Category Archives: Photography

Jittery at Jaarbeurs

Jaarbeurs

For 2 days each November, completely over the top, massively obsessed collectors of every conceivable stripe converge on Utrecht in the Netherlands to buy, sell, barter and bullshit at Verzamelaars Jaarbeurs, The International Collectors Fair and Europe’s biggest Vintage Event.

We thought it would be a perfect fit for us, but as we approached the building the sky darkened, the clouds began to roil and it all started to feel, you know, funny. A peculiar vibe emanated from the doors and we soon discovered that the hall was filled to capacity with very strange creatures indeed.  I can’t prove it, but I just know, they’re watching us.

“The odds are you’ll find what you’re looking for, but there are even better odds that you’ll find something else, because this happens to be The Twilight Zone…..”

“Marsha White, in her normal and natural state, a wooden lady with a painted face who, one month out of the year, takes on the characteristics of someone as normal and as flesh and blood as you and I. But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it, just how normal are we? Just who are the people we nod our hellos to as we pass on the street? A rather good question to ask . . . particularly in the Twilight Zone……” The After Hours – Season 1 – Episode 34

Collection of Curiosities

To lighten the mood we thought a quick stop at the University Museum might just hit the spot. This small museum has a lovely botanical garden which only serves to hide many curiosities.


The Skeleton Collection

Prepare to quiver with horror as we approach the Bleuland Cabinet.

All these artifacts come from the private collection of professor of medicine Jan Bleuland.

Jan Bleuland (1756-1838)

Jan Bleuland (1756-1838)

I think I may be permanently scarred. There’s also babies in bottles but my partner says they’re just too much.

Utrecht’s Number One Citizen

Meet Miffy

Holland has produced some amazing characters, both real and imagined, but none more perfect then Miffy. This quiet unassuming gender bending cartoon character has captured the imagination of generations of Dutch children. I say gender bending because there seems to be a bit of a divide out there. Apparently, creator Dick Bruna didn’t dab a flower onto the rabbit’s smock until 1970 and folks born before that were free to assign any gender they chose to the little bunny.

Miffy is a worldwide phenomenon with more than 120 books that have sold over 85 million copies, a feature length film and three television series.

Why so popular? Miffy appeals to children all over the world, but especially here. She, like the Dutch that adore her, is unpretentious, uncomplicated, has a very positive attitude and, even though innocent, is always open to new experiences.

But she’s no push over. Miffy has been forced to duke it out with Miss Kitty over copyright and trademark infringement and has won.

The dismayed creator has simply said, “No, don’t do that. Try to make something that you think of yourself”

She is no more revered then here In Utrecht, Bruna’s hometown. Called Nijntje in Holland, there is a square named after her, the Nijntjepleintje (Little Nijntje Square), the Centraal Museum has opened a permanent exhibition called the dick bruna huis (Dick Bruna house), there is a Nijntje Museum and there are even street lamps shaped like the little bunny.

 

 

 

 

On February 16, 2017, Dick Bruna died at the age of 89. Miffy would be 62 today.

 

 

 

 

 

More Interesting but Useless Facts;

In the Netherlands, Miffy is known as “nijntje”, which derives from the Dutch word “konijntje”, meaning “little bunny”. This is a very logical name for anyone who speaks Dutch, but not in any other language. Because “nijntje” is difficult to pronounce for non-Dutch speakers and because there are so many different words for “bunny” in other languages, the rabbit is simply known as Miffy. The name has no special meaning, but is easy to pronounce in all languages.

See how practical the Dutch are?

The Wendi Files – The Dutch Edition

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My Tour Guide

Our trip has drawn to a close but, as usual, I can’t end without a final nod to my intrepid companion and chief motivator, the person who forces me off the couch and into the world.

With Anne Frank in North Amsterdam

With Anne Frank in North Amsterdam

Gemeente Museum in Den Haag

Gemeente Museum in Den Haag

With Banksy at the Moco in Amsterdam

With Banksy at the Moco in Amsterdam

On the beach in Bloemendaal ann Zee

On the beach in Bloemendaal ann Zee

At the Bazaar in Beverwijk.

At the Bazaar in Beverwijk.

Russian Tough at the Drents in Assen

Russian Tough at the Drents in Assen

Don't touch the art at the Drents

Don’t touch the art at the Drents

With George in Bloemendaal

With George in Bloemendaal

Art supplies in Haarlem

Art supplies in Haarlem

Wanders In De Broeren - Zwolle

At Waanders In De Broeren in Zwolle

Museum De Fundatie - Zwolle

At the Museum De Fundatie in Zwolle

Posing for Vermeer in Den Haag

Posing for Vermeer in Den Haag

Selfie at the Kuntshal in Rotterdam

Selfie at the Kuntshal in Rotterdam

Stay well my friends.

A Fast Train Through the Netherlands

This year’s adventure flew by faster then a bullet train. I didn’t get even close to pointing out all the remarkable things we’ve seen in this outstanding country. Let’s finish with an assortment of the wacky, weird and wonderful.

The Bloemendaal Train Station

The Bloemendaal Train Station

Rommelmarkts

I’d characterize almost every flea market and bazaar we’ve been to here as a Jumble Sale. I’ve never seen such an odd collection of used clothes, broken toys, rusty tools and assorted junky stuff.

Rommelmarkt in Haarlem

Rommelmarkt in Haarlem

Rommelmarkt at Wijk Ann Zee

Rommelmarkt at Wijk Ann Zee

The Rommelmarkt at Appelscha takes place in what appears to be an abandoned amusement park for kiddies. The only thing left are the creepy forlorn creatures that have been abandoned and left to  fester like captives in an old Twilight Zone episode.

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IJHallen, in North Amsterdam, is probably the longest running Rommelmarkt in Holland.

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The Bazaar in Beverwijk is a whole other animal. It was billed as a long established mixed use affair. There are huge warehouse type buildings filled with most everything you can imagine. No collectibles or antiques but tons of cheap underwear, toys, tools, jewelry and Middle Eastern food. Kind of a free trip to Turkey.

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Waanders In De Broeren

The Broerenkerk, Church of Brothers,  was part of the Dominican monastery from 1465 until the monks were expelled in 1589 and the Protestants took over.

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Now it houses Waanders in de Broeren, one of the coolest bookstores I’ve ever seen. A joy to wander around or just have a snack.

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A Few Loose Ends

Art Supplies in Haarlem

Art Supplies in Haarlem

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Leeuwarden

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The St Bernards of Leeuwarden

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Den Haag

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Den Haag Central Station

The Passages in Den Haag

The Passages in Den Haag

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Bloemendaal Ann Zee

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Bloemendaal Ann Zee

Druggist in Zwolle

Druggist in Zwolle

Lunch in Zwolle

Lunch in Zwolle

The Dutch Appetizer of Choice - Bitterballen and Mustard (They're pretty good)

The Dutch Appetizer of Choice – Bitterballen and Mustard (They’re pretty good)

 

Museum Crawl – Dutch Art 101

We’ve been on a Museum Binge. We happened to buy a couple Museumkarts and have been drunk on art ever since. The Museumkart gives you access to most of the best museums in the Netherlands and is the deal of a lifetime. You don’t even have to wait in the ticket line. In an attempt to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of the card we have attacked this part of Holland with a vengeance and been to 14 museums so far. Here’s just a couple.

The Mauritshuis - Den Haag

The Mauritshuis – Den Haag

The Mauritshuis - Den Haag

The Mauritshuis – Den Haag

The Fotomuseum - Rotterdam

The Fotomuseum – Rotterdam

The Fotomuseum - Rotterdam

The Fotomuseum – Rotterdam

The Fries Museum - Leeuwarden

The Fries Museum – Leeuwarden

Dutch Art 101

In this neck of the woods you are going to see lots of paintings from  the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history generally spanning the 17th century that rang in the new Dutch Republic and helped make it the most prosperous nation in Europe. As you can imagine we have managed to see a whole lot of great paintings, but I won’t bore you with all that. Describing images to people is like telling them about your dreams, you really had to be there. I think most people are somewhat familiar with Dutch paintings anyway. If you’ve seen a cigar box, you can probably imagine a Rembrandt. I’ll just talk about two of the big dogs and try to keep it short.

“The Night Watch”  is a 1642 oil painting by Rembrandt that hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

"The Night Watch" by Rembrandt 1642

“The Night Watch” by Rembrandt 1642

To better understand the significance of this Dutch Masterpiece in contemporary terms lets first discuss that iconic TV show “Law & Order”, the longest-running hour-long primetime TV series in history. Created by Dick Wolf, this show ran for 20 seasons and spawned an entire Law & Order franchise. One of the chief successes of the show was it’s distinctive look. This was, in part, achieved by a technique brand new for TV, the “Walk & Talk”. This is done by using a steady cam and backing through the set as the main characters walk down hallways and go room to room discussing their next move. This gets the actors out from behind those boring old desks, propels the story forward by making it look like talking is actually doing something and it keeps the viewer actively engaged. This is so much a part of the show that it’s even in the intro.  I thought it was so original until I finally realized this is exactly what Rembrandt did in 1642. Until then these group portraits of prominent citizens and military leaders were pretty staid affairs with everyone lined up like bowling pins or sitting around a table trying to figure out what to do with their hands. In this enormous painting, 142.9″ × 172″ , Rembrandt got them up off their considerable duffs and turned them into giant men of action who just might step right out the painting and do what needs to be done.

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt van Rijn

In the process Rembrandt cemented his place in art and is generally considered the greatest painter in Dutch history.

 

 

 

The Young Bull “  is a 1647 oil painting by Paulus Potter that hangs in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.

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The Mauritshuis- Den Haag

At 92.7” x 133”, this huge painting approaches life-size, allowing space for very detailed realism, including flies, frogs and cow pies, a fact that was much criticized originally. But fortunes changed and by the 18th and 19th centuries the painting had gained much traction and was highly admired. Today it is considered one the Dutch Golden Age’s greatest paintings. Potter was only 22 when he completed this work and died of tuberculosis at the age of 28 having succeeded in producing about 100 paintings by working continuously.

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“The Young Bull” by Paulus Potter 1647

Besides the staggering craftsmanship, what makes this painting so unusual is the sheer scale. Up until then extremely large paintings were reserved for the rich, the royal and the Gods. This is the first time that a farm animal has been afforded such reverence. The life size image forces us to look into the Bull’s penetrating gaze and it becomes almost difficult to perceive it as anything but a sentient being. This painting  with its almost heroic treatment of an animal alters our perception of the Bull’s place in the universe and, by extension, our own. Whether he meant to or not Potter moved the art world in fundamental ways and by the 19th century this monumental treatment of virtually the entire animal kingdom would become somewhat commonplace.

Paulus Potter

Paulus Potter

Still I find the whole notion that a mere 22 year old, with some paint and a few brushes, has that kind of power utterly remarkable.

 

 

 

Interesting But Useless Facts #289 & #290:

As large as “the Nightwatch” is, 20% was cut off the left hand side in 1715 to make the painting fit its new position at the Amsterdam town hall.

“The Young Bull” was at least 20% smaller when first painted. Potter added extra strips of canvas on both sides and at the top of his original composition, which just included the bull itself.

The Great Bicycle Coup d’état

bike22The Dutch don’t just love their bikes, they have embraced them on a level that borders on obsession. Don’t get me wrong I love bikes and think it’s amazing that they have incorporated bicycles into the fabric of their lives and created an incredibly healthy lifestyle.

There are some interesting stats about Dutch bike riders. A higher percentage of Dutch ride bikes then any other country. As of 2012 there were estimated to be 18 million bicycles or 1.3 per citizen old enough to ride. In the 4 years since, bike popularity has continued to grow tremendously. Some say that now there are as many as  2.9 bikes per Dutch citizen. With the exception of competitive riders, nobody seems to wear a helmet and yet they have less head injuries then anyone else. By 12 years old most children have been trained in the rules of the road and must pass a traffic exam to receive their Verkeersdiploma (traffic certificate).

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In cities 85% of all students commute to school on bikes and, for adults, over half of all journeys are made by bicycle. Now some towns have fietsstraats (bike streets) which are roads where bicycles are considered to be the primary and preferred form of transport and cars and other motorised vehicles are allowed “as guests”. There is even a growing trend towards a complete separation of bicycle routes from motor vehicle routes called the unravelling of modes. In 2012 the Hovenring, the first suspended bicycle roundabout in the world, was built over a large and busy road intersection, where before its construction cyclists had to cross busy roads.

By John Tarantino - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22228858

Hovenring By John Tarantino

So what have we learned? Well, they clearly love their bikes, are pretty good at operating them and are willing to invest in the infrastructure. But no, I’m afraid it goes way beyond that. This is a transportation revolution and in all revolutions there are winners and losers. The Dutch love of these two wheeled little devils coupled with their proficiency at using them has conspired to turn the Netherlands into a nation of Bike Hoarders. I know that sounds harsh, but the evidence is all around you. With 3 bikes per person and no storage, it’s like all that crap grandma has been hoarding for decades has moved out onto the sidewalk.

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Bikes are everywhere. In the cities they lean against most walls and are attached to every available vertical structure. All the train stations have bike parks designed, I’m assuming, for commuters. They have become impromptu bike storage yards filled with hundreds, if not thousands of bikes that never move. These mounds are starting to distort into strange shapes and juxtapositions as the once treasured objects, now discarded, become as intertwined and impenetrable as a bramble bush.

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This bike has been lying on it’s side for two weeks now. I want to pick it up but I’m curious how long it stay there.

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Bicycles have seized control of both the sideways and the bike lanes.

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This Bloemendall resident told me that most of these bikes haven't moved in a yearend that she has to hunt for a spot everyday. She owns three bikes!

This Bloemendaal resident told me that most of these bikes haven’t moved in a year and that she has to hunt for a spot everyday. She owns three bikes!

Not only do they dominate the landscape, these low-tech transporters have managed to move up the food chain and have eclipsed both cars and pedestrians for supremacy of the roadways. Motorists are far more concerned about hitting a bicyclist then the rider is about being hit. This has a lot to do with the insurance laws. Unless the bicyclist intentionally runs into you the motorist is always at fault. Pedestrians are just left to fend for themselves while trying to dodge everything that moves. My wife is certain they’re trying to kill us slow moving, old school walkers. Accidentally stepping off the sideway into the bike lane is tantamount to suicide.

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Sure they look innocent enough with their shiny wheels and cute little saddle bags, but don’t be fooled. As this dominance has taken root the size, speed and diversity of the enemy has increased logarithmically. Now there are regular bikes, tantrum bikes, electric bikes, mopeds, motor scooters, bikes with load carrying trailers, large box delivery bikes, recumbents, velomobiles (enclosed bike cars), large tricycles, bikes with multiple panniers , bikes with two baby holders and, remarkably, bikes with three baby holders and room for a dog and all are vying for control of the asphalt.

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Remember expressions like ” the pedestrian always has the right of way” or when crosswalks were safe passages through a busy hostile world? Not anymore, oh no!  There was a war and the pedestrians lost. If these madcap pedal powered warriors just didn’t hate us mere walkers so badly. Surely there’s room for all of us? So be careful out there and look in every direction. They really might be out to get you.bike7

 

Haarlem – Bulb City

haarlem26Haarlem is a great city in the Province of North Holland. Being the center of the tulip bulb growing district for centuries, it is nicknamed ‘Bloemenstad’, or “flower city”. With a population around 160,000 and a compact inner city, it’s small enough to explore and enjoy. Granted city status in 1245, it has a long and rich history.

Traditionally one of the the most powerful trading cities in Holland, during the 18th century trade shifted to Amsterdam and Haarlem turned into a bedroom community and summer resort with many workers commuting to the larger capital. In the long run this shift has allowed the historic old city center to remain relatively in tact.

Haarlem Central Station

Haarlem Central Station

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Haarlem Central Station

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

16th Century Facades

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Gravestenenbrug

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Hofje van Oorschot – An old folks home

Grote Markt

The Grote Markt is the center of town and abounds with cafes and shops of all kinds.

Stadhuis

Stadhuis

Grote Markt Cafe

Grote Markt Cafe

Grote Market - Grote Kerk

Grote Market – Grote Kerk

The Grote Markt - 1696

The Grote Markt – 1696

Frans Hals Museum

Frans Hals is probably the most celebrated Haarlem artist to emerge during the Dutch Golden Age and has his own museum to prove it.

Frans Hals Museum

Frans Hals Museum

Coorie Ten Boom Museum

The Ten Booms, a highly devote Christian family, were watchmakers during the second war world. They felt it their duty to help protect those in trouble and used their small house as a hiding place for Jews and Resistance fighters. These actions led to the death of the entire family, with the exception of the young Coorie, at the hands of the Nazi’s.

Coorie Ten Boom Museum

Coorie Ten Boom Museum

Up to six adults at a time had to squeeze into this hiding place.

Up to six adults at a time had to squeeze into this hiding place.

The roof of Coorie Ten Boom house provided the only fresh air for victims.

The roof of the Coorie Ten Boom house provided the only fresh air for victims.

The Teyers Museum

This was my favorite museum in town. The Teyers is a fascinating mix of early technology, fossils, astronomical equipment,16th & 17th century prints and drawings and great Dutch Golden Age paintings.

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

Teyers Museum

The Women

The Dutch love their women and well they should. Most are statuesque, self assured and highly educated. Maternity and family leave are hugely important issues here. The country is very close to pay equality and although there still isn’t complete sexual parity in top executive positions, they are rapidly getting there. It seems that strong female role models have always been revered here. Among them is:

Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer

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On December 11, 1572 the Spanish army began the siege of Haarlem. During the first two months of the siege, the situation was stable. The Spanish army was digging tunnels to reach the city walls while the defenders dug under them to destroy the Spaniards’ tunnels. By March 29, 1573 the situation worsened when the Spanish and Amsterdam Armies effectively cut off Haarlem from the outside world and began to starve them out. By July 13, 1573, after seven months of siege, the city reached an agreement with the Spaniards to open the city gates in exchange for amnesty and a ban on looting. After surrendering the Spanish reneged on the deal and began looting and slaughtered over 2000 of the city defenders.

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Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer leads the charge.

Following the siege, the name of Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer began to emerge. Diarists reported that the powerful widow helped defend the city and rebuild the defenses that had been destroyed by enemy cannon. One account mentions that Kenau and other women stood on the earthworks and threw burning tar wreaths onto the enemy who would leap into the river to douse the flames only to drown from the weight of their armor. Over time the legend of Kenau’s role has expanded to full-fledged soldier and commander of a small female army. She has been honored during every celebration of independence from Spain. But, separating fact from fiction in these matters is always difficult and her role in the siege has been the subject of much debate. Regardless, her personality must have been a fearsome thing. We do know for certain that after the war she resumed her trade as a wood  merchant importing lumber from Norway. When her captain was taken hostage by pirates she travelled north to negotiate his release and died at the hands of the same pirates.

Definitely the stuff of legend.

The Wendi Files – The British Edition

Would any visit be complete without a quick look at Wendi’s escapades? I think not. Like countless invading armies before her, Wendi has stormed through this little corner of England mollifying the natives, confiscating booty and laying waste to every flea market in her path. There are many here in Suffolk that will long remember that fateful autumn when “Wendi the Fearless” extracted many a treasure and stole not a few hearts from these fair shores.

Making Friends

The Tallest Bobby In BurySt. Edmunds

The Tallest Bobby In Bury St. Edmunds

With Fred At Sandringham

With Fred At Sandringham

Fred said he worked directly for the Royal Family for over twenty years and had indeed met the Queen, but was sworn to secrecy and could not reveal any of the juicy bits Wendi longed to hear.

Making friends with Mr. Sausage

Making friends with Mr. Sausage

We met Terry for drinks at the Ivory Cafe. He is the largest producer of sausage casings in the world. Not just anyone can look at pig intestines and think “opportunity”.

Off to the Newmarket Horse Races

Winning Bet Number 1

Winning Bet Number 1

Winning Bets Number 2 & 3

Winning Bets Number 2 & 3

Wendi buddy up to her Bookie

Wendi buddies up to her Bookie

And Now For A Little Historic Culture

The Joy of Sandringham

The Sheer Joy of Sandringham

Ickworth

Bombed at Ickworth

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Lady Wendi on the grounds of Highclere Castle

Anglesey Abbey

Just the right angle at Anglesey Abbey

Searching for the Ghost of Anne Boleyn on the back stairs at Blickling Estate

Searching for the Ghost of Anne Boleyn on the back stairs at Blickling Estate

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey

Walking the dog at Southwold Pier

Walking the dog at Southwold Pier

Walking in Beatrix Potter's footsteps at Melford Hall

Walking in Beatrix Potter’s footsteps at Melford Hall

Wimple Estate

Stalking the Servant’s Quarters at Wimple Estate

Time For A Little Shopping

Welcome to the Hingham Flea Market

Welcome to the Hingham Flea Market

Hat time at the Norwich Oxfam

Hat time at the Norwich Oxfam

And what trip would be complete without a stop at Mr. Shoes

And what trip would be complete without a stop at Mr. Shoes?

To The Manor Born

Capability Brown

Capability Brown

Capability Brown

Lancelot “Capability” Brown will forever be linked to these great mansions and is remembered as “the last of the great English 18th century artists to be accorded his due”, and “England’s greatest gardener”.   Mr. Brown’s influence was so great that the contributions to the English garden made by his predecessors are often overlooked.   During the height of his career It is estimated that Brown was responsible for over 170 gardens surrounding the finest country houses and estates in Britain.   He completely dominated landscape design in the 18th century and during the 1760s averaged commissions of about £740,000 a year.

“In Brown’s hands the house, which before had dominated the estate, became an integral part of a carefully composed landscape intended to be seen through the eye of a painter, and its design could not be divorced from that of the garden”

He was nicknamed “Capability” because he would tell his clients that their property had the “capability” for improvement.

The Manors

These estates were more then just big houses. They controlled the economy in villages, towns and even whole counties. Maintaining and operating these country cottages required hoards of housekeepers, legions of lawn men, battalions of butlers, cadres of cooks and a phalanx of farmers. But, after the World Wars, when the seemingly endless supply of underpaid workers dried up it became impossible to maintain this system any longer. I’m pretty sure this is where our whole notion of “trickle down economics” came from. Keep the rich folks happy and they will, in turn, provide low paid employment. Regardless of my cynicism, these homes are magnificent and thanks to the National Trust most have been saved for the nation and the world to enjoy. They represent the pinnacle of art and culture from a bygone era when civility, learning and social standing were paramount. Provided it wasn’t you that had to do the dusting.

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey was built as a priory in 1100 but, like most Catholic Orders, the Augustinian Canons were expelled in 1536 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and all the good stuff was taken. Over the centuries it bounced around through a few owners until 1926 when Huddleston Broughton, having inherited a fortune from mining and railroads in America, bought the place. He started to renovate in earnest and began to amass a huge collection of beautiful furniture, artworks and statuary. Huddleston became the Baron Fairhaven in 1929. He never married and decided in the early 40’s that he would leave the Abbey and all it’s contents to the National Trust on his death. Which effectively meant that he spent his adult life collecting for the Trust.

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Baron Fairhaven

Baron Fairhaven

Baron Fairhaven

Baron Fairhaven

Baron Fairhaven

Another Baron Fairhaven – I’m sensing a theme here.

We grew up with a family dog named “Bungey”. In all these years I’ve never seen or even heard of another one until I met the Baron’s.

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Bungey

 

Blickling Estate

Blickley Hall

Blickley Hall

This magnificent Jacobean mansion located in Norfolk and covers more than 4,000 acres. Before it’s last private owner Phillip Kerr died in 1940 he helped build the National Trust and save hundreds of grand homes for future generations to enjoy. But even with his accomplishments Kerr is far from Blickley’s most famous resident. It is believed that Anne Boleyn, the future beheaded Queen, was born here sometime between 1501 and 1505.

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn

Not to be forgotten, Anne returns every May 9th, the anniversary of her decapitation, dressed all in white, carrying her severed and dripping head. She arrives in a coach driven by a headless horseman and four headless horses. She glides through the hall, rooms and countless corridors until sunrise.

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Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle doesn’t have the turmultuous past of some of it’s counterparts and seems to be most famous as the filming location for the award-winning period drama Downton Abbey.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

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Highclere Castle

The castle stands on the site of an earlier house, which was built on the foundations of the medieval palace of the Bishops of Winchester, who owned this estate from the 8th century. The original site was recorded in the Domesday Book.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Folly

Jackdaws Castle

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The Family Motto – “Only One Will I Serve”

Ickworth House

Ickworth House

Ickworth House

This neoclassical country house was the residence of the Marquess of Bristol before being sold to the National Trust in the late 20th century. The Marquesses of Bristol have laid claim to this estate since 1467.

Ickworth House

Ickworth House

In 1956, the house, park, and contents were given to the National Trust in lieu of death duties. As part of the deal, a 99-year lease on the 60-room East Wing was given to the Marquess of Bristol. However, in 1998 the 7th Marquess of Bristol was a little strapped for cash and sold the remaining lease on the East Wing to the National Trust. He was succeeded by his half-brother Frederick Hervey, the 8th Marquess of Bristol. Freddy tried to buy back the remaining lease, but the Trust refused, thereby contravening the Letter of Wishes which states that the head of the family should always be offered whatever accommodation he chooses at Ickworth.

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Melford Hall

Melford Hall is an amazing estate in the village of Long Melford, Suffolk. The hall was mostly constructed in the 16th century, incorporating parts of a medieval building held by the abbots of Bury St Edmunds which had been in use since before 1065.

Milford Hall

Milford Hall

Milford Hall has had it’s share of trials and tribulations over the years. It was seized from the abbots during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Queen Mary gave it to Sir William Cordell who passed it via his sister to Thomas and Mary Savage. Both were serious Catholics at a time when the Civil War was getting momentum and people were choosing sides. The Savages backed King Charles 1 who would become the only British Monarch to be beheaded. Needless to say, it didn’t go well for the Savages. Thomas died in 1636 leaving Mary and their 13 children broke and considered traitors. Warrants were issued for Mary to answer for her family’s indebtedness. All her appeals were denied and she died in Debtor’s Prison. During the Stour Valley Riots of 1642 the house was attacked and the interiors were demolished by an anti-Catholic crowd.

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In February 1942 soldiers that were billeted at the hall broke into the West End to have some card games and a bit of a dance. They managed to set the whole wing on fire. It was gutted out and rebuilt after war retaining the Tudor brickwork exterior.

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In 1786 it was sold to Harry Parker, son of Admiral Hyde Parker and is considered ancestral seat of the Parker Baronets.

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Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

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From the 1890’s Beatrix Potter was a cousin of the Parkers and was a frequent visitor to the hall.

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One of Beatrix’s favorite painting spots.

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham House and it’s 20,000 acres of land are in Norfolk, England. The site has been occupied since the Elizabethan era. In 1862, the hall was purchased by Queen Victoria at the request of the Prince of Wales. The house is privately owned by Queen Elizabeth II and is a Grade II listed country house: having  particularly important buildings of more than special interest.

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

Sandringham

The Royal Family Walks From The Main House To The Chapel Every Christmas. Chapel

The Royal family walks from the main hall to the Chapel for services every Christmas.

Sandringham - The Family Chapel

Sandringham – The Family Chapel

James Brown

James Brown

Home at last.

Home at last.

Wimpole

Wimple Estate

Wimple Estate

The house, begun in 1640, and is the largest house in Cambridgeshire. The 3,000 acres of parkland and farm were “naturalised” by Capability Brown in 1767.

Wimple Estate

Wimple Estate

Wimple Estate

Wimple Estate

In 1938, Capt. George Bambridge and his rich wife, Elsie, daughter of Rudyard Kipling, purchased it after having been tenants since 1932. They used the inheritance left to them by her father, and the royalties from his books, for the long-needed refurbishment of the house and grounds. When Elsie died in 1979 she left the property to the National Trust.

Wimple Estate

Wimple Estate

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Wimple Estate – Gasolier

Wimple Estate - Family Chapel

Wimple Estate – Family Chapel

Wimple Estate - Servant Stairwell

Wimple Estate – Servant Stairwell

Useless But Interesting Fact #13

This seven drawer high boy dresser has a draw for intimates and small items for each day. Your fancy Sunday garments go in the uppermost draw. Hence the expression “Top Draw”.

Wimple Estate - Dresser

Wimple Estate – Dresser

Southwold Pier

Located in the coastal town of Southwold, this old school pier is a little like a step back to a more innocent time. Originally built in 1909 the pier has suffered many ups and down having been destroyed by storms in 1937, 1955 and again in 1979 reducing it to a length of 60 ft. After much renovation, today’s pier extends 620 ft into the North Sea.

Southwold Pier

Southwold Pier

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English Sunbather or Crime Victim. You decide.

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Bench Armrest

The Under The Pier Show

While many classic English seaside piers have been in decline the Southwold Pier is enjoying renewed popularity, partly due to the “The Under The Pier Show” which features a range of automata, machines and games designed by Tim Hunkin, an English engineer, cartoonist, writer, and artist living in Suffolk. They are about the most peculiar arcade games I’ve ever seen.

pirates

Storm the super yacht and get even with the super rich.

microvacation

Sit in the chair and travel on holiday, moved by the magic carpet. After manic flight and coach ride, arrive in tropical paradise and get brief suntan from heatlamp.

fly

Sit on the fly’s proboscis and experience a fly’s eye view of the world. Stop to eat for as long as you dare, but beware of the fly swat.

dog

Place hand in dog’s cage and hold it there for as long as you dare. Dog pants, dribbles warm saliva and other disgusting things.

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I’ll let you work out where the finger goes.

brainwash

Sit with head half inside processing chamber and watch through mirrors while your scalp is removed and your brain is scrubbed clean. Made by Will Jackson.

bathyscape

Turn the dive lever and descend to the seabed. After witnessing many marvels, get swallowed by a giant fish which causes the craft to leak. Fortunately reverse thrusters are provided for escape.

mobility

Start training for your future today! Cross the motorway using the zimmer frame.

rx

Hold stethoscope again chest and let the doctor diagnose your complaint and write out an illegible prescription.

rentadog

Wendi’s favorite. Stand on the treadmill, hold the dog’s lead and go for a walk. Includes stops at several interesting sights.

Focusing time and space to bring you everything you could possibly want to see through a pier telescope.

Quantum Tunneling Telescope – Focusing time and space to bring you everything you could possibly want to see through a pier telescope.

Beach Huts

These bright colored Beach Huts are small wooden boxes just above the high tide mark. Many were former fishermen’s huts and boat sheds that are now used as shelter from the sun or wind, changing into and out of swimming costumes and for the safe storing of some personal belongings most incorporate simple facilities for preparing food and hot drinks by either bottled gas or an occasional generator.

Southwold Beach Huts

Southwold Beach Huts

You cannot live in these and the length of stays is closely monitored. They were originally offered for hire at £12 10s per year, now they can sell for £40,000 or more.

The Walk of Mirrors

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