Wednesday, 31 July 2019

A Walk from Reading to Sonning


Thanks for calling in.

As soon as the heat reduced, books were put down, a walk was long overdue.  It's a very pleasant easy walk on the Thames Path from Reading to Sonning and back.  The seasons are changing, there's lots to enjoy.

Vast swathes of meadow full of grasshoppers and bees looked beautiful.

The river itself was full of all sorts of craft buzzing about.  Rowers were practising as their coaches cycled swiftly to catch up on the shore.

I didn't expect to find a rhino lurking in the undergrowth,

Nor a fairy door in a tree.

The colourful Country Punk Kin vegan pizza boat was moored along the way, closed.

We're nearly at Sonning Lock, more of that another day!


Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Ham House Richmond Interior


Thanks for calling in.

Let's go inside 17th Century Ham House in Richmond.

Stepping into the double height entry hall, you immediately notice the black and white tiled floor and the fireplace with large plaster statues. Looking up you see the upper gallery around the edge of the room creating a walkway above.

A small chapel is off the hall and then the carved wooden staircase grandly rises up to the first floor where various impressive drawing rooms lead to the dark Long Gallery which contains many family portraits including a copy of Van Dyck's portrait of King Charles I which the King himself gave William Murray as a gift.

Once the house had been restored by the Lauderdale's, they built a suite of rooms exclusively for King Charles II's wife Queen Catherine of Braganza which included a private closet containing this sleeping chair where she could relax.  The beautiful ceiling was painted by Antonio Verrio and depicts Gannymede and the Eagle.

At the other end of the Long Gallery is the Green Closet and another room turns out to be a library.  The rooms appear to be small but tall.

Back downstairs, we find the marble dining room with a rather snazzy parquet floor and leather hangings, which were thought not to retain the odour of cooked food.

There are many other rooms to discover and enjoy but I'm going to give you a flavour of downstairs where all the work was done to keep the house running.

The servant's hall.

Surprisingly, the Duchess' bathroom was downstairs too.

The kitchen which would have been a hive of activity.

So much to see from 400 years ago, it must have been fantastic in its heyday.


Monday, 29 July 2019

Ham House, Richmond


Thanks for popping in.

The National Trust's Ham House sits on the River Thames in Richmond and has been seen in all sorts of films from Sense and Sensibility to Never Let Me Go and Victoria and Abdul.  It is so easy to spot with its circular niches containing classical head sculptures in the front of the house and the adjoining wall..

The beautiful cherry garden is full of flowering lavender at the moment, which was absolutely covered in bees.

If you visit when the lavender is not out, it looks like this.

The walled kitchen garden is another treat, full of colour and vegetables produced organically and used in the café.

Ham House was built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour and enhanced by William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart, a courtier and school friend/whipping boy of King Charles I who granted him the lease.  All was going well as Murray established himself as an important part of the Court until the Civil War took place and Royalists were no longer in favour following the beheading of King Charles I and the exile of his son Charles.  

However, Murray's daughter Elizabeth, who was married to Sir Lionel Tollemache and had 11 children with him, managed to steer the family through the dicey years of Parliamentarian rule by establishing good relations with Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of the new Commonwealth, all the while, as a member of the Sealed Knot, sending messages to Prince Charles in exile in France.

Once King Charles II was restored to the throne, the house once again became a place of entertainment and when Elizabeth married her wealthy second husband John Maitland, the 1st Duke of Lauderdale, Ham House benefited from the best quality decoration and furniture of the time and has remained unchanged since the 17th Century.

Before we have a look at the splendid interiors in the next blog post, let's pop into the old still room where some of the home grown flowers are being dried.

Then there's the dairy . . .


Friday, 26 July 2019

Four Books and Loads of Chillies


Thanks for popping in.

What a hot week!  Phew!  Temperatures up to 38° near here, we're just not used to it.  Apart from a delightful tea party get together, there's not been too much walking or exploring this week.

After a bit of early morning gardening, the only thing to do was to hide away in a cool place and read.  Our library has come up trumps with some excellent books.

I really enjoyed the intertwined stories of this novel and the description of life following the birth of a child.  I'll be looking out for more by this Author.

I was thrust into the Greek Myths with this book, the life and death of Agamemnon and his family.

Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite authors and this spy thriller was a good read although I didn't really like the ending.

I don't know why I picked up a ghost story as it's not a genre I enjoy but it's good to try something else now and again although I won't be choosing another one for some time!

As for the chillies growing in the garden, they are blooming and doing very nicely, thank you!

That last photo is a tomato plant of course but we've only had one or two ripe tomatoes so far so I'll show you those when there's at least a bowlful!

I hope you've been keeping cool and that you have a great weekend.


Thursday, 25 July 2019



Welcome to the blog.

You can't beat a stroll along the River at Richmond.  You have so many options for a day out - Richmond Park, Hampton Court, Ham House, Marble Hill House, Strawberry Hill House, Kew Gardens, Twickenham Stadium . . . all not far from Richmond.

Even the Puppet Theatre Barge if you are lucky.  As we walked past Three Little Pigs and Captain Grimey was in full swing.

Richmond Bridge allows access to both sides of the River and is at the bottom of the hill that leads up through the town centre.  Gardens for picnics and cafes abound along the pretty leafy riverbank where river cruises are tempting.

How about finishing off a trip to Richmond with a delicious gelato at Venchi's, purveyor of fine chocolate as well as gelato.