Great days out – Nuffield Place in Berkshire

See the bluebells in all their glory RIGHT NOW in the bluebells woods in Nuffield Place.

Knowing that it is bluebell season we were determined to have a day out to see them, trawling through the NT website to look for recommended venues, we see delighted that Nuffield Place was suggested and not very far from where we live.

Nuffield place

Last Sunday was a typical spring day, bright and sunny but very cold when the sun went in, so undetered we wrapped up warm and off we went. We have been before but last time it was at the end of the summer so we were hoping to see something different.

As it was sunny we thought we do the grounds first, so we walked through the gardens and into the small woodland beyond.

The sight of the bluebells was stunning as we seem to have picked the best moment with all the bluebells in flower and none of them had gone over yet. Further on slightly we could see the woodland beyond the fence which was even more delightful filled with bluebells as far as you can see.

It was such a treat to see as you always know that with a couple of weeks all this will be gone.

Back towards the house and the gardens were starting to bloom with just a few plants taking centre stage.

We decided to look around the house especially as it was getting a little chilly. The house itself is a fairly modest house (if quite grand) but does retain its 1950’s/1960’s charm. Its vintage pieces are such a draw as it is one of my favourite styles.

I always look at beautifully laid out tables with their cake stands and lace table cloths to imagine the bygone lifestyle.

The house was home to William Morris and his wife, he was famous for starting Morris Garages MG cars, which went on to create the iconic MG range as well as the Morris Minor, the Wolsey and other cars which are truly classic today. Therefore the house does have quite a masculine feel to it. One highlight is the cupboard in his bedroom which has a vice, woodworking kit and many bits where he could ‘tinker’ at night when he couldn’t sleep.

Other items on display include his and her robes as he was a peer of the realm

and delightful vintage bits I remember my grandparents having

It was a lovely day out, a tribute to one of the greats of the car manufacturing industry….well worth a visit.

Best wishes

Sarah x

Spring Day Out – National Trust Grey’s Court 

We had another fab day out to make the most of our NT membership, this time to Grey’s Court near Henley on Thames. I’d heard about its fabulous spring gardens along with a lovely mansion house and Japanese bridge. I’m a big fan of Spring gardens and hubby loves anything Japenese, so I thought, perfect match really.

It was a little overcast and trying to rain when we first arrived so decided to head straight into the mansion house.

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The mansion is a 16th Century building with 20th Century additions. It was still lived in by the family until 2003, apparently Lady Brunner could be seen cooking in the kitchen as visitors walked through, but she was always ready for a little chat.

There are some fantastic examples of 18th-century plasterwork ceilings.

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There were signs saying no mobiles or photography, which I do consider rather archaic with today’s social media etc, so I did take a couple of discreet shots, but had to be guarded about it.

The views from the windows of the stunning gardens and surrounding parkland were spectacular.

I love to see the old stone mullions around the windows.

and some fantastic stain glass windows too.

There were plenty of rooms open to have a browse around but I didn’t take too many photos in-case I annoyed someone!

The kitchen however was a throw back to the 1960s, and I was quite taken with the style.

It was clearly a well used and well loved family kitchen. A couple of NT volunteers were baking scones in the kitchen so the sights and smells made us quite peckish.

Fortunately for us their onsite teashop, The Cowshed, a modern well stocked NT cafe was the next stop on our visit.

cowshed tearoom Refreshed we headed into the gardens to see all the spring flowers, we were not disappointed with the variety of plants in flower already.

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There were a series of walled gardens, each one giving a different look and feel.

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Feeling energetic, we thought we’d embark on the Estate walk, which was marked as 1 3/4 miles, however un-beknown to us quite a lot of the walk was incredibly muddy due to the recent rains, undeterred we ploughed on and it certainly would’ve been a lovely walk if it had been dry.

img_7072To round off our visit we took the short walk to the moon bridge, A gorgeous japanese bridge.

Another fantastic day out, we’ll be back in the summer to see how the summer gardens look.

Do pop back to see how we get on

Sarah  x

Easter holiday – Art Exhibitions not to be missed

I love my job of being a teacher, inspiring and motivating young people to be interested in my subject. Encouraging them to do well in the examinations they take and even to take my subject at university or for a job.

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But of course what I also love is the long school holidays and the freedoms you get knowing you get long substantial breaks from work.

The Easter holiday is approaching with only a week or so left at school and I know the days running up to the break will be long and tiring, finishing off the syllabus for the exam classes and writing reports and collecting target data on all I teach, but I am already making plans for how to spend the 3 1/2 weeks off.

Unusually we are not going away this break, ordinarily we would have a week in a warm country just to relax and rejuvenate a little. This year however we have decided to stay at home and enjoy day trips (with occasional nights in B&B) to enjoy what is around us.

One outing we have planned is a day trip to London. For those who follow my blog know how easy it is for us to take the train. Since they’ve opened the new Oxford Parkway station it takes us straight into London Marylebone in just under 1hr.

I have two exhibitions I would like to attend,

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse

paining the modern garden exhibition

 

Which is being held at the Royal Academy of Arts

and also

Vogue 100 – A Century of Style

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Being held at the National Portrait Gallery

What is brilliant about this is both exhibitions are walking distance from one another and in the Jermyn Street, Saville Row area which are one of husbands favourite places to visit.

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I’m so looking forward to going, I’ll let you know how I get on……..

Sarah

A Spring visit to Upton House – A 1940s vintage gem

The 1940s is one of my favourite eras for its styles, in homes and fashion. So to find out that one of our local National Trust houses has been staged in that style meant a visit was an absolute must.

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The house was the country home to one of the great merchant bank families of London, Lord and Lady Bearsted of M. Samuel & Co. (Heir to the Shell fortune) When war broke out in London and there was a great risk to his art and assets in London. he moved the bank and all its staff to the Warwickshire village to be based at Upton House. the National Trust have homed in on this period of the house’s history to recreate the scenes of the era.

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It is very cleverly crafted and gives a genuine view of the era. Of course with the 1940s providing such inspiration for current vintage trends of homes and fashion, this recreation of the era is very much ‘en vogue’

img_6990 Combined with this is the winter garden walk around some of the grounds which is alive with spring flowers at the moment.

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As the house tours are booked for set times, we started with the walk around the gardens.

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It was a chilly day but with glorious sunshine which reflected off the honey coloured stone of all the wall and brick work.

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It made a nice change to be able to see the architecture of the buildings and walls whilst the plants and flowers are still fairly dormant.

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The walk included some fairly steep slopes and stairs but it meant the sloping levels opened up some lovely vistas.

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A magnificent cherry blossom was just about in bloom when we visited this weekend which was simply beautiful to see

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We continued our chilly but invigorating walk as it took us back to the house ready for the tour inside.

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We have visited the house before, but at that time they hadn’t staged it in the 1940s theme. I did actually prefer it this time as I did think it accurately portrayed the key time in the house’s history.

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So if you have a real interest in this vintage era and have fairly good mobility, it is definitely worth a visit.

Sarah x

 

Best Days out – Burford Garden Centre

Burford is a beautiful little Cotswold market town on the A40 between Gloucester and Oxford. It has gorgeous historic buildings and lots of little independent shops and cafes to visit. Just on the outskirts however is a hidden little gem of a garden centre. Well I say garden centre in the loosest terms as apart from the beautiful displays as you approach,

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it is a good while into your visit before you really see the plants for sale. Not a bad thing in my opinion as there are so many delightful finds which all compliment the plants.

The gorgeous gift and home wares are divided into sections as you move around the store.

Whether it is Art and Antiques & Collectibles;

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Or cosmetics and bath products

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All the items are displayed in such beautiful unique display cabinets. Each area is well defined with the best of products stocked.

Lots of the items are handcrafted by local crafts people and artists.

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The delicious candle section smells lovely and again stocks unusual and often unique products.

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There is a clothing section stocking brands such as Joules, Hunter, and other well known brands along with the more unusual such as these Christys top hatsimg_6843

There is a section selling vintage china, a perfect place for a rummage through all the different colours and patterns to find just the pieces for you. Everything is so beautifully well displayed you can easily find just the perfect thing.

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Finally getting to plants..again so well displayed there is so much inspiration to be gained at every corner. One of my favourite indoor plants is the orchid, here they have a large orchid section and I have never seen them displayed quite like this before.

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Whether its ferns, pots, baskets, house plants there is something for everyone.
img_6840img_6828img_6829And eventually getting outside to the array of colour and variety again you can’t fail to be impressed with how everything is so well displayed.

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Exhausted you will want to visit their award winning cafe for hot meals, snacks or cakes.

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Of course there were many more departments selling lots more individual items, I think I’ve probably only touched the surface here, so I would thoroughly recommend a visit so you can see for yourself just how unusual this hidden gem is….

Best days out – Emma Bridgewater experience day

I was given a Red Letter Day gift for my birthday this year of an Emma Bridgewater experience day. Of course I knew all about EB, I love her pottery, I’ve even got a pair of her wellies and some of her lovely notecards, but quite what was in-store for the experience day was another matter.


Having been bought up in the Midlands area I am very familiar with the Potteries in general but its been at least 15 years since we last visited and I know in that time the vast majority of the major manufacturers have since left. Even Wedgewood, that true British product now has its manufacturing base in Sri Lanka?
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We rang to book our places on the tour (max 15 people at a time, 3 tours a day) and that was fully booked on our preferred day, fortunately they had a couple of spaces for the following day but were incredibly busy for most of the week. We booked ourselves onto the 10am tour knowing it would take between 45mins and 1 hour. We also had to book a space in the decorating studio, they can seat slightly more for each of those sessions so we were able to book in for the 11.15am slot. We also had the afternoon tea included although there was no need to book for that. I did ask the question, with an outside hope, if they did a GF version and was very surprised when they said yes. I was told it was best to mention it in the cafe on arrival just to ensure they had everything but they fully expected there wouldn’t be a problem.

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Perfect, we were all booked and raring to go.

When the day finally arrived, we set the sat nav to the postcode and off we went, as we neared the factory, the area was quite familiar, with the old industrial buildings and run down area but the familiar primary coloured welcoming sign of Emma Bridgewater was clear.


Parking was easy, plenty of spaces when we arrived and off we went to get signed in for our tour. Passing by all the lovely pottery in the seconds shop was so tempting, but I saved myself for a good browse later.

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The tour itself was so informative, the guide a retired ex-decorator was very knowledgeable about all the processes and all the potters were very friendly willing to chat about what they were doing as they were working. Its been a long time since I’ve been on a true “behind the scenes” tour of a working factory, all to often nowadays what you see is a cleaned up version of the real thing. We continued through to the decorators and were astounded how skillful all the process involved were. There’s some real talent working behind the scenes to create that lovely pottery.

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As the tour finished we went straight into the decorating studio, again we were enormously impressed by the staff who demo’d how to choose the foam stamps, paint colours, even an eraser if you made a mistake.

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As part of the experience, we were given a 1/2 pint mug to decorate, but for extra you could choose any blanks to decorate.


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I did think once I’d done my mug I may do something else, of course I underestimated the time it would take and only had time to do the one mug in the 1hr 45mins allowed. Once we got started decorating, time just flew by.

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I did see one or two seasoned pro’s who had obviously done this before as they arrived with sketches and plans of how they wanted to decorate their mug, for the rest of us it was designing as we went. When I go again, I’m going to go with a design in mind.

Finally off we went to the cafe for our afternoon tea, well what a treat that was, an enormous platter loaded with sandwiches, cake and scone with clotted cream along with a big teapot of tea. Of course they did a GF version which was equally delicious.

 

 Our final stop of the evening was to the gift shop, having appreciated quite how much work goes creating these lovelies, I could resist but buy something and 10% off full price ware, why not?

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We’ve already decided we are going again, in fact if we only want to do the decorating next time, it’s £2.95 for the studio fee and £10 for the mug, or whatever else you choose to decorate. I think I want to do a serving bowl next…..