Friday, 21 July 2017

Five on Friday - Kensington Gardens


Welcome to the blog as we join Tricky for Five on Friday on his FAST blog.

Today we are walking through Kensington Gardens in London. Adjoining Hyde Park, the 265 acre park is full of magnificent trees and flower borders.  Here are five places you can expect to find within the park.

One - The Albert Memorial

This extravagant memorial to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's Consort, designed by George Gilbert Scott, celebrates not only his life and interests but also Victorian achievements. He can be seen holding a copy of the catalogue for the Great Exhibition of 1851 which he masterminded.  There's a frieze containing 187 carved figures of poets, sculptors, musicians and artists, whilst at the top figures represent Europe, America, Asia and Africa plus others representing commerce, engineering and agriculture with angels and virtues at the top.  Albert died of typhoid fever aged just 42.

Two - Kensington Palace

The birth place of Queen Victoria and where she lived until she became Queen, Kensington Palace was also home to William and Mary, Queen Anne and still is home to members of the Royal family today.  The State Rooms are open to the public.

There's a beautiful garden there next to a leafy tunnel which was really colourful last time I visited but this time is had been turned into a White Garden in memory of Princess Diana, it's 20 years this year since she died.  You can't tell from the photo just how white it is.

The gates to the Palace are still covered in messages and flowers for Princess Diana.

Three - The Italian Gardens

Many features of this water garden were taken from Osborne House on the Isle of Wight where Queen Victoria and her family spent their holidays.  Prince Albert took a great interest in the garden there and had the Italian Gardens built in London for his wife.

Four - Serpentine Galleries and Pavilion

There are two art galleries and a summer pavilion to enjoy which I have mentioned in other posts.

Five - Diana Memorial Playground

Although the Diana Memorial Fountain is in nearby Hyde Park, there is a memorial playground to delight children, complete with a pirate ship.

Photo taken from website

There's lots to do in this large leafy space right in the heart of London.

Just finishing off with a pretty road on the way back to the station!

Have a great week.


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Serpentine Summer Pavilion


Thanks for popping in.

Hotfooting it through Hyde Park and crossing the River Thames, you pass by the two Serpentine Galleries and in the Summer months the Serpentine Pavilion.  This year the Architect is Francis Kéré, from Gando, Burkina Faso.  He is the seventeenth international award winning Architect to be commissioned to build a pavilion in London.

His design has been influenced by the tree that grows in his home village, which is a meeting point for everyone and it seeks to connect visitors with nature and each other.  The British climate has been incorporated in the design too, with a shady shelter that lets air pass through on sunny days and on wet days, a roof that funnels the water to the centre to create a waterfall effect with an irrigation system incorporated in the ground to collect the water for use in the park.

I loved the way the roof slats were open above you but looked quite solid further away.  A lot of trouble had gone into staining the blue wooden walls exactly the right colour to match the shirts his villagers wear when they want to look their best

Inside the pavilion is a café.  

I was just enjoying a cup of oriental fruit tea and a slice of banana bread when in walked the Architect himself, in the white hat and a perfectly wall-matching blue shirt, together with his entourage. Fancy that!

I really liked this pavilion, the idea, the colours and even the chairs.

I've seen several of the Serpentine Pavilions over the years and always look forward to getting a peek at the latest one.  In the Gallery, postcards were available of each one and I couldn't resist a photo of the display.

Can't wait til next year now!


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

V&A Reveal


Nice to see you.

You've probably heard about the recent unveiling of the new public areas - the Exhibition Road Quarter - at the V&A Museum in London.  There's been the REVEAL Festival as well to mark the opening.  I shot over to have a look.  As ever I walked through the magnificent Hyde Park from Paddington and it's not that far at all.

Exhibition Road is always busy as there are loads of tourists checking out all the Museums but the road is quite wide and you can get a glimpse of the screen which opens onto the new courtyard as you walk down the road.  This screen was part of the original building which had been taken down in 2013 and then reinstalled at the end of the project.

As you go through the screen, the white porcelain tiles with stripes here and there, make the area bright and welcoming.  Straightaway you notice the glass fronted café, useful for passersby.  Already people were sitting on the steps and different levels enjoying the space.

Investigating the funnel shape on the right, which turns out to be an occulus skylight, reveals a shiny mirrored space with black and white moving shapes which play a part in the new  Sainsbury Gallery below.

Entering the building and heading towards the new Sainsbury Gallery, I was fascinated by the stairs.  Shiny black against the white walls.

Even better, you realise there is a second staircase across the way winding to a different location, striking red struts appear between the two and irregular shaped windows above let you have a glimpse of the glorious old building.

Unusual shapes are created by the two staircases as they twist.  A school party scooted by, one of the young girls called out enthusiastically 'I love this place.'

At the bottom is the 1,100 square metre column-free Gallery, ready for temporary exhibitions.  It has a cantilevered ceiling which allows it to reach 9 m tall at the highest point.  The Architects AL_A also had to pile down 50 m and underpin a wing of the original building whilst the Museum stayed open to the public.

The light coming through these skylights was being influenced by the weather above creating kaleidoscopic patterns on the floor.

Back up the stairs, which set to choose?

Heading past the café, no time to stop

Outside, look at those hydrangeas!

Great place.


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Sylvianus Ring at the Vyne


Thanks for popping in.

The volunteers at National Trust properties are a mine of interesting facts, it's well worth chatting to them.  Whilst we were at The Vyne near Basingstoke, walking around the ground floor of the house whilst the roof renovations were taking place above us, one of the guides stepped forward and asked us if we had heard the story of the ring.

Step a little closer and I'll tell you.

Back in 1785, a farmer unearthed a gold ring whilst ploughing a field in nearby Silchester, an old Roman town.

Photo from the internet

The owners of The Vyne at the time, the Chute family, were known to be interested in antiquities and the ring worked its way into their collection.  It is a large ring made of 12g gold and would have been worn over a glove.  There's an image of the Goddess Venus on the front and it has an incomplete inscription in Latin which says 'Senicianus live well in God'.

A few years later in 1805, 100 miles away in Lydney at Dwarfs Hill, Gloucestershire, a Roman temple, dedicated to the Roman/Celtic deity Mars Nodens, was excavated and amongst the items found was a lead curse tablet. The tablet revealed that a 4th Century Roman, Silvianus, had lost a ring,  stolen by Senicianus and it entreated the god Nodens, to whom he had pledged half the ring's worth, to 'none grant health until he (Senicianus) brings back the ring to the Temple of Nodens'.

Senicianus had taken the ring, had it engraved with his name and then lost or discarded it in Silchester.

Eminent Archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler re-excavated the site in the 1920s and as well as recognising the connection between the ring and the tablet, in 1929 he called JRR Tolkein, Professor of Anglo Saxon at Oxford University, to ask advice on the unusual name of the deity. Tolkein worked on the etymology of the name Nodens and visited the excavation site several times.

Tolkein's famous book The Hobbit was published in 1937.  It and The Lord of the Rings, his subsequent books, feature the One Ring, which has an inscription written in a mythical language.

I wonder if the story gave Tolkein the idea for his books.


Monday, 17 July 2017

The Vyne


Thanks for calling in.

Like Jan from Jan's Ramblings, we've paid a visit to The Vyne, a National Trust property near Basingstoke, to have a look at their roof walkway whilst the scaffolding is up and the roof renovation project is in progress. It took three months to erect the scaffolding before they could get cracking.

Walking up the stairs, 74 steps, rather than going in the makeshift lift, the first thing that strikes you is that there are loads of pitched roofs, not just the one big one, over a much larger area than is apparent from the ground.

Lead was being hammered into position on the first roof, a change in material from the original slate due to it being unsuitable for efficient drainage . How neat it all looked.  Little gaps were being left in the roofing felt for the bats to be able to get in, as well as bat boxes placed here and there.

The little white frilly edged strip on the black felt is to enable the bats to get in and out. The metal strip is the lightening conductor.

The pitch of the roof below had to be changed as it was too steep and the rain water would just whoosh down, the newly secured wood had to be taken off and redone.

The new tiles ready to be laid.  Visitors can write a message on a tile for a donation. Great to think the message might be found when the roof next needs repairing.

There was a good view of the garden from above.

Throughout the building work, the ground floor of the house has been open although the rooms have been disturbed and unexpected collections are on display together with music and video displays.  A great deal of care has been taken that objects and the house interior are kept safe from all the banging and hammering.  It is supposed to be back to normal by December but that looks a tall order but completing the work to the highest level should take precedence rather than rushing.  Work over the important chapel with its beautiful stained glass windows featuring Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, doesn't start till October.

Time for a cheese scone I think.

If you'd like to have a look at this historic Tudor house, which was visited by King Henry VIII, before the work, here's a link to one of my previous posts.

There's an interesting story about a ring which is on display which I'll tell you about another time.