13 August 2017

A Good Read

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

In the first book of the Millenium Trilogy Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the Swedish political magazine Millennium, loses a libel case involving allegations about billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Soon afterwards he is invited to meet Henrik Vanger, retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation, unaware that Vanger has checked into his personal and professional history. The investigation was carried out by Lisbeth Salander a taciturn young woman, anti-social, fiercely private and highly intelligent; she works as a surveillance agent. 
Blomkvist is promised considerable financial reward and solid evidence against Wennerström in exchange for writing the Vanger family history. Vanger believes that his great-niece, Harriet, was murdered by a member of his family 36 years earlier, and has spent the intervening years obsessively trying to solve the mystery. 
Blomkvist moves to the island and begins his research into the history of the Vanger family and Harriet's disappearance. While searching through the evidence he decides that he needs a research assistant, Vanger's lawyer mentions Salander. When he sees the report she prepared for Vanger, Blomkvist realises that Salander has hacked into his computer. He confronts her, and Salander agrees to assist in the investigation. 
Lisbeth Salander is under the care of a legal guardian, Holger Palmgren, who suffers a stroke and is replaced by lawyer Nils Bjurman, a nasty piece of work who takes advantage of his position to beat and sexually abuse Lisbeth. After using a hidden camera to record Bjurman's assaults on her Lisbeth takes her revenge, torturing him and threatening to ruin him unless he gives her full control of her life and finances......

Now, I'm of the opinion that if a person commits a heinous crime against a helpless victim then the perpetrator deserves severe punishment, and the punishment that Lisbeth exacted on the odious Bjurman is divine.

There is violence, harsh language and some scenes of a sexual nature (love that phrase), but that's what happens when bad people do bad things. It is a brilliant story, very well crafted, I really couldn't put the book down, but didn't want to finish it. 
There are a lot of characters in this first novel so I wrote notes in the back of my book to keep track of who they all are.

I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed all three novels. I think Stieg Larsson is a brilliant writer. 

10 August 2017

Rain Rain Go Away

ok, so a few weeks ago I wanted rain for my garden and allotment, but there's just so much rain a person can take, so please for the love of God STOP. I don't think I have ever seen my lawn looking so green. With all this rain I can't do anything outside so I'm going to attempt to bring my blog up to date. 

I've been doing some work on my dolls house, and a bit of re-doing. After finishing the attic rooms I put the roof back on and - it wouldn't close properly! 

The top of the en-suite divider was just a few millimetres too long, it was sitting proud of the sloping walls 
that the roof rests on. Oh crap, extra work to correct it. 

Thankfully it wasn't as time consuming as I thought it would be. I had secured the divider with small dowels, all I had to do was drill three more holes in the divider, re-position the dowels, job done. 

It sits properly now.  
My current project is the bathroom, more of that later.

Staying on the subject of dollshouse, back in February I visited the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. This must be the Crème de la Crème of dolls house festivals. Exhibitors from around the world display their much talented work. I had a lovely day, saw a host of gorgeous miniatures that I couldn't afford and navigated the underground system with only two mistakes!! I have travelled solo to Australia, India, Africa and Everest, navigated through large international airports and tiny local airports, travelled in jeeps and trekked on foot to reach destinations but I still manage to board underground trains going the wrong way!! 

fancy a pharmacy

or a gym

maybe an operating theatre

or a café

a garden shed

a hotel

and yes, even a morgue

how cute are these baby things

I love rocking horses. 
I never had one but when I was a little girl my home town of Peterborough had a museum which had one on display and I was a regular visitor.

office with a 3D printer

child's steam engine and roundabout

this lovely blanket was crocheted using cotton thread and a 0.4 mm hook. Each square was then sewn together and two final rows crocheted around the edges. It took over 50 hours to complete. 

a bespoke dolls house for £17,000!! Made to your own spec. If I was wealthy I would definitely have one of these. It has openings on each side and the hallways go right through.

And finally this gorgeous masterpiece, an ancient stone trough planted with "Pearl Drift" roses, "Peter Pan" lavender and "Antioch" hostas. Now I get how exquisite this is and the time taken to create it, but £1,990, you can buy a really nice real life summer house for that!

I was specifically looking for a chandelier and bathroom items but there was very little bathroom stuff and the chandeliers started at £450!! 
I appreciate creating miniatures is a work of art but I can't help thinking that artisan is like vintage, just add those words and the prices increase.

I didn't leave empty handed though

I bought these for Mr Teen's room. The bottle of coke was £4 and the chocolate bar was £3. 
Sometimes I just lose control!!

Polly x 

12 July 2017

Kensington Palace

After the feast of Highclere Castle came the famine of Kensington Palace, all I can say is "Don't waste your money, you will be paying to walk around empty rooms". I was very disappointed. 

It has fine staircases, paintings and statues, beautiful floors and ceilings but empty rooms except for a couple of bedrooms. 
The exhibition of some of Princess Diana's dresses was very good, most of them have been seen in magazines or on the TV but it was nice to see them up close and real.
The day had been arranged with some American friends that I met when I did my Everest trek. They have visited London before and seen many of the visitor attractions but hadn't been to Kensington Palace and neither had I. They were happy with it though.
It wasn't a complete disappointment, we strolled through Kensington Park and the gorgeous gardens and we had a good lunch. We wanted to to the Orangery restaurant which looks beautifully posh and serene, but it was full so we went to the courtyard cafe which had a good selection of sandwiches, salads and scrumptious cakes. 

10 out of 10 for a great day with lovely friends

4 out of 10 for Visitor Satisfaction

Polly x 

4 July 2017

Downton Abbey

I hope the ambivalence I have been feeling towards my blog has passed.  I lost interest, wanting to do lots of other things instead - outings, crafts, hobbies, gardening, all of which I hope to tell you about. And now I have Wimbledon to add to my list of distractions!!
Anyway lets make a start with Downton Abbey, it must be one of the most loved series worldwide. A recent visit to Highclere Castle where most if it was filmed was a real treat. 
Before Downton Highclere Castle was just another struggling English family home with the usual 5,000-acre estate, 50-plus bedrooms, portraits by Van Dyck, Victorian gothic design, towers, follies, tapestries, heraldic shields, a museum of Egyptian artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the usual collapsing roofs and debts. Today it is probably the most famous stately home in the world with a future that is probably more secure than at any other time in its existence.

It is a beautiful country house designed in the Jacobean style by architect Charles Barry, surrounded by a park designed by Capability Brown. It is currently home to the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and the seat of the Carnarvon family for over 300 years. It has a varied and interesting history beginning with an Iron Age Hill Fort. Then came a medieval palace built during the 12th and 13th century and later succeeded by a much admired red brick Tudor house. 
Major rebuilding works were carried out in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and the old red brick and freestone house was converted to a classical Georgian mansion. In 1838, the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon brought in Sir Charles Barry to transform his home into a grand mansion which would impress the world. It was a time of energy and change. The young Queen Victoria had just come to the throne, and the whole decade witnessed innovation in politics and cultural life. 
The structural work on the interior of the Castle was finally completed in 1878. Once built, the Castle became a centre of political life during the late Victorian era, and in many ways Highclere epitomised the confidence and glamour of the Edwardian era. Visitors books record house parties attended by politicians, technological innovators, Egyptologists, aviators and soldiers.
During the First World War, Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon transformed the Castle into a hospital, and patients began to arrive from Flanders in September 1914. She became an adept nurse and a skilled healer and hundreds of letters from patients and their families bear testament to her untiring work and spirit of generosity. In 1922 the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. There is a very interesting Egyptian exhibition in the castle.
During the Second World War, the Castle briefly became a home for evacuee children from north London.
Following the death of the 5th Earl, his son, who then became the 6th Earl, returned to Highclere where he lived until 1986. The current Earl and Countess of live partly in the Castle and partly nearby but remain closely involved in the Castle's day to day life and future.

Visitors are greeted by a magnificent pair of gothic doors leading into an impressive hall with marble columns 
and a vaulted ceiling
Photography wasn't allowed. I get that flash is bad for furnishings and fabrics, but many places just ask people not to use it. I have  theory - I think it's a ruse to get us to buy their books! I followed my usual MO and bought some postcards. 
The rooms are beautiful and sumptuously decorated.

The Saloon

The State Dining Room

The Library

The Smoking Room

The Drawing Room

My visit was in April, another overcast day. 
Most of the time was spent indoors though and I dodged the light showers to admire the gardens.

Universal Sundial, John Singleton inventor 

This border is lavender and climbing roses, it probably looks spectacular now.

Jackdaws folly was built in 1743 by Robert Herbert who had inherited the Highclere estate from his mother, Margaret, 8th Countess of Pembroke and daughter of Sire Robert Sawyer, Attorney General to Charles II and James II. It was built using Corinthian columns salvaged from Berkeley House in London, which burned down in 1733. 

Lunch and snack options are quite good with a cafe serving sandwiches, toasties and cream teas. I was quite hungry so I opted for the restaurant, the quiche and new potatoes were very good but I wasn't impressed with the frozen mixed veg, I don't like frozen mixed veg, frozen peas are good, and sweetcorn but not mixed veg.

The gift shop had lots of lovely items from that era - clothes, handbags, hats, slippers, petticoats and nightdresses. Most of which was very expensive.

Apart from the frozen mixed veg I give it a 10 out of 10 Visitor Satisfaction score.

Polly x 
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