Gloucester Waterways Museum

October Half term decided to take my son to Gloucester Waterways Museum .Although I had seen it there every time I walked around the Docks I had never actually been inside .Gloucester is UK’s most inland port ,building of the Docks started in 1790 & in 1827 the canal was finished making it easier to transport things like grain without having to rely on the River Severn and its difficulty to navigate .The Waterways museum was a case of It’s there -we live in Gloucester -I can go anytime I want ,so I’d never made the effort before.Today gave me the opportunity .It was a dull October day & we had a few hours on our hands.It was quite reasonably priced to go in and quite busy.It is based in an old Grade II Victorian warehouse on 3 levels.The building itself feels full of history & inside had some displays covering all aspects of canal& river life.The ecology display featured the animal /plant life found near water.There was display about how the canals were dug out by Navvies using little more than spades & trucks.It was long before there were the machines that would do the job these days and looked like a very hard way of earning a living & dangerous .There was ‘Roses and Castles ‘ gallery to exhibit the art work of the canal narrow boats.You could dress up like one of the narrow boat families and see what cramped conditions whole families lived in as they worked the canals My son had fun playing on the ropes and pulleys ,demonstrating how it made it easier to unload sacks from the boats, with these. Outside a volunteer was running a coal fired steam crane which he let Tommy pull the chain of to blast out the whistle noise .He said you could hear it at Gloucester Cross and I believe him !There were boats to see and climb into & you could go on a boat trip up the canal but weve done that before.A massive engine of some sort was clanking away on the ground floor all adding to the atmosphere.We had a fantastic time there.I put a review on Trip advisor .It was run mostly by dedicated volunteers who all spoke to us and very friendly & enthusiastic .I think they deserve some credit.

playing at loading cargo using pulleys Gloucester Waterways Museum

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Gloucester Docks

Gloucester Docks

Gloucester Cathedral from the Docks

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Gloucester Quays Garden Party

I had chance to give the cakes that I had make especially to Carol Klein in person .She was signing a book someone had brought to the show and I waited patiently for her to finish.A photographer came us beside me and asked what I had in the box .I showed him & he asked if the lid would come off .I lifted it and he took a picture(picture taken by Jules Annan )(Concert Photography).He said he would take one when I gave her the cakes which he did plus a few more She was so easy to talk to and looked me in the eyes and thanked me for making them for her .She seemed really interested in the detail of them .She mentioned them in her talk and told everybody to look at them after the show !I am so glad I had the chance to meet her and welcome her to Gloucester in my own little way ! She gave a very interesting talk about the calendar year in the garden .She was up to about July when her allocated time ran out ! She could probably have gone on a lot longer and we all wished she could have done! We love her enthusiasm and hope she comes back to Gloucester soon !                                                                                                                                                                                 April  2012

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Hardwicke Reformatory

The article I wrote and sent to our local free magazine ‘Quedgeley News ‘

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view from Park Seat at Croome Park

view from Park Seat at Croome Park

View from Park Seat ,Croome Park

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My thoughts on Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and my visit to Croome Park

I was completely bowled over by Croome Park.I have always loved visiting beautiful houses and gardens in Great Britain so joined the National Trust.This organisation preserves places of historic interest and natural beauty,conserving and educating people to enjoy their national heritage.It is one of the largest land owners in Great Britain ensuring that future generations can enjoy the benefits of the trust.

It was my second visit ,first time was in October with my elderly parents and this time,in March with my husband and 5 year old son .In October it was a beautiful Autumn day really warm,there was a family day there and the place was decorated with pumpkins and had a  harvest theme .The digging for victory garden was reaching the end of its season ,all the pumpkins ripe for harvesting.The second visit ,in march,was very different .It was dry and just coming in to Spring ,buds were breaking on the branches and the whole garden was coming to life after its Winter rest.The vaulable ,very old statues were covered with their custom made green jackets to keep the frost from damaging them.

With my parents we just had a ride to the house on an electric buggy because they couldn’t walk far.The house is not restored yet and they were campaigning for its future ,which I’m pleased to see on my second visit ,was successful!There are displays hinting at the future development of the house and a rather unusual art installation which hadn’t been that well received according to the comments in read in the visitor book .’Waste of money- was perhaps one of the kinder ones but I thought it gets one thinking & talking about it which is probably the intention.The Adams fireplace is there to see.

On my second visit with my husband and son we walked a complete circuit of the park and sat for a while in the Park seat (mainly to get our breath back from the last steep bit of the climb!)

Lancelot ‘Capability ‘Brown stared work at Croome Park in 1751 for George Coventry (6th Earl of Coventry).It was Browns first landscape garden and major architectural project -An important and seminal work (Robert Adams and George Wyatt also designed follies for the park and additions to the house.)Looking at this picture gives you a feel of the openness of the park.Brown moved the church ,knocking down a medieval one situated near the house, and building this one on the brow of the hill .

He developed a garden-less style of gardening quite a complete contrast to the fussy formal styles that were popular at the time.

The Earl of Coventry had probably the biggest collection of plants outside of Kew Gardens, in London, at the time -so was probably keen to embrace new gardening fashions . Brown  swept away the formal gardens for a natural feel ,used undulating smooth grass ,clumps of trees ,specimen trees like cedar of lebanon and serpentine lakes and ha ha ditches to enhance the open feel but to contain. In fact Croome has an ‘artificial river’ a tribute to the River Severn complete with grotto dedicated to ‘Sabrina’ (goddess of the River Severn)running through it .It is 1 3/4 miles long and took many men 12 years to dig out .It culminates in a lake with  2 islands -one with a beautiful Island pavilion reached by an 18th century iron bridge.He designed over 170 gardens but not reaching Ireland because he hadn’t finished England yet !

Not everybody was quite so enthusiastic about his style.In fact Richard Owen Cambridge( a satirical poet ) said he hoped he died and got to heaven first ,before Brown had ‘improved’ it !

I like the feeling of space at Croome Park .The ‘use’ of the whole ridge of the Malvern hills(680 million years old !) as a perfect back drop  to the whole picture, the reflections evident in the water from the trees and sky & the way the wildlife interact with the gardens natural style.

Croome Park,Worcestershire

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Croome Park ,Nr Pershore Worcestershire

I visited Croome Park ,a National Trust property nr Pershore ,Worcestershire.It is a lovely place to go for a walk .The view as you go in and walk up to the church is amazing .You see the whole park laid out before you .The backdrop is the complete range of the Malvern Hills.Designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in around 1750 it was his first major work.There is so much to see including an artificial river 1 3/4 miles long culminating in a lake with islands,one with an beautiful 18th century pavilion decorated with a wedding scene

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quedgeley Nature Reserve

Quedgeley Nature Reserve

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Winifred Foley

I ‘discovered’ Winifred Foley and the book about her childhood in the Forest of Dean about 25 years ago .I picked it up in a book shop attracted by the cover -bought it and once I had started it I couldn’t put it down.It was such a easy read in an engaging style.It is an autobiographical account of her childhood growing up in an area of Gloucestershire that  I am familiar with from picnics ,school trips etc There is something special about the place .A Royal forest of deciduous trees oak,beech,sweet chestnut and evergreen conifers ,home to many wild flowers like fox glove and willowherb. It was a hunting forest in the times of Anglo Saxon and Norman kings. It is bordered by river Wye to the north west and river Severn to the south and has its own distinct dialect. Her book is full of characters so vividly described .Her style is funny,sad and uplifting in equal measures . It is a story about a family bringing up their children short on money but rich on love . I think children today should be given it to read as part of the National Curriculum ,it would highlight the fact that children did manage to have happy childhoods despite unremitting poverty and valued the things they did receive like homemade toys and the ‘Sunday School Outings provided by local chapel.

I have re read it many times and I wanted to let Mrs Foley know how much her book had meant to me I wrote a letter and telephoned a man at a Coleford book shop to see ,if I wrote to him with the letter ,he would forward it to her.This he obviously did because, shortly after ,I received a lovely, beautifully hand written reply !She thanked me for writing and commented on a lot of the things I had mentioned in the letter.I searched out and read ‘No pipe dreams for Father’ ‘Back to the Forest and  I wrote again and sent a mug and coaster set as it was near Christmas again she replied thanking me for the gift.I was sad to hear that she had passed away the following year and was glad that I had a chance to tell this wonderful lady how much her book of her life story inspired me .

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Pond cupcakes

I made these Pond cupcakes with buttercream on vanilla sponge and used chocolate candy covered rocks to look like authentic rocks .I used pretzel sticks for bulrushes with chocolate chews moulded round them .

pond cupcakes

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