Friday, May 31, 2013

Harewood House birds and flowers.

 An afternoon out - just me and the camera.  It wasn't very warm, it wasn't very sunny, so I didn't stay in one place for very long until it was time for my farewell coffee. 

rhododendrons all around


Alder tree

 Giant Wood-Rail
Himalayan Monal

Temmink's Tragopan

Red legged Seriema

Laughing kookaburra

Hue Boy - drama for children in Leeds Library

Drama for children aged 3+ in the library, based on a book by Rita Phillips Mitchell and illustrated by Caroline Binch. Hue Boy is a boy in a Caribbean village - he is very small and he won't grow" at all at all". 

Everyone in the village makes suggestions, from pumpkin soup to exercises to herbs to holding his head up high.  His school mates tease him about it, but nothing works, until the time is right and his dad comes home from the sea.

Most of the characters are played by Stewart Thomas, with Selina Zaza acting as link and narrator, as well as playing other parts.  The scenery is based around a giant parasol which opens out to form a colourful canopy over the stage.

The little ones were seated on round mats in front of the adults' chairs, so it was easy for them to see and take part in the action when asked.  They were eager to volunteer, and join in with the exercises and singing which are part of the show.

The two actors did a workshop afterwards, based on props which were associated with the different characters, then copying Stewart in each role.  One of these, the grandma, struck me as just a little stereotypical, with hunched shoulders and bent knees  - but I would say that wouldn't I?

I thought it worked brilliantly for the target age group - 3 to 7 year-olds.  They all got to take away a pumpkin seed and a recipe for pumpkin soup.

Look up tutti frutti productions on facebook or the group's website and you'll see a few pics of the show.  

Dance of the Knights

It's the intro to the Apprentice, and I never watch the show at home.  But I was away, and the local Romans were watching, so I heard the tune.  Well,  I recognised it and found out that it is from Romeo and Juliet, and is also known as Montagues and Capulets.  You lives and learns.  One thing Memrise has taught me, then.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ashby de la Zouch

I used to drive through Ashby once every couple of months or so, on my way to Burton-on-Trent.  That's a while ago, there was no by-pass, we had to go right through the town centre - vivid memories of the Christmas tree at the bottom end of Market Street, and a butcher's shop that had dead turkeys and rabbits hanging outside too.

Today's different - we're stopping in Ashby for a few hours, and going to an exhibition of paintings by Jay Dubya - John William Smith. one of Harry's cyber-painter-friends.
The exhibition is lively and varied, from landscapes, with wide skies and glorious colours, to portraits and pub and café scenes, along with a few of the preparatory sketches.   
The serious business of art criticism
Harry, Tony and John - you can see a café scene on the wall to the right
I like the little explanatory notes with some of the paintings too - and John's refusal to take himself too seriously. 

Hunger drives us out to forage and explore. After a stroll in the Bath Grounds, where we learn that Ashby was a spa manqué, we find a little café in the shade.

We go back for a final look at the exhibition, then say our farewells.  Here are a few shots of the town - there are a lot of interesting buildings.
Our Lady of Lourdes - art sale in basement

The Mews

Older shops

Loudun memorial to  to Edith, Lady Maud Hastings, Countess of Loudoun. The design, by Gilbert Scott, is based on the Eleanor Crosses

For Harry's review - see Harry's cafe .

Ashby Arts Festival continues until June 8th

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This old dog tries to learn new tricks

Following an article in this week's New Scientist, and a link to the website , I'm trying to learn to recognise some well-known pieces of classical music.

Yes, I knew a few already, but I have enormous gaps in my knowledge. Time to plug a few.

It's like a massive quiz that I can sign into whenever I feel like it, and it goes over and over stuff - even sends you the odd email to remind you you need to revise. 

I figure that if it can teach me this, it's got something! Will report back on progress from time to time.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Agnes Archer Evans

from the Leicester Lit and Phil Society web page.

This plaque is at 6, St Martins, where Agnes Archer Evans lived for some time after her marriage.

Born in 1851,  Agnes Archer Kilgour became headmistress of the Belmont House School on New Walk in Leicester in 1882. As well as being a founder member of the Women's Suffrage Society, she was active in the School Board and helped establish kindergartens.
She was also involved in the Leicester branch of the National Union of Women Workers, and became president of the Health Society, aiming to reduce infant mortality in the town, by educating mothers. 
She died in 1924.
Thanks to Ned Newitt's The Who's Who of Radical Leicester for the above information.

She was also the first woman president of Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society . She was born in Tasmania, and was the first of thirteen children born to Susan Anne Archer and Dr John Stewart Kilgour, a Scottish physician working on the island.  The family returned to Britain in about 1860.

Agnes married William Evans in 1895.

Fanny Fullagar

Since we were in tourist mode on Wednesday,  I snapped a couple of Leicester's blue plaques and decided to find a out a bit about the people honoured in this way.

This plaque is on the wall of the former Registry Office in Pocklingtons Walk. It celebrates Fanny Fullagar.

For my information I am indebted to this article in the Western Park Gazette online and to a short article in The Who's Who of Radical Leicester compiled by Ned Newitt.

There is a photograph of her in the Western Park Gazette article.

Fanny Fullagar was a doctor's daughter, born in 1847 in Leicester, and she made a huge contribution to  society, in a very Victorian way.  
She campaigned for better training for midwives, and helped create the Bond Street Maternity Hospital.
She stood for election for Poor Law Guardian in the All Saints/Newton Ward in 1889 and was elected every year until 1904, when she lost by one vote. 
She was a member of the local Women's Suffrage Society, a founder member of Leicester NSPCC, and also worked for St John Ambulance and the RSPCA.
She never married though she was reputed to be engaged for seven years.
She died in 1918 - the year when women over 30 got the right to vote in the UK.

Leicester Cathedral - a glimpse

I didn't know there was a cathedral in Leicester until a couple of years ago.  No reason for me to know - I don't go to church, and to me Leicester has just been a place to go to the shops when absolutely necessary,  and a good excuse to wander around and explore the coffee shops, and soak up a dose of city atmosphere.  

The cathedral is not a grand edifice like Lincoln, Salisbury or Winchester.  It's full title is the Cathedral Church of St Martin, and it became a cathedral in 1927, after the diocese of Leicester was recreated in 1926.

Most of what we see today is the result of a Victorian renovation.  From the outside it looks like a very large church, and the grounds are not extensive, though there is a garden in front.  
from the Guildhall window
My first view of it in 2011 was the back entrance next to the Guildhall, with enough place for two small cars and a notice - "Parking for the Bishop". 

I think it's become much better known as a result of the King in the Car Park stories.

The spire seen through the windows of the Guildhall

The Vaughan Porch - at the main entrance on the south side.

The interior is light and airy - no pews, but chairs, which can be moved as needed.
Two particular points of interest inside the cathedral are the Richard III memorial stone, and the Herrick chapel.  The Herricks were the family of the poet Robert Herrick, of "Fair Daffodils" fame, a prosperous and well regarded family.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Leicester Guildhall

The Guildhall

It is a fine example of a timber-framed building, and dates back six centuries. 
It was originally built in 1390 as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi, but soon became the meeting place of Leicester Corporation, who bought the building in 1548 for £25 15s 4d.
This room contains a library of old books, chests, chairs and a desk as well as the long table.

Mirrors are always tempting.

The Bible - you can look but you'd better not touch!

By 1563 Assizes Courts were held in the Guildhall and the Recorder of Leicester was authorised to hear various cases.
In 1580 this room was fitted up as a bedroom.  The furniture is not original, but is of the sort used in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Great Hall - used as a courtroom, for theatrical performances, civic events and banquets.

After a new Town Hall was opened in 1876 the Guildhall fell into disrepair. It was restored and renovated, and opened as a museum in 1926.

At present the Guildhall is used for performances, and is also a museum open to the public.

Richard III exhibition in Leicester

The facial reconstruction is on display in Leicester until 9th June 2013. It will then tour the country.  

The exhibition   "Leicester's Search for a King" continues until 2014.

 For further details check  Leicester City Council's web page  .

I have to confess to a teenage predilection for Josephine Tey's book The Daughter of Time, in which she argued that the princes in the Tower were more probably murdered by Henry VII than by Richard III.  I am far less convinced by Richard's essential goodness these days. They were rough old times, and he would have been no better than the rest of the bloodthirsty and ambitious power seekers. Blood relations who were in the way were frequently disposed of, as was anyone else.

Nevertheless the story of his short reign and death captures many people's imagination, and we have a slightly morbid fascination with the possibility of discovering so much from a 500 year old skeleton.  The computer aided reconstruction of his head, and its resemblance to near-contemporary portraits is remarkable.

  The reconstruction is on display until 9th June 2013.  The exhibitiont "Leicester's Search for a King" continues unitl 2014.

The exhibition in the Guild Hall is clear and informative, and well worth visiting - it gives details of the search for the body below the car park, on the site of the Grey Friars Church, the tests that were carried out which prove as near as dammit that these bones were Richard's.

Alongside this are historical items, including weapons, coins and jewellery from the fifteenth century, and a reconstruction of the Blue Boar Inn where Richard is supposed to have spent the night before the battle of Bosworth, where he died.

All this links in to my recent walk around Market Bosworth area, including the battlefield site and Ambion Hill, as well as the church at Sutton Cheney, where Richard is said to have prayed before the battle.

I took my tiny cheap point and shoot camera, and as a result didn't take many pics here.

Extra info - 18 June 2013.
They have made another reconstruction of Richard's skull :

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Looking at the familiar through the eyes of a tourist

We discovered the existence of Leicester's cathedral and Guildhall quite recently.  Leicester has always been an occasional shopping destination, rather than anything more, and an excuse for coffee and cakes, and a visit to the Art Gallery and museum on New Walk.
We have often looked up at the architectural details above eye level.

Today our first stop was for coffee in the old grammar school, now a restaurant near High Cross Shopping Centre.  Nearby is a plaque showing where the original High Cross stood.
So that's why it's called High Cross . . .
. . .not just because Mr Wetherspoon has a pub there.
Leicester has been in the news recently with the discovery and investigations of the remains of Richard III under a car park, on the site of the old Grey Friars church.  We dropped in to the exhibition, the Guildhall and the Cathedral.
On the way we passed Mr Wyggeston or Wigston's  house.

and his hospital and boys' school - not usually behind bars, I think.

William Wyggeston set this up in 1513.  It housed 12 poor men and 12 poor women; the hospital moved to Hinckley Road in 1869.

I shall post about our visit to the Richard III exhibition, and the cathedral and guildhall later.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

wild in the country

Here with a camera and two lenses, interchangeable.  And usually the wrong lens in place.  An arm, could be steadier.  Today I offer two tolerably pretty pics of flowers, two distant shots of birds, and one of a hare.  They’d be better used as quiz questions than as tools for education.
note that one flower is beautifully focussed – the second artily blurredIMG_8322
Ooh – it’s a . . . ch . . . . . .
I think it’s a yellow wagtail
spot the hare