Nuffield Place

Yesterday was E’s birthday so we had a family day out to Nuffield Place, near Nettlebed in Oxfordshire.  The estate was opened to the public by the National Trust in 2011.  It is the time-capsule home of the philanthropist William Morris, Lord Nuffield, the founder of Morris Motor Cars and one of the richest men in the world during his life time.  He lived in the house from 1933 until his death in 1963.

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Nuffield Place from the Back Lawn

Lord Nuffield gave much of his wealth to good causes (about £8 billion in today’s terms) and his house reflects a relatively modest lifestyle. Lord and Lady Nuffield’s personal possessions remain as they left them with the decor and furnishings intact, making it a perfect example of a complete 1930s country home.   I was amazed by the stories of his generosity, the fact that he never had the latest car to come off the Morris production line and what a modest lifestyle the Morris’ lived.  Truly inspirational.

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Inside the house, many of the rooms are open and full of the Morris’ own furniture.  It has the feel of a warm and loving house even though they never had any children.  I particularly liked the drawing room where they would have entertained their friends, and Lady Nuffield’s sewing room which had a sweet fireplace.

Drawing Room

Drawing Room

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Items in the Sewing Room

Sewing Room

Sewing Room

Sewing Room Fireplace

Sewing Room Fireplace

Outside the gardens are lovely and there were lots of alliums in flower

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I loved the succulents growing in the dry stone walls

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the relaxed topiary

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and finally..the Morris MG parked at the front door

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I bought some wild flowers – white clover, red campion and mallow to plant in my wild flower area at home and to remind me of such a lovely place full of visual inspiration and positive values.

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A Right Royal Occasion

This week saw a trip to London to see our eldest son play with his School Brass Band at the Royal Albert Hall.  They were taking part in a concert called ‘Echoes 5’ organised by Bucks County Council Music Services, along with 59 other Primary Schools.  There was lots of singing, African Drums, Woodwind and Brass.  It was a truly amazing experience to see schools working together in such a great way after such limited rehearsal time – they all spent lots of time rehearsing their own parts in school, but only came together for one full rehearsal.

Great to see music in Schools being promoted and supported in such a positive way in a time where local government services are struggling with cuts.

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A tramp in the woods

Last weekend I took the older boys orienteering for the first time.  I hadn’t orienteered for approximately 20 years but since getting to know the lovely @gallop484 on Twitter who is mad keen on the sport I felt inspired to give it another go.

So with my rusty map reading skills and no compass we set off down the road from our house to an event in Bradenham Woods in the Chilterns which had been organised by the Thames Valley Orienteeing Club.  It is just one event of six which have been organised in our local area between now and August.

The event was really well organised and we were helped to register and decide which colour course to try (different colours equal different levels of difficulty with White being the easiest, through Yellow, Orange, Light Green and Green).  We were advised to go for the Yellow course which had 11 control points to find, all shown on a map

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You must find each control point in order and you are given an electronic punching card at the start which you use to register at each point. You can just see this in the top left of the photo. At the end of the course the information on the cars is downloaded to give you a print out of your overall time and split times between each point, and the next day you can see how you did compared to everyone else who did the same colour course by visiting the TVOC website.

We started off quite well finding Control Points 1 to 3 fairly easily.

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View from the Start

View from the Start

We were a roll. ‘This is easy’ said the boys. I was thinking we would be home within the hour drinking tea. Then we got hopelessly lost. 😦

Everywhere in the woods looked the same..
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We all got really disoriented and couldn’t work out where we were on the map. Forty minutes later after lots of moaning and ‘I want to go home’ we eventually worked out where we were and from then on in it was a breeze.

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Finding the control points really kept the boys engaged, it was good fun and getting lost meant we all got a lot of exercise. We didn’t even come last!! Next time though I will definitely be taking a compass.

Kirsty x

Willow Weaving

Last weekend I went on a willow weaving course run by Windrush Creative to learn how to make my own garden supports – wigwams for growing sweet peas and beans up; supports for perennials such as Delphiniums and Peonies etc.

The course took place at Cogges Manor Farm which is in Witney, Oxfordshire. Cogges is a Victorian Working Farm and is operated by a Heritage Trust who lease the farm from Oxfordshire County Council.  It is a magical place, great for a day out with children and where you can feed the animals and explore the beautiful Farm House.

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Because the weather was so lovely we worked outside which gave lots of visitors to the farm an opportunity to see what we were doing. Our lovely tutor Linda gave us lots of help and guidance and started us off making a willow wigwam. This involved using 8 strong willow uprights (straight willow branches) to form a circle, before beginning to weave thinner willow in and out of the uprights.
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It took me a while to get the hang of twisting the willow in and out of the uprights but once I got going I made my wigwam pretty quickly and also used Cornus to inject some red.
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You can use the same techniques for making a hurdle fence
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I had a lovely day and Windrush are so professional and lovely. They provided us with a gorgeous home made lunch of baked potatoes, home made salads, bread and cake and there was a selection of tea, coffee, water and biscuits available all day. The course ran from 10am until 4pm and for £69 including lunch I though it was fantastic value for money.

Kirsty x

Lancashire Lass

Last week I went ‘home’ to Lancashire to see my parents for a few days taking the 2 youngest boys along for a bit of a holiday.  I haven’t lived there for over 20 years, since I left University, but I still consider it to be home and am proud to be a Lancashire Lass who hasn’t lost her accent, or love for meat and potato pies and chips with gravy.

We spent quite a bit of time just chilling out at Mum and Dad’s, playing in the garden, swimming and doing local walks.  I went to visit my brother’s grave as it is nearly 3 years since he died.  He is in a lovely spot next to fields and it is a really peaceful place although it still upsets me to think that his life was so short; he died at the age of 37.

Towards the end of the week I took Mum and the Littlest to Sizergh Castle, a National Trust property on the edge of Kendal.  Sizergh is a medieval property set in beautiful countryside at the gateway to the Lake District.  It is still lived in by the Strickland Family and boasts a lot of ancient wood panelling some of which was in the V&A until it was returned to the house in 1999.  You aren’t allowed to take photos inside the house and although there were some interesting artefacts it wasn’t my favourite NT property.  I found it a bit dark and gloomy and it was very draughty.

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In the gardens there is a lot to see, and I would definitely recommend a visit during the Summer to see the Herbaceous Borders and the walled Kitchen Garden which looked very bare when we were there, because of the time of year.  However, Littlest loved the very scary Scarecrow 🙂

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He also loved pulling faces at his reflection in the water tank

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We loved the hens, especially the Lemon Cuckoo Neiderrheiner Cockerel who was strutting his stuff

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and generally running around to keep warm on what was a very cold day

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After lunch we went into Kendal to visit Williams Wools, a lovely wool shop on the High St which is owned by Adrienne Williams

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Th shop is a lovely haven of yarnie goods..there are local hand dyed yarns, as well as Rowan, Arancunia, Noro and many other brands. There is a really comfy sofa area in the middle of the shop and lots and lots of samples on display for inspiration

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I bought two skeins of Botany Lace to make a striping shawl, the variegated mustard yellow/grey in the middle and the solid mustard yellow on the right

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It was a lovely few days in a lovely part of the world.

Kirsty x

Vintage Rail..oh and Thomas the Tank Engine

Today saw a family day out to Bucks Railway Centre which is a Railway Preservation Centre based at what was Quainton Road Station near Aylesbury in South Buckinghamshire and about a 30 min drive from where we live.

The primary reason for going today was for the Littlest Collins to see Thomas.  He is completely mad on trains and really loves Thomas the Tank Engine, something we never really experienced with the two older boys.  We arrived for when the Centre opened at 10.30am and although busy it wasn’t so busy that there were long queues to ride on Thomas so we decided to do that first. Littlest one’s face on seeing Thomas when we got out of the car will stay with me for ever.  He was so so excited it actually made me cry..the lovely innocent joy of a nearly 3 year old.

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After this we went into the main museum. Quainton Road was opened as a station in 1868 and closed to passengers in 1963 under the Beeching report recommendations. It opened as a museum in 1969 and is run entirely by volunteers and has a number of steam locomotives on display

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Outside we find a loco that had been built in Glasgow to operate on the South African Railway

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The boys also had a blast on the Miniature Railway

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I found some great vintage advertising signs

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and some old suitcases and associated paraphernalia on the platform

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It was a great day and if you are ever in Buckinghamshire and fancy a visit you can find out more information here

Kirsty x

A few things about me you may not want to know…

Inspired by the lovely iMake blog (there seems to be a theme developing of me being inspired to write posts by others which makes me, amongst the things below, not very original) I thought I would share a few things about me and my life, nothing too personal such as my age or how much I weigh, (not that those are that interesting) but a few quirky things.  Here goes:

1. I can ice skate backwards

2. I am petrified of flying

3. I love wearing head scarves

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4. I have 2 small dogs

5. I am a qualified Accountant but hated it so don’t do that any more

6. I love beach combing and making pictures from what I find

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Pieces of pottery washed up on the North Norfolk coast

7. I can’t sing

8. I am very short sighted

9. I love 1950’s inspired clothes especially dresses

10. I have met and had dinner with Alan Titchmarsh

Kirsty x