30 January 2020

Down House

Charles Robert Darwin was a British naturalist and biologist known for his controversial theory of evolution and his understanding of the process of natural selection. In 1831 he embarked on a five-year voyage around the world on HMS Beagle, during which time his studies of various plants led him to formulate his theories. In 1859, he published his landmark book, On the Origin of Species.

He was born on February 12, 1809, in the tiny merchant town of Shrewsbury, England. The second youngest of six children and a child of wealth and privilege, he loved to explore nature. Darwin came from a long line of scientists: His father, Dr. R.W. Darwin, was a medical doctor, and his grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, was a renowned botanist. Darwin’s mother, Susanna, died when he was only eight years old.

In October 1825, at age 16, Darwin enrolled at the University of Edinburgh along with his brother Erasmus. Two years later, he became a student at Christ's College in Cambridge. His father hoped he would follow in his footsteps and become a medical doctor, but the sight of blood made him queasy. His father suggested he study to become a parson, but Darwin was far more inclined to study natural history.

He was a born list maker, he even made copious amounts of notes on the pros and cons of taking a wife. Eventually in 1839 he married his cousin Emma Wedgwood. T
hey shared a grandfather, Josiah Wedgwood of pottery fame. Married life began in Bloomsbury. When the couple’s third child was born, they moved to Kent. They went on to have 10 children, two of whom died as babies, and one daughter died aged 10. 
The Darwin Children

Down House, the home of the Darwin family

They lived at Down House for 40 years. Several rooms appear as if the family still live there, with croquet sets thrown into an under-stairs cupboard, a half-played game of backgammon on a side table and Emma’s knitting left on a chair in the drawing room. Upstairs, an exhibition showcases Darwin’s voyage aboard HMS Beagle.

Drawing room. It is a lovely comfy family home.


Dining room

Darwin's study

The Stair Slide
In February 1857 Emma Darling wrote to her eldest son William that "Mr Lewis has made a sliding board for the children and they enjoy it very much. They put it on the stairs, and I have taken a slide or two and so has Miss Thorley". Miss Thorley was governess to the children from around 1850 -1857.
The slide was hitched by a cross-piece onto a step of the stairs. The angle of the slide could be changed according to the bravery of the child!

Following a lifetime of devout research, Charles Darwin died at his family home,
Down House, on April 19, 1882. He was buried at Westminster Abbey. 

I hope you have enjoyed this short history of Charles Darwin.

Be warm and well ~ 
Polly x

25 January 2020

Buster's Diary

Well I've had my leg x-ray'd and the the good news is that there is no arthritis, no fracture and nothing sinister, but the bad news is I still limp now and again and the lump is still there. I'm taking medicine and have to go back in 4 weeks time. Polly was never convinced it was a shoulder injury, she thinks it's a hematoma. I rest a lot, (we Lurchers are couch potatoes anyway) and I have to stay on the lead for walks which isn't good because I like to sniff every blade of grass so Polly has to keep stopping, she likes to keep walking. Ordinarily I would stop then run to catch up, stop, run ..... and so on.


I'm glad I'm not a horse, they are out in the fields in all weathers, I think they go indoors at night time though.

We're pleased with the frosty weather, frost means harder ground which means no mud, which in turn means .................... not having to be hosed down when we get home, hooray.

 There is a lot of mud

everywhere.

The badgers have been busy adding another wing to their home! The first one is where I am standing and this one nearest the camera is the latest one.

Polly is doing her usual hibernating, making quilts and working on dollshouses. She has been feeling a bit under par lately - I think it's mainly this time of year but I did overhear her tell a friend that she is beginning to feel her age!! Don't tell her I told you that! :-)

Be warm and well ~ 
Buster 🐾

20 January 2020

Deal Castle


Deal castle was built by order of King Henry VIII as part of the King's defence programme to protect against invasion from France and the Roman Empire. It was a purpose built fort equipped with big guns, a keep, inner and outer bastions and a moat. Although it remained armed, during the 18th and 19th centuries it was adapted to form a private house for the castle's captain, which was by now an honorary position.


In 1904 the War Office concluded that the castle no longer had any value either as a defensive site or as a barracks and it was opened to the public when the captain was not in residence. Early in the Second World War the captain's quarters were destroyed by German bombing forcing Deal's then-captain, William Birdwood to move to Hampton Court Palace, and the castle became an observation post for an artillery battery placed along the shore line. The castle was not brought back into use as a residence and was restored by the government during the 1950s to form a tourist attraction. It is now operated by English Heritage.
There wasn't as much to see as in previous castles, we were a tiny bit disappointed.

We finished the day with a stroll along the cliffs.

Be warm and well ~ 
Polly x

17 January 2020

Downton Abbey


Went to see the Downton Abbey film last night. The cast was the same as the TV series, with the addition of Geraldine James as Queen Mary and Simon Jones as King George V, and as usual they all put in stellar performances. I know it received some bad reviews but I loved it. I think you had to be a fan of the TV series to enjoy it. 
The film had the Crawley household preparing for a royal visit. The family and staff were swept along on a tide of excitement and a flurry of activity with smaller stories running alongside. As well as a good story it also tied up story lines from the TV series to a satisfactory conclusion. 
And as usual the sets and costumes were stunning. 

Be warm and well ~ 
Polly x

13 January 2020

A Tedious Read

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed White Teeth I had high hopes for this. The prologue hinted of a good story. The opening line reads “It was the first day of my humiliation. Put on a plane, sent back home to England". And towards the end of the prologue a sentence which read  "Now everyone knows who you really are” Ooh I thought, this is going to be good.

The narrator and Tracey dream of becoming dancers. They meet at a junior dance class and instantly become friends in that they are the only brown girls in the class and they share a passion for old musicals. Tracey has talent, our narrator doesn’t, but she does have a beautiful singing voice. A good start which I thought would move on to a story about a lasting friendship and the ups and downs of their joint struggles to achieve their goals. WRONG, it was 453 pages of nothing. The narrator is not given a name because she isn’t much of a character in her own right, she seems content to be what those around her want her to be, subservient to her mother, a doormat for the bitchy Tracey and Tracey’s horrible mother and just another name on the payroll for Aimee (Who I think was based on Madonna).

I ploughed on thinking "The prologue hinted of something good, when is it going to start?" It didn't, it was disjointed and confusing in places with obscure time jumps. The constant toing and froing to Africa and the narrator’s thoughts whilst there became boring - unless you're interested in the economic and political history of Africa. Some parts of the book were interesting: the narrator’s mothers’ determination to make a niche for herself as a black woman in politics in the 70’s; and the author's exploration of how rich people throw money at causes with little thought to if and how it helps.

Very disappointing.

Be warm and well ~ 
Polly x

8 January 2020

Dolls House No. 2 The Dining Room

I'm very pleased with this room, it all went together with ease. The cabinet at the back, the table and chairs and all the ornaments came from dolls house No. 1 before I sold it on ebay. The sideboard is a new purchase. The wallpaper was from a company in Spain. I prefer to see things before buying
so I was a little concerned about the colours,

I needn't have worried though, I love it.

I made the curtains from material in my stash, the floor and window sill from spatulas,
and bought the lovely rug from a nearby dolls house shop.
The chandelier was a bargain from an online store with a 25% discount.

I'm currently working on the lounge. I've made a sofa, chaise longue and a chair, I have a 
television to finish and then will attempt to make a unit for the TV and  some occasional tables,
using my new Dremel :-)

🏡 Be warm and well  🏡
Polly x

4 January 2020

Power To Me

Most women would get excited about receiving a gift of perfume, jewellery or a heavily loaded John Lewis voucher card, me I got excited about the fantastic gift my darling daughter and son-in-law gave me, something that I have been looking at online for a while now ............... wait for it .................





A Dremel

with loads of attachments

My daughter and son-in-law know how much I enjoy my miniature work and picked up on how I've struggled with ordinary tools. It was my son-in-laws idea after asking him recently if he had any idea how I could remove a floor in number 3 house.


I've done a lot of work furnishing dolls house number 2, most of it was ready made, some in kit form, and the rest was DIY, struggling with a craft knife or saw cutting small sizes of wood for the en-suite in Miss Teens room. Then I bought dolls house number 3 - Lake View which is going to need a lot of work to turn it into the grand design I have in mind, work that I won't be able to do with a saw or craft knife. I also have another project waiting in the wings which will also need some wood work.

More recently I have made a sofa, chaise and chair using foamboard. Now I'm keen to make a TV unit and occasional tables, but foamboard won't look as good as wood.

I can't wait to get started. But I need to head over to Youtube for a few tutorials. I will need to do some practice pieces first, then see what I can produce!!




Be warm and well ~ 
Polly x


1 January 2020

Bad Habits

So, I woke up this morning with a headache, blocked sinuses and that pulsing seashore sound in in my right ear. I felt hungover but .... I only had one small glass of alcohol last night so it wasn't that. I think I know the cause -  a week of over indulgence, eating way too much rich food and chocolate finally catching up with me. I met my friend M in town yesterday for coffee and a catch up. I felt uncomfortable, my trousers were tight, even my coat felt tight! 
On the plus side though my back is finally recovering from a week of pain after tweaking a muscle as I was leaning over brushing the dogs!
I don't usually make New Year resolutions, but I must ditch the bad habits and revert to sensible eating and drinking more water.
Be warm and well ~ 
Polly x
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