Monday, 10 July 2017

Kent weekend Part 1

Wow, what a busy weekend I have had.  My eldest son lives in Kent and so I made a long weekend of it and as the weather has been so sunny and as I am a member of the National Trust I decided to use my membership to go visiting a place I have long wanted to visit - Chartwell, the home of Sir Winston Churchill.

What a wonderful place it was and so interesting.  I wandered up to the gardens surrounding the house
Lady Churchill's rose garden
The East wing
The rose garden
Black swans on the lake
and joined a group to go round the house.  All entries are timed, but I did spend quite a long time in there, but unfortunately no photography allowed.  The views from the house of the Kent High Weald were stunning and far reaching and have hardly changed since Churchill's time.  I spent sometime in Churchill's studio because he painted well over 500 pictures which now fetch huge sums of money.

In the afternoon  a volunteer showed us round the garden which was extremely informative.  He took us  to the wall round the vegetable garden that Churchill built himself at 100 bricks per hour -
He was an expert bricklayer

Unfortunately he was not so good at the foundations and the walls have had to be buttressed or they would fall down!!   However he did build this all by himself and roofed it -
The 'Marycot'

a small house with an adult size door for his little daughter, Mary.

In the vegetable garden I spotted these with lots of fruit on it - a Physalis that I didn't know we could grow in this country.
A view of the Kent Weald from the garden

The front of the house
Our tour finished at the front of the house and the flag flying was Churchill's as he was a Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and this can be flown by his family in perpetuity.  However one very interesting plaque was pointed out to us -

Churchill was very short of money and in debt in 1947, but a group of his wealthy friends and admirers clubbed together and bought Chartwell from him with the proviso that his family could live there until his death and then it was to be presented to the National Trust.  The great man spent his very final years sitting beside his pond feeding his Golden Orfe and his chair is still there though you can't walk over the bridge now.

The following day was another trip to a National Trust property - Batemans at Burwash.  I loved this house which was bought by Rudyard Kipling after he and his wife returned from the USA in 1902.  I was brought up on his books which my mother used to read to us.

This was a much more intimate house and garden and I knew I would like it when I saw the kitchen garden as I walked in,  full of vegetables growing well.
The kitchen garden

 The house

 that you could wander around at your leisure and there were copies of letters to his children and extracts from the life of the domestic staff dictated after his death and photography was allowed indoors!!  I spent ages inside.
Kipling's study

Then outside into the gardens that were lovely at this time of the year with roses etc.

The rose garden and pond where Kipling kept a small craft like a pedalo for his guests entertainment.

Finally I walked through the woods to the Mill and came on this plaque below.  I hadn't realised that Rudyard Kipling wrote the famous words as part of a poem, which makes them seem particularly poignant following the death of his son John in 1915.
'Lest We Forget' by Rudyard Kipling
Two homes owned by completely different people but I found both so moving to visit.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Swans and other birds ..

At the end of my last post a week ago I left you with a sneaky peek of my June Mini Mania where we had to use a minimum of 4 strips in a block.  I had decided on my colours but what to make and then, as usual, I got my best idea lying in bed first thing in the morning - Invisible Machine Applique.  After consulting this book  the rest is history as they say.
A 10" finished block

What will our July challenge be I wonder and will I be able to complete it as I have a very full diary!!

My friends and I are watching the new development on the edge of town with some excitement so this week our Nordic walk took us round the lake itself to see what is happening.  It is due to open at the end of July and the roadworks round that part of town are horrendous at the moment.  We approached the site through lovely meadows and suddenly came on these fellows -
Not sure who was more surprised, them or us!!
We visited the lock just as two narrow boats were going through
and saw four swans -
The pedalo's at Canoe2

 and I got arty!
Cloud reflection

I was still feeling a little arty when I got home and made these

The Wednesday evening Higham Piecemakers ladies had a workshop led by Beverley and this is my result.

Finally I was so pleased to see my Callistemon or Bottle Brush bush has come back from the dead and is looking magnificent. 
Complete with a bee

I originally planted this bush about 15 years ago and it flowered fairly regularly until it appeared to die.  I couldn't dig the main root up as it was too big, but suddenly last year it sprouted and this year it is a mass of the bottle flowers.  Most of the gardening books say it should be in a pot and brought in every year as it is originally Australian and doesn't like the cold. Well my front garden faces North West and gets very cold in winter and it is surviving.  Long may it do so.