was included but it was disappointing. All the lovely places we could have visited and instead we were taken to the Wight Pearl shop, which M and I had no interest in whatsoever, followed by a visit to Alum Bay hoping that the chair lift down to the needles would be operational, but due to horrendous gales it was closed. 

I couldn't zoom in any closer. I thought my phone would be blown away!

Other attractions include the sand shop where you can make a coloured sand souvenir, a 4D cinema, Alum Bay glass, a sweet manufactory where you can watch sweet makers make sweets, a great Jurassic adventure golf course, cafes, a host of carousels, and an emporium selling tourist rubbish stuff, I bought a rather nice fridge magnet with a RNLI boat moving along the water. Being close to the end of the season a lot of places were closed. I think it would have been much better if the weather had been sunny and calm, and high season.

We had just over an hour to wander around Ventnor which was quite nice

 The pretty Cascade Gardens

We both had lovely days with our respective friends. It was so good to see my friend A again. She lives a stones throw from the beach. We took her dog for a walk along the footpath to a beach side pub for fish'n'chips which we enjoyed sitting outside in the lovely warm sunshine.

The following day M and I visited Osborne House, what a glorious place.

"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria of Osborne House,
her palatial holiday home on the Isle of Wight. 

And I have to agree with her, it is lovely, the whole package - the house, location
with it's proximity to a private secluded beach, the grounds and stunning views.

At the time of our visit the 200th anniversary of Victoria's and Albert's birthdays were being celebrated, they were both born in 1819 and tried, where possible to spend their birthdays as Osborne House. The first birthday Victoria celebrated at Osborne was her 29th, on 24 May 1848. She was woken by the band of the Royal Marines playing under her window, and after dressing went to look at her birthday gifts with Albert and their six children. The gifts were all laid out on a ‘birthday table’. The queen recorded the events of the day in her journal, noting that ‘The Children ran about, playing most happily, whilst we were at breakfast’. After breakfast the children performed music and recited poetry they had written themselves in the drawing room. Whatever the weather the family then went for a walk in the grounds, often to the Swiss Cottage. In the afternoon they went into the grounds for a drive, and often a group photograph was taken on the terrace. The day was rounded off with a celebratory dinner, followed by further entertainment in which the children usually took part. Queen Victoria’s Journal on the 24 May 1848 recorded ‘I received many lovely things … such a quantity from dearest Albert’. They were devoted to each other and their children.

Boar at the entrance to the Household Wing
Courtesy of befunky.com
Left: Reproductions of the dish on top of the table are presented
to the winner of the ladies singles championships at Wimbledon.
Centre: I think the statue is the Nike of Samothrace
Right: One of many beautiful ornate standard lamps

Beautiful rooms

and furnishings

Cute tiny chairs were adorable. Each of the royal children had their own chair.

The nursery


Prince Albert's writing room

Neptune Resigning to Britannia the Empire of the Sea.
Presented by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria in 1847
Many of the gifts the royal couple exchanged remain at Osborne as part of the collection.

Queen Victoria's dressing room 

her writing room

and her bedroom.
When her beloved Prince Albert died in December 1861, at the very young age of 42, Queen Victoria was plunged into the depths of deep depression and wore the mourning black for the rest of her life. 
In January 1901 it was on a couch-bed here that she died with her family around her. 
The room became a family shrine, and Edward VII placed decorative gates outside to maintain privacy. Edward inherited the various estates and residences,
he made the decision to sell Osborne House to the government.

The lavish Durbar Room, named after an anglicised version of the Hindi word meaning court, was built for state functions. It was decorated by Bhai Ram Singh, and has a carpet from Agra.

A short walk from Osborne House is the beach
Queen Victoria's bathing hut

Swiss Cottage, an Alpine-styled chalet created for Queen Victoria and Price Albert’s nine children. It was their own little world where the children could play and learn. The inspiration behind the Cottage is believed to have been taken from the Swiss Cottage near Schloss Rosenau, where Prince Albert grew up. He was keen to educate his children in the stern practicalities of life as soon as possible. His daughters were to learn cooking and his boys carpentry.
The grounds contained individual vegetable plots enclosed by fences, each one marked by the name of each child. They would tend their allotment for several hours a day, helped by a professional gardener.

Each child had their own little wheelbarrow.
They usually grew fruit, veg and flowers. Prince Albert would buy their produce from them, paying market prices. This one way they could earn some pocket money. They spent their pocket money on gifts for each other and also gave to local charities. Fruit and veg were also given to poor people living nearby.

Inside the Swiss Cottage, three of the ground floor rooms are dedicated to exhibition space but were once lived in by the housekeeper, Louisa Warne ‘Warnie’ and her husband Thomas the under gardener. There was a pantry with a simple fireplace and sink, where Prince Alfred, in particular, helped to look after the stove and mend cutlery.

The princesses were taught to bake cakes and cook dishes, by Louisa in the old-fashioned chafing oven, using family recipes or those suggested by Mrs Warne. The Queen and Prince Albert were often invited to tea to sample their baking.

Very pretty St Mildred's church used by Victoria when she was in residence.

I hope you have enjoyed this mini tour of the Isle of Wight, and a bit of charming history.

Be well ~ 
Polly x

11 October 2019

Newby Hall

This might be a long post - I think I might get carried away posting photographs of the many gorgeous dolls houses at Newby Hall!
Newby Hall is the permanent home to one of the finest collections of dollshouses and miniatures in the world, created by collectors Caroline Hamilton and Jane Fiddick. For well over 40 years friends Caroline and Jane have shared a passion for dollshouses. With nearly 70 houses of all shapes, sizes, styles and ages this is also one of the most important private collections on display anywhere in the world. The attention to detail in each tiny room, arranged in clever and amusing scenes and peopled by delightful characters is truly wonderful.
All the exhibits are behind glass screens which meant a lot of reflection, so I have scanned or photographed the pictures from the beautiful book I bought. Photos, no matter how good, can truly reflect the delight from seeing the exhibits in real life.
Best House is a beautiful Georgian house that Jane and her husband built together.
It took time to materialise, so to have something to play with in the meantime Jane bought
a small wall-hung kit house. When this Georgian house was finally finished it was called
'Best House' simply to distinguish it from the other one.

Exquisite miniatures
From top left
Baby clothes: Bobbin lacemaking cushion
Wild flowers: Glass decanter & glasses (my favourite)
Sewing and manicure nécessaire: Knitted mouse

Mrs Aspi Distra
When she first saw this house Caroline wrote "There was nothing original to respect" However when she saw a "rather clumsy looking doll dressed in bright purple" she immediately felt she was right for the house. She likes purple, in her dress, shawl, tea cosy, cushion and her knitting. She collects flying ducks, and royalty souvenir china, and she has a little dog. Mrs Aspi Distra spends a lot of her time checking up on her neighbours from behind her curtains.
She is a formidable character, hence the slight trepidation shown in the vicar's stance!

The Tall Wooden House
has a lift which is totally open and operated by a mechanism in the bedroom.
You can see the lift in the left hand corners of each of the rooms.
Caroline enjoyed sending someone hurtling down the lift into the kitchen!
Another feature that appealed to Caroline is the shiny brass hook on the front.

Library In A Book 

How cute is this

The Pink Gothick Gatehouse was inspired by years of reading World of Interiors magazines. 

 it's my favourite

I love this yellow drawing room

The conservatory is in the converted coach gate

This sumptuous bedroom has silk walls and a tented ceiling.
The fine flower painting hanging over the chest of drawers conceals the mechanism
for the automated bird which sings and flaps its wings when operated. 

From top left
Ribbon back chair: Landseer's Dignity and Impudence
Elegant Lady: Country Woman on rocking chair

Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Originally Jane was going to create a Mackintosh room but her husband persuaded
her that a house would show his architecture as well as his distinctive designs for furniture.

San Franciso Painted Lady
another of my favourites.
It's a very pretty house made from a kit. Caroline says "it was rather a shock dealing with a zillion press-out, inaccurate, hairy-edged, splintery bits". Inspiration came from the "painted lady" houses of San Francisco with their beautifully decorative Victorian exteriors and fantastic complex and colourful interiors.  

Millennium Dome
This is a bachelor pad in a London Docklands loft. Nick Loadsamoney is a banker.
He has a designer kitchen but prefers take-away pizzas and a can of lager!

Mrs Smith & Mrs Jones
Almshouses were traditionally built by the Lord of the Manor or the local parish, to house the poor or retired estate workers. This model was sold as as one interior but when Caroline saw the two front doors she felt it should be divided again. Mrs Jones on the right has 'the electric' whilst Mrs Smith is still living with oil lamps. Mrs Jones is a bit more well off, she has a smart new range and a nice dresser. Mrs Smith only has a curtain wardrobe and takes in sewing to make ends meet. 

More gorgeous miniatures
Egg cups in stand with spoon: Fairy under dome
Wall clock: Charlie Chaplin's film camera

 Tudor House
I'm a fan of the Tudor times and hope to have a Tudor house one day.

Payne's Pharmacy & Floozy's Bedroom
Caroline made a joke about a pharmacy with pills for pain being named after Cynthia Payne, the notorious Madam, and the lodger upstairs being Floozy the showgirl with a heart of gold but bad taste in furry carpets and mirrored ceilings. Floozy is actually a hardworking night club dancer and the fact that she has champagne and two glasses at the ready is strictly her own business.

Mimi & Musetta named after the heroines of Puccini's La Bohéme, but far more virtuous and industrious than their namesakes, these two have set up an over-the-top pink and pretty hat shop with haberdashery and dressmaking upstairs.

Steptoe & Son
These two do look just like old man Steptoe and his long suffering son Harold

Earl's Court
There's a lot going on in this house occupied by arty types.
On the ground floor Caroline is obsessed with making dollshouses
in what was once the smart front room.
The fortune teller occupies the first floor in her Egyptian themed room.
The genie has escaped from the bottle.

 The second floor is occupied by a photographer in a Chinese themed room

An artist occupies the attic.

And a potter is in the conservatory

The Bluebell Bakery
From top left
Set of six Matroshka Russian dolls inside each other
Diamond brooch with working pin, in a silver box
Imari bowl: Lute 

The Mobile Home
Caroline found this in a shop in Twickenham which occasionally had some dollshouse items.

The Mouse House
How clever is this lovely little diorama.
The house is made from full scale skirting boards with a wooden house behind. The room is full of everyday items we have in our homes - cotton reels, screws, paper clips, fridge magnets, matches, pasta shapes, buttons, a tooth brush. Miss Mouse is a great collector of bits and pieces that she converts for her own use. I love the idea of a tiny mouse running around the house after the family have gone to bed collecting all manner of things.  I really want to make one of these!

And finally Versailles, The One That Got Away!

This is absolutely beautiful
It is the house that Caroline took with her when she moved to her retirement flat.
She couldn't live without a dollshouse and this one holds very personal memories for her.

I thought this would be a long post, there are many more houses in the book,
it was difficult knowing when to stop!

As well as all the gorgeous dolls houses Newby also houses Gyles Brandreth's delightful collection of teddy bears. The Bears have been lovingly collected over the years by Gyles and his wife Michele. Unfortunately the lighting was poor.

Teddy Bear parlour & Teddy Bear picnic

Teddy Bear Royals & Teddy Bear nursery

Teddy Bear wedding & The Hermann Dressed bears 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the houses or just looking at them and the teddy bears.

Be well ~ 
Polly x
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